AG at The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, Georgia.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Looking for a dining experience? Head to AG at The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, located in the heart of downtown.
However you score a restaurant, AG wins.
“We’re so glad you’re dining with us,” says the hostess with uncommon warmth after confirming our reservation. Our server says the same thing after introducing herself. Both ladies sound genuine, not like they’re repeating some rehearsed line of dialogue.
While you’re perusing the menu staffers parade by to fill your water glass, swap out napkins (if you need black rather than white), share daily specials, and offer suggestions. Because they’re timely, polite, and brief, these interactions feel like a genuine welcoming party not interruptions.
Order a cocktail—yes, you want some of this well-balanced deliciousness!—and sit back to relax. Whether you prefer a cozy booth, table with a view of famed Peachtree Street, seat at the bar, or even a private nook, there’s a spot that suits your mood. The restaurant interior was refreshed in September 2016 and still feels new.
AG manages to feel both upscale and casual, with its thoughtful service and elegant food preparations balanced with its welcoming vibe and gregarious atmosphere. Some diners arrive dressed in business attire while others wear resort casual, it’s all fine.
We sip a few different concoctions, including the daily Gin & Tonic feature. They’re all yummy, but one cocktail is most noteworthy: The Duck Sazerac is a blend of Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey, bitters, brown sugar, absinthe, and duck fat; it’s so balanced that you can taste every element, even the duck fat (which, admittedly, seems weird), and the sum is greater than the whole of its parts.
Sommelier Brian White may stop by the table to suggest wine pairings. Sip whatever he’s pouring. His wine list offers premium wines from around the world with 25 wines by the glass. Don’t skip his Limited Release 181 Vin de Garage, a red blend he created specifically for AG that pairs with a wide array of dishes.
With so many mouthwatering temptations on the menu, choosing what to order is a challenge. But it’s not like you can go wrong. Chef Gilles Schreiber interned at age 15 at a Michelin-starred restaurant in his native France and his career has soared ever since. He strives to impress: After working at multiple The Ritz-Carlton locations for 10 years he landed at The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta and aims to make it “to be the most distinguished hotel in the brand,” according to press materials. What a great goal; we’re all for pushing Georgia forward!
Start with the Georgia Farm salad, because local seasonal is always best. This tasty mound of baby watercress, compressed watermelon, beets, heirloom carrots, and asparagus is drizzled with blood orange vinaigrette and ranks among the best versions of a salad bearing “Georgia Farm” in its name.
I decide on the Seared Sixty South Antarctic salmon with summer succotash, asparagus, and black garlic beurre blanc because I can’t recall ever having Antarctic fish before. Cooked to perfection, it tastes as fresh and delicate as the source of origin suggests. The sides add complex, complementary layers of flavor.
My husband’s entrée of crispy La Belle Farm duck breast with caramelized onion puree, baby turnips, and grilled peaches with cherry gastrique is equally scrumptious. It arrives with a side of fries—and they’re such a fantastic contrast of crunch/soft that it takes great restraint not to devour them all before my husband can bite into one. The fact that AG serves both highfalutin dishes and comfort items, all perfectly executed, is part of its charm.
Though you may feel full, this is no place to pass up dessert. The Atlanta Peach is a gorgeous piece of art that looks like a peach but involves pastry magic plus compressed peaches and fresh mint anglaise sauce. It makes a compelling argument that nature can be improved. The AG Cocoa Bean features marcaibo chocolate mousse and almond daquoise and is worth every decadent calorie.
Just when you think you can’t eat another bite a plate of small candies arrives and of course they are too good to pass up, too. From start to finish, AG serves serious yum.
Dine at AG for relaxing refinement that tickles the taste buds and lingers in memory.
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion. Thanks to AG for hosting our recent visit.