Check, Please!

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To all of my loyal readers, I apologize for my column’s absence over the past two months.  I am very excited to again critique restaurants to better inform Mercer’s student body about where they should (or should not) choose to dine.  To herald Check, Please! back to The Cluster I chose a restaurant located outside of Macon to show a model of a well designed and easy to enjoy restaurant looks like.  Secondly, I am using Sal Grosso, located at 1927 Powers Ferry Rd SE, Atlanta, Ga. for one specific reason:  This was the restaurant that I took my girlfriend to for our one year anniversary.  While Sal Grosso definitely holds a place in my heart, I had high expectations for the product.  To say the least, it did not disappoint.

Sal Grosso appeals to a wide variety of audiences.  With a seductive and luring aura, both couples and large groups can equally enjoy the location.  Rooms are separated with small tables for small groups or couples while larger tables have been placed in the back to isolate sound and the appearance of feeling overcrowded.  To enhance everyone’s experience, Sal Grosso uses dark ambience with fall colors to dim and slow the area.  Lighting becomes crucial to the experience as all tables have hand lit candles to focus the customers on who they are with and shielding out other possible distractions.  The feeling of a quaint getaway overcomes any strong distraction that compliments the experience at Sal Grosso.

Atmosphere:  Quaint and Romantic

Sal Grosso, by its own definition, is a traditional Brazilian Steakhouse.  This means that ordering food is limited to wine selection and drinks.  Selection of food, however, is much broader.  At their leisure, customers are allowed to select from a well constructed salad and hot bar consisting of many traditional Brazilian side dishes.  My particular favorite is the combination of white rice and black beans with beef tips and pork sausage.  Those accommodations appear irrelevant to the selection of the main courses.  I use the term “courses” because throughout the evening a number of gauchos, or Southern Brazilian Cowboys, will bring several cuts of meat for selection.  Do not worry about choice because customers can choose all!  Everything from filet mignon (wrapped and unwrapped in Bacon) to swordfish comes from the back to the choice of the customer.  A card system alerts the gauchos as to whether they should bring more food or continue to the next customer.  This system completely eradicates any potential feeling of buyer’s remorse which can prove essential to luring back any customer.

A special note about the hostess; while she did not have an exact knowledge about the wine selection at Sal Grosso (she admitted her status as a new employee), she selected a very nice pinot noir to compliment our meal.  Despite her newbie status, her intellect to allow us to choose from two wines that fit our desires was well played.  An intelligent staff will usually overcome any shortcomings the restaurant may have.

Management:  Savvy and Unique

Lastly, a food critique must say something about the food quality of a restaurant to have a complete stance.  Despite the wide selection of various meats and dishes, the words succulent and impressive come to mind.  A connoisseur on beef, with any real appreciation for the art of cooking meet, understands that a chef relies little on sauces like A-1 and ketchup when creating a multitude of masterpieces like that Sal Grosso offers.  Every cut of steak portrayed the kind of tenderness usually only reserved for the love of children from their mothers.  Likewise, the delightful and exotic swordfish gave both my date and me a jolt of excitement and a mouthful of heaven.  Everything in between that I chose did not disappoint as I cannot remember any of them.  This relates back into the ingenious idea of eradicating buyer’s remorse that I talk about above in my management section.

Food Quality:  Artful and exquisite

As I have stated in my previous articles (and to anyone who will listen in person), restaurants should be judged in comparison to all others as not all restaurants, like movies, have the same ambitions.  Some wish to merely provide a fast product to those on the go while others seek the approval of the highest critics in the land.  Sal Grosso definitely aims towards the latter.  While the price range of Sal Grosso may deter some customers, please understand that Sal Grosso wishes to not have daily returning customers, but customers that rely on their restaurant for special occasions.  This explains their hours of operations, prices, and expectations of excellence.  So if you decide to take a trip to Atlanta for a special evening or weekend please consider stopping at Sal Grosso to enjoy a meal worth remembering.

Overall: Memorable