Posted by Laura Haynes in atlanta menu, atlanta restaurant, atlanta restaurant reviews, the optimist, the optimist and the oyster bar at the optimist, the optimist menu, the optimist restaurant review, the optimist review
I was gleefully happy for the opening of Ford Fry's Westside seafood and oyster house, The Optimist, so when the opportunity presented itself to try out the food, I was dragging my fiancee out of the door before he even knew what was happening. The Optimist’s menu offers guests sustainable seafood of superior quality. Fresh catch comes into the kitchen daily and is prepared with a simple touch that highlights the restaurant’s wood-burning oven and grills. The menu is a combination of Chef Evans’ boyhood fish camp days with a touch of modern flare to match today’s palates.
The restaurant is divided into two sections, the main dining section and the adjacent Oyster Bar at The Optimist, and is a more casual “fish camp” style venue featuring a raw bar and an outdoor patio with a two-hole putt-putt golf course.The atmosphere definitely screams modern, fish house and sustainability - a combination of wood and steel, big open space and clean lines.
When I heard The Optimist Beverage Director (Lara Creasy), had developed a beverage program with selections she carefully chose to complement the menu, I knew that getting a cocktail was a necessary part of the experience. The wines hail from coastal regions around the world and the bar’s micro-brewed beers are from America’s port-city breweries.
I ordered a signature cocktail, The Beach Shanty - Allagash White (one of my favorite summer beers), Brinley's Shipwreck spiced rum, lemon and ginger liqueur. It was a refreshing, citrus-y, bite that paired perfectly with the peel-n-eat shrimp appetizer we ordered.
For the appetizer, we ordered the peel & eat GA white shrimp, “come back” sauce & lemon / $11 per 1/2 lb. I don't know what entailed the "come back" sauce, but it tasted like your typical tartar sauce with a bit of dill mixed in. The shrimp had an Old Bay type seasoning on it and the combination of it all was just divine. I could have easily devoured another 1/2 lb.
The fiancee ordered the skirt steak, with romesco sauce, and beef jus / $24. He said the components of the dish mixed together made for a very solid main entree offering. But my man has had many of steak, and while extremely good, we decided it was the seafood that really, really shined. We recommend sticking surf, maybe not so much turf. But solid option for your any of your non-seafood-eating-friends that you may have to drag with you to this place (ASAP).
Okay, so our waitress recommend that we order a side dish to split. All of the sides are $6 and are pretty sizable (the entrees don't automatically come with a side, you need to order the sides a la carte). I balked when Lee suggested we go for the potato gnocchi, lobster butter, and corn side. Why Italian at a Seafood restaurant? I can't even begin to describe the party that happened inside of my mouth the moment I took a bite. The best gnocchi I've had in Atlanta bar none. The pilow-y, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pockets of goodness where so amazing - I didn't want it to end. It must have been the lobster butter. I'm not sharing next time, even if it means I have to run an extra half marathon that day to burn the calories.
For the main event, I went for the wood roasted soft shell crab with pickled ramps and garlic broth / $26. Holy garlic, buttery, sweet, goodness. It was my first time having a roasted soft shell crab and let me say, it was marvelous. Crunchy skin, smokiness from the wood fire, mixed with the garlic broth and sweetness of the ramps = sensory overload in the best way possible. I literally can't stop thinking about this meal.
Just when I thought it couldn't possibly get any better, entre les doughnuts. Let me clarify, these are BUTTERMILK DONUTS with powdered sugar, that taste more like cake then doughnuts. Served with sweet corn ice cream and hot pepper jam / $6.
All in all - a great happy hour spot for those that want to stay on the Oyster Bar side and get some appetizers/seafood on ice and putt the ball around the green. As for a nice dinner, absolutely worth the money. Great atmosphere, best seafood in town, and super great service. Very friendly wait staff. I want to go back tomorrow!