“I’ve been all over the world. It feels good to come back to Atlanta,” said celebrity chef Todd English yesterday in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution during which English announced that he would be opening his first Atlanta restaurant. Todd English Tavern will be located at The Battery entertainment complex next to the Atlanta Braves new SunTrust Park stadium.
English was in Atlanta briefly yesterday for a photo shoot of dishes that will be on the menu at Todd English Tavern when doors open April 12. As he prepared Southern plates holding international influences, such as po’boy-like corn pone with truffles and oysters, English discussed why he joined forces with the Cordish Companies, which will own and operate Todd English Tavern as well as two other concepts – PBR Atlanta and entertainment-plex Sports & Social – at the Battery Atlanta. The trio comprise a venue called Live! at the Battery.
Tops among English’s reasons for taking on the project was that it enabled him to return to his roots. English was raised in Atlanta. He graduated from Galloway School in the 1970s, having attending the high school during the same period as Martin Luther King III and children of baseball great Hank Aaron.
Atlanta is also where English discovered his interest in food. His first kitchen stint was at the Tower Place Hotel where he fell under the tutelage of chef Don Browning. “There was not a lot of good food in the 1970s in the U.S. He was French-trained.” It was Browning who encouraged English to attend the Culinary Institute of America. “From there, I never looked back,” English said.
Another appeal for English was the entertainment aspect of the new venture. “People want to go to places where they can socialize and be entertained,” he said. While there will be many avenues for fun at the Battery Atlanta, the two-story sports bar Sports & Social at Live! at the Battery will have five bars, indoor and outdoor patios, a 30-foot screen TV, golf simulators and other games.
Todd English Tavern will be a “neo-tavern.” English described a neo-tavern as one reflecting a style of cooking that uses authentic techniques yet is “not afraid of blending” from “the melting pot of the world that we live in.” He stated that food and drink offerings would be affordable and accessible, which he hoped would also appeal to younger audiences with “discerning palates.”
While the vibe at Todd English Tavern will be fun and energetic, décor won’t fall within the industrial chic look. “I’m tired of the industrial look,” English said. Expect finished wood – as opposed to wood with a rustic farmhouse look – as well as marble tile floors. An open kitchen will feature a wood-fired oven.
English also commented on the maturity of the Atlanta dining scene and the influence of this culinary community around the country. “It’s a fun time to be here. I’m excited!”