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The Family Dog Restaurant Review, Morningside

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OK , so here’s a hypothetical situation.

Let’s say you and a bunch of your buds are sitting around and chilling. Not doing anything much. Slinging back a few SweetWater 420s and listening to some classic Grateful Dead albums like “American Beauty” but also “Europe ’72” because the live stuff is totally better.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

And then, for whatever reason, you all are starving. And the dude splayed in the Barcalounger says, “You know what would taste awesome right now? Egg rolls.”

“What about lobster egg rolls?” says the guy lying on the floor and watching the ceiling fan.

“No, I’ve got it,” you say, tossing your Nerf ball from hand to hand. “Spaghetti and lobster egg rolls. Like, you know, the spaghetti is in the egg roll.”

Duuuuuuude…

Then the guy on the floor says he totally knows where to get lobster and spaghetti egg rolls — at The Family Dog, this bumping new bar in Morningside where the food is totally off the chain. It’s the new place from that guy Ron Eyester at Rosebud, who’s a total Deadhead. There’s all this crazy stuff on the menu: a fried bologna sandwich with Fritos in it, and potato chips cooked in duck fat, and these totally pimped-out french fries with fried eggs and cheese.

Dude: It's a bar. (All photos by Becky Stein)

Dude: It's a bar. (All photos by Becky Stein)

So you go, and the place is freaking hilarious, like some kind of ready-made, honky-tonk, juke joint. It’s seriously loud, with a jukebox and a righteous mural of Jerry and the boys from the Dead. Signs everywhere tell you to sit down and chill out and, no, you can’t bring your dog inside.

But, boy, can you drink here. This bar guy Jason Chenette knows his stuff. There are some crazy good beers on tap, like Allagash Curieux ($7.50) and Wild Heaven Ode to Mercy Imperial Ale ($6). Banging cocktails, too. The clear White Manhattan ($10) made with High West Silver Whiskey goes down smooth, and everyone around you is slugging back Mason jars of the Angry Elk ($15) — a fruit punch made with five shots of Everclear. Maybe you need a little food in your stomach before you tackle that puppy.

Spaghetti, meet lobster

Spaghetti, meet lobster

You guys order and the edibles start coming fast. The kitchen is on fire. Spaghetti and carrots tumble out of those floppy egg rolls ($11) into their sweet chili sauce. (“So like that scene in ‘Alien,’ ” someone says.) What are those pink, rubbery bits? Right, lobster. Cool.

Check out the disco fries ($8)! They’re the size of a pan of brownies and covered in that white American cheese that doesn’t really melt, and you can peel it off like skin. (“So like that scene in ‘Cronos,’” someone says.) There are also fat, masochist-ready pieces of raw jalapeño, a fried egg and “marrow gravy” that’s brown and tastes just like Worcestershire sauce. Yeah, whatever.

But you’re inhaling Billy Bob’s fried bologna sandwich ($8) with those crushed Fritos and pickles stashed in the bread. Twice-cooked chicken wings ($9) with orange-curry glaze and avocado ranch? Not bad! Korean-style duck quesadilla ($9) gushing shredded meat, goat cheese and sweet sauce? Cheesy!

Wow, everything’s so cheesy. You take a hit of the warm peekytoe crab dip ($10) with a pretzel rod and pull up as much gooey cream cheese as crab. The burger ($9, and it “only comes one way,” the menu warns) drips with so much white cheese and white sauce that’s it’s totally like that scene from that ’80s gross-out movie “The Stuff.” (Dude, I know you’ve seen it. It stars that guy from “Law & Order.”)

That jukebox music — loud! — is starting to bum you out. Like, who are these yuppies playing Billy Joel and Michael Jackson? OK , here come the Talking Heads, but from “Fear of Music”? Seriously lame. Come on, let’s hear some Dead.

Pimento cheese sandwich and Cheerwine!

Pimento cheese sandwich and Cheerwine!

More cheesy, creamy stuff? Yeah, why not. Fried mozzarella ($8) with tomato chow-chow and pesto mayo hits that well-pummeled spot well enough. A mega-mayonnaisey pimento cheese on white bread ($6) goes down OK with a bottle of Cheerwine ($3).

You kind of start looking for something that feels like real food. It’s not a fried oyster sandwich dripping remoulade sauce ($9); those mushy, dark oysters are a scary turnoff. Maybe it’s a big “healthy salad” ($9) of tasty local greens saturated in vinaigrette. (The “not-so-healthy” salad has bacon and cheese.) Is there a daily special? Indeed: fried chicken skins ($5) — soft, slick with grease and chewy — like eating a Baggie. Which, in its own way, is kind of awesome.

But, really, you’re thinking you should maybe have just stuck to beer and cocktails and maybe a bite of something. The Family Dog is a bar; treat it like a bar. You’ve eaten a lot of these cool-sounding munchies but nowhere along the line did any of it send a message to your brain that you’ve consumed dinner.

Then you have a revelation. And you turn to your friend and say, “Dude, this is really weird, but you know what? I’m still hungry.”

THE FAMILY DOG
1402 N. Highland Ave., 404-249-0180
1stars5
Food: id on the plate
Service: very nice and attentive
Best dishes: fried bologna sandwich, fried mozzarella
Vegetarian selections: A few items; lactose-intolerant people will find little to eat.
Credit cards: all major
Hours: 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays; noon-2 a.m. Saturdays; noon-midnight Sundays.
Children: fine early on
Parking: in nearby lot and on street
Reservations: no
Wheelchair access: yes
Smoking: on the patio
Noise level: like front row at a Queen concert
Patio: yes
Takeout: no

ratings_key_febUSE

83 comments Add your comment

AJ

June 2nd, 2011
7:19 am

Looks like someone may be getting a nasty Tweet or 2 :-)

GC

June 2nd, 2011
7:48 am

That (the nasty tweet) was the first thing I thought of, too. Gird your loins!

(Is it bad that simply reading this review completely ruined my appetite for breakfast this morning?)

mary

June 2nd, 2011
8:32 am

Wow, I have to review this review. Really annoying writing. Sorry. Just review restaurants without the cutesy attempts at humor.

Robert

June 2nd, 2011
8:32 am

Actually, that is the most entertaining review that I’ve read in a while, dude. The menu sounds pretty disgusting. Way to squash ‘em, dude.

Johnny

June 2nd, 2011
8:38 am

2 words: Anthony Weiner

The joke is on those who thinks he actually cares about what he puts out of that kitchen. Every item on that menu is barely edible, even with the fancy names, reminds me of Ormsby’s. You don’t go there for the food or drinks, you go there because there’s nothing else around.

David

June 2nd, 2011
8:44 am

If yu take it for what i t is, you would have to give it at least 3 starts according to Kesslers scale. It’s a bar, you go there for a bit and drinks not to find full on dinner.

jimmy

June 2nd, 2011
9:06 am

I’ve never stared at the ceiling fan after *drinking*

Steve

June 2nd, 2011
9:09 am

@David: its definitely not 3 star worthy…even as a bar. Take a look at the Porter, Brickstore, Leon’s. All of those are bars, but the food is actually knock your socks off good. Plus they have way better beer selections. This place is just not on the same level. Drinks are solid here, but the food stinks. Plus you’ve got Eyster running around in the background, tweeting sh*t about his customers.

Grasshopper

June 2nd, 2011
9:13 am

What? No calorie counts or sermons on cholesterol?

That’s right…stoners don’t care about such nonsense.

stormwatch

June 2nd, 2011
9:38 am

So, the Ron Eyester has started his tweet attacks, stating that if John Kessler wanted to review “serious” food, he should have eaten next door. In and of itself, this is seemingly an admission that the food is sub-par. Worse yet, it seems to attack someone from daring to expect good food at a bar. Based on the prices charged, this is shocking to the human conscience. See comments on Porter, Brickstore, and Leons above. Wow. Maybe there is a reason that a local blog has placed this eatery on a deathwatch.

