Known for farm fresh restaurants Empire State South and Five & Ten, chef Hugh Acheson has turned his attention to hotel restaurants in recent years, opening By George in the Candler Hotel in 2019 and now-defunct Archie’s in the Omni at the Battery in 2018. Tonight, he’ll quietly launch his first Buckhead restaurant, a Montreal-style steakhouse called Mount Royal, in the Hyatt Centric. Rooftop lounge Spaceman will follow in the new year.
“We are not multimillionaires—we have to have backing,” Acheson explains. “Often the backing comes from developers doing hotels. If I want to grow my team and their opportunities, we have to stay busy.”
In this case, the development team originally contacted Chris Wilkins of Root Baking Co. A close friend of Acheson’s, Wilkins suggested they partner. “We love working on projects together,” Acheson says. “When you pair a baker and a Canadian, one-eyebrowed chef, it sounds like a joke, but it’s good.”
Having grown up in Ottawa, Acheson is excited to bring Montreal touches—from the full sour pickles to the latkes with caviar and crème fraiche—to Mount Royal. “Montreal’s culinary history is very dear to me and having accents of that throughout the menu makes me feel at home,” he says.
In addition to steak and seafood, Mount Royal—named after the mountain in Montreal City—will serve “really good vegetable sides,” like broiled baby broccoli, roasted mushrooms, a French-fried Vidalia onions nest, creamed spinach, and carrots vichy. There will be classic split pea soup and tourtiere (French-Canadian meat pie), plus Canadian lobster and Portuguese-style roasted chicken. Executive chef Sam Herndon is even making poutine with “true squeakies” cheese curds, beef jus, and bechamel, breaking Acheson’s unwritten rule to never serve poutine outside of Quebec.
Sommelier Steven Grubbs is designing a wine program smaller than that at Empire State South, but still focused. Beer will be limited and include some local options like Creature Comforts. Cocktails will highlight classics and feature maple and rye, a nod to Canada.
Since Mount Royal is a hotel restaurant, it will also serve breakfast and lunch daily. Wilkins will make the pastries and Montreal-style bagels, while Herndon whips up lyonnaise salad with poached egg, latkes with smoked salmon, and of course, steak and eggs.
The space features a large central bar that serves as a coffee hub during the day and a drinking spot at night. Acheson describes the ground-floor restaurant as “light-filled with a lot of banquettes, and very comfortable.” It seats more than 100 diners, including 38 on the patio.
Named for former Montreal Expos and Boston Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee, whose nickname is “Spaceman,” the 15th floor rooftop lounge will feature oversized TVs, corn hole, and skyline views of Buckhead.
“He was the zaniest pitcher of all time!” exclaims Acheson.
To that regard, the decor at Spaceman is an eclectic mix of patterns with rich colors and a tropical feel. The larger of its two patios features a mechanical ceiling to protect guests—and private parties—from rain, while the smaller offers yard game entertainment. There are at least three bars.
“Spaceman has a much younger vibe [than Mount Royal],” Acheson says. “We’ll have tropical-leaning things, a nod to some classics for very approachable, easy drinking—slammable patio stuff.”
That includes a cocktail on tap along with draft Highland Brewing Pilsner, as well as other mixed-to-order drinks and bottled beers. Chicken wings, Italian salad, fish tacos, and steamed snow crab legs offer sharable, casual bites.