Restaurant Review: St. Cecilia
From the moment my LA feet hit Atlanta ground, I've had an affinity for the restaurants here. In fact, aside from hideous traffic and an inability to commute in bad weather, THE strongest link between my former and current homeland is great food. And I felt this BEFORE Ford Fry made his presence known when he launched JCT Kitchen in 2007. However, since then, I've only become a bigger fan of this chef. Sure, I've gushed about The Optimist (the swordfish makes me swoon), No. 246, and King + Duke, but I couldn't imagine ANOTHER hit.
Apparently I have a weak imagination! St. Cecilia (in the old Blue Point space) is definitely a new Atlanta high point! Let's start with the spectacular space...I don't know how you make such a large space feel warm and inviting, but St. Cecilia does exactly that. The round booths are perfect for groups who actually want to talk to more than the person seated next to them. It's a slight, but significant change.
If you have the chance to sit at the chef's table, take it. At the moment, the menu is the same as regular tables, but eventually these seats will have their own tasting menu. Just make sure your company doesn't mind the distraction! I kept drifting off into day dreams... I wish I had thought to make my overhead kitchen lighting double as heat lamps! In one of my dreams, I was overcome with the urge to have a dessert staging station. Wouldn't that be cool?I usually wave off the bread (and successfully do so everywhere except King + Duke's popovers), but the foccacia with whipped ricotta was screaming my name!
Completely worth every calorie!The starter options are large and varied, so we barely made a dent in the menu. My favorite was the grilled octopus which was, thankfully, similar to what you find at The Optimist.Next up was the oh-so-delicious cobia tartare. I hope you can see the deliciousness, because this beat the octopus off the top seat for me!If chauchuterie is your thing, you will be pleased with this meat selection. There wasn't anything spicy in the mix (a la Empire State South), but a solid starter for sure. Apparently there is a kitchen beneath the kitchen where all of the pasta is homemade. I had the agnolotti (recalling The List version from No. 246) which was filled with short rib meat. The flavor was heavier than I expected and melted in my mouth!MORE spectacular was the Pansotti with roasted beets and walnuts in a brown butter sauce. Goodness, I loved these flavors!Billy had the fish of the day, a white fish called "Sheephead" (an odd name for fish, don't you think?), and it was sauteed perfectly. We enjoyed the sides, especially the cauliflower which was roasted to perfection.The Brussels Sprouts were solid and resembled much of what I'm having around town. Nothing terribly distinctive, but tasty nonetheless!Finally, because we were celebrating a birthday for our friend, Sue, we HAD to have desserts! The updated version of an Italian pizzelle is nice and light, unlike St. Cecilia's version of the blondie which was the table favorite. I'm hoping they will add a fruit-centric option at some point!Plan on making your reservations way in advance because this place won't come off the "hot list" anytime soon!