accessAtlanta

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

The new and improving Table 1280

Tony Conway in the bustling dining room of Table 1280

Tony Conway in the bustling dining room of Table 1280

We stopped into Table 1280, the restaurant on the High Museum’s piazza, a couple of times this week. First, we dropped by for a glass of champagne before the Hertz Theatre’s holiday show. Then we returned for lunch. On both visits we immediately detected noticed something new.

Other people.

It’s been just about six weeks since Tony Conway’s A Legendary Event took over the operation of Table 1280. Former chef Tracey Bloom, whom you may have caught during her brief run on “Top Chef,” has moved on.

Here's one-third of the three-martini lunch on Gary Mennie's new menu: roasted African squash soup, along with Wellfleet Oyster Gratin, served with baby spinach, smoked bacon and star anise.

Here's one-third of the three-martini lunch on Gary Mennie's new menu: roasted African squash soup, along with Wellfleet Oyster Gratin, served with baby spinach, smoked bacon and star anise.

Gary Mennie, recently of Livingston at the Georgian Terrace, and the now-shuttered Taurus before that, is now running the kitchen.

The bar menu now features items you may recall from the selection of nibbles available on the Georgian Terrace terrace, while the moderately priced lunch menu features the return of the “three martini” option Mennie served at Taurus.

Note: this is not meant to approximate a food review. That’s John Kessler’s bailiwick. We can tell you that the white truffle chicken salad, a popular menu item, is creamier now, and a bit less truffley. (Is that a word?)

Menu and personnel aside, the biggest change is the energy in the room. On our last visit to 1280 the dining room was all but empty. Sitting in that hushed and stark environment without any chatter or clinking silverware was sort of spooky, like that scene in “The Shining” where Jack Nicholson sits alone typing in that giant, vacant hotel lobby.

Not so anymore.

A handful of other theater patrons enjoyed sips and small plates the evening we went. During lunch, the dining room was packed with a diverse range of diners of all ages, from the girl of perhaps 12 who was seated with her family at the next table, to the 30-something professionals who came in on their lunch hour, to the gray-haired couple wearing High Museum visitor stickers.

“I hired about 30 of these people to come in,” Conway joked.

Although he’s used to feeding groups of 500 or more at huge galas, taking the reins at 1280 is something of a professional homecoming. His first foray into the event-planning gig was catering a museum benefit. This was decades ago, right after college, when he decided that his little deli in Houston was up to the task of catering a big benefit. After pressing every possible friend and relative into service (and into a rented tux), he pulled it off, and the rest is history.

Tony Conway says the bar at Table 1280 could be refigured somewhat, to offer more warmth and privacy.

Tony Conway says the bar at Table 1280 could be refigured somewhat, to offer more warmth and privacy.

Conway’s not done, of course. While he’s gratified by the reception the newly repurposed restaurant is receiving, he has more ideas for livening things up. The bar area could be a little cozier, he said, by somehow partitioning the groups of chairs to offer more privacy. “We could do more to warm it up,” he said.

But nothing warms up a restaurant like people.

4 comments Add your comment

Jami

November 12th, 2010
3:06 pm

I have passed this restaurant for years and it always looked empty to me as well! I look forward to trying it the restaurant now. The three martini lunch sounds like a great option. I think Tony should eliminate that unattractive red furniture in the bar area. I know it matches the High and Woodruff colors but it is not comfortable and it takes up so much space that when the many are sitting down, there is not a lot room remaining for people who have to stand.

Valerie

November 15th, 2010
11:35 am

Haha, I knew that Tracey on Top Chef would quickly be eliminated as soon as I learned she was the chef at Table 1280. The one time I ate there, the food was awful. Hopefully Mennie can improve things, because the restaurant has nowhere to go but up.

SP

November 15th, 2010
2:23 pm

Tracey Bloom is now at Killer Creek on Mansell Rd.

Darin

November 16th, 2010
4:31 pm

Honestly, I’ve always thought this space looked more like a furniture showroom than a restaurant. I’ve never been interested enough to try it.

I was a fan of Taurus, though, so I want to finally give Table 1280 a shot. I’ve got some faith in the quality of the current menu with Mennie on board.