Eating Atlanta: Spice Market


Midtown’s stretch of Peachtree Street NE is a rich belt of fine restaurants, bars, and original eateries. Situated on the north end of the belt inside the W Hotel, Spice Market offers an intriguing experience and cuisine but doesn’t quite substantiate its price level.

Spice Market’s two key points of interest are the “tasting menu” offering and its singular space and character. Finding a table on a Sunday night was no problem, with no wait time thanks to the rather large space. Owner-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten styled the restaurant as an upscale, yet relaxed, version of Thai and Vietnamese street food.

We started with the complimentary lentil chips and a spicy tomato salsa. The lentils yield an extremely light and brittle chip that meshes so well with the tangy salsa. We kept it around for the rest of the meal. The first dish of the tasting course was a light and spicy Thai slaw that was nice but didn’t impress.

The next course in the five-course series included a flaky samosa filled with spiced chicken served with a light cilantro yogurt, a chicken skewer with lime dipping sauce and black pepper shrimp on sun dried pineapples.Following these appetizers were the main servings, starting with broiled cod and spicy Malaysian chili sauce.

Next was a plate of tender charred Chinese eggplant with a sweet chili glaze and peanuts were a great plate that would make the best vegetarian option in conjunction with the lentil chips and salsa if you ask nicely (it’s not actually on the regular menu).

The final entree plates were grilled chicken with a kumquat dressing, which was not impressing at all, and a final bowl of perfectly-fried ginger rice topped with an over-easy egg and breadcrumbs.

Spice Market offers two different soups, an innocuous sounding chicken and coconut milk soup and a strong fisted butternut squash and ginger soup. I had the latter and was surprised by the ferocity this dish presented. I was expecting an easy going soup to tide me over, but instead was rewarded with sharp tastes of ginger and a soothing butternut squash end.

Parking in the deck next door is expensive, so the complimentary valet may actually be a better option on your wallet; although, considering what you just paid at the restaurant, that might not be as much of an issue.

4/1/11: Eating Atlanta