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Viande Rouge Steakhouse restaurant review, Johns Creek

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Lock your car, walk across a parking lot so hot the tar is sticky, open a blacked-out corner door of a small retail strip and then your jaw will drop.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

Viande Rouge Steakhouse greets you with a thrilling whoosh of darkness and air conditioning. You stand at the entrance and gape at everything you slowly begin to discern in this dim, glittery room: a waiter flaming bananas Foster on a rolling cart, brocade-patterned walls the color of blood, sexed-up art in gilt frames. The hostess knows to stand by while you soak it in. She seems used to the response.

You wonder for a moment if you’ve taken a wrong turn and ended up in some infamous Nevada funhouse or perhaps a top-secret filming of “Mad Men.” But you have only a moment’s pause because you soon crave the adventure in adults-only dining that the restaurant handily delivers.

Viande Rouge (“red meat”) is the second restaurant from Thomas Taylor and chef Marc Sublette, who own the appealing Trattoria One 41 down-mall. They switch their game from high-end Italian to this winning culinary make-believe land — a swaggering American steakhouse dressed in extravagant French frippery. This is a place for oysters and foie gras, USDA Prime steaks and canard à l’orange, all of it prepared with skill.

Feast your eyes on this vision of adults-only dining and drinking (All photos by Becky Stein)

Feast your eyes on this vision of adults-only dining and drinking (All photos by Becky Stein)

A few things you should know before going:

  1. No one under 18 is allowed inside. This policy bites for Northview High kids scouting a locale for their prom dinner. But it suits the many tennis-enhanced couples here who’ve hired baby-sitters so they can dine in conjugal peace beneath arty images of nearly topless women.
  2. There’s a fantastic semi-private room in the back, where parties routinely seem giddy on the bar’s expertly mixed drinks and nicely varied selection of Old World and New World red wines.
  3. You’re in Cougartown. Tanned, taut, highlighted women of a certain age love the bar. Those in larger groups congregate at table 32, the six-top in the center of the room, and carry on something mighty.

If you’re a people watcher, your gaping jaw may never shut. But the kitchen will do what it can to commandeer your attention. There’s a woman at the next table literally poured into a white sequined minidress. And here’s a lobster bisque ($10) poured into a wide soup plate that tastes of sweet, oceanic funk rather than cream. A barely dressed heirloom tomato salad ($12) with peppery greens and ribbons of salty ricotta salata cheese lets the juicy sliced tomatoes contribute all the acid and sweetness this salad needs.

Ribeye with a bone marrow and shallot  butter "chapeau"

Rib eye with a bone marrow and shallot butter "chapeau"

Sublette pays attention to the flavors of his ingredients and thus avoids some of the excess so endemic to steakhouses. I don’t care whether he uses fresh or frozen for his creamed spinach ($8); it’s poofy and light, tasting of vegetable rather than salt or dairy. Fine, too, are the pommes frites ($8), a deep bowl of crisp shoestrings that stay appealing to the final bits.

I choose a glorious tangle of potato crunch called pommes rissolées ($8) to accompany my wet-aged 12-ounce New York strip ($38) — fat, tender and cooked exactly as ordered.

I decide to take this strip to the milliner and order one of the signature “chapeaux” or “hats” that the kitchen proposes for the steaks. Most of the choices (lobster thermidor, bacon and brie, fried oysters and tomato hollandaise) seemed too rococo — like putting a Texas cowboy in one of those Three Musketeer jobbers bedecked with ostrich plumes. So we opted for the relative restraint of roasted bone marrow with shallot butter ($8), which was luscious but nonetheless over-the-top rich after the first two bites.

I far preferred a hatless 18-ounce Delmonico rib eye ($44), its meaty flavor and crispy ring of fat providing all the flavor necessary. Ditto a sautéed Dover sole ($39), which the waiter wheeled to the table atop a cart, filleted and plated with tiny stripes of brown butter and no more than a dozen fried capers; you taste the succulent fish and then relish each tiny pop of flavor. Sublette, who long worked for the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, knows how to present luxury food.

Gorgeously updated duck a l'orange

Gorgeously updated duck a l'orange

The kitchen wedges a few flat-out French dishes into the menu, including a gorgeously updated duck à l’orange fashioned from one crisp duck confit leg and a beguiling pile of pulled duck meat, orange segments, frisée greens and potatoes in a light duck jus. As with the tomato salad, the fresh orange provides all the acid and sweetness this dish needs.

I suppose this foo-foo French business gets a little thick here and there. Dull, springy escargot ($12) seem perfunctory, as does a mini beef Wellington ($12) in a gluey pastry crust. These dishes don’t have the old-school charm they think they do.

