Simple, Upscale Dining at Spring

A colorful plate of food.Photo by Brian Benefield

[This is the latest installment of “Cobb Cuisine, Culture and Community” by Brian Benefield]

Simplicity is the key to Brian So’s award-winning restaurant.  It is evident in every facet, from the small, seasonally inspired menu to the minimalist decor inside the old brick train depot building.  But being simple doesn’t take away from the attention to detail that Brian and his business partner and sommelier, Daniel Crawford, put into the food and wine they serve.  The name Spring comes from Brian’s favorite season to cook.  When things begin to grow as a rebirth of sorts, and many choice fruits and vegetables are coming into season for his use in the eatery.  So strongly believes in sourcing his produce and proteins from ethical farms that are often located in Georgia.  

Brian began cooking in elementary school as a hobby and would ask his mom to get ingredients for anything he found interesting.  Brian has created a rather formidable resume well before opening Spring in 2016.  He attended the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in NYC and worked at the coveted Eleven Madison Park.  Upon graduation, he moved to West Palm Beach to work at the Breakers Resort.  Needing to fulfill his creative itch even more, he headed west and worked at several Michelin-star establishments in San Francisco before returning home to Marietta.  Brian then worked at some of my favorite spots in Atlanta, including One Eared Stag, and was on the opening team at Sobban in Decatur.  I miss Sobban like a squirrel in my backyard misses the pee-cans that haven’t bloomed yet.  

The menu is purposely small, usually only three to four starters and the same amount of entrees and desserts.  Cooking only what is in season allows them to let the food shine with Brian’s simple but perfect execution and plating that is truly artwork.  The homemade sourdough bread is soft on the inside and has a hearty, crusty exterior that pairs perfectly with the in-house churned honeysuckle-colored butter.  We are very overdue to visit Spring, and that will be remedied in the very near future.  

A few features from the current menu are a beet salad with burrata, blackberry, walnut and pickled onion. My wife Cecilie loves beets so much that she’d go there and order three of these salads with a bottle of wine and be happy as a kid with a birthday cake.  I would definitely try the pan-roasted Alaskan Halibut with turnip, radish, beech mushroom and topped with a velvety, rich beurre blanc sauce.  And you must try one of their picture-worthy desserts, as they’ve been featured in Atlanta Magazine numerous times as best new restaurant. 

Brian has been nominated several times for a James Beard award in the rising chef and best chef Southeast categories. If I was a betting person, I’m sure he’ll win this highly regarded culinary honor just around the corner.  Other accolades include being named #7 best New restaurant in the US by Bon Appétit magazine. We were extremely fortunate to have Spring on our evening food tour for several years and our guests got to experience the high-caliber service and order an exquisite dessert of their choice. Paired perfectly with a coffee from Cool beans which is locally roasted right across the street. 

Daniel Crawford, the sommelier is very knowledgeable about his carefully curated wine selection and just a very nice and personable guy. He’s also quite familiar with the cuisine and can offer entertaining anecdotes about any given menu item to include its food history and how it came to be on their bill of fare.

Don’t expect to see Brian parading around the dining room seeking praise from his guests or catering to VIPs. On the contrary, he will be in the kitchen doing what he does best and that is taking minimal, high-quality, seasonal ingredients and creating a feast for your eyes as well as your palette.  Spring is a special restaurant and we are grateful to have this place tucked away next to the railroad tracks in Marietta Square. 

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