Joe Schaefer of King + Duke shows off the hearth

Video by Ryon Horne,

If there’s one theme that runs through Ford Fry’s restaurants, it’s a kind of nostalgia. JCT Kitchen pays tribute to the freight trains that rumble past its doors to capture the spirit of a historic depot bar. No. 246 — set on Decatur’s prettiest downtown block — refers not, as many assume, to the restaurant’s address but rather the plot number from the town’s first land survey. The Optimist was named for the kind of dinghy Fry took out as a kid at the beach.

This yearning for the past helps explain the enigmatic but appealing stylings of King + Duke, Fry’s latest restaurant, which opened in May at the prominent Buckhead corner long occupied by Nava. Its components include a clothbound drinks list stuffed with a surfeit of obscure literary references, an open-air dining space set under striped canvas awnings that makes you061413 kessler feel like you landed in the Hamptons, and a front bar designed to look like someone’s expansive home library.

But the focal point is a massive open hearth fueled by crackling firewood and hardwood charcoal. The signature item to come off this grill is a Mini Cooper-sized ribeye steak for two (priced out at $75) that arrives heaped on a wooden board with a pair of split marrow bones. This is the King, and the only appropriate response to its arrival is a hearty grunt.

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To read more about King + Duke, visit

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