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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

STK Restaurant Review, Midtown

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If only I were an animagus from the world of Harry Potter. I’d transform into a mouse and crawl into a sparkly clutch bag that some young woman places on the bar at STK. From this vantage point, I’d watch as her girlfriends arrived, all wearing flowing crepe mini-dresses and high-wedge sandals. They would gather for a round of libations called “Not Your Daddy’s Manhattan” ($14), the mix of bourbon and vermouth turned Cosmo-sweet with the addition of fruity Licor 43.

John Kessler is the chief dining critic for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

John Kessler is the chief dining critic for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

From my hiding place, I’d follow them as they trailed behind a tall manager wearing a fitted suit and a Secret Service-style listening device coiling to his ear. He’d usher us past a wall mural composed of scores of plaster steer horns to a scalloped white leatherette booth in the dining room. All eyes would turn.

The ladies would order a second round of cocktails and shrimp rice krispies ($14) — a clever assemblage of fat prawns and undulating puffed shrimp wafers. The waiter would pour rich, silky shrimp bisque atop it, and the crackers would crackle like cereal. What fun. More cocktails!

Peeking out of the purse, I would espy the bopping head of the DJ in his booth. Is he really spinning “Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc.? Indeed, he is. It’s all ’80s all the time here. Maybe the ladies will — like so many before them — climb the steps to the central raised platform ringed by booths and start dancing. Maybe they’ll do the Bump. People did the Bump in the ’80s, right?

STK advertises itself with an image of a leggy woman in red stiletto heels carrying a raw ribeye on a meat hook as if it were a Kate Spade bag. Its tag line is “Not Your Daddy’s Steakhouse.” Based out of New York, it has branches in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami and here. The steaks themselves will come in junior miss sizes if desired and the “waistline conscious” menu features loads of salad and light entrees.

What exactly is STK? A steak house for young women and the guys who want to ogle them? A restaurant straining to morph into a nightclub? A celeb hangout for the new Hollywood of the South?

STK is an eyeful — with ’80s music. It’s a place to see and be seen, to drink and dance and spend. (All photos by Becky Stein/Special)

STK is an eyeful — with ’80s music. It’s a place to see and be seen, to drink and dance and spend. (All photos by Becky Stein/Special)

All of the above, and I have to say: It sure feels right for the moment. Set as it is in the heart of the glassy new curve of Peachtree Street that we call the Midtown Mile, it not only gives the city center a venue for NeNe Leakes and Matty Ice sightings, it fills a niche. STK is really a cannily updated supper club with a good-natured sense of glamour. You can come here for dinner and dancing, whether you actually remember the ’80s or not.

The menu has a kind of corporate-honed contemporary edge that slices into the he-man ethos of most other steak houses. The cuts of beef come in three sizes (like Starbucks lattes), and they can be goosed with all manner of sauces and toppings. Clever sides, raw-bar offerings and tricked-out entrees that seem straight from an Asian fusion restaurant round things out.

In two visits, I’ve found it mostly competent, sometimes surprisingly good, and sometimes surprisingly off. Prices do add up to the point that a not-very-drinky dinner for two with tip hits $200. Your reaction to that figure (and to the prospect of a night of INXS and Duran Duran) will tell you whether this restaurant is worth it for you.

Trendy STK serves some fine food, including steaks, and some less worthy, overpriced items

Trendy STK serves some fine food, including steaks, and some less worthy, overpriced items

What should you order? Well . . . steak. The 16-ounce sirloin ($42) from the list of medium-sized cuts has a salty, crunchy sear and comes at a spot-on medium temperature. It had been well-rested. An add-on of truffle butter ($10) features plenty of actual black truffle bits, almost justifying the steep price. A 6-ounce filet ($27) cooked to a fine medium-rare satisfies the waistline-conscious member of my party. Of all the toppings (Oscar garnishes, foie gras, lobster) and sauces (chimichurri, blue butter) she opts for the house STK sauce, which has the sweet, pickley tang of British HP Sauce.

Clever sides (all $8) range from terrific chunks of roasted salsify (like the love child of artichoke and parsnip) to wild mushroom pot pie (in a cream sauce under a tender pastry lid) to forgettable creamed spinach.

This quality steak house fare makes me want to better explore the surprisingly varied and affordable wine list. (The paltry wines-by-the-glass program needs work.)

Appetizers, apart from the trippy fun of those shrimp rice krispies, haven’t much moved me. The signature iced seafood platter ($20 per person) looks smashing but shouldn’t worry the folks at Oceanaire across the street. The two of us share three oysters, a well-cleaned but flavorless mini-lobster, two small lengths of king crab and a whole lot of pickled shrimp. The chill and vinegar conspire to toughen the shrimp and bring out its iodine notes. Shredded pear and endive tossed with arugula and blue cheese crumbles ($11) is fine.

