Each of my visits, I’d hoped to wrap my fingers around a fall special, Mulled in Milton, a mulled wine drink with citrus peel, local honey and spices. Alas! The warm drink wasn’t available, and I’ll still inquire first next time I stop in, because cocktails here aren’t much to speak of. The bar prides itself on its 77-strong whiskey list — but mixed with crappy ice for the Cooper’s Mule that features Coopers’ Craft Kentucky bourbon or Daly’s Tea made with Mellow Corn, a corn whiskey from Heaven Hill, drinks were a watery waste. Craft beer drinkers will find a dozen local brews on tap and some from afar in bottles or cans. A wine list, which includes basic but affordable ($7) chardonnay and rosé table wine on tap, will be familiar to grocery store shoppers who hit the alcohol aisle.
The upside to average drinks: They come right quick. As does the food.
The booths in the main dining room of 7 Acre BarNgrill are made of local red oak. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
7 Acre BarNgrill serves approachably contemporary new American fare. You’ll find appetizers like ahi tuna poke, avocado toast and a variation on hummus (here, sweet potato is the chickpea substitute, but the earthy, sweet essence of the root veg is missing) that appear on every new American carte these days.
More interesting than a too loose lump crabcake or the Key Lime Caesar whose citrus spin does little to alter the flavor is an order of meatballs: juicy rounds made from a mix of beef, pork and veal coated in a barbecue sauce of Tennessee whiskey (justice served) and peaches. Reach your daily intake of vegetables with the Shredded Salad. It’s a seasonal red, yellow and green rainbow of finely shaved Brussels sprouts, shredded baby kale, radicchio, apples, dried cranberries, avocado, hard-boiled egg halves, garbanzos and quinoa that only needed more acid and less salt to make the bowl wholly satisfying.
Shredded Salad at 7 Acre BarNgrill includes finely shaved Brussels sprouts, shredded baby kale, radicchio, apples, dried cranberries, avocado, hard-boiled egg halves, garbanzos and quinoa. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Grilled or fried chicken can be added to any salad for a $5 upcharge. Take ‘em up on the offer. The grilled chicken here is outstanding. Sourced from Wayne Farms in Pendergrass, Georgia, it was divinely juicy. The trick, it turns out, is a cranberry juice-olive oil marinade. The acid in the juice acts as a tenderizer while the sugars help caramelize the meat when it hits the grill.
Chicken also makes appearances among entrees. It would be a better headline in the Chicken Spaghetti Alpharetta if the Alfredo sauce hadn’t been thick to the point of pasty and in the Flame Grilled Chicken if the side of cauliflower mash wasn’t bland as baby food.
Those are among dishes listed under the Dig In section, which notably lacks a vegetarian entree. The dish to dig into at 7 Acre is the Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with a brown sugar-mustard glaze. It’s a massive portion of tenderly braised meat that easily shreds with a fork and practically melts in your mouth. The accompanying Yukon potato puree and roasted heirloom carrots turn it into a sensational, hearty autumn entree.
Burgers are the handheld comfort food option here. Featuring a blend of short rib, brisket and chuck, the patties are made with as much care as the brisket (and trout, although that salsa verde garnish needs some seasoning), but I expected more of a flavor pop from the Smashed Barn Burner Burger with fire-roasted green chiles, pepper jack cheese and chipotle aioli. If slices of pecan-smoked bacon weren’t so tough and chewy, the Hickory Fats burger with white cheddar, grilled Vidalia onions and a house-made take on Big Mac sauce would have been far easier to bite through. That side of fries though? Mm. Those fries.
Lemon Goat Cheese Pound Cake with blueberry brandy compote is the best way to “finish strong” at 7 Acre BarNgrill. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
7 Acre boasts house-made desserts. The crust of an apple pie was crisp and flaky while still being tender, but the filling offered an unappealing applesauce texture. And the lovely aroma of an orange olive oil cake couldn’t correct its dry denseness. Finish Strong, as the dessert menu is dubbed, with a slice of Lemon Goat Cheese Pound Cake. Here, you’ll find not just moistness, but a soft, rounded tartness from the goat cheese that gets a sweet balance from a blueberry brandy compote and a dollop of delicate whipped cream.
7 Acre BarNgrill has plenty of strong spots: a fun, lively atmosphere — especially on the bar side; a casual, efficient service staff glad to offer food order thoughts; and a kitchen crew using notably fresh ingredients from local purveyors and demonstrating prowess with proteins. With a few tweaks to make every dish as terrific as the brisket — and some attention to the cocktails and wine list — this Milton restaurant would be worth the 30-mile drive from downtown Atlanta.
7 ACRE BARNGRILL
Overall rating: 2 of 4 stars (very good)
Food: farm-to-table comfort in a country tavern setting
Service: friendly and streamlined
Best dishes: Slow Cooker Beef Brisket, Shredded Salad, Smashed Barn Burner Burger, Grilled Chicken as addition to salad or in Flame Grilled Chicken, Lemon Goat Cheese Pound Cake
Vegetarian selections: 7 Acre Avocado Toast, Sweet Potato "Hummus," Garden Salad, Shredded Salad, Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad, and side dishes
Price range: $$$
Credit cards: all major credit cards
Hours: 11 a.m-3:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays
Parking: free parking in adjacent lot
MARTA station: none
Reservations: not accepted
Wheelchair access: yes
Noise level: average
Patio: covered porch
Address, phone: 850 Hickory Flat Road, Milton. 770-777-2273
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