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Kozmo Gastro Pub restaurant review, Alpharetta

$$

$$

Hang a right at the International Market and you’ll find Kozmo Gastro Pub tucked in an out-of-the-way strip mall, next to the tattoo parlor and the head shop.

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

Not exactly the directions you’d expect for a night out in Johns Creek, huh?

Owner Oswald Morgan isn’t new to the Atlanta dining scene. Many know him as one of the partners from the oft-lamented Globe in Midtown. After closing in late 2008, Morgan set his sights on the Alpharetta-Johns Creek area.

The space has a clean, modern feel, with industrial lighting and oversized chalkboard menus scrawled with weekly specials on the walls. Kozmo has built a loyal crowd that’s looking for a hip, upscale feel without leaving the suburbs.

Is this the best burger in Alpharetta? (photos by Becky Stein)

Is this the best burger in Alpharetta? (photos by Becky Stein)

Morgan certainly took a few liberties when adding “Gastro Pub” to the restaurant’s name when it opened n early 2009. The menu has its share of small plates, though no more than any other restaurant’s appetizer section. However, spend more than a few minutes in there on a Friday night and you won’t question that the packed bar is a draw.

The beer list is decent, though I wouldn’t mind seeing an expanded selection of craft beers on tap, and the wine list probably won’t titillate oenophiles.

More care goes into the cocktail selection, though Kozmo doesn’t win many points for creativity, and the nonspecific drink descriptions do more harm than good. Calling the Kozmorita ($7) a mingling of “New England with the fire of Mexico” oversells an otherwise tasty margarita with a splash of cranberry juice. The delicious Ginger Mule ($9), with a no-nonsense description of single-batch bourbon, lemon juice and ginger liqueur, does the best job of speaking for itself.

All conceptual grievances aside, Kozmo delivers its fair share of highlights. The none-too-humble declaration that the Kozmo Burger ($10) is the “best burger in town” pricks the skeptic in me. However, after biting into my medium-rare sirloin and brisket patty topped with caramelized onion, white cheddar and mayonnaise, all cynicism runs out of me like so much juice down my chin. I’m not ready to back their claim of being the best in town just yet, but it certainly makes ordering anything else difficult.

Instead of adding a side of fries ($4) with your burger, enlist a friend and upgrade to an order of the House Poutine ($12). Carefully layered with hunks of braised beef and mozzarella, the thin, savory gravy coats each fry with an abundance of flavor without saturating them to mush.

Duck confit pappardelle

Duck confit pappardelle

If the menu has a theme, it is comfort food. I would happily dive into a bowl of the Duck Confit Pappardelle ($20) on a cold winter night. The fresh pasta and caramelized onions soak up the savory jus of fork-tender duck, making for a hearty bowl begging for a nearby fireplace.

Or opt for the White Velvet Mac and Cheese ($4 side, $13 entree). This belly-warming blend of parmesan, mozzarella, white cheddar and blue cheese is creamy and satisfying, though I wish the blue cheese didn’t take such a back seat. An extra note of sharpness would elevate an already strong bowl of pasta to a truly remarkable one.

A few of the menu items feel a little dated, and I wonder if they would have undergone more revisions had Kozmo tried to keep its city feel in the actual city. Though the reliance on truffle oil in the Parmesan Truffled Tempura Mushrooms ($9.50) may be played out, I’m glad Morgan kept this one around. The crisp, salty tempura batter dipped in the lemon aioli works well with the earthy truffle oil, and makes for a great little bar snack.

I have long since stopped perking up when I see “fried calamari” on a menu, but I can’t knock Kozmo’s well-executed version ($9.50), served with a sweet and sour chili lime sauce.

If you have room for dessert, you won’t go wrong with the Vanilla Lava Puffs ($6), Kozmo’s take on a beignet. After a quick flash-fry, these golden brown treats burst with molten vanilla cake batter, and a dip in caramel and chocolate sauces makes for an eye-rolling indulgence.

Kozmo may not be an innovator, but the kitchen consistently executes very well and turns out satisfying comfort food. The atmosphere makes this an urban oasis deep in the heart of suburbia and certainly deserves a visit from those in the area.

KOZMO GASTRO PUB
11890 Douglas Road, Alpharetta, 678-526-6094
2stars5Food: Eclectic comfort food
Service: Friendly
Best dishes: Kozmo Burger, House Poutine, Vanilla Lava Puffs
Vegetarian selections: A few salads and sides
Price range: $$
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Sundays.
Children: Fine, but come early
Parking: Very tight, may spill over into adjacent parking lots. Complimentary valet on weekends.
Reservations: For large groups
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: No
Noise level: Moderate to loud
Patio: No
Takeout: Yes

ratings_key_febUSE

18 comments Add your comment

A

February 16th, 2012
10:41 am

As someone who has been to Kozmo numerous times, I would give it 3 stars. We live on the other side of Alpharetta from Kozmo yet will drive there every few months specifically for this restaurant. It’s unlike anything else in the Alpharetta/Milton/Johns Creek area and per your definition, “merits a drive if you’re looking for this kind of dining.” And yes, the lava puffs are incredible!

