Monday, August 13, 2012

ARIA: Definitely the highlight of our evening!

On an unusually cool(ish) night in August in Atlanta, we headed to Aria for a dinner on the eve of taking our daughter back to college.  Aria's Chef/Owner is Gerry Klaskala.

Aria is located in Buckhead at:

490 East Paces Ferry
Atlanta, GA  30305

We pulled in and were immediately greeted by a friendly valet and escorted inside.

Photo Credit: Aria
Upon entering at 6:45PM, it was a bit alarming, as it was bright and sunny outside and extremely dark inside.  It definitely takes a few moments to adjust (and we saw one person after another struggle and stumble in as they entered).  But we were warmly greeted by the hostess and gave our information.

We decided to have a drink in their lounge area prior to dinner. The lounge is just beyond the hostess stand separated by silver handing beads.  It's very dark with black walls and red sofas and ottomans.

The Snooty Duchess was a deliciously refreshing drink by the way...
sparkling (Cherry Sgroppino) Sarrazin Brut Cherry Vodka
aperitif (The Snooty Duchess) Cocchi Americano Licor 43 Soda
Lime-Ginger Puree
Fresh Lemon Juice
white port (Afternoon in the Duoro) Warre’s White Port Domaine de Canton Fresh Mint and Basil Lemon Syrup
gin (White Lady) Junipero Dry Cointreau Egg White Fresh Lemon Juice
rye whiskey (Drunken Monk) Rittenhouse 100 Blueberry Shrub
brandy (St. Charles Punch) Camus VS Cognac Orange Liqueur Simple Syrup Fresh Lemon Juice
Benedictine Fortified Shiraz
Cocchi Americano, Asti, Italy Carpano's Antica Formula, Piedmont, Italy Campari, Lombardy, Italy Aperol, Veneto, Italy Daniel Bouju, Pineau des Charentes, France Lillet Rouge, Bordeaux, France
bottled beer
Reissdorf, Kölsch, Cologne, Germany
Sweetwater, Ipa, Atlanta, GA
Brewery Ommegang, Witte, Cooperstown, NY Estrella Damm, Inedit, Barcelona, Spain (24 Oz) Leipziger Gose, Leipzig, Germany (20 Oz) Duchesse de Bourgogne, Flanders Red Ale, Vichte, Belgium Unibroue, La Fin Du Monde, Tripel Ale, Quebec, Canada North Coast, Old Rasputin, Russian Imp. Stout, Ft. Bragg, CA
Amaro, Quintessentia, Nonino, Friuli
Fernet, Branca, Fratelli Branca, Lombardia
Moscato, Jacopo Poli, Veneto
Brunelo Di Montalcino, Marolo Tuscany
calvados/apple brandy
Laird’s, Bottled In Bond, Apple Brandy
Chauffe-cœur, Hors D'age, Calvados
Martel VS Remy Martin VSOP Kelt VSOP Martel Noblige Pierre Ferrand Sélection Anges Camus XO Remy Martin Extra Delamain, Tres Venerable
other eau-de-vie
William Pear, Trimbach Grande Réserve, Alsace
Johnnie Walker Blue
Hibiki 12yr
canadian whisky
Crown Royal, Special Reserve
Black Maple Hill Maker's 46 Blantons Knob Creek Woodford Reserve Basil Hayden 8yr Pappy Van Winkle’s 15yr Pappy Van Winkle's 20yr Pappy Van Winkle's 23yr
Jack Daniel’s Honey Gentleman Jack Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel
Rittenhouse Sazerac 6yr Russell's Reserve 6yr Old Potrero, 18th Century Style High West, 21yr
single malts
St George
Yamazaki 12yr
Bushmills, Malt 16
Laphroaig 10yr Lagavulin 16yr Bowmore 25yr
Macallan 12yr Aberlour 16yr Glenfiddich 12yr The Glenlivet 18yr Macallan 18yr Macallan 25yr Macallan 30yr
Glenmorangie 10yr Glenmorangie, Sauternes Cask Oban 14yr Dalwhinnie 15yr
Cockspur, Barbados Clément VSOP, Martinique El Dorado 21, Guyana Clément XO, Martinique
tequila & mezcal
Tequila, Casa Dragones, Joven Tequila, Don Diego Santa, Reposado Tequila, Herradura, Añejo Tequila, Don Julio, Añejo, Claro Tequila, Reserva de la Familia
Cuervo, Extra Añejo Mezcal, Ilegal, Añejo

Photo Credit: Aria

Their website describes the bar area as, "comfortably chic," and it does have a cool vibe, however, my 6'5" husband in no way could have sat on their teeny tiny ottomans (about 6" off the floor).  We all sat on a cushiony bench and were fine, other than it being very very dark, but you adjust. 

Around 7:00PM, we moved on to the main dining room to enjoy our dinner. The dining room is one square room, and it's very bright and light with limited seating.

