Better Half is the first Atlanta brick-and-mortar restaurant from Zach and Cristina Meloy, the husband-and-wife team behind celebrated underground supper club PushStart Kitchen. Better Half’s innovative, market-driven menu is inspired by ingredients from the Southeast and Costa Rica. With an aim to serve as a natural extension of the Meloy’s home, the restaurant is housed in an intimate space with seating for just 46 guests. Chef Zach’s menu changes weekly, with no repeat dishes, except the luxurious silk handkerchief pasta with wild mushrooms that Zach served to Cristina on their first date (awww!).
In keeping with their passion for connecting people through food, Zach and Cristina launched underground Atlanta supper club, PushStart Kitchen, in 2011. Back then, each dinner was served to guests in a 130-year-old room at Atlanta’s historic Goat Farm Arts Center around a communal table for 18. Operating out of a tiny, on-site kitchen, Zach prepared the complex, multicourse dinners, and then assembled and served dishes to guests tableside.
Word quickly spread about his inventive cooking, and the suppers gained a loyal following with multiple sold-out seatings nearly every week. Recognizing the need for additional space, Zach and Cristina began exploring the idea of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. They initiated a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise capital, and received an outpouring of support through guests of PushStart. Soon thereafter, Zach and Cristina opened Better Half, or as they like to call it, “the restaurant Atlanta built.”
Zach showcases his appreciation for Southern and Latin American cuisine through a colorful and creative menu with stunning presentation and plating. While living in Costa Rica, Zach noticed the overlap between traditional ingredients there and those he knew from growing up in the South, including pork, chilies, rice, corn, watermelon and more. His menu is inspired by culinary memories—an ongoing exploration of these two cultures. Zach challenges himself to create new recipes based on what is coming out of the ground in any given season, and most produce at the restaurant is sourced from within roughly 75 miles of Better Half.
The small kitchen, serving as Zach’s workspace, is visible to diners throughout the restaurant. Guests can choose to sit at the reclaimed wood bar to watch and interact with Zach and his small team, or to sit privately at an individual or communal table. The restaurant is also available for private events. In addition, Better Half offers a nine-course, chef’s choice, tasting menu ($65 per person) available at the chef’s counter only. Zach can design a custom menu around any dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, gluten-free, etc.), as long as they are communicated in advance. Each guest who enjoys the chef’s choice menu receives a printed copy to take home at the end of the evening, a memento of the inspired food and a warm sense of place the Meloys have shared from their PushStart beginnings to finding their respective better halves.
Better Half is located in Bldg. C, 349 14th St. NW, Atlanta. For reservations, call (404) 695-4547 or request on OpenTable. Find them on Facebook, Twitter (@BetterHalfCook) and Instagram (@BetterHalfCook).