It was J's birthday and several of us met for dinner at the Hilltop Grille.
When they first built this restaurant, about 10 years ago, where Shoney's closed, I was excited to try it, along with lots of other people. I found it disappointing, with no ambience, just a giant warehouse with bad acoustics, mediocre food and terrible service. I hadn't been back in a long time until a few months ago, when friends invited me.
There was a guitarist/singer on the deck and a good crowd seemed to be enjoying it. It was a little too cool, temperature-wise, for our group, so we ate inside. There was a range of other diners scattered around the various rooms: students, middle-aged couples, one large group of women.
I had an excellent mojito and ordered the bruschetta appetizer, which was quite good, 8 pieces of French bread with crumbled Feta cheese, diced tomato, olive oil, just what I needed to take the edge of my hunger and share with my friends. The young waiter said he would bring us bread, but it was about half an hour before he fulfilled that promise. K's beer never came. And our entrees took even longer to arrive. In particular, two people who ordered the same dish received them five or ten minutes apart.
Several people ordered the scallops and they were very tasty, maybe a touch overcooked, but with a delightful sauce. The Thursday night special is prime rib and shrimp, which I ordered. It came very rare, which is how I like it, with a char-grilled outside, with an au jus sauce on the side. The shrimp were barely acceptable, small and tough, with melted butter. The roasted sweet potatoes and leeks side dish was my favorite part.
The birthday girl had salmon and baked potato, both very good, I'm told. The sea bass with a tomato topping was also reported to be very good.
The wine list was largely American; we had an Italian Pinot Grigio. Some of the wines were very reasonably priced, as low as $20 for a bottle.
I thought the dessert menu was a bit limited: crème brûlée, a blondie with ice cream, or key lime pie. The crème brûlée was quite good, creamy with a thick sugar layer, and lots of it.
The cost was very reasonable (they gave us the appetizer for free because of the delay in receiving the entrees). So, if you are eating out a lot, Hilltop is probably a good choice. For me, I would rather eat out less often and have a really outstanding experience. Some members of my party assured me the service is usually much better.
Hilltop Grille Summary:
Good atmosphere, Poor service, Good food
Southern specialities, locally-owned, excellent prices, live music Thursday-Saturday, outdoor eating, Georgia football decor.
My dinner recommendation: Bruschetta appetizer for the table, grilled salmon with baked potato and grilled asparagus, crème brûlée