Chef Jeremy Miller pours lobster bisque onto shrimp rice krispies.

Chef Jeremy Miller pours lobster bisque onto shrimp rice krispies.

So how does this kitchen do when it actually cooks something more complicated than a steak?

I’m not sure yet. A braised beef short rib ($28) with a swipe of carrot butterscotch purée has got it all — the fork tenderness, the rendered-out fat, the sticky edges, the deep flavor that earns its sweet accent of sauce.

But a special of sea scallops ($38) with paddlefish caviar that arrives in art-school splotches of beet purée on an enormous square plate is all out of whack — everything we fear in trendy food. Too sweet, too salty. The scallops aren’t those meaty diver ones but those jiggly ones that need a coating of flour to get any kind of browning. And — gulp — they’re $38.

So here I am, sitting in a cute little booth for two, paying close attention to my food, and coming to the conclusion that it is more promising than you’d expect from the club-like vibe, but more inconsistent than it should be.

But I want to turn back into a mouse.

I want to crawl back into that purse and be there when the party comes back from dancing and pulls out gift bags, because they’re here to celebrate a birthday. And, look, there’s real birthday cake ($8) on the menu! Rosettes of pink icing. Swirls of chocolate.

They love STK. There’s no place in Atlanta quite like it.

STK
1075 Peachtree St., Midtown, 404-793-01441stars5
Food: Up-to-date steak house fare, with some lighter choices.
Service: Extremely professional and attentive; both waiters we had were really terrific at their jobs.
Best dishes: Sirloin steak, braised short ribs, roasted salsify, mushroom pot pie.
Vegetarian selections: Salads and sides
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Price range: $$$-$$$$
Credit cards: All major
Hours: 5-10:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 5-11:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
Children: No way.
Parking: Valet (which took a while on both visits)
Reservations: Yes
Wheelchair access: Full
Smoking: No
Noise level: Higher on Wednesdays-Saturdays, when a DJ spins ‘80s music. But you can talk without shouting earlier in the evening.
Patio: Yes
Takeout: Yes
ratings_key_febUSE

56 comments Add your comment

My thoughts exactly

April 5th, 2012
7:49 am

I may be a bit undelicate here, but this place, although trendy right now, is overpriced and thinks it’s too cool for you to eat there. Definitely not worth the hassle and expense with so many better options nearby.

If you’re picking this restaurant because you may spot NeNe Leakes here, more power to ya but I don’t want to dine while trying to be starstruck.

Menu sounds good, but when you check out the prices and the execution, it should be half.

Hmmm

April 5th, 2012
8:29 am

It actually sounds FUN. Like you aren’t going to be blown away by the food, this isn’t going to be the best meal you’ve ever eaten, but it’s good enough and with the right people, you are going to have a great time. I’ll put STK on my list of places to try.

sansho1

April 5th, 2012
9:13 am

It does indeed sound funTM. Shine on, beautiful people!

Kristen

April 5th, 2012
9:52 am

Might be fun were I not approaching 40 with the figure of a foodie. I had the pleasure of spotting NeNe at Chops Lobster bar – great people watching AND great food, so I’ll stick to that.

Personally

April 5th, 2012
9:55 am

The ambience sounds like SHT

George

April 5th, 2012
9:59 am

A DJ booth in a restaurant…. hahahahaha.

wow!

April 5th, 2012
10:01 am

Everything that’s wrong with America all wrapped up in one tidy package!

p.s. – I hate it when my NeNe leaks..

George

April 5th, 2012
10:20 am

Does the “Stand your Ground” law apply just for being in the same room as Nene Leaks?

dr. zorders

April 5th, 2012
11:16 am

who gives a frig about nene leakes?

gator32301

April 5th, 2012
11:26 am

$42 sirloin? i don’t care if it comes with a side of another sirloin, there is no way i would spend that much for that cut.

Ganners

April 5th, 2012
11:46 am

And all I can think about is the movie Ratatouille!

Victor

April 5th, 2012
12:57 pm

This reminds me of when Marilyn Hagerty ate at Le Bernardin and then reviewed it. Not saying STK is anywhere near the level of LB but it’s similar on another level. She was so out of place and this review was not far from it. Very amusing read nonetheless.

Krystle Meyer

April 5th, 2012
1:00 pm

“the glassy new curve of Peachtree Street that we call the Midtown Mile”

Does anyone actually call it that?

Lemonhead D'Lite

April 5th, 2012
1:00 pm

Stop complaining about prices and your ditaste for certain celebrities. This place is cool, and you’re not. The food is just ok, and the prices are just high enough to keep most of the Gwinnett County losers out.
If you are like my friends and I (30-something, nice car, attractive), and you want to see some primo talent, this is the spot. It is literally 2 to 1 ladies in here and most of them are attractive. And I’m not talkng about the chubby housewives sitting at the bar drinking margaritas at your local Mexican restaurant. 22-year-old models.
But if you can’t handle that just do us all a favor and stick to Outback. Losers.

