Restaurant Eugene – Still the Best Game in Town

For fine dining in Atlanta there’s Restaurant Eugene, and then there’s everything else…which is less than three spots. Chef Linton Hopkins has maintained the highest level of service, food quality and ambiance at this quaint Buckhead location for over 10 years, and they continue to stay relevant and receive national recognition. When people ask for fine dining and special occasion recommendations too many uninformed people just spout off with, “oh you have to go to Bacchanalia…” and while fine in many respects, Eugene, in my opinion, is a notch above, especially on the service side.

View from one of the back wall crescent booths

View from one of the back wall crescent booths

The menu is ever changing at Eugene and thus I always go with the tasting option ($85 +supplements) which is quite reasonable,  even when adding a supplement or two. Additionally, go with the Somm and get the pairings, which will be hard to find wines that fit the food to perfection. The beverage program at Eugene is one of the best and the knowledge and skill of all involved make for an enjoyable and educational evening. Pro tip: if you don’t want to splurge, there’s a small bar in the back where we sometimes go to sample a few drinks and a dessert after a low key night out. As always, the evening begins with various “gifts” from the chef, including these playful pimento cheese macaroons (a nod to Augusta perhaps?) and a luxurious egg custard w/ sea salt.

Pimento cheese macaroons

Pimento cheese macaroons

Egg custard

Egg custard

As spring is officially upon us, Eugene’s menu appropriately highlights the season’s stars, and this bite of snapper with strawberries, gin, celery and basil was refreshingly on point.

Snapper & strawberries

Snapper & strawberries

As usual, the dishes progressed from light to robust, and substantial, and this trout w/ sunchoke, fennel and sunchoke chips was a great entry into the proteins. The sunchoke chips paired with the delicate, silky trout brought to mind baloney sandwiches of my childhood spiked with Lays for crunch and acidity…brilliant.

Trout

Trout

If foie gras is on the menu, even as a supplement, I’m going to order it; sorry haters, it’s just so tasty. This version included carrot foam, ridiculously rich and moist carrot cake, sour orange and hazelnuts.

Foie gras

Foie gras

The beef course hit two of my favorite spring treats; spring onions and morel mushrooms. The beef was cooked to perfection, and any medium rare cut of beef with roasted mushrooms and charred onions is fine by me. They paired this with a delicious and meaty blend from Chile called Coyam.

Beef tenderloin with spring onions, morels and a bordelaise sauce

Beef tenderloin with spring onions, morels and a bordelaise sauce

The cheese course featured shaved Fortsonia cheese (think gruyere) w/ radish and crispy rye crackers. I’ve never had the cheese shaved this way; very thin, noodle-like length, but it worked.

Cheese course

Cheese course

Of course when they learned it was my birthday the onslaught of desserts began and we were treated to about five different dishes and a few aperitives!

Chocolate mousse, candies orange and coffee dacquoise

Chocolate mousse, candied orange and coffee dacquoise

triple Chocolate ganache, chocolate cake, cocoa nibs

Triple Chocolate ganache, chocolate cake, cocoa nibs

Vanilla ice cream, sunchoke custard

Vanilla ice cream, sunchoke custard

Restaurant Eugene continues to impress, and the service goes above and beyond to ensure each guest is treated like a rock star. One of our party even wanted a drink she heard about that they no longer made, but the maitre d went across the street to Holeman and Finch to see if they had the necessary ingredients anyway..wow! Unfortunately they did not have said ingredients but he whipped up something comparable and gave it to us free of charge. Eugene has been, and still is the standard bearer for fine dining in Atlanta, and I look forward to many more enjoyable visits.

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