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Grinds & Wines restaurant review, Peachtree City

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Some meals are like flipping through an old photo album.

Food evokes emotion, nostalgia and memories — some that make you smile and some that make you cringe. Such was the case with my recent visits to Grinds & Wines in Peachtree City.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

Grinds & Wines, whose website promises stellar coffee and wines, has been trying different hats since it opened in 2006. Originally a coffeehouse, the restaurant gradually added lunch and dinner, shedding breakfast altogether. During this evolution, the “grinds” were downsized to a limited selection of espresso-based drinks, and the wines became a short list of mostly commercially available products. As I struggle to unravel the identity of the restaurant, I am reminded of many past meals.

My stroll down memory lane begins with a pizza. The Margherita pizza ($12) takes me back to days of giddy excitement when frozen pizza and TV dinners first hit the freezer section. Like a cardboard sponge, the pre-made crust absorbs globs of grease oozing from the cheddar cheese, a disappointing replacement for the expected mozzarella. This is the pizza of my childhood, back when the novelty of home-heated pizza rendered its lackluster taste irrelevant.

During another meal, I revisit my early teens when the local mall’s Ruby Tuesday was the place to be seen. My friends and I would claim a booth and gorge on appetizer sampler platters. At Grinds & Wines, the Mediterranean Sampler ($14) fits this bill. Gone are the fried mozzarella sticks of my youth, now replaced with well-seasoned Italian meatballs, flavorless spanakopita, soft mushrooms stuffed with large chunks of crab and sparsely adorned bruschetta. But the white cups of marinara and garlic olive oil anchor the platter just as I recall.

My album then flips to a page of prom memories — times when only the “fanciest” restaurants would suffice. Entrees at Grinds & Wines mirror those we thought upscale in those days. The bacon-wrapped Filet au Bleu ($22) would be refined enough for any sequined promgoer, especially with the chopped herbs frosting the plate like a sprinkling of glitter. The well-seasoned beef is cooked to a perfect medium rare, dressed for the ball with a wedge of thick bacon and a varnish of melty Gorgonzola.

Trout Almondine: Freshwater trout fillet, pan-seared, topped with a roasted almond crust. Served with garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed season vegetables.  (Photos by Becky Stein / Special)

Trout Almondine: Freshwater trout fillet, pan-seared, topped with a roasted almond crust. Served with garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed season vegetables. (Photos by Becky Stein / Special)

As teens with pinkies outstretched from our water glasses, we might also have ordered the Trout Almondine ($16.50), laden with toasted almonds and an overpowering avalanche of garlic nearly bobbing in a pool of oily sauce. The accompanying long-cooked vegetables may just be mushy and greasy enough to make them palatable to a vegetable-averse teenager.

And prom night wouldn’t be complete without dessert. Grinds & Wines delivers the requisite Mocha Java Pie (then called mud pie). The pie ($5.50) is just as I remember with the crunchy Oreo crust and soft coffee ice cream until a bite doused in an artificial tangy-sweet strawberry sauce interrupts my reverie.

I’m relieved when my path meanders toward college days — hours of studying in cafes while munching on sandwiches and loading up on caffeine. I might have noshed on Grinds & Wines’ satisfyingly simple chicken salad sandwich ($9.50), crunchy with celery, onions and sweet relish, on toasted thick-cut sourdough bread. Accompanied by a giant mug of coffee, the likes of which I haven’t seen since Ross and Phoebe sipped lattes at Central Perk, I would be set to pull a pre-finals all-nighter.

Fish Tacos: Charbroiled mahi-mahi with lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo and jalapeño white sauce. Served with a side of sweet potato fries.

Fish Tacos: Charbroiled mahi-mahi with lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo and jalapeño white sauce. Served with a side of sweet potato fries.

Inching toward the present, the lobster mango ceviche ($10.50) garners our attention. A tall martini glass balances on a plate surrounded by mounds of slightly stale tri-colored tortilla chips. Giant hunks of stringy lobster that would fit on no fewer than four chips jut out of a surprisingly acid-less mango and red pepper syrup. We fare better with the soft-shell mahi-mahi fish tacos ($10). The moist fish is charbroiled and layered with lettuce, fresh pico de gallo and a kicky jalapeño-white sauce that the restaurant sells in jars.

