Tuesday, April 27, 2010


3060 Peachtree Rd., Atlanta, GA http://buckheadrestaurants.com/nava.html

I had high hopes for Nava. I know several Atlantans who claim the restaurant serves the best food of all the Buckhead Life Group restaurants, maybe even the best food in the city. It's conveniently situated in the heart of Buckhead at the intersection of W. Paces Ferry and Peachtree Roads. The exterior boasts a nice patio that sits against a large reflecting pool and fountain. The interior is tastefully decorated with Southwestern art and furnishings.

However, the food just didn't cut it for me.

I had lunch at Nava with three co-workers last Thursday. I had the red chili seared scallops with smoked tomato grits, saffron tostada and salsa fresca. The grits were the highlight of the dish.

Something I've noticed lately: when Atlanta restaurants serve scallops, they do so on a long, slim white porcelain dish. In my opinion, that's because it's a pretty way to arrange their ever so few scallops atop a bed of some sort of grain or noodle.

For dessert we had a banana enchilada. We were served several small enchiladas with a a caramel sauce. They were sort of like overly fried canolis. I was impressed with this novel idea, but felt the dish was only so-so. There were two small bites of banana bread (called bullets) alongside. The caramel was too subtle, and the bananas too sparing.

Okay, here's the truth - the food was pretty good, but not what I've come to expect from Buckhead Life Group. The portions were smaller, and nothing stood out as particularly spectacular on the menu. Nothing was wrong with the food per se, but nothing about it made me want to gobble down another dish either. It was an expensive lunch (purchased by my boss, hence the lack of prices in this review), and I can think of at least five other restaurants in the area where I think I'd get a more satisfing meal for the same amount of money (or less). Buckhead Life shouldn't settle for "pretty good."

The service: it's almost unfair to complain about this, because the poor girl timidly informed us at the end of her shift that this was her first day serving lunch without help. I wish she would have warned us upfront. Then we wouldn't have crushed her with multiple questions about ingredients in dishes and how they compared to other menu options. We also might have understood how she forgot our soup (which the manager comped for my boss' wife) and extended what should have been a short lunch to an hour and a half. We were her only table, so she must have been very nervous.

Even taking the service out of the picture, Nava has been my least favorite of the Buckhead Life restaurants. The fact is that it's very difficult to impress me with Tex-Mex or Mexican style cuisine. Also, unlike some of the other Group's restaurants the ambiance isn't particularly romantic and there aren't any secluded tables. A comparison to Pricci in this area makes Nava fall painfully short. While I think it made for a fine lunch with my co-workers, I wouldn't want to bring a date there.

One plus for Nava - I noticed they offer a gluten-free lunch and dinner menu.

Verdict: A B+.

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