Tonight, The Optimist and Oyster Bar at The Optimist opens in West Midtown. A sustainable seafood restaurant, The Optimist’s name was suggested by owner Ford Fry’s father and refers to a small, single-handed sailing dinghy intended for use by children up to the age of 15. The understated quality of the name along with the forthright meaning of the word appeals to Fry. Fry also appreciates the reference to being an optimist about the “day’s catch” and “catching the next big fish.” Oyster Bar at The Optimist is adjacent to The Optimist and is a more casual “fish camp” style venue featuring a raw bar and an outdoor patio with a two-hole putt-putt golf course.
Executive Chef Adam Evans’ menu offers guests sustainable seafood of superior quality. Fresh catch comes into the kitchen daily and is prepared with a simple touch that highlights the restaurant’s wood-burning oven and grills. The menu is a combination of Chef Evans’ boyhood fish camp days with a touch of modern flare to match today’s palates. The lunch menu includes a selection of fish entrées, salads and sandwiches ($12-$19). The Optimist’s dinner menu is broken down into the following components: On Ice ($2.50-$11), Start ($7-$12), Fish ($19-$26), Farm ($18-$24),Sides and Such ($6) and Pies, Cakes and Frozen Stuff ($4-$7). The menu for The Oyster Bar includes raw bar items and small plates ($2.50-$14).
Beverage Director Lara Creasy has developed a brilliant beverage program for The Optimist with selections she carefully chose to complement Chef Evans’ menu. The wines hail from coastal regions around the world and the bar’s micro-brewed beers are from America’s port-city breweries.
Smith Hanes has created a relaxed vibe and captured the essence of coastal living with his design. Hanes’ inspiration for the space was a vintage photo of a seafood plant set on the harbor of Savannah, Ga. The main dining room is crowned by impressive steel trusses and an exposed wooden ceiling original to the building from 1911. The waxed steel bar is surrounded by a marquise light box and has a one-of-a-kind walnut bar top. The Oyster Bar at The Optimist’s design evokes the free psyche feel of 1970s Venice Beach – a maritime lifestyle that may be unfamiliar to land locked Atlantans. Upon entering, guests will be swept up in the sea-inspired spirit. Inside, cozy booths are covered in gold “wetsuit” fabric and custom metal barstools feature faded teal vinyl seats. Folding scissor doors lead to an eclectic arrangement of patio seating. Weather-beaten metal tables lend a vintage look to the outdoor space. The surfboard-shaped oyster bar boasts an Italian oven in the center that is enclosed with steel to mimic a stove pipe from an old-school shrimp boat.
The Optimist and Oyster Bar at The Optimist
914 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30318
The Optimist: Lunch is offered Monday – Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner is offered Sunday – Thursday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Oyster Bar: Monday – Thursday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. or later. Friday: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. or later. Saturday: 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. or later. Sunday: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. or later
MORE INFORMATION: The Optimist accepts reservations inside the main dining area. Walk-in seating is available at Oyster Bar at The Optimist. All major credit cards are accepted. An adjacent parking lot is available for self parking Sunday through Wednesday, and valet parking is available Thursday through Saturday.