Restaurant Review: Wrecking Bar Brewpub

posted on June 29, 2015 at 8:36 am
Photo by Erik Meadows

Photo by Erik Meadows

Everyone needs a go-to restaurant up her sleeve, a place that satisfies a wide variety of tastes, ages, and backgrounds. The Wrecking Bar Brewpub is that kind of place. I can take anyone for almost any occasion. On a normal night you might see tables filled with couples catching up with friends, giggly, prom-bound teens in formalwear, or young families with visiting grandparents. This is largely attributable to the restaurant’s friendly, neighborhood vibe, but also the grassroots guidance of chef/partner Terry Koval.

Given all of the new construction in Atlanta these days, it’s bizarre to have dinner in a beautiful historic building. Built in 1900 by architect Willis F. Denny as Atlanta Terra Cotta Company founder Victor Kriegshaber’s family home, the former Inman Park residence was named “the Marianna” after Kriegshaber’s daughter, Marian. The late Victorian style mansion with its ornate, circular façade was once the Centenary Methodist Protestant Church. It has also been the Jack Rand Dance Studio, Wrecking Bar Architectural Antiques, and now a brewpub. Owners Bob and Kristine Sandage put a lot of work into opening back in 2011. Bob did many of the renovations, managing to preserve historic details such as the groovy portrait of a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Zsa Zsa Gabor.

A restaurant in the basement of a 115-year-old home could easily be cold and cave-like, but Wrecking Bar’s dining room is almost always bustling and warm. The process of being greeted and seated has occasionally made me feel like I was interrupting a group of chatty, disaffected teens, but the pub’s competent waitstaff — ranging from bubbly, college-age kids to laid-back beer dudes — make up for the brusque encounters.

Koval, who has worked at places like Farm Burger and Canoe, is a farmer junkie. Just look at the long list of growers he sources from printed on Wrecking Bar’s ever-changing menu. The chef is constantly adding new dishes or tweaking the existing ones based on what farmers harvest each week. A recent special of intensely orange compressed melon paired with country ham, herbed crème fraîche, and pristine basil leaves was a Southern-tinged answer to Italy’s classic prosciutto with cantaloupe. The ripe melon took on an almost meaty texture, making it a lovely bedfellow to the salty ham.

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