On my last trip back to San Francisco for Thanksgiving, I made a brief detour through Atlanta for the opening of the latest, hottest, hippest joint in town. One of the owners is a former co-worker from a Very Large Software Company just down the road off 101. Not realizing that it takes the same amount of time to fly from Frankfurt to Atlanta as it does to fly from Frankfurt to San Francisco, I arrived in Atlanta bleary-eyed and exhausted but no rest for the weary. A quick stop at the drug store to replace my confiscated mascara and face lotion (I love flying!), a quick change at the hotel, and it was off to opening night.
Owner Rodney Wedge created the concept of this food-focused restaurant highlighting the flavors of the Old South in a hip, modern environment. He describes the menu as "Modern Southern" cuisine featuring southern dishes with a unique twist such as Redfish Niscoise, Rabbit Pot Pie, Pan Roasted Trout & Crab Cake and a new take on Surf and Turf with smoked catfish and seared foie gras, drizzled with sweet potato bourbon dressing. YUM! Some other unique dishes include Finger Lickin' Pickle Sickles, Fried Green Tomatoes with pimento cheese and blue crab fingers, Bluefin Tuna Cubes with smoked garlic aioli, cornflakes and sesame.
They spared no expense when designing the $2 million venue first by hiring the uber-celebrity interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn (from TBS's Movie and a Makeover) to add his signature look and unconventional color schemes to the Midtown destination. Flynn's whimsical interiors are known for juxtaposing mid-century modern with aged farmhouse design. The space is divided into two areas with the upstairs (Sweet) being the sophisticated wine dinner and premier event location and the downstairs (Lowdown) catering to the power lunch, happy hour and dinner theatre crowds.
Rodney Wedge, Founder & Owner, and his wife Tonya (my former co-worker)
When asked why he opened his third restaurant, Rodney replied "Isn't it the American Dream to own your own business?" Having started from humble beginnings as a dishwasher at 16, Rodney worked his way up to owner and founder of Atlanta's Fuego Spanish Grill. Fuego has been showered with accolades under Rodney's leadership including Top 50 Restaurants by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Top 10 Lunch Spots by Atlanta Magazine and a Zagat rating of Excellence. "Sweet Lowdown is unique in several areas: first and foremost the food. It will be southern comfort food blended with a little sophistication."
Carmen Cappello, Executive Chef
Chef Carmen Cappello brings years of experience from working with some of the most influential chefs on the East Coast such as Chef Georges Perrier (also famous for his kitchen tirades) and Francesco Martorella of Le Bec Fin and Brasserie Perrier, Master Chef Jack Shoop, Master Chef Alfonzo Constriani, Thomas Ryan, Phillippe Haddad and Scott Serpes of TWO.Urban Licks. Cappello is also the host of the radio show "Behind the Line With Chef Carmen Cappello", a chef-driven radio program that uncovers the realities of the restaurant business and chats one on one with some of Atlanta's top chefs. He was also named "the young chef to watch in Atlanta" by atlantacuisine.com.
Here are some of Rodney and Carmen's down home dishes we got down with on opening night...
Braised Pork Shank - Smothered, butterbean & charred corn ragout, spicy pork jus
Whole Fish of the Day - Chef's selection Sea Bass, roasted potatoes, charred corn, okra
Pan Roasted Bacon Steak and Seared Redfish - Aged cheddar mac and cheese, pickled okra
Mac and Cheese (the best I've ever had!)
Grilled 12oz NY Strip - Portabella quesadilla , horseradish cream, beef jus
Seared Scallop "Pirlau" - Rice, peas, sweet onions, tomato shellfish broth
Alabama Lemon Cheese Layer Cake - Tart lemon sherbert, raspberry marmalade (Rodney's favorite dessert on the menu!)
Deep South Pecan Pie - Dulce de Leche ice cream, bourbon caramel sauce
Praline Bread Budding - Bourbon Butter Pecan ice cream, pecan brittle
SL's Flight of Cheesecakes - Chef's daily selection with garnishes
Red Velvet Cake - Cream cheese icing, strawberry marmalade
Where all the action takes place...
942 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30309