By Art Huckabee

Art Huckabee is one of Yelp’s Elite reviewers and a pilot, gourmet cook and food lover. Starting with this issue, he will be regularly reviewing restaurants around Atlanta for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta INtown.

Smash Kitchen & Bar, a casual eatery located in Town Brookhaven, serves up burgers, pizza, seafood and “comfort foods” like baby back ribs, as well as “smashed” and “muddled” cocktails.

With the addition of my food writing into the Reporter Newspapers and subsequently, additional parts of the Atlanta metro area, it only seemed appropriate to make a visit to one such area for this month’s restaurant review.

We chose Town Brookhaven, a mixed-use development in the vibrant and lively city of Brookhaven. This work, play, shop and of course, eat, development has well over a dozen restaurants to chose from. We set our sights on restaurateur Tom Catherall’s latest creation, Smash Kitchen and Bar.

We visited at lunchtime during the week. The restaurant is decorated nicely in dark colors with most of the seating comprised of booths. It feels more like a dinner and drinks place, especially with the wall-mounted deer heads staring down at you.

Our server quickly approached, informed us of the daily specials and touted the muddled drink offerings. Smash derives its name from several items on the menu, and these muddled or smashed drinks are one such item. With names like Blackburn, Capital City, Oglethorpe and Lynwood, they contain ingredients like blackberry bourbon with muddled blackberries or vodka, or ginger beer and muddled pears and honeydew.

They were enticing, but as it was lunch and all of us were headed back to work afterward, we declined. Smash also offers other craft cocktails and a decent beer and wine list.

For appetizers, we ordered the pretzel sticks and the wild mushroom flatbread. The pretzel sticks came upright in a butcher paper cone accompanied by grainy mustard and a Newcastle Ale cheese sauce; both accentuated the salty, warm pretzels and were quite good. The flatbread was large, and looked delicious with the dough spending just the right amount of time in the wood-fired oven. However, the toppings of Fontina cheese, roasted peppers, baby arugula and truffle oil made it soggy and a disappointment, given its high marks for appearance.

The three in our party ordered the half rack of baby back ribs, the steak burger and the kale salad with a side of grilled salmon.

The ribs were good. They were fall-off-the-bone tender and covered in a house-made, fairly-standard barbecue sauce. The mound of thin-cut shoestring potatoes that accompanied the ribs could easily have fed three or four diners. They were crispy and hot. The Southern slaw contained rough chopped cabbage and strips of green and red peppers; it was more of a garnish and tasted as such.

The steak burger — ordered plain, with cheddar cheese — was cooked to order and tasted of good quality beef. The bun, however, was a bread behemoth, and totally overpowered that all-important bun-to-meat ratio. Adding to the mix was a huge portion of finely shredded, un-melted cheddar cheese that was perched on the bun top. It looked as though the cook had opened a bag of Kraft and dumped it, in its entirety, onto the bun. The burger also came with the mountain of shoestring fries.

The kale salad contained an Asian peanut dressing, mint, cilantro and Thai chilies. It was a nice combination on the front of the tongue but quickly got bitter on the back, begging for a little more sweetness. The accompanying salmon was unadorned and ordinary, yet cooked properly and a nice portion.

We decide against dessert but they have several interesting offerings including chocolate pecan pie and red velvet cheesecake.

Our server was very attentive throughout the meal, bringing multiple refills of tea and water.

From the looks of the well-stocked bar and lots of outdoor seating, Smash is probably a lively place on warm-weather weekends and after work when Town Brookhaven residents return from their workdays. Our lunchtime visit never saw more than three or four tables of diners during our hour and half stay.

Smash’s dinner menu is almost identical to the lunch menu, with the addition of steaks and chops, and the usual increase in prices from the $12 to $17 range to the $17 to $24 range.

Smash is located at 804 Town Boulevard, Suite 1010, in Town Brookhaven, and can be found at www.h2sr.com/smash.

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