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.
There is always a lively spirit of creativity at The Sound Table, but it changes throughout the night. The upstairs dining room boasts a menu that "zigzags through global influences: Belgian-style frites, Oaxacan hanger steak with salsa verde, Chinese grilled ribs redolent of soy and chile," says Atlanta magazine, which placed restaurant on its list of the area's 50 Best Restaurants. However, the menu's capricious nature doesn't stop at the recipes, it also affects the availability. The selection changes frequently as the chefs incorporate new, seasonal ingredients. On the downstairs level, the bar is a bit more consistent, although still inventive. In addition to the international assortment of wine and beer, the bartenders mix drinks that Creative Loafing Atlanta hailed as "some of the best cocktails in the city." These shaken and stirred concoctions are separated into categories that range from bright & dry to strong, rich & strange, and they occasionally feature nontraditional ingredients such as pine liqueur or garam masala. Although the food and drinks help keep spirits high, it's the live music that transforms the two stories of exposed brickwork, booths made of wooden slats, and soft industrial lighting into a lively neighborhood dwelling. Typically starting around 11 p.m., an ever-rotating lineup of DJs and bands performs throughout the week, energizing the crowds with anything from the raw, percussive fusion of African and Latin jazz-funk to globally-influenced psychedelic.
Divan Restaurant & Hookah Lounge serves Persian-influenced Mediterranean feasts amid exotic artwork, plush pillows, and flowing curtains. Hooded lanterns cast a warm glow on murals depicting a sultan's court, colorful modern canvases, and tucked-away corners where diners share mezzes amid crimson cushions or chairs wrapped in silver cloth. As they dine upon dishes such as duck confit with black-currant relish and grilled lamb with pomegranate-mint demi-glace, guests enjoy the comforts of the hookah⎯a traditional water pipe that relaxes users with smoke that combines a touch of tobacco, sweet notes from fruit molasses, and a dash of wispy ghost.
As wispy tendrils of hookah haze dissipate overhead, diners clink glasses filled with drinks such as fruit-flavored martinis and sup on plates of blackened salmon, garlic-butter grilled shrimp, and molten chocolate cakes with hints of tarragon and raspberry sauce.
The aroma of brewing organic, fair-trade coffee from Brazil wafts through the air at 50th Street Cafe during breakfast and lunch. Behind the breakfast counter, cooks work to reinvent classic breakfast dishes. They flip pancakes made with cookie dough and drizzle them with chocolate or add fresh mozzarella and basil-pesto hollandaise to unorthodox omelets. Farm-fresh eggs and housemade hash browns, early-morning staples, arrive alongside less traditional panko-battered walleye fillets. The griddle sizzles like a knight in shining armor left in a hot car, laden with half-pound patties of Cattleman’s Selection ground beef, which end up on thick-cut sourdough toast with Old Smokehouse bacon and melted swiss cheese. That heat is also reflected in the bright hues of yellow tile and orange accents as well as whimsical calico-patterned carpets. The staff at 50th Street Cafe works to reduce its collective carbon footprint by using recyclable materials.
Nabbing the top spot in Jezebel Magazine’s Best of 2013 contest for best night club, Opera Nightclub presents old-fashioned red-curtain glamour. After cracking the dress code, VIPs can romp freely through all areas under the club’s 100-foot ceilings, including a VIP-only upstairs area with cozy private nooks. Cash in two drink tickets for a beer or a cocktail to delicately balance while finally perfecting the Super Bowl Shuffle, or take in the deck’s panoramic view of the city and its galactic ceiling. Opera’s crowd-charming DJs spin top 40 hits alongside genre-specific jams, catering to hip-hop hankerings and salsa appetites alike.
Gastronomic glamour comes standard at London Bistro, a combination eclectic-fare restaurant and after-hours lounge, dishing up Indian-, Kenyan-, and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Sink incisors into international menu items, such as the Oxford beef stew, featuring beef cuts simmered in brown sauce and veggies and paired with the cultural carbs of basmati rice or chapati bread ($10). The Kings Cambridge crab cakes features two crustacean circles trading for plate territory with claw-signed treaties, then relaxing among a garden of mixed greens drizzled in a mango sauce ($15). Parched patrons can wash down mouthfuls of sausage and mashed potatoes from the bangers and mash ($10) with a free cocktail Tuesdays through Thursdays.