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Tucked away behind FAB restaurant in Downtown Atlanta, Social Restaurant and Wine Bar quietly exists with little fuss made about it. While some of my fellow bloggers have touted its food, I hadn’t ventured a visit until a recent weekday evening when I was catching up with some family that was visiting Atlanta. Staying Downtown for a conference, my cousin and his wife had no car so I suggested we meet somewhere within walking distance of their hotel. Oh, and my cousin is vegetarian, so it needed to be a place that had at least 1 or 2 vegetarian options. As Social Restaurant met the criteria, I figured this would be a great time to give it a try.
My brother and I arrived first and noted the clean, sleek look of the place. The 2-story restaurant has hardwoods throughout, with the bar and long tables and stools downstairs for more of a casual feel and smaller tables with chairs upstairs which feels for formal.
The hostess wanted to seat us downstairs as there really wasn’t anyone upstairs on this particular Wednesday. But I knew we were in for a long evening and could see the backless bar stools becoming uncomfortable in no time. So, we asked for upstairs seating and our request was politely honored.
Although Social has the words “Wine Bar” in its name, I really wouldn’t consider it a wine bar as the selection wasn’t anymore than a regular restaurant. I can’t remember the exact number, but there were about 5 wines by the glass and maybe 12 – 15 by the bottle. I tried a South African Merlot which was decent and went well with my dinner. They also have specialty cocktails and several unusual beers (including a dark beer from Brazil and a sweet, chocolately French one).
So, we had 3 meat eaters and 1 vegetarian. We started out with a bunch of small plates. Smoked Salmon and Braised Meatballs for the meat eaters and to share we ordered the Zucchini Carpacchio, Roasted Red Beets with Goat cheese, and Croquettes de Brandade. It sounds like a lot of food, but they are most definitely small plates, I’d get 1 per person.
The standouts were the meatballs and smoked salmon by far, and that’s not just the carnivore in me talking. The beets and goat cheese lacked just about any flavor. I’ve had beets out of a can that had more gusto than those and the goat cheese, while usually a strong flavor, was very mild. The honey and toasted pistachios did little to compliment the dish either.
The meatballs with their sherry wine and tomato sauce combo were packed full of flavor and the smoked salmon was enhanced the slight amount of dill mustard sauce on the bread. As for the Croquettes, we were in for a surprise. We didn’t know this, but Brandade is fish. I thought it was simply a fancy tater tot as that is all I tasted. But my cousin bit into a piece of fish, so just be aware this is NOT a vegetarian dish, which we later confirmed with our server. Totally NOT the restaurant’s fault – shame on us for not checking before we ordered.
After that, he made absolutely sure it was vegetarian from then on ordering vegetable lasagna for dinner. His wife had the Cornish Hen tajine and my brother went for the scallops with risotto. FYI – a tajine is cookware most notably found in North African countries. Usually made of clay, it comes in 2 parts – a round bottom and dome shaped top. Usually for stove top cooking, the dome returns condensation to the bottom bowl and is removed after cooking and the food served in the bottom portion. Learn more about tajines here.
Being a lamb lover, I was torn between the lamb sausage and lamb tajine but ultimately went for the sausage for variety as there was at least one tajine ordered that evening. I did however want to substitute the lentils for the gingered rice but was politely told it wasn’t possible, which was a little confusing as it was simply a side dish – oh well, no big deal.
For a vegetarian dish, the lasagna was pretty tasty and my cousin ate it up, so that’s at least one vegetarian that approves of it and he’s a pretty picky eater. The tajines look like they offer a lot of food, and while I love Cornish Hens (a Thanksgiving tradition in my family), I found these to be somewhat bland, mind you, I only tasted a small piece. And the cous cous side that came with the dish was the largest cous cous I’ve ever seen – tasty, just not what I’m accustomed to.
As for my brother’s scallops and risotto, he seemed to really enjoy them, even though they were a tad overcooked, which seems like a regular occurrence as it happened when Amy visited as well. I was pleased (not thrilled) with my
franks and beans sausage and lentils but still think gingered rice would have complimented it better. And as much Social likes to give out sauces with its many dishes, this sausage could have used some. It was like eating a hot dog without any ketchup or mustard.
I didn’t finish my dinner but it didn’t stop me from ordering dessert or the sweet French beer. I had my mind on the Creme Brulee all evening which is perfect for 2 to share. And even though it sounds weird, the beer tasted quite good with dessert. My cousin and his wife ordered the Chocolat pot de Creme, which was a better choice, or maybe the more unusual of the two. Served in a small glass, the somewhat hard center of the “pot” gives way to a creamy chocolate goodness.
Service was wonderful the entire evening. Our server was friendly, helpful and very attentive, but gave us our space as she could tell we had some catching up to do. Prices aren’t bad either with small plates around $7 and mains just under $20. Definitely a far cry from nearby tourist traps like BLT Steak.
I could see myself going back to visit Social Restaurant but probably to sample some of their specialty cocktails or fancy beers and nibble on the sharing plates – meatballs, eggplant caviar and calamari seem to be calling my name.
Social Restaurant and Wine Bar
12 W Peachtree Place
Atlanta, GA 30308
404 525 2246