Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Restaurant Review: Lobby at Twelve

Lobby has been around for a while but it doesn't seem like it ever really got major traction on the culinary radar. In case it doesn't ring a bell, Lobby is a Concentrics restaurant at Twelve, the hotel at Atlantic Station. Opening Chef Nick Oltarsh is back and the menu has gone a bit more casual to suit hotel guests' and Atlantic Station shoppers' taste for good food that won't break the bank.

I headed over for a media event last week and got a chance to try several new menu items, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The restaurant definitely feels like a hotel space, but never fear, it's nothing like the cheesy Sheraton variety, more the trendy hip hotel vibe without crossing over into too-cool-for-school.

Also typical of a hotel restaurant was a something for everybody approach - in the mood for pizza? They've got it. Southern faves like gumbo and shrimp and grits? Yep. Quesadillas and tacos? That, too. Fortunately they execute quite well and all of the shared dishes I tried were quite good. Gumbo, the recipe borrowed from another Concentrics Chef - Nick Melvin at Parish - was spicy and full of complex flavor. Now that certainly is a nice perk of being part of the same restaurant holding company - you get you to maintain your own vibe but you can borrow recipes, too. It's like having a totally quirky roommate who's nothing like you but wears the same size and will sometimes let you borrow her awesome leather jacket. But I digress...

The pizzas were another hit - crisp with good quality ingredients. And my personal fave was chicken and waffles. Probably weird to some, but what's not to love about salty, crunchy chicken and sweet syrup and waffles? The kick of jalapeno keeps the sweetness from being too cloying. Yum!

My entree was slightly less successful. Full disclosure: my only options on this occasion were shrimp and grits and salmon with vegetables and lemon sauce, neither a dish I'd ever order on my own volition. I am a card carrying, hard-core salmon-hater, so that was a non-starter. Not really a fan of grits either, but it was the lesser of two evils so I chose it. The shrimp was fine but not flavorful enough for me to counter the innate blahness of grits. If could choose from their full menu, I'd opt for the turkey club, with a Thanksgiving twist of cranberry jam, or a hickory burger. Much more my speed!

Desserts were universally yummy and more creative than you find at many hotel restaurants. A creampuff covered in what I assume was a pistachio sauce was particularly interesting. Once upon a time, creampuffs were supposed to be the new cupcakes. Alas, that never happened, but I still enjoy a good 'puff when I can find one!

All in all, a nice surprise with good prices, so next time I'm doing some shopping, I might give it another try!

Lobby at Twelve
361 17th Street Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30363-1078
(404) 961-7370

Lobby at Twelve on Urbanspoon
*Full disclosure: Although my meal was comped, I always endeavor to offer my unbiased opinion of the experience!



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