Lure, Fifth Group Restaurants' new seafood spot, set to open July 17, has been compared to Ford Fry's new seafood spot, The Optimist, which opened in May. Eater caught up with Lure Chef David Bradley to get the real deal on Lure—what makes it different, how fresh is "fresh" in land-locked Atlanta, and more.
A number of people are comparing Lure to The Optimist. What do you think about that?
On a general level, I understand it: they're both seafood restaurants opening in Atlanta this summer. I haven't had an opportunity to eat at The Optimist yet, so I don't have much more to say on it at this point. I'm focused on making Lure an exciting, interesting and consistent restaurant from opening day, and on doing everything we can to showcase the best fish we can find. Atlanta's food scene is growing all the time. It's an exciting time to be here and competition is a given.
If the restaurants are, in fact, competitors, how do you feel about being up against Ford Fry and Adam Evans?
I don't know either chef personally, but have respect for the projects they're involved in. Again, I as a chef and Fifth Group as a company are both focused on Lure and making it the best that we can.
Atlanta's such a land-locked city. How can we expect to get really great seafood here?
That's the beauty of the modern age. Technology connects fishermen and women with chefs worldwide, sometimes even before they've reached port. Likewise, fish houses are getting better and smarter about sourcing the freshest product and getting it to Atlanta (or any other market) overnight. Additionally, I've cultivated relationships with suppliers the old-fashioned way for the few things that are available in GA; my rainbow trout comes to me the same day it's out of the water from a couple who have been farming trout on their property for 32 years straight. They own the watershed for the streams the fish are in, which guarantees a really pristine, pure flavor.
What seafood spots around town do you eat at?
I like Sushi House Hayakawa on Buford Highway. I haven't been to the new location for Tomo, but had a great meal there a few years back when they were in Cobb County.
What's the one item at Lure that diners absolutely must try?
At this point I'd recommend two: One is the whole roasted rainbow trout that I mention above. It's the best trout I've ever tasted by a long shot. The other would be our tom yum shrimp bisque. It's a hybrid of an elegant, refined shrimp bisque and the fiery, traditional Thai flavors of tom yum soup. A really nice marriage of flavors and texture.
Fish isn't always what people think of for brunch. What's the brunch menu going to look like?
I'd like to respectfully disagree. Fish is perfect for brunch; smoked salmon, shrimp and grits, baked eggs with crabmeat, and poached eggs with grilled trout are all great brunch dishes. Of course, we'll also offer dishes for people who don't love fish: bacon cured and smoked in-house and sourdough pancakes with fresh fruit are just two examples. We've got a great Mexican-style seafood cocktail that is a traditional hangover cure for brunch diners who went at it a little too hard the night before.
Tell us about your cocktails. Who's behind the bar, what's on tap, and how does it pair with your food?
Our beverage program covers a lot of ground, and is designed to offer the perfect accompaniment to a wide-ranging menu of fresh fish and shellfish. Vajra Stratigos, our beverage director, has created a list focusing on lighter cocktails for the summertime, great food beers on draft and in the bottle, clean white wines from France and beyond with little to no oak, traditional and non-traditional punch bowls for bigger groups on a night out, individually bottled fizzy mixed drinks and an innovative section of shochu drinks that pair the Japanese spirit with a counterpoint chosen based on each bottle's flavor profile and base grain.
How have your experiences at Ecco, La Tavola and Food Studio prepared you for Lure?
Those three restaurants cover the last 12 years of my life, so it's obviously had a large impact. Each has been a great learning experience, and has afforded me an opportunity to refine my palate, hone my skills in the kitchen and develop creatively as a cook. Those three restaurants exemplify for me a nice balance between authentic hospitality and thoughtful, delicious cuisine that I hope carries through to what we do at Lure.
Anything else we should know?
We're excited to be using a Josper for our grill. It's a 40-year-old Spanish design that is just being introduced to the U.S. We're one of only about a dozen restaurants in the country to have one of these at this point, and the clean, intense heat of a charcoal fire is a perfect fit for preserving the flavors of really fresh fish.
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