First Look: The Shed at Glenwood

A daily changing menu in Glenwood Park

I'm confused. The price of food is rising rapidly. There's a literal shortage of some food but there's also the rapidly escalating cost of transportation. Gas will soon reach $5 a gallon. Those increases are being passed along to consumers.

Yet we've had a spate of new restaurants open in Atlanta during the last few months. How well they're doing is anybody's guess but I found one of the newest, the Shed at Glenwood (475 Bill Kennedy Way, Glenwood Park, 404-835-4363) humming on a recent Saturday night. And we're not talking especially low prices.

The new restaurant is located in the mixed-use development called Glenwood Park, one of the few such projects that actually looks good. Shed's owner is Cindy Shera, who was the general manager at Twist for almost seven years. The chef is Daniel Atwood, who worked at Twist himself, as well as Prime, Woodfire Grill and Murphy's. He's a talented chef who is presenting a farm-to-table menu that changes every day.

Lest we doubt that we were going to have a good meal, our server, Paul, informed us three times within a few minutes that everything on the menu was "lovely." He also explained to us that most of the food is designed to be shared.

I'm getting a bit tired of this trendy sharing thing, frankly. It's obviously a marketing tool. There are no simple appetizers on Shed's menu. There are "small plates," none of which are so small, because they're designed to be shared and, for the most part, cost around $12. That means that if you want to sample more than one of the more interesting crypto-starters, you're going to spend a chunk of change.

We compromised and selected a $12 bowl of roasted Manila clams with crisp prosciutto, plus a not-so-creative beet salad at half the price. The latter indeed featured farm-fresh red and gold local beets with oranges and goat cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy. The beets had an interesting range of tastes from sweet to slightly bitter, all washed lightly in white balsamic. Pretty near perfect and, actually, quite a bargain.

The clams were delicious, too – plump in their shells, swimming in a spicy, tomatoey sauce we sopped up with our bread. But there was one spoiler. The prosciutto garnish was, to my palate, like eating crunchy stalks of salt. I kept trying to like it, but I didn't. Perhaps I should have soaked it in the sauce.

We likewise mixed the cost of our entrees, ordering a sandwich ($9) and the day's fish, a whole red snapper roasted with kalamata olives, lemon slices and fennel. At $21, it too was a bargain. It was utterly delicious for the most part, but, like the clams, had one defect. The fennel was sliced thin and barely tasted cooked. Its flavor simply didn't bloom at all.

As for the sandwich, it was a poor choice with the fish. I mentioned this to Paul, who agreed and said he should have warned us. It was a "BLT Club" made with smoked bacon, roasted tomatoes, avocado, roquette and lemon aioli on brioche. It tasted good enough but the texture of the avocado, made more slippery by the aioli, was unpleasant with the fish's texture. We took half the sandwich home and found it much better all by its lonesome.

Wayne is a profiterole addict, so I knew that's what we'd be having for dessert (skipping over the newly ubiquitous ice cream float, here made with root beer). They hit the spot, featuring homemade vanilla ice cream and lots of melted Valrhona chocolate. Here's some advice, though. Don't design a dessert for two and include only three profiteroles.

We followed dessert with good espresso from Illy.

Although the menu changes daily here, it's quite comprehensive. There's lots of pedigreed beef and pork, along with well-reared chicken and fish from the right neighborhood. You can order steaks hand-cut to your specification. In addition to the numerous not-so-small plates, there are cold-bar items such as a daily ceviche, oysters and shrimp.

Service is lovely. Paul is herewith named Server of the Week. Ask for him; he's funny and solicitous.

In Little Five Points

We were driving aimlessly through Little Five Points one night last week when Alibaba Mediterranean Restaurant caught our eye. Although the tiny restaurant has been open in the space vacated by Olive Bistro for a year, we'd never visited before.

As soon as we walked into the place, we were reminded of the touristy but fun cafes on the rue de la Huchette in Paris. The staff of two was almost disconcertingly friendly, gave us free baklava and insisted I have extra falafel on the side.

The food itself was decent. Wayne liked it a lot more than I did, but he has a habit of degrading reality by turning it into postcards. As soon as the connection with the Left Bank was made, I knew they could serve him monkey fingers wrapped in grape leaves and he'd say it was delicious.

"It's the perfect summer meal," he said, eating his combo platter of hummus, baba ghanoush, grape leaves, green salad and pasta salad. "Everything is cool and fresh and none of the flavors are overwhelmed with too much garlic, like other places do."

Uh, OK. Actually my falafel wrap, dressed with a very spicy tahini, was quite good. When I saw the falafel sitting in a bowl on the counter I asked if it was fresh. The counter dude looked at his watch and told me it was two hours old ... and then insisted I eat extra. Straight up, it was kind of dry.

The hummus was especially disappointing. To my taste, it needed a strong shot of olive oil.

There's a patio that's shared with Java Lords, the cool coffee shop next door. While we were eating, a bunch of twentysomethings invited us to join them "doodling" on a massive piece of art that looked like graffiti. Really, it did my heart good to see them doing something fun and useless.

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