A little over a year ago, I raved about the Buckhead-based Holeman and Finch. That lively public house happens to share a driveway with a sister establishment titled Restaurant Eugene. It is a quieter, pricier and more formal venue than H&F, but it is also one of the most enjoyable and delicious dining experiences Atlanta has to offer.
The atmosphere is intimate, with romantic lighting and elegant decor. From the moment you step foot in the door, the staff is incredibly polite and almost excessively attentive. Usually good service can be equated with transparency or a lack of complaints, but at Eugene, the entire staff does its best to make you feel pampered.
Those who have enjoyed Holeman and Finch’s creative bar menu will be unsurprised to hear that Eugene boasts a seasonal list of unique and refreshing cocktails. As one would expect from a fine dining experience, there is also a large wine list, available by bottle and by glass.
Of course, the restaurant’s cuisine is the core of the experience. The menu is divided into three categories: Fish, Vegetables and Meat. Rather than the traditional division between appetizers and entrees, courses are listed from small to large in each of these categories.
Some of the offerings include citrus cured trout tartare, ash roasted beets & carrots, sorghum glazed pork belly and corriander & black pepper cobia. Each of these dishes is accompanied by delectable garnishes and extra ingredients that provide depth and complexity to the dish. Like Holeman and Finch, Eugene gets its ingredients from thirty-two local farms, and that freshness translates to exquisite flavor in each course.
I enjoyed the spring onion and green garlic soup, which was delightfully accented with bacon croutons. My entree was the moulard duck, which included pan seared breast, leg confit, duck jus and foi gras butter. While the latter could have easily been over-powering, it was surprisingly subtle for its richness. The vegetables served included pickled melon rinds and kohlrabi greens were a perfect counterbalance to the dish. It was the best duck I have ever had, anywhere.
Both vegetarian and carnivorous prefixed tasting menus are available as well. Normally, each menu is five courses long, but there are also two optional extra courses for each menu. The vegetarian menu offers dishes like wild mushrooms. Optional wine pairings are also available for each menu.
If you have one shot to make a memorable evening or a strong positive impression on someone, I cannot recommend Eugene highly enough.