(Once every month or so, The TICKET provides a review of a new or noteworthy Atlanta restaurant that should be of interest to local or visiting business travelers. Enjoy!)
129 E Ponce de Leon Avenue
Decatur, GA 30030
I’ve been waiting for No. 246 to open for what seems like ages, and when it finally did (earlier this month), I was more than eager to check it out. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations so my dining companion and I decided to have a late dinner with the hopes of missing the crowds.
Upon arrival, we opted for a couple seats at the bar so we could get a clear view of the talented Lara Creasy preparing the Italian inspired cocktails we had heard so much about. I’ve always loved the cocktails that Lara creates at JCT Kitchen and had high hopes for the beverage menu here. It certainly did not disappoint. I have found my new favorite drink for summer – the Aperol Spritz ($8), which contains Aperol, Prosecco, soda water and blood orange bitters and is topped with an orange slice and pink peppercorn. It’s light and refreshing and even looks like summer with its bright pink shade. I see many more of these in my future over the next few hot months. My dinner guest, being a big fan of whiskey, ordered the Old Pal ($8) with Old Overholt Rye, Campari and Punt E Mes and enjoyed it as well.
We started with the Woodland Gardens little gem lettuce salad with radish, blue vinaigrette and olive oil breadcrumbs ($8), and the No. 246 meatball with San Marzano, basil and parmesan ($5). The salad was beautifully presented with colorful watermelon radishes – it matched my drink! – and the olive oil breadcrumbs gave it a delicate crunch that I really enjoyed. I’m not much of a meatball eater but this one was the best I’ve ever had (and that counts my Italian grandmother’s famous meatballs). My dinner companion actually ended up ordering another one to go with his entrée, that’s how good it was.
For my entrée, I ordered a half portion of the agnolotti with sweet corn, local chanterelles, corn milk, Humboldt Fog cheese and toasted garlic ($9/$17). This pasta dish is wonderfully rich with a nice sweetness from the corn. It really showcased the summer produce, and a half order was the perfect amount. My friend had the pappardelle carbonara, served with a crispy farm egg, bacon, backyard herbs, parmesan and cracked pepper ($9/$14). He thought it had a bit too much sweetness to it, but I couldn’t keep my fork out of his dish. It was like having breakfast and dinner all in one, and the house made pappardelle was pasta perfection.
For dessert we tried the chocolate tart with sea salt and olive oil ($7) and the blueberry croustade with crème fraîche and lemon balm ($6). The chocolate tart seems to be the house favorite, and we could see why – the salt and olive oil balance out the sweetness of the chocolate nicely. The crème fraîche and lemon balm definitely made the blueberry croustade; I think it would have been too dense without this accompaniment. There is a lovely selection of aperitifs and Italian wines, too, and I am looking forward to making my way through this list.
What I love just as much as the food at No. 246 is the gracious service. Every staff member behind the bar was friendly and knowledgeable and checked on us often, and I was really impressed considering it was the restaurant’s first week open. We felt right at home in the space, too. The design is simple and the décor provides a really nice contrast with white brick walls and black furniture/accents. I immediately wished I had the restaurant’s carefully placed art and huge ceiling fans from the bar area in my own home!
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Pretentious to the max. Go someplace else for a beer and good eats.