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The Pullman restaurant review, Atlanta



Back in the late 2000s, 1992 Hosea Williams Drive was home to the quintessential Kirkwood bar, Aces Bar & Grill. Representative of the influx of young gentrifiers, the smoky dive bar served the local 20-somethings well. But times change and 20-somethings grow up. Enter The Pullman.

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

Partners and Kirkwood locals Heidi Shonkwiler and Dan Wingate set out to open a community-centric gastropub to match the evolving demographic of Kirkwood. When the pair learned that Aces was going under “after a weeks-long stint as the kid-friendly Jak’s All In,” they saw their opportunity to build the pub the neighborhood needed. No longer an adults-only dive bar, The Pullman aims to offer a place to share a few pints with friends, as well as a place to park your stroller while you do it.

The Pullman walks that 30-something line between family-friendly enough to bring the kids along for dinner, but young enough to draw the crowd back in for drinks once the little ones are in bed. Wingate and Shonkwiler teamed up with chef Lotinza Clark from Radial Cafe to create a sampling of seasonal pub grub, offering a late-night menu most nights until midnight or later.

Unlike many self-declared gastropubs, shareable small plates are not the focus here, concentrating instead on sandwiches and entrees. The Oh George ($10), the house burger, comes with a man-sized half-pound patty of local beef, thick bacon slices, manchego cheese and a remarkably fresh yet mild jalapeno mayo. I’m pleasantly surprised by the special of the day: a fried chicken sandwich ($10) on toast, topped with tomato and mixed greens, oozing on all sides with melted pimento cheese.


Sriracha wings (photos by Becky Stein)

Among the appetizers, a plate of the Sriracha wings ($8) makes for a great starter to split with friends. The sweet and spicy glazed wings keep just enough of the unmistakable kick of the rooster sauce, tempered just enough to satisfy heat lovers without alienating more timid palates. I was more than happy to hog most of our plate of chicken livers ($6), enjoying the light, flash-fried batter dusted with fresh herbs.

You’ll hear no complaints of small portions when the server airlifts the barbecue short ribs ($13) to your table. This impossibly large slab of slow-roasted beef arrives slathered with peach barbecue sauce atop a sweet potato and plantain hash, and can easily feed two adults. At seeing the shocked look in my eyes my server swears, almost apologetically, that I received the largest rib she’d seen them serve. This eats almost like a moist, braised brisket. Taken in human-sized portions, each bite is excellent, but I couldn’t help but picture some starving child across the world as I returned a plate with 2 pounds of meat still on it.

Peach BBQ Short Rib

Peach BBQ Short Rib

For a place claiming the gastropub title, I wish the beer selection was a little more extensive, currently offering 12 draft beers and a handful of bottles. However, half of the taps are dedicated to local breweries, and the rest offer a rotating selection of some more obscure beers that should keep most craft brew-heads interested.

Cocktails also get the seasonal treatment, and regularly change. The current menu offers multiple light libations, like the Palace ($8), a summery mix of gin, St. Germain and ginger ale, perfect for sipping on a warm afternoon. Or, spice things up a bit with the tequila-based Lightning Slinger ($8), mixed with pineapple juice, ginger liqueur and a dash of coarse ground black pepper.

A few missteps hint that the crew is still getting their feet under them . The blue cheese mayo is noticeably absent from my blackened chicken sandwich ($9) when I peel back the bun, and a bowl of spinach, artichoke and smoked gouda dip ($7) begs for a few more shakes of salt.

While the service is consistently attentive, I couldn’t help but notice the kitchen fall behind at seemingly odd times. One crowded Sunday brunch, I had no trouble getting my plate of peppered steak and eggs ($12), but on a slow Tuesday evening with only a handful of occupied tables, a plate of falafel and hummus ($7) arrives as we pay our check (for which our repentant server did not charge us.)

The Pullman aims to be the pub where all walks of the community can gather, and at that, they surely succeed. Shonkwiler and Wingate know their neighbors well, and have crafted a cozy little neighborhood tavern that everyone in the Kirkwood area should check out.

1992 Hosea Williams Drive N.E., Kirkwood, 404-371-1115

2stars5Food: Seasonal pub grub
Service: Friendly, but still working out the kinks
Best dishes: Oh George and Sriracha wings
Vegetarian selections: Most appetizers and salads, and many can be made veggie by request
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard and Discover
Hours: 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Mondays-Wednesdays, 4 p.m.-3 a.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-
3 a.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m.-midnight Sundays.
Children: more than welcome
Parking: technically, street parking only and can get very tight.
Reservations: no
Wheelchair access: yes
Smoking: no
Noise level: moderate to loud
Patio: no
Takeout: yes


15 comments Add your comment

Krystle Meyer

May 31st, 2012
12:04 pm

“I returned a plate with 2 pounds of meat still on it.”

What, no doggy bag?


May 31st, 2012
12:43 pm

I really like this place. Much better vibe and food than when it was Aces. I like their daily egg rolls, always different fillings and their salads, especially the spinach salad with strawberries and champagne vinaigrette.


May 31st, 2012
1:15 pm

“Back in the late 2000’s” ???????? whaaaa? So I guess you are in another century than the rest of us?

the fresh prints

May 31st, 2012
1:47 pm

i love a good dive, but aces was not a good dive, it was sucky everything.
the pullman has excellent food and a couple bottles of rye whisky on hand. also, they have gluten free items on the menu!
the reviewer says parking can get tight, but really? there’s street parking anywhere for free not just right out front.

livin in kirkwood 35yrs

May 31st, 2012
1:47 pm

in this day and age of the obese we did not need another place which caters to that. aces bar had good LIGHT food that seems to be the idea not sure why they went under but talk says mismanagement had nothing to do with the business making a profit it was there someone was just balling with it. the pullman is very loud so i dont know why anyone would bring kids says kid friendly but overall i think not!


May 31st, 2012
2:15 pm

livin in kirkwood, this is a good thing for Kirkwood. Gastropubs are blowing up everywhere and the success of this place could bring more restaurants to the area. Kirkwood needs more higher end places. It also does nothing but help your property values.

I’m happy it opened here and hope it’s a huge success.


May 31st, 2012
3:51 pm

kirkwood for 35 years, move to nyc mayor bloomberg will welcome you i’m sure


May 31st, 2012
5:25 pm

krkwood for 35 yrs….Scott was right. You sound like a perfect New Yorker.


May 31st, 2012
5:46 pm

You guys are brutal!


June 1st, 2012
9:40 am

late 2000’s does look weird, but what are you supposed to say? late aughts? late twenty-aughts? late 00’s? maybe just say “a few years ago” so as not to think that he means 900 years from now. because i totally thought that :/

Katz P. Ajamas

June 3rd, 2012
10:44 am

So the Ace holes are gone. Good riddance. Crappy food, crappy attitude.


June 3rd, 2012
11:19 am

Maybe Aces failed because of that delightful BP station across the street? Maybe no one wants to venture to Kirkwood because of all the crime? Yeah, it’s been “gentrifying” for 25 years now and getting more and more crime-ridden…but don’t say anything or you’ll be called racist.


June 3rd, 2012
11:24 am

Art, that’s typical of Kirkwood’s largely angry, self-important, entitlement-minded residents.


June 4th, 2012
2:37 pm

The crab cake benedict is AMAZING. I visit this establishment quite frequently and the staff is always polite and very professional. This has become our “favorite” brunch spot in Atlanta.

Vince Doodley

June 4th, 2012
10:28 pm

Not a fan of food presentations with altitude as a key feature.