When Wine Shoe owners Nora and Shannon Wiley started planning the shop's design, they wanted something that would blend their worldly travels with the historic culture of the surrounding Castleberry Hill neighborhood. The result was promptly recognized by Atlanta magazine, which compared Wine Shoe to a "private wine cellar in France stocked with wines from all over the world."
Today, the facility's floor-to-ceiling wine wall stands as a new challenge to rock climbers and as a stunning backdrop to an assortment of wine-related activities, including classes that drew more than 3,000 total students during 2011. Many of those students gathered around Wine Shoe's 12-foot rustic table, where, sitting beneath a glistening bronze and crystal chandelier, they paired sips with scrumptious hunks of education.
The shop carries more than 150 different wines, the majority of which come from small producers. It also keeps its door open to pooches, as Nora and Shannon's security dog, Beeren, is always looking for new buddies with whom to discuss the nuanced flavors of rawhide bones.
In spite of its name, Cellar 56 features more than 56 wines from grape-growing regions throughout the world. The emphasis is on accessibility, though; the bar helpfully sells a number of wines by the half glass, allowing guests to sample a variety of wines for a fraction of the price of a bottle. To make the selection even more accessible, reds and whites are divided into small groups by style. That means that tracking down anything from a crisp, grapefruit-tinged New Zealand sauvignon blanc to a spicy Italian primitivo is as simple as scanning the list. The seasonal food menu of tapas-style small plates demonstrates a similarly eclectic approach. Old-World flavors meet New World comfort in dishes such as the truffle-scented wild-mushroom finger sandwiches on toasted french baguettes. Guinness-braised short rib with whipped potatoes evokes memories of a home-cooked stew and the pan-seared salmon demonstrates a bit more refinement with its coriander-caper glaze. Cellar 56's main seating area seems more like a den than a dining room. Bottles fill the three racks that adorn one wall, presenting diners with a neatly arranged display of wines that stretches from the top of the booths to the ceiling. Dark wooden accents, earthen tiles, and warm lighting contribute to the inviting atmosphere at what CBS Atlanta called one of the Best Wine Bars in Atlanta in 2011.
Carrying the praises of OpenTable diners as the winner of Best Overall restaurant, Best Ambiance, and Best Food, Park Café's executive chef Michael Ganley is no stranger to success. He has honed his skills in the kitchen for more than 17 years, most recently as Executive Chef of The Ritz Carlton in Dearborn, Michigan. Arriving in Duluth in 2004, Ganley brought with him his years of experience perfecting European culinary techniques, crafting a menu of elegant twists on Southern favorites such as fried green tomatoes layered with slabs of warm, creamy brie.
Nestled inside the Knox House—originally erected in 1899 for the first Mayor of Duluth, John Knox—Park Café's refurbished interior remains true to the home's 19th-century character. Largely original hardwood floors and paneled walls lend a quaint charm to the romantic simplicity of the dining rooms, where tables draped in crisp linen glow beneath flickering candles and diners’ recently whitened teeth.
Longtime residents Steve Rabb and Shannon Fannin often thought about ways to improve downtown Woodstock. They wanted to see the area become more sophisticated, so one night over dinner they casually discussed a concept of gourmet food and cocktails prepared with simple, raw flavors. The couple had no idea that, within a matter of months, this concept would grow into a chic, downtown eatery: Wink Woodstock. A menu of small plates—favorites include steak empanadas, shrimp and grits, and charcuterie and cheese samplers—complements Wink’s diverse selection of red and white wines. Behind a steel-topped bar, bartenders mix signature cocktails, known as Winktinis, from infused vodkas and specialty garnishes such as raw lemon sugar, graham crackers, and olive-scented fireworks. According to Patch, Fannin drew on her background in interior design to produce a layout representative of both sexy LA nightclubs and downtown Atlanta bars. Steely grays, vivid purples, and electric teals flow throughout the open bar space and into themed areas such as a pillow room and VIP booth.
Giving gifts is its own reward, but at The Gifted Ferret, get-well cards, trinkets and candles accompany a robust collection of boutique wines so gift-givers can reward themselves as well. The shop's wine racks brim with vino crafted by vintners who treat winemaking not just as a business but also as a passion as well as the best way to teach grapes a lesson. During onsite wine classes, industry experts regale attendees with information while pouring samples from among the shop's dozens of varietals. For those seeking an intoxicant-free fix, the staff brews Newman's Own coffee and Green Mountain Naturals apple cider. In the gift area, patrons peruse handmade cards and Arthur Court pewter home-decor items alongside gift bags and an expanded array of gourmet food items.