Restaurants / Openings

Chris Shepherd’s New High-Rise Restaurant is Already Rocking — Your First Taste Review of Georgia James Tavern

Nods to Old Hollywood and an Art Deco Feel

BY // 08.06.21

Little more than a week after opening in a corner slot of Market Square Tower, Georgia James Tavern was bustling with tables filled, both on the intimate patio and within the sophisticated pub-style interiors. The bar area was packed as adventurers sampled a host of creative cocktails. Simply put, the place was rocking.

This mini-me version of Underbelly Hospitality’s vaunted Georgia James Steakhouse delivers as promised with a solid menu and wine list sophisticated enough to please discerning diners and pocket-friendly enough to invite a younger contingent perhaps lacking the fat wallet required for the city’s top tier steakhouses.

“I love Georgia James,” chef/owner Chris Shepherd says. “But I understand that it’s not a restaurant most people can visit on a daily or even weekly basis. Georgia James Tavern is designed to be a place where our guests want to — and can — eat every day.”

Indeed, the most expensive wine-by-the-glass is $13. Menu items hover at or below $25 with an ample offering of sandwiches and salads. But if you’re hankering for a cast iron-seared Wagyu ribeye, it can be yours for $85. (You can check out the menu here.)

Handmade Zellige tiles made in Morocco line the back bar at Georgia James Tavern which opened last week in Market Square Tower. (Photo by Claudia Casbarian)
Handmade Zellige tiles made in Morocco line the back bar at Georgia James Tavern which opened last week in Market Square Tower. (Photo by Claudia Casbarian)

We took it easy on this weeknight visit, beginning with the wildly popular baked pimento cheese with country ham and toast points. It was one of the most popular dishes when Shepherd and Chef Matthew “Tally” Coburn served it at the Georgia James Tavern pop-up earlier this summer. Be forewarned, this is a decadent feast in itself, one surely to be shared and one that fully lives up to the hype.

We sampled the warm spinach salad, a winner, and ordered the hearth-roasted oysters — yes, indeed — and the ham brined Berkshire pork chop served on poblano cheese grits and topped with lone star mushroom gravy. Delicious.

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We simply did not have room to try Chef Tally’s Cuban mojo-roasted pork and smoked ham sandwich with Swiss, pickles, yucca fritta and island sauce. On our next visit, for there will surely be one as the vibe alone is cool enough for a return.

The intimate scale and the nod to old Hollywood with a tip of the hat to the high-rise apartment building’s Art Deco architectural theme create an inviting mix. The tavern can seat 36 for indoor dining with and additional 10 bar stool seats and 40 on the outdoor patio. We snuggled into a tufted leather banquette in a corner that offered a full view of the goings-on and the decor. The marquee-style lights around the bar, vintage-inspired hand-blown glass wall sconces, and hand-dipped marbleized silk drapery panels add to the appealing ambiance. Kudos to Nest Interior Design Group.

“A tavern is a place for people to gather, drink and eat,” Chef Tally said in a statement the day of opening. “We want to build a sense of community with this restaurant strengthened by our relationships with local farmers and ranchers, and the simple, technique-driven menu will reflect those relationships.

“My goal is for our guests to feel the culture we create from the moment they walk in the door.”

What they are going to feel is a welcome vibrancy enhanced by the aromas wafting from the kitchen.

Lynn Zarr, JR - Martha Turner Sotheby's

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