Format changes with Ryan Smith at Empire State South

On Thursday, October 1, Ryan Smith officially took over the position of executive chef at Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South, replacing opening chef Nick Melvin just six weeks after the restaurant opened.
Smith, who received his degree from the Culinary Institute of America in 2000, has worked in Atlanta’s most prominent restaurants, including Bacchanalia, Canoe and most recently as chef de duisine at Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch. He says that he left Restaurant Eugene in order to focus on a more casual style of restaurant, which he believes is the prevailing trend here in Atlanta.
And, with Smith at the helm, ESS’s kitchen immediately made a major shift to its approach: It has started pairing sides with entrees. General manager Shelley Sweet calls it “composed meat-and-three” (the daily choices of bread, along with two sides, comprise the “three.”) When the restaurant opened, diners were left to pair the mushroom gravy-smothered pork chop with, say, collards and mac-n-cheese. Now the menu lists dishes such as duck leg confit pre-matched with celery root gratin and radishes, or North Carolina trout with a field peas and rice pilaf and roasted eggplant. This format allows for smoother work flow in the kitchen and lets guests know what the kitchen considers the most appropriate sides for the evening’s entree. The menu, which changes daily, still includes a substantial list of additional sides, and Sweet says guests are free to swap in collards and sweet potato puree for the suggested sides.

Have you been to Empire State South yet? What are your first impressions?

Speaking of Empire State South, Hugh Acheson was featured in the Sunday, October 10 New York Times story about the scars that 13 prominent chefs have from their tenure in the kitchen.

Creative Loafing
is reporting that peripatetic chef Richard Blais has scored a cooking show on the Science Channel called Blaisin’.

Buckhead. La Fourchette, the new “bistro/lounge” located at 3133 Piedmont Road, opened last week with executive chef Jeffrey Wall, formerly of Joël.

Decatur. Owner Daniel Morrison says that October 20 is the projected opening day for his new restaurant, Sprig, in the Oak Grove shopping center on 2860 Lavista Road.

Midtown. Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that 3 Chefs is slated to take the former Madison Grill location at 1375 Peachtree Street in the next few weeks.

Westside. Thrillist is reporting that P Red’s BBQ has opened at 999 Chattahoochee Avenue.

Question of the Week:
Which up-and-coming chef is consulting on frozen yogurt flavors at a new Sandy Springs spot?

P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What Decatur project promises to bring several types of “international barbecue” together under one roof when it opens in November?—is Burnt Fork BBQ, as reported by the Decatur Metro blog (and called out correctly last week by commenter Ted).