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Where the Chefs Eat: Nick Melvin of Venkman’s

Ever wonder where your favorite local chefs love to chow down? Us, too. Thus Eater Atlanta gives you its Go-To Guide — your chef's guide to Atlanta, the Southeast, and beyond.

Chef Nick Melvin.
Nick Melvin.
Beth McKibben is the editor and staff reporter for Eater Atlanta and has been covering food and cocktails locally and regionally for over 12 years.

Venkman’s executive chef and partner Nick Melvin brings much to Atlanta’s culinary scene. Accompanied by his New Orleans charm and warm, broad smile are a solid set of kitchen chops earned while stationed at some of our city’s finest like Empire State South and Rosebud (RIP). But it was his stint as head chef of the Serenbe Farmhouse where Melvin was launched onto the national food stage, helping to further Atlanta’s reputation for attracting forward-thinking chefs. The coveted high-five came from the New York Times, which recognized the restaurant located in the Utopian-esque community southwest of Atlanta for its innovative takes on the then-fledgling farm-to-table movement.

A decade later, Melvin now spends his days fusing his love of good music with all that Southern food ingenuity in partnership with the gents of Yacht Rock Revue at Venkman’s. Comforting dishes of pimento cheese and shells, cast iron-cooked catch of the day, and pickled corn pups with chili jam are served with a side of smooth jazz or fresh funk. Then there’s his other “stupid good” venture, the pickled products of Doux South. The brining company offers up everything from the garlic-spiced heat of Angry Cukes to that Southern archetype chow-chow. In Doux South, Melvin once again had New York calling — along with Charleston — when Garden & Gun, The Local Palate, and the Wall Street Journal praised the chef for (you guessed it) his “innovative” pickling skills.

Melvin is proof that while Atlanta seems to lack a culinary identity, this may be what attracts serious talent from outside its concrete border to cook for a diverse population of folks who aren’t from around here, anyway.

Weekend breakfast

Home Grown. Kevin and Lisa not only produce the most consistent breakfast in town, but are just amazing people.

Quickie lunch

With two kids under the age of 3, any chance that we get to go out for a lunch as a family has to be a quick one. Our go-to as of late has been W.H. Stiles (Dub’s) Fish Camp in Ponce City Market. Daniel’s food is consistent, full of flavor, and always quick; even in spite of the line that normally snakes out the front door.

Barbecue joint

People in Atlanta think good barbecue has to come from a shack in the middle of nowhere, but living in Candler Park/Lake Claire, we love walking over to Fox Bros. any time we get a hankering for some good ‘cue. Their salt-and-pepper short-rib is the gospel.

Casual Dinner

Wrecking Bar is an awesome casual spot for dinner where the food never ceases to surprise and amaze me.

International restaurant

I don't get to venture out to Buford Highway as much as I used to anymore, but my heart will always belong to Chef Liu and her soup dumplings and leek pie.

Late-night snack

My favorite late nite snack would have to be a ham-and-cheese sandwich with Duke’s Mayo on honey whole wheat bread and tortilla chips with Sriracha at home as I try and not wake up my wife.

Beverage of choice

A quad espresso from Little Tart in Krog Street Market.

Fancy dinner

Fancy Dinners are far and few between these days, but on the very rare occasion we can squeeze one in I would have to say Sushi House Hayakawa.

Home-cooked meal

My wife is a beast when it comes to the art of “Crock-Pottery.” From Korean beef to turkey chili, it's a treat to have that to come home to.

Top Five Atlanta restaurants (not mentioned above)

El Super Pan

The Porter Beer Bar

El Rey del Taco

Lee's Bakery

Wherever chef Shane Devereux happens to be cooking.

Out-of-town favorite (regional)

Casamento's in New Orleans.

Out-of-town favorite (national)

Blackbird in Chicago.

Out-of-the-whole-country favorite

I haven't had the pleasure of leaving the country yet, but on my bucket list is to eat at Joe Beef in Montreal, Canada.

All Venkman’s Coverage [EATL]
All Go-To Guides [EATL]


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