Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
IF YOU LIKE…: Despite its location in a shopping center, The Falls (8851 Macon Hwy., 706-850-2217) is a pretty dramatic space once you step in the door. Built to take advantage of the river view, it features tall windows in the more-than-double-height dining room through which you can see the eponymous water feature. Mostly, it shoots for upscale, from the decor to the price point, although the big TVs in the bar section, which isn’t really separated from the rest of the room, undercut that impression a little. Ditto for the $20 piña colada ice cream made tableside with liquid nitrogen, due to the fact that the show—and it is most definitely a show—is accompanied by Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Piña Colada Song).” Even if you’re amused the first time you hear it, you’ll be less so the second. And the third.
The menu is mostly split between surf and turf, with a handful of handmade pastas. There’s a bit of upsell that comes standard, a fostering of the “treat yo’self” mentality that may end in disappointment if you get the housemade candied maple bacon, which is limp and way too sugary. On the other hand, the meatballs, which come with a sherry-cream veal sauce, ain’t bad. The roasted pork belly, which comes over Anson Mills rice grits with a blackstrap molasses sauce and a cucumber-mint salad, is rich but not too sweetly sauced, as it easily could have been.
The fried green tomato BLT, an app that is a deconstructed version of the sandwich, stacks sliced fried tomatoes and Sweetgrass Dairy pimento cheese and ends up too heavy, with the flavors mushed together. Pasta is often a letdown at fancier restaurants, and the rabbit tortellini with micro-greens and an au jus cream sauce does have some things going for it, but the meat ends up too stringy, and the pasta itself isn’t quite good enough to overcome it.
The Georgia scallops à la Catalana work pretty well, however. They’re of a decent size and not overcooked, and the sauteed spinach with pine nuts and raisins that they sit atop is one of the best things in the restaurant; the latter is also available as a stand-alone side. Are they worth $30? Maybe not so much. If you go for the prime rib—and this is definitely a prime-rib crowd, with silky golf shirts aplenty—you may again find yourself a little underwhelmed for the $35 price tag, which doesn’t include sides. The meat is nice and well cooked, but the seasoning is too heavily applied. Simple roasted asparagus, one of the steakhouse-type sides, feels more satisfying than the hunk of meat in some ways.
Among the desserts, you would be smarter to skip the tableside ice cream and opt for the s’mores tart instead. Almost equally a gimmick—it comes under a glass dome filled with smoke that dissipates when the waiter unveils the dessert—it’s one that works. Not only do you get a whiff of the campfire, but the flavor of the smoke works its way into the chocolate tart and the marshmallow gelato. The cocktails, while they feel a little light on the booze, are well crafted and well balanced, if not the most forward-thinking in town. Maybe they’re a good lens for viewing the restaurant, which is a bit of an over-promiser but does deliver in some areas. The Falls is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, with the bar opening at 2 p.m.
FAST FOOD: WNB Factory (280 Williams St., 706-308-8088), a rapidly expanding franchise out of Atlanta, now occupies the former location of The Blind Pig. The W stands for “wings” and the B for “burgers,” and that’s a large amount of what the restaurant offers, although it also has fried rice (meh), fried fish (too thinly battered), shrimp, chicken tenders, salads and pre-mixed milkshakes (if the machine is working). The menu promises “Organic, Fresh Vegetables From Our Farm to Your Hand,” but the fact that the tartar sauce comes in a little prepackaged plastic cup makes that bold claim a little hard to believe.
The burgers are actually not bad, provided you eat them very quickly. The bun is a pillowy thing with only a bit of butter-toasted crisp on the outside to protect it from the frequently wet array of toppings, which means it entropically turns to goo in a hurry. The Southern Burger (slaw, pickles, jalapeños, barbecue sauce, American cheese) works pretty well. The Korean BBQ Burger (supposedly smoked beef, mushrooms, onion, Swiss) falls flatter. If you order a “chicken burger,” prepare for what is actually a chicken sandwich, possibly doused with teriyaki sauce. The wings are on the hot side but smallish, available in flavors that include Thai Chili, Golden BBQ and honey lemon pepper.
The whole place still feels a little unfinished, with sheets of plywood on the patio and a big TV box sitting on the floor, but it doesn’t need to be super ritzy to attract its likely student clientele. WNB Factory is open for lunch and dinner every day and has a few beers on draft, as well as sodas.