I used to cringe at the use of “alternative” on Atlanta’s wine lists – a term once reserved for anything that wasn’t pinot noir or Chardonnay. These days, it’s different. Now the city boasts lists of affordable wines, ripe for sipping. Here are five of my favorites.
112 Krog St., 404-524-1618, Atlanta
The folks who own Rathbun’s have packed a lot of punch (and wine) into 750 square feet – Krog Bar’s space may be tiny, but its wine list flows, with more than 50 selections by the glass and a true tapas menu to go with it. I just wish there were more places to sit. Ahh … who cares when you’re nibbling prosciutto and sipping Tempranillo?
800 Peachtree St., 404-685-3191, Atlanta
Yes, the new name, prompted by the recent sale from owner Doug Strickland to Hawks player Zaza Pachulia, sounds more like a new designer’s clothing line at Target than a restaurant, but Pachulia has been wise enough to leave the wine list alone for the most part. Strickland spent ten years developing what is probably the city’s best under-$50 selection, and sipping wine at the bar here is an exploration of global tastes, from over 100 by-the-glass selections in French to Italian, to Spain and back again. Ask for a sip, and you shall receive. Nibble on Top Chef contestant Eli Kirshtein’s conceptual “fat kid” cooking while you wile away an evening at the bar.
736 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, 404-254-1176
I had to include one beer list, and the BookHouse is a hidden gem. Tucked away off Ponce, it’s got the kitschy cuteness of a book nook, with the hipness of a hang out. And the kind of beer list a girl can love: Lots of Belgian and American craft beers on tap, including Saison Dupont, McChouffe, St. Bernardus Christmas Ale, plus lost of well-chosen offerings in the bottle. But it’s the sweet, sparkly effervescence of Lindemans Framboise Raspberry Lambic that turns my head.
1397 North Highland Ave., Atlanta, 404-347-9747
Changing hands didn’t change a thing about chef-owner Ron Eyester’s laid-back approach to casual dining. His emphasis is still local, local local, and the great food bears that mark. His wine list is as easy and affordable as the rest of the menu, designated into price points he calls “cheap,” ($7), “decent,” ($9) and “good” ($14). Dang right. (Look for an all-new review of Rosebud next week.)
1782 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta, 404-347-9055
We knew that Top Chef contestant Kevin Gillespie’s high-concept, locally inspired cooking would get him noticed, but who would’ve guessed that co-owner Nicolas Quinones would prove himself such an accomplished sommelier? The restaurant boasts lost of bargains from around the world, with more than 50 bottles less than $50, and a dozen of them are less than $30.