For those that live in or frequent East Cobb (Roswell/Marietta/Sandy Springs Border) most know it’s a vast wasteland of chain restaurant hell; there are a few decent places but none that get people excited about dining out. This past fall Seed opened in the Merchant’s Walk shopping center and changed all that by bringing much needed relief to food lovers in the burbs.
If you didn’t know this place was OTP (and in a strip mall, albeit a really nice and upscale one) and just awoke in the restaurant you would swear this had to be a restaurant in Buckhead or Midtown. When you walk in the doors you immediately notice the open space, high ceilings, blond wood floors and open kitchen that let you know this is definitely something different. Chef/owner Doug Turbush cut his teeth locally at both Nava and Bluepointe, where he served as executive chef and he brings both of those experiences and meshes them with his take on American cuisine.
The menu has some pretty interesting options like a shrimp sambal appetizer, which is a small dish of plumb shrimp severed in a slightly spicy chili-vinegar sauce with scallions and cucumber.
Other small plates, or Tastes as Seed calls them, sampled were the pimento crostinis and the calamari. The calamari were definitely a step up from what most restaurants serve, crispy and fresh; the fried basil and peppers were also a nice touch to go along with a pretty solid ginger-yuzu emulsion. The house made pimento cheese served on rugged bread with salty Benton’s ham and sweet apples however was really good and was definitely my favorite. They also have an Asian pork belly plate and a butcher block of charcuterie that may be worth checking out on my next visit.
The rest of the menu is broken up into steaks, sandwiches, and “plates” which are your traditional entrees. On the first visit we tried the Seared Scottish Salmon, dry aged – bone in strip and a play on shrimp and grits with a Latin twist that is no longer on the menu. The Salmon was perfectly cooked and had tons of flavor from the seasoning and the sweet cranberry chutney with spiced walnuts. It was served over creamy goat cheese couscous that had a hint of smoke; all in all it was a pretty successful dish that had a lot going on that could have gone wrong.
The steak was fine, but who comes to a place like this and orders a steak anyway; most higher end restaurants have to keep them on the menu for the un-adventuresome among us. The steaks at Seed are fine, but that’s not what this place is about…so no picture. The shrimp dish however seemed really interesting from its list of components on the menu: serrano shrimp/smoky bacon/poached egg. Nowhere did it mention it was shrimp and grits, or I probably wouldn’t have ordered it; the bacon and egg were awesome, but the shrimp were too charred and I didn’t get any Serrano pepper flavor, or spice at all for that matter. I wonder if that’s why it was replaced with a grilled shrimp adobo dish with crispy polenta?
My next visit was for lunch; the menu was pretty similar with a few more sandwiches thrown in and some mains removed, but for the most part it’s the same. The restaurant felt much more laid back and much less quieter than the dinner service, which at times was a little too loud…but that’s what you get when you get a “few” drinks in folks; I actually preferred it. The food was again very good and we decided to stick to the sandwich offerings to get a better picture of their lunch. First up was the Spicy Asian Fish Sandwich, which was grilled flounder with sweet onion marmalade and sriracha…they had me at sriracha; it was amazing. The fish was flaky and moist and the heat was perfectly balanced with the marmalade and the cilantro. I’m not sure if the bread was made in house, but the ciabatta roll it was served on was flaky and soft at the same time and performed admirably as a vehicle to soak up all the tasty sauce….this was the best sandwich I have had in a long time. I’m not sure if it was the sandwich or the 2 glasses of wine, but I was feeling right!
Not to get too far off track, but it should be mentioned that their wine list is also above average and contains some great values on medium priced wines you can’t find on most lists (see Paul Hobbs cab for $63 and The Prisoner for $60); they also have 28 wines by the glass, and most of them aren’t crap! Back to the food…our last selection was The Merchant Burger served with caramelized onions (similar to 5 Napkin) and their “special sauce”. The burger was cooked perfectly medium rare and was so juicy that I literally had juice running down my fingers and I went through two napkins; again this was one of the better burgers I have had in while. I’m not sure what’s all in the sauce, but it was amazing and I asked for an extra roll to soak up the remainder from my plate…obviously my South Beach diet resolution took a hit.