Ecco’s Summer Menu Features a Taste of the Rooftop Garden and Some Delicious Surprises

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Ecco's Fried Goat Cheese is synonymous with the restaurant itself. When I think Ecco, I think of these. Fried goat cheese with honey + black pepper. ($7)

Ecco is, hands-down, one of my favorite restaurants in the city. It’s date night, it’s special occasions, it’s a casual happy hour at the bar…it’s just one of those places you can go anytime.

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Long Live the Queen, a perennial favorite at Ecco.

Recently, I had the opportunity to dine there and sample the new summer menu. Because Ecco’s menu changes seasonally (and oftentimes, many times per season), you can be sure that the ingredients in the dishes you enjoy there are at their peak. Sometimes, they’re even from the roof (the rooftop garden, that is)!

One of my favorite things about dining at Ecco is that Executive Chef Craig Richards is often on hand to answer any questions we have about the food, and luckily he was there for our Saturday night visit to give us some insight into what we were enjoying.

We started with one of Ecco’s signature cocktails, Long Live the Queen – Bombay Sapphire Gin with hints of elderflowers, lemon, peach and mint, served up ($12). It’s a particular favorite of mine – so light and refreshing – and it’s no surprise that they highlight it for summer. Another new summer favorite, for those of you a little more inclined toward the sweet profile, is the Refreshed and Sustained – sweet pink peppercorns, thyme, lemon, and vodka ($9) – a light pink concoction guaranteed to “color your chakra.” Love boubon? I also highly recommend the Sticky Sweet, as deliciously naughty as the name suggests, it’s a light combination of sparkling wine, blackberry whiskey, and velvet falernum ($12). If you’re looking to stay on the “healthy” side of things, check out the Jack Lalanne – Mr. Organic, an homage to the fitness king himself, it features carrot cubes swimming in organic coconut water and Crusoe Organic Rum ($11).

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Stuffed Squash Blossoms - leaving the menu soon, so get them while you can!

Cocktails over…or at least, cocktails begun…we moved on to starters. I can make a meal out of appetizers, much like the Will and Grace episode (you know, the one where Will says, “Whenever my dad goes to a restaurant he always says the same thing. “God, I can make a meal just from the appetizers.” So, that’s what I’m making him: a meal of appetizers.”) – this is especially true at Ecco. A perennial favorite of ours is the Fried Goat Cheese (pictured above), which thankfully never gets booted from the menu. Deliciously gooey balls of goat cheese are lightly fried in a tempura batter and then sprinkled with coarsely ground black pepper and drizzled in honey. Sigh.

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Piri Piri Squid. Squid + fried egg + cilantro? Yes, please!

Competing for attention on the summer menu are also Chef Craig’s Stuffed Squash Blossoms – trust me, get them now before they’re no longer in season (Chef says only another week or so!). They’re coming right from Ecco’s rooftop garden, and they’re stuffed with housemade mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, anchovy, and chili flake, and come with a bit of basil emulsion and a gorgeous, delicate fried basil leaf on top ($9) – watch Chef Craig describe how his Stuffed Squash Blossoms are made on our video tour of the rooftop garden. They are heaven on a plate – a must-try this season!

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Crema Catalan - a lighter crème brûlée-style dessert, perfect for your summer sweet tooth!

The squid dish (which has replaced, for now at least, the squid-with-Harissa dish that we love) is a Piri Piri Squid, served on a bed of Castelvetrano olive puree with a sunny side egg and cilantro ($9) – if you’ve ever wondered if squid, fried egg and cilantro would work well together, wonder no more; it was a surprising combination, but we enjoyed every bite.  We also sampled the Lamb Meatballs, served in a Tzatziki- like mixture of cucumbers, yogurt and cumin ($8).

Our main course was the Sea Trout a la plancha, with romesco, green tomatoes, cucumbers and mint ($26). After the smorgasboard of starters (which could, after all, have been our meal), the trout was a nice, light choice. We enjoyed our trout with a side of Local Beans, served with shaved torpedo onions, opal basil, mustard seed, and sesame oil ($6).

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Executive Chef Craig Richards discussing the rooftop garden.

Just when you think you’re about to burst, it’s time for dessert, which is not to be missed. (Moral of the story: save room.) I fell in love with the Crema Catalan ($8), flavored with orange and cinnamon and served with almond cookies (to be honest, it was the almond cookies that originally sold me, but the Crema Catalan did not disappoint). As our waitress described, Crema Catalan is perfect for summer because it has less egg than a creme brûlée, making it lighter. My husband had a hankering for chocolate, so he chose the Chocolate Walnut Semifreddo, with caramel espresso ($8) – he proclaimed it a chocolate lover’s dream.

Since Ecco’s menus are always seasonal and can, therefore, change in the middle of a season, if you want to experience these dishes, you’d better get a move on, especially if you want to sample those amazing squash blossoms. Rest assured, however, if you miss out on a summer menu selection, they’ll be another one to try in its place…

WHERE: Ecco – 40 7th Street, Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 347-9555

Chef Craig Richards on Facebook | Chef Craig Richards on Twitter
Ecco on Facebook
Fifth Group Restaurants on Facebook | Fifth Group Restaurants on Twitter

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The kitchen at Ecco - fresh, colorful seasonal vegetables are more than just decor.

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Refreshed and Sustained - sweet pink peppercorns, thyme, lemon, and vodka ($9)

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Lamb meatballs, cucumbers, yogurt, cumin ($8)

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Sea trout a la plancha with romesco, green tomatoes, cucumber, mint. ($26)

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Colorful local beans, served with shaved torpedo onions, opal basil, mustard seed, and sesame oil ($6)

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Chocolate walnut semifreddo with caramel espresso. ($8)

 

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A view of Ecco's prep kitchen, through a window from Crescent Avenue, shows the behind-the-scenes workings on a busy night.

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Ecco's Executive Chef Craig Richards giving me a tour of the rooftop garden, where the restaurant grows squash blossoms & squash, sweet basil & opal basil, French shallots, tomatoes, peppers and more!

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Ecco cures its own proscuitto, a 14-month process - these should be ready in another 10-12 months.

Ecco on Urbanspoon

Full disclosure: Ecco graciously hosted us for dinner and our bill was comped by the house. However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

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