Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One (Singular Sensation) Midtown Kitchen

The first time I ventured to One I was utterly impressed by not only the decor, but also a more important concern, the food. Everyone in my party ordered fish and I distinctly remember being enthusiastic about how great the worchestire marinated tuna-steak was.

Fast forward to more than a year later and my palate and experience repertoire has grown considerably. I've tried many more things than my sheltered past permitted, have since managed to get around the Atlanta restaurant scene at a hasty rate, and developed a taste for higher quality and well-prepared food. Suffice it to say, while good, One Midtown Kitchen didn't live up to my romanticized memory.

The space is as memorable today as it was on my previous visit. Located on the very low-traffic, dead end Dutch Valley Road, you won't miss One so long as it's dark out - the exterior of the restaurant is an illuminated bright purple box. The unique design elements continue through to the interior of the restaurant with lofted ceilings, dangling, icicle-like lights, individual candles for bar seats, and other accoutrements that my limited interior design vocabulary keeps me from describing.

Once through the large and heavy metallic door you will most certainly be greeted by Bob, the maître d’. Bob is a complete joy and as personable as they come. In addition to his charm, Bob is a complete doppelgänger for Joel Godard of the Conan O'Brien Show. Aside from the looks, the voice is spot on too.

The food at One was admittedly tasty, but somewhat uninspired. We started with an order of calamari and Yellowtail Tataki. The calamari is different here; it's sliced lengthwise rather than in tubes and is the most tender cut of squid I've ever had. Unfortunately the batter really lacked crunch due to the fact that it was smothered in a sweet and spicy (and frankly generic) sauce.

The Yellowtail Tataki was pretty good and I really enjoyed the spiced peanuts on the plate. It was arranged on a bed of mango, micro-greens, and cilantro (thankfully not much). It had a really nice citrus drizzle that complimented the natural flavor of the fish.

We went on a Friday night and unbeknownst to me, that's rib night. I love my BBQ but I had strong doubts as to One's ability to make some proper 'que.
1. There was no way they were using a smoker. It's pretty easy to make tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs by baking and then finishing on the grill. However, I've come to crave the extra flavor of smoke which only so many places can do right.
2. I keep up with barbeque pretty well, especially ITP. If they've had this rib night going for so long, how come I'd never heard about it?

With that in mind, the ribs were pretty good. They were fall-off-the-bone tender, and the sauce had a slightly nice kick to it. Unfortunately the only source of flavor was the sauce. I detected no flavorful dry rub or seasoning, and if they did throw it on the grill, it didn't leave much char or smokey flavor. They were served with spiced fries (again not too much flavor here) and a watermelon salad (although they called it coleslaw).

The only dish that I remembered seeing last time I was there was the Steak Frites. On my previous visit, the Steak Frites was flying from the kitchen throughout the entire course of our meal and I figured it was a pretty safe bet when placing my order this time. The steak was very tender and pretty flavorful but unfortunately overcooked. I ordered it medium rare but this is what came out.

The fries were just OK. There was too much focus on parmesan and not enough on herbs as promised by the menu. The sauce for the steak was phenomenal. I would have happily swam laps in the stuff and it completely masked my overcooked steak.

For dessert my brother and mom settled on the profiteroles. They do a table side hot fudge service which was much appreciated as it kept the melting to a minimum. I thought the dessert was pretty good but it's hard to screw up pastry, ice cream, and hot fudge.

Collectively, One was a pretty enjoyable meal, just not nearly as exceptional as I had remembered. It's hard to decide whether I should attribute this to my refined tastes, or just the actual meal at hand. Either way, I'd gladly return because in addition to good food, the atmosphere is singular and gratifying.

One Midtown Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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