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Omnivore - Culinary Nostalgia Neuralgia: The Castle

Wasn't it a restaurant decades ago?

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  • www.wrensnestonline.com

I've suffered two bouts of culinary nostalgia neuralgia in the last few days. The first was prompted by the news that The Castle, a historic home opposite the Woodruff Arts Center on 15th Street, is being remodeled as a hotel and restaurant.

The Castle is one of the very few historic buildings that escaped Atlanta's rampant redevelopment frenzy that began in the '60s. It has surprised me that in all the reporting and historical documentation of the building, nobody has mentioned that it was once the home of probably the city's first boutique restaurant.

Its name was the Iron Horse and, if memory serves (which it probably doesn't), it served Greek food. I never understood the name, which I thought was the nickname for trains when they first appeared.

Then again, motorcycles have sometimes earned the same moniker. Around the corner from the Iron Horse, at 14th and Peachtree streets, was the city's notorious hippie coffeehouse, the Catacombs, where I used to sip tea as a high school student before shopping for marijuana that turned out to be ground-up alfalfa cubes that horses eat (or something).

The Catacombs was in the basement of "Mother David" Braden's art gallery. It fairly soon turned into a scary biker bar with ear-splitting bands. The famous advice was not to look a drunk biker in the eye unless you wanted the crap beaten out of you.

The link above, incidentally, is to a story by former Creative Loafing editor Tony Paris, published in the Atlanta Gazette in 1978...when I was editor of the Gazette.

I'll post my second episode of culinary nostalgia neuralgia later. I invite readers to share their own memories of dining days gone by, including any clarification of the Iron Horse's run. Send them to cliffbostock at gmail.com.