‘Dates From a Train’ is a series of conversations between my wife and me about restaurants and date ideas in Atlanta that are accessible via MARTA trains. Our inaugural Date From a Train took place on our anniversary at Kimball House in Decatur, which bills itself as a restaurant with “humility, hospitality, and passion for our crafts.”
John: So we went to Kimball House in Decatur. Did you take any pictures of the food?
Tonya: Of course not.
T: First: oysters suck. You really set the tone by telling me that plastic is in all seafood. Luckily you only ordered three oysters.
J: They were delicious. Like little tongues of concentrated sea flavor.
J: But how about that salad, huh?
T: I’ve never wanted to ask for bread to dip up salad dressing.
J: We ordered two salads. Or was it three?
T: Two. I was so happy you ordered another because I just scooped up the rest of the first salad. For myself.
J: I asked the server how they made the salad and where the greens came from. “Excuse me sir, how do you make SALAD.” Turns out they use a salad spritzer.
T: I need a salad spritzer. Salad mist-er? Sprizter? I’m looking up salad mister. -pause- Wow, a double-nozzle pump!
J: It’s amazing how difficult it is to make a simple, delicious salad , but Kimball House’s house (?) salad was out of this world. Apparently they get their lettuce from Levity Farms. After eating that salad, I want to go down to Levity Farms and eat all their lettuce. Look out Levity!
T: The salad I made for myself the next night was very underwhelming.
T: The least impressive thing was the cauliflower.
J: I liked it. But you’re right; it wasn’t memorable. Is cauliflower ever memorable? Did I like it? I don’t remember now.
T: I’ve had roasted cauliflower that’s been memorable.
J: The trout was memorable.
T: It’s hard to find well-cooked fish. It was well-cooked.
J: The trout was buttery and delicate. I liked the crispy skin.
T: I picked the skin off.
J: That sounds disgusting. Like a scab?
T: It came off so easily.
J: The trout probably had plastic in it, fyi. Did you taste any plastic in it?
T: Stop it. It did have jalapeño grits on the dish. But I couldn’t taste the heat.
J: Maybe they brought out their mayo version of the grits for us white folk.
T: Brussel sprouts were good. And the three-pea salad. I couldn’t taste any peas in it.
J: They were Georgian peas, I think. The peas you can buy from that guy with the super thick accent down at the Atlanta Farmers Market.
T: I usually hate peas in a salad. Maybe that’s it: the peas didn’t squish in my mouth.
J: Like pea flavor bombs?
T: More like disgusting-flavor bombs.
J: How were your drinks?
T: Good. Sometimes you get fancy drinks and you can’t taste any alcohol.
J: Yes. Sometimes fancy cocktails are just a bunch of mixers I can’t pronounce, thrown together with a massive ice cube to justify the cost of $15. Not the drinks at Kimball House. I was a smidgen tipsy on just one. It did have a massive ice cube though.
T: Our server asked me if I like citrus or fizzy. I said fizzy. I got a citrus drink. That was fizzy. -pause- I still drank it.
J: The service was a little slow. But it didn’t bother me. A better word is leisurely. To their credit they seemed busy for a Thursday night at the start of January, which I’ve always thought is the start of slow season for restaurants. What do I know.
T: It seemed like the couple next to us had been waiting a while.
J: The ones who ordered like 40 oysters?
T: And champagne!
J: That’s a lot of oysters.
T: And champagne!
J: I liked the decor. A Southern-Western public house vibe.
T: Western? Like cows and horses?
J: No Southern-Western. Swamps and trees, not cacti and tumbleweeds. Less cows and horses and more coyotes and alligators.
T: Swamps are in Louisiana and Florida.
J: Well. T: Ok I’ll give you contemporary Southern.
J: I liked it.
T: Yeah! You liked the belt fans.
J: Right? The fans were all on the same belt system. Like a Rube Goldberg contraption. Is that also a Southern thing?
T: Belt fans? Maybe?
J: It sounds like a Southern thing. Belt fans. Like coyotes.
T: It’s probably a Southern thing.
J: It was loud in there. 84 decibels to be exact. I measured.
T: That’s good though, because when it’s loud like that you lean in closer to me.
T: It seemed more intimate than some other loud places.
J: Which is odd given the high ceilings. The ceilings were very high. But the place did a good job of feeling intimate. In a Southern-Western kind of way.
J: It was a really close walk from the Decatur train station. There were lots of other bars we could have stopped at on the way back, if we weren’t relying on free babysitting from friends and had to rush home.
T: And there was a Greenes. That’s not actually a liquor store.
J: Yes. That was disappointing, because I would’ve stopped in. I bet the Decatur Greenes probably gets a lot of people stumbling in late at night asking for pocket bottles of Hennessy.
T: Speaking of fancy . . . the Decatur station is definitely one of the fancier train stops in Atlanta.
J: You remarked how it felt like an uppity New York City neighborhood or something.
T: Cambridge. I said Cambridge Massachusetts.
J: Close enough? But yes the walk from the station to Kimball House was short and enjoyable. People were walking around on sidewalks. Like a real city!
J: I was sad that S.O.S., which is right by the train stop, was not open. By a day. They were opening the next day. But weren’t open on the day when I needed them to be open for a night cap before getting on the train.
T: Why aren’t they open on Thursdays?
J: No tiki magic on Thursdays?
[ed: Turns out they just weren’t open that Thursday]
J: It was a pretty quick jaunt on MARTA to get there. But it did take a while to get home. I feel like waiting in awkward silence with everyone at a train station at 11pm is a common occurrence for us.
J: Cause that’s how it ends up. When we’ve gone to other restaurants on MARTA.
T: This is our first date from a train.
J: Well. Other times.
J: Anything else you want to add?
T: Still looking up salad sprayers.