Sandy Springs has a new dining destination which is “the place to be and be seen.” Restaurateur Blaiss Nowak has grown his portfolio spawning from Nowak’s at 1397 North Highland in Morningside, which became a neighborhood favorite, constructed in a historic brick walled building. Now, the new Nowak’s is on Abernathy Road in the same center as LA Fitness, just west of Roswell Road.
When asked about the new concept, Nowak said, “Our vibe is sexy and sophisticated! Hip modern steakhouse feel with classic steakhouse dishes.”
No brick walls here, only the paintings add color to the almost art deco-ish white, black, and gray motif. Cuisine could be categorized as “American comfort food with a splash of French Creole.”
Nowak has earned “his chops” in the food biz. At 12, he moved to Atlanta from New Orleans and attended Greenfield Hebrew Academy for his bar mitzvah year. Onto Riverwood High School, then a degree in hospitality management at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. After college, he worked for two years for his father, at the long enduring and eponymous, Hal’s Steakhouse, also off Roswell Road in Buckhead.
The new Nowak’s seats 160 guests and features a private room that can hold up to 50, and a bar that seats 27.
Nowak said, “Our most popular dishes are our steaks. We have several cuts and special steaks, such as a 36-ounce tomahawk ribeye. Our seafood towers have been a huge hit as well for appetizers. We also have an oyster bar with several fresh oysters from various regions daily.”
Contrasted to Morningside, the Sandy Springs location offers eight steaks daily instead of three, and also seafood towers and caviar service in Sandy Springs.
Nowak added, “Otherwise, all of our big hits are on both menus, such as the Nowak’s shrimp appetizer served hot in a Creole sauce with French bread for dipping. Our Nowak’s chicken, pan-seared chicken breast with fresh herbs and vegetables in a light white wine sauce, and the branzino, pan-seared over mashed potatoes with a Beurre blanc sauce.”
The staff is friendly and accommodating even on a busy Saturday night with every seat filled. Nowak himself is hands-on, running the kitchen in a physically and mentally demanding, adrenaline-charged way. His mother, Lynda Mahana, who is known for making most of the desserts on the menu, said, “Blaiss is, and has been always, very hard working.”
This writer veers from the meat menu to the pesca/vegetarian stream. We started with the classic wedge salad (adding anchovies) $12, and lightly fried artichoke hearts with garlic aoli ($17). Our entrees were grilled salmon ($32) over asparagus with a side of grilled mushrooms and pan-seared branzino over mashed potatoes over Buerre blanc sauce ($37). Many items are indicated as gluten-free.
Part of the fun at Nowak’s is the multi-generational, and very Jewish, crowd. Young families came in early and were out by 7 p.m., when the couples came in. Drinks start at 4 p.m., dinner at 5 p.m. The line of booths connected, and, if one was so inclined, one could chat with the next table. We had great convo with the adjacent Raidberg’s, who were out for an adult dinner.
Another table hosted the Chaiken’s (Fred) and Levine’s (Steve). Bruce and JacLynn Morris chatted with Harvey P. Mays, who said, “We haven’t tried the food yet, but if you need a minyan, this is the place to be.”
The background had some lively buzz and was brightly lit until the lights dimmed at 8:15 p.m. The kitchen closes at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night, the bar at 10 p.m., and slightly earlier during the week.
Sandy Springs continues to build on its burgeoning reputation of “stay close to home for fine and varied dining” with Nowak’s addition. Note that in last year’s Food That Rocks festival, even prior to its opening, Nowak’s won the Best Food award.
Special points for easy walk-up, free parking out front. Walk-ins welcome or call 404-980-3638 for reservations. Closed Sunday. 6690 Roswell Road.