Even those rainy nights in Georgia can’t dampen the thrill of dining at Wahoo Grill, in fact it adds to the ambience that Pam Ledbetter has created in her Decatur eatery. As an early visionary in helping to shape Decatur into a fine dining mecca, Pam transformed a dilapidated space on West College Avenue back in 2004 into a welcoming neighborhood bistro that’s unpretentious and quite laid back. The best part of walking into Pam’s “dreams do come true” gathering spot, besides the hearty foods, dazzling drinks, and ultra-friendly staff is how she designed Wahoo’s patio. This glassed-in room overlooks a cozy courtyard that’s full of lush greenery and immediately gives the feel that you are no longer in Decatur, but could be sitting with friends at some mountain resort in the Highlands. Not many places in ATL can create such an illusion of being at one place with the feel of being somewhere totally different; this makes for one memorable dining experience.
This whimsical feeling can be really amped up with one of the stellar cocktails that Pam, her husband Ski, and the team of talented bartenders have concocted. The Drunken Gardener is pure pleasure and will smooth out any rough edges from the day – made with Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka, freshly muddled basil from Wahoo’s garden, and a housemade simple syrup. These crisp flavors taste like a farmer’s market in a glass, but with a pleasing punch. The Garden Party is another great sipper guaranteed to brighten the smile. But if you need a jolt of fire to ignite the soul, ask for the Sergeant Pepper – jalapeño-infused Don Diego Blanco tequila, crushed mint leaves, with a splash of agave nectar, grapefruit juice, and sour mix; after a couple of these you will surely sing out of tune. In addition to these hypnotic potions, there is a well thought out beer and wine list – be sure the check out the midweek wine special, it’s an awesome way to explore the fruit of the vine.
The one thing that is noticeable about the food offerings is that they are not over-the-top nor taken to extremes- they are what they are and what they are is really exceptional. The flash fried Polenta with local mushrooms and a roasted red pepper coulis is amazing. The goat cheese and chive polenta is fried to the point where the outside is crisp but the inside is warm and velvety – a nice yin and yang effect. The Fried Calamari is plentiful and should be shared if you are willing. The lightly battered tender squid with fried sweet banana peppers is tossed in a spicy hoisin and sweet, yet tart, mayhaw-citrus sauce - so many intriguing flavors. The not to be missed appetizer is the Crab Bisque; this is ecstasy in a bowl. Fresh lump crabmeat is blended into a light cream broth with a perfect touch of sherry making for a rich yet soothing mouth feel. This “good to the last drop” soup deserves a glass of the zesty Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
The menu at Wahoo focuses on fresh seafood, but there is an assortment of delicacies for land-lovers like Southern Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. The succulent Charleston Shrimp and Grits is a wonderful representation of this classic recipe. The plump white shrimp are sautéed than simmered in a spicy tomato cream sauce that’s served over South Carolina’s Adluh stone ground white grits that are given a lift with a touch of cheddar cheese. Before the bowl disappears, ask for some grilled Holeman & Finch baguette slices for dipping in this sassy sauce; it’s a yum. The fresh Georgia Trout is another must. The perfectly sautéed filet is topped with a pesto butter and glazed pecans making the mild tasting fish quite heavenly. The Georgia Peach Salad screams good old southern living. Over a bed of crispy baby leaf spinach are slices of juicy yellow peaches, grilled shrimp, cherry tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese, glazed pecans that’s drizzled with a lively brown sugar- cider vinaigrette. If this dish doesn’t get out at least one “Wahoo” I don’t know what will.
Realizing that you have been swept into Wahoo’s comforting excitement, why not take the feeling to a new edge with any of the sinful yet yummy desserts like the Bread Pudding, Bliss Cake, or even an old-fashioned Root Beer Float. The Bread Pudding comes in two sizes- choose wisely. These warm slices of nirvana are glazed with Kentucky bourbon giving it a rich smoky, earthy character. After that last bite and contentment settles in, and you realize you just found a new hangout to be shared and enjoyed with friends.
LGTG FRIENDLY *****
WHERE WOMEN COME OUT |