Whenever I have a friend visiting from out of town, I’m torn with the decision: take them somewhere new to me or go to a restaurant I’ve frequented before and know to be good? I was downtown with my friend Mike as we were attending a trade show. And I really didn’t want to subject him to the chain restaurant hell that plagues downtown Atlanta. I chose to leave that for the other trade show suckers and patronize an independent establishment.
This time, I chose to take my chances and visit Wisteria Restaurant in Inman Park for the first time. Mike asked me what kind of food it was. I said Southern food and noticed he got pretty quiet. After a short cab ride from our hotel, we were dropped off at Wisteria. Once settled inside, he breathed a sigh of relief, admitting he was a little frightened when I said it was Southern food. To him, the term “Southern” conjured up visions of the movie Deliverance. He’s a Yankee, y’all, but I don’t hold that against him.
Wisteria couldn’t have been more the opposite. With it’s brick and faux finished walls, dim lighting and tall ceilings with exposed ductwork, it was the perfect restaurant for us on that absolutely frigid evening. This was the second week of January with snow and temps in the teens.
We ordered drinks – Mike (Vodka Gimlet), me (House drink called Patrice made with tequila and champagne), both around $10 each, and proceeded to enjoy a leisurely dinner. Mike mentioned how well he found the drink to be made, as he shared that although it is a pretty simple drink more often than not he’s had it made poorly. I was equally pleased with my concoction as well.
As it was a Thursday evening, the restaurant wasn’t particularly crowded. And I’m not sure why, but they sat us about 3 or 4 tables away from the front door. I should have asked to be moved, but for whatever reason didn’t, and every time that door opened, I regretted it.
Moving on to appetizers, we chose the Ahi Tuna and the Mussels. The Ahi Tuna came on “flatbread” but I’ve come to find out the term flatbread seems somewhat open to interpretation. This time the flatbread seemed like more of tortilla chips than anything else. Actually it really didn’t matter that much as I was only using the chips to scoop the tuna onto my plate and then eating it with my fork. The avocados, micro greens and citrus horseradish vinaigrette all added to making it one delicious app.
The mussels were another great choice and perfect for sharing as well. I am a little jealous of Mike though, he seemed to pick out all the huge ones. As a tip, if you’ve finished your bread before they bring the mussels, ask for more, you’ll need it. While I like the crostini bread that comes with the mussels, it does nothing to soak up the broth. I did, however pile up some of the tomatoes on top and eat it that way.
The wine list is daunting. There’s so much to choose from and the descriptions just make you want to order everything. Not being in the mood nor mindset to pour over a verbose wine list, we asked our server to make a recommendation on a bottle. She mentioned a Sangiovese that was on special for $32 a bottle. Usually, when I hear “special”, I interpret that as “we’ve got to move these quickly” But after having a taste, we loved it and settled on that for the evening. The hostess even poured it into a decanter for us – nice touch!
I sort of had my mind on the molasses rubbed pork, especially after the seafood apps, I was ready for some meat. I still cannot for the life of me get used to the fact that I’m now being asked how I want my pork done. I thought it was always well done but if I’m remembering correctly, our server did ask me if I wanted it medium or medium rare. Huh? I said medium well. Maybe medium rare pork is hip right now, but I’m not ready to be eating medium rare pork just yet.
I found the entree to be decent but not a standout, definitely not compared to our apps. The apples, onions, molasses sauce didn’t really have any punch to them and didn’t really come together well in that dish. The pork was perfectly fine, but just didn’t blow me away.
Mike seemed to be pretty pleased with his catfish. I had a bite and definitely thought the flavor combo in his dish (green tomato, okra and spicy crawfish ragout with remoulade) worked better than in mine.
Although I was pretty stuffed, I did want to have a taste of dessert, 3 in fact: creme brulee, bread pudding and pumpkin cheesecake. Wisteria offers 3 tastings for $10. My least favorite was the pumpkin cheesecake, pretty blah. The creme brulee was a step up and pretty solid. But I was most impressed by the bread pudding. Not something I would normally order as it is just too sweet for me, our server said it is probably the best dessert on the menu and I did thoroughly enjoy the couple bites I did have.
Prices at Wisteria Restaurant are extremely reasonable, with appetizers around $8 and $9 and entrees hovering around the $17 – $19 price range. Portions are pretty generous too.
As I watched the snow falling outside, and felt all cozy on the inside, I was very pleased that we had trekked out to Wisteria. I love that Atlanta has cool little pockets of neighborhoods like Inman Park and has hidden gems like Wisteria planted throughout them. It is just a shame the out-of-towners don’t bother to seek them out, as many are just a short cab ride away from downtown.
471 North Highland Ave.
Atlanta, GA. 30307
404 525 3363