1kept – Atlanta, GA

20130915-192707.jpgFor the last couple of months, every time I went on open table to make a reservation, the first place that showed up had been 1kept. (And people wonder, “what’s in a name”?) I finally gave in to the product placement and when one of our dining-out couples asked about going out on Saturday night, I booked it.

The decor was very interesting, typewriters all over the place, on tabletops, on dividers and hanging on the wall. Lots of exposed wood. Glass-fronted, open kitchen. It was, very obviously, trying to look “hip”. That’s probably the best way to describe the restaurant – trying to be hip. I should have guessed that from this blurb on their home page:

20130915-193441.jpgYou will know you’ve found the right synergy of culture, edge, polish and posh between the butcher block tables and tufted chairs. Seats 62 and perfect for early drinks, dinner, or evening cocktails that bring poetic inspiration among friends.

Each couple started with a flatbread – a wild mushroom across the table 20130915-193500.jpgand a BLT (bacon, romaine lettuce and herb roasted tomatoes, with a black pepper aioli) on our side.

20130915-193613.jpgThe flatbreads were both excellent – there was not a bite left of either (we traded out a couple of pieces across the table and the wild mushrooms got rave reviews from our side of the table also.)

We also had a cup of white truffle oil Parmesan popcorn which,

20130915-193557.jpg

according to those who like such things (not me – the whole “mushroom thing”), was amazing. The waiter almost lost a finger to the two ladies when he tried to take the non empty bowl. They both commented on how every bite (not just the top quarter of the bowl) tasted like the truffle oil. In retrospect, we should have stopped at flatbreads and popcorn, but we went on to dinner.

Two members of our party ordered the short rib risotto with wild mushrooms and carrots

20130915-193803.jpgwhich was well received. Both plates were clean when they returned to the kitchen. There was almost a skirmish over the undisclosed fried onions atop the risotto, between the ladies. The short ribs were tasty – several bites were shared with me. But the dish looked like a hot mess, not very appetizing.

I considered ordering the grilled chicken, but when one of our other diners ordered it, I rethought my decision.

20130915-193834.jpgThe chicken was two boneless thighs, with roasted potatoes and haricot verts and was, by all reports, good.

I decided to go with the grilled veal meatloaf.

20130915-193857.jpgThey managed to grill every bit of taste out of the meat. And it was covered, sloppily, with an overly sweet red sauce. The mashed potatoes were nice, but few. And the green beans were quintessential haricot verts – hard as a rock.

Our waiter Cory was very friendly and very efficient and, overall, the service tried to be very attentive. When he realized I didn’t enjoy my meal (He asked if I wanted a box and I replied negatively. He asked about it. I told him), he came back and said that they were taking care of my meal and the manager was coming over. The manager never showed. Someone came by and was putting out spoons for dessert. We explained we hadn’t ordered any. Turns out that two desserts showed up, to make up for my not liking my dinner. It was a very nice gesture, but had they asked me, I wouldn’t have chosen either Reese’s cheesecake or a Nutella cake – I don’t care for either.

Here’s my thought – They’re just down the hill from Restaurant Eugene and Holman Finch. In my opinion, those are two of the better dinner experiences in town. And they seem to want to climb that hill, but on the dinners themselves they overreached. The food was tasty (except for my meatloaf which was absolutely tasteless), but the side combinations were either standard (green beans and potatoes with multiple dishes) or just odd (lentils and kale with the fish, corn risotto with scallops). And there weren’t options, on the menu, to order different or additional sides.

The best way to describe it is to say the kitchen and the staff seemed to have good intentions. Execution seemed to be the challenge.
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