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Saltyard restaurant review, Buckhead

Grilled lamb loin, credit: Becky Stein

Grilled lamb loin, credit: Becky Stein

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Saltyard, the new small plates restaurant in Buckhead. I gave it a grade of 2 stars.

At first glance, Saltyard seems to have all the pieces for a great restaurant: shareable small plates, 20 wines (mostly domestic) by the glass for perfect course pairings, a commitment to honest cooking, local sourcing. Yet, Saltyard remains a puzzle. All those pieces don’t assemble the perfect picture. The logistics of coursing muddle the experience, and the food is perhaps a little too unpretentious, a little too straightforward — the two dangers of small plates.

As we trend more toward small-plate dining and wine-by-the-glass sampling, the corollary in beverages, Saltyard has timed its market entry just right. Now with a few adjustments and a little more attention to detail, it could become an Atlanta destination for a more social, shareable dining experience.

Subscribers can read the review on myajc.com.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

14 comments Add your comment

Cancer Breath

August 15th, 2013
1:43 pm

Thanks for the honest review.
Sometimes we like for things to be a little pretentious, even if we are not actually pretentious people, per se.
Small plates can seem uninspired, even if the food is of good quality.
That’s probably one reason why restaurants like The Optimist receive such positive critical reviews.
At Ford Fry’s restaurants you get flavorful, creative dishes. Creative means interesting/novel/topical ingredients prepared and presented in a nuanced or artful manner.
Sometimes it can something as simple as a quirky base-plate setup for a dish.
But when the diner is hoping for an experience, more so than just satisfying a human necessity, artistic presentation and culinary originality matter.
Saltyard is a good restaurant, and I do believe it will last because it will appeal to the baby boomer Atlantans who like to get separate checks and order wines by the glass. Those types really just want good service and warm entrees. Otherwise, they would drive another mile to Midtown.

Jw

August 15th, 2013
2:39 pm

Well we tried most of the seafood and thought it was all great, especially the head on shrimp in a great broth/sauce. I thought the lamb(only meat order) was the least best. Ate on the patio and it was great. Will definitely be going back.

@cancer breath, drive another mile to midtown? i can think of empire state south and ecco as good spots in midtown, but thats about it..what am i missing(maybe south city kitchen but thats pushing it)

Becky from Decatur

August 15th, 2013
3:04 pm

CB was put in time out.
Yes, ESS and Ecco are both good.
Also, Abbatoire and JCT Kitchen.
Some people like The Spence, but I personally think it’s dumb.
4th and Swift is not good at all.
Even though it’s a chain, Oceanaire is one of my favorite seafood places.
Both One Midtown Kitchen and the Lawrence are good, but neither would be in my top five.
Something I recently figured out is that Murphy’s is not terrible anymore. They must have new owners or something. I remember thinking they had bad hotel food, but I have been there a few times in the last year, and each time was better then the last. I guess technically, it’s VI and not Midtown, but whatevs. Also, Goin’ Coastal is good seafood.

For what it’s worth, I had drinks and desert at Watershed on Saturday, and I talked to a couple at the car who had dinner at Saltyard, and they said they really enjoyed it. They looked to be in their late 30’s and probably drove in from Alpharetta or Cobb, so I imagine coming south of Paces Ferry was a big adventure for them..

Native Atlantan

August 15th, 2013
4:20 pm

Wow Becky….4th and Swift is my favorite restaurant in the city. It’s my “go to” for everything. Agree on JCT, love it. Don’t care for Abbatoire and, unfortunately, my one visit to the Optimist was a HUGE disappointment. Having a hard time even considering going back. Murphy’s — off the list. Too many bad meals too often. Do enjoy ‘Goin Coastal and have enjoyed Saltyard. One Midtown Kitchen is consistent, but pretty expensive given the portions. And, unfortunately, Watershed has fallen off the list as well. So terribly noisy we couldn’t carry on a conversation with our dinner mates. So, yes, lots of choices in mid-town but some fantastic choices in Decatur and Inman Park.

michael in buckhead

August 15th, 2013
8:18 pm

It’s interesting to see what restaurants some people like and others don’t. I personally like 4nS, ecco and ESS. But i have come to like SY for different reasons altogether, mostly though BECAUSE I recognize everything on the menu. i believe that their “unpretentious” menu is their strongest quality. No they aren’t cutting edge, but i have found that eating at the Spence and Holman and Finch is difficult, especially when I and others with whom i have dined don’t recognize over half of their menu offerings. It doesn’t help that the wine lists of these places are equally tedious to navigate. There is also a price level that I find appealing at SY. Have dined there several times now and walked without having spent a truckload–pretty unusual for Buckhead.

Katy

August 15th, 2013
9:02 pm

I live in Brookwood Hills and have been to Saltyard half a dozen times since they have opened. By the second time they knew my face, by the third time they knew my name and what I like to order. I always enjoy enjoy my dinner and I eat all over the world. Admittedly it’s no Per Se but they claim to be a neighborhood spot with solid and recognizable neighborhood fare. I can attest to the positive buzz in my hood and I personally like finally having a solid and affordable option within stumbling distance (literally- I usually have one too many of those jalapeno cocktails).

While I like the cutting edge restaurants in Atlanta, they never last- they flourish, have great critics reviews, then tank a couple years in because their followers are always looking for the next best thing. I love the simplicity of Saltyard- they have staying power!

[...] Saltyard restaurant review, Buckhead [...]

Edward

August 16th, 2013
12:39 pm

I’m interested in comparing Saltyard with the nearby 1Kept. I’ve eaten at 1Kept numerous times and grow to enjoy it more and more with each visit. I’ve tried almost everything on the menu and have not been disappointed. Saltyard will have to be amazing.

straight shooter

August 16th, 2013
12:53 pm

to Cancer Breath: Wow.. how to pontificate without saying anything at all. You should hook up with Brad Nitz on WSB. You both should be in politics. How to spend a lot of time saying nothing.

Cancer Breath

August 16th, 2013
1:16 pm

Obviously you’re not very good at reading between the lines.

Cathrin Huehner

August 17th, 2013
11:21 am

I have been to Saltyard several times since they opened and enjoyed it every time.The food is extremely approachable and the price point is great for what you get.I will continue to patronize them and I am already looking or ward to my next visit.

Baltisraul......

August 17th, 2013
11:50 am

Cathrin Huehner…….never knew food could be ‘extremely approachable’. Do they give interviews or just sign autographs?

Jw

August 17th, 2013
9:34 pm

@becky from decatur those restaurants aren’t in midtown, that’s the westside..that was my point to cancer breath

Dumpy The Dwarf

August 19th, 2013
3:55 pm

Thank god I left Atlanta, this thread is a perfect encapsulation of how self important yet ignorant people are in your city.