As leaves begin to change and the air turns crisp, Autumnal rituals begin. We hit the pumpkin patches and apple orchards to bring the season’s bountiful harvest home. Restaurants and barkeeps in turn, change menus to reflect the exciting new batch of fruits and vegetables, comforting butternut squash, pumpkin, muscadines and glorious apples. Here are a few dishes highlighting the simple, curvaceous fruit on menus in Atlanta now.
Throughout the month of October, Virginia Highland’s La Tavola celebrates Abbondanza, the bountiful cornucopia of Italy’s Autumnal produce. Executive chef Andrew Peterson composed a hearty and earthy plate of seared and sliced duck breast with pickled apples, kale, squash and tender farrotto for texture. Sweet and spiced Gorganzola brings creamy zing. Without even a smidge of pumpkin spice, it tastes like cozy sweaters and jumping in leaf piles. 992 Virginia Ave. NE. 404-873-5430. Latavolatrattoria.com.
At Westside’s new, Donetto, chef Michael Perez’s Italian inspired menu includes an apple crostata made from North Georgia apples. Mildly sweet gala apples are folded into a crumbly and buttery crust of polenta to form a rustic yet decadent tart. A quenelle of caramel gelato crowns the top and a swoosh of caramel colors the plate. It’s sweetly spiced and savory smooth perfumed with vanilla and subtle spices. It’s fall…and America. 976 Brady Ave. SE. 404-445-6867. Donettoatl.com.
Begin a meal at downtown’s White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails with an apple salad mix of local greens, Mercier Orchard apples, pork belly croutons and hibiscus vinaigrette. It sets the stage for chef Meg Brent’s venison strip loin. The venison’s impeccable sear and impossible tenderness is paired with a fragrant and woodsy combination of charred cambray onions, salsify puree and a sweet and tart Muscadine sauce. It’s a tender walk through the woods in a forkful. 270 Peachtree St. 404-524-7200. Whiteoakkitchen.com.
The taste of autumn can even come in ring form by the dozen. Gourmet doughnut shop Bon Glaze serves a seasonal treat that is like a trip to the orchard. They give doughnuts the apple cider and caramel apple treatment with a gooey drizzle covering. Complete the sweet and tart tasting with a cup of hot cider and a cinnamon stick. They also have a Campfire doughnut to further the sensory experience. 3575 Durden Dr. NE. 678-691-4534. Bonglaze.com.
Festive fall twists come in liquid form too. Gunshow’s Mercedes O’Brien brings a cocktail cart to the table to match the restaurant’s fun experience. Her Hecate’s Hex is witchcraft in a glass. She uses Calvados, apples distilled to brandy form, as a base along with mescal, fino sherry, tart apples and celery. A slight smokiness and sweet smoothness in the cocktail get further enchantment from herbaceous Strega and a mint and veggie ash. It’s a bewitching sipper. 924 Garrett St. 404-380-1886. Gunshowatl.com.
Photos courtesy of: La Tavola, Donetto, White Oak Kitchen & Cocktail, Bon Glaze, Gunshow