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Chef Jordan Davis was yin to celeb chef Kevin Gillespie’s yang at Atlanta’s Woodfire Grill.
The grilled octopus with baby artichokes and romesco
Custom chandeliers are a quirky Borkum touch
Restaurateur Tracy Borkum’s latest reinvention has us hooked.
Amy Finley | Photo: Ethan Pines | August 27, 2013
For 18 years, neighborhood institution Kensington Grill played true to the Adams Avenue-centered hilltop town’s sleepy stereotype: reliable or predictable, depending on your point of view. That is, until owner Tracy Borkum, fresh off the empire-spawning rebranding experiment that is Cucina Urbana (remember when the perennially packed Italian-casual Bankers Hill corner housed uberempty, white-tableclothed Laurel?), set her sights on its mid-’90s-tastic decor and a menu that had hardly changed since chef Hanis Cavin (now of Carnitas Snack Shack fame) ruled the kitchen.
It’s a sign of S.D.’s unanchored (pardon the pun) resto-design times that, seeking a beach reference point, Fish Public, Borkum’s new incarnation of the Grill, skips over SoCal entirely in favor of Nantucket prep: fishing nets repurposed as light fixtures, lobster traps, a pale palette and whitewashed beadboard. It’s all charming if a little alienating, a lost opportunity for local pride. Especially considering Public’s otherwise strong sense of place, which deftly and surely adds to its considerable charm. There are S.D. craft beers on tap, communal tables for neighborly noshing and Suzie’s Farm veggies (blistered peppers, crispy artichokes) that are bite-sized reminders of our sun-drenched glories. Chef Jordan Davis, an Atlanta transplant who spent time in the star-making machinery of Woodfire Grill and L.A.’s Animal, executes an equally homey menu—an open-faced ahi melt with housemade oil-poached tuna conserva is as casually sophisticated as Kensington’s postage-stamp-sized, seven-figure Spanish bungalows. Ditto Moroccan-spiced seared scallops, sweet Laughing Bird shrimp in lettuce cups and the restaurant’s sleeper hit: deboned but whole-roasted market fish (sculpin and Baja snapper are pulled from area waters) drizzled with chimichurri and fragrant orange oil. Befitting Davis’ pedigree, carnivores aren’t forgotten: American country ham with pickled watermelon rind and honeyloupe; Korean short ribs with his slow-fermented kimchee; and housemade brats with spaetzle and mustard cider jus are all standouts. But mindful of its moniker, seafood makes the biggest splash. Final verdict? So long, snoozeville. The tide is turning.
4055 Adams Ave.
ceviche del día........$13
old-school KG burger........$15.50
petrale sole a la plancha.......$13