Monday, July 26, 2010
1770 Howell Mill Rd., Atlanta, GA www.ormsbysatlanta.com
On Friday night my friend Erin and I went to Ormsby's on Howell Mill. We almost couldn't find it, which was apparently the restaurant's intention. It's located in the White Provision center, in two basement levels with the entrance underneath a stairwell. There's no sign - just a big O on the wooden door. It's meant to portray a speakeasy effect. Pretty cool, actually.
The food: far better than typical pub food. You can get fries or Sweetwater battered onion rings with your choice of 2 of 12 different sauces. I ordered the Guinness-braised bratwurst, topped with sauerkraut and stout mustard on a pretzel roll. The brat was delicious and juicy, the kraut appropriately sour and shredded just right. The pretzel roll was huge - expect to fill up on the bread. It was certainly worth the $7 asking price.
Erin ordered the pastrami and Swiss on rye, with a side of onion rings ($11). She only received 3 rings, but they were crunchy and enormous. The sandwich meat was plentiful and edged with pepper, the best pastrami I've tried in a while.
I'm itching to come back on a Tuesday, when the daily special is low country "frogmore stew", a concoction of shrimp, crab, new potatoes, corn and andouille in a spicy tomato broth ($13).The dessert menu includes maple cotton candy for only $3. The people in the table next to us ordered this and it looked perfect. The whole idea of a restaurant serving cotton candy is uniquely fun in my book.
Beer: Fabulous selection. Of course, no one can beat Summits Wayside Tavern in terms of variety, but Ormsby's is carrying a hefty list. The list on the website is only a partial. I tried an excellent and fragrant Canadian beer that burst with Granny Smith apples, and a lovely caramel stout. There are good descriptions beside each brew on the list, so you won't be flying blind.
Also, the waitstaff was great. Erin changed her drink order 3 times and the bartender never batted an eye. Despite the crowd, we never waited too long for any of our drinks or entrees.
Verdict: Admirable beer selection, very good food that caters to the young and hip crowd.
The atmosphere deserves some further commentary here. It's obvious that Ormby's is a sister restaurant to Atkins Park Tavern. The customers are basically the same - young, somewhat affluent and trendy. You'll see lots of 23 year old guys in dress shirts with sleeves rolled up, khakis and flip-flops, while the ladies wear predictably flirty dresses and heels. The noise level is loud, nearly club-like, and the place is huge. Downstairs there are lots of tables along with bocce ball, 2 skee ball machines, darts, pool tables and what appeared to be shuffleboard. Upstairs is less intimidating, and there you'll find a long bar facing more private tables.
These are the reasons that Ormsby's won't make it on my Great Pubs in Georgia list. It's too much the "it" place to be, not low key enough for me to sit comfortably drinking my beer. It's also too loud for me to spend an extended period of time here.