Atlanta mega-restaurateur Ford Fry opened BeetleCat, his fifth new restaurant of 2015, on December 28 in Inman Quarter. The seafood-centric eatery's launch finally brought to reality the long-anticipated plans for a "little sister" to Fry's Westside fish house, The Optimist. With nearly three months of service under its belt, what's the reception been like for BeetleCat? Find some early buzz below.
Building on What Works. In her early look, Atlanta Magazine's Christiane Lauterbach says BeetleCat wisely takes inspiration from its big sister: "Ford Fry's new Inman Quarter establishment relies on many of the same tricks that made its sister restaurant, The Optimist, such a success. A serious oyster bar, small plates with global (often Asian) influences, and an enchanting cruise ship vibe pull in the crowds."
Fix That Surf and Turf. But, Lauterbach finds a couple of dishes that could use some improvement: "Ideas that don't work as well include a greasy lobster roll, inexplicably on a hamburger bun, and a tiny New York strip steak served with dull escargot."
Agree to Disagree. Burgers, Barbecue & Everything Else loves the lobster roll: "This was a thing of beauty ... I am not a lobster fan, but this sandwich was out of this world. I'd go back tomorrow and order another."
Have It Your Way. In her first look, Creative Loafing's Angela Hansberger says BeetleCat acts as two different restaurants: "Just as some see the wooden dinghy as a piece of nautical bric-a-brac, others see a classic vessel with the cachet of the Kennedys. Between its main dining room upstairs and a separate lounge downstairs, Beetlecat's twofold dining room approach allows patrons to customize their experience."
Embrace the Seafood Shack. Fried Chicken Lips believes leaning in to the late-night, downstairs seafood shack vibe is the way to go: "I get what they're trying to do here but if they really want to be a seafood shack, you gotta have fried clams, oysters, shrimp, scallops, fish, etc. available all day. Don't be like The Optimist, be a genuine seafood shack and with lotsa, lotsa big fried clam bellies."
Expect a Crowd. Elite Yelper Dean O. says BeetleCat isn't the place for a quiet evening out: "There is so much hype about this place. Unfortunately this brings the crowds in droves. Large, annoying, loud crowds."
Don't Expect Traditional Service. Burgers, Barbecue & Everything Else notes diners should expect service that fits with modern trends: "One thing to pay attention to — food comes out as it is ready (not necessarily in the sequence you ordered it), and the plates are designed to be share-able."
Too Much Salt. Elite Yelper Kristen L. offers a positive review, but has advice regarding the seasoning: "I would have given five stars except for the extreme heavy-handedness with salt on the octopus and steak. I expect salt on a dish called "Salt and Pepper ____," but these dishes had far too much."
Go Downstairs for a Drink. Lauterbach's boozing advice: "Cocktails are somehow mixed better downstairs in the den than upstairs in the dining room."
It's Sure to Become a Destination. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Bob Townsend says this is another Ford Fry restaurant that will attract diners from across the city: "BeetleCat is similar in style to The Optimist, Fry's popular Westside seafood spot. But pitched as an easy-going, no-reservations cocktail lounge and oyster bar, with a retro '70s and '80s vibe and a kitschy downstairs den-meets-rumpus room, it seems certain to make a lively scene all its own."