It’s a cookbook I’ve had for a while now, and one I’ve been meaning to write about, mostly  because it’s fun. A serious “this is how you prepare 18 course meals topped by those budget breaking bottles of wine?” Of course not. Is it a book a guy with a grill, a stove top, a decent beer, and a few utensils can take a shot at? Absolutely.

A fun cookbook, not just for guys (though it pretends to be).

The core of it are single item offerings (usually) by name chefs. Tom Colicchio does the intro.  Atlanta favorites are contributors. Ria Pell offers Fish and Grits on page 46. Linton Hopkins  offers roast chicken on page 136. Hugh Acheson does Bread n Butter Pickles on page 177. And a recipe akin to one my mother learned from a pregnant coworker from New Orleans  lives on page 173, shrimp boiled in beer. My mom once nearly ended up  in a brawl with a general’s wife who insisted her shrimp must have been flown in from the coast.

I miss my mother, and her shrimp boiled in beer. May she rest in peace.

Nope. But beer can kill that fishy whang off your frozen shrimp.

It’s a good cookbook for diabetics because most of what is cooked here can be eaten safely by diabetics. Not to put too fine a point to it, but diabetics should be living on meats (or cheeses), raw veggies, cooked (preferably grilled) veggies, and carefully managed bites of starches. This cookbook is a great way to add variety to the proteins a diabetic eats.

Highly recommended. If you like the idea of also getting Esquire magazine, the year’s subscription inside the book almost  pays for the cost of the book.

In my wife’s lexicon, our meal at Empire State South has become “The Disaster”, a peculiar way to speak about a meal where of the 5 dishes we ate, 4 were nominally good and 3 were really good. But there were service issues and a difficult to navigate menu, which amplified the problems my wife often has in new restaurants. As for me, I knew upon reading the restaurant menu days before that it would present difficulties to someone such as me. This restaurant is a little too fond of sweets on meats, of putting jams, jellies and preserves on their proteins, and in general appears to design dishes for the carb loaders of the world. But I was thinking, get a salad, get an entree, what could go wrong?

The bottle of water at the table was a nice touch.

For one, this was the salad – the only salad – we had available to us:

Pretty, and my wife thought it tasty. But when she ordered it, she was expecting at least some lettuce and carrots, perhaps a tomato or two. Instead, she ended up with the beast that was soon dubbed the diabetic coma salad, and of course though she asked for the dressing to be put on the side, it was not. Staff, it seemed, weren’t paying that much attention to what she was asking for.

Entrees came, along with a side of collards.

Shrimp and grits. Really good, smoky flavor in the grits.

My daughter loved her shrimp and grits. This was by far the most successful dish we had. “The grits were a little smoky,” she told me. The smoked trout had a very mixed reception, however.

While I thought my trout to be a trout on a biscuit in terms of size, it at least delivered a ton of intense smoky flavor. My wife’s trout, on the other hand, was dosed in enough of a citrus dressing that it was spoiled for her. I believe the same dressing was used on the tomato next to the fish. Staff blunder #2.

The collards: again, a very small serving of food, but quite good, first rate.

We were offered desserts, but we found none of them appealing.

To summarize, our experience was mixed. The technical skill of this restaurant is high, and when they could deliver food, they did so well. But the menu choices leave much to be desired for someone who eats like me. As a result, I can only recommend this restaurant to certain types of people.

If you’re a foodie, of the kind for whom others can have your bagel when they pry it from your cold, dead hands, then run, don’t walk to Empire State South. For diabetics, people on diets, people with food issues in general, the menu, as I found it, is not for you and I cannot recommend this restaurant.

To note, I believe there are easy fixes to my issues, such as providing a simple house salad, shorn of carbs, or providing entrees with vegetable choices more akin to the “Super Food” item, seen here and here. But until I see them, I can’t recommend Empire State South in general.

Empire State South
999 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 541-1105

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