Ink & Elm has intrigued me from the time I first noticed construction in the spring. Was Emory Village finally getting a restaurant with waiter service?
After my first visit, however, I’m not exactly sure what Ink & Elm brings to the Village.
The restaurant is unique in the fact that there are three separate rooms in which to dine – the Tavern, the Lounge and the Dining Room. Each offers a different atmosphere and menu. The Tavern is meant for enjoying a fine drink in a comfortable booth and sampling small bites like soups and sandwiches. The Lounge is similar – relax in an oversized armchair with a friend or two and a glass of wine or a cocktail. Try a cheese or charcuterie platter and then move on to the Dining Room, which is spacious and airy and continues the theme of oversized furniture. Here’s where the main menu is presented, with entrÃ©es ranging from $20 to $30.
What struck me immediately about the restaurant was the beautiful interior. The balance between dark wood, glass and brick was clearly well-thought. But of course, a restaurant lives and dies by the quality of its food, not its physical appearance. The menu is not revolutionary, but it does have variety and depth. As far as proteins go, steak, chicken, fish and pork are all available (they even offer lamb schnitzel!).
In the Dining Room, ordering off the Lounge menu is also an option. I would recommend trying an oyster or two and possibly a cheese or charcuterie plate to start. The oysters and goat cheese were a light start to the meal (just do not consume together). Both the fish and steak were cooked well – my tilefish wrapped in speck was interesting but nothing above average.
The fish, wrapped in pork, was somewhat bland except for its saltiness. However, the speck was very crispy and the portion large – definitely a plus in my book.
Second most important for overall dining experience, in my opinion, is the service.
The service at Ink & Elm was quite good, but there were a few flaws. Most notably, it was slow. We had to wait a long time in between courses, but our plates were cleared quickly and our waitress was knowledgeable.
I saw one server awkwardly holding a few plates of food, unsure of which table he was supposed to serve – surely the food was getting cold? All in all, though, the service was nothing to complain about, especially for such a new restaurant. Synchronizing the kitchen and front of the house takes time and practice, and courses will surely be better timed in the future.
For entrÃ©es around $20 to 30 with appetizers and drinks in the teens, I’m not convinced of the longevity and business model Ink & Elm hopes to achieve in the Village. Our waitress said they are hoping to appeal to students as well, but with the prices, I can assume that most of their business will be from wealthier patrons from the surrounding suburbs. Ink & Elm is a nice place to bring your parents during visits for a meal, but be careful during the school year; you might end up spending $80 on a dinner for you and a friend.
– By Ethan Samuels
Photo by Ethan Samuels