Drew

April 5th, 2012
1:10 pm

KDOGDELICIOUS

April 5th, 2012
1:13 pm

I’d rather eat at Applebee’s, at least I could get a drunk ass I wanted and accidentally punch the fancy-pants SS Manager in the nuts! Nothing but fat people in here…. ugh!

KDOGDELICIOUS

April 5th, 2012
1:17 pm

Primo talent??? It requires no talent whatsoever to DJ. Haha, he sounds like an dunce, but not of the Gwinnett Co. variety.

Edward

April 5th, 2012
1:29 pm

Yet another place to avoid.

Grasshopper

April 5th, 2012
1:42 pm

Why are there so many sour people in the world?

This place sounds fun – albeit expensive fun – 20 years and pounds ago.

Veggie

April 5th, 2012
2:03 pm

@Lemonhead, no I’m like my friends and me.

Veggie

April 5th, 2012
2:10 pm

No, Lemonhead, we’re like my friends and me. We like to speak proper grammar.

Krystle Meyer

April 5th, 2012
2:18 pm

@veggie – try one more time! Come on, you can do it!

MekongDelta

April 5th, 2012
2:27 pm

^^ hahahahahahaah

Chelsea Highliner

April 5th, 2012
2:37 pm

STK is an import from Manhattan’s meatpacking district. Most New Yorkers would only go there to get a drink and laugh at the bridge-and-tunnel crowd (NYC slang for OTP’ers) that fills the place. There are far better drinking and steak places in New York and Atlanta. It’s a loud, pretty, expensive place filled with loud, pretty, cheap people.

Grasshopper

April 5th, 2012
3:21 pm

“It’s a loud, pretty, expensive place filled with loud, pretty, cheap people.”

As opposed to a quiet, ugly, cheap place filled with quiet, ugly, expensive people?

Veggie

April 5th, 2012
3:30 pm

OK, since you’re urging me on, speak proper English, use proper grammer. Ta Da!

eatoutatlanta

April 5th, 2012
3:52 pm

birthday cake $8…… its free at most restaurants in Atlanta…

Krystle Meyer

April 5th, 2012
3:53 pm

@Veggie: Good job on the GRAMMAR, now lets try spelling! Baby steps!

TD

April 5th, 2012
3:55 pm

I thought to myself “who the ____ is NeNe Leaks?” oh she is a housewife from Gwinnett County, these comments are very strange to me. However I am still curious if we will be able to NeNe at STK.

Krystle Meyer

April 5th, 2012
4:00 pm

“who the ____ is NeNe Leaks?”

If you have to ask this question, you are either too old or too white for Atlanta.

Veggie

April 5th, 2012
4:09 pm

Or, perhaps a bit too refined, KM. We can’t all be ghetto.

Bob from Accounttemps

April 5th, 2012
4:17 pm

Had my first try at Rathbun’s Steak a week or so ago. With places like that in town, why go anyplace else for steak? Truly outstanding for both me and my guest. Great space, great service, great food. ‘Nuf said.

KDOGDELICIOUS

April 5th, 2012
4:28 pm

ONE STAR, this place is below contempt – the patrons and employees alike. I love to snicker at and judge the OTPer’s like the rest of us Atlanta foodies but I also love being reminded why I look down my nose at the meatpacking midtown crowd. You people just suck. Go back to Buckhead and shut up.

Baltisraul

April 5th, 2012
6:02 pm

I give this place 90 days then closed for good!!!!!!!!!!!!!

nique

April 5th, 2012
6:10 pm

Didn’t really like it, but I am rooting for it if for no other reason than to avoid another empty restaurant/retail space in Midtown.

sansho1

April 5th, 2012
6:45 pm

That should be in their marketing materials — “THE place for guys in their mid-30s to hit on 22-year-old models. Intelligent women 28 and up may safely avoid.”

E.E.M.

