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

Atlanta Revisited: Cabernet Steakhouse, Alpharetta



Last December, a new breed of steakhouse opened in Atlanta. STK, branded as a steakhouse for women, serves small “female-friendly” portions, lighter options and fruity cocktails in a trendy atmosphere complete with cream leather banquettes. The restaurant markets itself with the slogan: “Not Your Daddy’s Steakhouse.”

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

If STK isn’t your daddy’s steakhouse, then Alpharetta’s Cabernet Steakhouse might be. Modeled after what chef Richard Holley calls the “grand steakhouses of New York,” Cabernet’s dining room, overpolished and swathed in warm wood tones, exudes an unmistakable masculine sensibility. The restaurant even boasts an enclosed cigar bar off the main dining room, its popularity proven by the waitlist for cigar lockers. (Not a smoker? A separate ventilation system prevents any trace of smoke in the main dining room.)

Cabernet, which opened in 2000, sits near the Windward Parkway/Ga. 400 intersection. It caters to area businesses, one of the few upscale options in the area. It serves classic American favorites such as burgers, wraps and sandwiches by day and classic steakhouse fare by night.

Groups of businessmen congregate at Cabernet on weeknights, some taking advantage of the Wednesday evening $10 scotch and cigar specials. And while the restaurant offers more than a dozen types of scotch, my eye (but not my wallet) is on the $65 23-year Pappy Van Winkle bourbon (10-, 15- and 20-year vintages also available).

Rock salt roasted ribeye (photos by Becky Stein)

Rock salt roasted ribeye (photos by Becky Stein)

If the food, atmosphere or level of service here reminds you of Buckhead Life’s family of restaurants, that’s no coincidence. Holley, who apprenticed at New York’s Le Bernardin, kicked off his Atlanta career at Lobster Bar and Chops, both owned by Buckhead Life. He says he loved the “power dining” at Chops and wanted to create the same experience at Cabernet. Holley also continues to source his bread from the Buckhead Life-owned Buckhead Bread Co.

In the front of the house, general manager Jason Zaleski, who previously worked for Buckhead Life’s Atlanta Fish Market, executes the level of service you would expect of a “grand steakhouse.” Steaming towels are proffered after the mussels course, steaks for two are presented before carving and the staff slides half-moon banquette tables to the side as you shimmy into the booth. The only gaffe here was the need to flag the waiter on each of my visits to request the wine book containing dozens of big, bold California cabernets (among others) to pair with big, juicy steaks.

Herb-crusted rack of lamb

Herb-crusted rack of lamb

Most of Cabernet’s steaks come from Buckhead Beef and Prime Meats, and all are aged a minimum of 40 days. This is where you should spend your money at Cabernet, satisfying carnivorous cravings with no-frills, well-executed slabs of beef. Try a prime New York strip cooked to temperature with a nice sear (12 ounces, $34.95; 16 ounces, $39.95). Or, for those who like a well-seasoned filet (8 ounces, $24.95; 12 ounces, $34.95), make it an Oscar with a super lump crabcake and a thick, eggy bearnaise ($13.95 upcharge).

If you’re game for total steakhouse gluttony, persuade a companion (or three) to join you in ordering Cabernet’s signature 54-ounce rock-salt-herb-roasted ribeye for two ($42.95 per person). This whopping hunk of meat arrives in all its sizzling glory for approval before being sliced and portioned. Marinated in a mixture of rock salt, oyster sauce, pineapple juice, garlic, thyme and rosemary, the double-bone-in ribeye develops a dark crust permeated with salt and notes of caramel. Total delicious gluttony.

Go from glutton to mutton with the herb-crusted rack of lamb ($29.95). Coated in a crunchy Dijon and panko mixture, the frenched rack of New Zealand lamb glistens with its juices but packs a heavy measure of gaminess.

Cabernet offers traditional shareable steakhouse sides such as the layered potato gratin ($6.95) made with a thyme-garlic-shallot-infused cream, a watery creamed spinach ($5.95), cabbagey steamed Brussels sprouts ($6.95), and paprika-topped hash browns ($5.95) with a greasy tang (cooked at lunch?) sautéed with garlic and onions.

