“You can’t step into the same river twice.”
Same location, same exterior, but walk inside and brand new experiences await you. There, in the Woodstock train depot built in 1912 by the L&N Railroad, the familiar hometown icon, and until very recently the location of , a new team of culinary wizards has been working tirelessly to present the Freight Kitchen & Tap concept. Of course, I wasn’t present when the owners and executive chef developed and executed the restaurant’s concept; I’m just on the receiving end and happy to share my impressions.
Let’s Start At The Tap
Leave it to the independent breweries, the makers of chic, crafted, small-batch beers to have all the fun. Not only do they get to research, experiment and taste the fruit of their labors, they probably have a grand old time coming up with stories and clever names for the products.
At first glance, you will notice from the menu and the blackboard over the bar that there are Pilsners, Porters, Stouts, Lagers, Pale Ales, Belgian Wheat(s) and a gluten free beer. Several of these beers are award winning with “tongue in cheek” names like the He’Brew (the Chosen Beer), La Fin Du Monde (the end of the world), and one with a legend of a fairy—the Unibrou-Ephemere (think Frieda Kahlo with fairy wings). The Freight Kitchen & Tap team has put together an impressive selection of handcrafted beers for your pleasure. There is something here for every beer enthusiast and many options to try something quite new and delicious.
As for the draught beers, I was happy to see Red Hare from Marietta, O’Dempsey’s from Atlanta, Wild Heaven from Decatur, Sweetwater IPA from Atlanta and Terrapin Hoppsecutioner from Athens. A commitment to local suppliers did not go unnoticed, and I am only too happy to support local businesses by working my way down this menu of libations.
I would like to mention that the wine list (both white and red) showcases some very nice selections like the Kendall Jackson Chardonnay, Chateau St. Michelle Riesling (I’ve mentioned an awakening around Rieslings in previous reviews. This one is very nice as the Wine Spectator gives it 89 points), a Nandu Malbec, an intense red from Argentina, the SpellBound Petite Syrah and La Crema Pinot Noir. All of these selections are under $10 per glass.
It was 99 years ago that the depot was built and provided service to Woodstock and neighboring communities. It is in the spirit of nostalgia that you will find cocktails that were popular in the early part of the twentieth century: namely the classic Martini ($8), the Old Fashioned ($9), the Sazerac ($9) the Manhattan ($9) and, of course, you remember the Singapore Sling? In a few words, the cocktail menu is clever, thoughtful and very creative.
Lunch and Dinner Menu—Think Fun and Unique
The appetizer menu begins with a winning dish of Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in Sweetwater India Pale ale with garlic, chipotle and butter. This is served with crostini ($8). Several other small plates are equally as impressive. I enjoyed the Chips Poutine, a Canadian dish of house made potato chips with fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with a very light gravy. This was a new experience for me. The chips were crackly-crispy and light and the mozz curds provided a clean tasting contrast for the beefy gravy atop the chips. Unique and lovely.
You can get your chicken wings hormone-free at Freight Kitchen & Tap, and they come hot and hotter. There are sautéed Georgia Wild Shrimp atop a cheese grit cake with a spicy remoulade sauce, a Fried Green Tomato and a Beef Carpaccio among several others. All are delightful “sit-at-the-bar” plates that satisfy your appetite without over filling.
For my lunchtime selection, I tried the Freight Pimento Cheese, a southern classic with celery and house made cheese straws ($6). It was clearly a class act and probably the best pimento cheese I’ve had in a long time. The cheddar was chunky and large cuts of the pimento provided wonderful presence and color. The portion size was more than adequate to share with another.
I really enjoyed the On Time Burger—a freshly ground, generous beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, tomato, pickle, red onion and lettuce on a Kaiser roll ($8). The burger was perfectly grilled to my specifications. It was tender, juicy, beautifully presented and quite satisfying.
There are several tempting salads on the menu. One, in particular, piqued my interest and I’ll check it out at another sitting: Warm Goat Cheese and Spinach Salad with candied Georgia pecans, crumbled goat cheese over baby spinach served with pork belly vinaigrette. Further along the dinner selections are temptations like Roasted Half Chicken, Freight Bone-In Pork Chop, Oak Grilled Hangar Steak and an homage to the porcine with a trio of pork belly, tenderloin, and sausage served with seasonal produce and Prime Rib at $2 per ounce.
At The End of the Line
Sweet potato pie satisfies in more ways than the ubiquitous pumpkin pie, and it seems that Southerners know this almost instinctively. Given the choice between the two, I would always choose the sweet potato pie. The team at Freight certainly knows how to tempt the customer with the likes of this comfort dessert and a few other deeply satisfying ones: the Ghiradelli Fudge Brownie, a Crêpe and Bourbon Custard and a Crème Brulee (flavor of the day). These desserts range in price from $5 to $6.
The atmosphere and decor is fresh, comfortable, casual and all new inside. Seating is generous at the bar, tables in the main dining area and high-top tables near the bar area. My service was attentive, friendly, informative and quite welcoming. From my vantage point, the operations ran smoothly and efficiently.
Put Freight Kitchen & Tap on your “must visit” list either for a place to nosh during a shopping day or a special night out. There’s plenty there to keep you coming back again.