Dunwoody News Alert

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dunwoody Bistro @ Williamsburg, review

AJC, Northside, 11/17/06, by Jennifer Brett

Taste of the Northside: A cozy place to return to

From the story:
Such is the cuisine at Dunwoody Bistro. Chef Lauren Shaar blends Asian influence from her native Korea with the French and Italian cuisine she mastered in culinary school, and throws in some Mediterranean, Mexican and British touches, all to the delight of her Dunwoody neighbors. Her restaurant is a cozy spot to meet girlfriends for lunch, a date for dinner, or the family for Sunday brunch.

"I don't advertise that much," says Shaar, whom locals may remember from the nearby Farmhouse Tea Shoppe. "Everyone who comes here, we know each other's names."

Shaar, who also catered a while and cooked at the closed, lamented Asher in downtown Roswell, opened Dunwoody Bistro about two years ago. The space, located in the Williamsburg Shopping Center, housed a coffee shop for years, and the restaurant has retained the loving, lived-in feel the well-caffeinated, literary-minded set can impart. Stacks of books in charmingly haphazard piles fill bookshelves along the walls, and the small dining room's prime seating choices are the banquette near the back or a bench seat in the front window. The restroom is wallpapered in pithy quotes such as: "It is not he who has little but he who wants more who is poor."


The signature item on the lunch menu is Chef Lauren's Asian salad, which Shaar has found to be "everyone's favorite." With good reason. It's a bountiful beauty of a dish, featuring chopped Napa and red cabbage with romaine lettuce and carrots. Shaar throws in some toasted Asian noodles and either chicken or beef, and tosses the salad in sesame ginger dressing.

The shrimp and scallop cake melt is a house specialty Shaar created as an alternative to crab cakes, staple of ladies' lunches everywhere. (With a smallish restaurant, Shaar worried the whole place would smell like crabs). The crustacean cake is meaty and mayo-free, with a nice tang. But most exciting are the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes Shaar tucks under the cakes.

This is clearly a place for regulars. The day I went, several of the other tables were occupied by couplets of handsome women discussing urgent matters involving drama-queen friends and stick-in-the-mud husbands. (Like Newland Archer, the protagonist in "The Age of Innocence," I'm too discreet to blab). Each of them addressed our waitress with familiarity and warmth, and said something along the lines of "See you next time," as they took their leave.

But the place isn't stuffy, and newcomers like myself and Ms. Wharton are treated like friends.

If I were to offer one suggestion, I might invite the restaurant to consider tossing the tablecloths, stained with red wine or some such, into the trash. The tables dressed with crisp white butcher's paper looked just as smart as if they were linen-clad. Cleaner, too.

Dunwoody Bistro

> Where: 2482 Jett Ferry Road, Dunwoody

> Info: 770-206-5200

> Cuisine: Eclectic

> Specialties: Chef Lauren's Asian salad, shrimp and scallop cake melt

> Entrees: Lunch $8.25-$12.95; dinner entrees $10.95-$20.95

> Reservations: Accepted, but not required

> Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; dinner 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; brunch 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

> Noise level: Moderate


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