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Off-menu pesto bruschetta with marinated white anchovy and hard boiled egg

A Pinch of Salt

by Kate Abney | Photography by Karen Anne Pagano | The Atlantan magazine | September 24, 2013

After decades working his way up the food-service chain to the paramount post of GM, La Grotta Ristorante Italiano-reared cuisinier Christian Favalli was prepared to embark on his lifelong passion project. For this, his better half and business partner, Kristy Jones-Favalli, was instantly on board—and we have this couple’s culinary escapades to thank. Known to canvas the city to dine on their favorite dishes—grilled octopus, deviled eggs, steak tartare—they soon realized that they couldn’t have it all in one location… unless they opened it themselves. So this summer, they did just that, sidling up Saltyard right next to Watershed on Peachtree at The Brookwood. Since then, their neighborhood tapas restaurant has satisfied legions of Brookwood Hills dwellers, but its proven just as popular for visitors hailing from Buckhead, Midtown, the Westside and beyond.

What makes Saltyard, well, worth its salt, is the varied possible experiences. That, and its urbane atmosphere, combined with colorful, unpretentious fare. Executive Chef Nick Leahy—an alum of Food Studio, Two Urban Licks, Stats and Parish—has combined an international host of flavors in a single menu (patrons can choose from 42 dishes, plus five desserts), which cuts through a broad swath of culinary landscapes, teasing diverse influences left and right. Rooted in the familiar, Leahy’s tapas still draw on continental inspirations aplenty—be they French (Provençal duck confit with beluga lentils, celery salad and poultry jus), Thai (raw vegetable salad with soy-lime dressing and peanuts), German (an iteration of steak tartare), Italian (ricotta gnocchi with roasted mushrooms in Parmesan broth) or Latin (albondigas soup with smoked almond romesco)—while capturing the European spirit of small plates-sharing with every course.

All can be enjoyed at the subway tile-clad bar, the handsome high-top tables or the leather banquettes lining the sunlit dining room—part of the cavernous, yet intimate, interiors by Square Feet Studio (Miller Union, Abattoir, The General Muir), which referenced archival images of salt production for inspiration.

As such, eye-pleasing contrasts range from moody gray to ivory to warm brass, replete with beautiful textures like reclaimed wood, salt jar-topped Skylar Morgan tables and exposed rafters with a cacophonous din of voices wafting through them.

All things considered, you’ll probably want to linger for a drink or two; the classic-but-kitschy cocktails are mixed by a fixture of the neighborhood, Mike May, who pours them strong and sweet. And the lengthy wine list is an adventure unto itself. Mostly domestic selections soar to more than 100 options, 20 of which are available by the glass. A few choice ports and an ice wine make divine dessert pairings. With options like the Meyer lemon polenta cake with honey ice cream, and pistachio semifreddo with chocolate and cherries, you’ll definitely want any saltiness dolloped with a sweet finish.

1820 Peachtree Road NW

Hours: Mon.-Thu. 5-10pm; Fri.-Sat. 5-11pm; Sun. 6-9pm

Small plates: $6-$9; entrees: $17-$19; desserts: $6