The Optimist might be my favorite restaurant in Atlanta, and that's a bold statement. The first time I walked up to the door I already knew that I would like this place, as it has a few holes of mini-golf out front. On my last visit, our group wound up being larger than the number for which we booked, but the hostess was able to squeeze us in nevertheless; whereas other restaurants of this caliber that are surrounded by such acclaim tend to be snooty about last-minute changes, The Optimist staff was gracious and accommodating. That carried over to our server, who was full of personality and quick to recommend his favorite dishes and tell us to pass on certain ones he didn't think were as worthy as others (I always love an honest opinion from a restaurant's staff). Not that anything we had was anything short of awesome. The hush puppies to start are phenomenal; they come beignet-style, with powdered sugar and a dipping sauce of cane syrup butter. I'm not a huge fan of shellfish, but I'll admit the oyster bar was impressive with its sheer volume of selections. The seared scallops are a winner, with their accompanying glazed pork, celery root, Medjool dates, and Marcona almonds, as was the duck fat-poached swordfish (one of the restaurant's bestsellers). All of the cocktails are slam dunks; try as many as your tolerance can handle. And the Key lime pie for dessert was better than any slice I had in the Florida Keys. The restaurant itself is big and open, with a lot of reclaimed wood and tall ceilings. There's a large cut-out window that peers into the kitchen so you can see the chefs do their thing. You never knew who might be dining in the booth next to you, either (on my last visit, it happened to be Joe Jonas). Be sure and call a couple of weeks early to make a reservation. It took until my third attempt to actually get a table as it is that popular (and deserving of all its praises).