Monday, October 11, 2010
659 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta www.livingstonatlanta.com
OK, so I had an experience at this restaurant on Saturday that I don't think is going to give my readers the best idea of what they should expect at Livingston. However, I've never claimed to possess the funds or time of a professional food critic - restaurants normally get one shot with me before I review - so you'll have to read on and draw your own conclusions.
My friend Danielle and I had lunch at Livingston on Saturday. Well, we attempted to have lunch. When we got to there our would-be server informed us that Livingston is offering a brunch buffet ONLY on Saturdays until 3. "Didn't someone tell you?" Well, no. I made our reservation on opentable.com after viewing the lunch menu, which looked very good, and didn't receive any kind of notice that I wouldn't be able to order from it. This includes when the hostess called me that day to confirm my reservation.
The brunch buffet might be great, but it was $20/person and Danielle and I weren't prepared for that expense. I declined on principle - I won't be forced into paying more than I intended. Just when I thought we were going to have to leave, the server told us that they also have a bar menu, which was small but good. We were hungry, so we stayed. The fact that we had already valet parked the car (complementary, but a bit of a nuisance) had something to do with this.
Turns out that the bar menu is very, very small. Meaning you've got about 6 options if you want to eat, and they are all appetizers. Danielle ordered the popcorn shrimp with a mustard/peanut/ginger/cilantro dipping sauce ($9), which is placed on the side. I have to admit it was great. The shrimp wasn't greasy and the sauce was creamy and great, with a little kick. I ordered the Kobe beef sliders with a vidalia onion marmalade ($12). Some restaurants claim the beef is Kobe and I just don't believe them. Not the case here. The beef was very good, cooked just right, and highlighted (but not overwhelmed) by the marmalade. Danielle and I also shared a cheese board ($10). This was fine, not great. The cheddar was boring. The blue cheese was good and almost tangy. It came with peppered crackers (very peppery) and some plain toasted bread. The menu said it also came with rosemary almonds, but we didn't receive any of those. Too bad.
Maybe the best things Livingston has going for it are its ambiance and its location. It's right across the street from the Fox Theatre, in the historic Georgian Terrace Hotel. I love this hotel. The original Gone With the Wind cast party was held here, and if I had an unlimited budget, it would be the site of my upcoming wedding reception. The restaurant itself is gorgeous. High ceilings, two levels, great view of Peachtree and the Fox - everything including the champagne colored brocade wallpaper in the bathroom is beautiful.
Despite this, and my approbation of the few menu items we ordered, Livingston pissed me off at the end. They "cancelled" the reservation we made on opentable, which means I won't get my precious points. I assume this is because we didn't opt for the buffet in the main dining room, but I think that's pretty petty, since we weren't informed in advance that this is all they'd be serving. We still had food and drinks in the bar, so Livingston got our business anywhere, just in the adjoining room.
Verdict: Mixed feelings.