Monday, October 29, 2012

Restaurant Review: The Pinewood

When The Pinewood opened last spring, there was much talk of T. Fable Jeon's cocktails and Julia LeRoy's quirky bites (Pine Street Bologna Sandwiches, anyone?) and yet I just didn't quite make my way to Decatur to check out. Friends who went said they enjoyed it but were a bit perplexed by the menu. Since then, the restaurant has largely dropped "Tippling Room" from its name and Executive Chef Mike Blydenstein has added some new, regionally inspired dishes to the menu.  I recently had a chance to sample the menu's new offerings, which have brought the menu closer in line with the types of entrees customers expect to see while still maintaining the quirkiness of the original (fried bologna is still on there!)

We sat at the bar, all the better to watch the much-talked about T. Fable Jeon at work.  Cocktail geeks know Jeon as the former cocktail guru at Sound Table and The Lawrence and one of the Beverage Network’s 2011 Ten Mixologists to Watch

The Pinewood's Day That I Die cocktail

Not surprisingly, The Pinewood has an impressive cocktail list, replete with lesser seen classics like Sazeracs, Tom Collins and Hemingway Daiquiris. The Mr. enjoyed a Day That I Die ($11 and made with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Fresh Lemon, Ginger Syrup, Buckwheat Honey Syrup and Roasted Georgia Pecan Tincture). As you can see in the pic, it wasn't shy with the ginger, but the honey syrup provide balance to keep it from being overwhelming. He loved it!

My T. Fable Jeon invented mocktail

I am off liquor at the moment, and I was feeling very dismayed not to be able to enjoy one of Jeon's creations. Well, lucky me, the oh-so-friendly Jeon offered to whip me up a mocktail, made to my specifications. I suggested refreshing and fruity but not too sweet, akin to a Pimm's Cup. With all the finesse you expect of a "mixologist" (vs. a bartender), Jeon combined ginger beer, muddled berries, and grapefruit juice to make an oh so delicious beverage. And I didn't miss the booze in the least!

The Pinewood's Pork Belly Biscuit
As we sipped our drinks, we nibbled on the crispy pork belly biscuit with marmalade, arugula, and Duke’s mayo ($7). Simple sounding, right? But oh good lord, is it good. I was supposed to share, but I seriously considered scarfing it down before my honey could come near it. It is a testament to my love for him that I shared it at all. Salty, sweet and fatty...drool! 

The Pinewood's Pork Cheeks

For entrees, the Mr. chose the Braised Duroc Pork Cheeks ($22) served with emmentaler polenta, shaved fennel and traditional gremolata. The dish was nicely seasoned and tender, and perfect for these newly chilly nights. It was a wee bit pricey for a filling but not huge dish, but was enjoyed nevertheless.

The Pinewood's Buttermilk Chicken

I've been on a fried chicken kick as of late, so I couldn't resist the Crunchy Buttermilk Chicken ($17)
served with fingerling potato hash with wild mushrooms and Pine Street bacon. I was picturing more traditional fried chicken, but this is in fact something closer to a schnitzel coating. The chicken was juicy and the coating was nice and crispy, albeit it a little less salted than I prefer.

The Pinewood is in the old Cakes & Ale space and feels fairly similar. The vibe is friendly, and we were very impressed with how welcoming Jeon and his fellow mixologist were. Despite my long delay in getting over there, I'd definitely go back. Personally I tend to look at $20+ entrees as a special night out, and I wouldn't want to reserve The Pinewood just for that. Next time, I'd likely sit at the bar again to enjoy more of Jeon's beverages and tuck into a mix of lower priced apps and salads instead (I've got my eye on you, Oyster Roll!)

Don't miss out on their weekly specials either...Sunday brings 1/2 price wine, Mondays $5 New Orleans cocktails, Tuesdays buy one get one free entrees, Wednesdays 1/2 price whiskey cocktails,and Thursdays buy one get one free apps.

The Pinewood
254 West Ponce de Leon Ave.
Decatur, Georgia 30030
Phone 404.373.5507

The Pinewood Tippling Room on Urbanspoon

 *Full disclosure: Although my meal was comped, I always endeavor to offer my unbiased opinion of the experience!
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