Very few things in this world have universal appeal. Kermit the Frog, clean sheets, and videos of baby animals falling asleep all come close, but even newborn sloths don’t get an automatic pass. And when it comes to restaurants, the same rule applies. Occasionally though, one comes along that everyone loves - from the cool 23-year-old in your office to your uncle who just asked you how to “post a Yelp.” In Atlanta, that place is Staplehouse.
The first thing you notice when you walk into this Old Fourth Ward restaurant is how it feels more like a house from Architectural Digest than the city’s best restaurant. Located in a former firehouse, Staplehouse has an open kitchen that leads right into the dining room and bar area, which creates the sense that you’re sitting down in someone’s home - albeit a very well-designed one. And while most of the nice spots in Atlanta have strict dress codes, here you can wear whatever you want - from your go-to wedding outfit to whatever you would to your favorite bar.
In addition to the atmosphere, the format of the meal is what separates Staplehouse from everywhere else in the city. The dishes start arriving as soon as you sit down, and not only is there no real theme to the 13-course, prix-fixe menu, but most of the food isn’t even immediately recognizable. For example, a plate of king crab, bamboo, and dill is served tucked underneath a thin sheet of solidified broth that literally melts in your mouth. It’s like eating soup, but without actually eating any soup, and knowing that it’s way better than soup could ever be.
Whether it’s a lettuce salad or a chicken liver tart, each dish looks like it was meticulously sculpted or painted under a magnifying glass. It’s the kind of food that’ll make you want to buy a pair of kitchen tweezers to start using at home, and wonder if the flowers growing on your patio will taste as good as the ones Staplehouse uses.
Of course, a meal at Staplehouse is even more satisfying because of what it takes to lock down a table. They open their reservations at noon on the second Friday of every month for the next month’s bookings, meaning you’ll need to set an alarm on your phone and spend your time writing out A Beautiful Mind-style formulas on your bedroom window to figure out how to ensure you get a table. You can also try the first-come, first-served bar, where they offer the full tasting menu, or have a drink and snack in the backyard. You won’t be unhappy with either of these, but they’re the cliffs notes versions of Staplehouse rather than the whole story, and if you’re going to come here, you should wait for the full experience.
A meal at Staplehouse requires planning, determination, and a willingness to spend $105 (not including drinks) without knowing what you’re actually going to be eating. But the quality of the food and element of surprise are what make a trip here worth the hassle, and just like the movie Toy Story, you’re going to enjoy every second of it.
This is basically soup, but the broth has turned into a clear, semi-solid igloo that keeps the rest of the ingredients safe from the elements. Everything comes together in one bite and it’ll make you question if all soup should be served in igloo form.
This dish is the food equivalent of when your older sister built a mountain of leaves on top of you in the front yard. Except in this case, the leaves are various lettuces and you’re actually some nicely-cooked swordfish.
Potatoes, you had a good run and we’ll always remember the multiple decades we spent with you as our favorite vegetables. But in a surprise upset, asparagus has taken that honor away from you with this course.
This tiny slice of chicken liver tart is covered in flowers and looks like it was solely created to have its picture taken. However, it’s also really delicious.
While using 14-year-old ingredients for anything else on the menu would be mildly frightening, these small rolls are made with a 14-year-old yeast starter, and might be the best thing on the menu.
Strawberry and mint with crispy things and butter cake makes this not-very-rich dessert something you’ll want nine more of.