Atlanta Restaurant Scene

First Look: American tavern fare at Howell’s Kitchen and Bar


Howell’s Kitchen and Bar opened in late December on Howell Mill Road.

It’s the newest project from executive chef Rob Phillip , Atlanta restaurateurs Rob Caswick and Jeff Newsham, and the group behind Atwoods Pizza in Midtown, Hearth Pizza Tavern in Sandy Springs and Camps Kitchen & Bar in Marietta.

Howell’s anchors the entrance to a new mix of restaurant, retail and office spaces. The contemporary design from Atlanta’s ASD|SKY includes an integrated array of indoor and outdoor seating areas.

The expansive bar area merges with an inviting L-shaped dining room featuring the work of Athens’ Studio.BNA, including artisan reclaimed wood tables and chairs, a row of cozy booths along one wall, and imaginative architectural lighting elements throughout.

Glass accordion doors open to a patio with a pair of fire pits. Beyond, there’s a covered porch with TVs, and a turf bocce ball court.

Riffing on favorites from the group’s other projects, the wide-ranging “eclectic American tavern fare” from Phillip goes from shareable snacks, sandwiches and salads to entrees such as grilled salmon and New York strip steak.

The bar program mirrors that reach, offering Genesee Cream Ale and local Scofflaw Basement IPA, along with house cocktails such as the Figgy Fashioned with Bullet Rye, house-made fig syrup, orange bitters, dried fig and an orange twist.

“Among the group, there’s always been this idea that we should have certain very approachable items,” Phillip said during a recent conversation. “We’re always going to have fish and chips. Obviously, there’s going to be a really good burger.

“I wanted to have a fried chicken sandwich, because it’s such a great indulgence. On the other side, there’s grilled salmon with steamed coconut rice and Asian vegetables.”

Phillip has been evolving his pizza-making methods for a long time, starting with Hearth, and moving on to Atwoods and Camps. At Howell’s, he’s doing wood-fired pizzas that are shaped like flatbread and served on wooden paddles.

“It’s a classic New York-style dough, which we’ve been doing, blending a couple of different flours in our own way, and fermenting it for two days. And when I looked at the tables at Howell’s, I decided we should do something on a flat board.”

In addition to the wood-fired oven, the kitchen is making use of a smoker in several dishes, including peach-smoked baby back ribs with house barbecue sauce, and as part of a chicken dinner plate, and a decadent smoked brisket Philly sandwich.

“We even ended up smoking the cheese for the mozzarella sticks,” Phillip said. “And we did jerk chicken paired with fried chicken in this two chicken dinner. We wanted to do a Philly sandwich, and using brisket became part of the smoking piece. And we smoke the turkey for our club sandwich, which is something I really love, too.”

Overall, Phillip said the restaurant group is creating a style and a direction that seek to strike a balance between familiar dishes and new flavors and presentations.

“The world is all around us now,” Phillip said. “As Americans, we eat so many different kinds of foods. We cross borders continuously, and taste flavors from many different countries, and they fall into our fabric as American comfort food. That’s the direction we’re going in.

“I think this particular restaurant is the direction this group is going to take in terms of the open spaces and the menus that are very approachable to our guests and a good value. That’s what we strive for. A restaurant that you can go to, and want to go to two or three times a week. And we’re going to keep going with that.”

1962 Howell Mill Road, Suite 100, Atlanta. 404-565-2221, howellskitchenbar.com.

More images from a First Look at Howell’s Kitchen and Bar

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The Food & Dining Team offers reviews, previews, food news and fun bites food trends for metro Atlanta’s vast food and dining scene.