Having opened in 1967, this high-perched, rotating Polaris restaurant has been an Atlanta landmark for more than four decades. Sitting above the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the dome- shaped establishment completes one full rotation every 45 minutes, providing its visitors with a beautiful 360-degree view of Atlanta while they eat. Although the restaurant draws upon its origins with a 1960s style decor, it has successfully rebranded itself as a modern and chic destination for dining in Atlanta.
The second I walked through the door of the 29th floor, I was handed the signature cocktail of Polaris, a peach daiquiri. Being from Georgia, I love all things peach flavored, and this cocktail was no exception. With my daiquiri in hand, I then went on a full circle tour of the restaurant. It is set up like a home, with four different sections or “rooms.” There is the living room, the dining room, the library, and my personal favorite, the kitchen. The idea is unique, and the rooms serve to create a welcoming, homey atmosphere. The kitchen is open to make you feel like you are at a dinner party in someone’s home rather than at a fancy restaurant in downtown Atlanta. The downside to this, however, is that there isn’t much space for big groups. There are only a few tables spread out around the restaurant where one can have a sit-down meal. Although not the best set-up if you want to have a nice dinner with a large group of friends, it can be the perfect destination for an intimate romantic evening with a view.
A variety of appetizer and entree dishes was served as a preview of the restaurant menu, which changes every fortnight. On my first go-round, I grabbed a dish that consisted of Good Lady Sandy Creek goat cheese, tasso ham, micro radishes, and fresh plums. I also tried the spotted trotter duck pate with red wine braised shallots and a basil crisp cup, as well as a rabbit crepinette with wild leeks and morel risotto. Of these three, my favorite was definitely the goat cheese plate. The combination of the cheese, ham, and plums was very refreshing and perfect for a warm, summer day. I was not as much of a fan of the other two dishes. To be fair, it was my first time trying either duck pate or rabbit, so perhaps a more experienced foodie.
Another dish that I was able to try for the first time was gazpacho. And unlike the rabbit and duck dishes, I was much luckier this time around. Three different kinds were served; a strawberry, a cucumber, and a more traditional yellow tomato variety. Each one tasted like a cold, flavored soup with a slight spicy kick. Although my favorite was the strawberry, due to its sweetness, I thoroughly enjoyed all three. Any one of them would make a great summer appetizer.
The two entree dishes consisted of steak oscar with crab, asparagus, hollondaise, and tarragon, and a red porgy with pickled vegetables and finger lime caviar. Despite it being possibly the least exotic meal on the menu, the steak oscar was mouth-watering and the components came together perfectly to create a succulent dish. The red porgy dish was just as enjoyable. The fish was paired with black rice that had a sweet taste, and drizzled with the citrus caviar of finger lime, enhancing the flavors as well as visual appeal of the dish.
What intrigued me most about the restaurant was its dedication to using locally grown ingredients. As the executive chef Martin Pfefferkorn explained, the restaurant uses as many ingredients from Georgia and the surrounding states that it can. He even started his own vegetable garden on the roof of the hotel. Every dish incorporates at least one ingredient from this roof garden, which can be seen from the Polaris. All of the fish served is line-caught, minimizing environmental impact. Because of this dedication to what is fresh and local ingredients, the chef has to reinvent the menu every two weeks. While this may excite some people, it could be disappointing for others who find a dish that they love. Personally, I think that the freshness of the ingredients and the support the restaurant gives to local farmers is worth having to search for something new to eat every time.
Overall, I had a great experience trying out the newly redone Polaris. The food was great, the view was gorgeous, and I loved the chic style with a little bit of throwback mixed in. With its updated menu, fresh ingredients, and home-style atmosphere, I think the new Polaris could become just as much of as an icon as the old ones.
~ By Allie Williams, marketing and communications intern at Go Eat Give. Allie was invited to preview the new Polaris for lunch earlier this week.