I have a handful of “go-to” spots in Midtown – The Lawrence, Einstein’s, and STK, to name a few. I’m always looking to expand my list, so when I read a few good things about Grain, I promptly decided to check it out.
Grain is located in the old MidCity Café space on West Peachtree Street. Grain’s concept is cocktail focused, with an additional selection of upscale bar bites, so it’s pretty easy to see why the place appealed to me. The space itself is cozy and intimate, offering only a handful of tables and seats at the bar. There’s also a small patio area out front, but cold & rainy February nights aren’t exactly patio-friendly. When we arrived around 8 pm, the place was about 75% full. When we left a few hours later, it was standing room only, so it’s definitely more of a late-night cocktail spot than a dinner destination.
While the food menu is small, it’s right up my alley. It’s broken into four sections: raw, charcuterie, cheese, and savouries. There’s also a separate oyster menu. Like I said, right up my alley.
We started with a duo of cocktails and a trio of oysters. For a place that specializes in cocktails, I was a bit disappointed by the cocktail selection. We stuck to the classics – a dirty martini for me and an old fashioned for Chad.
Oyster-wise, we did two each of the French Kiss (Canada, east coast), Baja Diamond (Mexico, west coast), and Blue Point (New York, east coast).
The Bajas were not my favorites, but I’ve never been a fan of the sweeter style of west coast oysters. The French Kisses were mediocre and the Blue Points were phenomenal. It was kind of irritating, though, that we ordered six oysters and only received three crackers. I like a 1 to 1 oyster to cracker ratio. Period.
Next, we had the citrus cured salmon. The attention to detail on this dish was spot on. The salmon was deliciously smoky, and presented beautifully. It was served with marinated ruby beets, green goddess dressing, and smoked trout roe. The salmon-roe combination was a salt-lover’s paradise. The addition of the beets and green goddess dressing gave the dish a really nice light, but acidic balance.
We skipped over the charcuterie and cheese sections, because there were simply too many savory bites that we wanted to try. The fennel sausage was Chad’s favorite dish of the night. The sausage was sliced and served with baby fingerling potatoes, olives, and a chili rouille. I’m normally not a huge fennel fan, but the flavor paired really well with the hint of heat that the Calabria chili sauce brought to the dish. The dish was solid, but I did wish they had crisped the fingerling potatoes up a bit more.
The baked mac & cheese came next, and it did not disappoint. It too had a few Calabria chilis to balance with the creamy cheddar. The best part, though, was the sprinkle of crispy benne seeds that created a deliciously crispy top layer of the mac.
My favorite dish of the night was the stone crab toast. I’ve mentioned this before, but growing up with a mother who frequently burned things (sorry, Mom), I learned to love the taste of slightly (sometimes severely) burnt bread. The crab toast was slightly-burnt to perfection. The toasty brioche was piled high with stone crab, avocado slices, kimchi apple slices, and the most delicious “Mexican crema” I’ve ever eaten. The kimchi apple slices were the only component of the dish that I didn’t love, so I promptly removed them and was in crab toast heaven.
Overall, I really enjoyed our experience at Grain. It seemed as though our server was also serving the entire restaurant, but somehow she managed to do so while keeping our drinks refilled at all times. During our first visit, I learned that Grain also does a M-F $1 oyster happy hour from 3-6 pm, which is reason enough to earn it a spot on my “Midtown go-to” list.