Food - Snapshots: Cook Hall
A peek at W Buckhead's newish gastropub
Located in the W Buckhead, Cook Hall is all about trendy snacks and comfort food. Duck tacos and pork-belly sliders with spicy mayo come in threes. The Caesar salad is made with kale. A side of sharp and creamy pimento mac and cheese is sprinkled with breadcrumbs and served in a small cast-iron dish. If, and only if, you catch a decent buzz, try the popcorn shrimp appetizer with ranch. It's a plate sprinkled with popcorn, dotted with fried shrimp, and drizzled with ranch dressing. Three meatballs made with ground pork shoulder and beef brisket are served in a slightly sweet tomato sauce. The tender meat falls apart with the touch of a fork.
Mason jars fashioned with Edison lights hang from the ceiling above the bar. And while the dark wood floors and old-timey photographs lend a chic saloon vibe, a vast wall of windows and the view of twinkling Peachtree traffic are all Buckhead.
For an utterly perplexing drink experience, Cook Hall offers a DIY cocktail kit to assemble right at your table. A carafe filled with the spirit of your choice is served alongside a metal basket packed with ingredients to complement your base: homemade syrups, bitters, fresh herbs, and mixers like Fever-Tree Ginger Beer or Club Soda. Bona fide bartender tools come, too: a muddler, a bar spoon, both a Julep and a Hawthorne cocktail strainer, and a glass beaker in which to create your concoction. It's pretty serious. In fact, it's so serious that if you're not well versed in mixology, there's a good chance your drink could turn out awful. So before you shell out the $20 or so — the price varies depending on the spirit — browse the accompanying notebook filled with recipes and make sure you've got some skills. I cheated and searched for recipes on my phone. In the end, I went with mezcal, ginger lime syrup, muddled mint, and a dash of Angostura bitters on the rocks.
It's a lot easier to choose from Cook Hall's trusty list of craft cocktails, craft beer, and wine. Try the Port Manhattan, made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon. It's boozy, balanced, and just a little sweet.
If the charcuterie and craft cocktails aren't enough to convince you that Cook Hall is cool and hip, just look down. Almost all of the denim-clad servers sport black-and-white Chuck Taylors. A black-vested bartender tells me they're part of the company-issued uniform.