Feedbag - Buckhead bombshell

East Andrews Cafe is quite the looker, with a flashy menu to boot

I could tell, eyeing East Andrew's Cafe interior, that I should have worn my most dangerous pair of stiletto heels. This is Buckhead, after all. At one end of the long bar, a handful of polished- looking women gossiped over appetizers and cocktails. The bar opened up on one side to a picturesque courtyard with a tiled fountain surrounded by dining tables. Up a curving staircase was Andrews Upstairs, the trendy live music venue.

Inside the plush, low-lit dining room, most tables were occupied by handsome couples or foursomes who looked as if they knew their way around a wine list. The classic supper-club decor — lots of burgundy and hunter green, ostrich- upholstered banquettes, mirrored walls, ivory table linens, brass wall sconces — surprised me. Not quite what I was expecting from one of Buckhead's most happening nightspots.

The menu was another surprise. Small plates showed a deft hand in the kitchen and an eye for presentation. Tiger shrimp, wrapped in basil and thin shoestrings of potato, were sauteed and served with a splash of mellow, buttery citrus sauce. Juicy shrimp and crispy potato made for a nice contrast. Seared, sesame-crusted tuna featured a pleasingly crunchy seaweed salad.

The highlight of the meal was a simple bowl of mussels, heady with the fragrance of saffron and Sambuca. The two flavors could have overwhelmed the dish but instead offered a delicate foil to the subtle essence of the mussels. We were about to slurp the leftover broth directly from the bowl when the waitress arrived with a crusty loaf of French bread for sopping. Served in a darling little metal baking pan, the bread was almost too cute to eat. Almost.

An order of duck spring rolls, on the other hand, was a letdown. Greasy wrappers and cloyingly sweet plum sauce overpowered any flavor the duck might have contributed to the dish. A dish of baked gnocchi with goat cheese sauce and pesto was leaden. The cheese plate was a disappointment, too: The three cheeses were cold and hard, obviously taken right out of the fridge. When I asked the waitress to identify them, she replied, "Goat cheese, blue cheese, and brie." I'm no connoisseur, but I could have figured that out on my own.

Minor quibbles aside, East Andrews has a lot going for it. The menu also offers "medium plates" (salads and pastas) and pricier entrees, but I enjoyed grazing the small plates so much I'm not sure I'd bother with the more substantial dishes next time. But I'll definitely wear the stilettos.

Extra helpings

Dining events

ART AND WINE ARE SO DIVINE — Every third Sunday of the month, Muse Art Cafe and Lounge (formerly Rue de Paris) on North Highland hosts an evening of art and wine. The festivities begin with a wine tasting from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., followed by live music and a chance to schmooze with local artists. If that's not reason enough to go, don't forget Muse's lovely sidewalk patio, perfect for sipping a glass of Bordeaux whilst discussing Voltaire. 640 North Highland Ave., 404-881-8222.

YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT SHAKE? — Prepare to be seduced by the ancient art of belly dancing on July 15, when Imperial Fez hosts Fez Fest, a belly dancing celebration. The evening will include a three-course dinner, with three hours of exotic performances. The party begins at 7 p.m. Reservations recommended. 2285 Peachtree Road, 404-351-0870. www.imperialfez.com.

END YOUR WEEKEND ON A HIGH NOTE — Every Sunday night, Haven Restaurant in Brookhaven is offering their entire wine list for $29 a bottle-not a bad deal. The list includes winemakers such as Eyrie Vineyards, Steele Vineyards and Edna Valley. 404-969-0700. 1441 Dresden Drive, Suite 160. www.havenrestaurant.com.

SOPHISTICATED SIPPING — Belly up to the bar at Sala on Friday, Saturday or Sunday night for "Bottomless Mini-Margarita Tastings," featuring different flavors each night. Tart, potent and elegantly served in martini glasses, Sala's margaritas are just about the best in town. Friday-Sunday, 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. The cost is $20 per person. 1186 North Highland Ave., 404-872-7203. www.sala-atlanta.com.

FIRE UP THE GRILL — When the seafood selection at the local grocery store just won't cut it, backyard gourmands should consider stopping by the fresh fish counter at Atlanta Fish Market before their next cookout. In season right now: gulf red snapper and west coast wild king salmon. For red meat lovers, the fish counter also stocks prime steaks. 265 Pharr Road, 404-262-3165. www.buckheadrestaurants.com.


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