Spring has sprung! Will you?
Are you ready to spring for a memorable meal? Maybe that means an excursion to find that hamburger or Mexican restaurant you’ve heard so much about? Maybe that means finally making a visit to that restaurant your neighbors are talking about. Maybe that means a blowout: one of those once-a-year dining experiences you won’t ever forget.
However you choose to spring, we have some suggestions here in our Spring 2011 Dining Guide.
And I talk splurges:
“It’s our anniversary…”
“My parents are coming from out of town…”
“I’m only going to have one night out in Atlanta, and if I could eat any meal…”
More than any other inquiry I field as the newspaper’s restaurant critic, I get asked about where to splurge.
Often, the question is put this simply: “What is the best restaurant in Atlanta?”
I take the request seriously because I know my response will leave the asker several hundred dollars poorer.
Normally I try to ask a few questions of my own to find out more about this particular diner’s benchmarks. Is he or she looking for a deep wine list? Pampering service? Southernness? Three courses of dessert? Caviar? Based on the answers, I usually end up recommending either Bacchanalia or Restaurant Eugene.
These two destination spots have survived the recession’s fine-dining shakeout and emerged as the new standard-bearers in a remade city. They set the tone for a dining scene that aspires to be more rooted and less cosmopolitan than in years pasts. Bacchanalia’s Anne Quatrano, with her inimitable seasonal aesthetic, and Restaurant Eugene’s Linton Hopkins, with his evolving intellectual exploration of Southern cooking, have established themselves as the city’s two eminent chefs.
But how is their food these days? Truthfully, I hadn’t sat down to a full meal in either place since before the recession, and restaurants — particularly those at the high end — evolve constantly. So I decided to make side-by-side visits to see how they stack up.