Sprig's elegant yet casual atmosphere plays host to a locally grown smorgasbord of seasonal savories, with this summer's menu showcasing the foodsmarts of Marsala master Christopher Neff. For lunch, revel in tasty treasures from the wood-fire grill, such as the grilled-chicken club with applewood bacon (a $9 value) or the bratwurst's bursting wallet of caramelized cabbage and apples (a $10 value). Or, spend your midday charitably finding a more permanent home for the oyster po boy (a $9 value), drenched in spicy rémoulade. All lunchtime sandwich plates are accompanied by creamy slaw, fries, or sweet-potato chips, and tongue-prepping appetizers like the fried pickles in beer-cheese sauce (a $4 value) and tomato-jam'd cornbread (a $3 value) are served all day long. For dinner, dig into a spicy stew of andouille sausage, shrimp, and corn on the cob (a $14 value) while a tablemate tackles a wood-fired chimichurri flat iron bolstered by a lemon-kissed arugula salad (a $21 value).
Flanked by rustic stone columns and carved lions, 5 Seasons Brewing's entrance looks like the secluded front to a Napa Valley villa, belying its cozy atmosphere and community-focused mission to provide tasty, affordable food and drink. Founded by chef David Larkworthy—son of a pioneering advocate of using organic food in restaurants—Five Seasons Brewing carries its commitment to community to its ingredients, cooking with a cornucopia of regularly shifting local produce from a gaggle of affiliated farms. The menu features such fusion dishes as crispy alligator served with a blackened chili glaze and Remoulade. At tables, guests dig in to home-baked bread, whose warm crust exudes tangy scents from the brewery's spent beer grain.
In the towering tanks that skirt the pub, brewmaster Kevin McNerney creates a kaleidoscopic selection of unique small-batch beers. The cofounder of flagship Georgia brewer SweetWater, McNerney brings two decades of experience to his craft, making refreshing brews such as the Chug Monkey and turning to ancient Belgian traditions to make his crisp, orange-infused witbier.
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.
Inseparable even in past lives when they were a crime-solving orangutan-golden retriever duo, the Grape's Master Sommelier Jay James and Executive Chef Paul Agnelli aim to match a perfectly-chosen wine with each item on their fresh, seasonal menu. Every dish is made with wine-friendly gourmet ingredients. Settle into The Grape's outdoor patio and start by coupling sharable tasters like the chipotle-shrimp flatbread with cilantro-lime dressing ($10) with a robust red like the Layer Cake's Italian Primitivo ($10/glass), or artfully offset a mezze platter of roasted-garlic hummus, house-marinated olives, and cashew- and goat-cheese-stuffed peppadews ($9) with the crispier Sauvignon Blanc from Joel Gott's Napa vineyard ($7/glass). Likewise, dozens of chardonnays, pinot noirs, aromatic whites, champagnes, Italian wines, and more can make a leggy tango partner to entrées such as the grilled-mahi tacos with jalapeno slaw ($12), the pulled pork with pepper-jack cheese on fire-roasted corn flatbread with kettle chips ($9), or the double-cut New–Zealand lamb chops with portobello cream-cheese mashed potatoes and raspberry-balsamic honey ($24). If you're not fluent in wine jargon or simply overwhelmed by the options, The Grape's winesperienced staff is always eager to offer recommendations and advice regarding your meal or tax problems. Cap off an evening of tattoo comparisons and flirtatious arm-wrestling with a glass of fruity-sweet Muscat Blanc from Italy's Piedmont region ($13).
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.