By: Nikki Jordan
Chef Ford Fry has always had a knack for sharing his passion, as well as diversity in each of his restaurants, most notably The Optimist. This fish camp & oyster bar that came to us last May, provides the freshest oysters this side of the East…and West coasts. With plenty of accolades, including Esquire Magazine’s ‘Restaurant of the Year’ title, Atlanta seems to agree that The Optimist is a standout for this city’s dining scene.
When visiting The Optimist, head over to The Oyster Bar upon arrival. There you’ll find a rotating selection of fresh oysters on ice or roasted in the wood-fired oven. Here oysters are served with fresh horseradish and mignonette––as they should be. Beyond the folding doors, you’ll find yourself in the courtyard where table seating gives you the ability to enjoy oysters, small plates and perhaps a pitcher of the Fish House Punch, a colonial classic with Goling’s Black Rum, Hennessy V.S. Cognac, Black Tea, Sugar, Lemon and Leopold Brothers’ Peach Whiskey. Don’t forget to play a round of putt-putt before heading back inside, where the main attractions unfold on the menu.
Throughout The Optimist’s bill of fare you’ll notice Fry’s southern roots as well as his culinary background from the north. These influences include a N’awlins style gumbo, a Charleston approach on she-crab soup and lobster rolls that pay homage to the New England favorite––and that’s just the start!
Looking deeper into the menu, you’ll find wood-hearth options interspersed with exotic touches by Executive Chef Adam Evans. For a fish selection try the Crispy Acadian Redfish served with Garlicky Ginger Sauce and Charred Peppers. Or for a farm alternative, find the Confit Duck Leg with Poached Egg Frisee and Duck Ham.
And don’t dismiss dessert just yet. Once you see the Savannah Beignets being served at the table across the way, you’ll change your mind. So make room, and order up those delicious morsels served with bourbon praline and fired pecans. Or perhaps you’ll want something a little lighter to take outside when re-visiting that rousing game of putt-putt––the Creamsicle Push Pop is a fantastic option for the warmer weather!
Upon leaving the restaurant, note the subtle nautical décor––The Optimist refers to a small sailing dinghy, but with high-vaulted ceilings and an open kitchen in the old warehouse that now occupies the restaurant, you would think you were inside a grand ship instead of a small sailing boat. But we imagine this restaurant is the small boat that will sail this city into wider culinary waters.
The Optimist is now hiring experienced line cooks, to apply check out weand.co/biz/theoptimist