It’s early evening on a Wednesday at the Restaurant at Richland Pointe. The view of Lake Oconee through a long wall of glass is the only giveaway that you might still be in Georgia. Two sushi chefs are slicing, rolling, and (whether they realize it or not) entertaining. Behind them, three bartenders move behind a 52-foot-long bar, demonstrating the definition of “mixology” for adventurous patrons wondering what can be done with Japanese gin and Scottish scotch. At one large table, six friends have gathered. Wait…two more have just joined them. A steady stream of plates appears at the center of their huddle of fun—tuna sashimi, dahl makhani, ricotta gnocchi, and a platter of cheeses.

“It’s like walking through outdoor food stands in another country,” says one friend.

The dishes in front of her can be traced to multiple destinations. Cabo. Spain. Italy. Vermont. The recipes come from restaurant chefs, food-truck owners, and kitchen mamas.

I’ve kept a collection of ideas from traveling around the world and building relationships,” says Reynolds Executive Chef Zouhair Bellout. “What you see here are samples of those experiences. So, Members can come into the restaurant and create their own memories, the same way you do when you’re on vacation.”

Like a good vacation spot, Richland Pointe is where tensions disappear, the laughter hums, and the energy is contagious.

“Each drink and dish is the real deal,” says Food and Beverage Director Michael Miller. “I’m a Latin man from Arizona, and I can tell you that the chef’s street corn makes me think of my grandmother’s kitchen. Or I bite into a lobster roll and think of Maine. You can have 12 experiences like that at one table.”

Every dish requires hours of conversations and trials to get it right. The Israeli salad might look typical, but when you try it, you know it pays respect to another culture. Reynolds Executive Chef Zouhair Bellout

Some friends sit. Some choose to stand. Occasionally, they take plates with reminders of Puerto Rico and Sicily outside to enjoy two spectacles: the flavors and the views of Lake Oconee. The scenery is constant. But the menu, like a traveler, is open to new adventures.

“I’m a curious person, so I go to new places and make friends to ask questions,” says Chef Zouhair. “Even a dish as simple as ceviche. I learned this technique from a Peruvian gentleman, who learned it from his parents. For most Members here, that appetizer is as close to Peru as they may ever be.”

Five more plates are about to arrive at a table outside. From a distance, there’s no telling what they are or where they’re from. You just know they’re about to take a group of friends somewhere amazing.

A friend of mine comes from a long lineage of sushi chefs. He knows that great sushi requires fresh ingredients and discipline. You cannot take either one for granted. Reynolds Executive Chef Zouhair Bellout

Each dish and drink at Richland Pointe has a personal connection to someone, somewhere. “When a table is full,” says Chef Zouhair, “it becomes a representation of people and customs around the globe. There’s a story behind everything.” Here are some of his:
1. Mexican Street Corn This is an art in Central America, where the char must be just right and the cream can’t be too heavy. Anyone from Mexico to El Salvador who tries this will probably think of grandma.
2. Sushi The best sushi in Japan comes from the most meticulous chefs. When sushi is prepared with precision, it’s the first dish on the table to be emptied.
3. Saké Anywhere in the world, when I see saké on a table I’ll hear people having fun. It’s no surprise that we serve a lot of it at Richland Pointe.
4. Mediterranean Steamed Mussels with Romesco I learned this in Tangiers, about 15 miles from Spain. You go into restaurants and bars, and they serve romesco for dipping. After some trials in the kitchen, we realized it would be great as a sauce for mussels, with some tweaking (taking the bread off the recipe so it can be enjoyed as a gluten-free item).
5. Naan It originated in India and has become popular throughout Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean. It’s as much of a staple at Richland Pointe as fresh bread.
6. Global Wines Our wine list includes vineyards from every corner of the world. Members can even try different wines in flights.
7. Lime Marinated Avocado We’ve learned some nuances from our Latin friends. It’s hard to stop eating, which is why we go through so many avocadoes every week.
8. Frosé When you travel, you’re more likely to experiment with different drinks known to that region. Our bartenders want Members to experiment in the same way.
9. Indian Butter Chicken An Indian sous chef and friend would invite me to have dinner at his house, and I’d always go into the kitchen to watch his parents cook. This recipe is derived from how they make the butter chicken.
10. Persian Rice This type of rice has a unique fragrance with a fluffy texture. I call it “humble, but satisfying.”
11. Hitachino Nest Beer It’s brewed near a Japanese village, where they craft the beer specifically to be served with local foods.
12. Grilled Lamb Kabobs When I was growing up in Morocco, I’d stop by a food stand on my way home from school and snack on a lamb kabob before dinner, so this brings back a lot of memories.
13. Kung Pao When we were developing the menu, we’d take lunch breaks and the kung pao became our go-to meal. It’s fun to make.
14. Israeli Salad A staple dish of Israel is also one of the healthiest dishes we serve.
15. Meat and Cheese Platter Whenever you’re in a home and someone puts one of these out, the ice breaks and the conversations start. That’s the whole idea at Richland Pointe.
16. Once & Flor-al The inspiration for this drink is from Bulgaria. We use hibiscus, fresh lemon, and, if you look closely, rose-shaped ice, to stick with a floral theme. G
17. Grouper Street Tacos When I worked as a chef on the Gulf Coast of Florida, we’d go to the farmers market on Saturday and stop at the taco stand. You could tell the grouper was always fresh, and that makes all the difference

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