Chef Kevin Rathbun’s eagerly anticipated casual Italian-inspired place, KR SteakBar in Peachtree Hills, surprised fans with a stealth bar opening on Feb. 19.
The entire restaurant was open for business the next day, and inundated with reservations all week, as anxious crowds elbowed in around the bar.
“We got clobbered on Friday,” Rathbun said, grabbing a brief break on a bar stool early on Saturday evening before hustling back to the kitchen.
Executed by chef de cuisine Chris McDade, who Rathbun allowed, “has “taught [him] a few things,” the KR menu focuses on small plates, pasta, and wood-grilled meat, fish and poultry.
In many ways, the menu — not to mention the open and casual ADAC space and the more sophisticated bar program — appears as the fourth refinement in the evolution of what has become Kevin Rathbun’s Restaurants.
The “official” website (kevinrathbun.com/restaurants) links to Rathbun’s, Krog Bar, Kevin Rathbun Steak and KR SteakBar.
Clicking the links and scrolling through the different menus can be an entertaining exercise in culinary stratigraphy, revealing successful restaurant layers going back to 2004, when Rathbun opened his flagship namesake, Rathbun’s, then Krog in 2005, Steak in 2007, and KR in 2013.
On Saturday, a couple at the bar sipped a Negroni, then worked their way through the KR menu in classic Italian fashion, ordering glasses of wine and sharing each dish — a simple artichoke and lemon appetizer; a pasta course of trenette, clams, white wine and parsley; eye of ribeye with aged balsamic and arugula; soft ricotta cake, sorghum strawberries and basil; cappucinos.
But with all the new Italian takes, Rathbun seemed most excited about simply getting to grill over wood.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do in Atlanta,” he said. “It’s like going back to my Texas roots.”
KR SteakBar, 349 Peachtree Hills Ave., 404-841-8820, krsteakbar.com.
— By Bob Townsend, Food and More blog