After a full day of eating at Taste of Atlanta, I thought it would be a good idea to try out ENO in Midtown. My foodie friend, Hilla, joined us to test out the food prepared by one of the still-standing Atlanta Top Chefs, Eli Kirshtein.
Real-life Eli is not different than Top Chef Eli: full of personality, talkative, and excited about food (especially locally grown food). He explained some of the behind the scenes cooking techniques applied to the menu and was genuinely interested in our dining experience.
Appetizer was an easy choice for me: Octopus! (with watermelon and lemon vinaigrette)
If I remember correctly, the octopus is cooked sous vide which resulted in a tender, meaty consistency without the chewiness octopus-lovers are used to. While it couldn’t have been cooked any better, I prefer my octopus in a more rustic preparation (i.e. hunky grilled tentacles).
The market green salad was the celebratory dish of the night, partly because of the naturally low expectations house salads possess. Based on the constantly changing leafy green and herb delivery from local farms, the salad changes daily. Ours contained a variety of greens (including my new favorite, sorrel), marcona almonds, beets, parmigiano cheese shavings, greek yogurt, and a light vinaigrette. It was complex and so interesting it compelled us to order another one.
Hilla went with the Garlic Pork Sausage, Blis Maple, Pretzel Strusel, Mustard: and she sincerely liked the combination of the pig with the pretzel and mustard.
Yellowtail Tuna Nicoise, Tobiko Gremolata, Wild Lettuce, Egg Yolk
The tuna was cooked black and blue, which I always appreciate and fear won’t occur when ordering tuna. The rarer the better. The lean protein needed the fatty egg yolk sauce, as well as the salty tobiko. Flavors worked well together. I didn’t eat the ‘wild lettuce,’ or in this case, sorrel within the same bites as the tuna, but I did fall deeply and madly in love with the citrus-y green. I wish I could find it to stock my fridge.
Hilla’s Painted Hills Short Rib Ravioli, Leeks, Pickled Scapes, Wild Mushrooms:
She loved the pasta, liked the sauce & mushrooms, but stated that the short rib filling was too simple tasting – merely shredded meat with mirepoix (carrots, onion, celery).
The only flop of the night was the dessert course, which we shared:
Pistachio Cake, Madeira, Pear Sabayon: the cake was tough and heavy, almost brick-like while the gelled ribbon tasted of bitter alcohol.
ENO uses a variety supremely fresh ingredients, applying the most interesting cooking techniques to an ever-changing inventory. Some of that pizzazz get lost, mostly because the secrets remain in the kitchen. Ask lots of questions and you will be privy to a slew of facts, standards, and operations that don’t shine through the food. At the end of the night, you will feel well-treated and satisfied (just stay away from the pistachio dessert).