Back in 2003, Shade opened to critical acclaim in the restaurant-starved Heights area. The restaurant has stayed with the formula of serving well prepared, modern American interpretations of Southern classics. A recent change in executive chefs has only (so far) resulted in modest changes to this blueprint.
In the summer of 2008, David Luna joined the kitchen of Shade, replacing longtime executive chef Jeb Stuart. Described by the bartenders as being "from Hawaii," it is not surprising to see an appetizer such as Ahi Poke (the dark red tuna is served raw over a bed of seaweed salad); or a main course like the gulf snapper, served over a bed of stir fried asian vegetables with a Thai red chili sauce. The flavors are bold, and certainly a departure from what we consider the classic dishes that Shade traditionally offered.
As was the case when it first opened, meat dishes trump everything else. You won’t go wrong ordering any of the heartier meat dishes, especially those served with traditional southern greens. A duck two ways entree (breast and leg confit, served over collard greens and polenta) was simply incredible. We're all for cooking meat medium rare, but were glad to see the breast was cooked through. Duck that tastes like duck; what a concept! A simple red wine reduction, with crispy duck skin pieces (a la bacon crisps) made it sing.
In an area with a shortage of good cocktails, the bar is an underutilized gem. In a part of town known only for beer bars, it’s refreshing to find a place that can actually serve a well made martini, cosmo, or mojito.
Which brings me to my last point: where the hell is everybody? We walked in on a Friday and were immediately seated. The next weekend, the bartenders were going crazy for the First Saturday crowd, but informed me the place was dead the night before (they closed early). I'll only play booster when I see the need. Best to support places like this, or you'll be sorry when they're gone.