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Rathbun's vs. Wisteria vs. Watershed

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Hello, am coming to Atlanta from SF next week - staying downtown at Ritz C., and am planning a small dinner with a few former colleagues from NYC. Am looking for some Southern food but not too Southern, nice but not too fancy, and not too loud. We'll be cabbing it so not too far of a drive. Any recommendations/preferences among these three restaurants? I am really drawn to Wisteria as the ambience and menu looks amazing but I don't want anything too casual. Watershed looks great but is it too far from downtown?? Rathbuns looks like a no brainer but is their food 'Southern' enough to really get a taste of Atlanta? I am a big fan of home-style cooking being from the Midwest so presentation is not as much of an issue, but I do want it to be nice and not too homestyle.

Any input or suggestions among these three restaurants - which one we should pick and why - would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!!

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  1. Based on what you mention, Wisteria would be the choice.
    I personally do not like Rathbun's and Watershed is a long cab ride.
    You will not be disappointed and the Highlands area is great for walking before and after dinner (shops, bars, etc.).

    3 Replies
    1. re: rcburli

      Thanks so much - I was wondering about the neighborhood Wisteria is located so this is really good to know that we can walk around before/after dinner.

      1. re: ashleyk

        I'll second the notion that the Highlands is a fun stroll. I'm a sometimes-tourist from neighboring SC, and we always seem to gravitate there. Have even driven to that neighborhood when I needed to go jogging because it seems safe and the house are entertaining to run by.

        Can someone tell me more about Wisteria? What does the outside look like?

        1. re: danna

          Outside, Wisteria looks exactly like what it is - a locally owned/operated neighborhood bistro. Brick exterior with long windows looking into the dining room. The building probability dates back to the 30's, and is adjacent to a pretty good (albeit smoky) pub, and another restaurant. I will add if you've seen photos of the interior on the web that it's smaller than the pics would make it appear (at least the photos I've seen). Not sure how many tables, it's maybe 2/3 the size of the average restaurant that you'll find along Clement St in SF. My only complaint about the place is that with brick walls, the acoustics aren't ideal, it can get pretty loud when the place is full - which is often because the food really is quite good.

          If going for a walk in the neighborhood after dinner, turn in the uphill direction to reach the core area of the Virginia Highlands district. It's about a quarter mile (safe) walk to reach an assortment of pubs, obligatory Starbucks, and a few boutiques further along the same road.

    2. I agree with rcburli...Wisteria sounds like a perfect match for what you are looking for. It is actually my absolute favorite restaurant in Atlanta. It is cozy, but not too casual and the food is wonderful! Let us know what you thought after you go!

      1. I'd go with Wisteria. Watershed is good, but too far out of the way. Rathbun's is great, but can be deafening and I wouldn't call it Southern. I think Wisteria fits the bill. It has great ambience, the specials are always good and the service is spot on. We just dined there Sunday night. We ordered the special tart (squash with chopped pecans) as one of our apps and my girlfriend got the meatloaf special (she was in love). I had the pork, which is a personal favorite. They just started letting you order "tastes" of the desserts now, too. I think we tried three for $9. In all, we had two apps, two entrees, beverages and a dessert sampler for $67, before tip. We live across town and find ourselves driving to Wisteria more and more.

        1. I wouldn't consider Rathbun's "Southern" by any stretch...but golly it's good :)

          I am going to be the dissenter and say that I would take Watershed over Wisteria....based on my last two experiences at Wisteria. It was a place I really loved and used to go quite a bit...and my last two dinners there were off the mark...and the service on my last trip was so gratingly annoying that I was practically chewing my arm off to get out of there. It *is* a cute place and in a nice neighborhood...so hopefully your experience there will be better than mine.

          Watershed is all about Scott Peacock and his history of Southern cooking. The space is nice and subtle yet modern...great wine list...and the cooking is spot on. Too bad it seems to be too far away from you.

          1 Reply
          1. re: runningwithtweezers

            Tweezers: If you haven't been lately, might be worth trying Wisteria again. We've been twice in the last month and the service has been there when needed, not there when not needed. It's funny cause the best service I've ever had at Watershed was when I ate lunch at the bar. I guess it just depends on who you have. I will agree that Scott does some mighty fine things in the kitchen.