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Quick Bite: C&S Seafood & Oyster Bar

photo 2Now that I’m back on the reviewing beat, I’ve been trying to pop into some of the many restaurants I don’t know at all to see if they are places I should re-review in print.

C&S Seafood & Oyster Bar is a locally owned and operated restaurant that evinces the swagger of a high-end chain. The booths are deep, the banquettes plush, and the wall sconces glow against lustrous wood paneling. You know the martinis here will be good, the porcelain solid and the service full of dinner-house flourish. Think of it as a step up from McCormick & Schmick’s and a step down from the echt-cruise line gloss of the Oceanaire Seafood Room.

The restaurant is located in the small, Kroger-anchored Riverview Village Shopping Center that has become one of southern Cobb’s dining destinations. In addition to C&S, it holds Tomo Japanese Restaurant (my current favorite destination for sushi), Taverna Fiorentina, Thai Diner and Olive Bistro.

The menu is a long, old-fashioned bill of fare that offers daily fish and oyster specials, steaks and chops, pastas and salads and all kinds of appetizers. It’s expensive, but that doesn’t keep the room from attracting a lively crowd early on a weeknight evening.

As I was dining alone, I really didn’t get to make much of a dent in the menu. I can’t really say I loved the fillet of halibut ($30, above) that I ordered. It came steamed in a pistou mussel broth in which bobbed bits of vegetal matter and a few shelled mussels. I found the strong basil flavor of the broth underscored the fishy pungency of the mussel liquor, and there wasn’t enough acid for counterbalance. The halibut had also spent too long in the broth and had a dry, parching texture. I think a fattier fish, such as Chilean sea bass, black cod or even salmon, would have fared better.

photo 1That said, I did love this bar snack (right) — a bowlful of parmesan chive popcorn ($4) that had me licking my greasy fingers. And I found the service top notch, as well it should be at these prices.

I’m thinking next visit will include popcorn, a martini, a few oysters and then maybe I’ll think about dinner.

What did I miss here? Help me figure out the next meal…

18 comments Add your comment

Daisy

September 7th, 2010
2:48 pm

I do eat in the main dining room occasionally (seared scallops are excellent, and a friend and I have been known to order the $60 cold appetizer platter of oysters, crab legs, mussels, shrimp, etc. and share it as a meal). I think the most enjoyable experience, however, is to sit at the bar, enjoy one of the well-made cocktails and fabulous oysters, and then order a meal from the separate and less-expensive bar menu. Try that next time, it is much more budget-friendly.

Ale Sharpton

September 7th, 2010
5:08 pm

Hey John, I am going to look forward to trying that “Parmesan Chive Popcorn” you tasted. It sounded great! As for coming back, certainly look out for their beer and food pairings. I have already been to two (hence my pseudonym), and was very pleased by everything they had to offer. Very consistent! Plus, they always have a wave of returning customers (including the Falcons owner and his family who were there during my last visit); they know a laundry list of good things I’m certain. Cheers!

Jillian Butler

September 7th, 2010
5:10 pm

We have dined at C&S dozens of times. The food is never a disappointment. We love the parmesan encrusted flounder, shrimp and goat cheese beignets, chopped salad, oysters, fried shrimp, chef specials, salmon carpaccio, long drinks (cocktails with love that make me stop and enjoy my time there) passion fruit mousse, filet and their wonderful carrot side dish to name a few. It’s the place we go to close deals, celebrate milestones and savor consistent fabulous food. Their waiters make us feel welcome and it’s the closest I can get to Manhattan without a plane ticket. I have not had one bad experience there. Try it again! Oh and their Sea Bass is wonderful along with the sauces that remind us of the Chef co-owner’s day at Brasserie Le Coze. This place has a vibe and there is nothing like it in Atlanta. Hope this gives you some things to try next time you are there. We love their lunch specials too. And they are open all day, so lunch at 3 or so is possible. That is a plus as we work long hours.

Blake W.

September 7th, 2010
5:30 pm

I love this place, and I come here pretty much every time I’m in from Washington. I think it’s that good. Maybe you caught them on a bad night, which I honestly never have. When you go back, start with the chopped salad or the shrimp cocktail with the pink mustard sauce. Or hell, both. Try the halibut again, but get it meunière next time. Halibut might not have held up in the broth, but let them give it the brown-butter-and-caper treatment and I think you’ll be singing a different tune. That or the salmon (broiled, with house-made hollandaise) are what I almost always get.

I agree with Daisy that the Plateaux de Fruits de Mer are amazing, and they’re really an experience you can’t get in many places in Atlanta. Rich and Jon really work hard to get the right seafood in at various times of year, and it shows.

Ale Sharpton (what up, D!) knows his beer, so listen up. I’m a beer guy, and I have to say I love their way-old-school cocktail menu and Rich’s near-mystical grasp of wine even more than the draft selection. The man can make a meritage at the table that will blow your mind. I’ve never seen him stumped, mostly because he and Jon love their wine and the menu sort of grows out from that.

Point is, give it another shot. That looked like a difficult dish to pull off, and while there’s no excuse for a subpar dinner at those prices, I’d say order something a little more tried and true and you won’t be disappointed.

jack trent

September 7th, 2010
6:04 pm

You should give TOMO a updated review. The “one” star review from a few years ago does not do the restaurant justice. Tomosan’s wife is an amazing pastry chef.

