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Buttermilk Kitchen restaurant review, Buckhead

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Buttermilk purchased in supermarkets bears little resemblance to traditional buttermilk, the thin liquid byproduct of butter-churning. Commercially available (or cultured) buttermilk is created by fermenting milk with bacteria.

The concept of traditional buttermilk, of leaving nothing to waste, inspired both the name and philosophy for Buckhead’s newest breakfast and lunch eatery, Buttermilk Kitchen.Jenny-Turknett-Review

Even the design of the space, a 1930s home formerly occupied by Cafe at Pharr, was driven by this mind-set with liberal “upcycling” of materials. The decor includes original hardwood floors, a bar made from reclaimed wood, corrugated metal accents and a ceiling made entirely of old shutters. Yet it has an unfinished, somewhat discordant Pottery Barn-meets-Pinterest-project vibe.

Buttermilk Kitchen translates this philosophy into making its own lard, butter, mayonnaise and more. The restaurant buys local products when possible and organic when not. It sources goods from like-minded local vendors including Pine Street Market, Emily G’s Jams, AtlantaFresh Yogurt and Batdorf & Bronson coffee.

Chef Suzanne Vizethann, an Atlanta native, opened Buttermilk Kitchen sensing Atlanta’s need for a chef-driven breakfast/lunch spot. And positioning itself as such brings a high level of expectation.

To this endeavor, Vizethann brings her training from the Art Institute of Atlanta, experience at One Midtown Kitchen, stages at 15 different restaurants including Le Bernardin and wd~50, and ownership of The Hungry Peach, a cafe at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center.

This talented chef needs to drive the young restaurant with the same bravado she used to win Food Network’s competitive cooking show “Chopped.” While memorable dishes come from the kitchen, so does a certain timidity seeping like water through minuscule cracks in a foundation, threatening to undermine the entire structure.

House-cured lox on a Jerusalem bagel (All photos by Becky Stein)

House-cured lox on a Jerusalem bagel (All photos by Becky Stein)

Chef-y items include the house-cured lox ($13), colored a velvety red hue by the grated beets layered on top during the three-day cure in a dill-sugar-salt mixture. The buttery wild salmon, some of the best lox I’ve had, rests in folds over a tangerine-oil-dressed watercress salad and a toasty seeded Jerusalem bagel with house-made veggie cream cheese, briny capers and sharp red onion slices.

The vinegary Brunswick stew ($5 cup) also rivals many around town. Made with pork belly and smoked chicken, the thick stew sits beneath corn bread croutons that crumble themselves as they melt into the liquid.

Blueberry pancakes that could stand in for dessert.

Blueberry pancakes that could stand in for dessert.

Vizethann also brings popular dishes from The Hungry Peach, like the cheddar-and-feta pimento cheese ($7) and the blueberry cobbler pancakes ($8) inspired by a peach cobbler cupcake. The sweet blueberry cobbler pancakes begin with a neutral pancake batter enlivened with a house-made blueberry compote, cinnamon-sugar crumb and white chocolate whipped cream. Can we say sugar rush? I’ll just take a plain pancake and a vat of Vizethann’s blueberry-cider syrup made from a reduction of a blueberry-muscadine juice mingled with maple.

With other dishes, the devil is in the details. I delight in the tangy sourdough waffles ($7.50) made from the 104-year-old starter, but despair that they lack the heat to melt the creamy house-made butter. Making it Dad’s Waffle ($14) solves this problem with the addition of a steamy medium-rare grass-fed burger on top. I savor the greasy juices that melt into the sourdough. If only the burger were seasoned …

Similarly, the shrimp and grits ($15) is a savory melange of Georgia shrimp, brothy sauce and crispy fried scallions with the perfect crunch. Though well-seasoned, the Anson Mills grits congeal into one large mass.

Wondering whether dinner might reveal more of Vizethann’s skill, I attended one of Buttermilk’s reservation-only (credit card required) BYOB fried chicken dinners ($35, $5 upcharge for all white meat). The four-course meal started well with seared pork belly scallops sweetened by an apricot-

120712dine_5

Dad's waffle

dijon gastrique and warm radicchio-bacon slaw. Yet, the main attraction, the fried chicken, has me pining for an alternate protein. The pastured chicken (wing and thigh) from a Georgia farm has chewy skin and wields a heavy, grease-laden, unseasoned buttermilk batter.

Like the decor, Buttermilk Kitchen seems unfinished, a work in progress awaiting a personal stamp. Vizethann’s market analysis was spot on: The area needs a chef-driven breakfast/lunch spot. And we’re counting on her to give it to us.

BUTTERMILK KITCHEN
4225 Roswell Road N.E., Atlanta. 678-732-3274

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Food: Traditional breakfast fare with lunch salads and sandwiches
Service: Pleasant
Best dishes: Lox and bagel, Brunswick stew
Vegetarian selections: Granola, salads
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Price range: $-$$
Credit cards: All major credit cards
Hours: 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays
Children: Fine
Parking: Yes
Reservations: For the fried chicken dinner
Smoking: No
Noise level: Low to medium
Patio: Not yet
Takeout: Yes

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22 comments Add your comment

Pey

December 6th, 2012
7:16 am

Unfortunately, the menu doesn’t offer anything for people who choose not to eat animals or animal secretions. It’s the same old animal fat laden menu – nothing creative, nothing inspiring. It’s high-blood pressure, heart attack haven — bad for the animals, bad for the environment, really bad for your health. Paula Deen would be proud.

