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Ecco Restaurant, part of the Fifth Group Restaurant Group, located in Midtown has always been one of those places that I’ve been meaning to try. I’ve had lots of friends tell me how fantastic Ecco is, but just never seemed to get around to visiting it. Until a recent evening in June that is. Glen and I took his daughter Hannah to Ecco for her 15th birthday.
We arrived promptly for our reservation and while it is really beautiful inside the restaurant, it is also rather cold for us ladies in our sleeveless tops and dresses. What is it with these restaurants and keeping it absolutely freezing inside when it is like 85 degrees outside? So, rather than feel like we are in a meat locker, we opted for outdoor seating and grabbed the last available patio table.
The weather on this particular evening was extremely pleasant, but I could tell halfway into a glass of red I’d be pretty warm. Red wine tends to make me hot, probably why I love to sip on it in winter time. So, while I love red wine, especially with Italian food, I went for one of their specialty drinks -In the Middle of My Buchtel, a cool drink, perfect for sipping on a warm summer evening. Made of aged rum, plum puree and purple basil, think of it like a fancy mojito. Glen’s drink, Long Live the Queen, made with Bombay Sapphire gin, was equally as good but a little stronger.
As an aside, if you need a laugh, visit Ecco’s online menu and read their drink descriptions. They must have hired a retired greeting card writer for these things….
But enough about that, onto the food.
I knew I couldn’t leave Ecco without tasting the Meatballs with Saffron and Almond sauce. I didn’t taste the almonds, but there was a great smokey flavor to these meatballs. And don’t be fooled by the small bowl, there are enough for 3 or 4 to share as an appetizer.
Now the shrimp appetizer was a surprise hit for me. Here’s why: The description says it is made with fennel. I HATE fennel. If you aren’t familiar with fennel, it has a licorice flavor which I cannot stand.
So, when my 2 other companions honed in on this, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d only eat the Meatballs. However, I couldn’t NOT try the shrimp. I actually didn’t taste fennel at all. It was just a spicy tomato taste that I found absolutely delicious. There was something in the sauce that gives it the slightest Asian flair. Now, there were only 4 shrimps in the small bowl, albeit big shrimps, but this isn’t going to be enough for more than 2 people. If you order this, don’t let the sauce go to waste- put that bread on the table to good use.
Timing here was perfect. As soon as our appetizers were being taken away, our entrees were coming out. I really appreciate this, as I’ve eaten at plenty of restaurants that bring out entrees 2 bites into your appetizers. And then you sit there, wolfing down your apps, not wanting your meals to get cold. But Ecco had timing perfectly balanced.
I had ordered the Chili Braised Pork, which was solid, except I was expecting something spicy due to the word “chili” in the description. So, either someone forgot to add the chilis, or my heat barometer was off that night. Glen had somewhat of a similar experience with his Cobia. The description doesn’t say anything about a spicy broth, yet he found it to be pretty spicy. Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
He didn’t mind the spiciness of the sauce, in fact, he quite enjoyed his fish, however, it was just unexpected. The chicken fettucine was equally enjoyed by the birthday girl. But if you are expecting the typical creamy sauce that usually goes hand in hand with chicken fettucine, you won’t find it here.
Now the highlight of the entire meal: the side dish of carrots. Seriously, the carrots were the best thing I had all night. And that isn’t a slight at the other dishes, the carrots were just that phenomenal. I don’t know what they do that makes them so delicious, but I would have gladly traded my entree for a plate of these. And their presentation with the thyme and onions wrapped around them, is beautiful. Please don’t visit Ecco and not order this side.
Service was spot on the entire night. Our server, Charles, made sure the evening was absolutely perfect, even bringing out a piece of chocolate cake for the birthday girl at the end of the meal.
Prices are reasonable. Drinks and glasses of wine are around $10. However, I’d like to see more wines by the glass available as their selection seems somewhat limited. The small menu is reasonable with prices between $15 and $20. But I’d like to see a side dish offered with the mains. After adding a side dish prices are more like $25 an entree, which is rather high.
Extras: They have a Sunday special of your choice of pizza or pasta and a drink for $15. So, basically they are giving you a free drink and you are paying the regular menu price for the meal.
40 7th St NE
Atlanta, GA 30308