April 5th, 2012
9:55 pm

Unfortunately, for STK, i feel as though John is out of his element. One could say, that he is perhaps a little “too old” for this vibe. STK is a young and trendy environment. John, comes off like an old man, when he implies that the crowd at STK would not know of 80’s music. As if to say, “those damn young’ns they don’t know a thing about noth’n!” STK may not bring the the “artistic” and sometimes obnoxious feel to their food, however it does bring a young flirty audience good food when they are in the mood to party. Having a DJ, to me, would already put this restaurant into a different category all together. Truthfully speaking Atlanta has never seen a restaurant quite like this one. The idea of a club/dinning experience is new to the area. So if you are looking to have a night out with your closet book buddies, maybe this is not the place for you. If you are out on the town for a fun dinner complete with dancing all under one roof (no need to hop around) then STK is your place. Getting back to my original thought, Mr.Kessler should be asking himself if he even has the merit to be judging a place that he quite possibly is “too old” for? Is it possible, John, that you have reached the part in your life, when a good time is sitting in a rocking chair waving your fists at “those darn kids?” As for the the Atlanta patron, if you are out for a dinner and dancing kind of night, i would highly suggest STK. And if you would like to visit with you grand-daddy you can try the golden corral where the prices are cheaper, the music is nonexistent and the food is so consistent that it barely has any taste. And while you are on your way maybe you could also pick up GRAND-DADDY KESSLER (remind him to bring his teeth).

Atlanta Native

April 6th, 2012
11:04 am

Sounds like a terrible experience geared towards clueless people. And ladies, have a little self-respect.

Max Lenker

April 6th, 2012
11:38 am

This is a serious question. Who is Nene Leaks?

Sheroq

April 6th, 2012
12:17 pm

I’ll just keep going to PRIME for my steaks….I’ve never had a bad one there. But I wish STK all the best. And if I ever go and NeNe is there, hopefully she’ll take a picture with me and hubby (he’s had one picture with her already). Go STK and Go NeNe!

MekongDelta

April 6th, 2012
1:58 pm

E.E.M. Did you not read about the PR idiot from the Reynolds group that got busted posting positive reviews in JK’s Blog? What firm do you work for? The Moron Group? It’s quite obvious you are affiliated with this restaurant….stop being a shill.

Atlantan

April 6th, 2012
2:28 pm

I’m glad to see John is being honest about the food quality. I hate how restaurants think they can give a few free meals to “celebs” (I use that term loosely) and people will flock.

Atlantan

April 6th, 2012
2:35 pm

If you want steak in ATL and don’t want to sit amongst the 80 year old stick-up-their-butt Buckhead types at Chops/Hal’s/Bones….go to Kevin Rathbun Steak. Its fantastic.

FM Fats

April 6th, 2012
3:36 pm

Good food and a club at half the price at Sound Table.

david c

April 6th, 2012
8:11 pm

Oh goody. A restaurant for the cool kids. Next week the soundtrack will be insipid neo-rock to drown out the nattering.

John Kessler

April 7th, 2012
2:04 am

Wow…lotsa comments. On vacation this week, but will read when I get back!

Baltisraul

April 7th, 2012
8:25 am

nique…….if the put a Dollar Store in its place it would never be vacant.

Baltisraul

April 7th, 2012
8:39 am

John……….whatever happened to the Brunch Resturant that was reviewed last year? You remeber, the one that was not open for Sunday brunch. Believe they served on styrofoam plates and waxed paper?

Edward

April 7th, 2012
5:40 pm

FM, you’re right. A place like Sound Table would be a much better experience for far less money. STK sounds like a flashy place for flashy people, those who think overpaying means good quality, who care more about being seen (and being seen paying exorbitant prices!). I’m glad to have places like STK to draw in those people, so the rest of us can dine in peace at better places.

Honesty

April 8th, 2012
10:36 am

STK just doesn’t work in Atlanta. The food is awful. The quality of the steaks is not up to par. Only two of the cuts are actually dry aged. Better quality at any other steak house. The dishes consistently come out dirty and are down right nasty. I had to ask the waiter twice for new silverware. My glass had food that had been polished into the glass. Have you never heard of a rinsing agent?!? All of the managers look like tools with their ear pieces and suits. One of the managers is holding onto his hair for dear life, truly hilarious. I thought this place was for trendy attractive people?!?

Ramona Clef

April 8th, 2012
1:25 pm

What is a mini-lobster?

Baltisraul

April 8th, 2012
1:34 pm

Ramona Clef……a mini lobster is a little bitty, tiny lobster. you are welcome. It’s chef talk!

aka A

April 8th, 2012
5:46 pm

John, John, John. Oh, dear John! ” Funkytown” is from the 70s – the same decade that people were doing the Bump. Thank you for making me feel “in” and “cool” – something I haven’t actually been since the 80s. If then. ;) And the 80s were the last decade a place like STK would have held any appeal for me. Thanks for saving me a disappointing trip there.

awaste

April 9th, 2012
5:30 am

A waste of time and money!!!! Over-priced drinks and food! I’ll give it a year before the doors are closed!

Grasshopper

April 9th, 2012
9:31 am

Wrong aka A.

Funkytown came out in 1980. I remember because I worked at Six Flags that summer after high school graduation and they played it at the Crystal Pistol during an employee dance.

It sounded like the 70’s but it was firmly in the 80’s.

RK

April 9th, 2012
10:45 am

I guess John had to go to North Dakota for the week.