The Shed at Glenwood
475 Bill Kennedy Way, Atlanta GA 30316 (map); 404-835-4363; theshedatglenwood.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Upscale neighborhood place does one burger and crazy slider varieties pretty darn well
Want Fries with That? They're not great, unless you compare them to the chewy onion rings
Price: Grilled Angus Burger, $12; w/fried egg' +$1; w/bacon, +$2; Sliders, $3 on Wednesdays
Even after being a resident of the metro area for almost two decades, Atlanta still finds ways to surprise me. When I kept hearing about a somewhat snazzy intown restaurant worth checking out in the section of the city whose most popular residents are Turner Field and Zoo Atlanta, I was skeptical, to say the least. Call me snooty, but while this urban stretch along I-20 may scream many things, "Date Night" has never been one of them for me.
But when I wasn't looking, some developer came in and erected a fantastic mixed-use 28-acre community called Glenwood Park: tree-lined sidewalks and pocket-sized greenspaces around a central square, hip stores and shops on street level with townhomes, lofts, and condos above...and yes, a better-than-just-okay restaurant called The Shed at Glenwood that does, as it turns out, a pretty snazzy burger, as well as some rather bold bite-sized surprises.
Slider Night Wednesday—invented to combat the misconception that the restaurant was a fancy-pants high-dollar eatery instead of a neighborhood place—has become The Shed's big draw. Chef Todd Richards loads his menu chock full of cutesy-pie mini-sandwiches. Some are there every week, while others rotate in and out depending on what's available and what inspires the kitchen.
A far cry from true AHT-recognized sliders, some of these sammies are a little out there. White Truffle Chicken Salad. Fried Quail & Pepper Honey. Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad. Beef Tongue & Spring Onion. (This was the first time out for the tongue, according to our server Ian, who had the line of the night when he informed the table that, "If you just touch your tongue to it, it's a little like making out with a cow...but the flavor is all there.")
Hell, one of them (Blackened Catfish Taco) doesn't even come on a bun, so the term "slider" is used loosely, at best. But there is a true burger on the slider menu, too, The Glenwood Special, topped with pimento cheese and pickled jalapeños. From what I saw, The Shed does big business with local regulars and first-timers alike who order these little $3 noshes by the platterful every Wednesday night.
The half-dozen sampled on this night were all decent to very good. And while the beef tongue may be an acquired taste, more for shock value than something to really, er, sink your teeth into, the Lamb Meatloaf & Cucumber Sauce, Sloppy Joe, and Brisket & Onion Sauce varieties were all ones I'd gladly order again. The Glenwood Special, despite being just a two-biter, displayed lovely interior color and grillsmanship, and a wonderfully squishy bun that I could only hope carried over to the main course.
The "large plates" menu features just one burger, the Grilled Angus Burger ($12). The standard version is dressed out with sharp cheddar and crisp onion, according to the menu. What that apparently means is a single onion ring, although that was never explained up front. I'll have more to say on the onion rings later, but neither I nor my dinner companion used it as a burger topping. A fried egg can be added for a buck, and bacon is a $2 upcharge.
The Angus beef itself is presented as a thick, beautifully shaped patty that hangs off the bottom bun, with flame-kissed grill marks on its glistening exterior. Inside, the rosy hue of a medium rare done with skill. The beef is nicely seasoned and quite juicy, crowned by a superb Breadgarden bun that made me wonder why more restaurants in town don't use them.
While the burger was very good, the "plain" version at my table could have used a little oomph. $12 isn't a completely crazy price for a burger of this size and quality, but a few extra toppings (or at least some varied cheese options) have perhaps come to be expected. The bacon-and-egg version had a lot more going on texturally and taste-wise, but it was also $3 more.
The burger does come with house fries, though. The Shed's fries were a little on the greasy side, making them more limp than crisp. I enjoyed them enough as a side on this night, but certainly wouldn't go out of my way to recommend them as anything special...
...Unless you told me you were considering The Shed's onion rings instead. Then I would sing the fries' praises from the mountaintops. Onion rings are, I have found, intensely personal; what I totally dig may not be your bag of fried alliums at all. But I think it's safe to say that when you see a side order that consists of three huge bracelets, with a heavy battered coating, the first word that springs to mind as you tuck in is probably not...chewy.
Yet, that's what these were. The batter is chewy, and even the onion slice underneath is chewy. There was no crispness to these onion rings whatsoever, despite the use of that adjective right on the menu. I found it to be exceptionally off-putting, and couldn't get past a second is-that-really-what-I-just-tasted confirmation bite.
There was plenty about The Shed at Glenwood that was a pleasant surprise. I'd even come back for a genuine Date Night. I wouldn't call it one of the city's true burger destinations, but if I were part of a larger group looking for a fun and slightly-upscale hang on a Wednesday night, I could do worse than suggesting a few trays of $3 sliders here. The beef tongue, though, I'd leave be—and hope for my making out to come after dinner.
About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for AHT, pizzas for Slice, and desserts for Sweets, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.