Just a block away from the cluster that is the rejuvenated Inman Park social scene on Highland Avenue, sits the aptly named Park’s Edge. Self-proclaimed as “Inman Park’s Best Kept Secret,” that will no longer be the case when February 3rd’s episode of Kitchen Nightmares – a reality TV show who’s famous host, Gordon Ramsey, is known for taking a tough love approach to cleaning up restaurant messes – airs and features the quaint neighborhood eatery.
My husband and I joined several friends there on Friday night, hoping to take advantage of a newly improved restaurant before the notoriety potentially creates a wait-list, higher prices, or both. While it wasn’t a complete fail, it isn’t a restaurant we’d drive out of our way to frequent.
It’s a small place, probably not more than 20 tables, split into two dining rooms. Ours was a corner table – an uneven trapezoid designed specifically for the odd shape of the corner of the room. Our room was also the location of the bar, which meant a little noisier atmosphere than some might like for an evening meal with friends. Since, as I mentioned previously, it sits off the main drag, it has private and convenient parking.
We started with the pan seared scallops and the roasted beet and goat cheese salad. The scallops were cooked perfectly and delicious with their accompanied bacon and sweet corn relish. The savory fried goat cheese on the salad was divine, but I thought the vinaigrette lacking on the beets.
Because I am such a fan of my own shrimp & grits, I rarely order them out. And, as one of our table guests noted, there are many ways of cooking shrimp and grits, but few of them create the dish that is shrimp & grits. I recognize that there are various styles – Charleston as compared to New Orleans, roux-based versus tomato-based – but even so, many chefs have taken advanced liberties. Our server offered their shrimp and grits as one of the most popular entrees, so I thought I’d give it a shot. The grits were seasoned with parmesan cheese and were point-on in consistency though they could have used more salt for my taste. They were topped with shrimp that had been sauteed with green onions and diced green pepper. While tasty, for me this qualifies for grits served with shrimp but not shrimp & grits.
Scott had the lobster mac & cheese, also touted as a crowd favorite, which was disappointingly dry. Yes, dry. Which meant it was more mac and less cheese. And as if it needed variety in texture, it was topped with bread crumbs.
Another detail that became somewhat of a running joke during the evening was the abundant use of frisée lettuce. (See photo #3 of the shrimp and grits.) We weren’t sure if it was meant to be a salad atop the entrees or if it was pure garnish – in which case it was excessive, but most of the dishes we were served was piled with this greenery.
There were other dishes ordered at our table as well, some of them received raves:
- Roasted chicken breast with couscous, cranberries, butternut squash & pecans – excellent!
- Beef burger and herb fries – excellent!
- Fried green tomatoes with homemade buttermilk ranch dressing – The tomatoes were tough (more so than necessary) and there was an odd flavor in the dressing. The lady who ordered it inquired about it and was told that the chef uses 12 different herbs in his dressing that he wouldn’t disclose. However, our server said that previous customers had had similar unfavorable reactions to what the restaurant described as “ranch” dressing.
We finished the meal with the white chocolate macadamia nut bread pudding which is served with a raspberry compote. It was incredible, though the serving is not enough to share, which my husband and I often do. Luckily for him, I only wanted a bite.
So obviously this was a hit and miss experience for us. If you’re in the area and looking for a place to eat, I think it is worth trying. Hopefully I’ve given you enough direction of a few things to steer clear of.
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