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Aria: Buckhead (Part 2)

posted on October 8, 2006 at 6:02 am
RESTAURANT REVIEW:
An chef friend and I decided we wanted to treat ourselves to a nice dinner. The Dining Room, which I desperately want to try, was a bit too expensive. We decided on Aria because he had only been for dessert and I had had a lovely meal there on my last visit. I arrived and parked myself at the end of the small bar. I got the bartender’s attention and waited for him to come take my order…and waited…and waited. There were only 7 or 8 people there so I was quite perplexed as to why he just kept tending to a specific pair of patrons. He finally took my order and mixed up my Campari and soda. I shrugged it off and took in the atmosphere. The bar was quite packed and there was a good mix of people. My friend arrived and we were seated after a short wait.
We took survey of the menu. I was excited to see what the Chef was offering since he was in the running to represent Atlanta on Food Network’s Iron Chef (Chef Linton Hopkins, of Restaurant Eugene, was the winner). We quickly found the menu to be very basic. Many dishes had too many ingredients and other were just boring. We decided to share the porcini ravioli appetizer, crispy Ipswitch clams and butter-poached lobster with truffled potato puree. To be honest, we had a hard time finding entrees we could get excited about. I ended up ordering the breaded veal cutlet and lobster mushrooms. My friend ordered the scallops over spicy lobster risotto.
Our meal began to arrive. First was the crisp Ipswitch clams and porcini ravioli. The ravioli was topped with short ribs. The ravioli were excellent but the short rib topping drowned out the flavor. We both agreed the short rib was unnecessary and they raviolis should have been served plain to let the flavors shine. The clams were quite nice. They were served with fried lemons, crisp parsley and a creme fraiche and chive dipping sauce. They were breaded in a great batter but a bit greasy and undercooked. It seemed that the oil was not hot enough or something. The flavor combination was excellent though.

The lobster came as a second course. Our server was nice enough to split it in 2 glasses. The lobster was poached in butter and served over truffled potato puree and a broccoli puree. It was good but no awe-inspiring.

Our entrees came out and I dug into my veal. They breading was nice but very bland and soggy. The salad it was topped with was great quality lettuce but their was a distinct lack of salt in the dressing. No salt on the mushrooms either. Too bad because they were really lovely looking. They could have used a bit more fat as well. I asked for salt and attempted to remedy the situation myself. It did little to help the flavor. What a shame. I love a good breaded piece of veal. My friends scallop dish disappointed him as well. The spicy lobster risotto was undercooked and had the consistency that we agreed was akin to SpaghettiOs.

We ordered some dessert even though we were not crazy about the dessert list. A warm chocolate cheesecake and Lakehouse coffee ended our meal. We both agreed it was an underwhelming experience. I was very surprised how basic his menu was. Bacchanalia and Restaurant Eugene have much more creative menus. I don’t think I will be rushing back any time soon.


RESTAURANT INFORMATION:

Address: 490 E Paces Ferry Rd
Phone: (404) 233-7673
Website
Map
Cuisine: American (New)

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5 comments

  • Re: Aria: Buckhead (Part 2)
    posted by: Anonymous · December 6, 2006  7:39 PM

    I went to Aria a few months ago and came away thinking that while good, it certainly was not great. I don’t remember what I had for app or entree at all, but I will say that the warm chocolate cheesecake was awesome. One of the desserts I will definitely go back for.

  • Re: Aria: Buckhead (Part 2)
    posted by: mmmmm.... · April 5, 2007  3:49 PM

    Bliss-
    i think gerry (the chef/owner) works within his comfort zone- seasonal, local ingredients, slow cooked meats, standard preparations- and doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. the length of his tenure is testament to what a solid, consistent restaurant he runs. service has always been meticulous,but never overbearing. while i can absolutely understand some of your comments, i wouldn’t give up on aria. next time, order the salmon stack, the pork shoulder, short rib or springer mountain roasted chicken – and any dessert.. Kathryn King is one of the best pastry chefs in the south.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Re: Aria: Buckhead (Part 2)
    posted by: Sudhir · March 6, 2008  8:29 AM

    Very weird. I found the appetizers and entrees to be good, but not spectacular. I can say with certainty, though, that I enjoyed the dessert, the same warm chocolate cheesecake you had, more than any I’ve had at Bacchanalia, Restaurant Eugene and every other restaurant in this city.

  • Re: Aria: Buckhead (Part 2)
    posted by: Anonymous · August 1, 2008  5:51 PM

    My wife and I both enjoyed our meals at Aria more than the nearby Buckhead Life restaurants. I would suggest to anyone celebrating a special/romantic occasion that they do some prior planning and try to get a reservation in the wine cellar. Aria has one table (seating 2, maybe 3 max.) in their wine cellar that is candle lit by many votives. It is cool, secluded and quiet, without any of the normal background chatter of the dining room. The sommelier waits on you personally and will recommend some great selections. Though waiters will periodically join you in the celler while they pull bottles for other tables, I found they were all extremely nice. It was like you had the sommelier and the entire wait staff waiting on you. It is certainly the best all around dining experience I have had in Atlanta.

  • Re: Aria: Buckhead (Part 2)
    posted by: Anonymous · October 7, 2009  2:01 AM

    I must say I wholeheartedly disagree with the review. I <3 Aria! The lobster cocktail is one of my absolute favorites. I always find the entrees flavorful and interesting. And don't get me STARTED on the warm chocolate cheesecake! Pure bliss.

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