First Look: Bellwoods Social House, Westside

Recently opened on Marietta Street, Bellwoods Social House is the new bar/restaurant from Leif Johnson, chef/owner of the popular Bite Bistro & Bar in Alpharetta. The concept features Johnson’s updates of American bar food and beverage director Arianne Fielder’s craft cocktails.

The look: Located in the former West & Mill Bistro & Bar space, next door to Five Seasons Westside, Bellwoods draws on the current rustic modern style, with polished cement floors, grey steel and pale wood accents and a casual of blend of indoor and outdoor seating. A horseshoe bar surrounded by subway tiles and topped with epoxy-coated cement anchors the main dining area.

The scene: On a recent weeknight, a large party enjoying drinks and bites filled the covered side patio. Inside, couples and small groups were scattered between the bar, the front patio, and a small dining nook in back, where Johnson’s collection of rare mini liquor bottles is housed in a wall-mounted curio cabinet.

The food: The menu ranges from small bites meant for sharing, such as a market price cheese and charcuterie “block” and Seahive Boxty Rolls ($8) with potato and Seahive cheese crepes and house-brined brisket, and bigger bites such as the Bellwoods Animal Style burger ($10), a homage to the famous “secret” In-N-Out Burger, with house ground short rib and brisket. Mini lobster rolls ($15) topped with pickled onions and served on H&F Bakery rolls are a carry-over from the Bite menu, along with the similar Hog Leg ($10) with house-smoked pork shoulder. A selection of 10-inch pizzas ($9-$13) includes the likes of shrimp and chorizo, and fig and prosciutto.

The drinks: Fielder’s signature cocktails ($10) include Ari’s Old Fashioned, with Four Roses bourbon, orange and black walnut bitters, a sugar cube and flamed orange, and 75 South, with Cathead Honeysuckle vodka, strawberries, lemon and sparking wine. Boot Kicker Shots, served in boot-shaped shot glasses, are a nod to old-school bar tradition and some of Fielder’s favorite places to drink. For example, “Mother’s Ruin” ($9) celebrates the Manhattan bar with a shot of Espolon tequila or Del Maguey Vida mezcal and a can of Tecate.

The extras: Johnson plans to use the space’s rooftop deck for special events.

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