On last week’s date, we played “tourists” in Atlanta, visiting the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and Madre & Mason. Keeping the tourism theme alive, this week we pop into Piedmont Park for a couple of hours. While you are working, we are playing. And it’s time for lunch.
Einstein’s has been on the corner of Juniper and 12th since 1991, way before the bagel chain with the same name was created by Boston Chicken (it’s true–look it up). It doesn’t take a genius (Einstein’s–genius, get it?) to figure out that 25 years in the Atlanta restaurant business means you must be doing something right. The restaurant has spawned the Metrotainment Cafe group, which also owns the Hudson Grille, the neighboring Joe’s on Juniper, and a few more eateries.
In the 1970’s, this was the neighborhood where the hippies hung out. You could get sex, drugs, or rock and roll in a three-block radius. Now the neighborhood is home to countless skyscrapers and rainbow flags. There’s a small valet parking lot next door. We can’t imagine where you could park on a busy night.
Since we are already hot and sweaty, we decide to sit outside under the shade of a huge tree that’s at least a century old. The old oak could be worth the price of admission.
I wonder what the special is today.
You want us to order one, but today we are eating healthy. The menu is a nice combination of salads, sandwiches, and burgers. You can also get small plates and big plates. The restaurant describes it as “modern American cuisine”. With plates like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and fried chicken, it skews towards the South.
Eve wants salad and orders this one:
The crispy Asian salad has fried shrimp, “wontons”, which look a lot like spring rolls to us and jicama. I could have eaten an entire plate of the fried shrimp, the star of the plate. Unfortunately, there are only four shrimpy shrimp. For $12, you should get at least six. It would not have killed them to fill up the plate with greens. Or then again, maybe they should just use smaller plates.
Before we get to my meal, let’s go inside and use the bathroom.
I only say this because the interior is gorgeous. They took an old house and made it a palace.
Kudos the the restaurant architect who designed this space. If you are sitting on the patio, make sure you stick your head in and check out the indoor area.
Meanwhile, back at the table, I order the grilled chicken on ciabatta, hold the onions.
The sandwich comes with avocado and sprouts. If you look closely, you can actually count the sprouts on the sandwich. There are about six of them. I’m not sure what’s going on in the kitchen today, but this is one sparse looking sandwich. For a side, I get the roasted mushrooms, which might be the best thing on the plate. I spoon them into the sandwich, and voila, it becomes a much better meal.
The bottom line on Einstein’s: Sparse. They weren’t busy, so you wonder where the shrimp was on the salad and why they seem to be counting out sprouts in the kitchen. They could have knocked our sweaty socks off at lunch, but things were very average. Maybe we hit them on a strange day. We hear that the Bloody Mary brunch on the weekend is award-winning and quite good. It could be a reason to come back just to sit under that old oak. Or not.