FINER DINER

The Magnolia breakfast is always available.

DIG INTO UPSCALE COMFORT FOOD AT ROSHAMBO.

The Magnolia breakfast is always available.
The Magnolia breakfast is always available.
Shrimp and grits is a menu staple that evolves with the season.
Shrimp and grits is a menu staple that evolves with the season.

It can be a challenge to decide what to order off the menu at Roshambo, located in the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center. Every option reads like a temptation. Fortunately, help is at the ready: Decide with a quick game of “rock, paper, scissors.” If you lack the necessary three hands, enlist help from a dining companion or your server. Don’t know how to play? A paper pad at each table helpfully details the rules of the game formally named Roshambo.

Roshambo is owners’ Chris Hall, Ryan Turner and Todd Mussman’s “love letter to Atlanta.” (The trio’s restaurant group, Unsukay, also includes Muss & Turner’s, Eleanor’s, Local Three and MTH Pizza.) To that end, most of the decor honors the city.

The tangy, spicy buffalo cauliflower wrap pairs nicely with crunchy tater tots.
The tangy, spicy buffalo cauliflower wrap pairs nicely with crunchy tater tots.

Opposite the wood and glass bar, a wall is adorned with a triple-layered Atlanta skyline; each wood panel represents the city as photographed in 1970, 1996 and 2015. A room dubbed the “side hustle” is decorated with a collection of plates featuring local icons from Outkast and Ted Turner to Atlanta Zoo’s famed gorilla Willie B. Photos near the restrooms showcase Atlanta symbols and legends. A rack of cassette tapes honors the erstwhile retail chain Turtle’s Records & Tapes.

Thai shrimp salad satisfyingly hits salty, tangy and sweet notes.

Lunch, dinner and weekend brunch menus all present something for everyone, whatever the craving and definition of “comfort food,” from classic Southern dishes to global favorites. Daily specials expand the menu Mondays through Fridays.

In classic diner fashion, breakfast is available all day, though the selection shifts as the hours progress. The Magnolia, the one option that’s always available, includes two eggs any style—my fried eggs were cooked to perfection—plus creamy heirloom grits, crispy bacon, turkey sausage and a hearty biscuit. Shrimp and grits is a brunch and lunch standard, though the recipe evolves seasonally. This early spring’s version added pumpkin, kale, onion and lemon pepper to its namesake duo, a creative, delightful interpretation of this Lowcountry classic.

Faux cheval Burger is an impressive best-seller.
Faux cheval Burger is an impressive best-seller.

Faux Cheval Burger is another menu staple. “This is our bestseller,’” said a server with a broad smile. One bite and I understood why. Packed with juicy umami, it tops two Angus beef patties with American cheese, Dijonnaise, sweet pickles and crisp lettuce. A solid argument can be made that the word “yum” in the dictionary could be accompanied by a picture of this burger. It’s tasty as is, but you can add bacon and/or a fried egg. A mound of crisp-tender tater tots is served alongside.

Bucket o' chicken is on all menus—ready to satisfy inevitable cravings.
Bucket o’ chicken is on all menus—ready to satisfy inevitable cravings.

The bucket o’ chicken is also on all menus, a satisfying constant. Bite into a crispy-juicy segment, and odds are that this is one fried bird you’ll crave again and again. It’s just-right on multiple fronts: texture, taste and temperature. Brunch sides include grits and scrambled eggs while lunch and dinner swaps those for mac and cheese and collard greens. Hearty biscuits, honey butter, Alabama white sauce and house hot sauce are always included. “A lot of people don’t know this,” said one staffer when I phoned in a to-go order, “but you can switch the sides. I recommend green beans instead of collards.” Solid advice. The earthy-sweet green beans pack a crisp bite. Mac and cheese smothers al dente pasta with creamy sauce, a lovely match.

Wednesday’s special chicken pot pie is perfect for fans who prefer a high ratio of filling. There’s no crust; rather, a biscuit crumble sits atop a thick stew. Chicken, peas and carrots are coated in a velvety herby sauce that lures successive spoonfuls.

A popular Middle Eastern street food, chicken shawarma packs tangy-smoky flavors.
A popular Middle Eastern street food, chicken shawarma packs tangy-smoky flavors.

The vegetarian, healthy-ish Buffalo cauliflower starter is presented as a fork-friendly dish with diced carrot and celery plus blue cheese crumbles. It’s a not-too-spicy shareable that could stand in as a side salad. For something larger, consider the Thai shrimp salad with shredded cabbages, carrots, cucumber, herbs and scallions with peanut dressing that’s salty, tangy and sweet.

Chicken shawarma, a spicy cousin to Greek gyros, plates strips of seasoned poultry with hummus, pita, cucumber and tomato salad plus tzatziki sauce. Whether you build sandwiches or fork and knife your way through, taste buds dance to the tangy, citrusy and smoky beat.

Decadent butter cake, topped with sky-high whipped cream, is a sweet end to any meal.
Decadent butter cake, topped with sky-high whipped cream, is a sweet end to any meal.

The butter cake, a dessert so popular it sometimes sells out, is like a merger of bread pudding and caramel apples. Rich and moist, it hits sweet, tart and buttery notes.

Want to dine out? Roshambo is a fine answer.

Roshambo
404.835.7373
roshamboatl.com
@roshamboatl

Prices: Cocktails, $10-18; wine, $14-25/glass or $48-210/bottle; beer, $4-12; whiskey, $12-40; starters, $9-17; salads, $9-25; sandwiches, $16-21; mains, $18-34; daily plates, $21-45; fried chicken bucket meal, $68; sweets, $10.

Recommended: Buffalo cauliflower, faux cheval burger, shrimp and grits, bucket o’ chicken.

Bottom line: This modern spin on the classic American diner has a casual vibe with a funky sense of humor, snappy service and upscale preparations of a broad range of comfort foods.

PHOTOS: Madelynne Grace

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