Southern cooking is so much more than the barbecue and fried chicken that tends to dominate the image of a Georgia kitchen. With a warm climate, the south has an abundance of fresh vegetables available year-round. Both chefs and diners alike have begun to really embrace this cornucopia of locally grown produce. Whether you are one of those that think that kale is the new bacon, or someone who just needs a break from the constant presence of barbecue in town, there are plenty of options for veggie lovers in town.
Aviva by Kameel
225 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30303; (404) 698-3600, www.avivabykameel.com
Food courts are not generally where one goes to find great veggies, but Kameel Srouji throws that expectation right out of the window. As the owner and operator of Aviva by Kameel in the Peachtree Center food court, he is known far and wide and is quick with an ‘I love you.’ His food reflects that. His veggie plate is loaded with classic meze versions of hummus, baba ghanoush, eggplant ratatouille and quinoa.
99 Krog St NE, Atlanta, GA 30307; (470) 428-2733, http://thecockentrice.com/
Can you really find a veggie plate at a restaurant run by a butcher? Kevin Ouzts proves the answer to that is a resounding yes. Calling their version a “Study in Vegetables”, the plate is based on whatever looks good at that day’s farmer’s market. The plate is served with an order of pork belly corn bread. Examples have included barbecue-smoked pastrami baby carrots, broccoli and sunflower seed risotto and hot Brussels sprouts with drunken white raisins.
1077 Juniper St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309; (404) 876-7925, http://einsteinsatlanta.com/
Now, seeing as this is Georgia, it’s completely acceptable to have mac ‘n cheese as a vegetable. Midtown eatery Einstein’s offers a way to be indulgent with your veggie options. They give guests an option to build their own vegetable plate with a choice of four of their sides. Think edamame succotash, roasted mushrooms, grilled asparagus, and yes, a smoked pimento mac ‘n cheese.
999 Brady Ave NW, Atlanta, GA 30318; (678) 733-8550, www.millerunion.com
Steven Satterfield is like the vegetable whisperer of Atlanta. At his West Side restaurant Miller Union, he takes everything seasonal and fresh and creates a meal as beautiful as it is tasty. His vegetable plate changes daily, and is based on whatever is coming in from the farms. Summer will bring heirloom tomatoes, winter will find him working magic with beets and greens. Be sure to ask for wine recommendations, as their cellar is one of the most impressive in town. If you want to duplicate any of chef Satterfield's dishes, he has released a vegetable-forward cookbook, "Root to Leaf". Read our review here.
Table & Main
1028 Canton St, Roswell, GA 30075; (678) 869-5178, www.tableandmain.com/
Long known as a haven for fried chicken and bourbon lovers, this Roswell gem shows that there is more to Southern cuisine than deep fried meat. A rotating variety of veggies is presented with the same care as any other entrée on the menu. Past options have included blistered shishito peppers, grilled eggplant, pickled vegetables, and cucumber tomato salad.
True Food Kitchen
3393 Peachtree Rd, Atlanta, GA 30326; (404) 481-2980, www.truefoodkitchen.com/locations/atlanta/
True Food Kitchen is an oasis for anyone wishing to have a lighter option around Lenox Mall, and not feel cheated with the arrival of a single piece of lettuce. The menu is based on an anti-inflammatory diet, and it’s full of heathy options. Their version of a veggie plate is not exactly a plate, but more of a bowl overflowing with raw, seasonal veggies. The crudité comes with two dips, tzatziki & black olive.