I like to eat good food.
That's not really a secret 'round these parts.
You may not know, however, that I have a soft spot for southern food.
Sure. West Coast flavors are great, like pan seared tuna and avocado-ginger glazes. And I have a deep love for the flavors and aromas that waft out of a New England eatery, what with their whole belly clams and lobster bisque laced with sherry.
But down-home-turned-with-the-spoon-of-love southern food?
You can't beat it with a stick.
And that's exactly what we found while dining in Decatur, Georgia's uber hip and ultra attentive Watershed.
This sparkling gem is proudly owned by none other than Indigo Girl Emily Saliers (I went to the doctor, I went to the mountain... da da da The closer I am to fiiiiine. Closer I am to fine!) The folk rock musician and her partners have turned an old garage into a cozy, dim spot lit by candlelight and warm hearts. The glass enclosed entry is graced with several grand sunflower arrangements and sleek bench seating where you can wait for your table.
Once I made it to the dining room, I immediately noticed the series of bookcases decorated with a stunning collection of turquoise colored glass.
Watershed is a restaurant that just throws its arms open and welcomes you to the table of plenty.
And plenty, indeed.
Oenophiles will be happy to know that Saliers is a bit of a connoisseur herself, and so the bar is full of many boutique and unusual vintages. My dad pleasantly discovered a bottle of white wine he hadn't had since we were in Austria 18 years ago.
I chose to stick with the hard stuff - enjoying a beautifully mixed dirty gin martini and a mandarin and soda.
Good pours all around.
I drooled over the extensive menu dotted with such down home offerings as oven barbecue chicken served with corn-on-the-cob and creamy cole slaw, and okra pancakes with cucumber salad and yellow squash.
I flipped a mental coin in my head and decided instead to go with the salmon croquettes with collared greens and grits.
The croquettes tasted like a bit of heaven in my mouth. Chock full of tender salmon, the perfectly rounded pucks were punctuated with fresh, crunchy bits of celery. The side of grits were some of the best I've ever had. Creamy, buttery peaks of grits, so smooth they melted in my mouth. And the greens - they were fresh, tart, delicately sauteed and a shade of brilliant green. The garnish of tomato slices were the edible heads up to my mouth that yes, indeed, it IS summer, what with their beefy, firm texture and a warmth no doubt earned on a farm just a few miles away from our dinner table.
My dad was kind enough to give me a bit of his catfish - the meat was flaky and moist and just pulled right off the bone. The one hush puppy he parted with was so so soft and bursting with a hint of buttermilk.
Through the whole meal, our server was beyond attentive. She noticed my sister's with child status and rattled off a list of freshly squeezed juices when we were gearing up for cocktail time. She also specifically asked my sister whether she had any temperature instructions for the chef in light of her pregnancy. Our server also raced to the table to let us know the kitchen had just one piece of blueberry cobbler and would we like to order it quickly before anyone else? Our sever was extremely knowlegeable about the preparation of the food and the gourmet touches that gave each dish personality.
She was a foodie, and I appreciated that.
For dessert, I decided to opt against the "very good chocolate cake" Watershed is known for. Instead, I shared the organic Georgia pecan tart with shortbread crust. I am a sucker for pecan pie and also shortbread, so I thought this treat was extra special. The pecan filling portion was tasty and full of whole nuts, not those itty-bitty bits like at other restaurants. The shortbread crust was buttery and soft.
The dessert was a perfect finish to a perfect evening discovering a new part of an old city with lots of tradition.
I hope to add Watershed to my own list of When-In-Atlanta traditions.