Aug 10, 2013

Tactical (Restaurant) Review: King + Duke

The return of the King (and his Duke) has taken root in Buckhead, and with them they bring a hearth-style cookery that specializes in seasonal, locally harvested dishes. They’ve set up their ‘kingdom’ in the location vacated by the previous restaurant Nava on the corner of Peachtree and East Paces near the posh, luxury hotel, the St. Regis Atlanta.

The 24' hearth was impressive.
The 24-foot hearth can be found in the heart of King + Duke with all the eccentricities that cooking over a wood driven fire has to offer. This massive attraction only lends itself to the fairy tale atmosphere that derives from the literary classic by Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Think not Disney when imagining the d├ęcor, as it’s more a retro-modern twist on the imagined home of Mark Twain replete with tall, book covered shelves, a fully stocked bar, and comfortable wood everywhere. It’s an amazing vibe.

A quieter second story dining area.
Let first say, it’s a very loud restaurant if you are bottlenecked towards the front near the very popular bar (the outside seating for libations was even more filled but reminded be of open area bars back in California, very nice) and large, open kitchen. Ask the hostess for a seat near the back or on the second level to enjoy a more subdued ambiance so you can hear your dinning guest actually speak without having to sit in their lap. 

The service we encountered was superb though the establishment seemed near critical mass, nearly overwhelmed by the amount of people in the restaurant. Our server was quite good, appearing when needed and quick to expound upon his knowledge of the menu.

Yorkshire Pudding Bites
A rooting tradition is the offering of some Yorkshire pudding ‘pops’ tableside as a replacement for bread. Sufficiently savory with a moist interior served alongside some freshly whipped butter, it was a nice beginning.  

It was at this time the impressive list of alcoholic options appeared before us in the form of a worn, leather bound book. Had I know what they had to offer in advance, I’d have left behind my own bottle (BTW, they had a agreeable $10 corkage fee).

Chicken Liver Toast with Onion Marmalade.
Per the server’s suggestion, we had them deliver us what they consider a ‘bite’ (something below a starter), and his recommendation was the Chicken Liver Toast. The highlight of the meal for us, it was both sweet and savory with the liver cooked to perfection dancing deliciously with the onion marmalade. Wow.

Candied Lamb Belly. 
Our traditional starter was the Candied Lamb Belly. This was a disjointed effort as the lamb was undercooked slightly, the feta aggressively salty (it overwhelmed everything on the plate, and the homemade flat bread was cornmeal laden and heavy. Not as advertised.

Roast Peking Duck.
Duck being one of my wife’s favorites, we decided to split the Roast Peking Duck. The flavors were harmonious (the plum reduction was pleasant) and the mustard greens cooked just so, but the crispiness was for the most part absent and it was slightly overcooked (sigh). Please note that they split the duck for us at no extra charge and the portions were still generous, a very nice touch.

Mushroom "Wood Roast".
As a side ‘share’, we had the server recommend the Mushroom “Wood Roast”, a collection of roasted shrooms, mostly the in season Chanterelles, were beautifully prepared and satisfyingly earthy. The issue was the robiola cheese that covered it. This Italian tangy cheese did not pair well with the mushrooms as it masked their pungent flavors and covered my palette. A disappointment.

To conclude, we ordered their S’more dessert, a collection of chocolate cake, graham cracker ice cream, home made marshmallow, with a chocolate ganache.  It looked amazing with a nice campfire aroma and a decadent ice cream but the good times ended there. The cake was tasteless, the ganache, too thick, and the dessert lacked salt. I can’t eat a dessert with out proper seasoning. Add some salt people.

Though a under seasoned finale, slightly overcooked proteins, and overpowering cheese left us wanting more, the undeniably wood driven and open fire roasted fare just won us over. The excellent atmosphere (a true highlight) and wonderful service aided in giving King + Duke and overall recommend and worthy of coming back and seeing what they are up to.

Date reviewed: July 2013

3 Alarms

King + Duke on Urbanspoon

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