A tasty morsel from Brenda at Ford Fry Restaurants:
James Beard Award nominee Ford Fry opens his ninth restaurant, BeetleCat. The hotly-anticipated sister restaurant to Fry’s successful venture on Atlanta’s westside, The Optimist, BeetleCat operates as a shore-style, casual cocktail lounge with a coastal 70’s and 80’s vibe in the Inman Park neighborhood’s new Inman Quarter mixed-use development. The restaurant takes its name from the small wooden sailboats, beloved in New England.
Though similar in cooking style to The Optimist, BeetleCat’s casual dining room format is very different. A large oyster bar on the top floor surrounds a wood oven, prepped to roast fish and shellfish. The downstairs is a nod to an early 1970’s den – “think where kids may have stirred up trouble when their parents were out of town,” Fry joked. Each floor boasts a patio for al fresco seating and plenty of room for larger groups looking to hang out.
Executive Chef Andrew Isabella helms the kitchen, with support from Fry’s Vice President of Culinary, Kevin Maxey. The two experienced fishermen are a natural fit to steer the seafood-focused menu, keeping it fun and light-hearted. “The menu will be ever changing,” Fry said, “but always expect to see a minimum of 12 varieties of oysters from all coasts and water depths.” In lieu of the traditional coursed menu section, look for offerings such as wood-roasted crab, octopus, clams, and more, with many dishes served a la plancha. Small plates will be big on flavor, encouraging patrons to mix and match, share, and try a sampling of menu bites.
Fry’s Director of Pastry Chrysta Poulos again dreams up a masterful confectionary lineup. A Coconut Cream Cake with Chile-lime Peanuts offers four layers of texture and flavor, harkening to the restaurant’s toes-in-sand vibe. Other delights on Poulos’ menu include Pumpkin Cremeux, a charred orange ice cream with curried caramel and oatmeal cookie crunch, and White Chocolate-Lemongrass Cheesecake with Sicilian pistachio crust, shiso gelee, and lemongrass granite.
Beverage Director Lara Creasy lends her talents to Fry’s team for BeetleCat. In addition to a full bar, the cocktail menu plays to the coastal theme with a concise rotating menu of house-made punches, tiki drinks, and updated versions of 80’s oceanfront bar classics. Additionally, Creasy and Beverage Manager Eduardo Guzman are excited to bring back drinks “people don’t like to admit liking,” such as Sex on the Beach, made-over with fresh ingredients and artisan spirits, and a Kamikaze, made with dry Curacao, and fresh lime juice – no sour mix here! BeetleCat will have four wine varietals on draft and a selection of bottled wines that pair well with seafood. Six draft beers and bottled and canned brews round out the beverage menu.
Fry’s in-house designer Elizabeth Ingram drew from childhood memories of 1970’s New England and Gulf Coast surf and sand for inspiration. “That time period seemed so genuine,” she said, “colorful and free, both in style and spirit.” With this in mind, Ingram and her team quickly built out the BeetleCat space, using materials like yacht flooring, paneled walls, and interesting tiles and woods.
299 N. Highland Avenue NE 404-355-5311