And for those who don’t have the beef lust, Cabernet offers seafood selections such as a deep dish of PEI mussels in a classic garlic-and-white-wine broth with a flourish of parsley ($8.95), an appetizer but a generous portion. Or try another appetizer, the yellow fin tuna sashimi ($12.95). Though the tuna flavor is milder than you desire, it showcases the sweet Asian-inspired sauce made with lemon grass, Coca-Cola, pineapple juice, garlic and ginger.

Here’s my advice: When in a classic American steakhouse, order steak. That’s Cabernet’s sweet spot. If you live in the area, this need not be just your daddy’s steakhouse.

Cabernet Steakhouse
5575 Windward Parkway, Alpharetta. 770-777-5955
2stars5Food: Classic American steakhouse with seafood selections
Service: High level
Best dishes: Rock-salt-herb-roasted ribeye, other steaks, mussels
Vegetarian selections: Salads and assorted sides
Credit cards: All major credit cards
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-11 p.m. Fridays, 5-11 p.m. Saturdays
Children: Yes, if well-behaved
Parking: A few self-park spots, mostly valet
Reservations: Yes
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: Only in enclosed cigar bar
Noise level: Moderate
Patio: Yes with entry from exterior or through cigar bar
Takeout: Yes

15 comments Add your comment


August 16th, 2012
8:29 am

This is an expense account restaurant, but good if you can afford it.

Dixie, your constant pimping of your website is obnoxious.


August 16th, 2012
10:16 am

Good review Jenny. I’ve eaten at Cabernet many times and count it along with Bones, Hal’s and Viande Rouge, as one of the best steakhouses in Atlanta. Therefore I would have added a star as I think it merits a drive.


August 16th, 2012
10:18 am

To Dixie Diarrh…’re vulgar blog with the unforgivable usage of the word “retards” is off the scale offensive. You’ve embarrassed yourself while calling out another blogger for being that, so beyond the pot calling the kettle black……Jenny, I apologize for going off subject when we’re talking about the delight of fine dining, of which your review has made me yearn for any of those steaks and just some good bread to soak up the scrumptious juices!


August 16th, 2012
10:27 am

Unfortunately, my recent experience there was more 1-star (worthy for the neighborhood, but inconsistent). Our table of 3 ordered 2 appetizers – the tuna & the crabcakes. The crabcakes may have been good if it weren’t for the large amount of shell fragments throughout them. The tuna was OK, but the accompanying wasabi sauce lacked that sinus-clearing punch until I got to the bottom of it – maybe it wasn’t mixed well? The sides were also not very good. The creamed spinich had that distinctive iodine taste often found in the canned variety. The potatoes au gratin were OK, but not great. One of my tablemates got the lamb & Jenny is correct in stating it is gamey – very gamey. Admittedly, I am not a lamb fan & this entree reminded me why. The bright spot of the meal was my steak – a NY strip cooked a perfect medium-rare. If I only had the steak there (and of course my wine & dessert), I would have departed with a very different opinion, likely more along the lines of Atlanta Magazine, which named Cabernet one of Atlanta’s top steakhouses. I am a sucker for a good steak & this one was great. Jenny’s advice is spot-on: stick with the steak. The dessert we all shared was something to do with peanut butter & chocolate. It was surprisingly light and the perfect way to end our meal.


August 16th, 2012
11:42 am

Kudos for removing the offensive post I blasted for its offensive wording; bloggers’ input that is mean spirited and debases another blogger and unrelated to the restaurant review’s critique of cuisine, service, etc. should not be posted. PJ, your thorough and objective input of the various dishes is appreciated as I’m hoping to splurge soon with a meal at Cabernet’s, and to reiterate, just bring me a medium rare NY strip and a baguette to drench in the juices… need for veggies or aps….oooh but that dessert is awfully tempting so maybe in lieu of a third adult beverage? Jenny, no dessert mention – why??

