By Art Huckabee
Does your house have a basement? If it’s like mine, it’s filled with all those “keepsakes” that would be better off at Goodwill. How would you like to have a brewpub in your basement; replete with valet parking and a side entrance where visitors could come and go at will?
The Wrecking Bar is that kind of basement. Located in an historic home between Little Five Points and Inman Park, the house has been everything from a private home to a church to a dance studio to an antiques store. The current owners have re-purposed the main floors into a special events space while turning that dank and musty space known as a basement into a charming and welcoming pub.
At initial blush, the supporting columns, plumbing pipes overhead and exposed brick walls remind you of your subterranean, Grotto-like location. Yet the bar and various dining rooms are well lit and filled with all sorts of seating options. There is a very inviting and welcoming feel to this place.
The wait staff rivals some of the higher end restaurants in the area, bringing unsolicited refills of house-bottled water, extra plates and even re-folding your cloth napkin when one leaves their seat.
As the term brewpub refers, they not only serve beer here but also brew it on-premise. The varied selections include Pale Ale, an IPA, several Stouts, and others, including a German Rauchbier that has a smoky aroma; you would swear it’s brewed with bacon. The beers are very good and change often. They are available in 8-ounce “shorty’s” and 16-ounce pints.
In addition to the beers, there’s a large selection of whiskeys and bourbons; at times they even offer the elusive Pappy Van Winkle line. There is a small wine list as well.
Now to the food… This place is very bit a gastropub. I’m not “dissing” the beer here but the food shares the spotlight. There’s no short order cook turning out greasy burgers and fries and nachos. On the contrary, Executive Chef Terry Koval, formerly of Canoe, Room at TWELVE and Farm Burger, along with a team of chefs, is creating interesting starters, salads, sandwiches and entrees, many using locally provisioned products from the likes of Darby Farms, H&F Bread and East Atlanta Veggies. Many dishes also incorporate the excellent house-brewed beers.
The Kale Ale Cheese Fondue contains aged Gouda and sharp cheddar. It definitely tastes and smells of ale. It’s served with a pretzel and local fruit and veggies. This stuff would be good on a shoe. Order an additional pretzel, as you’ll want to get every last drop.
The “Wreck Fries” are great for sharing. They could be a little crispier. They get limp stacked in their serving crock. The dipping sauces are all good with the green goddess and the horseradish Mustard getting the best of show.
There’s enough variety on the menu that every one should find something to their liking. The Köln malt crusted North Carolina trout is pan roasted and accompanied by a butternut and brussels sprout hash. The fish was moist and flakey with only a hint of the malt that makes the favorite pale ale of Cologne, Germany. The hash was a favorite of the table. The squash was tender and the sprouts had just the right amount of crunch.
The celery root barley was prepared in a creamy risotto style with lots of local fresh veggies, pumpkin seeds and pecorino cheese. It was a comforting dish with lots of flavor that managed not to be too heavy.
The chicken and dumplings also managed to remain a lighter dish. The butternut squash puree with the chicken jus was the perfect broth for the tender chicken and the al dente gnocchi.
The only item that failed that came up short was the house pastrami Sandwich. The house cured and smoked brisket was more fat than lean. While Jack Spratt’s wife would probably love it, this diner did not.
The table shared a “Wrecking Bar” for dessert. It’s a distant cousin to the “Kit-Kat Bar” but far superior and the perfect sweet note to end the meal.
There are no other basements nor for that matter, very few brewpubs that approach the quality of beverage, food and service as does the Wrecking Bar.
The Wrecking Bar is located at 292 Moreland Ave. NE and can be found online at wreckingbarbrewpub.com.
Art Huckabee is one of Yelp’s Elite Reviewers, as well as a pilot, gourmet cook and food lover. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.