No. 5: Empire State South - 50 Best Restaurants - Features - Atlanta Magazine

No. 5: Empire State South

It’s been only a year since chef-owner Hugh Acheson, who runs two restaurants (including renowned Five and Ten) and a wine shop in Athens, unleashed his brand of individualism on Atlanta, but Empire State South already adds a vital perspective to the dining landscape. Acheson and his executive chef, Ryan Smith, constantly tinker with their expansive vision of Southern food. Sometimes they evoke a moment or mood in a dish: A soft-poached egg surrounded by crisped rice, sweetly spiced sausage, and fresh corn nibs suggests a Lowcountry breakfast on a slow summer morning. Themes run through the menu. A current favorite acknowledges the tradition of “putting up” fruits in the summertime: Acheson and Smith pair red snapper with tomato jam, smoked duck with blackberry conserve, wild plum jelly with striped bass, and, extending the concept, bacon marmalade with pimento cheese on a snack tray of jarred spreads.

Empire State South is a playground of ideas, and it amazes me how many of them fly. Beyond serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch, the restaurant offers a Southern variation on the tiffin, the tiered Indian lunch pail, that customers can call and order daily by 10:30 a.m. to pick up by noon. (Check the website for the weekly changing menu.) The coffee counter pulls some of the most balanced espresso shots in town. A table full of baked goods in the bar area will soon feature creations by recently hired pastry chef Cynthia Wong. For now Wong is focusing on the dessert menu, where she’s already wowing with her buttermilk tres leches gilded with blueberries and crowned with buttercrunch streusel.

What to Drink
The cocktails make fab conversation fodder if you're hanging at the handsome bar, but the true heart of the beverage program is found on the wine list. Steven Grubbs's wacky, wonderful footnotes will have you drinking Rieslings and rosés this summer.

999 Peachtree Street, 404-541-1105,

Photograph by Alex Martinez

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  1. eddie raburn posted on 03/13/2013 03:50 PM
    My sister and nephew went and had brunch on 3. 10. 2013. Thought the Brunch menu was very boring. My sister ordered the local homemade yogurt with granola, it was very dry with hardly any yogurt. $ 5.00 dollars for a cup of fresh dripped coffee ! It was awesome coffee but it did not even give us a full cup. The whole staff seemed very unhappy and not very eager to please. My sister told the server she did not like the granola and fresh yogurt that it was dry, he then offered something else we declined and he took the dish away. Brought us the check and still charged us for what my sister did not eat. I did not say anything we just will not be back. I have also heard from numerous locals that they treat their wait staff very poorly. Maybe that explained the sad staff.
    1. Bob smith posted on 08/17/2013 07:07 PM
      @eddie raburn You are an idiot - your sister ordered yogurt and granola . . . Of course it's going to be boring! We love it, great restaurant!
  2. Tubby Smith posted on 10/23/2013 07:41 PM
    Sorry, not impressed. A small sliver of uncooked trout covered in hot oil, is just not appealing. If that is chic, why not a catfish sushi entree. Freshwater fish cooked rare is just not appealing and borderline dangerous. To top it off if I am paying >$125 for a meal I would at least like a table cloth. I found the decor just a tad better than The Cracker Barrel
  3. lasfe posted on 10/24/2013 02:41 AM
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