People are pretty good at associating words with images. Most associate the color yellow with the sun, or think of candy when the word chocolate is mentioned. Words can construe positive or negative connotations in our psyche. Often we use words to identify ourselves, and in so doing, create expectations from which people can judge us.
I’m a chef. This is the start of my professional identity. It should lead you to believe that I’m knowledgeable about food, I can cook, and I wear a white jacket with checkered pants. When you hear the word “shed”, you think of a small building in the backyard used for tool storage or as a work space.
Imagine my surprise when I decided to have dinner at The Shed at Glenwood in East Atlanta. The building is unassuming in décor, part of one of the developments of apartments and stores so common in urban neighborhoods. The red brick façade had no large sign; I had to literally walk right up to the door to make sure I was in the right place. Inside, the décor was contemporary with stainless steel, recessed lights, and an open floor plan. The space was just the right size for a neighborhood restaurant: small enough to be intimate, large enough not to be claustrophobic.
I got there at 6 p.m., which is the usual start for dinner service, and was surprised to find people eating at several tables. The host was on the phone confirming a reservation; once finished, he greeted me cordially, asking if I had a reservation. I told him that I was in the neighborhood and decided to stop for dinner, and he explained that they were solidly booked for the night. He offered seating at the bar, which in my opinion can be better than sitting at a table. Service is much quicker at the bar, especially in busy restaurants. As I sat and looked at the menu, I realized that I would never cook or serve food of this caliber in a shed. The name “The Shed” is a misnomer: there’s nothing rustic, utilitarian, or simple about the food served here. Simple is left at the door, where it stayed for the next few hours while I pleasurably ate and drank my way through a series of small plates and main courses.
To start, I ordered the Smoked Trout Risotto Balls with Lemon Aioli, Lamb Short Rib with Fennel Slaw, Date Chutney and Yogurt, and Chicken Liver Pate with Sweet Potato Butter and Brioche. Each plate, no more than three to four bites, demonstrated the chef’s attention to detail and his use of color and garnish to entice the eye. The risotto balls were tasty smeared in the lemon aioli, but the flavor of the smoked trout was barely discernible – enjoyable but not memorable. The lamb short ribs were tender and flavorful, and the fennel slaw and yogurt offset the fatty richness of the short rib. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I enjoyed the chicken pate as well, and had to request another plate of brioche to make sure I could smear on every last bit of it. If you’ve never had chicken liver pate before, The Shed is a good venue for an initiation.
The entrees ordered were Grilled New York Strip (medium), with glazed pearl onions, potato croquette, and blue cheese with the House 1A Sauce. Also Potato Crusted Flounder with salt cod potato, artichoke chips and Meyer lemon aioli. Once again, it was evident that the chef has a fine dining background: each plate was beautiful to look at. The flounder was ok, safe. There were no surprises in this dish, and I’m sure it is a safe bet for the finicky eater. The New York strip was served in medallions, neatly stacked. It was tender, coupled with the potato croquette that was nice and crispy on the outside with creamy smooth center. The glazed onions were sweet and tangy. Definitely the standout dish of the two. To drink, I had a local draught called Red Hare Long Day Lager, similar in taste to Stella Artois but with a slightly stronger note of bitterness from the hops.
By the end, too full for dessert, I opted to leave that for another visit. The Shed at Glenwood connotes many images, but the best is that of good food, affordably priced, in a casual setting.