Can a high end steak house succeed in little old Roswell…that’s the question a lot of folks are asking; judging by the crowds and hard to get prime time reservations, the first few weeks seem promising!
Aside from various cuts of both wet and dry aged steaks (all sourced from Linz Meats in Chicago – props) they offer various sides, salads, fish, pork chops and even a pasta dish; if you order any of these and not a steak you’re a fool and should be shown the door. We started out with the carpaccio and the duck confit w/ bing cherry gastrique from their interesting house-made pots menu. The carpaccio was good; well-seasoned and I loved the fried capers. My only complaint was the overpowering horseradish sauce; it took a little away from the delicateness of the dish.
Up next was the duck confit, and the gastrique was amazing, but the duck itself was a little bland and, in my opinion, would have been better if served warm; probably wouldn’t order this again but I am looking forward to trying the pork jowels which they were out of on both visits…
The steaks are served a la carte and you have the option of adding several compound butters (foie, bone marrow, truffle), sauces (green peppercorn, yuzu béarnaise, etc.), accompaniments (bone marrow, shrimp, crab, etc.) or side dishes (the usual steak house fare w/ a few twists), so you can see how the tab can escalate pretty quickly. The menu is quite large and they have more steak offerings than most any other spot in the Atlanta metro, which is good and bad at the same time. If you just stick to the steak there are 13 different choices (including a tasting of 3 different kinds of strip) and then another 14 non steak dishes in addition to raw bar items, salads and a potato selection…whew, it’s a daunting task and can be overwhelming. I wisely chose to stick with the steak and went for an 18oz bone-in ribeye that was dry-aged for 38 days; I was salivating at ordering my first top quality steak in over a year. The steak had a perfect char and was cooked perfectly medium rare, but it lacked flavor; it wasn’t seasoned well and the marbling must have been lacking because it seemed very lean…not at all what I expected from a ribeye. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good steak, but not great, and at $42 it should have been better.
On my second visit, I had the filet (which I normally would never order) and it was one of the best I have ever had, so either I just got a sub-par steak the other night or the filet is the way to go at Little Alley. Perplexed as I was I consulted three other people who had dined there and they all had a similar experience with the ribeye vs. filet, so I have to go with my latter theory from above. That being said, I also picked up an order of the roasted bone marrow and it was great, unctuous, fatty, salty, melting in your mouth; I know most folks probably wouldn’t order this, but it’s a must for true steak lovers!
Aside from the food, the service couldn’t have been more attentive and spot on; I never had to ask for a refill, both servers were laid back and welcoming, they knew their shit and were very genuine. The wine list was also pretty impressive for a Roswell joint with over 175 selections, including a good, and affordable (see Chateau Montelena & The Prisoner for ~$60), selection of cabs and even a cult/boutique list if you want to spend the big bucks. Little Alley is a very ambitious restaurant for an OTP crowd, let alone Roswell, and is easily the most expensive spot on the block; they had some hits and misses, but I would probably go back. The folks that run the place and own it are very likeable and the restaurant has a great energy; they’re still in a feeling out process and like most new restaurants have to work out a few kinks (notice I didn’t use bugs!).