HOUSED IN THE FLOWERY BRANCH historic district in a home from the 1890s, Antebellum welcomes diners like a gracious hostess, ushering you to step in out of the cold and into her intimate interior. The setting is at once hospitable and sophisticated, like any good Southern belle, promising a comfortable and impressive dining experience.
A FOUNDATION FOR GOOD FOOD
Like the origins of many a strong home, the tale of Antebellum begins with a love story.
When he met his wife, Allison, a hostess and server, chef and owner Nicholas St. Clair was serving as sous chef at Los Olivos Café—the California eatery featured in the movie “Sideways.” When the couple relocated to Atlanta to be closer to family, Chef Nick honed his culinary skills in some of the city’s finest restaurants, including Watershed and Woodfire Grill. In 2012—just one year before the birth of their first child—the St. Clair’s decided to act on a dream of opening their own business, combining a passion for the food industry and Chef Nick’s then-16 years of restaurant experience to launch Antebellum.
Leaving their home in the heart of the city, the couple ventured north to put down their roots. It was a leap of faith, settling in such a small town with few other attractions to draw tourists—but one that proved worthwhile. Soon after opening, Antebellum had put Flowery Branch on the map, becoming a top dining destination in the suburbs.
The fare at Antebellum is “contemporary Southern,” emphasizing seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.
“I love the historic blend behind Southern food,” St. Clair says. “In a way, it’s global.”
The menu is updated four to five times per year to keep it fresh and timely. However, there are a few staples you can count on—the grilled bread, for instance, with pimento cheese, Benton’s country ham, wild arugula, pickled red onions and horseradish cream, and an entrée of wild-caught shrimp over Logan Turnpike stone ground cheddar cheese grits with country ham and a lemon butter sauce.
The fried green tomato appetizer is a showstopper, served with bacon jam, brioche, a fried egg, hot sauce, and mimosa ice. There’s also a phenomenal grilled Atlantic salmon with a crispy cheddar grit cake, smoked tomato vinaigrette, pepper
jelly, local greens and a country ham chip. And the winter menu will likely welcome the return of a fan-favorite Moroccan-braised lamb shank with saffron onions, pearl pasta, pomegranate, dates, cilantro and toasted almonds. Whenever possible, ingredients come from Georgia purveyors like Cook Family Farms in Hamilton and local pig farmer Lee Hemmer, and most menu items can be made gluten-free for diners with dietary sensitivities.
The cocktail program, helmed by assistant manager Mark Faul, features creative libations like the Lavender Lady (Empress 1908 Indigo Gin, Cointreau, Merlet Crème De Mure, lemon and organic dried lavender) and a Georgia Peach Bellini (Deep Eddy Peach Vodka, Merlet Lune d’Abricot, lemon and Cava Sparkling). But his most innovative creations are two housebarred aged cocktails: the Paper Plane (Four Roses Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol and lemon) and the Boulevardier, a twist on the classic Negroni with Four Roses Bourbon, Campari and Sweet Vermouth.
“Barrel-aging rounds out the bitter aspects of a cocktail by allowing it to mature in the barrel by means of contact with the oak,” Faul says.
And be sure to save room for dessert, all of which are made in-house—we recommend Mike’s Favorite Chocolate Bread Pudding with Jack Daniels, vanilla whipped cream and caramel.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
While Antebellum offers the perfect setting for intimate dinners and date nights, the St. Clair’s second restaurant venture, Peyton’s Pie, is a more casual, family-friendly alternative nearby. Named for the couple’s first son, the pizzeria dishes out authentic woodfired pizzas with both traditional and inventive topping combinations (try Nick’s Current Favorite, with smoked gouda, fresh mozzarella, wild mushrooms, pesto and Calabrian chilies). You’ll also find chicken wings, homemade chicken pot pie and “sammies” like a woodfired meatball sub.
At Peyton’s, all pizza dough is cold-aged for 36 hours, then cooked to order at 800 degrees Fahrenheit using kiln-dried premium oak from Cutting Edge Firewood Co. in Peachtree Corners. It’s yet another example of that same dedication to quality the St. Clair’s prioritize at Antebellum.
Antebellum is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, with only 18 tables in the dining room and on the charming, wraparound porch (weather permitting). Reservations are strongly recommended.