I’m no Eat It Atlanta or Savory Exposure, but when my new Canon S95 arrived, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to test out its low-light capabilities. Enter The Palm Restaurant, a longstanding fixture in Buckhead (and the rest of the country for that matter). In need of some good company, I corralled a partner and headed to The Westin Buckhead.
Atlanta’s cityscape is dotted with high-end steakhouses; from Bone’s to Chops, we really don’t have a shortage of options. But truth be told, I’m not much of a steak guy. Outside of an indulgent cheesesteak, I rarely order me some slab ‘o meat when traveling. There are a plethora of reasons for this logic, least of which being my own ability to procure a fine peace of moo cow and treat him honorably at Casa De Buddha. Though I have my opinions on which house serves the best steak, this here post is an ode to those lovely crustaceans we all should love: lobster.
Despite using a group of photos from a single sitting, this post is less about any one individual experience and more about the Gestalt. As far as fine restaurants go, entrance to the Palm is somewhat unusual. The obligatory but free valet takes place in the underground of Around Lenox, the adjunct area of Lenox Square. While it may not be intimate, it’s kinda fun walking up and through a grand lobby just to get your dinner.
Once you weave through the aforementioned and into the restaurant itself, things settle down a bit. For anyone who has stepped inside one of the multitude of Palm locations around the states, Atlanta’s Buckhead rendition is true to form. A predominantly beige paint job and dark wood-panels lay the foundation. While the walls are speckled with the now famous headshot drawings of “famous folk,” I’ve spent as much time as anyone perusing the pictures trying to figure out “Who the hell is that person and why are they on this wall?” I guess Atlanta just isn’t that hip!
Appetizers and salads are par for the course. The salads are made of fresh ingredients and you’ll find your classic Hearts of Palm and Beefsteak Tomato Capri ($11). Not farm to table, but hey … it doesn’t need to be. The apps are almost exclusively of the sea; nothing envelope pushing, and that’s just the way I want things at a Classic American steakhouse. I haven’t been impressed with any of the apps and I’ve found the lobster bisque ($11) to be mundane and relatively bland, save for the sampling of lobster which maintains an unfortunate “shell-fishiness.” In the same ilk, I can’t say I’ve ever been impressed with any of the sides (roughly $9-$12), but they are table sized portions so you aren’t skimping.
The mushrooms, sautéed spinach, and home fries have shown up on my table more than a few times. All are properly executed, but the freshness of the vegetables takes a total backseat to the lack of seasoning invoked. I would suggest The Chops/Lobster Bar on those fronts (their take on the Lobster Bisque is also superior) but again … we’re not here for that stuff.
So yeah, points off for the sides and apps, and the steaks are just fine … but alas there is a coup de grâce. A broiled lobster, preferably between two and three pounds for ultimate sweetness, split open and pining for your attention on a silver tray. Joined by a cup of golden butter and your own personal cracking assistant who will crack meat like Bo Jackson cracks bats.
People will argue with you until the shrimp come home as to the proper way to prepare a lobster. For my money: broiled (that’s with an r) is the way to go. A proper broiling will leave your shell just a touch charred and the meat golden with butter and full of juicy awesomeness. To execute a good broil, your oven/broiler needs to be carefully monitored. I don’t know exactly what their system is, but the three times I’ve had a broiled lobster in ATL’s Palm … I’ve been floored with deliciousness.
Beyond cooking styles, the test of a good lobsterista is their ability to sling tomalley. Tomalley is the colloquialism for that green substance so many people turn their nose up. It’s actually quite good when cooked properly and can be down right creamy … almost as if you had a liver bone marrow. Trying to make sense of that nonsensical statement: just appreciate the tastiness in full effect.
So in summation:
Your steaks are just passable, your apps leave a lot to be desired, and I don’t know about your fish … however … your lobsters make me go Nucking Futs! Mmmmmm!
I’ve never ventured into the dessert section, an important part of the evaluation … however … I always pass on end of the meal sweets, so proceed at your own risk.
I can’t be completely happy with every aspect of the experience; however, the quality of that lobster dwarfs any of the problems I’ve encountered. Sure, I haven’t spent a lot of time on the non-steak/lobster options, but why should we when the best is just that good?