Review: Good food and drink are no accident at Whoopsie’s in Atlanta

The snack tray at Whoopsie's typically features a few pickled items, a terrine, pimento cheese and toast, but selections change frequently. Courtesy of Whoopsie's

Credit: Whoopsie's

Credit: Whoopsie's

The snack tray at Whoopsie's typically features a few pickled items, a terrine, pimento cheese and toast, but selections change frequently. Courtesy of Whoopsie's

Whoopsie’s, which opened on the border of Atlanta’s Reynoldstown and Edgewood neighborhoods in January, has no business being as good as it is. The cozy bar and restaurant doesn’t aspire to be much more than a neighborhood haunt, yet it has personality galore, and leadership that cares deeply about serving quality food and drink.

Bartender Tim Faulkner and chef Hudson Rouse, the co-owners, have calibrated Whoopsie’s to match the neighborhood. The small space is dark, with warm lighting and lots of vintage touches, and maintains a hipster vibe without being corny.

Tomato toast at Whoopsie's features very ripe heirloom tomatoes. Courtesy of Whoopsie's

Credit: Whoopsie's

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Credit: Whoopsie's

Whoopsie’s stays open until midnight Thursdays-Mondays, and the food and drink menus are short, simple and nostalgic, focusing on simple classics done well.

The cocktail menu only has five drinks, plus a rotating daily special. The lineup features seldom-seen vintage numbers, such as the amaretto sour and cocktail a la Louisiane, a boozy rye drink with Benedictine and bitters. The rotating cocktail on one visit was a stratosphere, which combined creme de violette and champagne, for a bubbly, floral drink that wasn’t too sweet. The next week, they had switched to a Japanese slipper, featuring midori, curaçao and lemon juice.

Melon salad is one of the offerings at Whoopsie's in Reynoldstown. Henri Hollis/henri.hollis@ajc.com

Credit: Henri Hollis

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Credit: Henri Hollis

If none of those drinks works for you, the skilled bartenders can make nearly any cocktail you desire. The beer and wine lists are curated thoughtfully, with a variety of interesting, unusual options.

The food menu is longer, but not by much. There are a few salads that change with the produce available at the time, including an impressive melon salad with roasted shishito peppers that was sophisticated and complex. The sweet, crisp melon was beautifully countered by the tender peppers.

The star of the “cold” menu column is the snack tray — served on an old-school cafeteria tray. The components change daily, but usually feature toast, pimento cheese, some pickled vegetables, a fermented element (such as sauerkraut) and a chilled pork terrine. The sharp pimento cheese is creamy, but also light and easily spreadable, not at all sticky. The richness of the terrine and the buttered toast are offset by the crisp, acidic pickles, as well as condiments, such as sauerkraut or chowchow.

The squash and Vidalia onion casserole at Whoopsie's is an old-fashioned Southern favorite. Courtesy of Whoopsie's

Credit: Whoopsie's

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Credit: Whoopsie's

The “hot” section of the menu features shareable, mostly vegetarian side dishes. Many are decadent Southern classics, based on recipes handed down by Rouse’s grandmother, but a few options show off more global influences.

Pommes aligot and the squash and Vidalia casserole evoke the richness of a Sunday dinner, while the beautifully constructed tomato toast puts a modern spin on an old-fashioned sandwich. Thick, sweet white bread is left soft enough to soak up the juices from very ripe, colorful heirloom tomatoes. Tender roast eggplant, slathered in sweet-savory miso, is more of a Japanese classic, but still feels at home at Whoopsie’s.

The restaurant also features a daily protein and a rotating sandwich of the day that frequently is made with the previous night’s leftovers — Thursday’s porchetta becomes Friday’s porchetta sandwich, one of the best you’ll find in town. The sliced porchetta features rich, tender pork and crispy bits of pork belly, further animated by fresh pickles and spicy, fresh arugula, all served on a soft onion roll.

Prime rib is served on Fridays and Saturdays at Whoopsie's. Henri Hollis/henri.hollis@ajc.com

Credit: Henri Hollis

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Credit: Henri Hollis

The tiny coffeeshop-sized kitchen also produces a perfectly cooked prime rib on Fridays and Saturdays. The enormous portion of beef, the most expensive menu item at $33, is served with an ethereal, ultra-creamy horseradish sauce. Don’t expect your server to ask for your preferred meat temperature; it comes out a beautiful medium rare.

Whoopsie’s won’t be the perfect dining experience for everyone. The reused seating in the booths and at the bar could use an upgrade. The noise level, always loud, can become deafening.

Even so, this is the type of restaurant that is part of the backbone of a thriving dining scene. Plenty of cities claim a handful of upscale, fine-dining establishments, but it’s the middle class of independent restaurants that lift the collective experience to a higher level.

Whoopsie’s exudes personality, quality and care for its customers.

WHOOPSIE’S

3 out of 4 stars (excellent)

Food: nostalgic bar favorites

Service: typically quick and efficient, with occasional lapses when busy

Noise level: loud to deafening

Recommended dishes: arugula salad, melon salad, snack tray, squash and Vidalia onion casserole, roasted eggplant, heirloom tomato toast, porchetta sandwich (available Fridays), prime rib (available Fridays and Saturdays)

Vegetarian dishes: arugula salad, mawmaw salad (lettuce, tomato, kalamata olives, cucumber and buttermilk dressing), melon salad, squash and Vidalia onion casserole, roasted eggplant, heirloom tomato toast

Alcohol: full bar

Price range: $$

Hours: 5 p.m.-12 a.m. Thursdays-Mondays, closed Tuesdays-Wednesdays

Parking: free lot

MARTA: Inman Park/Reynoldstown Station

Reservations: none

Outdoor dining: none

Takeout: not recommended

Address: 1 Moreland Ave. SE, Atlanta

Website: instagram.com/whooopsies_place

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