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Feedbag - Fertile Crescent

Who knew? There's more to Vickery's than fabulous cocktails

Right around Christmas, my husband invented a drink that he's been ordering at restaurants and bars lately in hopes of starting a cocktail craze. It's called a Frosty Clementine - Grand Marnier on the rocks with soda and a twist. He usually gets blank stares when he orders it, but he's determined. Showing up at Vickery's on a recent Saturday night, my hopes for the cocktails were high, but I didn't expect much from the menu. As with most of the restaurants along Crescent Avenue in Midtown, Vickery's is better known for its booze than its food. Late-night martinis and brunch-hour Bloody Marys are the stock in trade. I don't know if something's changed or if folks just don't give Vickery's a fair shake, but this visit revealed a much more competent menu than the place gets credit for.

But first, the ambience: Vickery's has just about the most enchanted little patio of any restaurant in town. With its brick and wrought iron, the place looks like a cross between the French Quarter and the Secret Garden. A big old tree sprouts from the middle, surrounded by lush greenery. Of course, it's February, so we opted for an inside table next to the see-through fireplace. The dining room may not be quite as charming as the patio, but with its high ceilings, 12-inch crown molding and enormous crystal chandelier, it ain't too shabby. The old-school opulence is balanced by funky vinyl tables and chairs that look like they're straight out of your grandma's kitchen. Up front at the bar, red Naugahyde circular booths are just begging to host your next secret rendezvous.

As for the menu, it's straight-ahead American cuisine, with dashes of the Deep South and Low Country cooking thrown in for good measure. Barbecued fish is not a concept I'm wild about, but a pecan-crusted salmon filet slathered in tangy barbecue sauce strikes a nice balance. The sauce isn't too sweet, and its acidity cuts the richness of the fish. A thick rib eye, juicy and pink, arrives lying on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes, crowned with fried onion strings. It is pure decadence.

But the side dishes make the best impression, from cheesy grits to crunchy sesame green beans. Sweet potatoes are an unconventional pairing with steak, but together with the fried onions, it's a great combination. A dive into a dish of gorgonzola macaroni and cheese reveals the peppery kick of cayenne but no pungent gorgonzola.

Next time you're in the neighborhood, try Vickery's for dinner. You'll be pleasantly surprised. And be sure to order a Frosty Clementine.

florence.byrd@creativeloafing.com

Bourbon 101Atkins Park will host a single-batch bourbon tasting Thurs., Feb. 17, at 8 p.m. The tasting will feature six single-batch bourbons from Booker's, Baker's, Basil Hayden, Knob Creek, Woodford and Jack Daniel's. A guest speaker will be on hand to explain the unique characteristics of each spirit. Light appetizers included. $25 per person. 794 N. Highland Ave. 404-876-7249. www.atkinspark.com.

Crustacean CelebrationOn Sat.-Sun., Feb. 19-20, Steamhouse Lounge in Buckhead hosts Oysterfest 2005. The festivities begin at noon. The $10 entry fee benefits the Atlanta Humane Society. 3041 Bolling Way. 404-233-7980.

Feel-Good DiningTierra and Sundown are teaming up to raise funds for AID Atlanta on Sun., Feb. 20. Chefs David Waller, Eddie Hernandez and Dan and Ticha Krinsky will offer a special four-course dinner, with two glasses of wine included, for $70 per person. All of the evening's proceeds benefit AID Atlanta. The dinner, hosted at Tierra, begins at 6:30 p.m. 1425 Piedmont Ave. 404-874-5951. www.tierrarestaurant.com.

Give In to TemptationIn honor of Valentine's month, Woodfire Grill hosts a special wine and chocolate tasting Tues., Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. The evening will feature eight wines and an assortment of decadent chocolate confections prepared by chef Michael Tuohy. $20 per person. 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road. 404-347-9055. www.woodfiregrill.com.

Five for FiveStarting this month, Spice will feature a special "Simpler Spice" menu on Wednesday nights starting at 5 p.m. The revolving menu will feature five items priced at $5 each. Each week's selection will include hot and cold appetizers, cocktails, and wines by the glass. The evening will also feature live music from Atlanta DJ crew Rare Form. 793 Juniper St. 404-875-4242. www.spicerestaurant.com.??





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