Camps Kitchen & Bar recently opened in the former Paper Mill Grill space in East Cobb .
The newest project from executive chef Rob Phillip, Atlanta restaurateurs Rob Caswick and Jeff Newsham and the team behind Hearth Pizza Tavern in Sandy Springs and Atwoods Pizza in Midtown features an “eclectic American” menu, including small plates, grilled pizzetta, sandwiches, burgers, and entrees.
Jonathan Turner of Grain and Tavernpointe in Midtown is in charge of the beverage program, which ranges from a simple $2 Genesee Cream Ale on draft to a sophisticated $13 Brooklyn cocktail with Rittenhouse Rye, Carpano Dry Vermouth, Amer Picon and Luxardo Maraschino.
The redesign is an exercise in subtraction, retaining the open kitchen and spacious bar area but simplifying the decor in the lounge and terraced dining room with rustic wood and other elements that convey an outdoorsy camping theme.
Last week, Caswick, Phillip and Turner sat down at Camps to talk about taking over the space and reimagining the concept while retaining its place in the community.
“We wanted to keep what this place is, which is the local neighborhood watering hole,” Caswick said. “The regulars have come back in and it’s kind of like they got their clubhouse back, especially at the bar.
“At the same time, we wanted to make the design a little more relevant, the food a little more approachable, and everything more casual and comfortable. The bar has a great lounge area with a fireplace, and there’s a big patio off the dining room, so you can come for date night or bring the kids on a weeknight.”
Asked about how he came up with the menu, Phillip said his approach was cued by the casual but chef-driven concept.
“I always like to walk into the space and see what the designers are doing in terms of decor, and here, of course, the name cuts right to the chase,” Phillip said. “But collaborating with Donny Crock, our chef de cuisine, we wanted to do as much stuff off the grill as we could. So the grilled pizza was something a little different, and a little retro, which is part of the concept, too.
“We also have coconut shrimp and other retro stuff. We wanted to have a lot of sharable plates up front. Of course, we have a great burger. You’ve got to have a great burger. And we have center-of-the-plate things like teriyaki salmon and a great prime New York strip steak that we wanted to deliver to our guests. But the menu will evolve as we see what our guests want.”
Turner’s beverage menu echoes many of Phillip’s ideas but offers a few twists of its own.
“The menu is designed for the neighborhood, and to be fun and give people what they want with really good price points,” Turner said. “But if you come in and order a Paper Plane, we can do that. We have a wide variety of wine and spirits, and we can make just about any cocktail you order.
“We’re letting the neighborhood pick some off-the-menu cocktail names. The first one, the Bonfire, will be a Templeton Rye cocktail served in a Templeton Rye flask. So we’re getting a little more interaction with the guests and making them part of it, too.”
255 Village Pkwy N.E., Marietta. 678-540-2003, campskitchenbar.com.
More images from a First Look at Camps Kitchen & Bar
Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook