About The Optimist

914 Howell Mill Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30318
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The Optimist and Oyster Bar at The Optimist is simply "The Hamptons meets The South." We are passionate about sourcing sustainable seafood and preparing it in classic ways. We're not reinventing the wheel -- just perfectly roasting "farm," fish and shellfish over Georgia hickory. Menu items range from the most authentic seafood gumbo with "pot luck" garlic bread to Maine lobster rolls, Gulf grouper with smoky spring Vidalias, and an ever changing selection of super fresh East and West coast oysters. The cool irony is that we have adapted a historic country ham aging "house" into an amazing space of comfort and escape through inspirations of coastal surf culture.

Oh... and if you are not a seafood person, we LOVE meat too! No worries, be optimistic! :) ...Ford Fry

Dining Style:
Casual Elegant

Cuisines:
Seafood

Hours of Operation:

Lunch: Monday - Friday: 11:30am - 2:30pm; Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm
The Oyster Bar opens at 3pm Saturday & Sundays

Cross Street:
8th Street

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$31 to $50

Payment Options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(404) 477-6260

Website:
http://www.theoptimistrestaurant.com/

Parking Details:
$3 Valet service is offered through the Brady parking garage, located on property . Additional surface street parking is available through the neighborhood, as well as additional lots in the area.

Private Party Facilities:
The Optimist has a variety of event spaces that include bar events, restaurant buy outs, private dining up to 20 guests, semi-private dining for up to 50 guests.

Private Party Contact:
Abigail Pietrobon: 404-355-5311x212

Additional:
Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Wine

Special Events & Promotions:
Please contact Abigail Pietrobon at apietrobon@fordfry.com for special event information.

Restaurant Photos

The Optimist
The Optimist
The Optimist
The Optimist
lobster roll
She Crab Soup
Mussels
Georgia Bank Scallops
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Mahi Mahi
Oysters on the Half Shell
Peel and Eat Shrimp
Sweet Potato
Apple Cider Donuts
Rockey Road Bread Pudding
Cold Snap
Grilled Octopus With Crispy Potatoes, Chorizo, And Herbs
basmati “fried rice,” smoked fish, curry, crushed peanuts, egg
Red Snapper
Apple Cheesecake W/ Caramel And Bourbon Whipped Cream
Shrimp A La Plancha In Arbol Chili Lime Broth
Fried Oyster Salad
NC Snapper with Bok Choy and Okra
Marinated Beets with Smoked Beet Yogurt and Coriander
Gulf Grouper
Mussels in Green Curry.
Fried Clam Roll
Carrots
Black Grouper
Lobster Roll With Seafood Gumbo
Deep Fried Oysters
Fried Long Beans
Donuts, Corn Ice Cream, Red Pepper Jam
Old Salty Dog
Gulf Grouper, Roasted Beets
White Train
Fish and Chips
Salt Crusted Caramel Icecream
Basmati Fried Rice
Peach Tart With Vanilla Ice Cream
Hushpuppies
Corn Milk Hushpuppies, Beignet Style
Oyster Sampler
Halibut Fried In Duck Fat
Scallops
Angels on Horseback
The Cutty Shark
Grilled Pound Cake Sundae
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Swordfish Braised In Duckfat
Apple Buckle
Fried Soft Shell Crab
Charred Octopus
Flounder
East Coast Oysters
GA Shrimp a la plancha
Whole Flounder
Whole Ga White Shrimp A La Plancha
Warm Chocolate Cassoulet
Savannah Style Beignets
Seared Tuna With Grilled Octopus
Fried Blueberry Pie With Buttermilk Sherbet
Fish House Punch
Onset
Seared Octopus
Oyster Sampler Accompaniments.
Basmati “Fried Rice”
Butter Burger
fried oysters
Flounder with butternut squash puree
salmon, wood-roasted beets, smoked egg, horseradish, apple
Oysters
Little Gem salad
Lobster Cobb Salad
Shrimp A La Plancha
Shrimp a Plancha
Key Lime Pie
Raats Chenin Blanc Wine
corn milk hushpuppies, “beignet style,” with cane syrup butter
whole white shrimp a la plancha, “sopping” toast, arbol chile, lime
raw oysters
Frothy She-Crab Soup
Shoestring Fries
Brussel sprouts
Wood Roasted Beets
Argula Salad
Grilled Cobia
Grilled Octopus
Yeast Rolls
Blackened  Mahi Mahi Sandwich
Garlicky Tiny Clams & Pork Belly
Festive Fall Punch
Peach Cobbler
Brussle Sprouts
Charred Spanish Octopus
Birthday Drink
Blackened Grouper Sandwich
Sundae With Coconut Ice Cream
Champagne Punch
Salad Nicoise

