For this week’s Restaurant Stories column, I wrote a satirical (i.e., stooopid) piece about why eating dinner alone in a restaurant can make you feel awkward.
In fact, I love eating at the bar, even if I do get a pitying look from the hostess when I walk into the restaurant with a rolled-up copy of the New Yorker. (”Just one?” she invariably asks.) I find that you do a better job of figuring out what you want to eat, you order the right amount, and you get better service when you dine solo.
For the past few months I’ve been eating at bars a lot as I’ve had to pick up my daughter from a lesson that ends at 8:30 p.m., all the way across town from where we live. In fact, I’ve gotten to know pretty much every dining bar on the west side of Atlanta. I love eating at Bacchanalia (above), where I can order any item off the four-course menu. If I can stick to just one item and a glass of wine, eat all my bread and count on the staff to throw in the evening’s amuse bouche, I can usually get out of there well fed for about $35-$40. Not bad for Bacchanalia.
That said, I can usually score a great meal for $20 or $25 at Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison’s newest restaurant next door, Abattoir. The kitchen makes an awesome burger with a mixture of ground beef and pork. While I love the crisp frites that come on the side, the staff is more than willing to sub out one of the evening’s salads, making for a healthier meal that sits better in the stomach. Add in a good draft beer, and I’m eating pretty.
Where else? Flip Burger Boutique is still a mosh pit, but I can score a seat at the bar easily and count on much faster service than folks at tables get.
Elsewhere around town, I love dining at the bars at Cakes & Ale in Decatur, Fritti and Shaun’s in Inman Park and Holeman & Finch in South Buckhead. What makes them stand out. Generally this: great bartenders, enough space for my magazine to get a beachhead, and menus that offer dishes of different sizes so I can put together a piecemeal meal. One appetizer + a half pasta+ a glass of decent wine = meal perfection.
What other places have good dining bars. I’m definitely open to suggestions….