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.