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Bret Love | Photo: Chris Hornaday | January 29, 2013
Put it on ice at this swanky Woodstock watering hole.
Downtown Woodstock’s steadily emerging foodie scene shows signs of chilling. Exhibit A: ICE Martini & Sushi Bar, the welcome upstart with hip digs and a swanky vibe synonymous with hot spots in Buckhead and Midtown. Here, sky-blue walls offset by cobalt window accents comingle with eggshell leather chairs to create a loungelike atmosphere, urged along by candlelit tables and light fixtures draped in crystals.
Equally saucy is the menu. Designed by Chef Fuyuhiko Ito, the former executive chef at MF Buckhead, it’s smartly centered on sushi and tapas—neither of which, historically, has done well in Woodstock (or even been available). Though Ito is the bomb at making traditional dishes, his East-West fusions reward those with more adventurous palates. We start with the lump crab avocado salad (a massive mound of mixed greens and crab, served with wasabi vinaigrette), but are more impressed with the tapas (prosciutto-wrapped figs baked with mozzarella cheese and drizzled with honey; the robust shrimp martini served with vodka cocktail sauce; and thinly sliced tuna carpaccio with onion, avocado and soy vinaigrette). Ito’s sushi is as excellent as you might expect—with an emphasis on contrasting textures and flavors. The salmon crunchy roll balances the smoothness of the fish with the crunch of rice crisp and a satisfying pop of masago, while the ICE roll tops a delicate lobster salad with shrimp and avocado (we’ll take ours without the dollop of spicy ranch sauce, though).
Where sips are concerned, ICE Martini & Sushi Bar lives up to its billing, with an impressive array of cocktails including the cucumber martini (Three Olives vodka, fresh cucumber, lime juice and simple syrup) and decadent caramel cream (Stoli Salted Caramel vodka, Cabot Trail Maple Cream and a splash of cream… or, dessert in a glass). Speaking of which, save room for sweets from the chef’s wife, CIA-trained Lisa Ito, who met her hubby when they worked together at MF. The lady makes a mean caramel apple cake with pumpkin cream that you might seriously consider worth dying for.
On weekends—when tables are rearranged to make way for a dance floor and they, ahem, roll out a live DJ to lord over the festivities with a mix of Top 40 and techno—the place moonlights as the most happening party spot in Woodstock. But, if that’s not enough to get you through the door, Chef Ito’s sushi definitely will. @icemartinibar