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Friday, October 10, 2008

Dogwood's upscale Southern walks the line

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In the midst of our city's Southern restaurant boom, let us pause to admire one of the cuisine's staples, a dish that's been elevated from down-home comfort food to high-end food magazine cover model: the grit. Versatile, appropriate for any time of day, and able to put a Southern pedigree on a dish in a single bound, grits are the superhero of New Southern cooking.

At Dogwood, they've been given their own menu section. The "grits bar" offers a plate of warm grits with a choice of one of three toppings, which have ranged from fried oysters to butter-poached lobster to ham and pimento cheese. The toppings vary in extravagance, but they aren't the stars of this show. The grits are rich with corn flavor, and their coarse, substantial texture delivers maximum impact to the surface area of your taste buds. Take a bow, grits; encore, encore.

Dogwood sits across from Emory Crawford Long Hospital in the Reynolds condominium building. The few blocks of Peachtree Avenue between North Avenue and the Connector exist in a locational paradox. The city has tried to brand the area SoNo, although I've never heard anyone call it that. It's not really Midtown, but it doesn't fit neatly into downtown, either. So a restaurant here must tread a carefully plotted path to appeal to both the tourists and conventioneers staying in downtown hotels, and the finicky trend followers who make or break Midtown restaurants. Whether by lucky accident or by design, Dogwood looks poised to pull off both. The striking decor, soft-jazz ambiance, fancy plating compositions and eager service will no doubt please the expense-account set and out-of-towners. But chef Shane Touhy's thoughtful flavor profiles and attention to quality ingredients should put Dogwood squarely on the radar of Atlanta foodies as well.

Read the rest of this article here.

(Photo by James Camp)

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