After mentally thumbing through these snapshots of days past during my meals at Grinds & Wines, I’m left with the sense of an awkward teen struggling to find an identity. The restaurant, complete with a drive-through window and decorated with burlap coffee sacks, still feels like a coffee shop but is priced like an upscale restaurant. While Grinds & Wines may fill a need in the community, it currently seems to be playing dress-up — wearing shoes that are still a bit too big.

Pizza served at Grinds & Wines with the disappointing cheddar and frozen crust. (photo: Jenny Turknett)

Pizza served at Grinds & Wines with the disappointing cheddar and frozen crust. (photo: Jenny Turknett)

GRINDS & WINES
$$-$$$
290 Ga. 74 N., Peachtree City 770-486-6390
Food: Casual bistro with salads, sandwiches, pizza and a range of entrees
Service: Scattered, seemingly without table assignments or a plan
Best dishes: Chicken salad sandwich, mahi-mahi fish tacos
Vegetarian selections: Bruschetta, hummus, salads and roasted veggie sandwich
Price range: $$-$$$
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Children: Yes
Parking: Yes
Reservations: No
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: No
Noise level: Moderate
Patio: Yes, nice front patio
Takeout: Yes, drive-through
ratings_key_febUSE

40 comments Add your comment

Reds

August 4th, 2011
8:20 am

I’m not usually one to comment on star ratings, but your review seems to be less 1 star and more…. “pass” all-together.

Jenny Turknett

August 4th, 2011
8:41 am

Reds, I hear you. There were some things they did well such as the steak, which was perfectly cooked, the mahi-mahi tacos and the chicken salad sandwich. You could go there and get a decent meal, you would just have to know what to get because it is hit and miss.

M. Johnson

August 4th, 2011
9:18 am

Great review, Jenny. Goodness this place sounds like a mish-mash! (Drive-through window + Filet au Bleu = Huh?)

Also, should it be “a kicky jalapeño-white sauce” or wine sauce? Either way, it sounds interesting.

Jenny Turknett

August 4th, 2011
9:21 am

Thanks, M. Johnson! Yes, I was surprised to sit facing a drive-through window while eating my $22 entree. And, it is a white sauce, which is apparently so popular with the locals that the restaurant began bottling it!

M. Johnson

August 4th, 2011
10:13 am

White sauce. Yet another layer to the weirdness.

Your review may make people curious enough to check this place out!

PJ

August 4th, 2011
10:20 am

Sounds like a bizarre place – somewhere I would go for lunch, but not somewhere I’d want to have an upscale meal. I can always dig a good chicken salad & a giant mug of coffee. The jalapeno white sauce sounds very interesting – maybe have to do some experiments with my bumper crop of peppers. However, if I’m in Peachtree City, I can’t pass up Partners Pizza. My sorority sister/grad school roomie is from P’tree City & she let me in on some of the best pizza around Atlanta.

Local

August 4th, 2011
10:53 am

I have to disagree with most of what was stated in this article. My husband and I, along with many different groups of friends frequent Wines and Grinds quite often. The food is always wonderful and the atmosphere is very warm and inviting. We have never had a bad meal but also don’t expect that we are walking into “fine dinning” experience in downtown Atlanta. Wines and Grinds is very well loved in the community and on most evenings you’d better get there early if you don’t want to wait for a table.

Southsider

August 4th, 2011
11:52 am

I agree with Local. This review is terrible and it seems like you would have given it zero stars if you could have. We have found Grinds and Wines to be a bright spot on the south side. We usually get the sandwiches and salads, which are very reasonably priced (the salmon BLT is especially good.) The atmosphere is cozy and festive, and the tables are always packed. The pick-up window is a subtle feature that adds character. Grinds and Wines is a deliciously consistent restaurant for a date with the hubby or a lunch out with friends.

PTC DAWG

August 4th, 2011
11:56 am

Check out Georgia Shrimp Company or Pascals for a very nice dining experience in PTC.

The only way to properly experience the City is on a golf cart, after watching a nice sunset over Lake Peachtree….

Jere

August 4th, 2011
12:30 pm

looks like we probably heard from a couple Grinds and Wines employees.

James

August 4th, 2011
1:00 pm

@Southsider – it is possible to get zero stars. Best not to give em any ideas ;)

nsk

August 4th, 2011
1:09 pm

Is this place a chain? I remember a similarly confused place called Grinds & Wines in Port Charlotte, Florida in the mid-2000s. It was also called Tapas One at some point.

Also, misspelling the word dining ruins credibility on – wait for it – a dining blog.

Jenny Turknett

August 4th, 2011
1:26 pm

Nope, not a chain. But the name must be popular. We saw a similarly named restaurant last weekend in Ellijay.

JRC

August 4th, 2011
1:36 pm

Kessler get himself canned? Or is he on the epic search to find a new way to say “Farm to Table”?

Two weeks absence now. Thanks for filling in Jenny, hard for me to have an opinion about Ptree City anything. NTTAWWT!

Jenny Turknett

August 4th, 2011
2:03 pm

JRC — John Kessler will return next week. But, one of the other dining team members always has a review in addition to his. We review places both inside and outside of the Perimeter.

The Saucy Server

August 4th, 2011
2:34 pm

I can’t believe that this place still exists! I am from said community, and I have yet to fathom what “need” Grinds and Wines fills there. With all the money that’s said to be floating around Peachtree City, you would think it could support an actual, irrefutable, fine dining establishment.

JRC

August 4th, 2011
2:44 pm

Jenny, I am an avid follower of the food site for the AJC, and do read and appreciate all of the contributors. Kessler has a style and approach I find compatible with my own, and look forward to his work. Thanks again for making the AJC food section a more relevant resource.

RK

August 4th, 2011
2:52 pm

What’s wrong with a white sauce? That’s traditionally what a fish taco has on it.

ron chandonia

August 4th, 2011
2:58 pm

What a nasty review–followed by still nastier comments from purported residents of PTC! I can’t help but suspect some of them own rival eating spots here. Unlike most of the local restaurants, Grinds and Wines has succeeded in drawing a large and faithful following of residents who arrive on golf carts. It’s not easy to find a table even on weeknights. The food is interesting and consistently tasty, much like California cuisine in SFO when that fare was still a novelty. (The lobster mango ceviche is a real treat!) The prices are reasonable, and the waitstaff is courteous and attentive. If you can’t find a table, be assured that most other local restaurants have plenty of room to spare!

Elliot Garcia

August 4th, 2011
3:04 pm

So what you are saying Local, is that you shouldn’t have very high expectations for the southside….

WT

August 4th, 2011
3:22 pm

It is primarily a taco/sandwich joint that is reasonably priced with a reasonable wine list. Nothing fancy but nice enough when you don’t feel like cooking your own fish or shrimp taco. I moved down here 6 years ago and am surprised that we do not have a true white tablecloth place but we don’t. We need a true wine bar and irish pub as well.

PTC DAWG

August 4th, 2011
3:27 pm

I guess I could have added that I’ve had some good eats at Grinds & Vines too.

I just prefer a couple of other places better.

ptc local

August 4th, 2011
3:37 pm

While dinner is definitely overpriced for what it is and there really isn’t much of a coffee and wine selection (despite the name), there just aren’t many other options in the area…

Mandy

August 4th, 2011
5:19 pm

I find this place to be charming. I have been pleased with the service and food every time I have dined at Grinds and Wines. I think this reviewer is completely wrong on all accounts. The crabcake sandwich and salad are my favorites. Yum! I might go to dinner at Grinds and Wines tonight. :)

who still thinks atlanta doesn't suck?

August 4th, 2011
6:19 pm

PTC Golf Carter

August 4th, 2011
7:32 pm

The best spots in PTC are the small locally-owned restaurants but sometimes they are uneven in food or service. We love to support them and are happy when they are successful like Grinds and Wines. Another good newbie in PTC is the Bei Rut in Kedron. Best hummus, very good prices, makes you feel like family and you can get there on a golf cart. It is always packed. Out of townees can be snooty but we are happy these restaurants invest in our community.

Baltisraul

August 5th, 2011
6:44 am

It sounds like if you are down that way it is worth a try.

Local

August 5th, 2011
10:51 am

Elliott, and all of the negative comments, you are wrong, PTC residents have very high expectations, we just don’t stick our noses in the air quite as high as some other ATL areas do. I am not an employee of Wines & Grinds ( I can not speak for the others) but I do know a good restaurant. And to the comment about the “so called money” in PTC, trust me there is plenty of it, and most of us that have it, are running around on our cute little golf carts and eating at Grinds and Wines. :-)

Pedro

August 5th, 2011
11:06 am

I think the review is a little harsh, however it is fairly accurate. As a new resident to PTC of just two years and a foodie, I can say that I have been there twice and have never been overly impressed.

Paula

August 5th, 2011
12:37 pm

I love Grinds and Wines. It happens to be one of my favorite places. My favorite is the Mahi Tacos and sweet potato fries. The menu is a bit pricey sometimes, but overall it is not too bad. I think the critic was being a little too harsh. The place is always packed. I ALWAYS have to wait to be seated. So it must not be too bad! Everyone I know loves the place. I think you should try it yourself and not listen to this critic.

Noah

August 5th, 2011
2:48 pm

Sounds like your complaint was having to actually pay your bill rather than a complaint about the food, etc. Having managed fine dining restaurants, I know quality and the food and wine pairings at Grinds and Wines are excellent!

GW

August 5th, 2011
9:59 pm

As an employee of Grinds and Wines, I appreciate your take and constructive criticism on our restaurant. You have your opinion and so does everyone else who has posted or commented on your article. I believe you are missing what makes us unique though. We are not a 5-star/ white tablecloth restaurant, but we do not label ourselves one either. We do however give the opportunity for one to enjoy a day/night out whether that means a salad and tacos or Filet and Trout. Look forward to seeing more of your reviews.

Ryan-Newnan

August 6th, 2011
10:10 am

This is yet another example of how useless restaurant reviews are…as are movie reviews. Everyone’s taste and perceptions are different. To criticize an entity for its name is just useless information. It’s a name for heaven’s sake. The fact that they shied away from breakfast was likely a business decision predicated on survival. The owner should be applauded for that, not badgered. Why would anyone continue to stock lots of expensive coffees and wines if they aren’t selling? That would be bad business. The over used analogy of the reviewer’s youth bored me. G&W’s menu has no connection to the 50s, 60s or 70s, whatsoever. Grinds and Wines is often frequented by celebrities who are in town shooting movies, including Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, who appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves there last Summer. This restaurant is quaint, inviting and the food has always been delicious to me. A good business will price their products at the peak of what the market will bear. As many noted before me, you have to get there early if you want a table, so obviously the pricing is not too high. If you like good food in a laid back environment vs. stuffy, I highly recommend you try Grinds and Wines for yourself. The staff is so friendly and fun that I bet they would let you enter and exit from the drive thru window. I am going to specifically target restaurants that this reviewer chastises in the future, because she sure missed the mark on Grinds and Wines.

James

August 6th, 2011
1:35 pm

From the comments sounds like this is a worthy neighborhood restaurant – exactly what the one star rating means.

@Ryan – so names don’t matter? If I open up an ice cream shop and call it “James’s Carolina BBQ”, you don’t think folks are gonna feel a little misled? And you think some who alerts folks that it’s an ice cream shop and not a BBQ joint is providing “useless information”? That’s a bit delusional…

Ryan-Newnan

August 6th, 2011
6:53 pm

You CAN get both coffee and wine there. It started out as a coffee and wine shop, and then evolved into a nice neighborhood restaurant. There was no need for all the negative comments about the restaurant that might deter folks from trying it.