The Optimist Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.6

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.6

service

4.5

ambience

4.5

value

4.0

noise

Moderate

93% would recommend it to a friend

Loved For

Seafood
Atlanta / Georgia
Most Booked
Atlanta / Georgia
Seafood
Atlanta
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Most Booked
Atlanta
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Fit for Foodies (220)
Special Occasion (181)
Hot Spot (131)
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Neighborhood Gem (108)
Good for Groups (108)
Vibrant Bar Scene (90)
Romantic (81)
Notable Wine List (60)
Great for Lunch (50)
Great for Outdoor Dining (29)
Late-night Find (24)
Great for Brunch (14)
Scenic View (10)
Kid-friendly (10)
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We were celebrating a birthday, so they ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined 4 days ago

We were celebrating a birthday, so they gave us menus stamped Happy Birthday! Nice touch. Our server recommended the black grouper, which didn't disappoint. My friend enjoyed the scallops. It can get a little noisy, but great energy overall. We'll definitely be back!

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food5
ambience5
service5

Thoroughly enjoyed my lunch of gumbo and ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined 4 days ago

Thoroughly enjoyed my lunch of gumbo and lobster roll. Always have a good time at the Optimist.

Tags: Scenic View, Romantic, Fit for Foodies, Great for Lunch
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

The Optimist is the best seafood restaur ...

 
 (Salt Lake City)
·Dined on August 15, 2016

The Optimist is the best seafood restaurant in Atlanta, in my opinion, at this time! Ask for Meka as your server, she did fantastic! Great place for our anniversary. We will be back!

Tags: Romantic, Neighborhood Gem, Special Occasion, Fit for Foodies, Vibrant Bar Scene, Kid-friendly
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Amazing! Highly recommend to anyone who ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 14, 2016

Amazing! Highly recommend to anyone who loves seafood.

Tags: Good for Groups, Romantic, Fit for Foodies, Hot Spot, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Over-rated; noisy venue, slow service, a ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 14, 2016

Over-rated; noisy venue, slow service, and food unnecessarily complicated by conflicting flavors- in particular the compulsion of adding hot peppers to every course except dessert.

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food3
ambience2
service3
value3

I have had large group dinners and dinne ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 14, 2016

I have had large group dinners and dinner for 2. Service and food are above rest

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Great for Lunch, Vibrant Bar Scene, Fit for Foodies, Hot Spot, Good for Groups
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Great service! The good was amazing and ...

 
 (Anchorage)
·Dined on August 14, 2016

Great service! The good was amazing and I love the ambience. Will definitely dine there again.

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food5
ambience5
service5

Service was very slow...it took forever ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 14, 2016

Service was very slow...it took forever just to get a glass of wine and the food was over an hour. The food potions are very small for the money you pay. First and last time.

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food2
ambience4
service2
value1

Rockin'. Always good. Impressive consi ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 13, 2016

Rockin'. Always good. Impressive consistency from quality of food and service to energetic and vibrant atmosphere. AND, I love the play lists in all the Ford Fry restaurants.....

Led Zeppelin to Blue Oyster Cult and everything in between.

Always and I mean always good--been our favorite in Atlanta for years!

