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Installation (Wordpress Part): Steakhead's Atlanta Eats Blog: Skip The Appetizers at Hal's

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Skip The Appetizers at Hal's

Up until last week, I had never heard of Hal's. After a friend told me he had one of the best steaks in Atlanta at this tucked away Buckhead steakhouse, I knew I had to try it. But I was having trouble coming to grips with my total unfamiliarity with this place. If its so good, why hadn't I heard even a peep about it? Was it new? No, upon arriving I learned it has been around for 15 years. Was it a regular restaurant that just happened to have good steaks? Nope- this place is a true upscale chophouse. Was it hidden away in a strip mall like so many Atlanta eateries? No, Hal's operates in a stand-alone building. Was it the location? Well that's possible. It's located just off the intersection of Roswell Road and Piedmont, on a street called Old Ivy. This road is the entire length of about 300 feet, starting from the end of Habersham Rd. and dead-ends in front of Hal's. In fact, we got there by cutting through the parking lot of an adjacent strip mall, as we couldn't find the road.

The first thing you notice about Hal's when you walk in is that its Old School. The crowd is somewhat older than the newer, hipper steakhouses, and oak is the primary interior theme. The tables are arranged fairly tight together, and with a pregnant Lady Steakhead, this was somewhat of an inconvenience. A piano player situated in the corner of the bar played James Taylor songs much of the night- a very nice touch.

As we were seated, our hostess informed us that we were in store for the best steaks in the city. Great! She unfortunately forgot to mention that we were also in store for the worst lobster bisque in the city. And a warning to stay completely away from the shrimp cocktail would have been nice. The bisque was somewhat of an enigma. With large chunks of lobster, I couldn't figure out why the primary taste was coming from the small pieces of broccoli (at least that's what I think it was- it certainly was very "lobstery"). And the shrimp cocktail special with crabmeat was a rip-off. Many of the best steakhouses take pride in the size of shrimp they offer in the shrimp cocktail. These shrimp were medium at best, drizzled with crabmeat you could barely taste, and smothered with a tasty but overpowering remoulade sauce. At a price of $15, I would have expected much better.

But I once heard a saying not to judge a book by its cover, and Steakhead does not judge a steakhouse by its appetizers. At least, not completely. I went with my usual these days- the bone-in ribeye. Trying to emulate the Chops experience, I added a blue cheese topping to my steak, which unfortunately was overbearing. And to be honest, the steak didn't need the boost- the flavor was strong on its own. Lady Steakhead went with the filet, served au poivre, which was also commendable. Not sure if I would call it the best I've had, but it certainly wasn't the worst.

So how does this rank amongst the cities all-stars? I would place it below the ranks of Chops and NY Prime. But the atmosphere is fun and if you order your starters better than we did, you can have decent meal. Cost: $$$ (out of 4). Grade: B.


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