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Ink & Elm restaurant review, Atlanta

pumpkin and ham bone soup (credit: Becky Stein)

pumpkin and ham bone soup (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Ink & Elm, the new tavern/restaurant in Emory Village.

When you visit, you’ll have to make a choice. Will it be Ink or Elm?

Venture left and you’ll hit Ink, the lower-priced, more casual tavern bursting with brown spirits and craft beers. Head to the right and you’ll enter Elm, the restaurant’s take on fine dining with a focus on wine and cocktails.

So how did we end up with two concepts in one space? During the planning process owners turned to local design firm and restaurant consultant ai3 with their loosely defined concept. Taking the designer’s advice, they left the space divided as they found it and essentially developed two restaurants. And while that made architectural sense, it resulted in a divided house and a divided kitchen, ergo a divided chef.

Unfortunately, each half seems to exist to the detriment of the other. And Ink may divert chef Sharp’s attention just enough to prevent Elm from ascending the scale from a good-enough neighborhood spot to a memorable one.

Overall, Elm shows the most promise of the two. On one of my visits, I was lucky enough to get in on the tail-end of muscadine season and experienced chef Stephen Sharp’s beautifully charred brick-cooked chicken ($22). The warm grapes added little blitzes of sweet earthiness to the chicken weeping with moisture.

If instead you find yourself at Ink, go for items like the pot-roasty ricotta gnocchi with braised beef cheeks ($18) and the St. Louis pork ribs ($12) enlivened with bits of peanut and green onion. Those or the burger with Velveeta tang ($12) would do the trick to fill your belly if you came to sample the spirits.

For now, I’m going with Elm.

I gave Ink a grade of 1 star and Elm 2.

Subscribers can read the full review on myajc.com.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

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