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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Olmsted

Hummus plate

Hummus plate

When I tried to visit Olmsted for lunch, I parked my car with a valet and followed the helpful signposts along 14th Street and up a flight of stairs to the patio. There I encountered a barrier to keep me out of a private function. After exploring every nook of that block and walking up and down the stairs twice, I decided to climb over the barrier, wedge myself between a table and a group of canape-clutching suits and work my way to the unmarked door.

“Is this the entrance to Olmsted?” I asked a waitress, who was coming by with a tray of drinks.

“It’s one of them,” she responded, motioning with her head to another door across the room that opens to the courtyard.

When Legacy Restaurant Partners took over the former Trois, they reconfigured this sleek three-story space, rechristening the street-level bar as Article 14 and effectively cutting its ties to Olmsted upstairs by cutting off the interior staircase that united them.

Now, by entering through the freshly relandscaped garden, they underscore this best feature of this glass pod — its windows — and pay tribute to the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who gave many intown neighborhoods their grace. But they haven’t quite worked out all the details.

Legacy also made the considered decision to open Olmsted only for lunch and events; dinner has always proven a tough sell here. Lovely as it is, this is a hard space to relate to.

Lobster roll

Lobster roll

The cooking during these early months isn’t helping matters much.

The coarse hummus (above) holds chunks of hard garbanzo and raw garlic clove — not exactly what you need on a business lunch. The capers and pepperoncini straight from the jar are abundant, but they can’t distract you from the feeling you’re eating a kind of strange, savory Rocky Road ice cream.

The lobster in the roll at right is devoid of any of that telltale spring that is so vital to the enjoyment of this sandwich. (Think of a snappy hot dog.) Instead, it has a sous vide softness that disconcerts.

An order of veal scaloppine topped with arugula salad should have been a welcome lunch indulgence. But the thick and chewy piece of meat sloughed off its unseasoned coating, and the abundant shower of salad atop it has a sweet tinge to the dressing. This dish needs to be about tart, lemony dressing and peppery greens cutting through the delicious, crust-crisping grease of the breading.

Deviled eggs with candied bacon

Deviled eggs with candied bacon

These deviled eggs with candied bacon? I might take issue with the sticky, cold bacon and the piping-bag technique because Olmsted is a reasonably expensive restaurant, with entrees in the mid-teens. This appetizer, as it is, might play better in a beer bar.

This restaurant occupies a beautiful but problematic space in the heart of Midtown. I fear it’s like a Lamborghini that no one can drive.

31 comments Add your comment

RK

July 23rd, 2013
10:37 am

Never heard of it.

Awful plating on those deviled eggs, too.

James

July 23rd, 2013
10:56 am

John, thanks for taking one for the team. Had to hurt.

Avery K

July 23rd, 2013
10:57 am

Don’t believe the article – the food is great and the ambience is wonderful. It’s my go to lunch spot in midtown when want someplace nice and professional service. Great for business lunches. Felt compelled to write to dispute something so biased.

Theresa

July 23rd, 2013
12:08 pm

Avery, you’re not very convincing. I can see from the photo that the deviled eggs are sloppy, and I can’t imagine John would lie about cold bacon, soft lobster or lumpy hummus.

James

July 23rd, 2013
12:40 pm

Avery – honestly, you don’t need John’s description. By the looks of the pictures, he was very kind.

Baltisraul....

July 23rd, 2013
12:50 pm

Avery…….no more comments. You are getting beat like a rented mule. Come back when you have had time to heal!

Art

July 23rd, 2013
1:03 pm

Even when John is being less than enthusiastic about a place, he rarely comes across as harsh. I bet his kids would reveal that he’s a bit of a pushover. If one peruses other “reviews” of Olmsted elsewhere on-line, John’s is right in-line. “It’s like a Lamborghini that no one can drive…” is great!!

War Eagle

July 23rd, 2013
1:11 pm

Looks like a ton of fries with a dab of coleslaw. Lobster roll looks unappealing. They’d be better off with grilled chicken breast, garbanzo bean salad, and a side of fresh fruit.
I hope this guy tries Kiosko’s on the Marietta Square. The Raspberry chicken is fantastic.

JB

July 23rd, 2013
1:31 pm

Will he eat at any regular places. You know, where the “folks” eat. The world is bigger than the light loafer mid town crowd……I think.

Steve

July 23rd, 2013
1:41 pm

Having grown up in New England, the best type of lobster roll is the Connecticut style: hot buttered lobster on a buttered, toasted hot dog bun. Octopus bar comes pretty close to getting this right. I’m not a fan of cold, mayo slathered lobster rolls – they’re good, but the other ones are so much better.

