The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Chequers; not Checkers.

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on November 22, 2009

The last time I came to Atlanta, one night we went to Chequers in Perimeter.  It was right around the corner from our hotel (Marriott Perimiter), and so we popped over one evening for a quick meal.  We were a little surprised at how nice it was, and almost felt a little underdressed in business casual attire, as most patrons seemed to have sports jackets on.  The maitre’d, however, was gracious and gave us a nice quiet table in a corner.  We actually suspected that he perhaps thought more was going on between my 66 year-old, male co-worker and I than “just dinner,” but we appreciated the friendly gesture of not parading us through the restaurant.   The food that night was as pleasant as the experience.

On this trip to Atlanta, I decided I should make it a point to go back and give it another try.  This time, however, I would go for lunch, since the last time I had a sense of sticker shock.  The restaurant wasn’t tremendously expensive, but for a I was looking for something a little more casual, and the service and prices that came with casual dining, and I got something far more formal, and the service and prices that come with formality.

So I invited some clients to lunch there.  At first I got a puzzled look, as they had never heard of the quiet restaurant tucked near the Perimeter Mall, across the street from the Dunwoody MARTA stop.  I said, “Trust me, you’ll love it.” and they put their skepticism aside.   That actually concerned me, as I had just put my reputation on the line, but I hadn’t checked to see that they even SERVED lunch.

I was in luck.  They had a great lunch menu, actually, with several kinds of options.  I know I’m lacking some photos here, but it was really overcast, and I wanted to get a nice shot of the entrance of the restaurant.  I decided I would come back on a nicer day, but just didn’t make it.  I simply forgot to take a shot of the menu.

The meal starts with a biscuit that comes, not from a basket, but from a tray, hand-served by the server with tongs.  The butter has both honey and cinnamon (at least, I think our consensus was cinnamon; it was just a hint).  The biscuits are kind of what you’d expect from a gourmet restaurant.  They were perfectly crunchy and yet tender.   My clients definitely gave me a look when I pulled out my camera to take a picture.  I explained the blog, and like so many others, they seemed intrigued and fascinated.

A quick note on service at Chequers.  The service really is what puts this restaurant above many others.  Our waiter, who’s name I tried to get the spelling of several times, was friendly and knowledgeable.  He took great care of us throughout the meal.  Beyond him, however, the server for the biscuits was attentive with a smile.  I never wanted for water during the meal, as some server came by and topped me off every time I got to the halfway mark in my glass.  There was the air of formality with the service, which generally turns me off, but I was otherwise won over by the attentiveness and helpfulness of the wait staff.

While there were plenty of options on the menu that impressed me, I ordered the chipotle grille shrimp enchiladas and a house salad.

I love a salad with feta and pine nuts.  I’m a big fan of tomatoes of all kinds.  I thought the salad would be perfect.  I was, actually, sorely disappointed.  The salad was “meh.”  It was fine, and I was in desperate need of greens for the week, but it lacked a certain punch that I expect from a salad with great ingredients.  Really what it was, was that in an effort to add a “subtle hint of”, and “just a taste of”, the entire salad became bland.  The tomatoes weren’t very flavorful, and I understand it’s Nov, but they still lacked real acidic richness.  The dressing added just enough to take away from the texture of the salad, but really provided no additional flavor.  Really, the only ingredient that really made an impact was the figs that weren’t even listed on the menu.  At least, I think they were figs.  Bottom line, it really couldn’t touch a Brixx salad.

The enchilada, however, more than made up for the crumminess of the salad.  The shrimp were perfectly grilled.  The enchilada had plenty of body to hold itself together while I ate it with a knife and fork.  The sauce on top was “just a hint”, but had plenty of smoky, chipotle flavor.  The ingredients were clearly fresh, and brought together in a wonderful symphony of taste.

You know we love our mac and cheese, and I was really enticed by the lobster mac and cheese, but I didn’t really want something quite that heavy.  Fortunately, my client ordered it, and so I got both a picture and a taste.

The picture really didn’t do it justice.  And, like any fine mac and cheese, it was made with cavatappi.  I’m sure when the Wife and I make it there, she’ll indulge in it.

Chequers is a nice restaurant with great service and generally great food.  Avoid the house salad, and try one of their other wonderful-looking salads (and tell us what you thought!).  The lunch menu has reasonable prices and great options, but I can also say the dinner menu has spectacular options, with less-reasonable prices for a nice night out.

Chequers Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

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