Abes’ Best ‘Message’ Yet

Abes’ Best ‘Message’ Yet

David Abes opened Message in a Bottle in Dunwoody as a destination for fresh seafood with a splash of wonderful and reasonable options.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

David and Julie Abes operate as a power team in the Atlanta hospitality scene. Here, they pose in front of the thematic beach art.
David and Julie Abes operate as a power team in the Atlanta hospitality scene. Here, they pose in front of the thematic beach art.

Step aside fussy, faddish fusions to make way for Atlanta’s dining impresario and restaurateur, David Abes, walking the red carpet of 30A with Message in A Bottle, Dunwoody’s new standard-setting solid statement with real food.

Billed as “superior seafood,” Message in a Bottle nestles right in with some of Abes’ other concepts, bar{n}, and Morty’s Meats & Supply, around the outdoor space in Dunwoody Village’s new communal courtyard and ready for upcoming spring.

The table enjoyed three salads.

A man with a vision, Abes has long stated his plans to roll out the different concepts, methodically executing his road map to cuisine heaven. Remembering that a young Abes was general manager for the Atlanta Fish Market, COO for Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, director of operations for Here To Serve, and regional director for LDV Hospitality, “Message” is another leap forward to dine on fish so fresh it’s still leaping in the sea.

What we sampled:

Mariner’s Caesar — presented with thick white anchovies and Old Bay croutons ($12)
Pacific Rim Chopped Salad — Napa cabbage with sweet peppers, onions, basil, peanuts and Thai peanut dressing. Worth bragging about ($14)
Roasted Beet Salad — herbed fromage blanc, pistachio was bursting with cubes in a rainbow of beets ($13)

Super, fresh fish can be prepared in multiple ways. Pictured here are Virginia bass and grouper.

“Have it Your Way” with Catch of the Day, casts a wide net of preparation options:
Ibiza — lime chile broth and saffron rice
Nice (as in France) — herb roasted potatoes, French green beans, olives, warm herb vinaigrette.
Malibu — citrus ginger broth, sesame stir fried vegetables.
Our night’s “catches” were salmon ($28), grouper ($39), and Virginia bass ($30) prepared in the same order as above. The fish were so firm, different, and flavorfully cooked at the correct temperature, any could have been prepared in either method. Those not in the kosher realm might swoon over the gumbo, cioppino pasta, lobster bisque, and raw bar options.

Key lime pie; Banana’s Foster butter cake; various sorbets. We “table split” the Chocolate Turtle Cake with chocolate ice cream, candied pecans, and caramel sauce.

The messages in bottles at the front entrance represent some of David’s meaningful milestones.

Looking back since opening, Abes stated, “Message in a Bottle has exceeded all of my expectations the past three months. It’s really hard to gauge what was going to happen, especially opening towards the end of 2023. The overwhelming response from our community and beyond has been truly heartening. We are seeing guests from Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, and even Midtown. This one has definitely reached beyond Dunwoody. We are seeing that we filled a need in the market for consistently delicious, approachable seafood.”

“Message’s” interior is a blend of white shiplap, beachy, clever art — like pairs of flip flops heading to the restroom. Abes’ gracious wife, Julie, greeted diners on a Saturday night to a full, but not overcrowded room. Familiar Jewish faces abound, but in a nice mix of ages and ethnicities. Interior seating capacity is 100. A well-appointed room in the rear is available for private parties.

Julie commissioned this aqua glass fixture directly from Israel.

Working as husband-and-wife team, Abes said, “Navigating the creation of Funwoody (his term for the area) with Julie has been an incredible journey. While I focus on the daily operations, Julie adds the finishing touches with social media and restaurant decor. As empty nesters, it’s great to have our direction finally converging. It has deepened our personal connection which we really need as we gear up for our daughter’s spring wedding.”

Julie made special note that the glam turquoise glass custom chandelier was commissioned and imported from Israel, to miraculously arrive before the grand opening. Also at the entrance, David pointed out the real “messages” in bottles that were of sentimental value in his career.

One Jewish diner commented, “Reminds me of the Western Wall with meaningful wishes on paper.”

The “30A” accented beach art adds to the ambiance.

To be sure, the Abes’ will prosper and flourish with their new endeavor.

Looking forward, the Funwoody Food Truck is serving as a test kitchen for restaurant group’s diverse concepts. In late spring, it will transform into a haven for Israeli favorites like shawarma, falafel, hummus, salatim with options for pita or bowls. Cyndi Sterne, director of operations, is returning to the kitchen to oversee recipes.

Message in a Bottle is located at 5515 Chamblee Dunwoody Road. Phone: 770-670-6635. Open Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m., weekdays at 4 p.m. Closed Mondays.

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