Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Park Tavern




500 10th St. NE, Atlanta, GA www.parktavern.com

On Sunday Kyle and I had the misfortune of eating lunch at Park Tavern.

Guess you can already see how this particular review is going to go!

First off, this Sunday was NOT the day to dine at Park Tavern. The Jazz Festival was in full swing at Piedmont Park, the Tavern's backyard. The Tavern usually has free parking but was charging $20 which could be turned into a food voucher. This didn't help us at all, because we already had a $40 GroupOn. The parking attendant saw our GroupOn, indicating that we were definitely going to be eating at the Tavern and not just leaving our car there before heading to the jazz festival, and still wouldn't let us in for free. I like to walk, but not for a mile uphill after eating a heavy meal. Which is exactly what happened, of course, since we had to park in Timbuktu.

Second, the music is really loud. I asked to be seated far away from the music and was placed outside by the smirking hostess, right next to another diner who was talking loudly on his cell. There were lots and lots of other tables where she could have seated us. The obvious choice would have been to put us indoors, as the band was outside, but nothing seems obvious to the employees of Park Tavern.

For example, once the band really got rolling the employees opened the door of the inside dining area, letting the music in. This would have been OK, except they didn't turn off the music that was playing inside, creating what Kyle called "dueling jazz bands."

The service was slow and sullen throughout. I watched several members of the waitstaff while I was eating and a bad attitude seemed to prevail, indicated by their expressions, reactions to customers and customers' visible annoyance over long waits. The restaurant wasn't even 1/4 full, so I'm not sure why customers had to wait very long for service.

Kyle ordered the daily special, the ribs. The full rack ($18.99) was huge, enough to fill Kyle with a few ribs left over for me. The sauce was tasty. However, the meat was very difficult to separate from the bone. We literally had to use both hands to pull the ribs apart. Rib meat should be super tender, practically falling off the bone. Completely the opposite here.

Here's what Park Tavern did right:
1. The beer. Park Tavern has their own brews. The Olmstead amber was OK, but the Park Trail Ale (a pale ale) was great.
2. The decor inside. Dark and great for downing a few pints. We asked to get the Braves on TV, and after a little confusion with the remote the staff managed it for us.
3. Sashimi - it's available with your choice of fish upon request. I ordered yellow tail and salmon. It was fine, but a little pricey at $5.50 each.
4. The seared walu. Park Tavern has a sushi bar with an average selection - there are lots of Americanized choices like spicy tuna and California rolls that I usually avoid. However, the seared walu ($12.99), a fatty white tuna, is awesome. The fish's flavor is divine, and is paired with a subtle combination of cucumber, ponzu and shredded nori. If I were to return to the Tavern, I'd probably place 3 orders for this, grab a Park Trail Ale and call it a day.

But I probably won't return, despite the great walu and beer. There are restaurants I can patronize in Atlanta with far superior service, no parking issues, lower prices and equally good sushi. Why should I lower my standards unnecessarily?

Verdict: Once was enough for me.

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