Rock Steady has all the elements of a restaurant where waiting months for a reservation is the norm. Thankfully, despite frequent celebrity sightings, the brainchild of nightclub owner Joe Russo and Jacob Thomas is still quite accessible. Think 21st Century Cotton Club. There’s the romantic, chic, and incredibly private layout, coupled with cuisine that celebrates Jacob Thomas’ Haitian roots and Executive Chef Lucy’s Black American soulful cooking style. Now add flawless service, plating, food and even the crowd and Rocksteady is an authentic representation of Atlanta’s status as a Black mecca.
Dining choices include downstairs for a more traditional restaurant vibe or upstairs for a younger and swankier experience with plush couches and seating areas steps away from the DJ. The bars, yes I said bars, as in multiple drinking stations are all amazing. From craft cocktails to classics like Manhattans, Sidecars, and Mint Juleps these mixologists and bartenders have you covered. Jacob recommended the Cool Out, a gin cocktail that I enjoyed so much I bought three more.
Rock Steady is a scratch kitchen with items either made in house or locally sourced from artisans and bakers to keep the homemade quality consistent. The food was impeccable, taking their brunch to an elevated status. Unlike any in the city, the brunch menu embraces an African-Diasporic culinary approach with a nod to Asian fusion for one of the city’s most unique and delicious brunch experiences.
My first entrée is a perfect example. The beautiful crawfish omelet was prepared in the American fashion but was so stuffed with crawfish and other deliciousness that it resembled a burrito with the thin egg serving as a tortilla barely able to contain the contents. The explosion of seafood goodness is served with an in-house hollandaise that set it off like Queen Latifah!
Following the omelet, I had the Ackee Skillet and believe it or not, this VEGAN masterpiece was my favorite item on the menu. Chef Lucky created an elevated skillet dish using sweet potatoes, plant-based chorizo, sliced avocado and ackee, all washed with an in-house aioli for one of the most unforgettable entrees in all of our Atlanta reviews. What an intelligent dish! Health consciousness, veganism, and soul took a road trip of culinary excellence with my grateful palate as its final destination!
The potatoes were cooked to a lite crisp and soft interior while the flavor adorning the ackee burst through with the exact confidence displayed by Chef Lucky for a one-of-a-kind experience. The ackee’s texture was similar to scrambled eggs, but with a delicate nutty profile that absorbed the robust and exciting flavors. I was totally wowed by this plate.
Next was a crowd favorite, their addictive Red Strip Jerk Chicken Sandwich with fresh baked cocoa bread toasted with butter and garlic and served with red onion, tomato, mixed greens, and a roasted garlic aioli on top of fire kissed jerk chicken. The cocoa bread has a slight sweetness that meshed well with the heat and spice of the jerk chicken and the roasted garlic aioli brings it all together beautifully. My second favorite menu item, this dish is an awesome introduction to Afro-Caribbean cuisine with a tasty Jamaican undertow.
Their appetizer style selections include fried green tomatoes, collard green wontons and waffle battered wings so uniquely delicious I feel fancy as hell and inclined to put on nice shoes just to write about them. Chef Lucky works his magic with the sweet, savory batter and its slight Afro-Asian reception marinated in jerk seasoning, grilled, then fried.
The fried green tomatoes also received a welcomed makeover from their simple southern roots. Chef Lucky coated them with a cornflake crumble while topping each with roasted red peppers, roasted capers, feta cheese and a scotch bonnet lemon aioli. This chef is in love with aioli, and I am here for it. The collard green wontons were scrumptious, especially with the in-house prepared crispy wontons.
The Oxtail Breakfast Skillet is a local favorite for good reason. The oxtails were a bit uncategorized in origin but leaned just a little heavier on the American variety, resembling a delicious winter stew. This flavorful dish was made unique with the egg on top, allowing me the pleasure of mixing the items and using the toast to proudly create a fascinating sandwich. A bonus for me was the shredded oxtail meat without the annoying bone.
Following this amazing dish came the Haitian Shrimp and Grits, my second favorite shrimp and grits combo in the city. The plate is served with jumbo shrimp sautéed in Haitian spices, garlic, and heirloom cherry tomatoes tossed in a citrus butter cream sauce over silky yellow stone grits.
Please use your utensils to avoid biting your fingers! Each shrimp is incredibly tender along with a sauce that resembles several western African dishes with a welcomed passive-aggressive heat. When you thought the spice and heat train was about to ramp up, it immediately came to quick stop and coasted at a heat and spice altitude that produced a slight glistening of forehead sweat.
Atlanta’s Black food and drink scene is one of the most exciting in the nation. We have had our ups and downs, but the ups are outpacing the downs. Step away from popular celebrity driven concepts if you want to experience some of the best food in the country because that’s what folks like Chef Lucky and visionaries like Jacob Thomas are serving.
Rock Steady is one of my favorites in the nation, not just Atlanta. I look forward to this place becoming a staple in Chocolate City. Visit them online at www.rocksteadyatl.com. They’re located at 907 Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. The number is (470) 788-8120.