Sheriff John Brown

December 6th, 2012
8:20 am

I really don’t get the burger on a waffle or as a MOF the chicken on a waffle either…..after looking at the menu can’t see why it would be worth the trip…especially when they charge $10 for a biscuit and gravy seems pricey

Paddy

December 6th, 2012
8:52 am

Pey……bad for the animals??? How else would you like to eat animals? LIVE? Thats sick!

Edward

December 6th, 2012
10:17 am

I don’t recall them advertising themselves as a vegan restaurant. Should I go to Cafe Sunflower or World Peace Cafe and complain that there aren’t any meats? Sorry, Pey, but the world does not revolve around you.

Theron Sapp

December 6th, 2012
10:30 am

Buttermilk is a welcome addition to the neighborhood but the kitchen just doesn’t have it together yet. Ms. Turknett, I’m not sure how they merit 2 stars (”food is consistent”) when you got congealed grits and a cold waffle. We’ve had cold food too, and french toast too soggy to eat. Hoping they straighten it out, because Buckhead really needs more fresh, creative cooking.

A-Town Down!

December 6th, 2012
12:37 pm

Reviews on Yelp aren’t very positive.

huh?

December 6th, 2012
1:11 pm

$35 for a thigh and wing? Thank goodness the scallop was decent.Two stars sounds very generous.

AlissaT.

December 6th, 2012
5:23 pm

We were really excited when Buttermilk Kitchen opened – we thought it would be a great addition to the neighborhood. We’ve eaten there twice. The waffle is good but very plain and not very warm, as the reviewer noted. The bacon and eggs were better the first time than the second. But we were outraged by the coffee – $9 for a large French press that served two people two scant mugs of coffee. OK, It’s Batdorf and Bronson coffee, but the second time it had a decided off-flavor, so much so that I asked the server if it were flavored coffee (which I loathe.) We actually thought we’d order tea the second time, but they don’t have anything but iced tea – not what we wanted for breakfast.

The service was barely competent – the staff was pleasant, more or less, but definitely not ready for prime time. We won’t be going back, and I think, really, that even one star would be generous.

AlissaT.

December 6th, 2012
5:23 pm

Two scant mugs of coffee each, that is.

Baltisraul.....

December 7th, 2012
7:32 am

Pey, why is this resturant bad for the enviroment? Get real, girl!

Paul J

December 7th, 2012
1:05 pm

It’s a great post. According to those who leave there comments that this food chain service was barely competent. It intrigues me a lot. Think I’ll gonna try to eat breakfast there.

Claire Van Voorhis

December 7th, 2012
4:32 pm

I have been several times and EVERYTHING I have had was delicious and fresh. The chicken dinner was abundant and delectable. The chicken moist and tender. The blueberry pancakes were not too sweet at all. They were light and yummy. I agree the Brunswick Stew is fabulous. I love the charming atmosphere too. Some of you have had too many processed foods and don’t know how real food should taste. Yelp shows only bad reviews which is a curious thing in itself. Well, I like the place very much. I have never been disappointed.

M & J

December 7th, 2012
5:08 pm

We visited there mid-November and loved it. We are from OTP, and definitely plan on going back. I had the pimento cheese omlet and it was so yummy. My husband had the blueberty cobbler pancakes and it was also delicious. I agree the French Press coffee is a bit much. I had regular coffee instead (the waitress said they began offering it), and it was good as well. And…the biscuits were fantastic too. We plan on making a return visit very soon. Hopefully, the bad comments won’t deter people from trying it out. I would hate to see this one fail.

Rabelias

December 7th, 2012
8:15 pm

AJC you really are losing your credibility by giving restaurants undeserved two star rating. This makes people not want to read you reviews. This restaurant clearly has needs to get it together. You also gave One Eared Stag Four stars???? Now that is just crazy. The Meeu seems interesting for the sake of being different but is really piss poor and gross

Baltisraul.....

December 8th, 2012
8:26 am

Jen….Maybe I should know this term but I have never heard it before. What is’upcycling’? Thanks.

Art

December 8th, 2012
6:12 pm

Balt, here goes… Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. Thus “a bar made from reclaimed wood, corrugated metal accents and a ceiling made entirely of old shutters.”

AlissaT.

December 8th, 2012
8:16 pm

To Claire,

Sorry, a lot of us know how real food tastes. In my opinion – and you’re free to disagree – this is a pretty mediocre place with terrible food, and high prices that the menu doesn’t merit. There’s no point in knocking people in that snide way just because they don’t agree with you.

AlissaT.

December 8th, 2012
8:17 pm

I meant “terrible service” – sheesh – it’s been a long day. The food isn’t terrible – it’s just not great.

Baltisraul.....

December 9th, 2012
9:27 am

Art……..Thanks for the info. Never too old to learn.

[...] Buttermilk Kitchen restaurant review, Buckhead [...]

Hilliard McDermmit

December 10th, 2012
1:02 pm

Pey embodies everything wrong with America and the world.

AlissaT.

December 12th, 2012
6:42 pm

Oh stop – leave Pey alone. Comparing, by implication, that gross hamburger/waffle concoction to Paula Deen’s donut sandwich is spot-on. So Pey is a vegan – so what? Everything that’s wrong with America? Seriously?