Monday, February 15, 2010
Black Bear Tavern
1931 Peachtree Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA www.blackbeartavern.net
First off, I want to apologize for the poor picture quality for this post. The sky was gray and threatening snow and the interior lighting of the restaurant was just dark enough to screw up all of my photography efforts. If you can't tell, the food picture is of the bacon and swiss cheeseburger, with a side of fried shoestring onions. The exterior shot shows the brick facade of the Tavern, which is located in a shopping center with Mama Fu's and CVS across the street from Piedmont Hospital.
Black Bear Tavern enjoys its close proximatey to the busy hospital, whose employees patronize the watering hole during their lunch hours. It also plays up the association, naming its one pound burger The Double-Stacked Piedmont Hospital Burger, an entree fairly guaranteed to give the eater a coronary. There's plenty of other burgers if you aren't so hungry, and the meat is cut thick and cooked fairly juicy. The shoestring onions I chose as a side item (other possibilities are fries or the daily vegetable) were very good, not too greasy, but greasy enough.
Not in the mood for a burger? Black Bear has chicken sandwiches, pulled pork BBQ with coleslaw, a couple of ho-hum salads like Ceasar or grilled shrimp house, a daily soup and equally ho-hum appetizers like teriyaki style wings with bleu cheese or chips and salsa. I've tried the chicken quesadilla ($6.95) on a previous occasion and didn't like it enough to finish it, which is saying something. The bacon and swiss burger was step up, and my brother gives the thumbs up to the Wisconsin burger ($7.95), which is "covered in different cheeses." I only tried one bite of it, but it seemed like cheddar, Swiss and maybe mozzarella. The menu claims that Black Bear serves the "best burgers in town." This is definitely a stretch in my opinion - they're average or slightly better, but I think the Ted's Montana Grill that's located within walking distance of the Tavern cooks up a better burger.
So why go to Black Bear instead of Ted's? For one thing, the beer selection is better. They usually carry some local brews, like Sweetwater and Terrapin, along with some of the old standards like Newcastle, Harp, Bass, Guinness and Blue Moon. It's not a huge selection or especially creative, but it's more than just Bud and Miller. For another thing, there are two dart boards and the management doesn't mind if you hang around and play indefinitely after you finish your food/beverages. This leads me to the main attraction of Black Bear Tavern - it's a good place to go when you just want to relax and be yourself. You don't have to dress trendy, there's no techno music playing and you won't blow your paycheck on the food and drinks. It's less eclectic than The Albert in Inman Park, but the same feeling envelops the place.
There are also some higher-end entrees on the menu, like beef filet tips with a loaded potato cake ($10.95) and blackened salmon over wild rice (also $10.95) which I haven't had the occasion to try. These are the most expensive items on the menu. Both times I've eaten at Black Bear I had prompt and quick service.
Verdict: A friendly neighborhood watering hole.