East Atlanta Village is thriving with local art and unique independently owned restaurants lining the tight road of Glenwood Ave. With the East Atlanta Strut Festival well under way when we arrived at the newly opened Banshee, my friends and I were immediately welcomed into the neighborhood’s eclectic food, art and music scene. Banshee’s menu features elements from different cuisines such as Indian, Italian and American, but they add their own contemporary touch to each dish.
Our trio was seated immediately, even it being a Saturday night. Though the restaurant opened just 30 minutes before our arrival, it was already bustling with chatter and laughter. The staff danced to the hip-hop and indie music playing overhead, creating a lively and friendly environment.
Admittedly, some plates are costly and, with only eight entrees to choose from, vegetarian and vegan options are limited. Owner Peter Chvala said toward the end of our meal that the reason behind the selective menu lies in his preference for local and seasonal ingredients.
We began our gastronomic journey with fry bread and butternut squash ravioli. Fry bread, a Native American delicacy, is a fried, flat dough bread seasoned with scallions and sesame. Banshee’s fry bread is accompanied by a smooth butter swirled with bits of pepperoni to add spice and smokiness. The pepperoni butter tied the whole plate together. The butternut squash ravioli provided a tasty welcome to the coming fall season with its warm, earthy flavors. The pasta was delicately prepared, and the squash was perfectly seasoned with brown butter and pumpkin seed piccata.
Moving on to the entrees, we began with the rare wagyu beef salad, which presented a layer of spinach atop thinly sliced wagyu beef that all but melted in the mouth. The salad also included a sweet peanut brittle that softened the bitterness of the spinach and added some crunchiness.
My favorite dish, and also the most expensive one we ordered at $19, was the braised duck mezzelune, which was served atop a base of miso and lemon grass and accompanied by duck ravioli and charred bok choy. Though the charred bok choy did not pair well with the refined taste of the duck because of its bitterness, I could have eaten an entire plate of the duck ravioli alone.
We finished the entrees with Sapelo Island clams, which came with a side of herbed taglierini, a thin ribbon pasta. The taglierini, though initially decadent and rich with flavor from the extra kick of the guajillo chili, carried a bitter, sour aftertaste from the bottarga, or tuna roe. Still, the clams were mouthwatering, sprinkled with a dash of paprika and a basil leaf. With overall smaller portions — except the clams — I recommend ordering appetizers and finishing your meal with a dessert.
Our night ended with the salted chocolate tart: rich, dark chocolate mousse encased in a flaky crust studded with shards of sweet white chocolate and topped with raspberry sauce and warm toasted hazelnuts. A spoonful of each element simultaneously created the perfect, delicate balance of bitter and sweet.
With such elegant food, the restaurant’s exterior appearance made for an unusual contrast. No more than a black box-shaped building and a massive white storefront, Banshee is almost a hidden gem. The building used to house an old Army surplus store, followed by five different restaurants. Upon entering the small dining area, I was immediately struck by the aesthetic contrast of the rough, white exposed brick wall and the deep blue velvet curtains that separate the dining area from the bar. The scratched floor exuded charm and the exposed ceiling revealed wooden beams and industrial air conditioning vents. The restaurant is certainly inspired by mid-century modern and industrial styles, with subtle touches of gold-pipe lighting and stenciled blue owl wallpaper above the bar.
For three people, we ordered a lot of food, but it was definitely worth the cost. Throughout the night, our waitress checked on us every few minutes and our waters never reached half empty.
For a subtotal of $74, my two friends and I each spent $32 after tax and tip. If you’re looking to explore the East Atlanta scene and dine at a contemporary restaurant that brings the artistic neighborhood indoors, you will not want to skip on Banshee.