East Atlanta has been “on the verge” for what seems like the past twenty years. In the early 2000s urban pioneers flocked to the formerly blighted neighborhood for its promising restaurants, music clubs and oodles of late-night watering holes. Gentrification has been slow and that has kept East Atlanta weird (in a good way) but it also has failed to produce a restaurant that has garnered the kind of critical acclaim that has drawn Atlantans from far and wide. Until now.
Started by a group of friends, the new Banshee fits the neighborhood perfectly. It’s hip, youthful and pulsates with sophisticated energy. From the street it’s unassuming—simply a painted black façade with the word Banshee painted on the outside. But inside it’s a smart and soothing den with dangling lights, vintage hardwoods, and a blue subway-tiled bar. A pink neon sign saying “Enjoy Yourself” reminds you of this important maxim. But most importantly, its food is so good that it’s chef, Nolan Wynn, recently garnered a James Beard Award nomination.
Beautiful plates of globally-inspired, locally sourced and seasonally guided food like scallops crudo with a savory Japanese eel sauce, fried bread with a spectacular pepperoni butter, lobster taglierini with Spanish chorizo and cobia made with an Asian dashi broth and enoki mushrooms are a few of chef Wynn’s creations that are worthy of high praise—and a drive across town. Throw in a strong cocktail program with complex but balanced drinks and you have a restaurant that possesses a rare vibe in the city. It’s a little raw and rough around the edges like the neighborhood but exudes a Bohemian Joie de Vivre. If you are adventurous, seek it out and remember to “Enjoy Yourself.”