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Monday, May 27, 2013

King + Duke, A Buckhead Revival (Updated)

Warning:  The following may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13 and those who are unfamiliar with the work of Mark Twain and in particular, Huckleberry Finn.
King + Duke is the latest creation from Ford Fry, the father of JCT Kitchen and The Optimist.  Not surprisingly, the K+D has nothing in common with either of those restaurants, in fact, the foods better.  In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain's most well known novel, the Duke and the King join Huckleberry Finn on his famous Mississippi River journey and Arkansas.  One of their famous schemes was to create fake money to help an escaped slave.  How does this relate to the restaurant?   I have no friggin' clue.  But it sounded insightful, right?

K+D moved into the old Nava space at One Buckhead Plaza (my favorite building that I have worked in).  I was never a big Nava fan, but I have never understood "high end" southwest cuisine either.  Go to Nuevo Laredo and save yourself $50.

One of the great things I like about Fry's strategy is this.  Everybody seemed to have been running away from Buckhead, now Kevin Rathbun and Ford Fry are trying to tap into the sacred land of The Buckhead Life Group.  I guess Richard Blais opened up a Flip Burger in Buckhead, but I still remain unimpressed with Flip and its multiple reincarnations.

Aesthetically, King + Duke doesn't have any peers.  The dining room is cozy and intimate and the kitchen design is to put it bluntly, bad ass.  Diners in that area have a wide open view of the kitchen and there is a complete feel of transparency from inception to completion.  It's not as open as Gunshow, but aesthetically superior.
Steel and Wheels.  Have you ever seen a cooler kitchen?
Ideally I would love to have this kitchen in my house, but the over/ under on catching myself on fire or burning down my house would be 4 hours.  Let us leave this to the professionals.

The one thing I did like about Nava is the patio and K+D have taken said patio to a new level.

Coziness and comfort are the themes here
The food was equally impressive.  The coal roasted onion soup is the best onion soup I've ever had.  Why?  It's made with a Flat Tire Pale Ale, Mahon Cheese and Croutons.  The smoked bone marrow on the side (a common theme at K+D) made it both unique and delicious.  We also had the Candied Lamb Belly which was delicious.  Many places make Lamb Belly too dry, but K+D's incarnation was perfect.
Fat Tire Onion Soup and Bone Marrow?  Wilma!!!

There are so many wonderful varieties of meat on the menu, I tried to request a Meat Helmet to go, but it fell on deaf ears.  One of my favorite comedic quotes remains, "In the Spring we would make Meat Helmets."  "My father also claimed to have invented the question mark."

For our main dish, Dan and I went large.  Both literally and figuratively and ordered "The King."  2nd Warning!  The following image may be paralyzing to vegetarians.

We should have named this thing
"The King" to both Dan and I rivaled Kevin Rathbun's Dry Aged Ribeye, the benchmark for great steaks in Atlanta.  I'm not saying it was better, but it's in the neighborhood, which is one hell of a neighborhood to be in.  The sauce was a mild red wine reduction sauce that was a subtle yet perfect compliment.
The King is in the Neighborhood!
As a comedian, Eddie Murphy at his peak had no rivals, Mr Robinson was one of his finest offerings.  This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be in the company of Lorne Michaels and Judd Apatow, two of the biggest comedic geniuses of our time.  Lorne Michaels was really strange (borderline rude) and Judd Apatow was hysterical and approachable.  You can see his humor in real life come through on the big screen, though "This is 40" may have hit a little close to home at points.  Click the link below only if you want to laugh.

For sides we had the Crispy Torn Potato Salad, Snap Peas (with pancetta of course) and the Mushroon "Wood Roast" with Robiola in a skillet.  The mushrooms were delicious, big and varied in style and size.  The other side dishes were good, but not great.

I wish I could tell you I tried more menu items, but my body wouldn't let me.  If you have never heard of the "meat sweats," you will find out what they are if you order "The King!"

Addendum to the next 3 paragraphs:  I went back to King + Duke yesterday and I can tell you the service was phenomenal.  Even better was the burger.  It's a 9oz Dry Aged Angus Beef Chuck and the onions were sauteed to perfection.  I think it will be a strong "Best Burger in Atlanta" candidate.
It was so good I ate half of it before I took a picture!

Next, I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the service.  I realize it was their first week in operation and there were a few hiccups, but there were too many of them.  My lovely wife ordered a martini that we asked about twice before it arrived.  Near the end of the meal, she ordered a glass of Prosecco that never arrived either.

They also overcooked "The King" so our wives had their main dishes well before ours.  The manager came over and was effusively apologetic and it was much appreciated.  I used to be in the business so I understand circumstances happen.  By themselves, these issues occur, but three times in a night for a place such as K+D is unacceptable as I am sure they would be the first to concur.

King + Duke have put so much of their heart and soul into their restaurant, I have no doubt they will fix this since it is the easiest facet of a dining experience to overcome.   I will be back this week to try their burger for The Dry Rubs "Best Burger in Atlanta" competition.  At which time I will say "Hello Again, Hello."
One word:  Awesome
Click the below link to see Neil Diamond sing in a horrendous jacket in incredibly horrendous fake scenery you would find in some Greek porn taking place in the Acropolis.  But man does he mean it.

In my opinion, there is more than enough room for new and great restaurants in Buckhead.  With the Buckhead Village construction back under way, there is going to be a Buckhead revival soon.  I'm glad to see the King + Duke on the forefront of that movement. I'll be back this week.

Though, this does not mean Ray Lewis is invited back to Buckhead.  Sorry, still bitter.

So go give the King + Duke their due and try out this fine establishment.

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