Empire State South remains one of the best kitchens in Atlanta. The attractive and intimate dining area and friendly staff make the experience pleasurable and well-rounded, but the food is the real gem here. Throwback Southern traditions are married with modern surprises, and it’s done well. Kimchi grits are a stroke of genius. Boiled peanut hummus is a shining star. Often the locally-sourced menu combinations sound unusual, but I have yet to order something that I haven’t loved.
“In Jars” is a delicious collection of dippers including boiled peanut hummus, pork rillette, trout mousse, pickles, pimento cheese & bacon marmalade. Oh the bacon marmalade! For a girl that isn’t mad about bacon, this was AMAZING.
Next came the pork belly over kimchi grits. (Surprise! I ordered pork belly!) The pork belly was cooked to perfection, and the grits resonated with the sour tang of kimchi, which cut through the richness.
The side of the day was brussels sprouts with pancetta. They were tender crisp and delicious, as expected.
We enjoyed our pork-themed meal at the bar, where we got to watch talented bar artisans make interesting cocktails with minute attention to detail while our dining companion regaled us with stories of NOLA adventures filled with famous foodies from around the city. A memorable saga indeed.