By Megan Volpert
When Tom Catherall called it quits on the Here to Serve restaurants, he left a giant hole in midtown where Shout used to be. Everyone was hit hard – the gay Sunday brunch crowd, the small firm business lunch crowd, the dinner between museum and theater crowd, and certainly some of Atlanta’s most fun and chatty servers. Shout did so many things so well without looking too much like it was aiming for the lowest common denominator. I am pleased to report that where Shout once was, 5Church is now holding it down and then some.
The valet service is great and they have umbrellas. The patio and the upstairs deck are both shaping up to open as soon as the weather cools a bit. The decor is stunning. The layout of Shout always made it hard to people watch, with the darkened booth niches and huge circular bar blocking the view from the stairs. 5Church has really opened up the place, as well as classed it up by opting for a stark black and white color scheme that plays off the loud street art on the walls. Upon closer inspection, the whole ceiling is covered with the entire hand-painted text of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Wear some hot pink and prep for a great photo op.
The food lives up to the space. 5Church began in Charlotte and opened in Charleston before coming here as well, and they really understand how to do plates that are both Southern in their comfort and cosmopolitan in their construction. Might have something to do with James Beard Award-winning executive chef RJ Cooper. One dish for which he isn’t responsible is the “60 second” New York strip, featuring on the menu in all three cities, from the mind of partner and chef Jamie Lynch. Equal parts delicious food and food for thought, the steak gets a quick sear on one side so the heat soaks up into it and leaves the other side barely cooked. Examining pink from one side instead of in the center results in a whole new mouthfeel and that is worth trying for a change of pace.
On the other hand, there are a couple of plates that are worth ordering over and over again. They’ve got a wasabi crusted ahi tuna on a bed of miso foam and seaweed salad that will make you forget Shout ever existed. Ditto for the jumbo lump crab, which is done as a salad and not as a cake. On the brunch and dinner menus it’s a first course, but on the lunch menu it’s an entree. Personally, I could take a bath in it. This is also the case for the cave aged cheddar agnolotti, piled high with the pop of peas and the crunch of ham, which is straight out of autumn’s fantasy food land and hopefully will stay on the menu year-round. The sides are served family style and I don’t know why you’re bringing your kids to midtown but they will happily enjoy the mac ’n’ cheese while you bask in the afterglow of that creamy agnolotti filling.
For dessert, get the peanut butter and jelly, which is a delicious experiment in layers. Then again, the duck-fat beignets are a serious challenger and the oven roasted pineapple is improving every day. The coffee is from a roaster near the original Charlotte location, and as much as 5Church has brought its familiar touches from home, it definitely fits in to Atlanta already. The bar program is maybe a little on the fizzy and fruity side of things for my taste, but hey, what’s midtown without a wild berry mojito and a rosemary gin fizz? There are a dozen kinds of bubbly, too, so if you miss Shout more often than you like to admit, go toast to 5Church’s success.
5Church is located at 1197 Peachtree St. For more information, visit 5churchatlanta.com.