The Optimist Fish Camp & Oyster Bar
I walked in and the first thing I saw were the words, “Country Ham” in navy blue and yellow, painted on a white wall. The restaurant had been converted from a previous slaughter-house and the words preserved. Country ham is one of those Southern mainstays, and I knew immediately this was a place I would love. I had driven from the coastal plains of Southeast Georgia, about 200 miles, to the big city of Atlanta on a business trip to meet a good friend. We had done our research, and of all the fine places to dine in the notorious A-T-L, had naturally settled on what the restaurant’s Twitter account classifies “A beach-food experience for landlocked Atlantans.”
While we waited on our table in the main dining room, we sat at the Oyster Bar and tried just about everything–East and West coast oysters of every variety, snow crab & lobster knuckles, oyster crackers and salt & vinegar chips. The oysters were served with fresh horseradish and a mignonette sauce (a sauce of vinegar and shallots, typically served with raw oysters). The mignonette sauce was so bright and fresh, it would awaken even a sloth.
You can’t have oysters without a cold beer, so I took the chance to try the one in a red can with a lighthouse pictured on the front—Cisco Brewers Sankaty Light from Nantucket, MA.
This oyster was served over warm “coals,” roasted in a wood-fired oven with parmesan cheese and bacon at $3 a pop. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
The Opi Salt & Vinegar Chips were crunchy…the perfect bar food.
Next, let’s talk about the snow crab claw & lobster knuckles in a chili-lime butter bath. It took a little work, but once I got my hands on the cracking tool, we were good to go. Who wouldn’t want to eat something presented that beautifully?
Corn milk hushpuppies, served “beignet style” along with cane sugar butter – $6.
An inside peek at the corn milk hushpuppies
Wood roasted beets,pickled beet vinagrette, blue cheese and pine nuts – $6
Cornmeal crusted haddock, brussels sprouts, bacon, pepper jelly – $25.
Fish & chips, beer battered haddock, malt vinegar aioli with shoestring fries- $20. The fish was huge, crispy and delicious. There wasn’t a single fry left on my plate.
I’m about to make a big statement. This is the best bread I’ve ever put in my mouth. The bread is the last thing I thought I’d be writing about, but it would be a pure injustice not to mention it’s light, airy texture, salted incredibly.
Fried clam roll, lemony mayo, kimchi vinegar, pickles – $9. One word: AMAZING. Soft bread, crunchy goodness and the peppers rock!
Spicy Spanish octopus, saffron aioli, olive – $13. It was my first experience with octopus. It was spongy in texture and chewy. The taste I remember most is the flavor of pancetta.
Seared yellowfin tuna, charred octopus, crispy potato salad, harissa – $28.
I experienced food at The Optimist like I have never experienced food before…intense flavors with no detail undone when it came to presentation. Every encounter I had with staff members was pleasant, from the hostess taking notice of my black dress and providing me a black napkin, the bartender who told me he even spent his days off there, to the manager who described the place as “one big house.” I could tell our waitress Jenn, genuinely enjoyed her job and was very knowledgeable about the menu.
Exposed brick and a weathered hostess station at the entryway.
Nautical photos in the Oyster Bar
The original slaughter-house flooring in the Oyster Bar. Isn’t this an inviting place to have a drink?
Every once in a while, your life crosses paths with someone special. Lenae is my dear friend and soul sister and this was the first time we’d seen in each other in over a year.
The Oyster Bar
The fabulous bar area inside the dining room.
The Optimist has indoor and outdoor seating.
Lenae Sneed all dolled up for her night on the town!
Seating outdoors near the putt-putt course.
Lighting outdoors on the patio.
From the fonts to the colors, The Optimist nails oceanic decor.
Me (left) and Lenae (right) at the Oyster Bar.
My dining buddies, Lenae and Harper Sneed – quality people.
Me, happy as a clam in the dining room.
Some Kinda Good is all about good food and good company, and when the two are combined, that’s a life well lived. The Optimist is a breath of fresh air for the city life, a nautical escape. My friend Harper said it perfectly, “That wasn’t just going out to dinner, that was the best two-hour dining experience of my life.”