Watershed is a restaurant that’s been on my list for quite some time now, but for some reason, it’s never quite made it to the top. I haven’t heard a ton about it (good or bad), so I decided to finally check it out for myself. The restaurant was previously located in Decatur, but re-opened in the Brookwood area in May 2012. It’s right next door to Saltyard, which I tried and loved a few weeks ago (perhaps that inspired me to make another visit to the gorgeous Brookwood building on Peachtree). The décor at Watershed was absolutely stunning. The space was crisp, clean, and refined, with a warm and welcoming ambiance.
Prior to dinner, we enjoyed drinks at the bar while quizzing the bartender for menu recommendations (multitasking at its best). Watershed’s dirty martini was one of the smoothest I’ve tasted, and the blue cheese olives didn’t hurt either. I hadn’t previously tried (or heard of) Hammer + Sickle vodka, but the bartender raved about it, and for good reasons. In retrospect, I’d say his suggestions were spot-on.
Post-cocktails, we moved a couple feet away to our table in the bar area. The bar dining room was on the livelier side compared to the main dining area, but quiet enough that it wasn’t difficult to carry on a conversation. I enjoyed the fact that the tables weren’t crammed next to one another like they are in some other restaurants, so our neighbors didn’t become our dining companions by default.
We started with the kale and mustard green salad. It took a little bit of convincing to get Chad on board with the kale, but after one bite, he got over his kale apprehension. The salad was essentially a Caesar without the romaine, but the fried eggplant croutons added a fun, Southern twist.
The crispy pork belly was an obvious choice, as I rarely overlook a pork belly dish on any menu. Watershed’s pork belly was flavorful and juicy, and I wish there had been more of it. The outside of the meat was perfectly caramelized with a sweet and spicy glaze. The pork was served over a bed of spicy slaw with some roasted Georgia apples that really played up the sweet and spicy combination of the dish. A sprinkle of spiced, toasted peanuts complemented the texture of the slaw and brought the flavor full-circle. Just one more bite of pork belly would have done the trick (or maybe two, for sharing purposes, of course).
I knew even prior to tasting them that the seared sea scallops were the right choice. This dish came highly recommended by the bartender, although it doesn’t take much (or any) arm twisting to get me on board with scallops. The scallops themselves were honestly massive. Even after sharing a few bites with Chad, I still couldn’t finish the entire dish, and it wasn’t because it wasn’t delicious.
The dish was relatively mild in comparison to the bold flavor of the pork belly. However, the simple preparation over sautéed spinach and green rice really accentuated the fresh and buttery scallop flavor. The addition of the pumpkin seeds brought a unique and toasty fall element to the dish. All I have to say is that the chef at Watershed has certainly mastered the art of the perfect sear.
Chad stuck to tradition and ordered the pork chop. On occasion, we do stray from our scallop-pork chop combo, but I’m certainly glad we didn’t at Watershed. Why fix something that isn’t broken, after all? The pork chop was served bone-in, with a side of bacon jam and collard greens. Once again, the chef did not disappoint us with his technique of extra crispy on the outside, extra juicy on the inside. The bacon jam had the sweet and savory combination going on, but the pork had such a delicious flavor on its own that I actually preferred it sans jam. It’s not every day that a dish is so flavorful that it tastes better without bacon. The greens brought a nice earthiness to the dish that really worked with the pork. The pork chop was very close to being equally as delicious as the scallops, but also true to tradition, I preferred the scallops.
The bartender also recommended the hand-cut French fries, aka music to my ears. They were thicker cut, salty, and crispy – nothing spectacular, but we managed not to waste any.
We skipped dessert in favor of enjoying another cocktail at the bar, which by that time, was in full swing. Although we didn’t order a ton of food, I wouldn’t have traded in any of the dishes we tasted. I did, however, rack up a list of “dishes to try in the future” as I watched them emerge from the kitchen all night. All in all, the food at Watershed was delicious and perfectly executed, and I was thoroughly impressed with the excellent service from start to finish. Even on a busy Friday night, our server was attentive without rushing us through the meal, which earns major points in my book. I’d certainly return to Watershed for a cocktail (or three) and some more farm-to-table freshness, with a Southern twist.