Steve

July 23rd, 2013
1:42 pm

“Will he eat at any regular places. You know, where the “folks” eat. The world is bigger than the light loafer mid town crowd……I think.”

please stay in Forsyth County and stick to Applebees.

atltn

July 23rd, 2013
1:46 pm

While the lunch you just described does sound unappealing, I just wanted to throw in two cents about brunch:

Maybe it was because we had the Scoutmob Handpicked deal, but we really enjoyed the restaurant. Once we figured out how to get in the front door (yes, we echo your sentiments), we found a delicious spread of breakfast items. Between the classic eggs benedict to the fried chicken (enough for two enormous meals), we went away more than pleased. Portions made the restaurant worth the steeper tags, and the gorgeous windows made us feel like we were dining outside. The sausage plate also satisfied our craving for the savory, and the drinks were on par with any other restaurant in Midtown. I would absolutely recommend this spot as a brunch place– and brunch may, in fact, be their forte.

Spending $15 here for a nice weekend brunch plate may certainly be worth it, especially when restaurants like J. Christopher’s charge $10 for an omelette and don’t provide much atmosphere.

Don Johnson

July 23rd, 2013
2:07 pm

BOOM! Nice work, Steve. That’s hilarious.

Baltisraul....

July 23rd, 2013
2:08 pm

Steve…..your Conn. lobster roll is spot on.

Grandview

July 23rd, 2013
2:39 pm

Dear JB: Please let us all know where the “folks” eat.
I am compiling a list of places to avoid, and I want to make sure I don’t end up at the same place as you and your overweight wife and ADD children.
I already have Wal*Mart and Marietta on my list, so you don’t have to tell me about those.

Steve

July 23rd, 2013
3:00 pm

Grasshopper

July 23rd, 2013
3:08 pm

“BOOM! Nice work, Steve. That’s hilarious.”

Yes. No one has ever used the Applebee’s insult before. Very clever.

GowthamNiranjan

July 24th, 2013
8:00 am

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Baltisraul....

July 24th, 2013
8:13 am

gowtham……Huh!!!!!!!!!!!!

Deanna

July 24th, 2013
1:11 pm

Working at Colony Square I have eaten at Olmstead for lunch once, and Tap numerous times. Once was enough to decide we would never go back: the food quality does not match the higher prices.

Get It Right

July 24th, 2013
3:17 pm

Looks like Steve, Don, and all the snobbies are out in force. They choose not to make any suggestions to JB’s coment about ‘regular places’. Rather, they insult and make snide comments. I will soon be working in the city and am looking for some decent lunch destinations without the pretentiousness.

mcw30306

July 24th, 2013
4:33 pm

will he eat at any regular places…like cafe agora, reviewed today, or shorty’s, reviewed last week? this series is covering food and restaurants at all price points and all over the city. pay attention or don’t comment.

Steve

July 24th, 2013
5:59 pm

Love these reviews. I’m having fun reading them. Keep up the work John. Not sure why everyone gets so angry and judgmental.

Marsh

July 25th, 2013
10:35 am

Says Steve, who told that guy to “stay in Forsyth County” – where crime is neary nonexistent, the views are pastoral and the schools are great. What an insult! Steve, please let me know where you dine so I’ll be sure to avoid it, not that anyone else could enter the building with your enormous noggin taking up the entire dining room. Grandview, how’s Buckhead treating you? Still just a giant hole in the ground surrounded by snatch-and’grabbers? Yeah, I thought so.

Chunky hummus and cold bacon- no excuse. None.

Pointy Nose

July 25th, 2013
11:17 pm

Steve = typical ITP snob ignorantly being ignorant as is usually the case with those too good and too worldly to make the 45 minute 5 miles drive outside their pretentious holier than thou bubble. I personally don’t like Applebees, but they’ve been around a lot longer than most Midtown eateries. Get over yourself. Your taste or preference does not mean it’s right for everyone else. By the way, I think I see some sperm stuck between your teeth.

Munson is dead!

July 28th, 2013
4:14 pm

Steve sits down to pee.

RustyHinges

July 28th, 2013
4:15 pm

@ Pointy Nose
July 25th, 2013
11:17 pm

Except for your ill-advised last sentence, couldn’t have said it better. For their ilk, it’s all about pretentiousness.

@ JB
July 23rd, 2013
1:31 pm

Don’t know where you are, but try these 2 places in Sandy Springs: Fuego Mundo and The Brickery. Roswell: Greenwoods on Green Street consistently hits the spot with comfort food.

Kat

July 28th, 2013
4:36 pm

I think he’s hitting the right spot here with these reviews. Some well known, some not-as-well known. I don’t need a review of Applebee’s, as I know what they have (and what I like) when I go there. The lesser-known places are what I like to hear about.

Hilarious

July 28th, 2013
5:23 pm

I work in that building, and I’ve never met anyone that’s eaten there. I’ve eaten at article 14, and it was waaaay overpriced. And walking upstairs and all the way around the grass to get to the door is pretty asinine.

High Tipper

July 28th, 2013
5:33 pm

Why are people that are scared of Midtown and so proud of the suburbs reading ajc.com?

Marsh

July 29th, 2013
8:04 am

You’re high, alright. Why don’t you take a stroll down 14th around 2am tonight? I’m sure no one will miss you.

These reviews are great. The Atlanta jock sniffers, not so much.