A semiprivate dining space in the back contains three long tables joined by reed dining chairs and punctuated by dove-gray pendants—perfect for a birthday party and company get-togethers.
Restaurateur Justin Anthony joins longtime friend, Cape Dutch partner and Executive Chef Philippe Haddad at the eye-catching service station behind the host stand—a spot as chic as a residential butler’s pantry.
Even with 20 years in Atlanta and 17 at 10 Degrees South under his belt, acclaimed local restaurateur Justin Anthony had begun to lose faith in the innovativeness of the local culinary scene. A few years ago, he was even shopping for real estate in California before everything changed. “I noticed Atlanta starting to become more of a foodie town. West Midtown blew up; Inman Park blew up; then Old Fourth Ward,” he says. As he set his sights on a new Biltong Bar at Ponce City Market (more on this later), his wife, interior designer Kelly Wolf Anthony, offered a tip about Woodfire Grill, which shuttered this spring. “One morning, she said, ‘You should go look at the space.’” Then, Justin’s friend Philippe Haddad—the legendary local cuisinier, formerly of The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas and F&B, who serves as a consulting chef at Justin’s Yebo restaurant for three years to date—suggested the very same thing. “Then, I had a dream about it,” Justin continues. And the dream became a reality.
As soon as he walked through the former Woodfire Grill digs, Justin’s memory shot back to a magical February 2015 visit to winemaker Ken Forrester’s breathtaking 1694 Cape Dutch estate, just east of Capetown, South Africa, which happened to coincide with a very special South African tradition—a braai, or barbecue—surrounded by friends, family, horses, dogs. “I thought: I’m going to recreate that day at Ken Forrester’s and put a South African braai (or grill) in the middle of the dining room.” Thankfully, he had Kelly’s talents in his arsenal. Her design comprises a serene, neutral scheme, complete with dry-brushed woods, tactile textiles, blown-glass lighting and board-and-batten paneling.
Begin at Cape Dutch’s front lounge, and don’t miss the custom cocktails by consulting mixologist Lara Creasy, plus a bar menu ($5 to $17) that includes items like an heirloom tomato, shaved asparagus, carrot and micro daikon salad with white balsamic-truffle vinaigrette. The diver scallops with zucchini, quinoa, wheat berries, mint, cumin, olive oil and lemon are impeccable—especially when paired with the eatery’s well-stocked Boschendal Chardonnay-Pinot Noir blend (think Champagne, but without the bubbles).
A few dishes, like the butternut squash steaks and roasted root vegetable plate, make seamless transitions between lounge and main dining room; we loved the latter’s ginger coulis base. Meanwhile, most entrees ring up between $14 and $48, and are prepared on the in-dining-room grill. And with Executive Chef Haddad at the helm, Cape Dutch dazzles: steak, duck, cornish hen and wild game celebrate the signature flavors of South Africa (known for its Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, Italian and Greek influences)—with additional global twists inspired by both Haddad and Justin’s adventures around the world.
Though prepared simply on the grill, meats can be paired with any of six sauces for extra kick. We loved the filet with peppercorn sauce, accompanied by caramelized nutmeg Brussels sprouts and white asparagus—a dish that paired beautifully with an Alto Moncayo Veraton Garnacha pulled directly from an ice bucket on the trestle table. It’s a setup that promotes interaction between sommelier Stacey Blalock, servers and diners, as familiar and comfortable as imbibing in a best friend’s home.
Speaking of comforts, you can’t leave without sampling the chocolate soup. Made of Belgian chocolate melted over a double boiler with cream, butter and hazelnut, the soup is paired with perfectly fluffy strips of H+F country bread, plus almond cracklings and crisped rice to garnish. Together with the chocolate’s sandy texture, it makes for a real winner, especially after such an exotic dinner.
1782 Cheshire Bridge Road NE