And I really like all these waiters, but they might warn you that their menu recitations often take longer than the Tour de France. Ten minutes in, and we’re hearing about the “fillet d’Agnew,” which we’re informed is lamb and not a roasted vice president. Not to be a nattering nabob of negativism, but everyone here also needs a quick primer in French pronunciation.

That said, the Franco-American fantasy world of Viande Rouge always leaves me with a smile — particularly when the meal ends with a flaming dessert, such as Peach Louie ($10) — a concoction of fruit, sugar and booze. Though its leaping flames I can espy the ladies settling into table 32.

VIANDE ROUGE STEAKHOUSE
9810 Medlock Bridge Road, Johns Creek; 770-623-4959
3stars5Food: classic steakhouse menu with a few French flourishes
Service: rocks it old school, with vests, flaming desserts and lots of chatter
Best dishes: rib-eye steak, Dover sole, creamed spinach, soufflé of the day, pommes frites, duck à l’orange
Vegetarian selections: You could make a meal of the good sides, but this isn’t your restaurant.
Credit cards: All major
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 5-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
Children: no one under 18 admitted
Parking: in attached lot
Reservations: accepted and necessary on weekends
Wheelchair access: full
Smoking: not permitted; this place smokes all on its own
Noise level: moderate
Patio: no
Takeout: yes

ratings_key_febUSE

93 comments Add your comment

Elliot Garcia

August 18th, 2011
7:15 am

Who says there is not good dining outside the perimeter

carla roqs

August 18th, 2011
8:48 am

sounds like one for my list. yummy

Grasshopper

August 18th, 2011
9:05 am

John, you should be ashamed of yourself! Making all of us drool this early in the morning is criminal. Especially when we are eating yogurt.

Mike

August 18th, 2011
9:06 am

I can’t imagine going to John’s Creek for anything, much less a night out. Thanks for an irrelevant review.

Augusta

August 18th, 2011
9:16 am

Yet another high priced restaurant. No thanks, I’ll go to the grocery store and grill my own steak, for less than $15.00.

kevin

August 18th, 2011
9:22 am

Looks pretty amazing, actually. But Mike hit the nail on the head. Who cares unless you live in John’s Creek?

Theron Sapp

August 18th, 2011
9:25 am

Nice Agnew reference there, Mr. Kessler. Well played.

@mike

August 18th, 2011
9:26 am

Thanks for your irrelevant comment douchebag. You can just stay ITP with all the other hood rats.

Kramer

August 18th, 2011
9:34 am

Mike, you are a moron with a irrelevant post. Not everything has to be about Atlanta or Buckhead people.

JRC

August 18th, 2011
9:41 am

What a shame it is such a drive from Viande Rouge down to Johnny’s Hideaway. Sounds like the perfect way for this crowd to work off Peach Louie.

I can’t quite get past the strip mall tar pit shuffle to have a special dinner, especially since I would have to drive by Bones, Chops and Rathbun Steak to get there, but it does sound like a lot of fun.

Welcome back John. Hope you are well rested and have finally nailed down the new term for Farm to Table. I applaud you for choosing a restaurant to review that didn’t require the phrase.

G

August 18th, 2011
9:42 am

You’re right, Mike and kevin – this targeted review should have been titled, “Wonderful Steakhouse for People Who Like to Live Where They Don’t Have to Pack Heat Just To Go To the Grocery Store.”

Greg

August 18th, 2011
9:47 am

Mike, as I’ve pointed out before, people in New York make fun of you for living in Atlanta. Yet, for whatever reason, you choose to forego NY’s offerings for this fine city. Same goes for those of us who prefer to live outside the city limits. People who live in glass houses….

Condescending

August 18th, 2011
9:52 am

John, I’m obviously not the seasoned meteorologist you are, but I’m willing to guess that the parking lots in Decatur that day were just as hot as the ones in Johns Creek.

Just made the reservation

August 18th, 2011
9:57 am

It’s a great spot for this place, most of Atlanta’s wealth is concentrated from Sandy Springs to Alpharetta, plus the fact that they don’t allow the ankle biters is an added bonus

Get Over It Mike!

August 18th, 2011
10:02 am

News flash Mike — there are people who live outside of the City who read the AJC and appreciate restaurant reviews from all areas of Metro-Atlanta. Perhaps you should leave your bubble sometime and see what you are missing! Thanks for the review John.

Dude

August 18th, 2011
10:12 am

A manager at Chops was telling me one time that the vast majority of their business comes from expense accounts. I wonder if that’s true for this restuarant, too. There are a lot of tech firms in Alpharetta and Johns Creek.

