When dining out in Decatur, a likely destination is the courthouse square with its numerous bars and restaurants. But if you venture out a little ways you’ll find that the town’s charm isn’t confined to this one spot. It’s also captured inside Wahoo! Grill.
With train tracks across the street and an auto body shop to the side, the location may throw you off; inside is a different world. Stepping through the door you enter a welcoming and cozy atmosphere, warmed by the heat and aromas coming from the open kitchen.
I was invited to dine at Wahoo! a couple of weeks ago for an introduction to the restaurant’s new Executive Chef. Recently promoted to the top position, England native Christian Speigal has been honing his skills at Atlanta restaurants since 1998.
Wahoo! Grill aims to be hip yet homey, achieved by Chef Speigal’s creative approach to dishes that incorporate locally grown and sourced ingredients. The menu is an eclectic mix of traditional Southern favorites and European bistro cuisine.
The flash fried polenta is a great introduction to Wahoo! Grill’s offerings. It is served with goat cheese and locally grown organic mushrooms in a roasted red pepper coulis, with black truffle olive oil adding an extra layer of flavor.
Standing out as an entree is the Georgia trout, which is sautéed and topped with pesto butter and sugared pecans. It’s a delicious mix of savory and a hint of sweet, with a nice crunch from the pecans. The accompanying white cheddar grits and mustard greens are excellent.
I was a little disappointed with the restaurant’s namesake fish — blackened wahoo that is topped with a tomato-caper vinaigrette and served over garden herb rice. Though I liked the spices, the fish was a bit dry for my tastes. Wahoo is also offered as an appetizer (fish tacos with avocado-tomato salsa, napa cabbage slaw and cilantro cream), which I did not try.
For dessert you can’t go wrong with the bread pudding, warm and rich with a Kentucky bourbon glaze. Fortunately there’s a bigger portion available if you plan to share.
To drink, Wahoo! offers a variety of cocktails and many of their wines by the glass. I enjoyed a Petite Sirah/Cabernet Franc blend from California, a wine I had not seen at other restaurants. Couples and single diners will want to take note of the restaurant’s bar, which provides an alternative to table dining.
As the temperatures continue to drop, seek warmth at Wahoo! Grill, a cozy and inviting neighborhood bistro.
Wahoo! Grill is open for dinner nightly, with lunch on Fridays and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Appetizers average around $10. Entrees range from $10 for sandwiches and vegetarian dishes, to just over $20 for seafood and steak. Monday through Thursday Wahoo! offers a three-course dinner menu for $19 that has a choice of appetizer, a salad and choice of entree.