Tags: Vibrant Bar Scene, Fit for Foodies, Great for Lunch, Neighborhood Gem, Hot Spot, Notable Wine List
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Food was fantastic but the service was w ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 13, 2016

Food was fantastic but the service was what made our dinner so memorable. Very professional and classy

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Romantic, Hot Spot, Scenic View, Notable Wine List
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food5
ambience5
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value3

Ford Fry's idea of an excellent meal is ...

 
 (Chicago)
·Dined on August 12, 2016

Ford Fry's idea of an excellent meal is visible through everything the staff attempts to do. Execution of that concept is a bit here and there.

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food4
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service2

Was in town for business and chose this ...

vip
 (Philadelphia)
·Dined on August 12, 2016

Was in town for business and chose this restaurant over the typical chains in Atlanta. Bar and wine selection were great. Food was good but has a little room for improvement. Give it a shot. Very fun atmosphere in dining room.

Tags: Special Occasion, Hot Spot, Vibrant Bar Scene, Notable Wine List
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food3
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service4
value4

Not as good as it has been in the past. ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 7, 2016

Not as good as it has been in the past. The Optimist has been one of my favorites in Atlanta since its opening. On this visit the food was spotty. Gumbo was burned and devoid of any seafood save one small chunk of fish. The charred octopus was very tough and the sauce was overwhelming. I've had this before and loved it. My amberjack was fantastic. Dessert - not even worth mentioning.

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food2
ambience4
service3
value3

We had a disappointing experience at The ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 7, 2016

We had a disappointing experience at The Optimist. We were there on a Sunday night to celebrate our anniversary. The restaurant was not crowded...in fact there were many empty table. The service was super slow. We had to wait a long time for our drinks and even longer for our food. All of the food was good except for my salmon, which was under cooked. When I told our waitress that she had not asked me what temperature I wanted the salmon, she responded "the chef prepares it medium rare" and walked off. She never apologized or offered to make it right. This used to be our favorite restaurant. Not sure if we will ever go back after this experience.

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food1
ambience5
service1
value2

Food was fantastic.. Get the jambalaya.. ...

 
 (New York Area)
·Dined on August 7, 2016

Food was fantastic.. Get the jambalaya.. Will he going back next time I'm in Atlanta.

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food5
ambience5
service5

We love coming to the Optimist for speci ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 7, 2016

We love coming to the Optimist for special occasions. It gives us a chance to try new foods prepared brilliantly. The wait staff catered to our every wish and made the best recommendations. Love coming here and can't wait to go back.

Tags: Special Occasion, Fit for Foodies, Romantic, Vibrant Bar Scene
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food4
ambience4
service5
value5

The food was fabulous! Our group shared ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 7, 2016

The food was fabulous! Our group shared several items beginning with the house provided rolls (best roll I have ever tasted: texture, consistency, flavor, etc.) and spanning/including a variety of oysters, octopus, hush-puppies with the cane syrup butter, and duck fat poached swordfish. This has/is one of my favorite restaurants to visit in Atlanta for special occasions. The beer menu and wine list are excellent, too.

Tags: Romantic, Late-night Find, Notable Wine List, Neighborhood Gem, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Great oysters, solid entrees, good wine ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 6, 2016

Great oysters, solid entrees, good wine list. Wait staff, most were fantastic with one or two not conscientious or courteous, had to ask one of them to 'remove their backside hovering over our table' as the view to my dinner partner involved only seeing half of them. Tables are close together but this is not justification for being rude.

Tags: Special Occasion
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food4
ambience3
service3
value3

Watermelon and crab meat with a hint of ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 6, 2016

Watermelon and crab meat with a hint of spice from a jalapeno-awesome!

Well fleet oysters-perfect.

Always good.

Tags: Great for Lunch, Hot Spot, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
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service5
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All dishes were prepared to perfection. ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 6, 2016

All dishes were prepared to perfection. The tomatoes with butter beans and peaches was definitely a stand out dish. Can't wait to return.

