Great Dining Experience.
It was by pure chance that this article ended up in my In-box on the morning before a planned dinner at Dante's. I'm glad I only had time to read the first half before having to dash out the door to rescue a friend's English paper from the paper-shredder of defeat.
"I want to eat on the boat!" I texted as nimbly dodged the Midtowners on their morning commute.
"We are." Came the reply. I smiled, I felt like a kid.
That feeling predominating, as the expanse of Dante's came into view past the promenade. The dark woods, the amazing use of space, sitting in the shadow of the furloughed sail all made you forget you were sitting in the middle of Buckhead.
Sure at firs,t I expected to see little robotic pirates dancing jigs or chasing wenches, but thats what I wanted to see too.
Then our waitress arrived, her uniform was fit for the ambiance, but her demeanor was anything but piratical. She was pleasant and very knowledgeable when we asked for a wine suggestion. She was unhurried, but not slow. She was always appeared the refill the water, clear a spent plate at just the right times, without being obtrusive.
She became a supporting actor to our evening, satisfied with her time upon the stage without trying to overshadow.
The same can be said for the Jazz music. The singer had a sweet and sultry sound, perfect for languishing over a bottle of wine. The rhythms skipped and danced around the room which enhanced the experience, while still allowing for leisurely conversation.
The appetizer - the cheese fondue, the portion size just enough to remain an appetizer without becoming an entree. The bread was plenty for dipping, the apples crisp with no signs of discoloration or bruising and the swiss cheese flavors blended smoothly, muting the bite in such a way that the "I don't like Swiss Cheese" Girl at our table, ate half the pot. All of this for $11.
Halfway through our second glass of wine (an excellent Australian Shiraz, with a label which looked like it was inspired by Dante's) the main course is brought.
We had decided on Shrimp Fondue with a side of beef. The shrimp was large, breaded, cleaned, tails-off and served with raw mushrooms. They were plenty enough for two people to easily share.
The beef had a beautiful dark healthy color to it and had been sliced clean of fat. Both of these cooked up easily in the light oil and proved to be delectable on their own or in one of several sauces providing for dipping. (My favorites: sweet-sour for the shrimp and a horseradish concoction for the beef.)
The mushrooms however, stole the show. The portobello mushrooms were supple and aromatic at any cook time. The shoyu sauce blend really brought their flavors out and left us fighting over the flavorful fungi. I would highly recommend ordering an extra side, as duels have been fought for less.
I had been warned about the prices, but in all honesty they were fair. The shrimp fondue entrée cost $32, the side of beef was $12, the cheese fondue appetizer $11 and a bottle of wine $38 (wine ranged from $19 to $600, with well over 100 choices most in the $35 range.) Which gives you dinner for 2, in a' one of a kind', unhurried atmosphere, good service and live music all for $50 a person, before tax and tip.
On the way out, the eccentric Dante introduces himself and gives us a little history on the restaurant and its crocodile menagerie. All the while pointing out treasures that he feels would pertain to our specific individual interests.
Dinner at Dante's is an engaging experience. Get whisked away on the whimsy of a creative restauranteer who sees eating not just as a meal but as an event to be remembered.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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