It’s a very warm Friday night and we’re meeting our friends Pam and Rick out for drinks and dinner, but where to go? We love the Brick Store Pub and it’s our home bar, if you will, though we were there just last weekend. And of course there’s the Brick’s sister restaurant (or brother) Leon’s Full Service, which is also a fave of ours for cocktails and such, but our friends have never been to The Porter Beer Bar and want to try it out, so off we go.
The Porter is housed in perhaps the most narrow (and I might add, difficult to keep tidy during high traffic times) pub/restaurant space I’ve ever been in—bar none, and it’s located in the Little Five Points area of Atlanta. I haven’t been here in a while, so am interested to see if it’s as good as I remember. Their food menu is small, but is composed of primarily handmade, locally sourced, high quality gourmet bar food, plus they have some wonderful rotating daily specials. The beer menu, on the other hand, is massive—over 430 beers, 30 of which are on rotating taps.
We arrive at 7 p.m., easily get an indoor booth, and order up some beers and an interesting sounding salt and vinegar popcorn starter from our very pleasant and accommodating waitress. Pam and I are having Saison Dupont, a Belgian farmhouse light and summery ale, Dave orders a Founders Red Rye Pale Ale, and Rick goes for the Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale. They were all very good in their own right, with the Founders taking a little edge over the rest in the “interesting” category, partially due to the rye. The popcorn came and it was also very tasty, but be forewarned on the first bite…if you inhale at the same time as chomping, you’ll get a hit of vinegar that may make you cry. But, it’s the wheeze that is oh-so-good, and the popcorn itself is one of those things that’s addictive, so you press on through to the salty, vinegary and buttery goodness just the same. We imbibed for a while and enjoyed chatting and munching…what can be better than beer and popcorn?
And then there was our actual dinner. Rick ordered the half-pound cheeseburger, a daunting, but beautiful burger on a homemade roll, slathered with cheddar, bacon, homemade pickled red onions, homemade pickles, lettuce and tomato and served with “Belgian” fries. It was impressive, and though so huge it was probably more food than I could eat in one sitting, I’d order it the next time. Pam had the shrimp and grits, a generous plate of white cheese grits with lots of Georgia wild shrimp, portobello and crimini mushrooms and truffle oil, and it was a hit as well. Dave ordered the fish and chips, featuring a delicious terrapin beer-battered cod with house made tarter sauce. I ordered the special grilled flatbread, which was a lovely grilled and pleasantly smoky-tasting bread, topped with amazing house-dried heirloom tomatoes, homegrown basil, pickled peppers, ricotta, shaved onion and fennel…definitely had the Umami factor going for it…and was quite possibly the best flatbread I’ve tasted thus far. In fact, I thought all of the food was good, except for the fries which I could take or leave because they were not on the same level as the rest of the food, or as good as Belgian fries I’ve had in other spots I will talk about at a later date.
Back to the beer. We finished off the night with some additional beers: Dave and I shared a Westmalle Trappist Tripel—fabulous—and Rick ordered the always show-stopping LaTrappe Trappistes Rochefort 10, which was universally hailed at our table as the best beer of the night, and though I’ve had it before, each time I do it comes closer to “the best beer ever” in my mind. All in all The Porter provided, and it was a fun night with good friends, some good food and beer, and a most enjoyable way to cap off the work week.