Deep in the backwoods of Inman Park and the Old 4th Ward and tucked away in the corner of the vast Stove Works complex sits a little gem of a wine bar. Krog Bar, appropriately situated at the foot of Rathbun’s since 2005, serves as one fine place to enjoy an evening.
Though a tip of the hat from the food community usually only comes after mentions of Krog’s big brother and sister (the aforementioned Rathbun’s and Rathbun’s Steak), many wine enthusiasts in Atlanta vigilantly frequent this 750 square foot watering hole from celeb chef and big green egg enthusiast Kevin Rathbun.
A comfortable patio, private high-boys, and bar-stool seating lends well to a comfortable little adventure of wine, some small bites, and the company of close friends and some new neighbors [there are a quarter-dozen communal tables in that regard]. As the cool breeze or sometimes sweltering heat wafts over your skin, you may or may not find the music “interesting.” I say interesting because I’ve almost always found at least a momentary bit of consideration during a visit. It tends to drift to the loud and is often the result of some half-baked playlist that results in Eric Clapton backing up to LCD Soundsystem. Ultimately though, the music is just a small part of the your visit and it’s never done anything to either dampen my evening or move me to a more visceral state of mind.
The grub menu is understandably slim but includes tapas, cured meats, some cheeses, and various other odds and ends that usually find their inspiration in Spanish cuisine. Not the main focus by any means, the food is at times quite intriguing, usually a nice sub-text, but once in a blue moon: downright off-putting. The current focus of my attention is their Caña de Cabra, a soft-ripened goat cheese. The CdC provides a little bit of palate adventure as you move through the firm outer ring and into a soft center with nutty undertones. It’s a good little balance of salty and nutty and similar to a Loire Valley Bûcheron. It’s also evident that the well-dressed Little Sebastian loves this little log ‘o milk.
Notably, a recent trip for Lil’ Sabastian and me resulted in us ripping through some daily assemblies produced by minor heating and firing jobs. The importance here isn’t in what we had but in what happened. Four identical orders came to the table for the group of eight. The first three were not only consistent, but damn enjoyable. The last however suffered from some seemingly inexplicable slip of the mind on the kitchenista’s behalf. An ingredient that was key to the overall execution was supplanted with something different and blew the dish up like Wile E Coyote was the responsible party. It killed the tasted buds for the rest of the evening. So bottom line on the food: expect competent simplicity, respect the sometimes surprising brilliance, and hope you don’t get punched in the gut by some inexcusable oversight.
So then of course there is the main attraction: the booze. Wine bars can be confusing to people, so let me give you a tip: don’t expect to drink anything other than wine. There isn’t much else on the menu anyway, just as it should be! Now I must admit that I haven’t coaxed the wine selection for all it has to offer. I’m often in the presence of good company (to be honest – I don’t hang out with people that aren’t good company) and so the pressure to pick and explore is usually lost (unless my company includes a wino).
As it stands, there is something for most everyone and you can spend as much or as little as you want and still find something that should satisfy you. As another tip – for you calorie counters and low tolerance folk, many of their selections come in a half-pour (though memory fails to remind me if this is mentioned on the menu).
Also, it’s really really important that a wine staff be well groomed. For just that reason, I like to lob softball questions at the servers … that is, ask them questions I actually know the answer to. I will say that I’ve found most of the lovely ladies in a perfect position to recommend a glass and provide a little bit of education, even if they aren’t a true master of the art. And on their word, I’ve taken great pleasure in a plumy Bonarda from Argentina’s La Madrid, a handful of excellent Tempranillos, and some pleasant and refreshing whites (amongst the countless glasses I’ve gargled).
A Day’s End
So all in, Krog makes for a fine time on account of the ambiance (save for the tunes), the attitude of the staff, and the good wines. Everything else is a comfortable filler that will often do what it needs to. Now if only we could get them to fix that website … (updated menu that includes wine list, hours of operation, etc…)