PACKING THEM IN

Byline: Rebecca Kleinman

New York isn’t the only city with a trendy meatpacking district. Atlanta has its own mini version, too, called Westside. And to make one more analogy, Bacchanalia is its Pastis.
But other than being the hot spot for foodies, scene-makers and professionals alike and being the toughest reservation in town, Bacchanalia’s similarities to Pastis stop there.
Its contemporary American, gourmet menu changes daily, while its decor combines industrial, modern, historical and colorful elements.
Its crowd isn’t there to hobnob, parade around or people-watch, either. They come to eat the kinds of meals they’ll dream about for weeks afterward — the kind where the salad and cheese course follows the entree, and where every ingredient has a name, like Niman lamb or Meyer lemon.
Having moved from their Buckhead location in a cramped country house to their present berth in a former meatpacking plant, owner-chefs Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison have had the rare opportunity to personalize — a chef’s dream set-up.
Their spacious, well-organized kitchen is visible from the dining room, which is a soft, open space with high ceilings, gauzy curtains, original yellow fire tiles and a view of the midtown skyline. Each night, a limited number of diners are treated as if they were special guests in the cooking couple’s home.
Most impressive, though, and sure to be the envy of chefs everywhere is their vast pantry, which doubles as a gourmet food shop.
“We felt there wasn’t a place to find these goods, and diners would constantly ask where they could buy foods from the restaurant,” said Quatrano.
Now, diners can indulge in fancy truffle oils, organic produce, sushi-grade tuna, freshly roasted coffee beans and some 200 cheeses from around the world. Even Bacchanalia’s famous miniature Valrhona chocolate cakes are for sale. “I’d get at least 10 requests a week from diners wanting to take those home,” she said.
Bacchanalia, 1198 Howell Mill Road. (404) 365-0410. Dinner: Tues.-Sat., 6 p.m.-close. Lunch: Tues.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Prix fixe: dinner (four courses), $55; lunch (three courses), $35.