Also, and as an aside, the utter refusal to allow any changes (not extreme substitutions, just changes) to how the food is presented is absurd. I can understand such a stance at the now defunct Seeger’s or at another high end restaurant. However, by admission, this is bar food. Wendy’s makes it any way you like it, why can’t Family Dog?

R’bud was a great addition to the neighborhood, and my food experiences there have been stellar. However, I think that the personality of Mr. Eyester, along with sudden success he achieved with R’bud may be too much for his own good. There is only so much people are willing to take.

In sum, Mr. Eyester’s tweet attacks on John Kessler as a result of his daring to make any critical comments on food that Family Dog sells is not acceptable in my opinion. Mr. Kessler was reviewing Family Dog – NOT Rosebud.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Johnny

June 2nd, 2011
10:07 am

RE’s 15 minutes is about up. From his rants online to his insults about his patrons in his CL column is wearing thin to most, this narcissist is going belly. His street cred is sinking fast along with his palate and pants. If JK wanted serious food, he would go to La Pietra or something on that level. R’B is not serious food, it’s casual dining at best. This guy has been getting too high on his own supply.

MR

June 2nd, 2011
10:21 am

This bar is awesome and the food as well. Jason has done an incredible job so bring your friends and hang out. Reviews are like opinions and everone’s got one. Many folks love McDonalds for their fries but I’d never eat there.

Rosebud, serious food?

June 2nd, 2011
10:21 am

Seriously, not very good. I love Eyester’s tweets, but not crazy about his food at the place where he’s supposed to be “serious” about it. But if he wants to have fun with this place and the neighborhood decides it wants to have fun with this, more power to him. Go capitalism.

Kessler’s nailed Eyester’s narcissistic vibe in this review.

SP

June 2nd, 2011
10:22 am

None of the food you described sounds at all appetizing. Sounds weird for the sake of being weird. And I hate it when people cover everything in cheese or sauce. Makes me wonder what they’re hiding. Food at Rosebud is weak so I’m not surprised.

quake

June 2nd, 2011
10:29 am

@Stormwatch – you nailed it. Not to heap on the pile, but they need to turn it down.
That room is in no way set up for live music, and while I’m not in any way a Deadhead,
what’s more annoying is to have to scream a conversation rather than to talk. One night,
we hid tucked away at the end of the bar, but literally saw at least 3 tables of people leave because
it’s just too much. Maybe that’s the point. Too much of everything.

quake

June 2nd, 2011
10:32 am

And why my comment appears so chopped up is beyond me. Not intentional.

Foodie wish

June 2nd, 2011
10:48 am

JK I for one enjoyed your review. Have not been yet…and will probably still check it out-am sure the hubby will love the Bologna & Fritos sandwich….

Humor is fun!

usbbbbbbbbb

June 2nd, 2011
11:13 am

Crap chef who can’t handle SOS requests makes crap food, film at 11

The1Jay

June 2nd, 2011
11:21 am

So you’re saying they serve food (on plates) and drinks (presumably in glasses), you think the menu sounds odd in its combinations, but don’t can’t be bothered to say if any of it is good.

We get it, you don’t like the chef and you miss the Four Seasons. Could you please tell us if the food is good, regardless of how disturbing the menu may sound?

AJ

June 2nd, 2011
11:31 am

@The1Jay – calling lobster rubbery, or commenting that cheese is congealed, or saying a pimento cheese sandwich goes down “OK” is a review of food.

usbbbbbbbbb

June 2nd, 2011
11:32 am

The1Jay gets 1 gold star for reading comprehension

@Kessler this may be the funniest thing you have ever written or ever will write

Greg

June 2nd, 2011
12:01 pm

I don’t care about the chef’s personality or any “feud” between writer and restaurateur, I want to see an informative review. Any review has to be taken with a grain of salt as one man’s taste, palate may differ from one’s own, but a review should be thoughtfull and encapsulate the dining experience.

John, this review is an embarassment pure and simple. I can’t make any sense of why you would write a piece from the “stoner” perspective. It comes off poseur and disengenuous. You are a better writer than this. Humor is great but this is not funny or entertaining. Your readers deserve better because you can deliver better (please see your excellent work on the Bachanalia and Eugene reviews).

