Elizabeth Shara of Concierge Services of Atlanta Dishes on Dining Out in Atlanta

What happens when you ask a Los Angeles born and raised culinary expert and self-professed foodie about dining out in Atlanta? The answer is a lot!

Elizabeth does not just taste food; she truly experiences it. In fact, she believes strongly that eating is more about the entire experience vs. it being simply about the food. I should know because I have dined with Elizabeth many times in our fair city and it is always an experience. For her, the elements of eating are as follows:

  1. “Sharing focused time with the people I love
  2.  Nourishing our bodies to be healthy, strong and vibrant
  3.  The visual presentation is just as important as the taste and smell of the food.
  4. When dining out, or in my home, the atmosphere plays a big part of the overall experience.”

That is why when I asked her to come up with her top five food experiences in 2015, she was happy to oblige. However, before we get into her recommendations, you should know that Elizabeth’s family has been in the hospitality industry for three generations. She grew up in the hotel kitchen where her father was the General Manager of a boutique hotel in Pacific Palisades, and watching her grandmother cook enormous family meals. Her Nana would cook for days and made her taste every eastern European dish while explaining the importance of each ingredient. It was Elizabeth’s Mom who inspired her most. She explained, ‘My Mom showed her love for us, and our large extended family, through creating lavish parties for every occasion. The setting was always magical with candles glowing and wonderful music playing throughout the house. The table was decorated with the foliage of the season. Every detail was a love note’.

Elizabeth began her culinary journey at some of the top restaurants in Los Angeles but knew that her real passion was designing events and watching the guests enjoy the experience. She states, ‘Each event is an opportunity to learn and think outside the box. I’ve been incredibly blessed throughout the years to work with talented chefs, dedicated staff and clients who trusted me to delivery their vision’.

When asked what she looks for in an exceptional dining experience, she replied with the following:

“The setting will always lead my taste buds to happy place. I love a great food truck experience as much as a neighborhood cafe or an elegant restaurant. When the proprietors are truly committed to share their vision with their diners, it shows in the menu design, lighting and even the comfort of the chairs and table layout. One of my favorite spots back home is a cozy bakery and coffee bar. The menu is simple, nothing fancy really. Just delicious food, rows of books to share, wonderful music from around the world and the staff is trained to be fully present when serving the guests. They notice a wet umbrella and offer a paper towel or offer to hang up your coat so it doesn’t rest on the floor. They treat all as though we are guests in their very own home.”

So, without further adieu, here are Elizabeth’s top five dining experiences for 2015:

optimist-atlanta-ga-menu

The Optimist – this restaurant gives me what I want, every time without fail. The food is always delicious, fresh and presented beautifully. I rarely miss the Mussels with crusty bread to soak up the broth and several sides (Basmati Fried Rice and Beet Salad) but the fish special has never let me down. I have brought more than a handful of timid oyster eaters for their maiden voyage into my world of all things mollusks. The conversation during the oyster rite of passage the always the same; the texture turns them off and they look creepy. Eating oysters is more of a ritual process. Once they have tried a variety of raw and roasted oysters from The Optimist, they always volunteer for our next oyster date.

Kevin Gillespie & elizabethGunshow Owner/Chef, Kevin Gillespie and Elizabeth Shara

The Gunshow – nourishes my imagination. The creativity of each dish, the passion that each chef pours into their creation, to the actual delivery by the chef to your table who offers as much detail about their culinary artwork as you desire makes Gunshow an unparalleled dining experience. Chef Kevin Gillespie empowers his team to be themselves. From the mixologists’ unusual concoctions, to the tattoos and long beards, the chefs and servers themselves are part of the collaboration that only enhances my appreciation of the actual food.

6 Rumi’s Kitchen’s Traditional Persian Welcome Dish 

Rumi’s Kitchen – matches my image of what a celebration should look, feel and taste like. The aroma of the spices and the gorgeous setting with glowing lighting creates an atmosphere of joy. The dishes of fresh feta, walnuts, radish & herbs with baskets of warm pita are brought to the table before I have time to become too envious of those around me who are already enjoying their meals. These tasty offerings give me time to enjoy the moment in its entirety. The staff at Rumi’s has no idea that I work for a Concierge company or that we are in the business of recommending restaurants to our clients. I’ve never felt the need to tell them because I am always treated like a valued guest. This past week I called to ask if they offered one of my favorite items on the lunch menu. Turns out, this dish is only on the dinner menu but my request was noted on my lunch reservation and the kitchen prepared the item for me. Amazing!

Chef Shean SuterChef Shean Suter, Trace at W Midtown

Trace at W Midtown – Reminds me of home. Although I am a huge fan of the actual restaurant, the Georgia Shrimp & Grits served on the breakfast menu (specifically on the in-room dining menu) was the absolute perfect meal to start my 50th year. The combination of the perfectly cooked sunny side up egg, stewed green tomato, Cochon sausage is nestled in a warm bowl of crème fraiche and grits is perfection. This dish satisfies on many levels. This caloric indulgence is well worth it because the textures, variety of tastes and warmth of the grits reminds me of a time when my Mom would spend hours lovingly making us one of her amazing soups.

Ian - vine and tapIan Mendelson – Owner of Vine & Tap, World-Class Sommelier

Vine & Tap – Sunday Supper Menu gives me what I crave with my busy lifestyle. A simply delicious 3-course meal for $20 with 50% off wines from the bottle menu is a no-brainer win-win and a great way to end a busy weekend, or an easy slide into a busy week. The atmosphere has an immediate calming effect on my overactive-spreadsheet list maker mind.

When asked about plans for 2016, Elizabeth replied that she is excited about discovering new dining experiences in Atlanta. The exploding development in and around Atlanta coupled with the already bustling restaurant industry guarantees that she will have plenty of opportunities in the new year to do just that!

About Elizabeth Shara:

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Elizabeth lives in Alpharetta and enjoys mealtime with her 9 yr. old son Logan, longtime love Colin, and neighborhood friends who regularly show up in time for dinner. She also designs and executes events as well as actively marketing CSOA’s services to the burgeoning entertainment industry in Atlanta.

-Posted by Beth Schultz on Behalf of Concierge Services of Atlanta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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