Chef Hugh Acheson’s Montreal-Style Steakhouse Mount Royal’s Best Dishes in Buckhead, Atlanta
Hugh Acheson Maybe best known for serving fresh versions of Southern cuisine at Empire State South in Midtown and Five and Ten in Athens, but the Canadian-born chef has just opened two new restaurants in Atlanta, one of which is an ode to the capital of Canada and the neighboring city of Montreal.
Now open at the Hyatt Centric Hotel in Buckhead, Acheson reconnects with its French-Canadian roots at Mont-Royal, a Montreal-style steakhouse named after a mountain just west of town, while composing the bites of Spaceman rooftop lounge bar.
Acheson and Chef Sam Herndon (Head of Acheson’s Culinary Team) gave Eater insight into creating menus for Mount Royal and Spaceman, as well as five dishes people should try when they visit.
Hailing from Ottawa, Atlanta residents first saw Acheson lean into his regional Canadian roots with By George, which opened at the Candler Hotel in downtown Atlanta three years ago. . The menu mixes familiar French dishes and ingredients with those found throughout the South. At By George, you can dine on tenderloin of beef drizzled with bordelaise sauce and accompanied by whipped potatoes and spinach with kimchi cream, followed by a delicate profiterole topped with chocolate sauce and local pecans and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Acheson, who describes himself as “quietly Canadian,” describes the Mount Royal menu as an ode to Montreal and Ottawa, where the best cuts of steak pair with French-Canadian classics like Salad Lyonnaise, meat pies and sweet and sour pickles. But the chef still draws on the wealth of Southern ingredients here. More than half of Mount Royal’s dishes contain vegetables or ingredients sourced from local farms and food suppliers, right down to sorghum and flour.
“Tourtière is one of the quintessential dishes of the Quebec region and an essential element of the Mont-Royal menu,” explains Acheson.
This traditional meat pie is filled with seasoned braised pork, ground veal and ground pork stuffed in a flaky puff pastry and served with a small salad of hearts frisés (curly endives) dressed in a black truffle vinaigrette.
Ora King Salmon
“We’re trying to deepen the classic techniques that just aren’t as present anymore, because frankly, they require more work,” says Acheson.
The chef sources Ora King salmon for this dish from New Zealand. The fish is gently flattened to a uniform thickness. Next, a layer of softly cooked leeks is spread over the salmon, before the fish is rolled into a pinwheel shape.
“From there you cool it, slice it and poach it in a sauce of buttery seafood broth (nage), trout roe, lemon juice and chervil (French parsley),” adds he. “It hits all the spots – delicate in texture, rich in butter, and it’s visually really beautiful.”
“This dish [top right corner] originally comes from the town of Vichy in central France, and it’s known for its great water, so here we cook with spring water to replicate,” says Acheson. “Quebec has a strong French heritage, and carrot gingham is our tribute to history.”
Acheson credits James Beard with propelling French cuisine to the United States and helping to “popularize” carrots, which are cooked in a small amount of water, butter, and sugar. The carrots are then sprinkled with fresh parsley.
“Cooking the vegetables that customers crave is a real treat for us, and we really deliver on this carrot side dish,” he says.
Atop Mount Royal on the hotel’s 15th floor, Spaceman offers a more laid-back vibe with its indoor-outdoor lounge and skyline views. It also showcases the playful side of Acheson and his cooking. Look for cocktails pairing mezcal with vodka and bitter orange bianco and dry vermouth or cognac and sherry fino alongside amped up bar bites, including green chicken nachos, hummus and potato chips. bagel, and snow crab legs with Aleppo lemon butter.
Friper’s Hot Dog
Spaceman sources his hot dogs from Atlanta sausage company Fripper’s, owned by Colin Miles.
“This local business has an amazing hot dog. Many times people are willing to pay for an $18 burger and will shy away from any hot dog over five or six dollars, but honestly, it takes a lot more technique to make an amazing hot dog than a burger,” explains Acheson.
Spaceman’s Deluxe Dog is topped with crispy potato sticks and chow-chow relish mixed with black truffles. It is then drizzled with French Dijon mustard and a dusting of more black truffles and served on a Martin potato bun.
Single Layer Nachos
Herndon says a scene from the movie “Saving Silverman” serves as inspiration for the nachos on Spaceman’s menu.
“One scene that always makes me laugh is when Jack Black claims, much to Steve Zahn’s chagrin, that while eating nachos, ‘man, if you stick the nachos together, it’s a nacho!’ Each chip contains as much filling as possible,” says Herndon.
Nachos come here two ways: topped with green chili chicken or red guajillo chili mushrooms. The fries are then topped with queso fresco, pickled red onions, jalapenos, black beans, sour cream, pico de gallo, and guacamole.
“Everyone orders the green chili chicken, but honestly the veggie mushroom version with guajillo is the way to go.”
3301 Lenox Square Parkway, Atlanta. www.mtroyalatl.com; spacemanatl.com.
Mont Royal open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. Lunch from Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Astronaut open Wednesday to Sunday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Information on public transport: Walking distance from Lenox MARTA station and accessible via MARTA bus 27.
Warning: Health experts consider eating out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; this may pose a risk to vaccinees, especially in areas with high COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidelines are here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here. People are strongly advised to wear masks indoors or in crowded situations, regardless of their vaccination status, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.