James

August 6th, 2011
11:09 pm

@Ryan – so obviously there was an evolution in the concept, hence the reason why the reviewer was initially puzzled. I imagine others might feel confused as well – seems pretty relevant to me. If you don’t like reading people’s honest opinions of a restaurant’s food, then don’t read restaurant reviews…

Susan

August 6th, 2011
11:22 pm

Had dinner at G&W’s tonight in support of the crummy review. I LOVE the fish tacos and have had them several times over the last few years. Just enough spice to keep you coming back. Had the Fish tacos at the newbie in town, Flying Biscuit, just last night – just so I could compare. The fish was bigger and meatier at FB, but, no one comes close to the sauce at Grinds. The beans and rice that accompany the dish are also excellent.

Tonight, as with my last few visits, the place was full of kids! Here I agree with the reviewer, I’d like to have Grinds and Wines for just us grown-ups after say 6:00 pm. Hard to enjoy an $8.00 glass of wine when there are screaming banchies all around. Parents don’t know enough to leave their kids at home – so ditch the kids menu – please! Speaking of wine, prices are pretty high, wish they were lower, I’d enjoy a second glass way more often.

PS. The music from next door is way too loud. Figure out what you are trying to be, and then make the atmosphere match.

Douglas

August 10th, 2011
1:17 pm

First and foremost, allow me to introduce myself…. My name is Douglas Boswell, and let me assure you, you will not find me on the roster at Grinds and Wines.

I’m guessing you left your taste buds at home the day you visited Grinds and Wines. What is even more amazing to me is that Grinds and Wines has an AJC review on their wall at this very minute from a few years ago where the place is being praised for the exact same thing you are downing them on. I take it you are new?

Let me say this…. I visit Grinds and Wines at the very least 2 days per week, and sometimes even more if I am taking my customers for lunch. If you aren’t there by 11:30, you will wait. And those waiting, wait patiently, because they know what to expect. Between the personal service and the daily specials I can’t imagine anyone leaving Grinds and Wines without a pleasant experience.

It’s also amazing that the pictures you’ve added look absolutely amazing and yet you complain about the experience….. Somewhat as Ryan points out… What’s in a name? Popeye was a sailor…. that ate spinach…. where did the chicken come from??? The name is Grinds and Wines…. you can get both…. the location is decorated through the reflections of both coffee and wines. Their wine stock changes on a regular basis, so where they lack in a diverse stock today, they will have a diverse stock next week.

I’d suggest that you get off the high horse you’ve placed yourself on, and do a little research in the very paper you’re writing for now. Amazing how the review can be SO much different, with the only changes in the entire restaurant since the last 5 star review being the lack of breakfast….. Oh…. and neither one of you had the breakfast anyways, so why does that even matter???

Have a nice day…. By the way…. I enjoyed lobster bisque and a salmon ceaser salad from Grinds and Wines today. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars.

Local

August 10th, 2011
1:23 pm

We moved from Atlanta a few years ago- and have been surrounded by mostly chain restaurants here in PTC. We love Wines and Grinds because of the unique menu and great wine list. We get the same thing every time- you can’t go wrong with the coconut shrimp appetizer, mahi tacos and the to-die-for mocha java pie for dessert. I am sure there are much more fabulous places in the city to dine, but we aren’t going to drive 40 minutes to try them out. This is a wonderful option for those of us not interested in The Outback or Longhorn for our night out. I just wish the restaurant was bigger.

Jenny Turknett

August 10th, 2011
4:29 pm

Douglas, thanks for your comments. I am familiar with the AJC piece on the wall at Grinds & Wines. It is not, in fact, a review and no stars are assigned. It is a piece written for our “First Look” series, which gives people an idea of what to expect from a new restaurant. It was also written about 5 years ago and by the owner’s admission, it is a very different restaurant today. I tried to convey the evolution of the restaurant. Furthermore, I was not criticizing the name but acknowledging the restaurant’s current lack of identity as a result of this evolution.