I asked my brother Kenny, who is not just a writer, but an author, and an author of a controversial novel, no less (it got him booted out of his church community), to dine with me at a seafood restaurant I was scheduled to review. I am not a seafood lover; but he is. And, he has an experienced palate...I like pretty food that tastes good. I figured that to do a proper review, I needed someone that really enjoyed seafood and could critique it well.
I have to say, I didn’t expect to experience fine dining in a Kroger Shopping Center. C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar, in the Riverview Village Shopping Center, offers just that and apparently has been doing so for almost four years. As a matter of fact, they will be celebrating their four-year anniversary on June 21, with a four-course meal for $40.
As I waited on my brother to arrive, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Chef Jon Schwenk.
According to Schwenk, he and his business partner Rich Clark, opened C&S (Clark & Schwenk) at the worst possible time, 2007 - just as the economy began to go belly up. Although a challenge, the pair hunkered down, came up with creative ideas, and did what had to be done.
Four years later, C&S is well established in the Vinings’ fine cuisine scene. Not surprising, because community and clients are important to this pair. They listen to the positive and negative feedback and are willing to adjust accordingly. They also switch things up, by offering out-of-the-ordinary dishes such as Wreck Bass, Rock Hind, and Jolt Snapper. These fish, once throw-a-ways, have now, through proper cutting and preparation, become fine culinary dishes.
C&S is a seafood lovers dream – not just one or two, but eight varieties of oysters can be found on the menu. Schwenk gave me an oyster geography lesson that was quite interesting – water temperature, disbursement by wind and wave, degree of water salinity, depth of the oyster bed, and geographical location all influence the taste of the oyster - impressive.
When Kenny arrived, we were indulged by Schwenk and his staff with samplings of the restaurant’s fine fare.
First we were presented with a long basket of freshly sliced homemade bread and softened butter. Everything served came out with much production and explanation. The staff made us feel special and welcomed.
After the bread came the oysters. Kenny tried four raw oysters on the half-shell from four different regions – British Columbia, Rhode Island and two regions of New Brunswick.
“Well?” I asked.
“Mmm, good…damn good,” he replied.
Because each sampling was prepared just prior to being served, it gave us time to catch up on family talk and other things. The communion was nice.
The next tasting brought calamari for Kenny – new fork, new plate - and for me, a specially prepared seafood-less salad with the smoothest tasting bleu cheese. I was in heaven; not only did it taste and smell wonderful, it was pretty.
“And…?” I inquired of Kenny.
“Hmmm, tasty…very nice, actually,” he smacked his lips when finished, then delved into my salad.
New forks, new plates…and there it was before me…my absolute favorite… asparagus tips with a touch of the most delicious béarnaise sauce. Yum…two tips on a plate - perfection. Kenny had mussels in a wine sauce.
“Exquisite,” he exclaimed without any prompting.
After finishing, we chatted on.
New forks, new plates, then swordfish served with arugula, peaches, and hearts of palm for Kenny; and rib eye steak with homemade potato stick fries for me - Kenny ate all of his and then half of mine.
“What’s next?” he asked, to my embarrassment.
“Dessert…and coffee?” asked our server.
“Sure, why not?” we responded.
As we were finishing up, others were coming in to dine. It became obvious that most of them had been there many times before. The jazzy music, the close proximity of the tables, the pace of the serve out, and the attentive wait staff, all make it a great place to meet friends or entertain business associates and out of town guests.
It was a lovely culinary experience. I would recommend it highly.
For the June 21, fourth anniversary celebration, reservations are necessary and should be made several days in advance. Last year was a sell-out. Check their website for menus and for other special events.
Seared Scallops - Minted pea puree with warm bacon vinaigrette
Grilled Salmon - Haricot vert - Rissole potatoes with bearnaise sauce
Warm Apple Tarte - Bourbon-burnt sugar ice cream
C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar
3240 Cobb Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30339
Monday - Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.