Friday, October 3, 2008

Restaurant Review: The Porter Beer Bar

Although the term "gastropub" is perhaps a bit over-used these days, I still love finding good food in a pub atmosphere. So I was excited to learn that The Porter was opening in Little Five Points.

The Porter's owners have an impressive pedigree. They met at the now defunct Seeger's, and have since both worked at a variety of well liked restaurants. What's impressive to me is that they are both quite young (26 and 28, respectively) and they managed to open this place on a shoestring. From what I've read they did much of the decorating and even carpentry themselves.

Not surprisingly, the decor is notably low key with slightly off-kilter wooden booths and just a few old suitcases for porter-themed decor. This is Little Five Points, though, so the casual vibe fits right into the neighborhood and makes for a place that the local punks and hipsters can feel comfortable in. Fortunately, it's not too-cool-for-school, so even decidedly non-hipster folks like the boyfriend and I felt right at home, too.

The Porter emphasizes its beer selection, and it's quite an impressive one. It's no Brick Store, but you have a huge array of local, domestic and import beers to chose from. I stuck with cider since I'm not much of a beer drinker, but I was still impressed with the selection and saw plenty I'd be up for trying.

My friend wanted to check out a bizarre sounding chile beer, but alas, they were out of it. I've heard the Porter has had some growing pains and sometimes runs out of even the most basic menu items, but hopefully over time they'll get the hang of stocking up appropriately.

The menu is small and definitely in keeping with the gastropub vibe. We shared a basket of salt and vinegar popcorn, which were both bracing and addictive. Much like the chips, they were simultaneously disgusting and delicious. Not sure how that works, but it does. The signature hush puppies included chunks of bacon and were served with apple sauce. Crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside...salty, sweet and savory all at the same time. Yum! I was sad I had to share these because they were definitely a highlight of the meal.
Pubs in fall make me think of Oktoberfest, so I couldn't resist trying out the kraut and beer brats platter. I don't think of myself as loving sauerkraut, but this was delicious with light chunks of fuji apple providing sweetness and crunch. It's one of the most expensive items on the menu at 12.75, and I had more than enough left for lunch the next day. The photo looks pretty disgusting, but how good can you really make a couple of sausages and some sauerkraut look?

My friend tried the shrimp and grits, which is all too ubiquitous on Southern menus. I'm a naughty little southern gal, and I (gasp!) hate grits, but I tried a bite of these, and was impressed that they were not just a flavorless or overly buttery pile of mush. The white cheddar and truffle oil instead makes them a savory and flavorful pile of mush.

The fish and chips were tasty but not a stand-out. This dish is a gastropub staple, so I'd hope they could elevate their game a bit here, but it's definitely a fine version of the classic dish. Nevertheless, there were more winners than losers among the dishes we tried.NYC spoiled me for being able to walk to restaurants, so any good place within a mile of me is a boon to my dining schedule. The Porter is a laid back place to grab a pint or a casual and inexpensive dinner, and I'll definitely be strolling over there again.

Pros: Laid back atmosphere, inexpensive, great beer selection, good food
Cons: Small menu, frequently out of menu items

Porter Beer Bar
1156 Euclid Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30307

The Porter on Urbanspoon



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