Ford Fry Opening Little Sparrow and Bar Blanc in Atlanta
Who’s behind it: Chef-restaurateur Ford Fry and his Rocket Farm Restaurants hospitality group. Fry has built a portfolio of restaurants across the South, including Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners State of Grace in Texas and Marcel in Atlanta.
Opening date: Little Sparrow opened Oct. 2; Bar Blanc is planned to open later this autumn.
Why you should know about it: With his expanding restaurant portfolio, Ford Fry has proven to be a leader across the South, with an eclectic range of culinary inspirations; two new restaurants from him makes a significant addition to Atlanta’s dining scene. Calling them the restaurants that Ford Fry “has dreamt of opening, Rocket Farm Restaurants vice president of beverage Eduardo Porto Carreiro described them to Wine Spectator as “beautiful restaurants with delicious and uncomplicated food where everyone feels welcome.”
The neighborhood: In the same building, Little Sparrow and Bar Blanc are located just to the south of Atlanta’s Berkeley Park, not far from Fry’s Marcel, as well as the Goat Farm Arts Center, Audubon Bacon Street Park and the Hill at Atlanta Waterworks, another local park.
The culinary approach: Little Sparrow draws from both old Brooklyn taverns and Paris bistros, with nods to 1970s European dining. (Its name is a tribute to famed Parisian singer Edith Piaf, nicknamed “Little Sparrow.”) Dishes include onion soup gratinée, glazed sweetbreads, duck liver mousse and chicken schnitzel; a section of the menu is dedicated solely to frites. Bar Blanc is also French-inspired and will offer a prix-fixe menu ($49.50) of dishes such as baguettes and butter, steak in a brown butter bearnaise (with unlimited frites) and crème caramel.
What’s on the wine list: Porto Carreiro and sommelier–beverage director Allison Lovelace oversee a list of about 100 selections, representing a 1,200-bottle inventory. The “dynamic and seasonal” program spotlights winemakers and growers across France and the U.S. who are using “mindful” environmental techniques. There are sparkling wines from Champagne’s Doyard, the Loire Valley’s Joseph Landron and others, along with Burgundy, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Provence rosé, Sonoma selections and more. The beverage program also features ciders and French-inspired cocktails. Diners can also expect many selections from France on the 50-wine list at Bar Blanc, where Lovelace oversees the beverage program day to day.
The design: Little Sparrow is located in the space formerly occupied by Fry’s JCT Kitchen, but its design is entirely different. The brasserie-like dining room boasts a rich range of colors and textures, with zinc, marble, leather and steel elements and murals depicting rural France. Bar Blanc sits above its sibling restaurant and is decked out with a mosaic tile floor and velvet seats; it will offer both indoor and outdoor seating.
Additional info: Music features heavily at both restaurants, and guests can expect everything from classic French and Italian songs to disco and Spanish pop at Little Sparrow. Bar Blanc, a more “rebellious” spot, will lean toward the likes of indie music and French hip hop.—C.D.
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Debuts Kahani
Who’s behind it: Chef Sanjay Rawat, who has been with Ritz-Carlton since 2022; he worked previously with other well-known hotels, including California’s Yaamava’ Resort & Casino at San Manuel (home to Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner the Pines Modern Steak House). Before this, Rawat’s role with Ritz-Carlton was as chef de cuisine, preparing menus for South Asian weddings.
When it opened: Oct. 7. Kahani is open from 6–10 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday.
Why you should know about it: Ritz-Carlton hotels are proven bastions of fine dining and great wine, encompassing an ever-growing restaurant portfolio that includes 13 Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners.
The neighborhood: Kahani is located within the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, a luxurious beachside hotel in Dana Point, Calif., not far from the Pacific Coast Highway, the Monarch Beach Golf Links, Dana Point Yacht Club and multiple parks, including Strand Vista Park.
The culinary approach: Rawat’s menu explores the flavors of Indian culinary traditions, but with Southern California ingredients and influences from farther afield; this is on display in Kahani’s saag-style lobster risotto, corn and cardamom bisque and cardamom cheesecake, as well as his rogan josh short rib (a Kashmiri-style curry of cooked beef short rib with pickled onions and crispy garlic). There is also a “curry sampler” of daal, rice, naan and more. The intention is for the menu to represent Rawat’s life and career, from moments cooking with his grandmother in New Delhi to this new opening in Dana Point.
What’s on the wine list: Assistant director of food and beverage Sanju Beri leads the wine program, which encompasses nearly 300 wines (around 36 served by the glass); these include Sonoma Chardonnay, Champagne, Prosecco, Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Burgundy and more. A notable name on the list is California’s Naidu Wines & Vineyards, founded by Raghni Naidu, originally from Punjab and a pioneer for female Indian vintners. Indian-influenced cocktails include the Almost Chai (Baileys, Kahlua and chai mix) and the Jal Jeera Mojito (Belvedere, club soda, jal jeera masala mix and tamarind).
The design: Candles light Kahani’s dining room, which is decorated with brass and gold elements, Indian fabrics and pieces from contemporary artist Arun Prem.
The name: Kahani translates to “story” in Hindi, embodying the restaurant’s cultural focus. In developing Kahani, the Ritz-Carlton assembled a “voluntary Indian Cultural Committee” of Indian hospitality professionals to bring the restaurant to fruition.
Upcoming events: Rawat is overseeing the second Diwali Mela dinner at Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, on Nov. 4, part of a two-night guest package that includes yoga and meditation, a fitness class and dinner for two at Kahani.—C.D.
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