A famed Atlanta chef gives us one more reason to check out the Old Fourth Ward
By Ronda Racha Penrice
Since it opened last summer, 4th & Swift has taken the city by storm and garnered national attention as the only Atlanta eatery on Gayot’s 2008 Top 10 Best New Restaurants list. For the uninitiated or the skeptical, it takes but one meal to understand that the buzz is justified. Under the helm of celebrated chef Jay Swift, 4th & Swift has updated and perfected an American classic—comfort food.
Swift, a Baltimore native, earned his culinary stripes working for eateries up and down the East Coast, including restaurateur Bob Kinkead’s 21 Federal in Washington, D.C., and Foley’s Fish House in New York City.
But it was his executive chef tenure at Atlanta’s South City Kitchen—where he began experimenting and improving on traditional Southern dishes—that made him a star. Now, with 4th & Swift, the chef is taking his down-home fare up a notch. “There’s still a strong Southern influence,” he says of the menu. “But we’re doing it in an even more elegant and refined way.”
The result is fresh, farm-to-table food (Swift works with all-natural and sustainable farmers) and a menu that changes daily and seasonally. No matter what the time of year, though, be sure to try the eatery’s signature dish, the Three Little Pigs, which consists of pork loin and belly, house-made sausage, and macaroni and cheese.
Housed in the colossal engine room of the historic Southern Dairies building in the Old Fourth Ward, the restaurant has a look that is just as contemporary as its menu, thanks to the award-winning design team ai3. “I knew I wanted to do modern comfort food,” Swift explains. “And I knew I wanted to do it in a setting that’s kind of industrial and urban and reflective of Atlanta.” Exposed brick walls and ceiling beams, brushed metals, and concrete floors suggest an elegant simplicity, while black and brown hues, accented by white walls and rich wood, warm up the space. Diners who are curious about how the culinary team whips up its dishes can peek through the ceiling-to-floor sliding glass doors that separate the kitchen from the dining room.
With its dim lighting and long banquette, 4th & Swift creates the perfect vibe, whether the occasion is business or personal. But try to make it personal—when the food is this good, you don’t want to have to pretend to be a dainty eater.
4th & Swift. 621 North Ave. N.E. 678.904.0160. 4thandswift.com