First Look: The Tavern at Atlas

The executive chef, Christopher Grossman, presents a more approachable spin on fine dining with the restaurant’s new library and cocktail lounge.

What spurred the addition of a more casual dining area at atlas?
I think we just wanted to increase our approachability. We noticed that there were a lot of people trying to dine in the bar area where The Tavern is now. It was couches and small tables—so you’d have large plates on small tables, and it just wasn’t open to dining. Now more people can come in. We have high tables intended for food consumption now and more seating. It feels welcoming, and you can just walk in, grab a seat and order some food.

Hence the focus on small plates?
The people I mentioned [before] were eating in groups, and they were sharing everything. We were aware of that—you want little bites and to kind of taste everything. We’ll have people come in and order the menu, and you can try a little bit of everything.

There seems to be a trend toward casual fine dining.
It still comes back to approachability and the fact that typically for the chefs that excel at that level, it’s not for money; it’s because you want to cook good food for people and make them happy. By making something more approachable, you can cook for more people.

How is the Tavern menu different from that of Atlas?
I tried to keep it lighthearted. We’ve got chicken nuggets. There’s sliders—and what’s more approachable than a miniature hamburger? It’s the same burger that we’re doing in the dining room, only we just shrunk it down and made it smaller. Some of the execution is a little bit different, but we try and take the same caliber of ingredients and bring it to a price point where more people can enjoy it.

How does The Tavern relate back to Atlas?
I’m hoping that what we’re doing in The Tavern is going to give people a little more comfort coming back and enjoying the main dining room. I don’t want to sit down and have a seven-course meal every night of the week. I go out and I grab a burger or make a soup and a simple pasta. It’s good to have both.