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food5
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service5

Unique place to go for Oysters and with ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 6, 2016

Unique place to go for Oysters and with a changing menu to keep repeat engagement. The food descriptions were more impressive than the actual executions. For example, crispy potatoes as a side dish appeared as no more than a sauced potato skin appetizer. Service is remarkably, understandably slow during a busy Friday night. The seafood menu was not particularly diverse but the restaurant is a good change of pace for local seafood dining. This would be a great place in the rotation for work-related dining as well. However, the noise levels and lack of privacy would preclude great dialogue or first dates. Super glad I went, enjoyed my food and meal but was a bit underwhelmed. I will be back eventually, hopefully to select from the next iteration of the menu.

Tags: Hot Spot
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food4
ambience2
service2
value3

Oyster selection and special chef's choi ...

 
 (Raleigh)
·Dined on August 6, 2016

Oyster selection and special chef's choice were excellent.

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food5
ambience5
service5

At the suggestion of my golfing buddy, w ...

 
 (Columbus)
·Dined on August 5, 2016

At the suggestion of my golfing buddy, we drove the 44 miles to The Optimist to celebrate our 49th anniversary. Thanks to Open Table, our menus were printed with Happy Anniversary in bold letters and the staff was aware of our anniversary. Cooper, our server and knowledgeable guide, was very attentive and helpful. The food was great as well as the service. It was a great experience for my wife and I such that we will return again.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Neighborhood Gem, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience3
service5
value5

It was my first time going but really en ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 5, 2016

It was my first time going but really enjoyed it will definitely going back

Tags: Good for Groups, Notable Wine List, Special Occasion, Great for Lunch, Vibrant Bar Scene, Romantic, Late-night Find, Great for Brunch
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food5
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Just wasn't what we expected as far as f ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 5, 2016

Just wasn't what we expected as far as food menu. Very nice atmosphere and people. Just not for us. Only had appetizers

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food3
ambience4
service3
value2

My wife and I were celebrating our 5th Y ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 4, 2016

My wife and I were celebrating our 5th Year Anniversary at The Optimist. I had the Lobster Roll and my wife had the fish sandwich with Basmati fried rice and hushpuppies. Our food was better than we could have hoped for or imagined. Excellent all around. We will be going back.

Tags: Great for Brunch, Fit for Foodies, Romantic, Special Occasion, Late-night Find, Great for Lunch, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
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service5
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We have dined here several times since t ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 3, 2016

We have dined here several times since the opening and it has gotten progressively less satisfying. As of my last visit, I would compare the food quality to dining at Applebee's. At least the ambiance and oysters are still good.

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food3
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service3
value3

Incredible food and flawless service! Al ...

 
 (Los Angeles)
·Dined on August 2, 2016

Incredible food and flawless service! Also had putt putt outside to play while you wait for a table. Such a cool spot.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Romantic, Special Occasion, Neighborhood Gem, Hot Spot, Notable Wine List
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food5
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service5
value4

Great food and service. Atmosphere was n ...

 
 (New York Area)
·Dined on August 1, 2016

Great food and service. Atmosphere was nice. Loved the large round table for our group of 6. Will definitely return!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Special Occasion
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food5
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service5
value3

The restaurant was attractive and the se ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on August 1, 2016

The restaurant was attractive and the server was friendly and attentive. Unfortunately, I was just not impressed with the food. I started with a cup of gumbo which was fine, but nothing special. My entrée was the grilled grouper, which was attractively plated but which had almost no taste. I tried to convince myself that the lack of seasoning was acceptable and was intended to highlight the natural flavor of the fish, but that really didn't work. Each bite was just a disappointment for me. I ordered a side of the beignet-style hushpuppies. Again, the presentation was very nice, topped with the expected powdered sugar, but the taste did not live up to expectations.

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food2
ambience5
service4
value4

Interesting environment and menu. Great ...

