Atlanta’s Livingston: A New Take on the Old South

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January 30, 2013 by ET

With great sipping, shopping and neighborhood hopping, Southern hospitality meets metropolitan hustle and bustle in Atlanta. A mix of old money and new ideas, ATL boasts a progressive scene, while still keeping Georgia on its mind. The Wordy South spent a weekend in the city, and while it’s impossible to experience everything Atlanta has to offer in two days, we did get a good taste of its Southern charm. Look for a series of posts about ATL, beginning with a trip to Livingston Restaurant and Bar.

In the mood for fine dining and fancy cocktails, my research led me to Livingston, located inside the Georgian Terrace Hotel in Midtown, and across from the famous Fox Theatre. Named for former Atlanta mayor and wine and food lover, Livingston Mims, whose 1879 home once stood on the same corner that the restaurant now stands today, the Livingston serves traditional Southern fare with a contemporary twist. Similarly, modern decor and furniture sits inside a space of classic Atlanta architecture, with marble columns, crystal chandeliers, large windows and enormously tall ceilings.

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The bar menu boasts creative cocktails in addition to a large wine and champagne list. I couldn’t resist ordering the restaurant’s signature drink, the Livingston, made with Johnny Drum private stock Kentucky bourbon infused with southern tea leaves, muddled lemon and mint. It was refreshing and delicious.

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Other tempting drinks include the Caruso’s Garden, made with gin, fresh squeezed grapefruit, muddled lime and basil leaves; and the Cooley’s B-Side, made with gin, cointreau, Lillet, matcha tea, ginger, lemon and absinthe rinse. I never rush into dinner, but like to enjoy a few drinks and conversation first, so I was happy to find an impressive drink menu.

With a menu of starters including Charred Octopus, Crab Fritters with pimento, avocado and crème fraiche, and Egg Yolk Ravioli, my husband and I chose the Pickled Shrimp, served chilled on a warm polenta cake. The sour sauce served with the dish created an interesting, but tasty flavor.

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When our appetites couldn’t be ignored any longer, we pored over the menu of entrees with tempting options like Lobster Pierogi, Pan Seared Duck, Wild Mushroom Tart, Grilled Skirt Steak and Seared Scallops. I finally settled on the Seared Florida Grouper, with fried rice cakes, galangal and lime. The fish was crispy, and the ginger and rice gave it an Asian flavor, which is different than traditionally prepared grouper. I was pleased with dinner.

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My husband opted for the Georgia Trout, served on top of Dutch potato, tasso ham and –wait for it– crawfish butter. Clearly this trout likes to party in NOLA. The verdict? My husband said it was “the best trout he’s ever had.” Five stars.

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We enjoyed our dining experience at Livingston. The service was excellent; being located across from the Fox, the staff is used to getting food and drinks to the table in a very timely manner so patrons don’t miss the show. The atmosphere was classy, and the beautiful decor provided a romantic setting, perfect for date night. I’ll raise my glass to Mr. Livingston Mims. I hope this place would make him proud.

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