Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Shade (Spring 2009)

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.

Pork chop, thyme gruyere bread pudding, swiss chard

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.


  1. i'm doing my part to support - we are going to shade for brunch with the in laws on easter sunday.

  2. We were there on a Friday night about 3 weeks ago, and also noticed the lack of business. It started picking up by the time we left, but clearly they have lost some business. The food was as good as ever (we also had the Poke) so it's not lack of quality.

  3. My wife and I love their brunch and were there two Saturdays ago. We walked in around 10:30AM and there were literally only two other people there. When we left around noon the crowd was still pretty thin. I'm sad to see this place underutilized also! Does anyone know if the Sunday brunches are still packed with reservations? At brunch the pulled pork tostadas or the eggs benedict are really great. I've had some wonderful dinners there as well.

  4. Obviously a post about brunch is required. Stay tuned...

  5. Their fried green tomato BLT is the best thing on earth - only on the brunch and lunch menus.