Nestled among the lush landscapes of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Linton’s made its official debut on April 28 — just in time for the opening of “Chihuly in the Garden,” which features more than 20 colorful sculptural installations of free-blown glassworks by acclaimed Seattle artist Dale Chihuly.
The full-service restaurant and quick cafe from James Beard Award-winning Atlanta chef/restaurateur Linton Hopkins and executive chef Jason Paolini is housed in a two-story contemporary glass-and-stone structure that includes indoor, patio and rooftop seating with Atlanta Botanical Garden views. And an exclusive collection of Chihuly drawings adorns the walls of the main dining room.
On a sunny afternoon last week, Chihuly was lunching at Linton’s, while Paolini was settling into his first full day of service, amid a palpable sense of new restaurant excitement.
“When the (Atlanta Botanical Garden) reached out to us to be a part of putting a restaurant here, obviously we immediately said yes, just thinking what it would be like to be in this beautiful setting in an urban environment,” Paolini said. “And as we began to conceptualize the restaurant, what we quickly realized was that we needed to be a part of the experience here in the garden.
“We’re serving people who want to come and have a fine dining meal and also people who just want to have a sandwich and a cup of coffee. With the patio and rooftop, it’s a great place to just sit back and have a glass of wine and a local charcuterie plate.”
In terms of the lunch and dinner menus in the dining room, Paolini explained that they were designed with the surroundings in mind, but also take in a range of Southern, French, Italian and Spanish cuisine.
“As you can see, it’s a very open concept that looks out to the garden, so you’re always going to have a beautiful view,” Paolini said. “We want the food to be as beautiful as the environment. The way that we plate is always going to be artful.
“We’re in an environment that changes monthly, with flowers and vegetation and exhibits, so we want to highlight those seasons. Opening in the spring, we have some of the most beautiful vegetables, and the menu reflects that with things like asparagus, peas and strawberries.”
Among the bright seasonal dishes on the menu right now, there’s an asparagus salad with shaved country ham, salt-roasted beets, belle chevre and watercress, and a chilled English pea puree with crawfish, citrus, tarragon and sunchoke chips.
“You can walk through the edible garden here and see what’s in season there and then see it on our menu and on the plate in the restaurant. It’s all right there,” Paolini said. “We walk through and pick flowers and blossoms for garnish, and we’ll forage for wild edible greens. It’s just very inspiring to see something growing and then think about the dish we’re doing with it.”
Here are a few more glimpses of Linton’s.