Omnivore - Ode to Spring

Ephemeral Spring ingredients bursting onto Atlanta chefs' menus this week

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To get through the dreariness of winter when dinner plates are shaded in an earth-toned palette, there is the promise of spring. It is here and in full force. Farmers markets and groceries are bursting with vitality. Replacing the hearty brown dishes is an abundance of green and those fleeting iconic ingredients of an all too short season. Here are some of the best seasonal dishes we found on menus around Atlanta this week.

We are on the hunt again this week. 

Alongside Decatur’s Kimball House are raised gardens chock full of vegetables, herbs, and flowers that make their way onto the ever-changing menu of Executive chef Jeff Wall. He puts verdant spring on a plate with this English pea salad. A pesto made from young tendrils of pea shoots is grassy and sweet, like the peas it nestles. Leaves of garden greens flavored with lemon oil and ergamot marmalade are sprinkled with edible flower petals. It tastes like spring looks, lush and vibrant. 303 East Howard Ave. 404-378-3502. www.kimball-house.com.
Chef Zeb Stevenson’s plating of local strawberries seems whimsical, like an abstract of Monet’s water lilies. It is not merely playful presentation, but thoughtful fluidity on a taste of the season. At Watershed his panna cotta, imbued with the fresh tang of sorrel, is the creamy bottom layer to strawberry wedges, pickled green strawberries, and macerated strawberries in Satsuma juice and mint. Creamy ricotta from Carrollton’s Capra Gia Cheese Co adds a soft mellowness and wafer-thin fried potato add texture to mouthfuls. It feels precious and fleeting, like spring itself. 1820 Peachtree Rd. NW. 404-809-3561. www.watershedrestaurant.com.

If Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Spring was transformed into  ood, it would taste like the appetizer chef Bruce Logue had this week on the nightly tasting menu in Inman Park. Like the music’s gentle murmur of leaves and plants, whirls of pasta enrobed in basil pesto mingle with English peas, crisp bits of pork confit, nasturtium fronds, and shaved asparagus. Earthy, almost seductive, morel mushrooms pepper the bowl. It is a harmony of ingredients in an elegy to spring. 753 Edgewood Ave. NE. 404-577-2332. www.boccalupoatl.com.

At Decatur’s Pinewood, bartender John Wayne captures the essence of the season in a highball. Fountain Fizz is a tall sipper with strawberry, bourbon, basil, lemon, and soda water. The bittersweet flavor of gentian root balances the sweetness and acidity of the other ingredients. There is subtlety to its sweetness with a flavorful burst of effervescence, much like the arrival of spring. 254 West Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-373-5507. www.pinewoodtr.com.

Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet hosted a Spring Tonic dinner yesterday (April 17) to benefit Community Farmers Markets and The Giving Kitchen. After a tiny tour of the farm, where diners walked past a patch of fiddlehead ferns, this dish arrived on tables. Wrecking Bar's chef Terry Koval used foraged fiddleheads in a mind-numbing unexpected way, tossing them with Szechuan peppercorns. He was as "stoked about how they turned out" as guests were. We suspect a version will land on the Wrecking Bar menu sometime. Wrecking bar is at 292 Moreland Ave. N.E. 404-221-2600. www.wreckingbarbrewpub.com.