by Jonathan Baker - 319 Reviews - 185 List
Maybe it's the economy or the coldest winter in recent memory, but comfort food has quickly become the pizza war, burger craze and locally sourced farm-to-table concept of 2010. Heavy and hearty is replacing healthy. Beer taps have ditched their tall, logo-bearing gearshifts in favor of small, black label-less handles. Specialty cocktails are reverting to classics to stand out. But as fan of simplicity and quality, we welcome this trend and these new restaurants.
Updated: August 25, 2010
While initially looking like it was just ripping off the Brickstore, perhaps L5P's Porter Beer Bar (with a virtual tip of the cap to Leon's and Bookhouse) was what really kick-started the trend. A massive beer list, a cozy space filled with vintage luggage and a menu that embraces simplicity. Hushpuppies filled with bacon, addictive salt and vinegar popcorn, apple beignets, and we haven't even touched on the sandwiches. You get the picture.
What was formally the Standard, the name-change to Young Augustine flipped it from a smoking lounge with bar food, to a beer-focused pub with comfort staples. Fried chicken tops stone-ground grits and a grilled cheese gets fattened up by beef spare ribs. Honoring the Standards former tradition of serving an Indian special once a week, pork vindaloo is spiced, hearty fare that pairs well with potent specialty beers. You can expect the bartenders to know how to properly pour a Duvel beer as well.
Run by one of Atlanta's comfort breakfast champs, Ria Pell of Ria's Bluebird, Sauced feels like you just walked into your grandmother's living room ? had it been designed by Wes Anderson. And the menu is old school, baby. Beef Wellington and stroganoff conjure childhood memories while lemon ice box pie is a dessert must-try. As for the drinks, cocktails are the way to go, preferably an Old Fashioned or a gin and lemon cocktail called a Blue Moon.
Someone with a lot of trendy brain power put this together. It's an underground bar with no sign, a long line of the aforementioned black-handle draft beers and a basement where you can drunkenly play bocce ball, pool, shuffleboard and Donkey Kong. And the menu embraces things you can eat with your hands: corndogs, cotton candy, and some 15 charismatic options served between buns.
Its name is HOBNOB. It took over an uber-cozy location of Caribou Coffee (pictured above). It puts beer in nearly every menu item. It has an outside bar when the weather is warm. And it even converts comfort into a summertime treat (booze-laden milkshakes). Did we mention our favorite dish on the menu is pretzels with beer-cheese dipping sauce? Craft beers, chicken pot pie, beer-battered fish `n? chips, it's tough not to love this Midtown newcomer.