Counting House is the restaurant in the new 21c Museum Hotel situated at the corner of Main and Corcoran in the old Suntrust Building downtown. I arrived there around 5:15 Friday night and was surprised to see it was already fairly busy. I was greeted enthusiastically and the servers rather than wearing uniforms were in street clothes which took away some of the hotel bar feel and instead it felt like walking into a hip, cool new restaurant.
The bar is beautiful. First things first, the bar stools. I love to sit at the bar and restaurants win or lose for me on bar stools. I’m looking at you Mateo. I love your food but your bar stools are torturous. Not so with these. Gold/straw colored upholstery and so soft and comfortable. My feet rested on the bottom rung (no dangling) and they were the perfect height. I was able to sit comfortably for hours which explains all the drinking and eating I did. I was lulled by the siren song of the comfortable seating.
I tried all the cocktails. I know what you’re thinking but no, I only ordered 2 and then friends showed up so I sampled all of theirs. I love gin so I ordered the Southern Side which was the perfect balance of citrus, mint and gin. Think gin mojito. I next had the Day Tripper – a cava cocktail with a perfect twist of lemon. Both of these drinks were outstanding though I’d lean toward the Southern Side as the Day Tripper is a bit sweet. Friends ordered the Ellis-Stone – equally delicious and topped with what I could best describe as a snow cone. The Brown and Bitter – if you love Rye please order this drink – was smooth and warming with every flavor in balance. The Antillean Daiquiri. I don’t have a picture of the daiquiri because we drank it so quickly. Not only was it delicious but it was so incredibly aromatic I found myself just holding the drink sniffing it. That sounds weird but if you smell it you’ll be hooked too. The cocktail prices range from $9-$11.
If given the chance to eat a hamburger at a restaurant I always do. Something so simple can be made so badly and I figure if the chef can nail a burger there’s hope for the future. GET THIS BURGER!!!
It’s a double-decker loaded with hoop cheese, pickled onions, horseradish jam and served on a multi-seed bun. The bun was soft but held up to the burger and the variety of seeds complemented each bite. I’m usually a condiment girl and there was not a single thing I needed to add to this burger. The fries – I was skeptical. They were a bit paler than I normally like so I was planning to be disappointed. Nope, no disappointment. They were perfectly crisp and stayed that way throughout my meal. I asked the server about the fries and there’s some multi-step (beyond double frying) process that gives them their crispy finish. I was full about halfway through the burger but it was so good I downed the whole thing. I seriously couldn’t stop eating it. In for a penny in for a pound so despite being stuffed gluttony won out and I’m so glad it did. I tried the tilefish and sunchoke dish that was a special for the evening. The fish was incredibly fresh served with a light drizzle of a sauce that was flavorful and bright from lime. Again, the balance was perfect. Each ingredient played well together.
I can’t wait to try the rest of the menu.
The servers were great, attentive but not hovering, and knew the menu well including the drinks. When you go also check out the bathrooms. I’d heard of these types of bathrooms, clear boxes that with the turn of a latch frost over giving you privacy, but had never used one. Beware, if you can see out folks can see in.
Counting House is a welcome addition to downtown. I’m sure between cocktails, dinner or touring the art galleries which are open to the public, I will be there often. For reservations, location and hours, click here. Visit BitesofBullCity.com for an insider’s view of the 21cMuseum Hotel.