Chef Smith and his kitchen team do right by Southern food, serving contemporary dishes inspired by Southern roots that spotlight the best ingredients of our homeland.Southern food: it's a craft and a fine art that, armed with too much butter and a few misconceptions, many a chef has bungled. Happily, Art Smith, who you might know as the once-personal chef of a certain lady named Oprah, is not one of those chefs. At Southern Art, in Buckhead's InterContinental Hotel, Chef Smith and his kitchen team do right by Southern food, serving contemporary dishes inspired by Southern roots that spotlight the best ingredients of our homeland: think pork belly, sorghum, green tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and meats exclusively sourced from regional farms. Dishes like Springer Mountain fried chicken and Littleneck clams (in a Sweetwater 420 broth, naturally) are delicious homages to our region's heritage, but deftly avoid stepping into cheesy, over-the-top, all-we-eat-down-here-is-chicken-n'-biscuits territory. That monkey business might dupe a tourist, but not someone who knows their Southern cuisine. And luckily for us, Chef-Owner Art and Executive Chef Anthony Gray know that cuisine inside and out, and are doing a bang-up job of using it as the inspiration for their contemporary fare.
A word to the wise: don't waltz in to Southern Art expecting the same ol' traditional Southern food you've encountered at many an Atlanta restaurant. Rather than pulling straight from the playbook, Southern Art takes inspiration from regional heritage and uses it to create fresh, creative dishes that aren't exactly what your grandma served at the dinner table (but dishes Granny would totally approve of). The jarred appetizers include their deliciously creamy goat pimento cheese, a duck liver mousse, and butterbean hummus, rivaling the house fried green tomato pickles in popularity. The cornmeal-dusted catfish might seem familiar, but thankfully lacks the muddy flavor characteristic of the freshwater fish. And, for the true carnivores out there, Southern Art does have a grilled ribeye filet—but it's paired with jalapeno grits, fried green tomatoes, and sorgum-glazed onions. Not exactly your average steakhouse fare, to say the least.
Another reason why I'm hopelessly besotted with Chef Smith's creation? Four words: Ham Bar, & Pie Table. Well, six words, in fact: the restaurant's artisan ham bar and vintage pie table are a). perhaps the best word combinations I've heard in a restaurant, b). hopefully the next additions to my tiny living room, and c)., two of Southern Art's specialties. In manager Alain's words, Chef Gray's three passions are "bacon, bourbon, and ham," which is why the ham bar is stocked with a rotating roster of country ham and charcuterie, all from regional farms visited and vetted by the chef himself. A trip to the pie table will lead you to house-made pies and cakes (think bourbon pecan pie, mint julep marshmallows, and a 12-layer red velvet) that are so full of delicious Americana, they taste like they came straight from your grandmother's windowsill. Before you slip into that blissful Southern food coma, I'd recommend hitting up one of the best bourbon selections in the Southeast for a little bit of Kentucky-style digestif. At 74 bottles strong, the curated collection of barrel-aged bourbon features only the best in small-batch, regional spirits (including a house private label distilled by Four Roses), served straight-up or via classic, pre-Prohibition era cocktails, all handled by the expertise of mixologist Arienne—who, after many an award, has proven that... well, girlfriend knows her bourbon. It's perhaps the quintessential way to finish up a hearty Southern meal, just short of plopping down in a rocking chair on a front porch. That perfect patio overlooking Peachtree, though, is a fine substitute.
Food In Jars, $5/each
Fried Green Tomato Pickles, $8
Cornmeal Dusted Catfish, $21
Buttermilk Fried Chicken, $22
Niman Ranch Pork Shank, $25
Herb Grilled Swordfish, $28
Monday - Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Sunday - Thursday, 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday, 5:30 p.m. - 11 p.m.
11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Complimentary parking available with validation in the InterContinental parking deck.