At Park Tavern, the atmosphere makes the experience
3.7.10 – My next review takes us to Atlanta’s famous park in Midtown (no, I don’t have a thing for parks). I’m slightly embarassed to say it took eight months of living in Atlanta before I made it to Park Tavern. I now realize I was missing out.
A warm sunday afternoon in Atlanta brings hoards of people out to Piedmont park. This sounds like a bad thing but it’s actually awesome. The park is spacious enough to accomodate all the locals that come out for a jog or to socialize their dog at the dog park.
Park Tavern is in the southeast corner of the park, where Monroe Drive meets 10th Street. Adjacent to the restaurant is a huge open space where people play pick up soccer games or set up afternoon picnics with friends. A few groups of people were starting to gather on the grass as we made our way from the dog park to the restaurant around 1:30.
It was barely 60 degrees and cloudy, yet the patio was packed. The hostess said it would be about 30 minutes so we grabbed a drink from the outdoor bar to sustain us. Brendan grabbed a beer but I had to try a Bloody Mary since park tavern is somewhat notorious for them. I liked how you could garnish your own - the bartender pointed me toward a selection of limes, celery, olives and more. And of course tabasco was on hand.
After several sips I was reminded that a Bloody Marys is far from my drink of choice, but that aside, it was above average. Luckily our wait was no more than 15 minutes by the time the hostess showed us to a table (they call your cell phone – a great idea in case you venture around the park a bit).
This was the first time we brought our dog, Koda, out to eat with us so I was happy to see that the patio was very dog friendly. Scanning the tables showed that it was almost unusual to not have a dog with you. They even had a water jug with plastic bowls to fill for your pup. I’m not sure how the servers manage, though. Not only do they have to dodge some people’s obnoxious yippy dogs under foot, but they have to trudge through the stones that layer the patio floor (for lack of a better word). A nice touch decor-wise but with a tray to balance, it must be a challenge.
It took our waiter quite a while to come by our table. I’m not sure if it was the relaxing atmosphere or our sympathy for how swamped he must have been, but we weren’t bothered by it one bit.
The menu at Park Tavern surprised me, part bar food and part sushi rolls. A funny mix. I wanted to try a few things and between appetizers, fried food baskets and sandwiches, we chose two dips and the tempura shrimp basket. Having had sushi two nights before, that section of the menu did not appeal. I quickly regretted that choice after I noticed some of the intricate rolls that passed by us en route to other tables.
The Spinach, Crab and Lobster dip arrived with the Queso, Chips and Pico de Gallo. Both dips were good but a bit cold – the cheese had started to thicken on top, clearly it had been sitting for a few minutes before arriving at our table. I was pleasantly surprised, though, by the large chunks of lobster in the first dip. Overall they were decent appetizers but nothing special.
Our tempura shrimp basket did impress me. It did not remind me of the typical shrimp tempura you order at a Japanese restaurant and was more comparable to fried shrimp, but the “creamy spicy remoulade” made the dish. Simple and tasty.
We were in no rush to leave as the sun started to shine and I noticed that most of the restaurant’s patrons were young, in their 20s and 30s. This is not surprising considering the tavern is also a brewery and frequently host to all day drinking events such as Lucky Day and the upcoming Oyster and Crawfish festival.
A $40 groupon (I’m telling you, they’re great) covered our tab (pre-lunch drinks were not on this bill). Our waiter was kind enough to inform us that our bill only totaled $35 and therefore $5 of our groupon would go to waste. I decided to try a glass of Sangria because I had noticed pitchers of it at several tables. I’m not sure why it is so popular, however, as it was pretty boring and lacking any chunks of fruit.
My experience at Park Tavern was a positive one, largely due to the great atmosphere. The food was only good (although I need to give the sushi a shot) but the setting made the place worth its while. I have a feeling I’ll spend many lazy afternoons there this spring and summer.
1 Spinach, Crab & Lobster dip
1 Queso & chips
+1 Tempura shrimp basket
$40 + tip
(-$40 groupon = $0!! + tip)Neighborhood: Midtown Type of food: Tavern fare/Sushi http://www.parktavern.com/