After almost a full week of not traveling for work and steadily eating down my grocery cache, I was going a little stir-crazy and wanted to get out of the house and eat some food. Foodie Buddha said he was up for some lunch, so I tried to think of somewhere I had not been before. I was going to try to Joel bistro lunch but decided to hit up the new restaurant Livingston, across from the Fox Theater.
It was nice enough to sit outside, so I’ll take that while I can get it in Atlanta.
The lunch menu features a 3 martini lunch for $15, offering an impressive looking list of soups, small appetizers, and desserts. Both of us went for the 3 martini lunch, and ordered the oysters gratin to start.
The oysters were impressively presented in a large boat over rock salt, peppercorns, and star anise. The oysters themselves looked badass too. In general, I only like raw oysters. I think the whole point is that a fresh, firm, salty oyster tastes more like the ocean than anything else you can eat, but I do make exceptions when there is bacon, butter, or cheese involved.
These oysters were fairly large, cooked with loads of butter, plenty of spinach, and just a bit of bacon. You can see from the color they were cooked perfectly – not dry, not soggy, and I thought they were delicious. I wish they had given us six oysters instead of five so I didn’t have to arm-wrestle Buddha for the last one.
Shortly after, our “martini” lunch arrived. They were in sans-stem martini glasses, served on the same style of plate as the oysters. The problem is, that plate is too large for the place mat, so before the server could set anything down we had to perform a slight reconfiguration. In fact, the place mats didn’t really fit the table either. But, I don’t get too hung up on stuff like that as long as the food is good.
On that note, the firecracker shrimp had just a slight hint of the mustard that was said to be in the dish, but too faint in my opinion. The shrimp tasted like fried shrimp do, they were fried the proper amount, but they were served lukewarm and were cold by the time I finished them. They were served on top of chopped lettuce to help fill up the volume of the glass. This was no problem for me, but when FB was trying to eat his tuna tartare the tuna got all mixed up in the chopped lettuce and I could tell it was annoying him as it made it difficult to eat.
The pea soup, for which I was most excited, just didn’t do it for me. It tasted fresh, the mint and nuts were a nice touch, but it tasted a bit flat and needed more seasoning. Maybe some people would appreciate the simplicity of the unseasoned approach?
The duck croquette was a bright spot in the meal – you could taste the savory duck, it was crispy and delicious, and I liked the small amount of sweet potato puree. But doesn’t it look ridiculous in that glass?
Like I said, I usually don’t get hung up on the presentation thing, but this time it was a real hassle. The place mats are too small for the table, the boat plate is too small for the place mat, and the martini glasses are too large for the dishes. Also, while in theory I like the pick 3 approach, and $15 isn’t bad for a restaurant of this caliber (service was excellent by the way), I left hungry and slightly unimpressed with the oversight on these small details.
However, I do plan on going back. The oysters rocked. Overall everything else wasn’t bad, just not “gee I’m happy I spent $30 on lunch” good. I’ve heard great things about dinner and I’m really interested in trying the rabbit. But if you go for lunch, I’d just stick to the regular portion of the lunch menu.