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Drinking in Atlanta: At the Optimist

March 12, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila
  • Lobster knuckles in lime butter bath at the Optimist in Atlanta, one of the small plates offered at the oyster bar in front.
Lobster knuckles in lime butter bath at the Optimist in Atlanta, one of the… (S. Irene Virbila\Los Angeles…)

I was in Atlanta for two days on a whirlwind tour of restaurants and bars. Only able to fit in so many meals (how much can you eat in two days?), I stopped by the Optimist not for dinner but a pre-dinner snack and a drink.

Someone told me the sprawling restaurant and bar had been described as "the Hamptons meets Atlanta," and that's kind of right. There's a little putting green in front as you approach the bar and some outdoor, beachy seating. Inside, at the oyster bar, octopus tentacles are stenciled at the back as a design motif, and a weathered brick wall backs marigold-colored banquettes.

The bar specializes in "punches" and so, of course, I had to have one. The Rosalita arrived in a glass mug, practically overflowing as if the waiter had just dipped the mug into the punch and pulled it out, dripping ($9). It's tequila dressed up with apple cider, St-Germain, lime and rosemary, a gentle drink to start the night on.

To eat, we ordered a couple of small plates: the charred octopus tentacle in a bright zippy red hot sauce fired up with kimchi and candied coriander ($9) and a generous plate of lobster knuckles in a lime butter bath with chile and mint ($9). I wanted the buttered yeast rolls ($4) and the peel-and-eat Georgia shrimp ($12), but dinner at Bacchanalia down the street was coming up soon, so, regretfully, I did not indulge.


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