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Review: The Porter, Bookhouse Pub and Bureau raise the bar

A look at three Atlanta gastropubs

Whatever happened to the word "bar"? Where's the respect for good, old-fashioned bar food? These days, the new generation of business owners do not open bars. They open gastropubs.

The gastropub concept turned up in Atlanta last year with Concentrics' TAP, followed most notably this year by Holeman and Finch, along with a host of other spots. In recent months, three places in particular have garnered a lot of attention: the Porter in Little Five Points, the BookHouse Pub in Poncey-Highland, and the Bureau in the Old Fourth Ward. I wondered what made these places that different from any other bar in town that serves food. How would they compare to say, Atkins Park – arguably the oldest bar in the city?

At the Porter Beer Bar (1156 Euclid Ave., 404-223-0393, www.theporterbeerbar.com), the main difference is the beer. The Porter has around 200 beers, from hop-heavy American microbrews to gueze to Belgian tripels and quadruples, and not one watered-down domestic among them. For beer lovers, the list is a true joy to behold.

So, that covers the "pub" aspect, but what about the "gastro"? The main claim to the Porter's foodie fame is the résumé of its owners. Nick Rutherford and Molly Gunn both worked at Seeger's, the now closed Atlanta temple to haute cuisine. Rutherford went on to make a splash at the Chocolate Bar in Decatur.