Gary’s Bistro is a restaurant that has been opening for a while now, setting up in the space occupied by Urban Flats previously. The owner is Gary Martin Hays, he of the workman’s compensation law firm, and the unforgettable refrigerator magnets. Gary, along with executive chef Tess Sanek, is trying to fill a void created when Urban Flats left: that of a casual but upscale place to eat in the Snellville area.
The bistro does look nice, with a lot of glass, plenty of space, plenty of natural lighting, nice tables, booths and chairs. The eatery appears to seat about a dozen tables of 4 and perhaps 15 tables of two inside, with options for outside seating as well. Staff dress in black soft shirts and jeans, with green aprons. There are plenty of staff here: perhaps six wait staff, a bartender, a manager, and a lady who may well have been Tess acting as traffic cop near the grill area. I didn’t sneak over to see if the fine pizza oven was still there, but I suspect that it is. Pizzas they call pizzettas are on the menu (lunch menu here, dinner menu here). The wine bar has been largely retained as well, another feature I’m really glad to see.
The lunch menu is reasonable. Dinner salads run around 8 to 9 dollars, sandwiches 9 to 11 dollars, pizzettas around 12 to 13 dollars. I had the bistro’s filet mignon sliders, which were smaller bits of food, but the Mahi BLT I ordered for my daughter was certainly large enough, and on excellent bread. The Georgia caviar (boiled peanuts in a spiral wire container) seems to me to be both homage and a bit of fun with Georgia’s roots.
The country salad I liked a great deal. I’ve had more than my share of meals in school, where what I ate was a big chunk of pumpernickel, a chunk of Stilton or Roquefort (whatever I could get from the local cheese chops), and as much Shiner Bock as $1 or $2 could get me (a quarter a glass at the grad student bar). The good blue cheese, the toasted pecans pretty well transported back to those moments.
There was very little to complain about in this meal. I would have preferred a chewier bread with the sliders, but a chewier bread would have made them something else, right? The raspberry vinaigrette with the country salad was too sweet for me, but I’m pretty sure I could have asked for a balsamic vinegar if I wanted. Service overall was attentive, constant, terrific. As this was at best a first impression, I’m tempted to follow up on Mike Stock’s offer to meet him here sometime, perhaps for dinner. They serve lamb here, and I’m a sucker for good lamb.
Verdict: An anticipated and welcome addition to the Snellville/Lawrenceville dining scene. Good food, great service. Highly recommended.
1250 Scenic Highway, Suite 1240
Lawrenceville, GA 30045