Here is a bundle of concepts to wrap around. And Buckhead is the right place to pull it off. Just weeks ago, The Burgess Hotel, formerly a Wingate by Wyndham, morphed into a magnificent butterfly with spectacular interior design and the culinary talent of experienced chef Daniel Porubiansky.
The hotel, with 102 rooms and themed suites, owned by Burges and Freny Jokhi, went for top notch interior design with an Asian flare, found objects and uniqueness that could be from a movie set in Thailand or Namibia that ended up in Nepal. Thus, the backdrop is a display of photos, artifacts as a tribute to Freny’s father, who led the first Indian expedition to Mount Everest.
But ahhh, the food inside. Fia (Latin for low fire), seats 68 and focuses on the open kitchen and wood-fired grill. Billed as coastal Mediterranean, Fia is open seven days a week and serves three meals a day. Chef Porubiansky brought his experience from Seeger’s and Bacchanalia to the forefront. Checkerboard wood-blocked tables are graced appropriately with Rosenthal Brilliance premier bone china, Fleurs des Alpes.
We dove into the Wedge Salad ($12) with tomato puree, blue cheese mousse and cracked coriander. The creamy ribboned mousse was a nice departure from the traditional bleu cheese crumbles. The Field Greens Mix salad was a standout with dilly beans, golden and red beets, large shaved radishes, cardamom and a zingy tingly local honey vinaigrette.
For entrees we had the highly touted Grilled Whole Branzino ($28) with soft herbs and artistically shaved fennel citrus salad. It was properly deboned, but the head and tail were intact as well they should be. The other entrée, slightly out of the box, was Blue Ridge Farm Cauliflower Steak ($18). There it was: the whole snow-white head grilled just like it was sirloin, sitting atop a rich saffron risotto and micro amaranth, reddish elliptical greens known for being mild and sweet. The cauliflower was firm enough to be called “meaty.”
A real plate-stealer was a shareable side of crispy Brussels sprouts with chili and maple pear gastrique (caramelized sugar deglazed with vinegar used for flavoring sauces). Brussels sprouts find themselves roasted, seared or steamed on everyone’s nouveau menu; this preparation was especially full-flavored and speckled with croutons. Plenty for two, with leftovers.
The other shareable sides all screamed “yum:” grilled mushrooms with herbs and lemon, heirloom carrots with Georgia honey, fingerling potatoes with melted leeks, chives and grated parmesan. The citrus broccolini looked mighty fine.
Desserts were Cream Caramel with strawberry compote and candied orange zest, which was light, but not memorable. The raspberry and chocolate of the Gelato Sorbet Tasting stood out. Next time, we would opt for the Toffee Trifle mint sponge cake with blood orange jam and the Milk Chocolate Cream Puff with hazelnut and sumac. All desserts are $10.
Also next visit to Fia: Wood-fired Hummus charred with sweet onion and toasted pine nuts, Ahi Tuna Tartare with trout row, avocado, chili oil, followed by Pan Seared Gnocchi, white truffles and loud mouth mushrooms, and Faroe Island Salmon over sweet potato puree. The Faroe Islands are known for their pristine archipelago waters off Denmark.
Bottom line: Atlantans are not known for loyalty for source dining at hotels. This should be the exception: easy to access (free valet just feet from the lobby), and the hotel is a National Geographic staycation. The regular hotel rooms have a lush royal blue velvet seating entry area and fine appointments. Ask for a tour of the themed suites with curated natural surfaces such as wood grains, exotic tile patterns, elaborate brocades and hissing dragons. Conjure up a dream sitting in the library. The Mr. B. Bar, which seats 60 and serves the same menu as Fia is making a mark with its creative cocktails. (So named for Freny’s father, the mountain climber Keki Bunshah). A special venue not to be missed. A fun twist is that hotel General Manager Gerson Velasquez and owner Burges Jokhi were on hand Saturday night when we visited waiting tables!
Fia Restaurant in The Burgess Hotel is located at 3600 Piedmont Road near the intersection of Roswell Road.