Location: 471 North Highland Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307 (Inman Park)
Atmosphere: close quarters/tightly spaced tables, open dining, exposed brick, dressy-casual (reservations necessary-accepts Open Table reservations)
Our first visit to Wisteria bore witness to why this Inman Park eatery has been in business since 2001. Wisteria features great service, tasty food, a full-service bar, and a hopping atmosphere.
Wisteria describes itself as serving “modern Southern cuisine.” Although I would not have described the restaurant this way, it’s because I don’t see Southern food as anything other than my “normal.” Wisteria uses local ingredients and changes its menu with the seasons. The restaurant uses mostly local and regional produce, meat and fish with certain exceptions such as P.E.I. Mussels and North Atlantic Skate Wing. Although Wisteria offers some heavy dishes like Iron Skillet Fried Chicken and “Pork Three ways braised Pork” with bacon and fried pork skins, the menu includes many healthy options such as seafood offerings prepared in wholesome ways and a delightful Vegetable Platter.
White Bean Puree Soup
Ashley and I started with White Bean Puree soup, which boasted white truffle oil, fried brussel sprout leaves, and organic fennel pollen. The soup was very earthy and warming--a great winter dish served at the perfect temperature. For a vegetarian dish, this bean soup was very rich. My one critique is that the sprout leaves were not as crisp as they might have been.
Roasted Pumpkin Salad
As a second starter, we tried the Roasted Pumpkin salad, a special not listed on the menu but offered by our attentive server. This is the kind of dish that will get you excited about eating your leaves and veggies. Wisteria’s special salad offered great textural contrast between the soft pumpkin, crunchy shaved almonds, soft pear, crispy radicchio and creamy blue cheese. In addition, the salad was a beautiful amalgam of flavors: sweet and sour, while bitter and funky. Wisteria’s kitchen perfectly dressed the dish with the cider vinegar dressing that offered tartness. Each of the bitter radicchio, sweet seasonal pear, smoky toasted almond, sugary medjool date, and blue cheese were proportioned in such a way as not to overpower the dish or even any singular bite. This salad is excellent in conception and execution. If this is offered on your visit to Wisteria, you must order it. Seriously.
Almond Crusted Georgia Mountain Trout
For my entrée, I ordered the Almond Crusted Georgia Mountain Trout. Wisteria’s trout dish is generously portioned and informs why trout almondine is a classic dish. Forget the tired looking filets you’ve seen in the cafeteria line and introduce yourself to this classic dish as it should be. The crunchy almonds and lemony, rich sauce complimented, but didn’t mask or overpower, the fish. I would order the trout again.
Ashley chose the Vegetable Platter as her entrée. Wisteria appropriately names this dish a “platter” and not a “plate,” since it arrives at your table with not four, not six, but ten different vegetable dishes. Our particular platter consisted of (1) cranberry beans, (2) asparagus, (3) corn grits served with a crispy, fried sweet potato chip, (4) okra and tomatoes, (5) mashed potatoes, (6) garlic green beans, (7) succotash, (8) mushrooms, (9) roasted potatoes, and (10) corn soufflé. For the most part, these were straightforward preparations properly cooked and tasty. The okra and tomatoes, while probably not as good as my mom’s rendition, was nicely done with onion and the acid of the tomato coming through in the dish. The garlic green beans were well salted, had a nice garlic flavor and were served crunchy, but well cooked. The mushrooms were tasty - earthy and toothy with a little touch of heat. The cranberry beans were well cooked and seasoned, but served up with no fluff or distraction. The corn casserole was very flavorful; crunchy and sweet with plenty of corn taste coming through.
Wisteria has been in Inman Park for fifteen years, and if it continues to deliver the excellent service and food we received on our first visit, you can expect to find Wisteria on North Highland Avenue in another fifteen years. But don’t wait to try it and let me know your verdict.