Atlanta Orders In: Decatur’s Kimball House is surviving, if not exactly thriving

Kimball House offers grouper, with okra, shiitake mushrooms and corn. Bob Townsend/For The AJC
Caption
Kimball House offers grouper, with okra, shiitake mushrooms and corn. Bob Townsend/For The AJC

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

The restaurant is an upscale offshoot of nearby Brick Store Pub and Leon’s Full Service. And, in 2018, four of the Kimball House partners, Matt Christison, Miles Macquarrie, Bryan Rackley and Jesse Smith, opened Watchman’s, a sustainable seafood spot in Krog Street Market.

Watchman’s has had a more difficult time during the pandemic, but it’s now open for takeout, and limited seating on the patio, as well as in the dining room. In contrast, Kimball House has been recovering steadily over the past six months.

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This green salad, with pistachio, cashew green goddess, feta, radish and squash, came from Kimball House. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
This green salad, with pistachio, cashew green goddess, feta, radish and squash, came from Kimball House. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

“We made the decision to close Watchman’s completely, because we needed all hands on deck at Kimball House,” Macquarrie said. “Also, it was a lot easier and safer to operate to-go service out of Kimball House.”

Takeout business was steady at Kimball House for a good while, Macquarrie said. Then, patio dining was added to the mix. And, finally, after installing six plasma cooling generators on the HVAC system, the dining room reopened with limited seating, though there’s still no seating at the bar.

Right now, Macquarrie estimated, Kimball House is back to 50%-60% of pre-pandemic sales.

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A pear tart, with almond custard, is available for takeout from Kimball House in Decatur. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
A pear tart, with almond custard, is available for takeout from Kimball House in Decatur. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

“For a while, people wanted to support their local restaurants, and the numbers were pretty good for takeout,” he said. “But, as other places started to reopen before we did, we started to see those numbers dwindle, because people had options to go out again. We had to reopen to keep our sales up, so we wouldn’t go out of business permanently.”

The menus have been changed to fit with the changes in service.

The takeout and dine-in menus have some items in common, including entrees, like a daily fish special. And, you can grab oysters by the dozen to take home and shuck. But, you’ll only find smoked chicken wings and burgers on the takeout menu.

“We’re still working with local and seasonal produce, and we’re still supporting the farmers that supported us before the pandemic,” Macquarrie said. “With to-go, it’s slightly more casual, and the price is a little bit lower. But, we have steak to go, some nights. And, we even sell oyster knives for people who need them.”

At Kimball House, you can get a tepache cooler, with mezcal, lime, allspice dram and fermented pineapple soda. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Caption
At Kimball House, you can get a tepache cooler, with mezcal, lime, allspice dram and fermented pineapple soda. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

All in all, Macquarrie said Kimball House is surviving, if not exactly thriving.

“We’re fortunate to have the city of Decatur as our landlord,” he said. “They are willing to work with us in multiple ways. And, for now, we are maintaining. I think, at the end of this, whenever that might be, there will be a lot of changes. A lot of restaurants won’t survive. But, I think the ones that do will be better businesses, as a result. I think we’ll be a better business.”

KIMBALL HOUSE

Menu: full menus for dine-in and takeout, with starters, sides, entrees and desserts, plus oysters

Alcohol: full bar for on-site dining; wine and cocktails for takeout

What I ordered: green salad, with pistachio, cashew green goddess, feta, radish and squash; grouper, with okra, shiitake mushrooms and corn; pear tart, with almond custard; tepache cooler with mezcal, lime, allspice dram and fermented pineapple soda. Overall, it was as good as anything I’ve eaten at Kimball House. The grouper was super fresh, as were the vegetables and salad. The tart was perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cocktail was bottled and capped, fizzy, and delightfully different when poured over ice.

Service options: call for delivery or pickup with a curbside option; on-site dining inside, or on the patio

Safety protocols: adhering to all state guidelines

Address, phone: 303 E. Howard Ave., Decatur; 404-378-3502

Hours: 5-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays

Website: kimball-house.com

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