5 Rating

Executive Chef:  Landon Thompson

Executive Sous Chef:  John Castellucci
🙂  = Complimentary valet parking in a covered deck.  Large dining area with a moderate noise level that drowns out toddler outbursts.  Extremely friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable staff.  Delicious, inventive, and eclectic menu of Spanish Basque-inspired tapas and sharing plates.  Generous portions.  High chairs.
🙁 = No changing table in the bathroom.  That’s the only frowny-face comment we can make about this awesome restaurant.

Notes:  If you want your little ones to try some really unique food in an upscale environment, Cooks & Soldiers is an excellent option – and the restaurant will welcome you with open arms.  Just be forewarned that they do not have a kids menu, and the other diners at this new, trendy spot are mostly grownups.  Go with your kids if you think they’re up for it, or go for Date Night.  But, seriously, just go.  This place is a must-try.
To celebrate the launch of our new site, we’re highlighting this previous post about Cooks & Soldiers, a four-month-old restaurant on the Westside that we absolutely love.  Cooks & Soldiers’ Executive Chef, Landon Thompson, is a Georgia native who learned about Spanish cooking at another local foodie favorite (and a Cooks & Soldiers’ affiliate), Iberian Pig.  Chef Thompson, along with Executive Sous Chef John Castellucci, are rising stars in the Atlanta restaurant community right now.  After visiting Cooks & Soldiers, we can see why.
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“Chef Castelluci, this expo line passes our inspection!”

We stopped by on an early weekday evening right after 6 PM.  (We had the best intentions to arrive earlier, but life and Atlanta traffic got in the way, and we couldn’t make it happen.)  Mommy was really excited when she discovered that the restaurant had an adjacent parking garage and complimentary valet parking.  Unexpected complimentary valet parking is to Mommy what ice cream for dessert is to us:  the universe’s way of telling her she behaved well that day.  Score one Gummy Bear for Cooks & Soldiers.

Even though we were a bit late for our reservation, the hostesses were super nice to us and had a table ready for our arrival.  As we walked into the dining room, we immediately noticed two things:  first, it’s spacious, and the tables aren’t too close together.  Mommy had expected a tighter layout similar to Iberian Pig’s, so she was prepared to cling to us tightly as we walked through the dining room to make sure we didn’t knock other people’s drinks over.  But there’s plenty of room in Cooks & Soldiers.  Second, it’s pretty loud.  The high, industrial ceilings create pleasant acoustics in the room that move sound around quite a bit.  What does that mean for toddlers?  We could make random outbursts without causing too much disruption to other people’s meals.  Score another Gummy Bear for Cooks & Soldiers.

Our hostess brought a high chair right away, and our server immediately dropped off water in to-go cups with lids.  After looking at Cooks & Soldiers’ menu and deciding that everything looked yummy, Mommy let our server drive.  She asked him to recommend a few dishes and ordered most of what he recommended.  He was really helpful and knew the menu backward and forward.  He started us out with a great feast of tapasPato Ahumado (a mixture of smoked duck confit and other yummy ingredients, including brandied cherries, served atop perfectly toasted slices of crusty bread), Chistorra in a Blanket (Chistorra sausage wrapped in a sweet croissant, served with a maple-mustard allioli dipping sauce), Patatas (fried potatoes served with idiazabal cheese fondue and “Basque ketchup” – imagine regular ketchup, but with a slightly smoky flavor); Pulpo (grilled Spanish octopus, “charcoal potatoes” cooked with squid ink, a piquilloemulsion, and a little shot of rosemary oil served in a little plastic dropper); Bikini (cute little grilled ham and cheese sandwiches made with white American cheese, Jamon Iberico, and truffle oil).

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Top (left-right): Pato Ahumado, Patatas, Bikini, Bottom: Pulpo

Every small plate we tried was delicious – and, yes, we ate all of it!  Our favorite dishes were the Bikini and Pulpo.  The Bikini was basically the most perfect – and fanciest – grilled ham and cheese sandwich we had ever eaten.  The truffle oil gave it a nice woodsy flavor.  And the Pulpo … oh, the Pulpo.  Generous servings of octopus tentacles grilled to a slight char, so tender that Mommy didn’t even have to question whether they’d be a choking hazard.  The piquillo emulsion and rosemary oil added oomph to the dish without overpowering the octopus’s smoky-sea-salt flavor.  We liked the Pato Ahumado and Patatas, too (well, we mostly liked the cherries on the Pato Ahumado).  We did find that a few of the Patatas were a little salty, but we were able to counter that saltiness with the idiazabal cheese dip.

For our main course (as if we really needed a main course after devouring all those tapas), we ordered the grilled whole fish of the day and a side of sautéed collard green florets (young collard green stalks), which were the off-menu special veggie of the day.  That day’s fish was Lou de Mer a/k/a European Seabass a/k/a we may never eat the tilapia Mommy makes at home again.  What an incredible fish!  Naturally buttery, juicy, tender flesh with a crisp, clean flavor.  Find the freshest specimen you can and grill it perfectly, just as Chef Thompson’s team did, and you end up with a piece of seafood heaven.  We have to throw in another Gummy Bear just for that fish.  And poor Mommy is going to have to step up her fish game at home from now on.
We were stuffed after eating all this incredible food, but we just had to try a dessert a – or two.  Not wanting to pump us full of chocolate right before bedtime, Mommy ordered the Gateau Basque (a traditional Basque almond cake served with lavender pastry cream, “sparkling cider”- apple flavored gelatin squares coated in colorless, flavorless Pop Rocks, and brandied cherries).  Because we’re toddlers and toddlers love cereal, we also got to try the Fruity Pebbles (croquettes made with Fruity Pebbles cereal and milk… no we’re not kidding).  A dessert made with cereal and milk?!  There’s Gummy Bear #4.
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“What is all this popping and crackling going on in my mouth right now?”

Even though we ended up taking some of our leftover fish and desserts home for Daddy to try, we were totally stuffed at the end of our visit.  Mommy feared someone would have to roll all three of us out to the car on a serving cart.  The awesome thing is, we think the crew at Cooks & Soldiers would have done that for us if the need arose.  They were some of the most hospitable, attentive restaurant staffers we’ve ever met.  And for that, Cooks & Soldiers gets the coveted fifth Gummy Bear.

Chef Thompson, Chef Castellucci – congratulations on your success!  We can’t wait to visit you again.

691 14th St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

 

Comment from Chef Landon Thompson, posted to our old website on April 16, 2015:
“Thanks so much for the kind words little dudes… Come back soon!”
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