By Hope S. Philbrick
“’Rediscover an old friend,’” says my husband with a big grin. “That’s how you should begin this story.” He’s never come up with a line for me to use before, but it fits, so there it is.
This was my first time dining at the restaurant, but Dean had enjoyed business lunches at the place over the years. Based on his inspired reaction to our dinner, it’s safe to say that recent renovations have preserved its original charms.
Old Vinings Inn has the look and feel of a historic home, but it was originally built in the 1880s as a village post office and general store. It’s been a restaurant since we’ve lived in Atlanta, but was recently taken over by Lee Schulman, who added the “Old” to what was the Vinings Inn.
Other changes he’s made are just as tasteful and subtle. “It’s an evolution not a revolution,” says Schulman. Walls have been repainted in lighter hues, bathrooms modernized and menus tweaked—with new fonts as well as new dishes, but the cuisine is still Southern.
Schulman, who has previously led management teams at several Atlanta restaurants including Atlanta Fish Market, Tom Tom A Bistro, OK Café and Stoney River Legendary Steaks, brought in Chef Don Diem to helm the kitchen.
Diem has worked in several restaurants across the U.S., including the AAA Four Diamond Award rated steak house, Keystone Mountain Lodge in the Rocky Mountains, the prestigious Edgartown Yacht Club in Martha’s Vineyard and Noche in Atlanta.
The new menu gives classic dishes a contemporary spin. Diem uses fresh, seasonal ingredients in dishes like blue corn-crusted Gulf oysters, buttermilk fried chicken, pecan mountain trout, kale chop-chop salad, double-cut marbled pork chop, cheddar grits, fried green tomatoes, Old Vinings Inn fudge cake and farmhouse peach pie.
Duck on the charcuterie plate boasts divine, delicate flavors of cinnamon. Pimento cheese balances its spicy bite with sweetness. The shrimp & grits has Creole influences that march across the tongue like an upbeat jazz performance.
Schulman and Diem worked together to revamp the cocktail menu. Among the temptations: The Old Vinings Inn Plantation Punch, made with St. Germain, Campari, champagne and fresh grapefruit juice, and the Chattahoochee, made with Jim Beam, St. Germain, ginger beer, lemon juice and bitters.
When dining here expect a comfortable atmosphere, friendly servers and delicious fare. Want to extend the experience? Head upstairs to the second floor Attic Bar. The adults-only venue—21 Plus Salute!—showcases live musical entertainment in a relaxed setting every Wednesday through Saturday along with a full-service bar and special menu.
Old Vinings Inn
3011 Paces Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30339
Dinner is served Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Complimentary valet parking is available. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
-Photos by Jeff Sime
Thanks to Old Vinings Inn for hosting our recent visit; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.