Ones to Watch | By Sabrina Davis
Dressed, a new Midtown Atlanta restaurant, is living up to its name by serving “Salads with Style.” Offering more than 60 gourmet ingredients gives the salads certain style, but equally important to chef and owner Justin Smolev is the style evident in the atmosphere. The restaurant’s sleek, urban, and elegant design elevates customers’ expectations before they reach the counter to order.
“I wanted to create a special experience,” says Smolev, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute who spent 10 years working in renowned restaurants in New York and Napa Valley. “Everything is just a little bit better than you would expect.”
The roughly 2,000-square-foot restaurant is decorated in white, with bright green, orange, and silver accents. There are white-stone countertops; translucent green chairs; orange glass pendant lights; bright, striking photography of vegetables by Lisa Jordan; and high-gloss, diamond-ground concrete floors thickly layered with epoxy. “The floors are spectacular,” Smolev says. “I get more comments about them than anything. They look like a still lake.”
Groovy ambient music completes the atmosphere, setting the stage for a sophisticated, culinary experience. This is not your average salad.
“Food has always been my passion,” Smolev says. “I want the customers to have the best salad they can. We’re using very high-quality ingredients. I’m really taking money out of my pocket in doing that.” A major difference, Smolev says, between his restaurant and many others in the quickly growing salad category is that every ingredient arrives in the restaurant raw. Meats and vegetables are seasoned and cooked on-site, and the dressings are made from scratch.
Most customers design their own salads, choosing from five selections of greens and seven cheeses. There are 67 toppings including almonds, asparagus, edamame, dried cherries, falafel, Granny Smith apples, potato sticks, snow peas, and walnuts, to highlight a few. The Meat & Non-Meat list includes chicken (grilled, Cajun, or fried), steak, shrimp, tofu, and egg whites among many others. Among the 25 dressings are Avocado, Dijon Wasabi Ginger Vinaigrette, Chipotle Aioli, and Blueberry Pomegranate Vinaigrette.
For customers who find the selection overwhelming, there are 15 chef-designed salads. The top-seller is the Five Star (grilled steak, grilled asparagus, goat cheese, bacon, dried cherries, mesclun mix, and baby spinach, topped with caramelized onion vinaigrette) for $9.25.