For an extended period of time, visitors to the Après Diem website were treated to one of those nasty Go Daddy landing pages. On a whim, I decided to re-visit the page. To my surprise, that Go Daddy sprawl has been replaced with a fully functional website. This rejuvenated effort prompted me to pen a review of this midtown hotspot. Though I find the food a near universal failure, this tres chic hot spot is a magnet for tattooed hipsters, couples out for a late night, and those coffee bar lovers who would never dare set foot in a Starbucks. The failures of the kitchen aside, the vibe and crowd keep this place on my map.
Diem Industries is comprised of Après Diem, Carpe Diem, Carroll Street Cafe (my review), and Village Pizza Company. While restaurants belonging to the Buckhead Life Group, Here2Serve, and/or the Fifth Group tend to grab more headlines, Diem’s restaurants have carved out a nice niche across the heart of Atlanta. Unfortunately, each one of Diem’s restaurants seems better suited for hanging out than for eating. As you might assume, if you temper your expectations prior to a visit, you are likely to have a solid time at any one of these places.
Après is located in the Midtown Promenade adjacent to Midtown Art Cinema. As the Highlander is next door, and the Independent is upstairs, Après is prime for people watching. The foot traffic to all three of those places help to keep Après occupied more often than not. At night, especially the weekends, they get enough of a crowd that the atmosphere teeters back and forth from lively to packed.
The interior of the restaurant relies upon the stylings of European cafes for its inspiration. The color scheme is of the dark wood, burgundy, and burnt orange variety; meanwhile, the dimly lit interior, while nice for the intimacy factor, makes it hard to really appreciate any of the local artwork that adorns the walls. All this helps to further their goals of being that trendy European cafe.
You enter in through the bar, but it blends itself nicely with the dining area found to the right. The lounge area is offset towards the back left. There you will find a handful of tables as well as couches. There are two outdoor patio areas. The first is a grouping of tables situated outside. The second area wraps the building. During the summer months, these seats get filled pretty quickly. In the winter, the tables that wrap the building are encased in one of those plastic drape thingies.
The service here is fairly hit or miss. There are always a few competent members of the wait staff and a few that spend more time worrying about how they look. As I have stopped eating here altogether, for reasons I will elaborate upon in just a sec, my experiences lately with the service have been fairly par for the course.
The one saving grace with regards to their kitchen is the desserts. Everything else is a major fail. On its best days, I would call the food mediocre. Most of the time, I’d call the food weak. Their website claims “that they serve “traditional continental cuisine with an updated edge.” Though I believe that saying the food has an edge is like saying my butter knife is good for cutting steak, I will give them a pass on that. What I will not excuse is the laughable execution. The product used at Après is freezer grade. I doubt anything is really made in house, and if there is something made in house, they’d be best to keep that to themselves. About the only thing I can swallow is the avocado split. The turkey burger usually comes out like a hockey puck. Of the number of times I’ve had it over the years; I can count on one hand the number of times it has been executed properly.
Like everyone else and their mother, AD has stolen the word “Tapas” from the Spanish vernacular, grabbed a few appetizers, and shoved them at the top of the menu. Unfortunately, the prices do not do much to help the cause. Everything is overpriced based on the quality delivered. The appetizers and sandwiches run in the $10-$12 range, while the entrees come in around $20. Yikes!
I do not often order dessert; however, this is the one saving grace. I am not sure if they make everything in house, I suspect they do not…but I have no way of confirming that. The selections change daily, so I suggest you just order whatever catches your fancy. Some of them are blah, and some are good. None however, warrant a trip to Après Diem absent another motivation.
Après Diem is most useful as a peaceful coffee shop during the day (with free WiFi) and as a hip spot to drop in for a drink during the night. They often have a DJ spinning and on Wednesdays they offer up live Jazz. Some of the DJs are straight out of rookie league, but whatever. Stick to the drinks and the bread and you will be okay. I don’t think I would feed the food here to my pets, but because of the circumstances, this is one of the few times where food is less of a factor in the overall score than is the vibe. It’s nothing I love, but it serves its purpose as a change of pace.
Onward and upward!