Photo Credit: Aria

Inside Aria's main dining room:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We were greeted by our waiter quickly.  He was fantastic - very knowledgeable and friendly.  The menu was enticing.  Here's a sample menu:


Twelve Hour Roasted Vidalia Onion Soup

white truffle oil

Thin Sliced Smoked Atlantic Salmon

red onion capers creme fraiche crispy potatoes

Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras

georgia strawberries black pepper gastrique

Pan Seared New Bedford Jumbo Sea Scallops

baby spinach slow roasted roma tomato madras curry cilantro and lime

Potato and Goat Cheese Ravioli
wild ramps asparagus sugar snap peas toasted breadcrumbs reggiano parmigiano
Crisped Stuffed Zucchini Blossom
fresh ricotta and mint field peas pickled shallots
Flash Fried Beau Soleil Oysters (five)
whole grain mustard remoulade spicy pickled shallots
Arugula and Endive Salad
great hills blue lemon vinaigrette
Warm Lobster Cocktail
butter braised maine lobster broccoli black truffle potatoes
Crisped Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
green apple walnut napa salad asian mustard sauce
Ruby Red & Golden Beets
sweetgrass dairy goat cheese oranges spiced walnuts
Hammock Hollow Farm Salad Greens
balsamic shallot vinaigrette w/ thyme roasted goat cheese
dining room & wine director ANDRES LOAIZA pastries KATHRYN KING cuisine GERRY KLASKALA
Slow Braised Niman Ranch Berkshire Pork Shoulder
lacinato kale red pepper & white corn succotash crisp vidalia onions
Pan Seared New Bedford Jumbo Sea Scallops
white corn bacon & parmesan risotto
Center Cut Corn Fed Angus Beef Filet Mignon
fingerlings romano beans shiitakes pear tomatoes tarragon shallot sauce
Painted Hills Ranch Natural Beef Short Rib
cipollini shiitake tender carrots truffle whipped potatoes
USDA Prime Steak au Poivre
sixteen ounce prime beef eye of the ribeye cognac green peppercorn sauce steak fried potatoes
Fillet of Line Caught Grouper
roasted cauliflower crispy potatoes fiddlehead ferns hedgehog mushrooms lemon caper brown butter
Pan Roasted Breast of Farm Raised Duck
savoy cabbage carrots fuji apple bacon ginger lemongrass jus
Blue Ridge Mountain Trout
lobster smashed potatoes young squash romanesco pea puree shiitake mushrooms
Herb Crusted Fillet of Florida Red Snapper
white corn lady peas butter beans fingerling potatoes applewood smoked bacon pickled shallots
Slow Braised Colorado Lamb Shank
soft parmesan polenta fava beans roasted vidalia onions ramp chimichurri
Valrhona Chocolate Cream Pie
chocolate sauce soft whipped cream

Vanilla Panna Cotta

peach sorbet almond shortbread

Warm Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake

georgia strawberries whipped cream

Chocolate Almond Brioche Pudding

valencia orange ice cream
Blueberry Creme Fraiche Cake
lemon custard buttermilk ice cream
Fresh Sorbets
(one of each, served with meringue) pineapple strawberry lemon peach blueberry
Sweets and Confections
a daily selection
artisan cheese tasting
a daily selection of three

The foccacia bread was very good:

We opted to start with a couple of appetizers - the Flash Fried Beau Soleil Oysters and the Crisp Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms.  Both were delicious!
Photo Credit:  Cate Bogue

Photo Credit:  Cate Bogue

The oysters were just the right size with a mustard remoulade topped with jalapeno peppers - perfect!  

And the ricotta stuffed zucchini blossoms were creamy and yummy atop a bed of wonderful heirloom tomatoes and field peas.  So good! 

An image of the menu when we were there:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Our entree choices were Veal Schnitzel (a new menu item-breaded veal cutlet with heirloom tomatoes and an arugula salad with shaved parmesan):

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The veal was good and had a nice flavor, but I've had better.  The breading was a bit heavy for me, and the veal was slightly chewy.  But I loved the tomatoes and salad accompanying the veal.

Short Ribs 
Painted Hills Ranch Natural Beef Short Ribcipollini shiitake tender carrots truffle whipped potatoesPainted Hills Ranch Natural Beef Short Rib

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The short ribs were my husband's choice for dinner, and we were fighting him for a bite.  Every bite was a taste explosion, and the short ribs were tender and not fatty at all.  Loved!

And the filet (Center Cut Corn Fed Angus Beef Filet Mignon
fingerlings romano beans shiitakes pear tomatoes tarragon shallot sauce):

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
My filet was cooked exactly as ordered (medium), and the tarragon shallot sauce was rich and delicious.  I didn't care for the barely cooked red and yellow peppers atop, however the yellow squash was wonderful.

We also enjoyed a bottle of my favorite Malbec (Susanna Balbo) with our dinner:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We decided we HAD to try the Valrhona Chocolate dessert, and it did not disappoint!  Valrhona is a French luxury chocolate from Lyon, France, and it is spectacular.

Valrhona Chocolate Cream Pie

chocolate sauce soft whipped cream

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

I had to show both sides of the dessert, as the three chocolate puddles were the best part! 

All in all it was a great dining experience.  It is definitely pricey, but for a special occasion (such as seeing our daughter off for her Senior year at college), I'd recommend it highly.  The food and service are outstanding!

Enjoying drinks in Aria's lounge before dinner:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Next up:  Antica Posta