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Friday, December 11, 2009

Grazing: First Look: Painted Table

click to enlarge PAINTED TABLE: The black and blue burger at Grant Park’s newest cafe
  • PAINTED TABLE: The black and blue burger at Grant Park’s newest cafe

It's obviously nuts to open a fine-dining restaurant these days. If you want to succeed, you need to be inexpensive and occupy relatively cheap real estate. It's best if you have a chef with a following, and even then – like the immortal burlesque advice given Gypsy Rose Lee – "You gotta get a gimmick."

Three dining venues that fulfill most of these criteria have recently opened: Painted Table Café (465 Boulevard, 404-622-4353), Urban Cannibals Bodega + Bites (477 Flat Shoals Ave., 404-230-9865) and Havana Restaurant (3979 Buford Highway, 404-633-7549).

Of the three, Painted Table provides the most full service, meaning you don't order your food at a counter. But I warn you, the service here – while courteous and friendly – was slow during both our visits, especially the first. In neither case were there a lot of other people in the restaurant.

That aside, the place is a charmer. It's in the location of the short-lived Zocalo Taqueria and has been completely remodeled to embody all the concepts of feng shui, the ancient Chinese system of managing space. Look on the floor in front of the bar and you'll see a series of red circles containing Chinese symbols wishing you love, happiness and other good stuff. Cool art, including some photos by Kate Crosby, decorate the walls. The only glitch: The rear of the restaurant is undecorated and – positive flow of energy or not – its aesthetics seem quite at odds with the rest of the space.

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(Photo by James Camp)

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