Craving a bit of traditional Southern fare before a State Farm Arena concert, we recently visited White Oak Kitchen in downtown Atlanta. While our food experience was satisfying overall, service issues and the decor in the dining room could use some attention.
For the unfamiliar, White Oak is located downtown at 270 Peachtree St NW Ste 100, and serves Southern-tinged New American fare. As always, we checked recent reviews before reserving, and found most over the past 12 months have been generally positive.
Arriving early before an 8 pm concert, the dining room was uncrowded, populated by a few other early diners. A few afterwork groups occupied some spots at the bar and on the outdoor patio. Walking in, we appreciated the repurposed woods, white oak barrels and the marble bar made of local Georgia marble that gives the restaurant a warm and inviting feel. However, arriving at our booth, we noticed that the 12-year-old dining spot was showing major signs of wear, as virtually all the coverings on the booth seats were cracking and torn.
But, we didn't let the aging, cracking "pleather" seats deter us, especially since we were on a tight time schedule. After a short delay, our first wait staffer visited the table, took drink orders, explained the seasonal menu, and helped us decide on the fried green tomato appetizer.
Those all arrived promptly, and just as we made dinner decisions. But these were delivered by a new waiter, after our original explained that he would be leaving our table. Confused but hungry, we gave our dinner orders to our new staff member and dug right into the lightly breaded fried green tomatoes. They were accompanied by lightly smoked burrata cheese and some country ham, all served over a Romesco sauce. The combination was a delightful smokey, creamy and tangy bite.
For my entrée, the porcelet chop was juicy and succulent, resting on a slightly spicy poblano cream sauce. A small fat ring surrounded the chop, adding some luscious and rich flavor to the juicy milk-fed pork. The accompanying bed of beans, kale and roasted tomatoes added a cornucopia of flavor.
Our second entrée was the braised short rib, the longest-running and constant item on the changing menu. The rib was fall-off-the-bone tender, with a deep, rich flavor. While the mash potatoes also were good, we enjoyed the accompanying broccoli an cauliflower even more.
Realizing I couldn't pass on the pimento cheese grits, we added that to our main course order as an afterthought. Frankly, we could have left it off. While the grits were nicely creamy, the pimento cheese flavors failed to shine through as we had hoped.
Now remember that wait staff switch-over from earlier? Perhaps that was the reason, but the wait between finishing our dinner and getting a dessert menu stretched on. Finally, we asked another staff member to find our new waitperson. Now, if the restaurant had been busy, we would have understood. But it wasn't. We were reaching the two-hour mark at 7:20 pm, and we were walking to State Farm Arena.
When our waitperson showed up offering apologies, we explained our time crunch, ordered the Basque Gateau to share, and asked for a check to expedite things. The banana-bourbon cake topped with fried pecans, a caramel sauce and whipped cream was worth the wait, though we had to hurry to finish it.
Overall, we were very pleased with our food. And hopefully the service issues were temporary. But we likely won't return here soon due to the other factors, especially with all the other options available nearby.
More Dining from DeanLand
Enjoyed reading this restaurant experience. Here are other ATL region restaurants we've tried recently: