(Photo Credit: KrogStreetMarket.com)
I read the text message from my friend, J. I pause. I read it again.
“Let’s have dinner at Krog Market.”
I shake my head. He wants to have dinner at a Kroger? I picture our party of four piled up in a greasy fiberglass booth, eating fried chicken out of cardboard boxes. I sigh. “Okay.”
I’m happy to discover, however, that tonight’s Monday Night Dinner destination has nothing to do with Kroger at all, but with Krog Street — specifically, the brand-new Krog Street Market, an industrial, lofty “west-coast style market” built into the old Atlanta Stoveworks near Inman Park. The concept takes an abandoned factory built in 1889 (briefly the home of Tyler Perry Studios in the early 21st Century) and packs it full of gourmet restaurants, produce vendors, butcher shops, bars, and retail.
When J&J stumbled on the place this past Sunday, eager shoppers and diners packed the broad concrete aisles. Tonight, on a Monday night, things are more sedate:
Still, there’s a nice buzz going on. The bar at Hop City is packed, the Spotted Trotter is selling tight little packages of sausage like they’re going out of style, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is doling out scoop after scoop of Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet and Milk Chocolate Bombay No. 3. For the size of the place, tables are few and far between, but most of these are taken with happy couples and groups of four, downing pints of craft beer.
One of the pleasures of the place: each diner can snag an entree from any restaurant, grab a drink from any bar, and then rejoin his or her friends at any of the open tables. We end up at Fred’s Meat and Bread, where every employee’s jumpsuit bears the same name (Fred, of course) on a big, red oval patch:
They serve my vintage grape soda and Clyde’s Mexican Coke right up, but our Italian grinders take about fifteen minutes to make. When they do arrive, the bread is pillow-soft, the meats and veggies are tossed in just the right amount of dressing, and the fries on the side (served in a cup) are crispy and golden-brown:
There, the jolly crew serves up pork sandwiches “Texas style” — that is, on untoasted slabs of thick white bread:
J. washes his down with a pint from Hop City. When I ask if they love their sandwiches, both nod and say, “Good,” but I do note that they aren’t doing much of the finger-licking or “oohing and aahing” that goes on when foodies come across something exquisite.
As we leave Krog Street, we note just how many of the store bays are either unoccupied or under construction — in other words, the show here is barely in its first act. But with a location right smack on the BeltLine and close to Inman Park, this is the kind of place that’s going to be packed with folks in short order … and as we make our way to the car, I find myself wishing someone would have the foresight to install something like Krog Street Market in any of the many unused street-level retail spaces lining our own Peachtree Street. Recommended.