Last week I had the opportunity to attend a media preview Hudson North, a "pop up" restaurant in Atlantic Station (in the empty former The Grape space). Thank you, Jewel, for inviting me to go with you!
Honestly the whole thing felt like an episode of Top Chef (specifically a "Restaurant Wars" episode)… but maybe that's because Eli Kirshtein (Season 6) was hanging out at the bar.
The whole idea behind a pop up restaurant really isn't much unlike Top Chef Restaurant Wars: a chef takes over a blank slate space for a limited time (three months in this case) — using a small budget and a lot of creativity to create a crowd-pleasing menu and pleasant ambiance.
Billy Streck (who I didn't know was of Cypress Street Pint & Plate until after I went home) is the man behind this operation. He very enthusiastically and excitedly showed us around the temporary joint, which he describes as a "Farm to Tavern" concept. His budget? Seven or eight Gs (plus the items already in the defunct Grape space). They spray painted compasses on the table tops and hung candle-lit mason jars from the ceiling for a whimsical and not-so-serious vibe. The restaurants pop up storyline is literally written on the windows outside, attempting to explain to passersby what the space is all about. Inside, the names of patrons so far are delicately written on an accent wall (another creative, personal and inexpensive decor idea). I would have thought the decor cost more than it did — kudos to the team.
The food. You're probably wondering about the food.
We ordered the Fritters (ricotta-parmesan, asparagus puree, pickled mushrooms) and the Figs (amber ale, bacon, almonds, chile powder, parsley) from the "Bar Snacks" portion of the menu (to share). The fritters were moist while maintaining a little fluffiness. The figs melted in my mouth without being overcooked. The amber ale used to deglaze the pan almost gave the dish a sherry flavor (which I liked). Both starters had some heat from chili powder, which was nice on a cool night.
For the main, I ordered the Seared Tuna — and Jewel picked out the Scallops. My tuna was tender and just slightly seared. The green olives were a nice surprise along with clementines. I sometimes skip potatoes in a dish (I'd rather save myself for dessert) but I found myself cleaning this plate. I had a taste of Jewel's scallops, which were cooked just right and downright tasty alongside a hash of bacon, creamed corn, chiles, cilantro and red onions (I also tasted some fresh lime).
For dessert, we "split" the Apple Pie (served in a mason jar with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream). I used split in quotation marks because I think I ate 80 percent. Whoops. Great ratio of crust to apples to gooey goodness to ice cream. I would order again — and maybe not attempt to share.
Other items on on the menu that looked tasty but we didn't get to included: Braised Chicken Tacos, the North Burger, Scallop Crudo, Portobello Salad with Root Veggie Slaw, Pulled Pork and Braised Short Rib and Banana Pudding. (Billy and crew play with the menu, so you may not see all these same items when you come in.)
We found our servers to be attentive but not overly so (note: the restaurant wasn't busy, but that isn't always a sign that you'll get good service.)
What's next for Billy? We're not sure, but he did mention that he's trying to get a feel for whether or not there's an appetite for the concept (sorry for the bad pun). The space will turn over permanently to Shaun Doty (of Yeah! Burger fame) January 7 — rumored to be a chicken concept (hopefully he learns from Leroy's Fried Chicken's mistakes?). I will be curious to see what becomes of this pop up establishment (and others that Atlantic Station tries out). The pop up concept could have big rewards for chefs and restaurateurs who don't have big budgets and want to make a name for themselves in a time crunch — or they could go unnoticed in a sea of other great Atlanta dining options. Time will tell. For a defunct restaurant space's owner, pop up restaurants definitely seem like a risk worth exploring.
But in the mean time, go check out Hudson North and let me know what you think! Hudson North did bring me to Atlantic Station for the first time in more than a year, so maybe others will be encouraged to visit an area that's widely chains/commercial.
Check out some pictures of the space and the grub:
Thanks again to Jewel over at Eat.Drink.Shop.Love for inviting me to attend this preview with her! Check her review and commentary here. We had a good time!
264 19th St NW
Atlanta, GA 30363