JP

June 2nd, 2011
12:11 pm

It’s a fun hang-out bar in a section of Morningside that needed a place to hang. The food is good bar food, get the burger or the baloney sandwich or the fried pork skin cheetos or the banh mi, they are all solid. They have a really great bourbon/whiskey list and single malts at 30% less than anywhere intown. I don’t think it is trying to be Leon’s or The Porter, it’s trying to be a better version of The Highlander. I’ve been multiple times and it’s always packed but not too crowded so people must be enjoying it.

Bubba

June 2nd, 2011
12:44 pm

Fresh Air BBQ, Jackson, GA

Since 1929 the mother church of BBQ in Georgia.

If you seek tofu, chicken wings or a nice salad bar, this ain’t the place for you !

John Kessler

June 2nd, 2011
12:51 pm

Appreciate the comments, Greg. I was definitely taking a different approach with this review, and I figured some readers would pretty well loathe this attempt at satire, but thought I’d give it a shot. One thing: I in no way consider myself in a feud with Ron Eyester. We are both outspoken people, and I think that any disagreements we may have had over dining add to the lively discussion at large in Atlanta. I think Ron has a hilarious persona on Twitter (@TheAngryChef, a must follow), shows real writing chops in his column in Creative Loafing, and has made some dishes I’ve liked quite well at Rosebud. He adds a lot of flavor to Atlanta. I had a very hard time warming to the food I tried over three visits to the Family Dog.

RK

June 2nd, 2011
12:52 pm

I knew that Holata news 6 weeks ago! He’ll fit in great, replacing a guy that worked for him at Joel. That’s why BLT has become my new Joel.

Dr Earl W. Bedpan

June 2nd, 2011
1:04 pm

Sweetwater 420? Why Sweetwater? Why the 420? A mediocre beer at best. The local approach is good, but not Sweetwater.

Fake Deadhead

June 2nd, 2011
1:31 pm

Ron sounds like the opposite of a Grateful Dead fan. He has no respect for his own customers and comes across as a massive douche. The only time I will be going to Rosebud or The Family Dog I plan to have a few dozen eggs with me.

Greg

June 2nd, 2011
1:51 pm

John, I agree with all of what you just said. I just think you did yourself a disservice with the tone of the review. I like seeing new styles, edgy styles even, this was just off to me. It sounds as if quite a few people enjoyed the review so maybe my sensability is less in step with what your readers enjoy. I applaud you for trying something new, I just wish it had been in a side piece not a formal review.

AJ

June 2nd, 2011
1:54 pm

Wow, some of you have to get over your “snobishness” re: writing style. “This writing I will never get over.” Really??

M. Johnson

June 2nd, 2011
2:24 pm

@Bobby: Shouldn’t you be out there “researching” new ways to screw up Mexican food? Or did you stumble upon this review during one of your searches?

Bif Tech

June 2nd, 2011
2:24 pm

I gotta agree with Foodie wish…….a fun column, well done and greatly enjoyed. Perhaps some missed some of the nuances. Thanks John!

John Kessler

June 2nd, 2011
2:30 pm

Dr. Earl – 420 just seemed to….fit.

Chief Wiggum

June 2nd, 2011
2:30 pm

Wow…this guy sounds like a real d-bag. Googled his name, saw his twitter feed, saw an article he wrote. Restaurants are dropping like flies, and he’s got that arrogant chef thing down perfectly. Remember, when you go to his place of business, he’s doing you a favor, not the other way around. I’ll just continue to be one of the ignorant masses, going to places that cost less, have “normal” food, and seem to care that I’m there. Or I’ll just continue to get stuff at the store and make it myself (thanks for the tip, oh Angry one)

iron eagle

June 2nd, 2011
2:31 pm

Noise level: like front row at a Queen concert

Oh Really??? Now i really have to go!! should i bring the Queen convention folks too ??? they will be here in July…

http://www.queenbreakthru.com

LOLANGRYCHEF

June 2nd, 2011
2:37 pm

he doesn’t sound like a deadhead, he sounds like a typical spreadneck aka widespread panic fan. They are all angry mean people who like to do lots of trucker drugs and live some wannabe faux hippy lifestyle.

