A few Saturday nights ago, my parents were in town, and we went to Rathbun's right around the street from where we live in Inman Park. We had reservations for 7:30 and the place was packed to the gills when we arrived. Perhaps one reason for the huge crowd is Rathbun's recent victory on Iron Chef America over Bobby Flay. Certainly, during dinner, several parties asked for Rathbun to emerge from the kitchen for a photo-op.
Anyway, this dinner was the best in terms of the quality of the food that I've ever had. We ordered a bottle of pinot grigio and each ordered an appetizer. Butternut squash tortellini with candied pecans was amazing. The candied pecans were an innovative southern touch to this dish. The eggplant steak fries with confectioner's sugar was an unusual but perfect take with great flavor. The romaine heart salad also impressed.
The real winners were the main courses. We opted for the "second mortgage plates" for steak, including a special "16 oz "heart of the ribeye" that was amazingly tender and flavorful. The 10 oz beef filet was like butter, melting in you mouth as you ate it with a rich flavor. The other dish we ordered, the egg-battered lemon sole was probably the freshest fish I've eaten in this city.
We had sides of hand cut french fries with blue cheese fondue and elbow macaroni with a tillamook cheddar tart. The fries with the bleu cheese reminded us of the potato chips with "Maytag" blue cheese at Buckhead dinner. This side was a great paring with the steaks. The elbow macaroni with cheese was good, but not as impressive as the other items.
You will spend a good deal of money eating here, but dessert is surprisingly inexpensive. Rathbun probably knows that after eating everything else, most diners will only need a small dessert. For $3.15, we each had a great dessert. We got the Mini Chocolate Cubes, and they were perfectly sized, rich and satisfying.
My only complaint was the noise in the dining area. As I mentioned the restaurant was completely full the entire time we were dining and the large, open dining room did little to lessen sounds. Thus, it was hard, at times, to hear each other in conversation.
The noise was a bit of a distraction, but it was still quite a feat for the restaurant to serve food of this incredible caliber to so many people simultaneously.
I'd highly recommend Rathbun's for any special occasion. You will not be disappointed.