Since the Great Recession, the whole "fine-dining" category has all but disappeared. Sure, we have a handful of fancy/special occasion restaurants but it's very rare to see a restaurant hitching itself to what used to be considered "fine dining" anymore (like it's a bad thing). Gone are the elaborate multi-course journeys with stiff service and over-the-top presentations. You can still find exquisite settings, presentations, and high-ticket plates but the market clearly prefers more casual atmospheres and that is what you get with Brassica, a modern southern with a French-twist concept that just opened in the Waldorf Astoria in Buckhead.
Get off the Peachtree Street autobahn and instantly feel like you've left the wicked city in the Waldorf's courtyard entrance. Once in the hotel, enter through the hotel's Peacock Alley lounge (a nod to the former restaurant in the New York Waldorf) into the sumptuous confines of the restaurant—first, the warm, vibrant bar where one of the most impressive cocktail programs in the city shakes and stirs. The soundtrack is not of posh string quartets and sonatas but more 70's hipster Motown sound. There is energy aplenty. The restaurant then compartmentalizes into 4 areas of elegant modern transitional settings including a solarium and main dining room.
The food by executive chef Christophe Le Metayer tiers into Growers & Producers (small plates), Butchers & Fisherman (entrees), and For Two (shared dishes that reflect the idea of a Southern dinner party). The meal starts with their house cornbread, a semi-sweet delight that's akin to a poundcake (who doesn't like to start dinner with cake!) and then I tried the beef tartare and buttermilk fried crispy oysters with marinated avocado from the small plates. Both of these appetizers showed tremendous technique and were outstanding. For entrees, my wife tried the seared red snapper with stewed tomato ginger confit, stone-ground grits, and swiss chard which was hearty and well-executed. But whereas I usually must have a protein for my main course I wanted to see Chef Le Metayer's handling of vegetables, so I ordered the smoked butternut squash which came housed beneath a giant glass dome. Upon setting it down the waiter pulled off the lid, releasing the glorious hickory smell which had delightfully infused into the mammoth body of the squash. The result was one of the best dishes I have eaten in some time.
Since it resides in a hotel, it's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as a weekend a la carte brunch and intimate afternoon tea. Again, I refrain from calling Brassica "fine dining" but this really is a fine experience to be sure.