Final stop on the Bon Voyage Atlanta Mini Restaurant Tour! I'm so glad we went to Woodfire Grill before the train pulls out of the station here in just a few hours. (Hours!) When we first moved to the ATL and lived down in the Virginia Highland area, we'd been eyeing Woodfire... just never went. I suppose it took Executive Chef Kevin Gillespie getting on season 6 of Top Chef to really light a fire under our asses and get us over there!
Loved the ambiance of this restaurant. It's inviting, but still has the slightest flutter of formality. The dining room is lively but not too loud. The scent of the woodfire grill is intoxicating as you first walk in. The bartender has a friendly face. It's easy to feel right at home.
We'll start with service. The service at Woodfire was some of the best we've had from some of the finer establishments we've dined at as of late. Attentive but not too talkative, this guy had it right.
There is a nice selection of seasonal cocktails available from the bar - I personally went with the Blackberry Bramble which had fresh muddled blackberries and gin. Fresh, tasty and not oppressive with the taste of alcohol, this is definitely a nicely mixed cocktail. The wine list is also notable - we had a 2005 Ferrari Carano Prevail Cab/Syrah with dinner that was outstanding. Compared to retail ($55), the price of the bottle at the restaurant ($59) was not bad at all! I love anything red from the Alexander Valley. It was bold, big in the mouth, juicy and delish!
Now on to the food :) I started with the caramelized gala apples with celery leaf, fennel bulb and a sort of salty cheese on top. Very nice juxtaposition of sweet/salty/fresh and some great textures as well. One of our dinnermates ordered the pork belly.... originally we'd passed but once it got to the table Mason and I had to have an order to split. Definitely not the wrong move there. More fat than meat, but a nice crisp carmelization from the woodfire on the outside paired nicely with the apple butter served on the side. Can you ever really go wrong with pork belly? Another dinnermate had the prosciutto wrapped arugula salad with cherries and cranberries... delectable!
My main course was a grass fed beef strip loin, which I had to clarify with the waiter -- was it a strip or a tenderloin? It was the tenderloin in fact - three 1/2" pieces. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, but it was the slightest bit tough. The au-gratin-ish potatoes served on the side were underwhelming at best and overly salty. Mason had the halibut, which was served with a curry cabbage... his reaction to it was so-so.
Dessert redeemed a few of the entree shortcomings. Banana fritters with banana bavarian creme, milk chocolate mousse, salted caramel sauce and candied bacon was heavenly.
One interesting option offered by Woodfire is the 3 or 5 course blind chef's tasting. I think the next time we go, we might have to go in that direction.
Verdict - definitely worth the trip, there are some impressive qualities to the restaurant. I'd like to give it another try.