 
 (New York Area)
·Dined on July 31, 2016

Interesting environment and menu. Great tasting food. Worth a try.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Late-night Find, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List
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food5
ambience3
service4
value4

We reached a milestone in our personal l ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on July 31, 2016

We reached a milestone in our personal life and wanted to splurge. We have been to The Optimist before and we were craving seafood so this was our choice. We still love the restaurant setting, we had a great waiter. We were disappointed that at a 6:15 reservation on a Sunday two of the fish selections were not available - Red Snapper and Swordfish. We were informed of the absence of Swordfish upon seating; the lack of Red Snapper came after placing our order. We did enjoy our appetizers (Mussels and Fried Oysters). For the first time we ordered the Hushpuppies - not our fav - tasted like beignets - too sweet for our taste.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Special Occasion, Vibrant Bar Scene
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food4
ambience4
service4
value3

Dining room was very loud and somewhat d ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on July 30, 2016

Dining room was very loud and somewhat distracting. The outdoor area with live music looked very nice though.

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food3
ambience3
service5
value4

It was my first time here. The food was ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on July 30, 2016

It was my first time here. The food was impeccable. The service was great and not OVERBOARD like I've experienced in the past. The oysters were wonderful! My martini was perfect!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Romantic, Special Occasion, Hot Spot, Notable Wine List
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

The food and service at the Optimist was ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on July 30, 2016

The food and service at the Optimist was amazing! Because it was our first time in Atlanta, our server brought us a complimentary serving of hush puppies. They were to die for! I would love to go back!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Romantic, Special Occasion, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List
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food5
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The room is very lovely and we were seat ...

 
 (San Francisco)
·Dined on July 29, 2016

The room is very lovely and we were seated quickly, we were running 15 minutes late but called ahead of time and they were very accommodating. We had oysters for 1st course, great but obviously that is more nature than anything prepared. Next courses were octopus ( good flavor, but not nice and charred like I have had it elsewhere, more braised and wet) and a yellowtail appetizer that was awful and we returned, all salty and fishy, server agreed that people didn't seem to like it...take it off menu!!! Main course was duck fat poached swordfish, absolutely delicious ...and salted caramel ice cream also great ...our server was somewhat inattentive ( no side plates, hard to track down when we needed something) but everyone around us seemed to be getting great service, and other servers were happy to help out when we once again couldn't track down ours. All in all very pleasant dinner, one bad dish.

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food4
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service3

It lived up to everything I had heard. R ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on July 29, 2016

It lived up to everything I had heard. Rarely, am I actually impressed with the "hot spot", "best restaurant" type of places. I find most of them to under execute and be over priced. Not so here. We started with the Georgia Shrimp la plancha which reminds me of a New Orleans BBQ shrimp. It was juicy and decadent and delish. My wife had NY strip which was topped with mushrooms and Parmesan. We both agreed that was maybe the best steak either of us has ever had. I had the cornmeal crusted snapper and it was perfect. I really enjoyed the okra side which had a slightly spicy sauce. For dessert we had the raspberry lemonade pie which was light and very refreshing. Kyle was our server. He was the perfect balance of personality and efficiency. He did a great job.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Special Occasion, Hot Spot, Vibrant Bar Scene, Notable Wine List
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

two mature couples went to the Optimist ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on July 28, 2016

two mature couples went to the Optimist for the first and probably last time. the restaurant looks lovely but there is no way to absorb the noise; not just loud conversation but awful percussion music that was way too loud. it was impossible to have a conversation.

the menu was lovely; the food delicious, the presentation outstanding, the wine good, the service fine but the noise level could not overcome all the positives.

spoke with the manager prior to leaving; he said we should have told him and he could have lowered the music level but not sure that would have made a difference.

too bad....

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food5
ambience1
service4
value3

As always, the cuisine was superb - es ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on July 28, 2016

As always, the cuisine was superb - especially the fried oysters. Our server promptly took care of our every want & need, often with no prompting - and got everything we ordered to us FAST. the Optimist is a bit pricy, BUT "you get whet you pay for".

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Special Occasion, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Dishes were well prepared and tasteful t ...

 
 (Los Angeles)
·Dined on July 27, 2016

Dishes were well prepared and tasteful though seemingly everything had a tad much salt. The servers were great but it seemed the kitchen couldn't keep pace with the surprising number of diners for a Wednesday night.

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food4
ambience3
service3

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