restaurant review:: The Optimist

Last weekend, my parents came into town for Father’s Day weekend. Per usual when they visit, we book reservations to eat our way around Atlanta. What can I say — I get my love of food honestly, I guess. My brother had really been wanting to try The Optimist, the new seafood hot spot on the Westside, so we made reservations for the night they arrived.

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The restaurant is appealing as soon as you walk up — 3 mini putting greens, oyster shells as “mulch” along the walkways, and giant bright blue adirondack chairs to use when there is a wait. Guests enter at the oyster bar, where the wood fired oven is the focal point — complete with a mural of a giant octopus encircling the oven’s opening. I was told that the restaurant was designed by the same team responsible for JCT Kitchen’s decor, and it’s obvious with the metal pendant lights, rustic wooden tables, whitewashed walls, and a cool bar that’s the main attraction in the room.

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We started out with some fun cocktails, like the 5-Gallon Carboy (Redemption rye, strawberries, lemon, All-spice Dram, Allagash White ale) and the Scurvy Scoundrel (Deep Eddy vodka, house made grapefruit cordial, lime), and a large amount of appetizers…par for the course with our family. Oysters, mussels, shrimp, rolls with sea salt, and “beignet style” corn milk hushpuppies were brought to the table just as a HUGE storm rolled in. Dark clouds, thunder, crazy lightning, and tons of rain are no big deal right? Wrong. Not 10 minutes after ordering our dinner, every light in the building went out. Luckily, we were on the edge of the restaurant near some floor-to-ceiling windows, so we had a bit of light on our table. Those in the center of the restaurant (near the soon-to-be very smoky kitchen) did not fare so well. We had such high hopes for our dinner, so we held strong for a while… until it was apparent that the lights weren’t coming on any time soon — there or anywhere within a several block radius.

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I obviously can’t speak to how the entrees were since we never got them, but we’d ordered the duckfat poached swordfish, cornmeal crusted skate wing, and black grouper, among other things. I’m sure it would have been excellent. They also have some really enticing desserts — the Savannah Beignets with bourbon praline and fired pecans being my #1 choice. Ah well… now we have a really good excuse to try it again soon — hopefully next time sans power outage.

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