Edgewood Adam

February 16th, 2012
1:06 pm

“It’s unlike anything else in the Alpharetta/Milton/Johns Creek area and per your definition, “merits a drive if you’re looking for this kind of dining.”

So its like one of the 50 gastropubs that line the streets of Atlanta (city limits Atlanta, not the Atlanta suburbanites claim when asked where they are from while on vacation). Congrats Alpharetta. You have entered the late 90’s.

Grasshopper

February 16th, 2012
1:47 pm

Oooh…get a smell of Edgy Adam.

M Long

February 16th, 2012
1:51 pm

The tomato on the burger is not even close to being ripe…………………….

Doc Hollidawg

February 16th, 2012
4:21 pm

Must be hard carrying around such a large chip on your shoulder if you live in Atlanta (city limits Atlanta, not the Atlanta suburbanites claim when asked where they are from while on vacation). (and i

Edgewood Adam

February 16th, 2012
4:39 pm

Its not a chip on my shoulder. Its smugness and embarrassment for the horrible place that is Alpharetta. Im really proud of you guys though. You now have a an independent bar with decent food. What a novel concept

Art

February 16th, 2012
8:11 pm

Kozmo is a welcome addition to the Johns Creek area which allows me not to have to mingle with the smug-likes of E.A. It’s strikes me as funny that you never seem to have OTP’s dissing ITP’s but the opposite is rampant… Must be some sort of envy going on… short man, big watch, whatever. Enjoy every one of your 50-plus ITP gastropubs E.A. and remember to pack your 9mm…

Winky

February 17th, 2012
8:36 am

Oh Adam, they were being nice suggesting that you had a chip on your shoulder. It’s a charitable perspective of someone who went out of his way to be nasty without a reason.

Of course the other perspective is that you are just a miserable jerk.

And you have assured us all that you don’t have a chip on your shoulder.

Sugar Hill Patriot

February 17th, 2012
8:40 am

I think if I were trying to promote my own restaurant, I’d make the picture of the food look somewhat appetizing. That burger looks awful.

lfp6

February 17th, 2012
8:46 am

<—agrees with Sugar Hill Patriot.
That burger looks more like a glorified slider than a burger, imho.

75 Side

February 17th, 2012
8:58 am

Really? All this anger over a restaurant? Someone needs a hug.

Edgy Adam

February 17th, 2012
9:14 am

In the city limits (the actual city of Atlanta) we’ve moved beyond this concept of restaurants. Freeganism. We’re all over it. It’ll reach Alpharetta by 2030. And by that time, we (inside the city limits (the actual city of Atlanta)) will be at some point where we inject our nutrition between our toes. Eat that north Fulton! You’ll never be as cool as us down here. We have parking meters and such.

WHITEandGOLD

February 17th, 2012
9:42 am

This place is a joke… 40 somethings trying to be hip and hang out somewhere other than an applebees. The food is mediocre at best, and the services is less than exceptional. They had a cool concept, but they honestly don’t know what they are doing with it. My lady had ordered a burger from here once and had asked for it medium well. It came out very rare and we sent it back. they nuked it and placed it back on the blood soaked bun. I discussed the practice with the manager, and he truly didn’t care. There is a fine line between people who have pride in their menu and a place that is looking to make a buck of something that is a little different, this place is most definately the latter.

jefferson

February 17th, 2012
8:38 pm

Kozmo is a great neighborhood place to meet people in the community. The servers and bartenders are really kewl. The food is appropriate for a neighborhood place It’s familiar food done really well. I think you can look at all the 4 star restaurants that have graced the pages of ajc & creative loafing and most of them are closed. People are forgetting that a great restaurant is the one that the customers enjoy not critics and bloggers. Im personally sick of these new chefs reading online reviews and watching top chef and creating these laboratory restaurants that are so contrived instead of cooking food they have grown up on and have cooked for years in great kitchens. Atlantas restaurant scene is a f***ing mess. Secondly I will give $50 if anyone can name 50 gastro pubs in atlanta. really?? what? Hudson Grill? Taco Mac oh yea Atlanta has1 true gastro “holman finch”. Go to San Fran, Portland, Brooklyn we really need to get this food scene together or Atlanta will always be the home for Chains, Tacos, Pizza & mediocre Barbecue

AART

February 20th, 2012
12:10 pm

People like Adam are creepy, but we all have insecurities. His just runs deeper. The food is excellent. For a place that calls itself a gastropub, the drink selections are so/so. Outstanding restaurant, okay “pub.”

Dave

February 21st, 2012
5:52 pm

I guess Adam doesn’t realize that his trendy in town locations are still 15 years behing NYC’s.

Big Fans

February 21st, 2012
6:35 pm

The Salmon BLT is incredible. The burger is the best. The Fried Chicken dinner is awesome. The fries and the mashed potatoes are wonderful. The kid’s meals are a great value. We love Kozmos. We give it a 5 out of 5.

Diego

February 22nd, 2012
9:16 am

Tried the burger, liked it OK but $10? The mac & cheese, undercooked and milky?