Located in the 999 building on Peachtree is Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South. What you get here is tremendous skill in every plate of food, innovate menu line up and solid service. Serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner anytime is the right time here.
Inside it’s casually comfortable and a very spacious bar area. Surprisingly the bar area was quite vibrant on a Tuesday and every table full.
Warm charming and well informed staff attended to our every need.
The menu is farm to table upscale southern. It changes often and I mean OFTEN. What I outline here likely may not be available when you chose to visit. A few house staples that don’t depend on the season are steadfasts.
A note on the drink menu is that there are some house bottled cocktails along with the lineup of beers, wines and signature cocktails. If you order a canned beer you get an Empire State South cozy to keep it cool.
The jars starter. 5 jars of spreadables served with toasted sourdough fingers. A signature standout is the pimento cheese with bacon marmalade on top. Wow. This is not to be missed. My companion emphatically said it is ‘slap yo mama good!” I wholeheartedly agree minus the maternal violence. Deviled ham is nicely seasoned with some pickle inside and topped with mustard seeds. Another win. Less successful is the trout spread. Lacks creaminess and any sort of defined flavor. And least successful is the boiled peanut hummus. Pasty and flavorless but nice texture. I had one bite and didn’t go back for more. The 5th jar is pickled veg assortment. Bright and vibrant.
Farm egg is in a small crock very lightly cooked. Its set atop a very crisp rice based hash of Carolina gold rice, house made dice of hot dog, maitake and nettles. This combination changes regularly but the gist is a solidly executed concept. The egg is broken and dresses the hash. The rice stays impossibly crisp. This showed great restraint as it could have gone overseasoned, undercooked or unbalanced. It’s perfect.
Pork belly over kimchi grits with crunchy peanut garnish. Certainly one of the better pork belly dishes I’ve had. Another impossibly perfect cook on the belly. Nicely cooked grits but the flavor as a whole composed dish was a little off. The kimchi lended a bit too much acid but still a very solid dish.
soft shell great devilishly spicy and seasonal. I am reluctant to even comment on this as it likely won’t be there when you go. If it is, get it. The chef treats it well.
I had the strawberry dessert of the day. What an incredibly intense flavor experience! INSTANTLY MY HEAD SHOUTED STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER AND EVER! The ice cream had crisp meringue and crisp rice for texture and it was served in a bowl atop strawberry juicy soup. The flavor balance could not have been better.
Chocolate mint flourless cake with kisses of chocolate mousse melted in my mouth. Garnished with lovely chocolate spun sugar and fresh mint the dish is completely successful.
Well executed coffee menu, dessert drinks and cheese course are all available to finish you night as you see fit.
9 out of 10 for ESS.