Opened this past spring at 914 Howell Mill Road, The Optimist is owner Ford Fry’s third Howell Mil establishment, joining JCT Kitchen and White Provisions.
The seafood restaurant’s name was suggested by Fry’s father and refers to a small, single-handed sailing dinghy intended for use by children up to the age of 15. The understated quality of the name along with the forthright meaning of the word appeals to Fry, who has commented that he appreciates the reference to being an optimist about the “day’s catch” and “catching the next big fish.”
“A soaring, convivial spot, the Optimist has a hopping oyster bar shaped like a surfboard, a first-rate cocktail program, and seafood cooked with old-school expertise over a wood fire.”
Mariani later adds, “Every table is taken every night by a handsome, casually dressed crowd drinking signature cocktails and ordering frothy she-crab soup with shrimp toast, spicy glazed Spanish octopus with watermelon and coriander, and hearth-roasted red snapper in lime broth with herb salad that is somehow rich and bracing at once. If seafood can taste better than this, I can't wait to try it. Right now, the Optimist is American dining at its best, and that's why it's Esquire's 2012 Best New Restaurant of the Year.”
For more on the article, read here.
So, is Esquire right, or do you have another personal favorite from among the new Midtown and westside eateries that have opened in the past year? Let us know in the comment section below.