By Art Huckabee
It’s hard to be all things to all people. That’s why most restaurants never attempt it preferring to niche themselves into their comfort zones. Diners and chain establishments attempt such feats but rarely pull them off. Folk Art, a relatively new addition in Inman Park, is making a valiant attempt at being all things to all people up to three times a day.
We recently visited on a rainy Sunday for brunch. On the weekends, they offer brunch and dinner and during the week they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We easily found parking behind the relatively small group of storefronts that also houses its sister restaurant, Wisteria. The crowd was relatively large and the host accurately predicted about a 40-minute wait. They do not offer reservations.
The place has a vibrant and warm feeling with decorations that align with its name. There’s seating at the counter and lots of wooden, yet still comfy, booths puzzled into the relatively small space. It’s an eclectic crowd with lots of twenty something’s, young families, couples and others who clearly enjoy having a neighborhood destination.
The friendly wait staff immediately greeted us and took our drink orders. There are good selections of beers, wine, craft sodas and craft cocktails as well as the usual coffee, teas, juices and milks. The “Strawberry Fields” is a refreshing mix of vodka, strawberry jam, apple bitters and ginger. It is one of those cocktails that will sneak up on you and end any afternoon plans you might have that don’t involve a nap. The Bloody Mary was good but suffered from a heavy hand with the Worcestershire and citrus.
The basket of small muffins was a nice brunch starter. They were moist and flavorful and didn’t need the sides of housemade jam we had also ordered. They charge 25 cents apiece for their jams which is a very small amount, but one would think could be factored into a $5.99 charge for eight smallish muffins or even included as condiments on the table.
Many of the varied brunch dishes were good. Some were just a little off on execution.
The roasted pork Verde contained well-seasoned roasted pork just too little of it. The black beans and onions overpowered the dish and were missing in the menu description. The shrimp and grits with fried egg had cooked a little too long making the shrimp rubbery. The Steak Sammy’s ingredients of thinly sliced ribeye steak, mushrooms, peppers and provolone needed to marry their flavors perhaps benefitting from a little longer stay on the flattop. The accompanying “flattop mac & cheese” was very good with nice crusty edges.
The tofu-fried hash was a mélange of tofu squares, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes and peppers blended with a basil pesto. It was a hardy dish with good flavor. The Angus burger was also a hit. The hand formed patty can be ordered as a double (7 oz.), triple (10 oz.) and a quad (13 oz.). There’s a large choice of cheeses and other toppings. The purist at our table simply ordered it medium with American cheese and he was delighted at the result. The hand-cut fries were crisp and properly salted.
The lobster roll special was especially disappointing. It got the buttered, toasted, top-sliced bun replete with lettuce and tomato right but the lobster was stringy, mealy and contained many smaller pieces with very few of the large tail and claw chunks that are endemic of a properly prepared roll. Moreover the lobster was coated in a pink sauce that masked much of its flavor. Lobster rolls should be garnished with butter or perhaps a small amount of good mayonnaise… nothing more.
While we did not order the waffles or pancakes, nearby tables looked very happy with their orders. There were also some very good-looking biscuits, fried chicken and sausage gravy. Brunch entrees range from $7.99 to $14.99.
Folk Art has set its course on a difficult task. While obviously not a diner, it has thrown its fate into a precarious lot that demands perfection on a variety of levels. It should be lauded for its effort and forgiven for its sometimes-spotty execution.
Folk Art is located at 465 North Highland Ave., folkartrestaurant.com.
Art Huckabee is one of Yelp’s Elite Reviewers, as well as a pilot and food lover. Send feedback to TastingIntown@AtlantaINtownPaper.com.