A few months back, a friend of mine told me about Downwind, the restaurant at DeKalb Peachtree Airport. My friend was in the throes of a heavy dating phase, going on two or three blind dates a week. One of her more creative suitors had brought her here for lunch on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Points for him: A meal at Downwind isn't one you'll soon forget.
Prepare for Takeoff: The restaurant's deck sits right at the edge of the airfield, with planes taking off and landing at nearly arm's reach. On a clear day, Stone Mountain is visible in the distance. I wasn't really expecting to be impressed, but the sight is truly cool to watch. Tiny Cessnas chugged mightily down the runway, taking off so slowly I wondered how they'd make it aloft. Helicopters buzzed in and out like overgrown mosquitoes. We speculated what business mogul or local celebrity might be aboard the graceful, pointy-nosed private jets as they took flight.
Fasten Your Seat Belts: The restaurant itself isn't much to look at. As you might expect, an aviation theme dominates: Airplane photos and illustrations line the walls, while model airplanes and inflatable blimps dangle from the low ceiling. Slightly tattered tables and chairs populate the interior dining room, and a well-worn wooden bar lines one wall. The best views are out on the deck, but a glassed-in patio is a decent alternative when it's chilly out. This is a great spot to bring kids: They'll be totally thrilled by the aerial action taking place a few hundred yards away.
Turbulence Ahead: Downwind is one of those restaurants that's more about the experience than the food. The menu is a mashup of bar grub and Greek food, and surprisingly, the Greek dishes have it in the bag. Classic spanakopita oozed spinach and feta between layers of flaky phyllo. Tangy house-made vinaigrette brightened a robust Greek salad dotted with olives, pepperoncini and chunks of tomato. The menu boasted "the best calamari in town" -- a dubious claim -- but they actually weren't half-bad. The crispy, slightly peppery rings hadn't strayed into rubber band territory, and chunky marinara for dipping tasted homemade.
Crash Landing: In contrast to the modest but tasty Greek offerings, the pub fare fell utterly flat. Flabby buffalo wings, though runny-nose-inducing, lacked any real flavor. A handful of celery sticks were so desiccated they had no crunch left to them. The lettuce that came with a gigantic burger was lifeless and brown. When I asked the server if he could bring me more, he looked a little sheepish and quickly returned with a plateful of fresh romaine. The burger itself, a 3/4-pound monstrosity cooked to well done, didn't have much more flavor than the wings.
So there you have it: forgettable food, extremely cool in-flight entertainment. With warm weather on the way, the deck at Downwind is calling. Just don't count on much of a meal.
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