No. 2: Restaurant Eugene - 50 Best Restaurants - Features - Atlanta Magazine

No. 2: Restaurant Eugene

No local restaurant has evolved with as much mind and soul as Restaurant Eugene. When it opened in 2004, executive chef-owner Linton Hopkins’s signature dish was the Tower of Crab, a crab cake stacked on a fried soft-shell crab over a dressy tuft of coleslaw. It showed off the skills of a competent New American chef who favored rich foods. Nowadays, the mainstay on the menu is the deceptively dull-sounding “tasting of seasonal vegetables,” a joyful cornucopia of ten or more just-harvested dazzlers that may be as everyday as glazed carrots or as esoteric as fried lily blossoms—all bursting from a squat, handled pan. It speaks to the adoration Hopkins developed for local farmers and growers over the last seven years, and how their products helped ground his cooking style in the regional vernacular.

Hopkins, the current president of the Southern Foodways Alliance, has developed into a thinking man’s chef who likes to wink at Southern archetypes while composing modern plates full of clever elements. A smoked coffee glaze over black grouper nods to redeye gravy while spring onion puree, shaved fennel and carrot, and wild frisée surround the fish. Crawfish and a slick of herbaceous gumbo launch crisp nuggets of sweetbreads into Creole territory. He recruited talent that reflects his duality. David Sweeney came on board as farmer liaison after his beloved Dynamic Dish closed, and Aaron Russell is the city’s most intellectual pastry chef: A recent creation showcases chunky peach marmalade rising out of cocoa crumbles that resemble soil.

Eugene isn’t as structured or formal as Bacchanalia, but it keeps pace with proficient, generally personable service and a comfortable room uplifted with striking floral arrangements.

What to Drink
The cocktail genius that flows across the driveway at Holeman and Finch also spills into Eugene's bar. Expect drinks laced with seasonal fruit purees, artisan vermouth, and bitters. Props to the white Burgundy selection on the Francophile wine list.

2277 Peachtree Road, 404-355-0321,

Photograph by Alex Martinez

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