Known as Atlanta Grill since 1999, but recently reimagined and reopened as AG, the restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta has a new look. And new menus from chef Joshua Fryer blend steakhouse classics with Southern flavors.
The remodeled second-floor space has been given a sleeker, more modern feel. And the two private dining rooms have been updated as the Kitchen and the Distillery, with corresponding culinary and beverage themes.
Fulfilling the needs of the guests at a luxury hotel, AG still serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. But Fryer is focusing the menus to offer more house-made items, including preserves and a signature steak sauce, and seasonal ingredients from local and regional producers.
Fryer grew up in West Virginia, and came to the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta after five years at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee.
“I really fell in love with the Atlanta food scene,” Fryer said recently during a tasting at the Kitchen. “There are so many smaller farms and purveyors to source from, and we’re trying to support farms and local businesses, as much as we can.
“It’s a challenge, trying to build breakfast through dinner menus, while still maintaining some crossover in the products. So the hoecakes that we offer on the breakfast menu, we use that same corn for the creamed corn at night. That way, product is coming in and we’re using it more frequently, so we’re keeping everything as fresh as possible.”
Some of Fryer’s favorites from the new menu include Pig and Grits, with Geechie Boy Mill pimento cheese, thick-sliced Benton’s bacon and poached eggs. Enchanted Springs Trout from North Georgia is currently plated with pole beans, summer squash and blistered tomatoes, but the sides will change seasonally. A house-smoked brisket sandwich is topped with pickled red onions and house barbecue sauce.
On the steakhouse side, there’s a huge 48-ounce Tomahawk Ribeye for sharing that’s carved tableside on a wooden board. “That’s the big boy,” Fryer said. “It’s the rib bone, which is about a foot long, and it’s attached to the rib-eye.”
Other tableside presentations include Baked Alaska that’s dramatically torched with 151 dark rum, and a signature Whistle Pig Smoky Old Fashioned that’s served in a hickory-smoked glass.
Fryer admitted that the life of a restaurant chef can be hectic, but he said it also has its rewards.
“It can be difficult at times, and it’s hard to keep your head straight sometimes,” he said, “because the operation runs from 6:30 in the morning until 10 o’clock at night, so it’s a long day.
“But the challenge is fun. You never know what you’re going to run into or who’s going to walk through the door. With our location, we have a lot of foot traffic, and people coming in from all over at any time of the day.”
As far as his overall cooking style, Fryer said it’s based on simplicity but also knowing when a dish calls for more.
“It’s a couple of things,” he said. “I truly believe that the less ingredients you use, the better. It’s almost minimalist cooking and showcasing the products. But in some areas, I like to be a little adventurous, taking things that have already been done and elevating them in some way.”
Scroll down to get a taste of what to expect at AG Steak: