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Wildflour restaurant review, Alpharetta

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A flurry of handmade signs paper the front door and flock the walls and cash register. “Closing early today.” “Out of pork today.” “New hours.” “We take these credit cards now.”

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

Meet Wildflour restaurant in Alpharetta, where you never quite know what you’re going to get. Michael Fields, who owns this sandwich haunt, has amassed more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He began his career as a dishwasher at Fuddruckers when he was 16. Fields soon realized that he wanted to cook — just not burgers. He sought on-the-job training, shadowing both savory and pastry chefs.

At 19, Fields opened Sweet Creations Bakery in Alpharetta. Over the next 12 years, he traded in one shop for another, moving from bakery to sandwich shop to full-service restaurant before calling it quits.

After a five-year hiatus during which he led trout fishing expeditions and worked a brief stint at Spice, Fields tried his hand as restaurateur once more, opening Wildflour in Roswell in 2007. A poor location left this restaurant without visibility or traffic, causing Fields to uproot and relocate it to Alpharetta in a strip mall off Windward Parkway.

Wildflour now gets plenty of traffic, packing this lunch-only spot each weekday. As you brave the line in this noisy concrete-floored space, read those paper signs to see what’s sold out. On one visit, I ordered four times before finding something available.

A little eavesdropping on fellow customers’ conversations reveals the tomato basil soup and crabcake sandwich as two popular choices. My first pass at the tomato basil soup ($4.50) ends abruptly after a few bites of heart-stoppingly salty soup so undercooked that small pellets of grated Parmesan cheese ping my teeth with each bite. With caution, I attempt the soup once more on a return visit and find a velvety smooth and cream-laden soup with the perfect tomato tang.

The Prodeep: Coconut, curry, habanera peppers, onions, tomatoes, poblanos and mushrooms tossed with grilled chicken and topped with sliced avocado, served with a side of broccoli salad. (Photos by BECKY STEIN / Special)

The Prodeep: Coconut, curry, habanera peppers, onions, tomatoes, poblanos and mushrooms tossed with grilled chicken and topped with sliced avocado, served with a side of broccoli salad. (Photos by BECKY STEIN / Special)

To the contrary, the crabcake sandwich ($11), frequently available as a special, fails to live up to the hype. A dry and overcooked exterior encases crab smothered with filler — crab that Fields boasts costs $24 per pound. The large oval cake shaped to fit the bread makes for an awkward bite inside the homemade top-split rolls.

Whole-wheat rolls ($2) are a signature item at Wildflour. Fields bakes them daily from a starter he’s had since Wildflour’s Roswell days. The rolls, soft and fluffy, offer only a mild suggestion of yeast — a neutral backdrop for sandwiches. Yet, served alongside a salad, they beg for a pat or two of soft butter — butter that Fields begrudgingly gives a neighboring customer, telling her it’s too expensive to serve routinely.

The signature bread tends to grow soggy from sauces and garnishes added to sandwiches. This was the case with my favorite sandwich, the Prodeep ($6.50 small/$9.50 large). Here, the grilled chicken you’ll find on many of the sandwiches gets tossed in a thick coconut curry sauce and mixed with onions and mushrooms. Pull the ingredients out of the bread before it drinks up the moisture and enjoy the sweet and spicy sauce with the chicken and creamy avocado, which tempers the heat.

Tomato basil soup

Tomato basil soup

You’ll find the bread is a common thread between sandwiches, but the similarities don’t end there. Multiple permutations of the same ingredients make up the sandwich menu. For example, the Wildflour Melt ($6.50 small/$9.50 large), a vegetarian combination of earthy mushrooms and a tangy balsamic-and-sun-dried-tomato dressing, shows up on the Seinfeld sandwich ($6.50 small/$9.50 large) — the meaty cousin that offers the addition of grilled chicken, pork tenderloin, turkey meatloaf or Boar’s Head turkey.

Much like the sandwiches, pastries may or may not be available. Despite a website advertising an ever-changing selection, gluten-free offerings and a three-year winning streak for “Best Dessert” at Taste of Alpharetta, brownies and cookies ($2) sit alone next to an empty refrigerated case. Though solid versions of standards, neither of these desserts bears the mark of a professional.

As Wildflour marches past its four-year life span, Fields reveals plans to add beer and wine service, dinner hours and the potential for expansion. Perhaps with change will come inspiration. We’ll know soon enough. Just be sure to check the paper signs.

– Jenny Turknett, for the AJC Food and More blog

All our recent dining reviews


Wildflour, 5815 Windward Parkway, Alpharetta. 678-822-9453

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Food: cafe serving mostly sandwiches, a few salads and a soup or two each day

Service: helpful but abrupt and not overly friendly
Best dishes: Prodeep sandwich, tomato basil soup (on a good day)
Vegetarian selections: assorted sandwiches and salads
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays
Children: yes, but no kids’ menu
Parking: shared lot
Reservations: no
Wheelchair access: yes
Smoking: no
Noise level: high when full
Patio: a couple of tables out front
Takeout: yes
ratings_key_febUSE

39 comments Add your comment

Scott

January 19th, 2012
10:27 am

Another reason ITP folks make fun of us up here. Before expanding into dinner service, why not bring up the quality of lunch first?

Jere

January 19th, 2012
10:51 am

Jenny, I always enjoy your thoughtful reviews but please tell me how a restaurant with hit or miss item availability, inconsistent quality, and the fact that apparently you have to bring your own butter merits 1 star ?

James

January 19th, 2012
11:34 am

Jere – if you know that area, there really aren’t many other options if you’re looking for this kind of food. So my guess is for this reason wildflour qualifies as a “worthy addition to its neighborhood” – hence the one star.

Grasshopper

January 19th, 2012
11:35 am

Jere,

Jenny just wrote a dozen paragraphs explaining the 1-star rating; ‘Hit or Miss’ sums up the whole review.

A

January 19th, 2012
12:01 pm

Based on the photo, does Wildflour serve everything on paper/plastic, even if dining in. I really don’t like restaurants that do this for dine-in. Wasteful, bad for the environment and just plain tacky.

SP

January 19th, 2012
1:39 pm

Wow, so sad you didnt have the experiences that I’ve had going there! It’s one of the few places I actually enjoy in Alpharetta. However, I tend to go for their Twisted Reuben (with the apple vinegar slaw and seasoned dressing), it’s delicious! Their most popular item is the basil chicken salad sandwich. You were clearly steered wrong. The chocolate chip cookies are better than any bakery in town (and that says a lot coming from an ITP person). Depending on what time you go, they sometimes do run out of items but I’ve never had a problem finding something else enjoyable. As for the daily homemade bread, its one of the things I find so special in a sea of chain restaurant crap up there. I must eat faster than you cuz its never gotten soggy on me! You should really give it another go.

Janet

January 19th, 2012
2:35 pm

Wow, that was a scathing review!

I work at Wildflour, and yes, we do run out of things, and yes, Michael does not serve butter with the bread, and yes…..we do make signs from scratch…..just like we make everything else here. Michael puts his heart and soul into his food and his business. I read all the restaurant reviews in the AJC, and I don’t recall any having quite the edge that this particular review seems to have. Michael “boasting” about the price of his crab. That IS the price per pound, and it is NOT full of filler. Michael is the first person to tell a line cook to “add more”, “fill it up more”…if he feels something leaving the line doesn’t look just right.

Wildflour does get super busy, and we do sell out at times, but that is because we are not a chain serving pre-sliced meat out of a plastic bag. We grill our meats for the sandwiches over a wood fire, we don’t microwave anything. And we do not serve in house on disposable products, per one of the previous comments.

and ps Jenny…you list of “flurry” of handmade signs is not correct. The credit card sign is typed up and posted, I know ’cause I typed it up myself.

James

January 19th, 2012
3:02 pm

@Janet – if you typed it up yourself, that would tend to make it handmade. (unless you’re some sort of machine or you type with your feet).

