The Return of Polaris
Literally. As in, you are standing in your spot and your drink is actually moving away from you.
That’s what could happen when dining at a rotating restaurant!
Atlantans are excited for the return of Polaris, our city’s first rotating restaurant, which sits atop the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Atlanta, an illuminated blue dome that captures 360 degree views of downtown, midtown, Buckhead, the mountains, and beyond.
Originally opened in 1967, and recently redesigned from the ground up, Polaris offers a comfortable lounge environment, with a residential feel. As soon as you exit the transparent elevator (scaling 23 floors in 19 seconds), you immediately enter a space that looks as inviting as a posh high-rise apartment.
The open kitchen concept reminds you of a friend’s house, inviting you to enjoy your evening there, or in the library area, the formal dining areas, or at the expansive and fully-stocked bar.
It goes without saying that most stunning décor is of course the skyviews. Everywhere your eyes land in Polaris, there are panoramic vistas of the city.
Even when ordering a drink from the bar, your mixologist (bartender) is framed by huge windows from floor to ceiling.
If you imagine the restaurant as a cylinder, then the inner core is host to the kitchen and massive island where the chefs present their magic. The outer circle is the space that rotates, creating a full revolution every 45 minutes.
Alas, that is how my drink got away from me. I set my glass of Hendricks (infused with cucumber water and fresh, local blackberries) down on one of the islands to chat with the knowledgeable Chef Martin, and soon realized that my drink was a foot away from me.
But Chef Martin was such an interesting conversation partner! He introduced me to all of the dishes served that evening – and you should know that the entire menu of Polaris changes every two weeks because they only serve meat and produce that are in-season.
The philosophy of the new Polaris is farm-to-table, small plates, and expert mixology utilizing small distilleries and wineries.
If my five empty plates were any indication, it is safe to say that I was delighted by the dishes featured that evening.
Particular favorites were the tasso ham (a specialty of south Louisiana cuisine and provided by local smokehouse The Spotted Trotter) topped with little lady goat cheese, fresh peaches, and tiny radishes; together, it was the perfect bite.
I was also a fan of the risotto topped with rabbit and pork belly, the duck pate in a sesame waffle, as well as the bacon popcorn(!).
I was even treated to a slice of ibérico ham from Spain! My belly could not have been happier.
This is my happy face:
Every dish on the Polaris menu includes at least eight ingredients from their two rooftop gardens.
Chef Martin beamed as he told me about the twelve raised beds they maintain on the adjoining rooftop, growing ingredients like tomatoes, peppers, three different kinds of mint, basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, as well as two beehives, which provide both honey for the cocktails and meals for Polaris, as well as provide habitat for the bees.
This particularly appeals to me because I personally feel passionate about planting gardens that attract pollinators like bumble bees and butterflies, insects that are in trouble these days and need native plants. Win-win situation!
Speaking of that rooftop garden, I must mention the curveball that we encountered that evening. There was actually a band on that rooftop next to the gardens, providing live music for us that was piped into Polaris… but a massive thunderstorm erupted right in the middle of the evening, and we watched the band dart inside as raindrops the size of gumballs began to fall!
But man, what an incredible storm. You’ve never seen anything quite like it, unless you’re on the 23rd floor of a gorgeous building with windows for walls in downtown Atlanta. The sky brooded and swelled with water until it erupted in rain, thunder, and lightening that sent currents of energy through everyone in Polaris. We sipped our cocktails and marveled at the changing skyviews, delighted to be in the moment.
And soon the storm was over and the sunset that awaited us was a knockout. Yoke-yellow and mauve hues saturated the entire sky, bathing the buildings of downtown in radiant light. You just wanted to look and look and look at that horizon until your eyes could take it in no further.
Nature makes the most beautiful art.
Cheers to the team at Polaris; your re-emergence in Atlanta has been eagerly anticipated.
Welcome back, old friend.
This post originally appeared in Atlanta INtown Newspaper. Polaris is located in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, 265 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30303.