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Friday, November 27, 2009

First Look: Miller Union

click to enlarge MILLER UNION: The restaurant's décor keeps it simple
  • MILLER UNION: The restaurant's décor keeps it simple

It's a grand game of incest and intrigue, the restaurant biz. Chefs, managers and servers follow one another from restaurant to restaurant. The gossip may get nasty and the knives may end up in back after back, but at the end of a Saturday night, everyone's just one big happy family.

It was something of a shock when I walked through the door of the new Miller Union (999 Brady Ave., 678-733-8550) and found myself face-to-face with Neal McCarthy, longtime manager of Sotto Sotto under Riccardo Ullio. I knew my cover was blown instantly and, in case I had any doubt, chef Steven Satterfield, a longtime chef for Scott Peacock at Watershed, came out to our table to say hey later. The two have opened this restaurant, named after the old Miller Union Stock Yards, in Atlanta's Westside.

There was no back-stabbing in this encounter. Both men have received the best on-the-job educations they could get in Atlanta. But I was chagrinned at how difficult the game of critical anonymity has become in our city. Critics -  and I don't know one who isn't recognized frequently - have become part of the incestuous game. At least I had not met McCarthy's amazingly beautiful (and towering) wife Carolyn before.

The new restaurant - organic, local, sustainable when possible - reflects Satterfield's nine years with Peacock. The menu of straightforward dishes is heavy on the Southern accent, but subtly so. There's "griddled" poulet rouge on the menu but no fried chicken.

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(Photo by James Camp)

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