I initially, mistakenly thought Rare on Piedmont was a steakhouse, until I walked into another dimension. Recently reopened after a fire two years ago, this place is a fancy lounge that serves “soul tapas” and is lusciously decorated with classic African-American historical photographs and glowing chandeliers that suggest a bygone era of bespoke fashion and roaring Harlem nights.
Deceptively calm due to the currently underused patio, an outside cloaked with lush curtains, and with a prompt valet service that meets you at front and then satellites your vehicle to a nearby parking location – nothing indicates the level of activity inside. And the place was somewhat hiving on a Tuesday for an informal networking event established by local auto impresario and Midtown high-rise apartment “Mayor” Ken Jones.
Plenty of couch space and a hip bar with smiling service showcases the front half of the space. While the friendly servers please with prompt and thoughtful attention in the back half, which even has bed-type “tables” for dinner service. That is one thing we have been unable to find in Atlanta for that special one-on-one or slightly larger intimate dinner since BED closed down. Highly-charged energy amongst the networking pros up front where the shots were flowing; ambient and romantic in back where the fresh cocktails fit the mood just right for the couples I noticed gaga-ing to their own grooves. It made for a fun event.
The food is thoughtfully-prepared by Chef Wesley, a Hilton Head native and former Justin’s employee. His most popular item may be his rich and velvety lobster macaroni and cheese. I could have been completely satisfied to just eat three servings of that gourmet concoction – topped with a lightly-fried, large bay leaf – it left me somehow missing my grandmother’s cooking and simultaneously anticipating a trip to the ocean.
Before that, an Egyptian salad started me off on my path to fulfillment. Mixed greens topped with creamy Feta cheese, complemented by a perfectly pungent red wine vinaigrette and nicely offset by sweet golden raisins. Crisp tomatoes and cucumbers with the seeds removed, balanced by the intensity of kalamata olives and red onions. The surprise ingredient that set the dish off for me was the addition of fresh mint leaves – refreshing and satisfying.
My final dish of collard green pot stickers may have stolen the show – if that macaroni wasn’t so incredible. Chopped collard greens like your Deep South mamas made, inside delicate fried pot sticker dumplings also containing diced tarragon mushrooms, over a small boat of savory potlikker with aromas of brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. I was transported to a place where Gone with the Wind meets Top Chef.
And they are open and serving food until midnight, for that busy from hard working/partying set that gravitates to the pulsing energy of Midtown. As I contemplated the towering Bank of America building aglow in the night sky from the patio, I realized home really is where the heart is. We love ATL.