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Bon soir to the Dining Room

I am so dismayed about the closing of the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead. I took my parents there in late 1995 to thank them for all they'd done for me, and to let them know that I was now standing on my own two feet financially. It was one of the two finest meals I've ever had. It is no coincidence that both of said meals were prepared by Chef Guenter Seeger.

It was my first taste of Vacherin Mont d'Or, my favorite cheese in the whole world when properly ripened.

We've lost Seeger, Sotohiro Kosugi, Joel Antunes, Michael Tuohy, Menard, Berthelier, and now the Dining Room itself. The Dining Room, the pinnacle of Atlanta's food scene.

I would've loved to make it there one last time, but with just getting back from San Francisco, it wasn't possible. I really, really wanted David to have that experience, but at least he got to have Seeger's, which was first among equals, as the saying goes.

This is a devastating blow to Atlanta's dining scene. Seriously. I mean, it's great that Atlanta's getting some recognition on Top Chef, but ... how do I say this? Um ... let's just say you'd never see Seeger competing on Top Chef. I suspect you'd have to do a lot of begging and pleading to get him there as a judge ... he's just never been a chef that sought the limelight.

Kevin is very good: I've dined at Woodfire several times. He's no Linton Hopkins, mind you, and he's definitely no Seeger, but he's got talent. Heck, for that matter, Colicchio is no Seeger, if Craft is any indication (Steak was brilliant; other aspects were hit-or-miss). Frankly, the only two guest judges they've had who I'd consider to be his peers would be Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert.

Atlanta needs that tier of dining represented in its culinary landscape to really be the international city it likes to fancy itself. I realize that it's hard to survive in tough economic times, but it's painful to realize that we're being bested competitively by Charleston, SC. We've got a long way to go before we're the New York of the South, and in the past few years, our dining scene has been losing ground, rather than gaining it.

At least we still have Linton Hopkins and Anne Quatrano.

Farewell, Dining Room. You will be sorely missed.

Edit: Bill Addison was there for the final meal.

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