Food & Drink

First Look: Kevin Gillespie’s New Atlanta Restaurant, Nàdair, Is His Most Personal Yet

The Woodland Hills establishment will feature a carpet inspired by the chef’s great-grandfather, a sign forged from his father’s ammunition, and a menu drawn from his Scottish ancestry

A leather booth with dark green paint details and a plaid curtain

Photo: Dominique White

A peek inside Nàdair.

In Scottish Gaelic, Dòigh Nàdair translates to “the way of nature.” Chef Kevin Gillespie’s Nàdair, which opens later this month, seeks to honor that phrase. It starts with the restaurant’s location on the edge of Atlanta’s Zonolite Park, an urban tract of old-growth forest and streamside trails, and ends with Gillespie’s use of local produce and return to open-fire cooking. 

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A portrait of a man

Photo: Ed Carter

Chef Kevin Gillespie.

The inspiration for Nàdair (pronounced nuh-DARE) first came to him after opening Gunshow, a buzzy spot known for bar cart service, nearly eleven years ago. Gillespie, who’d previously owned the now-closed Woodfire Grill, realized how much he missed wood-fire cooking. It wasn’t until the former home of Anne Quatrano’s Floataway Cafe became available about two years ago that the idea truly took shape, and the once blue-gray space has since transformed into something reflective of Gillespie’s Scottish heritage and his dual loves of the South and Maine (where he spends about half the year). 

Nàdair’s opening marks a significant milestone for Gillespie: “I have not been the full-time chef anywhere since the cancer diagnosis,” he says. [Gillespie underwent surgery for renal cancer in 2018.] Once he decided to helm the kitchen, however, the restaurant became more personal and now every inch, from design to menu, connects to him. Here’s a look inside.

Dominique White

The restaurant’s custom carpet is inspired by the regimental tartan worn by Gillespie’s great-grandfather. “I still have his kilt from World War I that he fought in, and this is what it has faded into,” Gillespie says of the blue and green plaid. He sent photos of the kilt to a mill in Scotland, which replicated the pattern in carpet form.


A leather booth framed by dark green paint details and a set table

Photo: Dominique White

“This might sound silly, but my favorite color’s green,” says Gillespie, who knew he wanted to incorporate the hue throughout the restaurant. He opted for a deep green-blue called Tarrytown Green by Benjamin Moore for the walls and paneling, which plays off the tartan carpet as well as the verdant setting outside the picture windows.

A chair hangs above a table with silverware in a box

Speaking of green, Gillespie hopes to earn a Michelin Green Star, which acknowledges a restaurant making strides in sustainable practices. “That’s not just what we serve food-wise,” Gillespie says. “It’s also about choices to not throw things away. So reusing and upcycling items was another big piece for us.” That included repurposing banquettes from the previous tenant, using tables made of recycled wood pulp, and incorporating vintage and antique furniture and silverware (including family heirlooms).


Angie Mosier

Gillespie plans to offer a six-course tasting menu and a three-course prix fixe option with dishes like pan-roasted diver scallops with black pudding, and crushed peas and Scottish cheese dumplings with a cinder-roasted Vidalia onion sauce. 


A wood bar with antlers and bottles

Photo: Dominique White

When guests enter the restaurant, they’ll step into a handsome bar space. This first-come, first-serve bar offers limited seating and an à la carte menu of Scottish pub fare such as meat pies and bacon sandwiches.

Dominique White

Gillespie drew inspiration from a Maine farmhouse near his home for the front doors and worked with a metal worker to craft the sturdy hardware. “We wanted something that looks very much like doors you see on old homes or castles,” he says. “Substantial. So all of these are hand-forged out of reclaimed metal.”


Bottles of whiskey

Photo: Dominique White

“Whiskey does play a pretty big role here,” Gillespie says of his bar’s stock. “I have a really large collection of whiskey from Scotland, and we are bringing in some of those alongside some others we have acquired specifically for [Nàdair].”


A dark purple exterior with a gold plate with a lion

Photo: Dominique White

When Gillespie’s father, a former Air Force Combat Controller, passed away, Gillespie found a box of his ammunition. “I decided that the world didn’t really need more bullets, so I melted them down to turn them into something beautiful instead,” he says. The result was the sign that greets visitors at the door.