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I spy something green

97 Estoria's sexy Bond look eclipses its callow kitchen

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An initial glance inside 97 Estoria, the new spot that previously housed Cabbagetown Grill, reveals that the stylish exposed brick-and-blond wood bar remains thankfully intact. A closer inspection, however, reveals a healthy dose of new, complementary mod accents, including curvaceous tables and chairs that look like they're straight from Midtown's Lignet Roset storefront, and a geometric wood partition to separate the smoking area. All the pale wood and dramatic shapes evoke a ski lodge 007 might've frequented in the Sean Connery years.

The world is not enough: Wholesale changes have been made to the menu to streamline and update twists on traditional bar fare. Appetizers are enjoyable, and obviously designed to go with friends and a pitcher of beer. Brought to your table in a bowl of massive proportions, the blue cheese chips ($6) are crispy slivers of homemade potato chips topped with pungent blue cheese crumbles and sweet chunks of fresh tomato. Other appetizers are an amalgamation of world beat starters: chicken satay ($5.25) comes with both traditional peanut and Cajun sauces, the pork quesadilla ($5) features a sweet barbecue filling, and the lamb quesadilla (also $5) boasts a creamy cusabi sauce that blends a punch of wasabi into cool cucumber dressing.

Missing in action: Upon receiving your order, it's clear that creative pairings are not the kitchen's forte. Roasted lamb sandwich, which the menu advertises as dressed with caramelized onions, brie and sun-dried tomato pesto, is chewy and utterly lacking in the promised pesto. Wasabi-mashed sweet potatoes ($3; included in the price of a sandwich) lack pungent spiciness. Although well marinated in what tasted of balsamic vinegar, the juicy portobello sandwich was also missing its basil aioli, which would've provided the sharp marinade with a softness the sandwich needed. Those who do not enjoy mayo ought to be wary of the cusabi sauce on both the lamb quesadilla and the falafel sandwich ($6.75).

Never say never again: Traditional flavors are where 97 Estoria excels. The burger ($6.75) comes out prepared to order with all the right trappings and accompanying fries stand out with a crispy, ever so lightly spiced batter. A pulled pork BBQ sandwich ($6.75) satisfies with tender chunks of pork drenched in a sweeter, rather than spicier, sauce. It's matched by a side of corn pudding that preserves the corn's complementary sweetness but adds a touch of spice that creeps up, giving it an interesting, almost licorice-like bite. Portions are large and prices are cheap -- a combination that couples with the sizable bar to make for a great neighborhood hangout. It certainly could be made better, though, by more closely aligning the expectations of the menu with the delivery in the kitchen.

foodanddrink@creativeloafing.com

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