Food Chatter: Catching up with T. Fable Jeon


T. Fable Jeon is a man on a mission. The former Sound Table/Lawrence barkeep, who was one of the Beverage Network’s 2011 Ten Mixologists to Watch, wanted to establish a Southern restaurant and craft bar experience for Atlanta’s expanding craft-cocktail/bar scene, and with that idea in mind, he, along with his business partner and consulting chef, Julia LeRoy, opened the Pinewood Tippling Room last week in downtown Decatur.

The multi-talented mixologist labored for months on the highly anticipated project—designing and then handcrafting everything from the menu, the bar, the tables, and the lone ceiling fan—in order to create a sophisticated  environment that reflects his passion for Southern hospitality. Jeon and his team have transformed the former Cakes & Ale spot into a Southern-style gastro pub that “appreciates equally the high class and the homespun.”

Pinewood’s bar menu features cocktails like the Day That I Die, made with rye whiskey, house-made ginger syrup, Meyer lemon juice, roasted Georgia pecan tincture, and buckwheat honey syrup, along with the Goodwood Julep, comprised of bourbon, brandy, Averna, Cynar, mint, tarragon, and castor sugar, which will be served in a cheater tin (a stainless steel cocktail shaker) over crushed ice.

Leroy’s menu focuses on small plates with strong Southern roots, like a fried bologna sandwich with a slice of fried green tomato and spicy egg salad, made-to-order skillet cornbread with fresh jalapeno and bacon, and house-cut fries with cheese curd and sawmill gravy.

Jeon took some time during the final days before the grand opening to briefly chat about his passion for authentic Southern hospitality, why he chose Decatur for the Pinewood’s location, and where the name Pinewood Tippling Room originated.

What were you looking forward to the most about opening Pinewood? Frankly, we’re thrilled to not be covered in sawdust anymore! In all seriousness, we are most excited about sharing our passion for food and drink with our neighbors here in Decatur and Atlanta, respectively.

Where did the name Pinewood Tippling Room originate from? The Pinewood is a restaurant and craft cocktail bar informed first and foremost by Southern inspiration. Pine wood is the backbone of the South … whether a pillar in an Antebellum mansion in Savannah, a piece of hand-crafted furniture, or dunnage for a shipping palette on a dock in New Orleans, the South could not have been built without the pine tree. It holds all of us up, and it shelters us. And almost everything in the space is wood, from the bookshelf-y bar and wicker stools to the unfinished tables and lone ceiling fan.

As for “Tippling Room,” in the textbook sense, it is a house in which liquors are sold in drams or small quantities, to be drunk on the premises. As it relates to the Pinewood, we simply aim to create a comfortable, yet refined social space for the neighborhood to enjoy.

How will your focus as a Southern-themed neighborhood bar distinguish Pinewood in the Atlanta market? The Pinewood is not a facsimile or a caricature of the prototypical Southern-theme construct. We, as the two partners, are
raised and deeply rooted in the South, aim to achieve an authenticity our grandparents would be proud of. Ours is an establishment that strives to deliver the most genuine and sincere expressions of true Southern hospitality. We will use ice blocks that were cut by a chain saw out back and some of the cocktails [are] laced with bonded corn whiskey and gomme syrup (a sugar syrup that has gum Arabic added that adds a smoother texture to a cocktail).

Why did you select downtown Decatur as a location? The rich culinary environment in downtown Decatur is undeniable and recognized nationally. We are honored and humbled to be in the same community with so many great eating and drinking establishments.

Atlanta has been named one of the best brunch cities in the U.S. by Food and Wine magazine.

Veteran Atlanta restaurateur Warren Bruno, founder of Charlie’s Favorite Uncle Rest Group—Aunt Charlies, Groundhog Tavern, Knickerbockers, Atkins Park, Mike and Angelos, Phoenix Brewing, and Ormsby’s—died last Wednesday.

Buckhead. Tomo was named as one of the ten best sushi restaurants in America by Bon Appetit.

Chamblee. Southern Living magazine has named Francisca Andrin of Old Brick Pit Barbecue one of the South’s ten best pitmasters.

Decatur. Seven Hens, a fast casual chicken centric restaurant, is slated to open next month at 2140 North Decatur Plaza.

Downtown. Der Biergarten is now offering Bitburger, the popular German beer that is making its exclusive U.S. debut here in Atlanta.

Druid Hills. The Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that the General Muir, a Jewish style deli from the owners of West Egg, will launch at Emory Point this fall.

Inman Park. Deborah Craig, formerly of Buckhead Bottleshop, along with stints at Spice Market in New York and Atlanta, was recently announced as executive pastry chef at Parish via a Concentrics Restaurants press release.

Marietta. Botekim Brazilian Bistro has closed.

Midtown. According to a Concentrics’ presser, Tap’s new executive chef is Nick McCormick, who has worked at Chicago’s  mk and Atlanta’s Two Urban Licks.

Poncy Highland. Creative Loafing notes that Super Pan Latino Sandwich Shop is closing. Owners Hector and Leslie Santiago hope to find a new location where they can open a full-blown Latino bakery and coffee shop as well as a sandwich shop.

Westside. Gayot has named Flip Burger Boutique as one of the top ten burger restaurants in the U.S.

Bone Lick BBQ, from the team at P’Cheen, is slated to open at 1133 Huff Road by mid July.

Question of the Week: What Atlanta top toque and owner is a partner in a nation on line restaurant business group?

P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—Who is White Oak Kitchen’s opening chef?—is Ben Vaughn, formerly of Memphis, Tennessee, where he owned 2 restaurants.

Photograph by Dustin Chambers

CORRECTION: The original version of this blog post incorrectly spelled T. Fable Jeon’s name.