Finally OTP

August 18th, 2011
10:13 am

Lived in Buckhead next to Hal’s for the past 6 years, finally moved to Sandy Springs and wishing I had moved out of the city years ago. Thanks for the great review John, looking forward to trying this one out!! Good riddance ITP!!!!

john wallis

August 18th, 2011
10:15 am

USDA Prime is a meaningless appellation and no indicator of actual meat quality. The USDA grades beef according to just two factors, age of the cow at slaughter and marbling. How the beef was reared and fed, how much antibiotic or hormone supplement it received, whether it was allowed to graze on pasture or kept in a feed lot pen up to it’s belly in fecal waste is not a factor in any USDA grade. It should be but it isn’t. There are USDA Prime steaks I wouldn’t feed my dog.

Atlanta Native

August 18th, 2011
10:17 am

Sounds like a creepy place with trashy women and overpriced food.

Ganners

August 18th, 2011
10:19 am

Best part: No kids under 18!!

I hope other establishments in and around town follow the lead. Keep you crying cracker dust makers at home.

Grasshopper

August 18th, 2011
10:43 am

Let me guess.

Mike is:
– 27 years old
– thrilled to be living in a 1 room trash-pit apartment ‘near’ Little 5 Points
– glad he finally got out of Hooterville
– still trying to get his under-grad degree
– working part-time as a ’server’
– still wearing ironic t-shirts
– trying to prove he is really cool by making fun of people ‘OTP’

Steve

August 18th, 2011
10:48 am

Interesting review.

Even more interesting that the comment section has become the typical troll thread that seems to populate the AJC food blogs. Here, we have two troll-tastic topics: 1) the usual “ITP/OTP” rants, and 2) kids/no kids in restaurants.

In my experience, you come to the AJC food blog for the restaurant reviews, but you stay for the hilarity that is the comment section. Troll away…

Attn Atlanta Native

August 18th, 2011
10:50 am

Dear Atlanta Native: You are wrong on all three counts :) Viande Rouge is a great place for a special evening out. It is very romantic with a classy clientele and the food is done to perfection!! Get out of your bubble you are still in the South :)

Get Over It Mike!

August 18th, 2011
11:21 am

Grasshopper – Nice post…You are dead on!

Tonya C.

August 18th, 2011
11:38 am

John, thanks for this one. Plan on making a reservation as this place seems right up my alley.

Pricing?

August 18th, 2011
12:14 pm

Should the 3 stars be viewed relative to the 4 dollar signs? Food sounds great, but the pricepoint seems disproportionately high. Although avoiding other people’s kids might be worth the premium….

Brian

August 18th, 2011
12:17 pm

Great review, I’ve eaten at Viande Rouge and it is sexy and the food is great. It is corn fed Midwestern beef field raised and very delicious, you could never get that steak at a grocery store for 15 dollars!

Art

August 18th, 2011
12:19 pm

How a steakhouse review could elicit more snarky comments than Michele Bachmann eating a corn dog, is beyond me. I don’t care where this place is, I’m going. I’m in need of a great steak and if the woman beside me happens to be “poured into a white sequined minidress” all the better. Thanks for the review John.

kevin

August 18th, 2011
12:46 pm

No question, the restaurant looks good. If I lived nearby, I would completely check it out. However, I don’t live nearby. I think my and Mike’s point is that John’s Creek is not a place to venture to if you live in town. Nothing against John’s Creek, but with the various excellent restaurants in Atlanta, there is no reason to drive 30 miles to find a steakhouse.

carla roqs

August 18th, 2011
1:14 pm

everyone is entitled to their opinion, which is a good thing as the ajc blogs allow for that. i like john, i like his reviews and the restaurants that he thumbs up and i have followed him to have had great food. i like switching up where i eat out. bones is nice, foga de chao (sp) has great bread (and food):) but i NEED to change up. aaaaand…im sorry- who made up the rule that you have to eat at the same places all the time? and who was responsible for that other ‘new’ rule: you can only eat within a certain radius of your home? SMCH

carla roqs

August 18th, 2011
1:17 pm

and kevin, you are being rational-i am not speaking against you– just making a general statement for those who are soooo adamant about traveling.

G

August 18th, 2011
1:18 pm

That’s great Kevin, but the fact that you don’t live near this restaurant doesn’t make this “an irrelevant review.”

Or were you under the delusion that John Kessler is your own personal reviewer who should never venture outside the areas to which you are willing to drive?

Mark

August 18th, 2011
1:20 pm

Too far for me to go but that doesn’t mean it’s an irrelevant review. Still, John, a pet peeve is the lack of description of the wine program beyond ” nicely varied selection of Old World and New World red wines.”

Strikes me that many willing to spend this much on steak are also likely to drop a bundle on wine to accompany. In a city that markedly underachieves when it comes to wine lists, it would be fun to get a couple additional sentences regarding there efforts. Is there a good sommelier who can help with decision making? Do they do interesting stuff–northern Rhones, Priorats, super tuscans? Is it Silver Oak (yawn) or Cliff Lede (yay)? A Bern’s or Charlie Trotter-quality wine list WOULD get me to drive all the way up there!

