Saturday, August 23, 2008

Daily highlight #85: Reasonable indulgence - Restaurant Eugene

Many restaurants are now promoting various "recession specials" to entice the dwindling dining population. I don't know about you, but a meal titled recession something or another just sounds depressing. Of course I am not saying that I don't love a bargain. I have always loved what's arguably the best dining bargain in town way before this economy decided to take a dive.

On Sunday nights, Restaurant Eugene breathes an air of easy southern gentility and welcomes a large crowd for supper. Even though the entire price tag for the supper (3 courses for $29.50) is less than that of an entree on the regular menu, no server ever made me feel less wanted on these evenings. And just like full price nights, an Eugenified oyster (above) arrived for each diner. The plump oyster almost looked bashful under the layer of delicate granita the shade of sakura. Cool like ocean breeze with just a hint of sweetness, it was a good representation of what this restaurant is about, elegance and substance.

Out of the three appetizers, we all chose the butternut squash soup with crab fritter. The soup had great depth that spoke of bacon, the foundation of southern cooking. The crab fritter was still crunchy, but tasted just a bit more doughy than I would have liked. The honor of best crab fritter remains with Bachanalia where the blue crab fritter is almost entirely crab under the most fragile crust. But I am picking bones here in making such a comparison. After all, the bachanalia meal is more than twice what this supper costs.

I almost couldn't stay away from the awesome sounding pork osso bucco, but having turned down the famous fried chicken a few times before, I was determined to try it this time around. As you can see, this was a tremendous amount of food, especially for the type of restaurant that Eugene is. Not fond of white meat, I started with the dark leg piece. Unlike fried chicken places where a thicker crunchy crust is the attraction, the Eugene crust is thin and mainly there to provide textural contrast and to seal in the juices. And juices there were plenty, even in the white meat pieces. But the flavor of the dark meat was hard to match and proved to be my favorite as usual. I had no problem resorting to fingers when I got near the bone. I am not going to say that this is my favorite fried chicken ever, since I do appreciate the thicker crust and a more down home atmosphere for this southern treat. But for an upscale rendition, the Eugene chicken was utterly enjoyable.

We finished things with a molten chocolate cake, a dessert that is hardly original, but was executed successfully to achieve tender crumb and liquidy center. In combination with the earlier courses, the Eugene supper package was a winner and an undeniable bargain. And it's not called or treated like a recession concession. Now that's definitely a plus.

Restaurant Eugene
2277 Peachtree Road
Atlanta, GA 30309

No comments: