As a youth, Todd English was talented enough to explore the possibility of playing professional baseball as a catcher, but his numerous restaurant ventures, two James Beard Awards, PBS show Food Trip With Todd English and status as one of the world's most recognized culinary authorities confirm English chose the right career path. His latest project, aptly titled Todd English Tavern (cheftoddenglish.com), is based in grandiose The Battery Atlanta - a multiuse development and home of the new SunTrust Park. While back home in the South, English took a breather from his hectic schedule to discuss the ambitious return to his hometown.
What made you set up shop in Atlanta?
I'm excited to come home to the town I grew up in. I lived here from age 6 to 16. Todd English Tavern will be my first restaurant in Atlanta; though I've been looking for a while. I finally found the right spot next to the new Braves stadium in Live! at the Battery with the right partner, The Cordish Companies. I'm a huge baseball fan, so this fits like a glove.
How will your tavern be different from the others Atlanta has throughout the city?
We're going to be exactly the same. No, of course not! We have a beautiful design by Jeffrey Beers International, and we're at The Battery Atlanta. And my food is about a fun, dynamic, flavorful experience that serves many senses. We have world food - a 'neo-tavern' if you will - which is a term I'm seeing more of in Europe. You'll find Asian and Southern influences in my togarashi-psiced edamame, peekytoe crabcake and tempura lobster bites.
What are some standout entrees?
The cast-iron flank steak. It comes out sizzling and includes wild onions, charred heirloom tomatoes and herb-roasted marble potatoes. I top it with a chimichuul sauce. With the Southern burger, I take three types of beef, then blend them, season them, form them into a patty and grill it to perfection. I top it with applewood-smoked bacon, a friend egg, huckleberry jam, cheddar cheese, butter lettuce, local tomatoes, grilled onions and spicy mayo on a brioche bun. I know that just make you hungry!
And for the thirsty set?
We gotta have a Derby Peach. What else can I say? The Georgia'rita is a fun one. It has El Jimador reposado tequila, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, peach bitters, a splash of free orange juice and a lime wedge. It will make you want to say 'y'all' in a whole new way.