Mark

August 18th, 2011
1:21 pm

oops, “their efforts.”

Edgewood Adam

August 18th, 2011
1:27 pm

The point is that suburban dorks come into our wonderful city to dine and for entertainment. The reason for this is Atlanta is an actual city. Nobody is going to drive to the Northern suburbs to eat at a steakhouse. You can claim Atlanta is a slum all you want. Those of us who live in Atlanta know that its great.

carla roqs

August 18th, 2011
1:31 pm

Adam, the ATL is a great place with wonderful restaurants. but the ATL is also part of a completely hidden world with private clubs and little tucked away venues with marvelous food that only the initiated know about. yes, expense accounts help, but advanced planning does as well.

carla roqs

August 18th, 2011
1:35 pm

and dont you sometimes get tired of fighting for a parking spot or HAVING to do valet parking?? intown places are sometimes a headache just because of parking issues–but that is just in my opinion, lol.

G

August 18th, 2011
1:37 pm

Adam, I work downtown, but live in Johns Creek. No, I wouldn’t call Downtown a slum. Well, yes, parts of are definitely a slum (and you would agree with that if you were honest), but most of it is not.

What downtown lacks, in my opinion, is decent greenspace, affordable housing, low crime, and good schools. But I also realize that those aren’t priorities to many people.

What’s important here is that all of us are living where we want to. The huge backlash you see here is due to Mike saying, and Kevin agreeing, that a restaurant is “irrelavent.” And that, my good fellow, is how you define a dork.

JRC

August 18th, 2011
1:38 pm

Oh how I love these ITP OTP slap fights! Yes, Ansley Park is full of gun toting thugs robbing million dollar homes, and Alpharetta is all strip malls and commuting soulless automatons.

Both deserve good restaurants, and many exist. The question is whether you would brave a trip up or down 400 to eat there. The restaurant that pulls that off has done something special. While cool, doesn’t sound like this one has, as most have not. Hope you good folks up in John’s Creek enjoy it!

Edgewood Adam

August 18th, 2011
1:46 pm

Intown housing is plenty affordable if you are a reasonable human being. Nobody needs a house bigger than 2000 sq feet. I never have a problem with parking at intown places because I walk. I dont know of any place i would even want to eat at that does not have ample parking. Maybe there are not 3000 spaces in a huge sprawl wasteland but there is enough parking.

Edgewood Adam

August 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

@G
As a former Johns Creek resident i can say with 100% accuracy that it is a terrible place to live. It has worse traffic than downtown Atlanta and maybe two good places to eat. Then you idiots went and got your own police department (because it was real dangerous out there)so now everyone is getting tickets and DUIs. Johns Creek = SUCK.

G

August 18th, 2011
2:11 pm

Thanks Adam. For leaving Johns Creek.

Edgewood Adam

August 18th, 2011
2:37 pm

I hate myself:(

Heaven of Mars

August 18th, 2011
2:44 pm

Mr. K, I’m surprised that your editor let the ‘they’ in the third-to-last paragraph slide. It’s obviously incorrect.

carla roqs

August 18th, 2011
2:52 pm

heaven, i cannot believe that you went there. carla roqs, i cannot believe you even checked what heaven was referring to. i am out…last straw…SMCH

up north

August 18th, 2011
3:10 pm

I am actually starting to really feel bad for you John, with the comments here. You seem to get blasted no matter what you review. Try to keep up the good work. I do not agree with some of your taste in food; but, this was a good, straight-forward review of a pretty normal, yet expensive steak place, OTP. Maybe we should stick to just reading the reviews and disregard the comments.

John Kessler

August 18th, 2011
3:24 pm

Mark — I definitely could have and should have written more about the wine list, but had a hard time wedging it into the story. I’ve been thinking about trying to reinstate a spot in the sidebar to discuss the wine list and need to talk to my editor about that. But since you ask: I found a lot more imagination in the selection of red wines than white wines on the list, and there is a sommelier who can discuss the list with you. I had a terrific red Graves — Chateau de Seuil — for $56. The wine list is online.

up north — No worries. I have a thick skin and live in an unusual structure that actually straddles the Perimeter, so I can relate to both sides. :)

Wait a minute

August 18th, 2011
3:40 pm

John, are you that guy that tried to sell me a rose on the speghetti junction ramp one time?

Al

August 18th, 2011
4:36 pm

I have eaten at Viande Rouge several times since it opened a few months ago, and many times at Trattoria One41. Both offer excellent food, great service, and a wonderful adult dining experience. If you enjoy the highest quality food with a great glass of wine. . .these are the top choices in the area. If you try it once, you will keep going back. Just don’t take my table.

PTC DAWG

August 18th, 2011
4:55 pm

The petty arguing on here is just that, petty.

Sounds like a good place to eat, but alas, my golf cart won’t make it that far north.