See all of Atlanta, Georgia from one chair.
By Hope S. Philbrick
The shimmering circular skyscraper that is The Westin Peachtree Plaza Atlanta is an icon of the Atlanta skyline. Turning atop the 73-story hotel is the Sun Dial, a multi-level bar, restaurant and observatory that overlooks downtown Atlanta and the entire surrounding metro area (all the way to the horizon when skies are clear). The Sun Dial gently rotates, completing a circle in 45 minutes on the bar level and in an hour on the restaurant level, so it’s possible to survey all of Atlanta from the comfort of one chair.
Don’t let the fact that Sun Dial has a built-in lure for tourists—spin and see the whole city!—lead you to assume it’s a carnival ride. Bar and restaurant menu offerings aim to impress discriminating palates. Here, serious food and drinks are skillfully served in elegant surrounds while jazz performers entertain. And whether the skies are bright or stormy, the view is spectacular, whether its noon, sunset, or the only illumination comes from the twinkling headlights on the streets below.
Locals take note: The entire restaurant has been renovated plus there’s a new chef at the helm. If you haven’t been to Sun Dial in awhile, it’s time to return.
Executive Chef Jason Starnes presents contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis on seasonal fare. Ingredients are high quality, flavors are imaginatively layered, components are cooked to perfection, and dishes are artfully plated.
Starnes, who has 18 years of professional experience plus as a native of North Carolina knows Southern cooking, joined The Sun Dial in 2012. “Cooking is an expression of emotion,” he says. Each bite seems to say this is a happy guy who loves food.
Though Starnes favors local ingredients, seafood is an exception. As an example, the “Deadliest Catch” King Crab appetizer ($24; seasonal), showcases crab literally harvested by the folks who star in the TV series by that name. Starnes poaches the crab leg in coconut and pairs it with a crab cake, toasted coconut, mango puree and some Fresno chili for zing.
Carrot carpaccio is a visual stunner of a starter with candied carrot seeds, yogurt and carrot ribbons. It marries sweet and savory flavors for a happy palate.
Lobster pot pie defies expectations, using the lobster shell as the “pot.” Peas and carrots are tucked into one segment, lobster meat into another and an herby biscuit forms a bridge. The dish is sophisticated and innovative.
The short rib is fall-off-the-bone tender thanks to its long braise. A sprinkle of fresh grated horseradish on top adds a welcome fresh contrast to the rich, savory meat.
Save room for dessert. Pastry Chef Khoi Nguyen is known for his masterful dessert creations, and has been commissioned to create a range of special-event pastries including a cake for the Braves World Series team, a cake replica of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, and Atlanta’s 150th birthday cake. His hazelnut caramel crunch is a showcase piece that’s almost—almost!—too pretty to eat. Prefer vanilla to chocolate? You can’t go wrong with the Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee.
Meals at Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View are memorable, whatever the occasion. Even if that occasion is merely a random Thursday.
Odds of Encountering Children: Varies, but generally low. I saw no children during my recent weeknight dinner. Though this is a hotel restaurant, the ambiance and prices suggest “special occasion” more than “family,” thus wise parents hire a babysitter in order to enjoy a romantic night. Several family-oriented restaurants are within easy walking distance of the hotel.
Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View
atop The Westin Peachtree Plaza Atlanta
210 Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, Georgia, 30303
– Photo Credits: interiors courtesy Sun Dial; food © HSP Media LLC
Thanks to Sun Dial for including me as a guest at a recent media dinner; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.