Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Restaurant Review: STK Atlanta

It's been a while since the (RED) Party at STK first blew my mind, but I hadn't managed to actually eat there yet. Fortunately, that's now been remedied (thanks to the lovely Caren West). I am skeptical when it comes to NY transplant restaurants, but color me impressed, STK is actually good!

True to it's Meatpacking roots, STK is a scene. The kind of scene US Magazine covers when the likes of Kim Kardashian eats there. In fact, it may well be the best place for star spotting in Atlanta. Alas none were there the night I went, but I did meet the Walking Dead's 1-line magee, IronE Singleton (T-Dog) at the (RED) party.

The Not Your Daddy's Manhattan and Gin Fizz

Usually a stylish NY transplant makes alarm bells go off for me - all style, no substance. STK is indeed very stylish, complete with a hip Midtown location, dark and sexy decor, sassy tagline - "not your daddy's steakhouse," and a DJ spinning the kind of music that makes you want to push aside your food and dance (think: the perfect 80's playlist). It strikes me as the perfect place for a big night out with friends, a fifth date, or even post-work happy hour.

Shrimp Cocktail (tasting size)

Fortunately, STK has plenty of substance, too. Our chat with the One Group's marketing guru visiting from NY revealed that their strategy when opening in a new city is to hire locally and let the chef have a hand in customizing part of the menu to local tastes. In this way, they've avoided the pitfalls of many a failed giant NY/LA transplant (I'm looking at you, Geisha House and Dolce). In fact, I hear through the grapevine that STK is already one of the top grossing restaurants in Atlanta. The crowds on the random weeknight we were there certainly attest to that.

Shrimp Rice Krispies

We were fortunate enough to have a media tasting menu put together by the STK team. Our friendly and attentive waiter was happy to describe everything in great detail to us, but we were thrilled to have no decisions to make. Seated on the same side of a plush booth, we felt like we were holding court, and I'm certain the bevy of people stopping by our table to say hi (the very friendly STK team), had people wondering who on earth we were. Service may well have been the best thing about STK. They had a knack for making us feel like we were very special, and they all seemed genuinely excited to be a part of the team.

Lil' BRGRs

As any good steakhouse meal should, our meal started with great bread - still warm, blue cheesy bread, to be precise. I usually try hold out for the main event, but man, you'd have to be crazy to pass up that bread.  Washed down with a couple of their signature cocktails, we already loving our little date night out, and we hadn't even started our meal yet.

Some STK dishes, like the shrimp rice krispies, are clever - how many dishes have their own snap crackle pop sound effects? Others, like their much loved waygu lil' BRGRs, were just plain swoon-worthy. They were dripping with special sauce, so it's certainly not dainty to eat, but I found myself very jealous of New Yorkers who have access to full size STK burgers at STK OUT.

Tuna Tartar, served on a corn tuille
We enjoyed the parade of seafood dishes they brought us, with tuna tartare being my favorite. It may be ubiquitous but when paired with an appealing crunchy sweet tuile, it was a very good take on a high end restaurant classic. It was halfway through our meal, and I was already feeling stuffed!

But just when we thought we couldn't eat more, out came a gargantuan 34 oz. steak, the cowboy rib steak to be exact, and a sample of each of their special sauces. How can you choose just one, when a range from chimichurri to horseradish to blue butter is on offer?

A bevy of sauces
Honestly there is no great mystery to good steak. It's about high quality meat, the right amount of seasoning, and getting it to the right temperature. Our cowboy steak was a perfect medium rare and although I certainly wouldn't have complained if it had a bit more salt, I suspect it works better with the sauces if it's not seasoned too aggressively.

Unlike it's clubby steakhouse brethren, STK offers a much more woman-friendly steak experience, with steaks cuts as small as 6 oz, and plenty of seafood. We actually saw several groups of just women dining together, which I'd bet you don't see often at the likes of Chops or Bones.

Steak is never complete without decadent sides. The mac 'n cheese was appropriately rich with a crunchy crust, and the creamed spinach was, you guessed it, creamy. I was running out of steam at this point, so I took lady-like little bites of them, but on a different night, it would have been hard to put down my fork!

Despite bursting at the seems, we still found the room to enjoy the oh so yummy desserts. Anything involving chocolate, peanut butter, and a crispy shell is A-OK with me!

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by STK. They've managed to transport some of the sceney bustle of NY but still seem right at home in the ATL. With staff so friendly and food so tasty, what's not to love? Heck, I'd come again just for the cocktails and music scene alone! Given the relatively high prices, that may just be the ticket. If you're not up for a splurge night out, at least check it out for a drink and a burger!

1075 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

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