When talking about food, ‘medium rare’ refers to cooking meat so the outside is browned with just a hint of red in the middle, striving to provide the perfect combination of tenderness and flavor. This column, much like its namesake, strives to provide the perfect combination of epicurean insight and Atlanta-area atmosphere.
Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant – Inman Park
Easily the most fun place on this list, Barcelona is an upscale tapas restaurant nestled in the heart of Inman Park. The ambiance is classy yet upbeat. Upon walking in you’ll notice a chatty crowd of people all hanging out and drinking wine by the bar, probably waiting for a coveted table. Barcelona has quite the wine selection and anyone that works there can help you find that perfect pairing with your meal. The atmosphere both inside and outside is intimate without being overtly stuffy, providing for a great place for you and your date to chat it up. For those with a fear of eating too much on dates (a completely rational fear) Barcelona’s tapas provide a great way to share tasty food and sample different tastes. I recommend the grilled hangar steak with the black truffle vinaigrette.
Two Urban Licks – Beltline/Midtown
When you think of cool Atlanta restaurants, Two Urban Licks almost always makes the list. Its classy and posh interior are astounding considering the building was renovated from an old warehouse. While you’re waiting for a table try one of their fantastic cocktails at the bar. As you get seated you’ll notice through the huge windows that the restaurant directly faces the scenic Atlanta beltline, and you’ll get a great view of the skyline. The upscale American fare will suit any palate, and the food is sure to dazzle. I recommend getting the salmon chips to start — it’s a house specialty and one of their most popular items. If you seek a more intimate setting, try their sister establishment One Midtown Kitchen. Under the same ownership, One Midtown Kitchen has a more seafood based menu and is everything you would expect out of a modern classy seafood establishment.
Ecco – Midtown
Definitely the classiest of the restaurants on this list, bring your date here if you prefer an air of sophistication. Once inside you will instantly feel the light grandeur of a classy European establishment. A wine cellar with transparent glass walls greets you upon entrance as you check in with the hostess. As you get seated at the table, you are greeted by the classic white table cloth décor with wine glasses, plates and silverware already at the table. The exquisite menu ranges from Lamb Canneloni to a Roasted Quail. Regardless of your main entrée, the fried goat cheese is a must-try. It is served with a unique drizzle of honey and cracked black pepper, a combination which enchants your taste buds as it pairs with the fried cheese.
Café Intermezzo – Midtown
As you can probably guess, I am quite fond of Midtown, but Café Intermezzo isn’t just a Midtown location; it’s an Atlanta institution. Instantly recognizable by its gold décor and ornate European architectural grandeur, Café Intermezzo stands out amongst the modern corporate office buildings of Midtown Atlanta. Step inside and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into the Renaissance. Murals adorn the ceiling, and gold angels are perched upon the walls. Customers can sit inside or on the patio, which I must say is a great place to people watch and chat it up. Café Intermezzo is famous for its cakes (particularly cheesecakes), which it makes fresh daily. The only way to order is to walk up and view the choices while a hostess explains each cake in rich detail. A hot drink is a perfect complement to the cheesecake, and you are at no shortage of choices in their 40+ page drink book that ranges from hot coffees (with or without alcohol) to fine wines and spirits. It’s no argument that Café Intermezzo is a classy end to a perfect dinner out on the town.
– By Vishal Jain, Contributing Writer