“Raw” can seem like risky business when it comes to food. These Atlanta restaurants take the risk out of raw with expert preparation. What’s left is a raw dish that embraces the naturally bold flavors of its ingredients and showcases the bold mastery of its chef.
The Luminary is Chef Eli Kirshtein’s homage to classic French culinary technique. The new restaurant, one of Atlanta’s few locally owned French eateries, was one of the first to open in the new Krog Street Market. The restaurant’s Franco-industrial décor showcases a raw bar under a neon-lit sign announcing the restaurant’s name. Here, raw showstoppers abound and take many forms beyond oysters and clams. Take, for instance, the thin-sliced Lantern scallops topped with crème fraîche and pickled sea beans—a dish that ditches the heat and opts, instead, for incomparable texture and abundant flavor delivered by ingredients in their nearly natural state.
Meat lovers go crazy for the eight-ounce beef tartare made with hand-chopped Hangar steak and “properly garnished,” according to the menu. Kirshtein makes no exception with his desserts. A walnut blancmange topped with buckwheat ice cream and dehydrated apple slices stuns with balanced sweetness. The salty caramel ganache tart with milk chocolate sorbet is as decadent as it is raw and gluten-free.
Umi Sushi opened less than two years ago in Atlanta's wealthy Buckhead neighborhood. By the time most restaurants close their doors, Umi has built a reputation as Atlanta’s best sushi restaurant. Nestled in a landlocked city in the Southern U.S., Umi’s stellar standing defies convention. The secret? Chef and part-owner Fuyuhiko Ito is unrelenting in his perfection. Each day, the restaurant receives shipments of fresh seafood from Tokyo, South America or Santa Barbara, California to create exquisite dishes like Madai carpaccio, yellowtail jalapeño and the much-respected (if well prepared) monkfish liver pâté.
Umi extends its artisanal approach to the drink menu with a bar manager, Ben Yarrow, whose mission is to craft cocktails that enhance the sushi's flavors. Yarrow recommends bringing out sushi's flavor by pairing it with the ginger and citrus of a Moscow mule, a simple cocktail made traditionally with ginger beer, lime juice and vodka. And as with most aspects of the restaurant, this is no ordinary mule. Each morning, as the chefs prep their shipment of fresh fish, Yarrow preps his shipment of fresh ginger. "We get the ginger every day, chop and puree it, and then juice that purée," he says. Soda water is then added to the puree, which is used in the drink instead of ginger beer.
At Lov’n It Live, food’s nutrients are considered the best medicine for the mind, body and soul—something owner Vincent Stretcher has personally experienced. After Stretcher suffered a stroke, he knew his best medicine would come from the simplest source: plants. Stretcher and his wife, Judy Harper, thus opened Lov’n It Live to inform the general public about the benefits of eating raw. “Live” in the restaurant’s name refers to the live enzymes present in raw food that aid digestion and boost metabolic processes, among many other believed health benefits. Thus, Stretcher and Harper’s dishes are made with organic, whole foods that never feel temperatures above 118 degrees. At this East Point, Georgia, restaurant, plants are used in their natural state to create succulent, filling and even decadent dishes like Battered Bellas, Mushroom Steak and personal-pan pizzas.