Saturday, May 10, 2008

What's the difference between fried green tomato and green tomato fries? Find out at restaurant: Wisteria (atl)

Wisteria doesn't serve fried green tomatoes, it serves green tomato fries. The difference is subtle yet profound (see above). It exemplifies Wisteria's entire approach to southern cuisine - it stays true to the southern soul without being a slave to the southern form. Unlike many "new twist on tradition" places, the Wisteria take is unpretentious and unforced.

These "fries" were quite successful. The light batter provided a great crunch without masking the slight tart flavor that is uniquely refreshing about the green tomato. What's profoundly different about this approach is that the tomato portion that became the fries were separated from the seed portion of the tomato, curing the soggy mess problem that tend to plague the whole tomato slice method.

Along with the green tomato fries, my group of three shared a very refreshing fennel salad that incorporated a wonderful citrus element. Some grapefruit segments nicely set off the tang in the goat cheese. It was a great summer salad perfect for the grapefruit forward Sauvignon Blanc we were drinking.

One of my favorite restaurant fish dish is pan-fried skate wing and Wisteria's version hit the spot. The lemon butter sauce was sufficiently browned to provide a nutty flavor and the fish was not too aggressively salted.

My vegetarian friend opted for the special ravioli of the day (I can't remember what the filling was), but he obviously enjoyed it, having wiped the plate clean.

My man J went for the jumbo shrimp and grits. While you can hardly see the grits in this photo, I assure you that it was there, underneath the truly "jumbo" shrimps, soaking up the abundance of tasty sauce. The shrimps were cooked well, not well done. It retained just the right crunch without slipping down the rubbery slope.

We all saved room for dessert, a trio of them to be exact. The sampler plate is not for those trying to save calories as the samples were not exactly "mini." I was wholeheartedly rooting for the blackberry cobbler, but at last it was not the winner. The topping was just too under cooked and retained the unpleasant raw oat taste. The warm blackberry filling, however, was nicely warm and not too sweet. The winner turned out to be the chocolate thing that is somewhere between a denser cake and a brownie. There was no skimping on chocolate here. The package of cake/brownie and ice cream put forth a full on chocolate assault and succeeded in taking over the senses. The carrot cake fell in the middle in terms of taste. It was certainly competent for a carrot cake, but didn't rise high above its peers.

Beyond food, Wisteria excels at staying true to its identity as a neighborhood place. The interior is warm from its red bricks and tastefully decorated with art from local artists. Like the food served within, the space doesn't try too hard to impress. It's simply pleasing and comfortable. What truly keeps this place grounded are the staff. They are always nice and seem genuinely happy to see the neighbors walking in. On any given night, there is always a handful of regulars hanging out at the bar, drinking wine, eating dinner, and chatting with the bartender. This is a place to go when you just want a great meal in comfortable surroundings populated with nice people.

471 N. Highland Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 525-3363


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chou said...

What a great review. I like that they take southern food to a different level. Now just to visit! :)