Back in the 1990s in Westside Atlanta, a steady pilgrimage of artists, musicians and other assorted bohemians flowed into the old meatpacking district around the railway junction that connected Atlanta to all points Southern. It’s a familiar story where the counterculture vibe eventually draws more mainstream clientele with weekend farmers markets, ethnic restaurants and college clubs until there’s a slew of bobo storefronts from Anthropologie to Jonathan Adler.
In 2007, JCT Kitchen & Bar opened up on the back corner lot in a restored heritage building overlooking the railway tracks. With lots of heavy steel beams, exposed brick and a galvanized silo for ambiance, chef/owner Ford Fry trimmed out the place with vintage furnishings to complete the industrial-chic look. He planted a few truckloads of trees and greenery around the roof deck to soften the edges, and then he got busy in the kitchen.
From the very beginning, locals have flocked here for Fry’s “Southern Farmstead Cooking” that puts a premium on local, seasonal ingredients to create meals prepared entirely from scratch.
“’Farmstead’ is a culinary term currently used in artisan cheesemaking where the dairy comes from the same farm where the cheese is made,” says Fry. “I like the word because it indicates hand-crafted food and using local farms. It speaks of seasonal, fresh ingredients. It describes a philosophy of food.”
Iron Chef host Alton Brown is on record stating: “Finally someone knows how to make fried chicken.” When we naively asked JCT what makes their fried chicken so tasty and tender, we were politely declined.
Many other Southern classics are well represented and most come with a fun, modern twist. House faves include a Benton’s country bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with black pepper egg dumplings, Berkshire belly and creamy local cabbage.
Brand new for summer, the lunch menu features a grilled fresh fig with blue cheese and house cured bacon.
That kind of creative culinary wonderfulness is winning over national groups also, which is why the Atlanta CVB recommended we check it out. JCT (short for “Junction”) seats 165, but max capacity for a group buyout is 400. Besides the food, drinks and design, the rooftop lounge works exceedingly well for groups up to 200 because it’s an easy lock-off, there’s a dedicated bar and everything can be moved or removed to customize any event.
The loft-like setting features both indoor space with an oversized chandelier and outdoor space with clear views of downtown, which is about a 10-minute drive away.
“What we have here is so unique it can’t be copied,” says event director Valerie Mosley.”We have a really fun time hosting events up there. We just did an event for the launch of Something Borrowed, the new Emily Giffin movie. I mean, we went to town. We moved all the furniture around, we had everything in pink, it was really cool.”