And if you’re the type of place that runs out of items frequently – as you confirm – then isn’t it the obligation of a reviewer to make readers aware of that??

donkey200

January 19th, 2012
4:35 pm

He sounds like a jerk. I’d never waste my time eating here.

AART

January 19th, 2012
11:53 pm

I honestly can’t ever remember reading a review that I disagree more with, ever in any city about any restaurant. Inspiration? It’s a sandwich shop. What do you want something cutting edge like in New York: corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut on rye? Ham, turkey, Swiss, and bacon?

I’ve never had a problem with places that run out of items. It never happens at McDonald’s where everything is frozen, but does happen at places that make food fresh. The pork Seinfeld is the best thing on the menu.

I agree that his pastry selection was much better in Roswell. Sorry to see he is using Boar’s Head turkey. While turkey is never my first choice and not sure I’ve ever had his turkey, I did think he made every meat there.

I know opinions are like…but there is a serious disconnect between your review and the experiences of a lot of hard-core foodies.

AlphaTater

January 20th, 2012
9:29 am

Newsflash: Don’t depend on snooty ITP reviewers to guide your dining decisions OTP.
Wildflour is definitely worth a visit and is what you’d expect from a sandwich shop.

Maybe if it were full of suit-wearing jerks like I deal with daily here waiting in lines for $15 sandwiches in Buckhead, it would qualify as “must visit.”

generous

January 20th, 2012
9:51 am

I tried wildflour once and won’t be back. Unfriendly service, terrible salad (veggies cut so large I had to cut them myself to get them into myself…laziness) and soup, mediocre sandwich.

I’m OTP, btw…

RDK

January 20th, 2012
9:54 am

WOW, The review is so unfair. The best bread in ATL, it spoils you. Going to any other sandwich place with store bought bread oesn’t even come close to Wildflour. The cookies and brownies are always fresh and rich! You forgot to mention that all Pork, Chicken, Turkey Meatloaf and Salmon are cooked on site, never frozen! Not to mention the great sides- pasta salad (WF is known for that), potato salad and broccoli slaw. And the specials he has from the BIG Smoker in the side parking lot! Awesome food and I would highly recommend checking this place out!

Pot Pie

January 20th, 2012
10:25 am

I work near and love this place!

PJ

January 20th, 2012
11:01 am

I was a Wildflour regular when it was in Roswell due to proximity to my house. I loved the location, but understand that visibility was an issue. The cafe there had a much better atmosphere than the current location, but obviously not the business-lunch crowd a Windward location brings. Too bad – I really miss eating there regularly. I’ve only been to the current location twice, but it seems to be less inviting for dining in (a loud, cavern-like space) & better for taking out. The old space had a great deck for outside dining where the newer space has tables on the sidewalk by the parking lot.

I was fortunate to find something I loved & stuck with it most every time I ate there – The Seinfeld with pork. It seems something may not have been put together right at the time of Jenny’s visit or the recipe has changed as Jenny lists it coming with the balsamic sauce. My experience with that sandwich was always with a creamy sage sauce so good I could lick it off the plate. My mouth is watering thinking about that sauce & I am hoping it is still there. My other favorite is the creamy balsamic used on the pasta salad. Again, I could almost eat that with a spoon. I once tried the basil chicken salad & it was also very good.

Since I haven’t visited the current location but twice, it would be hard for me to comment on the dessert selection, which was always plentiful in Roswell. Again, the set up in the Roswell cafe was more conducive to that since its incarnation a couple of restaurants before Wildflour was Edible Expressions, heavy on the bakery items (got my son’s 1st birthday cake there). There is something about Wildflour’s chocolate chip cookies that draws me in & makes me get them every time. Maybe something like toffee in there? It is also in the brownies. I don’t know, but it is one place I can’t pass up the cookies.

I agree that Wildflour is a worthy addition to the neighborhood – just sad it is not in mine any more.

AART

January 20th, 2012
11:10 am

@PJ, not certain, but I think his wife was the original pastry chef and may not work there any more. I know they had one or two kids, which changes everything. @Generous, oh I am not a fan of the tall, skinny dark-haired women. Most of the rest of the staff is pretty friendly.

FWIW, I went through Jen’ archives to get a feel of what she actually does like: it appears nothing. It’s one-stars galore in the few reviews she’s done in between a lot of fluff. I still would like to hear her idea of how to make an “inspiring” sandwich.

JS

January 20th, 2012
11:32 am

@AART – check reviews for Grits cafe, Wisteria, Roswell Tea House for ones she’s reviewed very favorably. As a general rule, most places are probably gonna get no stars or a one star. This isn’t little league where everyone gets a big trophy…

AART

January 20th, 2012
12:25 pm

I did see the Grits one JS and FWR Roswell Teahouse has a Kessler byline, but was written by her, so didn’t turn up initially. Never been to Grits, so can’t comment, but nothing on the menu sounds inspiring.

I fairly much agree with her on Teahouse, though insofar as food, I’d take Wildflour in a heartbeat, though Teahouse has a few items beyond finger sandwiches.

I guess I always personally rate a restaurant for what they intend to be not what I wish them to be. I used to love Kewl Korner Grocery. They had a great Cuban sandwich. Not exactly inspiring, but good. Yet I’d never give them demerit points because they don’t serve lechon asado or paella. That’s not what they purport to be and I only expect them to deliver what they claim to be.

Like I said, opinions are like…but it may be a long, long time before I find a review that I think is as this off-the-charts wrong as this one.

JS

January 20th, 2012
1:28 pm

@AART – Perhaps off the mark based on your experience, but not hers. That alone speaks of inconsistency – hence, the one star would fit.

AART

January 20th, 2012
2:07 pm

@JS, understood. But my experiences have been 30-plus over two locations and several years. It’s having been with people, having sent others, having seen mostly positive reviews on Yelp. They’ve been consistently good.

From what I’ve seen, the median star rating from her is 1-star, also quite consistent. And while the one person who works there has been consistently lukewarm, never enough so where I’d paint everyone there under the brush of unfriendly service.

I would never disagree so vociferously if I had been only a few times. But who knows, perhaps another review will come along soon that I will be equally amazed. Hasn’t happened in decades of reading probably thousands of reviews, but there is always a second time.

doug

January 20th, 2012
2:13 pm

Wow, does this review come from someone who lives under a rock? no taste buds or flavor, this totally shocking to me and my family. We do travel from Stone Mountain only to get a great lunch far beyond our expectations every time. In fact we have recommended this shop to many friends who speak highly of the food. I would highly disagree on this write up and now know to never go by Janets evaluation for any restaurant!

Drew

January 20th, 2012
2:32 pm

I don’t think the bread gets soggy, I just find it consistently undercooked. Gummy. I’ve stopped going here. Try Bite down the road.

What?

January 20th, 2012
3:53 pm

How does Parmesan cheese “ping” ones teeth.

What?

January 20th, 2012
3:55 pm

Doug, what are you talking about?

Bob

January 21st, 2012
8:49 am

A good food critic considers whether or not he or she enjoys the type of food being served at a restaurant before critiquing it. I for instance don’t like Indian food, so it stands to reason that I would write a bad review on every Indian restaurant in town. I have been to Wildflower many times, and have learned to get into the establishment no later then 11:30. Why, because it gets packed with patrons, I mean really packed. So I asked myself, why such a bad review? The answer is obvious, this critic had no business reviewing this restaurant. Either that or every other restaurant in Alpharetta is terrible, or we are all tasteless idiots. You tell me. Just my opinion

Charlie

January 21st, 2012
11:43 am

Wow Jenny! That was a pretty harsh review. I have eaten at Wild Flour many times and love the food. Yes, they have run out of things, but I can always find something to order. You have to be there by 11:30 or the line is out the door. The only thing I agree with in your review is the dessert options. I do agree they should fill the refrigerated case with a variety of desserts every day. I think it would really boost sales even more! Great restaurant and nice staff!

ATL_Epicurean

January 21st, 2012
5:00 pm

I clicked this review, fearing it was going to be another glowing gushfest about this rather overrated restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised to read what I feel is a fair and objective assessment.

Hit or miss is exactly right: I’ve been to Wildflour four or five times: sometimes it’s been good, and sometimes, it’s been disappointing. Their shrimp salad is delicious: a definite hit. The Twisted Reuben, on the other hand, was a miss: the turkey on it was so dry and dessicated that, frankly, I’m not sure how the person making it didn’t notice it when they were putting it on the sandwich. I found the much-vaunted tomato basil soup rather grainy with cheese — the flavor was good, but the texture was unpleasant.

It also seems like they could use another staff member during the lunch rush, or perhaps half a staff member, as well: on all but one visit, I’ve seen 75% of the available tables covered with bread crumbs, and no one available to wipe them down because the person at the register was busy taking orders. When hiring that additional member of the staff, it would be beneficial if he or she were a friendly extrovert: that person could handle the orders. I am married to an introvert, and I totally respect that engaging with customers demands a lot of energy, but it’s just part and parcel of managing a small business. While I think they are extremely talented bakers (the bread *is* very good), I have not found either Michael or the lady (possibly Janet?) to be particularly friendly on any of my visits, even when the restaurant was not busy.

Wildflour comes across as a restaurant run by artists, rather than a serious, consistent lunch spot. I have been there at 1:20 pm before and found them closed because they ran out of food. It’s frustrating and time-consuming when one is on one’s lunch hour to encounter that: I don’t necessarily have time to go find another alternative when I need to get back to the office for a meeting. And don’t tell me that if I want reliability, I should go to McDonald’s: Sri Krishna Vilas, in the same shopping center, has bountiful mounds of food available on the lunch buffet every day, and they’re a small business. The primary difference, from an outsider’s perspective, seems to be that they have more staff.

I really think hiring one more person would make a significant and positive difference in the Wildflour experience, and would free Michael up more to do what he does well: make tender, tasty bread.

AJC SUCKS

January 22nd, 2012
7:31 am

Wow who would have thought another BS review from a food critic that feels the need to show their ass. Is there a food critic at the ajc that is acutally worth a damn. Too bad they ran Meredith out the door. You guys have some nerve slamming what is the heart and soul of some communities. If you ever decide to get your ego out of the way you might actually find some good food at these niche restaurants. I am done with the AJC!!!!!!!!!!

AJC SUCKS

January 22nd, 2012
7:32 am

Look at these user comment you missed the boat by a long shot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

robert

January 22nd, 2012
8:51 am

Good grief, how many people have no life where they can get so upset because someone doesn’t happen to like a resaurant as much as they do? My guess it’s either two or three people writing all these responses. All this whining does is make me not want to go to the restaurant. The menu doesn’t sound exceptionally interesting and when much of it is not available anyway what kind of review would you expect?

Mike A

January 22nd, 2012
3:03 pm

robert, I think the problem is the review seemed overly harsh and took a few ‘cheap shots.’

Pretty much everyone I know loves Wildflour (it also ranks highly on internet sites) so reading a review like this is admittedly a little puzzling. Not saying it’s perfect, but it’s definitely a ‘go-to’ place for my wife and I.

But hey, different strokes and all that, and I’m trying not to claim ITP bias. But the tone of the review seemed a bit much. The AJC restaurant critics have always been very inclined to the negative.

what?!

January 23rd, 2012
3:49 pm

@Mike A – “overly harsh” – a restaurant that sometimes runs out of food before the end of lunch hour, is so understaffed it can’t clean it’s tables, serves inedible soup, and acts as if its customers are an inconvenience still gets a one star and that’s “overly harsh.” I’d characterize it as kind and gentle. My experience at wildflour has been similar to ATL_Epicurean’s and the others who apparently aren’t drinking the Alpharetta kool-aid.

Mike A

January 23rd, 2012
11:28 pm

I’ve been to Wildflour dozens of times and that has not been my experience. It’s a shame that you think anyone who likes and supports the restaurant is drinking ‘Alpharetta Kool Aid.’ I don’t find that particularly fair. I think it’s just that many of us are happy to get a really good, non-chain restaurant up here, so perhaps we’re a little defensive.

As for restaurant critics, let’s just say I find they tend to feed (hah!) off the negative. The Simpsons parodied this brilliantly way back when.

alpha

January 24th, 2012
9:29 am

Sounds like a lot of employees of Wild Flour have been busy typing away, giving “reviews”.

Slobby Bobby

January 24th, 2012
2:01 pm

Is it possible that the quality of restaurant food and service is in decline and that the general population just accept this decline?

Food reviewing is what these people do and they hold it to a higher standard than most. People have to recognize this.

I have to admit though that after reading Jennifer’s review, I was not going to give it a try. Thankfully, after reading some of the comments, I would give it a go and see what it is like. I mean, afterall, it’s a sandwich shop. Most people will eat what’s given them without complaint.

Annie

January 24th, 2012
8:24 pm

I used to work at Wildflour. Does this overly critical woman understand that everything coming out of that kitchen is made from scratch?…not microwaved or ordered from Sysco, so if they are out of something…GET OVER IT!!! It is impossible to gauge how many people will show up on any given day, and so bread cannot be just grabbed out of the freezer. It is rising in the back, and fresh everyday. Get there early! And does every restaurant have to look like a chain? Do I really care if there’s a paper sign in the window? The food is phenomenal. The bread is phenomenal. Love goes into the food. And people come in just for that soup. And the line out the door says it all. AND I KNOW FOR A FACT HE BUYS TOP OF THE LINE AND SELLS IT AT A PRICE WHERE HE MAKES NO PROFIT. This review is ridiculous, and unfortunately people like you can make or break a business. SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE A PERSONAL PROBLEM, because this review is not even accurate.

Annie

January 24th, 2012
8:30 pm

@ Alpha…I am probably the only employee on here at the moment, albeit a former employee. This place has tons of regulars, that care about Michael. I should know. And Slobby Bobby…you should give it a try. The first time I ate here, I ordered Salmon, even though I don’t like salmon, but it was recommended. Not only did I like the salmon, it was probably the best sandwich I’ve ever had.

Annie

January 24th, 2012
8:35 pm

This erased my first review? I am a former employee. Everything is made from scratch, so if they are out of something…get over it. The bread is rising in the back. It is not bought from Sysco and pulled out of a freezer. It is impossible to gauge how many people come through in a day. And who cares if they have paper signs in the window? Does every restaurant have to look like a chain? This reviewer sounds like she has a personal issue that she turned into a review. Love goes into the food. I know for a fact that Michael buys top quality, and a lot of times he has sold it for no profit, just to please. THE LINE OUT THE DOOR SPEAKS FOR ITSELF.

AART

January 25th, 2012
7:30 pm

@Annie, I wouldn’t worry about a review from a struggling stringer ruining a business that I can’t even get in the door between 11:30-1:00. It’s not like the 20 deep lines are filled with people who just fell off the Turnknett truck. There are nattering nabobs who will accept what she says as Gospel because they’ve never been and they thrive on negativity. Good, one less person in line ahead of me.

Alpha, how did you know we were all employees? And all those foodies sights overflowing with rave reviews from people who have dozens if not hundreds of reviews on their profile: we’re all employees too.

The fire marshal exceeding crowds during their two-hour lunch rush: yep, well all work there. I wish I could get my employee discount once in a while.

Some of the comments about the bread remind me of a conversation I had years ago with Mario of Bella’s Pizza.

Me: Love the doughy garlic rolls
Mario: Ah an educated palate. You be amazed at how many expletives think they are chewy or undercooked
Me: Comments like that could get you thrown in front of a taxi if you said that in Manhattan
Mario: Expletive them