That’s what Esquire Magazine has to say about Atlanta’s The Optimist. Opened in early summer by the same people of JCT Kitchen it has a similar vibe and feel. JCT is by far one of my favorite restaurants around, so I couldn’t wait to try out The Optimist and I was not disappointed.
I don’t know if I would call it the best new restaurant of the year, but it would definitely be on my list. The atmosphere is low-key but energizing. There is almost always a wait for your table, and on nice nights you can spend the time playing mini golf or relaxing with a specialty cocktail on lounge chairs under strands of lights. Or you could use the time to have a cocktail and some oysters in the Oyster Bar.
The Oyster Bar has a limited food and drink menu but the feel is vibrant and upbeat. Early evening it is filled with young professionals enjoying a happy hour outing. The room is shaped like a surf board and has the smell of the sea. Walk through here into the main dining area where the bar commands your attention. The entire wall behind the bar is lined with wine and spirit bottles with low up-lighting adding to the mystique. Their signature cocktails are seen throughout the restaurant, my personal favorite was the Chai Tai…a little bit of spice, a hint of orange and a lot of flavor. If you order a beer don’t accept the frosty glass…instead let them bring out your bottle or can and you’ll be pleasantly surprised it will come with a koozie to take home with you!
The food stands on its own, with most plates cooked on the wood-fire stove, the flavors seep in and melt in your mouth. I can’t wait to change-up my order and try other items next time. But what I wouldn’t change is the She-Crab Soup. If I had not been with coworkers I probably would have turned up the bowl to ensure I was able to consume every last drop. It is a frothy creamy soup paired with a piece of fried shrimp bread. The shrimp bread was a little rich for my taste, but that is the only complaint I could find of the evening.
Until next time here are some photos of The Optimist…