Mike and Mary

September 7th, 2010
6:35 pm

We too love C&S! But we consider it a few steps UP from The Oceanaire. John, think of this place as a really cozy, cool “joint” that serves some of the best seafood in the city. We agree–LOVE the popcorn!!” And the Halibut we’ve never had but love the many other fish C&S serves. Maybe we’ll see you at the bar where we’ll enjoy a delicious cold martini and indulge in another fantastic entree!!

John Kessler

September 7th, 2010
9:46 pm

Sounds like I definitely need to give them another chance. Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Appreciate it.

KoPP

September 8th, 2010
8:31 am

I’d be interested to see what the price vs. quality is, esp. with the bivalves. I tend to prefer a ‘cheap’ place where I can get my oyster jones on without taking out a loan. Casamento’s in N.O. still leads the pack, IMO.

jonnymack

September 8th, 2010
9:19 am

Hmmm, I think it’s interesting there are so many glowing reviews of this place. I’ve been 3-4 times so far and have had meals ranging from excellent to meh. They have overcooked my fish dishes a couple of times. The oysters have always been excellent. When they get the fish right, it’s out of this world. Despite the numerous waiters flying around, my waiter always seemed to disappear for stretches. Cocktails are always excellent and I love the bar. Atmosphere is great, very NY-ish with the hustle and bustle.

This is one of those places that I desperately want to love more than I do. If the prices weren’t so high I’d be more forgiving of the errs. Despite my hesitations, I know I’ll be back because I’m wanting this place to hit it’s stride with me and make this a destination joint for the wife and I.

Hugh J

September 8th, 2010
9:57 am

Yeah, I loves me some ‘cheap’ oysters too – having grown up on the Florida coast it’s one of the things I miss most about home, not to mention fresh fish. It’s why I always visit Acme Oyster Bar when I’m in New Orleans and Grand Central Oyster Bar in NYC. So I was absolutely stoked to discover C&S and to find them right up their with all my favs! Their oysters are always a treat, and the rest of the menu has to be about as good as it gets in this town. Now I’m hungry…

TroyWells

September 8th, 2010
11:49 am

Sorry John, ever thought you might have been having a bad day! It’s been proven that our frame of mind certainly can influence the way we see the world… and our dining experiences! Should you have been in the company of someone charming, the whole experience could have taken a twist. I’m respectfully speaking out of experience!
I have enjoyed C & S Seafood on every occasion. Growing up in the area, it was long over due. Now residing in Brookhaven, I’m actually going to dine there this week. Certainly think it’s worth the trip. I’ve always experienced a warm welcome at the door and I love the ambience of the place. It reminds me of a Seafood Bar in Chicago or San Francisco. The staff has consistently been eager to please and quite assertive. My favorite mouth-quencher is the Ginger Limeade. It almost sounds Healthy! The Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail will make you quiver in your seat, it is so tasty. Favorite entrée is the Blackened Trout Pontchartrain. One word to describe it…Divine! The arteries in my heart have their eyes closed while I’m munching on those delicious Parmesan Truffle Fries!!! And when I say, “Taste it with your Eyes First”, you must finish the evening off with the best Key Lime Pie in the city. Obviously, I am showing a little favoritism! I agree the bar and restaurant can be a little noisy at times. People are trying to squeeze in there for a taste of the action. During this slump in the economy, I’m happy to see that people are still digging deep into their pockets to support this place. Make the trip once more under better circumstances and I guarantee you that it will become one of your favorite dining destinations!

John Kessler

September 8th, 2010
12:12 pm

TroyWells — thanks for the info, but I was having a great day and really, really wanted to like that overcooked fish!

Jere

September 8th, 2010
1:26 pm

something tells me that several of these posts came from C&S employees

Michael

September 8th, 2010
1:52 pm

C & S is a great local resturant where everyone knows your name. The coctails are great and the wine selections outstanding. They even have a house carafe , white, red and rose which is a great value. Rich is a polished front of the house guy and the kitchen crew really does a great job with seafood. It certainly has the vibe of a neighborhood destination but will please business travelers and even some French gourmands from Normandy who knkow a bit about fruits de mer.

c&S fan

September 8th, 2010
3:56 pm

i love this restaurant, great service, great food. you misordered with the entree’….I have always gotten the snapper or grouper simply grilled with the sauce on the side! oysters and appetizers are great, and the french fries are insane….

rebelliousrose

September 9th, 2010
12:47 am

My one visit to C& S was so ludicrously bad I have never been willing to give them another chance; mediocre food, HORRIBLE service, (unless you count the helpful and earnest busboy) and generally all-around left feeling gouged. *shrugs* Maybe it was the worst night they ever had, who knows?

oohlalajerry

September 10th, 2010
5:50 am

Hmmm…I’ve always had a food orgasm when I’ve eaten there…and I eat there often. C&S has made me a food nympho.

Kristen

September 20th, 2010
2:22 pm

I suspect Jere is right. I’ve dined there once, and the while the
the atmosphere was nice and the service attentive, the food was so abysmal, I don’t have the desire to give them a second chance – certainly not at their prices. Our raw oysters were room temprature, and our fried oysters came out cold. If you’ve got “oyster bar” in your name, and you get can’t the oysters right, forget it.