Picking a restaurant for a one-on-one dinner is usually pretty simple. You make a couple suggestions, they pick a preference, and you’re done. But there are other times when it gets more complicated - like a third date or when you’re getting notes on your sequel script to The Emoji Movie. The same goes for having dinner with your boss. The good news is, you don’t have to overthink this. You can just take them to Cooks & Soldiers instead.
Cooks & Soldiers is a West Midtown spot that serves food from Basque Country in Northern Spain. It’s from the people behind The Iberian Pig and Bar Mercado, both of which are great in their own way, but neither of which is quite as impressive as this restaurant. With lots of wood and metal, a bright tile floor, and ham hanging from the ceiling, this place feels like a famous matador’s bachelor pad, but with better food and without anyone wearing a montera on their head. It’s high-end enough that your boss will be impressed, but casual enough that the night won’t feel too formal, and that’s important considering he or she just started calling you by the correct name.
While there are plenty of booths and tables to choose from, the bar is where you should be sitting here. It’s a little louder than the rest of the restaurant, but it gives you direct access to the bartenders (who can educate you on Basque wine and cider) and allows you to watch as various pintxos (the Basque version of tapas) and freshly sliced jamon are prepared in front of you.
The menu here is split into three sections: toasts, small plates, and larger dishes from the grill. Considering you can’t really go wrong here, you could easily spend the entire evening just drinking wine and ordering items from the toasts section, like the mushrooms and goat cheese or foie gras ganache, and you’d leave happy. But the small plates are the most interesting part of the menu, and where you should spend the most time. Dishes like the braised veal cheek, octopus with sausage and chickpeas, and the Bikini - their take on a ham and cheese with jamon Iberico, black truffle, and Wonder Bread - are all excellent. Beyond that, the Chuleton (a giant, bone-in ribeye) is the highlight of the grilled section and one of the best steaks you can get in Atlanta.
There are plenty of more formal and expensive restaurants than Cooks & Soldiers - and if that’s all you’re worried about, then take your boss or whoever else to one of those. But if you want to eat somewhere cool where you can learn about their secret obsession with Shel Silverstein over some wine and interesting small plates, bring them to Cooks & Soldiers.
This toast involves coal-roasted mushrooms, black truffle, and a goat cheese and creme fraiche spread. If you’re the person who takes mushrooms off their pizza, this is not the dish for you. For everyone else though, make sure to order this for the table.
This small plate comes with sausage, chickpeas, and smoked eggplant, and is one of the best things on the menu - especially if you really like octopus.
If there’s one dish you’ve heard about at Cooks & Soldiers, it’s this ham, truffle, and cheese sandwich. Conveniently, it’s also the one you could most easily make at home - assuming you’re a cartoon villain with a long mustache who just happens to keep his pantry stocked with black truffles.
These croissants are filled with Basque chorizo and topped with a maple glaze, and are basically the adult version of pigs in a blanket. Three come to an order and everyone you’re with is going to want at least one.
This is the dessert to order. It’s a Basque cake filled with vanilla cream and tart cherry preserves, and will go very well with whatever glass of wine you get after dinner.