Jenny Turknett

August 16th, 2012
1:54 pm

Lizzy, fair question. Simple answer is that I was out of space. I did try the dessert PJ described, a layered peanut butter, chocolate and cream concoction… a good choice. Light but not too rich or sweet. Cabernet also offers a traditional Bananas Foster prepared tableside. I didn’t try it, but saw it at another table and they put on a good show!


August 16th, 2012
4:00 pm

Jenny, thanks for the follow up and the Bananas Foster (so retro, so to die for yum) would be an awesome finish to a fine dining splurge! Reflecting on the similarities of your and PJ’s very positive comments, lovers of superb beef (and sweets as well) are Cabernet’s customer base and both of these courses are worthy of high level spending to my limited budget.


August 16th, 2012
6:13 pm

This is the only one of the top 8 or 10 steakhouses in the metro that I have yet to visit. Thanks to this review and the recent Bill Addison rating in Atlanta Magazine, it is now at the top of my short list for a near-term visit. I must agree with Jenny and others above, when you visit a steakhouse, it should be an unwavering rule that one orders steak – period. Unfortunately, my wife rarely abides this rule and often leaves disappointed, whilst I’m am still savoring the dry-aged wonderfulness.


August 17th, 2012
1:37 pm

Glenn…….That unwavering rule should never be broken. Now if you become a regular and want to wander the menu ok.


August 18th, 2012
3:26 pm

Unfortunately my experiences at Cabernet have been less than stellar. Much of the talented engaging staff of years past are gone, and their replacements have only received a modicum of training. The wine list is unimaginative, particularly in the by the glass and $40-60 per bottle range. The food is good but not distinctive.
Given the better options available mere minutes down 400 in Buckhead, I’ll pass on Cabernet until they raise their game.


August 20th, 2012
9:31 am

Been to Cab several times. Marginal at best. Not nearly worth the price. Not nearly as good as Bone’s, Chops or Cap Grille.


August 20th, 2012
1:00 pm

Cabernet is decent, however, for a really delicious steak buffet only one words comes to mind…Ryans!!


August 20th, 2012
1:47 pm

My company hosted 10 businessmen fro Korea back in 2001, and we went there. The men ate everything on the menu, including lobster tails and steaks, ordered tons of wine and the bill was almost $3000. Those were the days!


August 21st, 2012
9:13 am

The rock salt Ribeye is a great choice, it will easily feed 3. I take the family of four there and we split it – consistently very good. The best deal is lunch at Cabernet, quick and economically priced for the food quality. The prime rib sandwich and mahi sandwich are favorites. If by chance any of the staff reads these comments – please ditch the home-made potato chips as a side with lunch. Customer after customer I bring in comments on how it cheapens the otherwise outstanding meal.

It is worth mentioning the to the single well-to-doers – the cigar bar if full of lounge lizards and gold diggers. Flash the Roley and money-clip while sipping a single malt and puffing a stogie and watch them swarm like flies. I give it props over Bones for this alone – too many silver haired has-beens there.

Former Cabernet Server

August 21st, 2012
12:20 pm

I used to work at Cabernet as a server. While I think most servers can be a bit jaded after their restaurant experience, I’ll tell you that I’m just the opposite. I was so impressed by the servers, bartenders and chef during my years at Cabernet. The servers and bartenders took their roles seriously and provided better service than I have ever received when out to dine. They knew the menu impeccably and would go above and beyond to satisfy customers. And yes, I agree about ordering a steak at a steakhouse, but I also admire Chef Holley’s creativity with his daily fish specials. He tries to keep it interesting and be bold with new dishes, which is greatly appreciated by the regulars (and there are many, many regulars). Oh, and as for the reviewer having to flag down a server for the wine menu…I can see how that may have happened. In truth, I think they just don’t have as many wine menus as they have dinner menus and that’s an easy fix.
I definitely think that Cabernet is worth the drive for the ITP folks. The dining room ambiance is rich and inviting, perfect for a special night or a business dinner. And you can feel really good about the staff who is taking care of you. They’re great folks, especially the servers and bartenders who have been there for years.