Chef Linton Hopkins’ Restaurant Eugene in Buckhead offers what is likely Atlanta’s only dessert tasting menu. Pastry chef — and three-time James Beard award nominee — Jen Yee added the $22 three-course tasting a few weeks ago. It includes a small glass of sparkling wine, a prelude or amuse-bouche, a main dessert, and mignardises like petit fours.
The dessert tasting is available at the bar and in the adjacent lounge called the Orchid Room. Diners choose a main dessert from the menu and the tasting is built around it. There’s also an optional wine or grand cru pairing with the main dessert.
The menu changes weekly, especially as fresh produce becomes more abundant during the spring and summer in Atlanta. Yee, who joined Hopkins’ restaurant over a year ago after working in New York City for 12 years, calls the tasting a “gateway” into the more formal dining experience at Restaurant Eugene.
“I love dessert tastings, and as a pastry chef, I love dining out to see what restaurants offer for dessert,” Yee explains. “Pastry chefs at restaurants are becoming much more rare, so take advantage of dessert at a restaurant with a pastry chef.”
Yee’s current menu includes desserts like a mousse made from Madagascar chocolate from Atlanta-based Xocolatl inside frozen milk chocolate with charred sunchokes and a fresh strawberry dish with black pepper pavlova, buttermilk shaved ice, and verjus — the pressed juice of unripened grapes.
“We’re not trying to kill you with dessert, it’s just a couple of extra bites and a glass of bubbles to make it special. It’s a mini-Restaurant Eugene experience,” Yee says. “There are dessert tastings everywhere in New York, including in the lounge at Per Se, at Le Bernardin, and at the bar at Contra. We thought, ‘why not try this in Atlanta?’”
Yee moved to Atlanta in the fall of 2017. Prior to taking the job at Restaurant Eugene, she worked with chef Mario Carbone as the opening pastry chef for his midtown Manhattan restaurant the Grill.
“The pace of life and working in restaurants in New York City can be very addictive but, at the same time, it’s exhausting. I needed a break from that pace,” she explains of her decision to leave New York. “I’d been talking with Linton prior to my departure from the Grill, and decided Atlanta was the next chapter for me.”
Yee also ran the bakery and dessert program at chef Andrew Carmellini’s French brasserie Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery in lower Manhattan. It was here she was nominated three times for outstanding pastry chef by the James Beard Foundation.
Take a look at the dessert tasting menu for Restaurant Eugene:
Open Wednesday - Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.