The bar is set high for expectations when visiting The Spence for the first time. It’s remained a top pick for Atlanta since it opened, and is owned by Top Chef winner Richard Blais. It’s often crowded, with a quasi urban crowd typical to Midtown Atlanta.
It’s noisy when we arrive and we’re seated quickly.
The restaurant has clean lines and is open enough to view the entire area. The kitchen is impressively compact and visible, as is the bar area with floating shelves. Our server arrives and describes the menu in lengthy detail, as if he’s run through this routine often. He’s excited about the buzz tonight, Richard Blais is in attendance and can be seen in the kitchen providing instruction to the cooks.
Cocktails are ordered and are original and tasty. The March Hare was a crowd pleaser with the oversized black tea ice cube in the center and it’s slightly sweet finish. The bartender had no problem with special orders and the staff was attentive. The server recommended sharing many of the small plates and online reviews seem to support this as a favored choice. Highlights were the roasted bone marrow filled with tuna tartare and quail eggs. The juicy lucy burger was properly executed and delicious. The fried brussel sprouts in a Thai vinaigrette created a wonderful balance between sweet and savory. The fried sea creatures with uni tartar sauce were far from being as exotic as they sounded.
Overall the food at The Spence is worth visiting for, however can be a little over the top. There is only so much excitement one can muster up for nitrogen frozen items. While the dishes are creative, sometimes beauty is found in simplicity.