Gunshow in Atlanta: Different Dining You Must Experience
When I found out that a special friend who I have not seen in years let me know that she was going to be in Atlanta on business and wanted to catch up with me after work — and that I was in town on the days which she was available — I researched which restaurants would be good choices for dinner.
Gunshow in Atlanta: Different Dining You Must Experience
Some of the restaurants which were my top choices had permanently closed; and as I had not dined out in Atlanta in a while, I had my work cut out for me.
One of those restaurants was Prime, which had suddenly closed on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 along with nine other restaurants. I had special memories associated with that restaurant, which included both the Delta Air Lines FlyerTalk Event of 2009 and the Delta Air Lines FlyerTalk Event of 2010.
As she is based in New Jersey, I wanted her to have a dining experience that was ordinarily not available to her. Perhaps that meant a restaurant which uses fresh ingredients from the state of Georgia.
I am not particularly fond of soul food — I thankfully found out later after already deciding on a restaurant that she was not particularly crazy about that option either — and I really was not in the mood for southern cooking, as is the specialty of Mary Mac’s Tea Room, at which I dined two years ago.
No, this evening would be something different — and researching would not be easy. I did not want a dining experience that would be too expensive — but rather something which would be potentially memorable.
As I was researching, Gunshow appeared in my radar several times. I kept declining that option; but something inside me told me to include it as one of the four finalists for that dining experience — and when I finally met her in front of the hotel at which she was staying, she liked that option.
Gunshow was the final choice.
The Dining Experience
No obvious signage is above the exterior of the restaurant. Only what has been adhered to the windows gives patrons any clue as to the location of Gunshow — including one which advised that general admission is that way, along with a finger pointing in the correct direction of where to enter.
We arrived almost two hours early — I had no idea that the restaurant did not open until 6:00 in the evening — so I parked the car and we took a walk around the Glenwood Park neighborhood to catch up with each other on what has happened since we last met. A few minutes prior to 6:00, we arrived and sat on a bench just to the east of the front door to the restaurant. A few other people were waiting as well.
An employee cheerfully opened the door to the restaurant, and we walked in. The place was empty with mostly employees in it; so the thought of booking reservations did not even occur to me.
Next to the entrance of the restaurant was the cash register; and behind it were shelves which displayed merchandise which was for sale.
The man behind the cash register near the entrance asked if we had booked reservations.
“No,” I replied.
The look on his face implied that we might not be dining there tonight — which was okay, as I still had the other three options available if necessary — but then he said, “Hold on. Let me see what I can do.”
“Okay,” I said.
While I was waiting, I looked and saw a variety of bottles of alcoholic beverages — as well as other eclectic paraphernalia pertinent to Gunshow and its ambience.
Within minutes, he said, “Okay. I can seat both of you now; but you will need to leave by 7:30. Will that be okay?”
90 minutes to eat? That is not a problem for me; nor was it an issue for her. “Yes,” I replied, thinking that was fair. “Thank you.”
As we were led to our seats — which were the ones opposite each other at the table in the foreground to the right of the man shown on the left in the photograph; or the third seats from the end of the table — I noticed the area where all of the chefs work behind the counter. I believe no fewer than nine different chefs were working behind the shiny glass and metal counter that evening.
The tables are all community style — complete with purposely mismatched napkins which resembled bandanas. Back in Black from AC/DC blasted out of the speakers after Rick Springfield belted out Jessie’s Girl. — and the great music from the 1980s kept going throughout the night.
“All we need is some Crazy Train,” she said to me. I whipped out my mobile telephone and showed her that the song by Ozzy Osbourne was one of greater than 500 on my playlists if she wanted to hear it. She laughed.
Yes, I said great music. Judge me if you must. Hmph.
The paper menu was then placed on the table by one of the employees, along with an explanation as to what to expect. “The service is dim sum style,” he said. “A chef will come to you with one of his creations. You can either say yes, or you can say no. You can also ask questions about the dish if you have any.”
I found out that the menu items which caught my eye caught hers too…
…and before we knew it, out came one of the dishes in which we were interested: the Nantucket bay scallops with mussel, clam, escabeche, aioli, pita, blood orange and fennel. How the freshness of the flavors worked in harmony with each other was absolutely amazing. The pita bread was blue and spongy, which helped to absorb the essence of the ingredients which were placed on top of it.
Meanwhile, we were offered drinks from the cocktail cart which was pushed around the restaurant. We politely declined; but I must admit that even though I do not drink alcoholic beverages, the drinks which were served to the people next to us looked incredible.
