There are few culinary wastelands that can match the domain beyond the security checkpoint in sheer food hopelessness. Maybe it's the captive audience, but airports seem completely set on finding the lowest common denominator in the American diet and seeing if they can inch that bar just a little bit lower.
There are a few bright spots: Austin's commitment to local food in the airport yields decent and improving results; Pappadeux in the E terminal at IAH is consistently good; Columbus, OH and Portland, OR both have fully functioning espresso places (Joe's and EspressoPeople, respectively). And, this week, I've got a new one: Cafe Intermezzo at ATL.
Granted, these places don't tend to age all that well, and Intermezzo is a new-comer, but from what I've seen so far, this place has real promise.
Intermezzo is located in the bookstore at the center of Terminal B, the flagship terminal in Atlanta's behemoth Hartsfield International airport. It's on the less traveled side, across the hallway from the major food court.
You walk in greeted by a massive pastry case. And these are legit pastries, super lush, super rich. The espresso machine is a force to be reckoned with, though as with most of the spit-shined bronze monster machines, this one's mostly show. The tables are scattered throughout - several in front in sort of a sidewalk cafe format, and several back in the bookstore, with a view of the planes outside.
I've eaten there a couple of times. This last time, I ordered a pot of coffee and a spinach artichoke crepe. I've been on kind of a crepe kick lately, and while this wasn't the best I've had it was really simple, and really tasty. Essentially, this was a two-ingredient deal: baby spinach leaves and artichoke hearts. No bechamel. No cream. No goop at all. The spinach was just wilted - perfectly done, I expect simply from the heat of the crepe. The artichokes (full disclosure - I am an artichoke fiend) could have been a bit higher quality and a bit better trimmed, but they were tender and a nice compliment to the spinach. The coffee was lovely as well, nice full body, light roast, delivered in a little pot with a ceramic mug. It's a small thing, but ceramic mugs in an airport deserve some kudos.
This place is not the speediest of options, but thankfully in this case at least, ATL is not the speediest of airports. I highly recommend it next time you've got a flight delayed out until the far edges of the evening as an escape from the ATL terminal B zoo.