What a surprise Hicham Azhari and Fikret Kovac have in store for diners at Opulent restaurant in Roswell, Ga.
The owners have redone the old INC. Street Food eatery with its gritty graffiti-style brick walls and Latin cuisine and transformed it into a sophisticated dining experience with polished furnishings and an American menu "with a modern twist." Black and white now dominates the space with white tile walls, antique mirrors, black and white photos of American icons such as Charlie Chaplin, and clear glass bottles of Opulent vodka.
The menu has been elevated as well — now offering such trendy items as salmon sashimi, blistered shishito peppers, and fusilli avellinesi with roasted tomatoes, capers, basil, olive oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
While the pan-seared scallops with beech mushrooms, buttered leeks, and bacon Parmesan broth were perfectly prepared and tasty, I couldn’t get enough of the chicken and fig flatbread or the eggplant fries. Those fries were so light and crispy with a sprinkling of Sichuan spices and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Salad lovers may have a hard time choosing between the quinoa salad with spinach, arugula, mint, shallots, cashews, feta, and a satsuma vinaigrette and the green goddess salad with leaf lettuce, grape tomatoes, chevré, Parmesan grissini, shallots, and herb dressing.
Among the entrées, the orecchiette turned out to be one of my favorite. Imagine the flavors of pork sausage with broccoli rabe and Calabrian chiles combining with those little ears of pasta and exploding on your tongue. The New York strip with leek bread pudding, glazed onions, French beans, and a red wine beef jus didn’t disappoint. Parmesan-crusted Carolina flounder with burnt lemon was light with a citrus burst and the goat cheese-stuffed chicken was a wonderful comfort dish — creamy and filling.
Also on the menu, which I didn’t get to sample, were duck tacos, BBQ shrimp, sorghum-glazed pork belly and a Kobe beef burger with Gruyère cheese and shitake mushrooms.
The restaurant’s signature drink is the Opulent sparkler, concocted with cava sparkling wine, pomegranate, and a sprig of rosemary. The extensive bar also offers a full line of wine and liquor.
At this tasting I saved room for dessert, a buttermilk panna cotta and chocolate walnut bar. Both were beautifully presented and made for a sweet finish for the meal.