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Review: Market

Jean-Geroges Vongerichten's second Atlanta restaurant fuses brilliance with bafflement.

It takes a special kind of openhearted restaurant critic to see “Tuna and Wasabi” pizza on a menu and keep her cynicism under control. At Spice Market, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s first Atlanta project in the W Hotel in Midtown, the menu focuses on Asian street food and avoids frivolity like wasabi pizza. But at Market, Vongerichten’s second Atlanta venture, it’s as if the chef and his staff are aiming to see exactly how far they can push our discombobulation. As I sat and stared at Market’s menu for the first time, I realized it was gonna take a lot of celebrity chef magic to overcome fusions this silly.

The theme of confusion begins as soon as you exit the bar area (which is basically the lobby of the new W Hotel in Buckhead) and funnel through the restaurant's claustrophobic entrance. Step out of the tiny wooden passageway and into a room that hides its largeness around curved walls and partitions. Designer hot shot Karim Rashid created the interior, which consists of amoeba-shaped recesses lit with neon-colored lights, and large, screen-saver-esque lined walls that could be accurately described as “trippy." It’s hard to get a handle on the space and how it’s put together, and therefore hard to decide how to feel about it.

The same is true for the menu. Tomato soup with sourdough and cheddar is followed by truffle pizza, with a detour for sashimi spring rolls before going back to crab cakes and then into the more solidly Asian-influenced entrees. Maybe it’s stodgy of me to ask, but Why? Why throw all these things together on a menu? Just to see if you can?