John Kessler

June 2nd, 2011
2:44 pm

Thx, usbbbbb

david c

June 2nd, 2011
3:13 pm

Between PURPLE RAIN Lounge, and now this faux hippie joint, I smell lawsuits in the air. Oh, yeah, I love PRINCE, and consider myself a DeadHead.
But JK, stick to what you can write about and leave the culture bashing to pros.

Atlantan

June 2nd, 2011
3:39 pm

Morningside needs a mature adult hangout / pub. I hope the place succeeds and maybe the chef will take your criticisms to heart. I haven’t been yet, but will try it soon. However, I won’t stay if I have to yell to be heard the entire time.

[...] Let?s say you and a bunch of your buds are sitting around and chilling. Not doing anything much. Sli… Written by admin in: Michael Joseph Jackson News | [...]

Matt

June 2nd, 2011
4:43 pm

Every review does not have to be presented in a serious manner. I love the reviews. Keep doing what you do. Very funny.

Matt

June 2nd, 2011
5:13 pm

Duuuuuuuuuude.

Dude?

Dude!!

Oh, Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude.

Paul

June 2nd, 2011
6:58 pm

The anonymity that the internet provides can bring out the worst in people. Some of these comments are overly nasty.

To his credit, Eyester does not hide behind an alias. Do I personally agree with all of Ron’s tactics? Not really. I am personally somewhat nervous that I will appear on his Twitter feed, but there is no expectation of privacy when you visit a bar or restaurant.

Love him or not, Ron is doing a fantastic job raising the profile of both Rosebud and The Family Dog. If you are so inclined, dine at Eyester’s establishments. If you don’t enjoy your visit, don’t go back. If you like it, go back. Life is way too short.

John Kessler

June 2nd, 2011
7:54 pm

Well put, Paul!

art

June 2nd, 2011
8:06 pm

JK, great writing! Moreso, great rebuttals!!! I am continually amazed and amused at how bloggers can get so vitriolic over food… Really?? With all the serious issues that plague this country, can’t we just have fun with food? Food and sex are the two constants in our lives that should bring us pleasure… If you’re not getting pleasure from either one, then “dine” at a different “destination”.

usbbbbbbbbb

June 2nd, 2011
9:31 pm

@Kessler unfortunately this seems to be written at a sixth or seventh grade level and we both know that’s a little complicated for journalism.

Russ

June 2nd, 2011
9:35 pm

I give the chef credit for trying to be creative with food. Mr Kessler’s tone is somewhat condescending but he nails the description of the food and noise level. I was excited to tryFamily Dog and brought my family a few weeks after it opened. With such a serious investment in time, effort and cash Mr. Eyester should employ some basic marketing techniques such as surveying customer experience, to make this a great addition to the VH area and a destination for those of us in the suburbs. I know the guy works hard and cares about the place so I hope he can distill these comments and JK’s review and make good use use of them. BTW I first saw the Dead in 1972 at the Fox in STL.

Jerry G

June 2nd, 2011
9:40 pm

have to agree with the review for the most part, most of the reader comments are way to harsh. The Bar is well done, designed, and placed. The Menu needs a lot of work. I for one, loved the Cheeseburger for what it was, but the rest of the menu was pretty much hit or miss and way to exotic for a neighborhood bar, which is what this place is supposed to be. I have been three times and each time, definetely hit or miss from the kitchen and the staff. Hope they works things out, rework the menu, and try not to change stuff every single day. just my .02

KG

June 2nd, 2011
10:10 pm

Maybe take a little more focus off some of the menu and broaden the mediocre at best, beer selection. It is a bar after all.

Jake

June 2nd, 2011
10:38 pm

Great article but I don’t think The Family Dog is a place I’d care to dine. I don’t like the name and the menu sounds like dishes people create when they have the munchies from smoking too much weed!