Former Saltyard executive chef Nick Leahy opened his French Provençal restaurant Aix and its adjoining wine bar Tin Tin on Friday, December 14, at the Stockyards on Brady Avenue in Westside. Both the restaurant and wine bar hold personal connections to Leahy and his extended family. The restaurant is named for the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence, where he spent childhood summers. Tin Tin is an homage to his eccentric, rosé-loving great aunt, who owned a grand home in Sainte-Maxime on the coast and was the matriarch of Leahy’s Provençal relatives.
Leahy describes the city of Aix-en-Provence, near the southeastern coast of France — the region’s one-time capital — as an elegant and stylish town, filled with sophisticated, old world charm. It was the home of French post-impressionist painter, Paul Cézanne and his studio. Food in the region is decidedly more Mediterranean and light in nature, leaning into olive oil, fresh herbs, and seafood in its dishes.
Atlanta design firm ai3 captured Leahy’s fond remembrances of the region at Aix. The 93-seat dining room is airy and laid-back, with a coastal, cosmopolitan elegance — a mood the French have coolly mastered.
Neutral tones and rich blues are set against polished wood surfaces and chevron-patterned wood floors, accented by copper and brass fixtures. Exposed brick walls and rustic stones tie together the stylish city’s ancient roots with its modern day cafe culture.
Aix includes a 12-seat bar along the back wall and a glass-enclosed, soundproof wine room with seating for 12 in the middle of the dining room, surrounded by 524 bottles of wine.
Many of dishes on the menu at Aix and Tin Tin are reminiscent of Leahy’s childhood food memories. This includes the foie gras torchon, which he first remembers making with his cousin Arnaud one summer. A salad comprising of endives and chicories with duck confit and roasted grapes, Leahy replicated from a country salad he ate in a Provençal restaurant at 10 years old. It was a revelatory moment for him. He ordered a second salad. Now it’s on the menu at Aix, as is his interpretation of bouillabaisse (Provençal fish stew.)
“My dad and I would always go around to places like Nice and other coastal towns in search of bouillabaisse,” Leahy recalls. “We have our version at Aix, along with a version of a French country pâté found in shops all over the region at Tin Tin.”
Leahy lists a handful of more substantial entrees on the menu at Aix, like a grilled lamb loin with chestnut dumplings and a whole roasted trout “nicoise.” Desserts, from pastry chef Kendall Baez, feature the tarte Tropezienne or “La Tarte de Saint-Tropez” and croquembouche — a towering tree of cream puffs laced with caramel.
Four pages of mostly French wines have been carefully selected by advance sommelier and beverage director Pat Peterson — formerly of Restaurant Eugene and Bacchanalia. The list is a mix of French standard-bearers like Burgundy and Bordeaux and smaller, upstart wine producers and esoteric vintages. A tight list of cocktails and beer round out the drinks at Aix.
Aix and Tin Tin are adjoined by a shared kitchen, leading to Tin Tin’s 10-seat, wrap-around bar and tables for 10 additional people. However, the majority of the dining at Tin Tin is done outside on the covered and uncovered patios, seating up to 23 people. The covered, enclosed patio, which can be accessed via the dining at Aix, includes a large, white gas-burning fireplace. Tin Tin’s other patio is fashioned after his great aunt’s outdoor space in Sainte-Maxime. The trees and dark stone and pebbles were found all around her property in Provence.
“She was the matriarch of the Provençal family. She had a giant house outside of Sainte-Maxime where we would gather in the summers,” Leahy says. “My sister was married there. My aunt was eccentric, with a big personality, and could always be found on her patio drinking rosé in the afternoon.”
The design for Tin Tin is much more relaxed, whimsical, and quirky, filled with brighter accents and colorful tiles. The menu reflects this relaxed vibe, consisting of mainly small plates for sharing and 30 by-the-glass wines and carafes. A L’Apero (French happy hour) is hosted between lunch and dinner, offering cheeses, crudo, and olives for snacking.
Both Aix and Tin Tin open for dinner, Friday, December 14, at 5 p.m. Tin Tin will eventually serve lunch.
Take a look at the menus for Aix and Tin Tin:
Aix is open Monday - Thursday and Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Tin Tin is open Monday - Wednesday and Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
956 Brady Avenue NW, Suite 100, Atlanta.