Abel Brown

New American | Oyster Bar | Seafood
legendary
Worth driving from anywhere!
Michael Stern | November 21, 2019
Save

Is Abel Brown the best restaurant in Augusta, Georgia? It’s not the fanciest or most formal. In fact, it’s a casual place, although service is as precise as a Swiss watch. Nothing on the fairly limited menu is stunningly creative. But there isn’t a dish in the house that is less than marvelous. Front and center is a panoply of exquisitely fresh oysters from all the coasts; steaks are expertly grilled; cocktails are gorgeous. You will pay plenty for the pleasure of eating here — dinner for two with a few drinks easily tops $100 — but if any meal is worth that much, this one is. If I were rich, I’d eat at Abel Brown at least once a week. As it is, for a special-occasion spurge, there’s no place in this part of the world I’d rather be.

About those cocktails. First, there’s an oyster shooter. That’s a shot glass containing a James River oyster, horseradish vodka, and bloody Mary mix. Pow! Among the more creative highballs are “Jazz at the Pit Stop,” which is Laird’s Apple Brandy, lemon juice, and sparkling wine; “Tea Hive,” which is Tito’s vodka, Elderflower liquor, chamomile tea, and orange blossom honey; and a “Kentucky Mule,” made with ginger beer and bourbon rather than vodka. Draught, cans, and bottles of beer are available from around the nation and the world.

House oysters are James River lovelies, which are plump, mild, and slightly sweet — utterly fresh if not all that exciting. In addition to them is a selection of about a half-dozen specialty oysters, which are described in such terms as “briny burst,” “meaty with a clean finish,” “savory and sweet with a dry finish.” They are rated for salinity and are available singly, by the half dozen or dozen — simply opened on the half shell on a tray of ice or doctored up with the likes of Stoli vodka, creme fraiche, caviar, and little bits of sweet watermelon (that’s an Imperial Oyster), or Rockefellered with spinach, Pernod, shallots, and Parmesan, or broiled with jalapeno peppers, lime butter, and Parmesan.

Beyond oysters every-which-way, starters include smoked and crisp-fried chicken wings, an artisan charcuterie board, and some beautiful salads, including a wedge made with buttery Bibb lettuce and a roasted golden beet salad of frisee lettuce laced with pickled plums and pecans. One special appetizer in January was steak tartare topped with pickled shallots and a quail egg, accompanied by marrow-rubbed toast points.

The list of available entrees is short — six items long, plus a daily special or two. Every dish I’ve tried is excellent, even if it is something of an anti-climax after bingeing on such superlative oysters. Especially notable are steaks — large, ultra-tender and remarkably flavorful filet mignon accompanied by gruyere mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach and a well-marbled smoked ribeye that comes with foraged mushrooms and blackened potato wedges. Shrimp and cheddar grits is a nicely tweaked Dixie classic: big, buff shrimp are accompanied by lengths of extremely spicy andouille sausage and a couple of whole fried okra pods.

For dessert, there are creme brulee, Key lime pie in a Mason jar, ice cream, sorbet, and a crazy-good chocolate croissant bread pudding ribboned with chocolate ganache and sopped with Wild Turkey bourbon creme, best enjoyed a la mode. Among post-prandial digestifs are brandies, ports, and espresso mead.

 

What to Eat
Abel Brown, Oysters
Oysters
Must-Try
Alabama oysters are meaty, savory, ocean-sweet
Abel Brown, Scallops
Scallops
Must-Try
Creamy Georges Bank scallops atop pumpkin risotto
Abel Brown, Shrimp & Grits
Shrimp & Grits
Must-Try
Shrimp & grits includes peppery andouille sausage & fried okra
Abel Brown, Ribeye Steak
Ribeye Steak
Must-Try
Smoked ribeye comes with blackened potato wedges.
Abel Brown, Oyster Shooter
Oyster Shooter
Must-Try
Oyster shooter packs horseradish vodka punch
Abel Brown, Wedge Salad
Wedge Salad
Must-Try
Bibb wedge with house-cured bacon
Abel Brown, Golden Beet Salad
Golden Beet Salad
Must-Try
Roasted golden beet salad features pecans, pickled plums, blue cheese
Abel Brown, Filet Mignon
Filet Mignon
Must-Try
Filet mignon with gruyere mashed potatoes
Abel Brown, Bread Pudding
Bread Pudding
Must-Try
Chocolate croissant bread pudding is sopped with Wild Turkey bourbon creme
Abel Brown, Oysters Imperial
Oysters Imperial
Must-Try
Oysters imperial are afloat in vodka and garlanded with creme fraiche, caviar, and little doots of watermelon.
Abel Brown, Steak Tartare
Steak Tartare
Must-Try
Steak tartare comes with marrow-infused toast points.
Abel Brown, Shrimp Cocktail
Shrimp Cocktail
Pickled shrimp cocktail
Abel Brown, Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is made with rye and bourbon.
Directions and Hours
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
Yes
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Honey From the Rock Cafe

    Augusta, Georgia

    Serving 4-star Dixie cafeteria fare with spiritual purpose, Augusta’s Honey from the Rock is known for baked chicken, crisp corn fritters & homemade ice cream.

  • Whiskey Alley

    Aiken, South Carolina

    Beyond a copious whiskey selection, this lively downtown Aiken bar & restaurant offers a dazzling repertoire of small and large plates for snacks or dinner.

  • Willcox Hotel

    Aiken, South Carolina

    An historic hotel restaurant with stylish modern food, the Willcox hearkens back to Aiken’s heyday as a swanky winter colony. Casual but pricey.

  • French Market Grille

    Augusta, Georgia

    A taste of New Orleans in an Augusta, Georgia, shopping center, the French Market Grille offers Big Easy ambience and Creole classics in gentle-tempered form.

  • Variety Restaurant

    Aiken, South Carolina

    Portions are huge, service is old-style hospitable at the Variety, a favorite of South Carolina square-meals eaters who know good steaks and fresh seafood.

  • Gary’s Hamburgers

    North Augusta, South Carolina

    Cooked to order, Gary’s fine hamburgers and catfish aren’t exactly fast food, but they are casual, cheap, and fun. Breakfast biscuits are fine, too.