Atlanta Orders In: Wonderkid reinvented its diner menu

This takeout order of garlic green beans, Little Gem salad and roasted chicken is from Wonderkid. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

This takeout order of garlic green beans, Little Gem salad and roasted chicken is from Wonderkid. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

When it debuted in late December at the Atlanta Dairies complex in Edgewood, I called Wonderkid "a super group restaurant concept."

The retro-modern diner from Darren Carr and Eric Simpkins (Bon Ton, the Lawrence, Miracle Bar Atlanta), and Nick and Steven Carse, the brothers behind King of Pops, featured a morning-to-late menu that included such staples as the meatloaf melt with pimento cheese and bacon jam. Plus, it offered imaginative cocktails, and the first King of Pops soft-serve ice cream counter.

But, about two months after opening, the pandemic forced them to reinvent Wonderkid.

That meant turning to takeout and delivery service, with fewer hours, and some tweaks to the menu. Beyond that, the new Market at Wonderkid now is offering beer and wine, along with house-made products, such as pimento cheese and pickles, as well as hand sanitizer from Old Fourth Distillery, hot sauce from Pulp Atlanta, and bacon and sausage from Pine Street Market.

Wonderkid is offering margarita and gin mule “pouches.” CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

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“We found that running the traditional diner-all-day menu was too labor intensive, with unpredictable sales,” Carr said. “We took the opportunity to turn our ice cream counter into a full store, with lots of locally made products, and everything grab-and-go.”

A big hit for the market has been house-made cocktail “pouches,” which are basically boozy slushies in a plastic bag, in flavors like margarita and gin mule.

“The Dairies has a permit to drink alcohol anywhere on the property, so a lot of people grab a cocktail pouch, a beer or glass of wine, and go and sit in the grass,” Carr said.

Beverage director Taylor Blackgrave is curating beer, wine and bar supplies at the new Market at Wonderkid. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

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Last week, after retrofitting the dining room for social distancing, Wonderkid opened for limited patio and dine-in service.

“For the protection of our staff and customers, we operate counter service, which has been well received,” Carr said. “Order at the counter, take a number, and either sit down or wait for your food, to-go. We have the luxury of a lot of outside seating and space, where it seems people are most comfortable eating right now.”

In addition, Carr said, Wonderkid soon will be reactivating its private event space. “We just rehearsed our first socially distanced group event in the Rainbow room, which went very well, he said. “Guests receive playing cards with food and drink items on them, instead of menus, and sit at safe distances from each other. It feels like a safe environment, and means that groups of up to 14 can get together without coming into close contact.”

Wonderkid’s half a roasted chicken is served here with garlic green beans and a Little Gem salad. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND

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Even with all that going on, though, Carr admitted it’s still a daily struggle. “To be honest, we’re just trying to get through this,” he said. “As a brand-new restaurant, which didn’t even have a chance to get into its stride, it’s been hard. But, we’re pretty scrappy, and have managed to figure it out so far.”

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Menu: abbreviated pickup and delivery menu online; pickup or dine-in counter service menu, including lunch, brunch and dinner items, plus desserts, ice cream and market items

Alcohol: beer, wine and cocktails to go, full bar in the dining room; market offers beer, wine and cocktail accessories

What I ordered: half a roasted Springer Mountain chicken; garlic green beans; Little Gem salad; strawberry-butter bundt cake slice. I must say, this was one of the best and most well-rounded pickup experiences I've had. The chicken was tender and juicy under a crackly skin. The garlic green beans were fresh and snappy, and covered in a creamy fresh garlic sauce. The salad featured a bright melange of sweet Georgia peaches, cherry tomatoes, pickled onions, blue cheese and pistachios, with buttermilk dill dressing. The slice of cake was moist, with a sweet strawberry flavor. I also grabbed margarita and gin mule "pouch" cocktails to go, which proved to be perfect for porch drinking on a 90-degree day.

Service options: order online via website for takeout or delivery; order on-site at the counter for takeaway or on-premises dining inside or on the patio; no table service

Safety protocols: following standard CDC and WHO guidelines; enhanced cleaning procedures; all employees wear face masks, use sanitizer and practice social distancing; masks and hand sanitizer required for guests upon entry; free masks available

Address, phone: 777 Memorial Drive SE, Atlanta; 404-331-0909

Hours: brunch menu, noon-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m-3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays; dinner menu, 5-9 p.m. daily



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