Capers in Kennesaw Sets the Bar for Excellence
By Kathie Beckett
For over nine years now, Chef/Owner Steven Dudley of Capers Restaurant and Bar has been delighting patrons with his consistently good food. Noted as one of the best chefs in the area, he is still humble. Right away, he asks me to be sure to thank his local diners who have always supported him.
Capers is elegant, but not stuffy; you’ll feel just as comfortable in golf or tennis attire as you will in a suit coming from a business meeting. Come as you are, and enjoy the atmosphere and elegant touches.
The whimsical atmosphere can be attributed almost exclusively to Steven’s wife Veronica; her touches are everywhere: from the shining chandeliers to the “Green Lady” portrait on the wall to the oh-so-hip lounge area. It’s perfect as a place to hang out, have a romantic dinner, or bring the family after church.
A lot of people agree. Steven said, “Since we moved to our new location, our guest base has gotten larger and broader. But, we still have some of the same people that we saw in the first few months when we opened in downtown Kennesaw.”
Capers moved on Valentine’s Day in 2010 and went from 1800 sq. ft. to over 5,000 sq. ft. in the new location next to Publix off of Old 41 and Barrett Parkway.
But even though the space has changed, the menu has not, and guests are pleased with the consistent offerings. Steven said, “Our most popular appetizers are our fried green tomatoes, calamari, bruschetta and fire-roasted, stuffed mushrooms. That hasn’t changed for years.”
Changing the menu would be tough because everyone has their favorites. “Some people have eaten everything on our menu, and some people find a favorite thing and never get anything else but that,” he said.
As Steven talked, a couple comes into the restaurant that he hasn’t seen in a while. He greets them, and the man said, “I’m going to have the duck breast medallions. They are my favorite.” Steven remarked later, “I’m so glad that they are still on the menu; he orders them every time he comes in.”
The menu may remain the same, but Steven still offers specials occasionally. He said, “We make sure we have a good seafood special, pork or chicken offering, and then we offer a different steak now and then.”
Steak is still a very good seller. “We do a salt and pepper rib-eye as a special. It always sells out. A lot of people come in and want a good steak, but I don’t know if they always want the same steak. So when we deviate from that, we do a bone-in Rib-eye, a New York strip, or a beef tenderloin. We might even pair the tenderloin with something like shrimp or a crab cake.”
A recent steak and shrimp special was accompanied by wasabi mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. “It was a good combination for both the shrimp and the tenderloin. The tenderloin had a green peppercorn demi-glace on it. It was a little savory, a little hot, and a little sweet. Yin and yang, truly,” said Steven.
This attention to detail, like adding a demi-glace to the tenderloin, is just what has made Capers so successful. It is little touches like squeezing your lemon from a swan-shaped lemon squeezer or the sprig of rosemary that graces almost every entrée.
He takes great care with his soups, too. All of the soup bases are made with a fresh stock, and his chunky tomato and basil soup is now available most of the time. He’s also developed an adoring fan base around his shrimp bisque. Many customers have a new obsession, though: his crab finger and shrimp pasta.
The crab fingers are tucked into the pasta like gold nuggets waiting to be found. (Yes, they are still in the shell, but that’s what keeps them moist and delicious.) Portions are generous, too: 16 crab fingers and 5 jumbo shrimp adorned the egg linguine drizzled with a slightly spicy Parmesan cream sauce.
The herb-crusted grouper and Georgia trout continue to be best sellers. He’s recently added a rice-paper smoked salmon, and Ahi Tuna has also made the full-time cut. Steven said, “At lunch, we offer a couple of salads that sell briskly: we feature a pecan chicken salad and a steak salad as well.”
Even though Capers has moved to new, larger digs, lots of things are still being done by hand. He said, “We cut our own steaks, make all of our dressings, and we make all of our own desserts.” Ahhh, the desserts. That could be an entire article by itself. Suffice it to say: order any of them, and you’ll be happy. Order your dessert and an after-dinner cocktail, and retire to the lounge.
They decided in late 2011 to expand the bar area from six seats to over 40. With the redesign, they included a lounge area, complete with fireplace. Steven said, We like to cater to the unique sensibility of our female clients. If a space can make a woman feel at home, that’s where they are going to be. A group of women can sit around the sofas and use the table as a place for their drinks.” Live music, including Jazz on Sunday evenings and original piano music from 6-10 on Thursday and Friday nights, completes the scene. You’ll want to hang out here, and perhaps never leave. Or, at least, you’ll want to visit often.
Capers Restaurant & Bar is located at 1655 Old Highway 41 in Kennesaw; telephone 678-594-7735, capersonmain.com Open Tues-Sun for lunch and dinner; Sun brunch 11-3. Full service bar, fine wines.