After politely rejecting a few other gastronomic creations presented by other chefs who came to our table, out came the fried whole bronzino with roasted garlic, pine nut, herb pistou and charred lemon. “The fish has already been filleted inside,” the chef explained. He also advised that we eat the skin.
We eagerly dug into the bronzino. The only negative part of this dish was that we still had to watch out for bones; but that was minor at best. The fish was indeed filleted; and its mild flavor paired well with the boldness of the crispy fried skin.
“Would you like some charred lemon?” I asked my dining companion. She declined — until she saw just how easily the juice poured from the lemon with the slightest pressure. It was a great choice, as the tangy juice of the charred lemon only accentuated the incredible medley of flavors which seemed to dance around gleefully in our mouths.
A few more dishes were politely declined; and as delectable as they appeared, we were unsure as to whether we should continue dining — until the Peking duck breast with creamed collards, green custard, pumpkin miso caramel and gremolata arrived.
We looked at each other. We could not refuse; and we said yes — and it was yet another excellent choice. I thought I photographed that dish; but sadly, I do not have a photograph. The succulent duck breast was cooked to perfection; and the collards surprised both of us with an unusual explosion of flavor. The mildness of the green custard was an excellent complement to not only the richness of the duck breast; but also to the pumpkin miso caramel and gremolata.
Once we decided we were finished with dinner and switched seats with each other so that we can view the restaurant from different perspectives, she ordered coffee. She was presented with a mug with Defend ATL Southern Food printed on it, a press, and a miniature hourglass. “When the hourglass runs out, the brew cycle is complete,” explained the man who brought her the coffee. “That is when it is time to push the plunger on the press and serve the coffee.”
She thought that was pretty cool — my words, not hers.
Meanwhile, I arrived at the unusual decision to order dessert, which I typically do not do when I dine out.
For some reason, that green tea and coconut ice cream sandwich with grapefruit marmalade and cherry ganache seemed to be calling out my name — and I realized why during my first taste. The “cake” part of the dessert had a nice physical bite to it and underscored the mouth feel of the creamy ice cream and the thick tangy grapefruit marmalade. The mildness of the cherry ganache understated its full flavor.
As it was time to pay the bill, the restaurant was completely full of customers happily indulging in their meals as they polished off all of their plates — and the chefs made their rounds and presented them with more options which were difficult to resist. Note the time on the clock in the background, as we finished two minutes before 7:30.
We then left the restaurant. “That was really….good,” my dining companion — who normally has an excellent command of the English language — said. I can understand, though — describing the experience at Gunshow with mere words was incredibly difficult.
Unless you are a light eater, do not expect one plate to fill you up — and that is when the experience could start to become expensive. That would be my only negative critique about what was otherwise an amazing dining experience.
I was concerned that the combination of loud music and chatter among fellow customers would inhibit the conversation between me and my dining companion; but I only found myself asking her to repeat what she said several times.
Also, do not let the menu fool you: I do not like ingredients such as pumpkin, radishes and collard greens; but in no way did they inhibit my experience. All of the ingredients worked well together — and that is one of the hallmarks of a good chef.
Be advised that once you refuse a dish, a red X will be placed to the left of that item on the paper menu; and the chef will not return with it again — so be absolutely sure that you do not want that dish, for even if you did change your mind, it may no longer be available because each dish is created in limited quantities.
In fact, there is no set menu at Gunshow, as the menu changes often — and sometimes nightly. Do not be surprised if the menu item which you want is sold out. I advise that you arrive at the restaurant — or, at least, ensure that your reservation is for — as early as possible.
When you do accept a dish, the number 1 is marked on the line to the right of the item on the paper menu. The items are then added up at the end of the meal and totaled to the dollar amount for which you pay.
The total bill for the evening for two people was $80.66, which included all of the aforementioned items, a bottle of sparkling water, and tax — but not the tip. With a gratuity of $16.00, the total amounted to $96.66.
Gunshow is an excellent place to try different foods from different chefs — but without having to confine yourself to a single tasting menu, which could cost hundreds of dollars at some of the top restaurants in the world. You decide what dishes you want to eat, with fresh ingredients that are expertly prepared by the chefs.
I am not what anyone would define as a foodie — far from that, actually — but I highly recommend that you dine at Gunshow; and prepare your taste buds for an interactive yet unpretentious dining experience which they will not forget anytime soon.
924 Garrett Street, Suite C
Atlanta, Georgia 30316
Keep in mind that Gunshow is only open 15 hours per week, from 6:00 to 9:00 in the evening Tuesdays through Saturdays. It is located only minutes east of downtown Atlanta off Interstate 20.
The dress code is basically whatever you like — from formal to casual.
All photographs ©2019 by Brian Cohen.