If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Atlanta’s culinary scene, it’s that people like to know who raised their chicken, where their fish went to summer school and if their cow enjoyed his stay at the nearby ranch. They’re willing to pay for it too.
Last November, Watershed sous chef Steven Satterfield and Sotto Sotto general manager Neal McCarthy teamed up to open Miller Union, an upscale farm-to-table restaurant tucked away on the fringes of West Midtown and dedicated to bringing patrons avocados from Florida and cows that lived the high life right up until they saw a 24-inch blade.
Miller Union’s opening was highly anticipated, and for good reason. Both Watershed and Sotto Sotto are top-notch restaurants, so it seemed logical to assume that a combination of the two would be impressive. In fact, Miller Union is currently a semifinalist in the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant category. Winning this national award is the restaurant-world equivalent of taking home an Oscar.
While getting a dinner reservation at Miller Union was difficult, the experience reminded me of a roller coaster at a carnival. The line to board was long and once seated everything was safe and hardly a thrill. That is not to say that there were not a few surprises here and there, but as a whole, the dining experience at Miller Union was very predictable.
We have all seen this kind of restaurant before. Concepts like these start with beets, continue with something braised, move on to something flourless and end with obligatory applause for helping farmers and not faltering on baking that sweet potato.
So while their concept is a bit hackneyed, McCarthy and Satterfield have accomplished exactly what they set out to do. They are sourcing food from as many local farms as possible, have turned a cold warehouse into a classy and inviting venue and are serving food with which Southerners can identify and know all too well.