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Empire state south vs Spence? With kids

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  • mlin1 May 10, 2013 06:37 PM
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Hi all! My family and I will be in Atlanta for two days. We are from Austin, and staying with car at the Hilton suites near perimeter mall. My daughter is 4, and well behaved. We dont need a kids menu. I am thinking of ESS vs the Spence, and wonder if anyone has any recs for one vs the other? We may have lunch at Flip burger but would not mind repeating a Blais restaurant if worthwhile. How do they compare for food and service? Thanks!

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  1. ESS all the way. While The Spence is good, ESS is much better. Having the 4yr old at either restaurant would not be a problem.

    1. I second that. ESS is far better, in service and food. ESS is also great for lunch if you want to open up a spot for dinner, but dinner is outstanding as well. The Spence, well some dishes were great, others were meh. As for service. the sommelier was great, but our server was meh.

      I would also recommend The Optimist, 4th and Swift, Rathbun's or Rathbun Steak. (I would avoid KR steakbar, Rathbun's newest restaurant, for now since IMHO they are still working the kinks out.)

      I also love Woodfire Grill, but I haven't been since Kevin Gillespie left, so I can't comment on the new chef.

      If I had only I short time in ATL, I would not waste a slot on Flip. Its good, but there are better lunches to be had. And don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Blais or his restaurants, I'm looking forward to giving the Spence another shot once it matures a bit.

      1. Although an avid fan of The Spence, I also have to agree that ESS is in a category by itself - it's completely different, both in food and service. As far as lunch - there are many, many options, and it all depends on what you're looking for. I will also caution (echoing Jacque536) that Woodfire Grill did get stuffy after Kevin Gillespie left.

        1. Now it looks like our Friday dinner at ESS has to be canceled due to wedding related activities and that only leaves one Saturday lunch. Since ESS is closed Saturday we are looking for suggestions. We will be at the Georgia aquarium (with a car) in the morning. Any lunch recs besides Flip burger?

          3 Replies
          1. re: mlin1

            Antico Pizza, Yeah Burger, Der Biergarten are all very serviceable, with Antico being excellent. There are tons of places down near the Aquarium but nothing within walking distance.

            1. re: samlev

              I second antico! And you have a much better shot of getting a seat at lunch (dinner, esp. on the weekends, gets very crowded). Plus it is BYOB.

              For another lunch choice even closer to the aquarium (although you still need to drive) try No Mas Cantina. Good mexican (a good mix of gringo favorites and some authentic dishes and great margaritas). Plus they have a store next door (not a gift shop the way you would think of a gift shop, but more of an eporium with a lot of cool home decor stuff, jewelry, you name it).

            2. re: mlin1

              We had a very good lunch at JCT Kitchen on a Saturday earlier this year. It's a very nice but not outrageously expensive meal for lunch.