Thursday, June 21, 2012




By Doc Lawrence

ATLANTA--Location, location. It remains important in the success formula and 4th & Swift, Chef Jay Swift’s wonderful restaurant is a stone’s throw from the busiest thoroughfares in the South, yet comfortably nestled in a quiet location with very ample parking. The adventure is confined to the dining experience, not the nightmare of navigation and parking which burden many Atlanta restaurants.

A Baltimore native, Jay Swift has a menu reflecting Deep South preferences, all enhanced with an imaginative cocktail and wine program that blends into the overall enjoyment.

I was asked by my companions, a distinguished assemblage of ranking officials from North Carolina’s renowned Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and the Cherokee Tribe to select a restaurant for an evening of food, drink and conversation that was emblematic of Atlanta’s reputation as the unofficial headquarters of New South cuisine. That’s daunting if you take such requests seriously. New South is in the eyes of the beholder and since I am an Atlanta native and have a track record that includes years of dining in many other Southern cities, I made a studied decision.

For one evening, I was a prophet: 4th & Swift, featuring Chef Jay Swift.

Begin at the bar. There are bottles upon bottles of handcrafted bitters along with standbys like Peychaud’s, the magic potion in the Sazerac cocktail. The cocktail menu features some high-octane delights like “The Cries of Silent Men,” invoking images of Southern existentialists like Walker Percy. It’s a Gin-based witches brew with secret elixirs. Maybe topped off with  eye of newt? One can only guess, but all can enjoy.

Dinner was a gentle immersion into the best of Dixie. Several ordered the chef’s special, Three Little Piglets, while I spotted braised short ribs from Will Harris’ renowned grass-fed beef farm in South Georgia. A bottle of Argentine Malbec enhanced the experience, and the Chef’s special ricotta-stuffed squash blossom appetizer paired well with chilled Pinot Gris from Oregon. The wine list symbolically states that management takes its diner’s needs seriously. What you see is reasonable and compatible. Many outstanding wines are also available by the glass.

An evening here includes amenities that make pleasant memories. Spacious seating with comfortable tables. The noise level is low. Conversation flows uninterrupted by those dreaded cries of dining banshees, something that can ruin an otherwise terrific evening. They must have been in other restaurants on this evening.

Jay Swift has perfected the balance in great dining: Food, wine, cocktails and ambience. Here’s a place to get to know someone. The dining ritual is the near perfect way to reach out and build bridges of understanding; and 4th & Swift must have had this in mind from the inception.

Turning vision into raves from happy diners isn’t easy. 4th & Swift is a template for gourmet excellence. This is easygoing, elevated dining, the Atlanta food experience we deserve.

Enjoy the delights of dining, wineries, recreation and travel:

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