Thursday, July 5, 2012

Best Filet in Atlanta

This is not a tale about all steaks, just the filet.  That most refined of cuts.  Atlanta, thankfully, gives you a lot of great choices for filets.  We have all the chains: the longhorns, outbacks, etc, the Ruth's Chris, Capital Grille, Stoney River, etc.  We have some very nice locals too: Highland Tap in Virginia Highland, Chops in Buckhead, Cabernet out in Alpharetta.  But, if you want to have a transcendental experience, you must seek the local specialists.  

Top three in our book are Hal's on Old IvyKevin Rathbun Steak, and Bone's.

Atlanta has a lot of great choices for the filet.  Local filet craftsmen take the crown for best filet.

Hal's on Old Ivy

With Creole influence, and a very clear focus on filet quality, Hal's stands out as the best filet in Atlanta.  Brushed with clarified Anchor butter on each flip during searing, the steak arrives at your table ready to melt in your mouth.  The filet comes with a side of creamed spinach, or mashed potatoes, or angel hair with marinara.  Our recommendation is the creamed spinach.  The sides are very much sides in Hals, though.  The star is unquestionably the filet.  I like mine medium rare plus. You can get au jus as well, if you'd like some sauce, though that's not really required.  Have a big cab with it, and you're good to go.  Maybe Stag's Leap, or Franciscan.

The ambiance at Hal's leaves a bit to be desired.  There are simply too many people a lot of the time, and you have to be ready for a bustling time.  There is a main dining room downstairs and downstairs bar.  In the relatively new upstairs level, there's a deck with a view of Buckhead, dining room, bar, and private dining rooms.  Restrooms are both upstairs and down, but they are small and lack refinements, particularly the downstairs restrooms.

The downstairs bar, being receiving area and bar, is the most crowded of all places at Hal's.  The piano guy plays Billie Joel and all the standards the 40-60-something crowd really enjoys.  Energetic bartenders - all female - help in creating a festive atmosphere.   If you're looking to meet other folks, definitely take a seat at the bar, if you can get one.  If you are on a date, get a table in the upstairs dining room if you can.  Either way, get a filet!

Kevin Rathbun Steak

Next is Kevin Rathbun Steak, or "Steak".  By far the most modern of the top three, the decor is stunning, with a stacked redwood wall that stretches the length of the warehouse-converted space.  A 8' Steve Penley portrait of a smiling Kevin watches you from one end of the dining room, while a 12' tall wine rack separates the bar from the dining room.   Lights are low throughout, and with dark gray tile, dark walls, and gray curtains that start at the floor and get lost up in the warehouse ceiling trusses, the restaurant is bathed in an air of sophistication.

The food is fantastic.  Where Hal's filet shines compared to the rest of the menu, the Rathbun filet is one in a star line-up.  You can feel confident ordering any of the cuts there, as well as the full range of seafood.  The filet comes in either 6- or 12-oz size.  The 6 is often undersized, so it might be better to order a 12 and share with your date.  Again, order it medium rare plus.   And, go crazy with the sides at Steak.  The chefs are focused on local there, so you may find yourself having asparagus grown two miles away.  The sides change periodically, but the creamed corn is a staple, and rightly so.  Order that and the scalloped sweet potatoes at the very least.


Finally, there's Bone's.  Certainly the most traditional of traditional steak houses in Atlanta.  Focus is on service, with formally attired wait staff, and and a keen eye on tableware.  Your server there will most likely be a gentleman in his 50s.  Let's call him Stan.  Stan is very, very well versed in steak preparation, wine selection, and all things steak-erly.  They have a preponderance of small private dining rooms at Bone's, to ensure intimacy for your party.  A great place for a graduation dinner, business dinner, anniversary.

The filet at bones is much what you'd expect.  Marbled, aged, perfect balance of lean and fat.  It's a delight, and sits well next to its red meat brethren, and the wide seafood selection.  Try it with the truffle butter mashed potatoes or corn pudding, yum!

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