Since opening last fall, Eden Hill is already developing a reputation for its creative cuisine from chef Maximillian Petty, which is delicious (and often slightly accented in an imaginatively southwestern way). I recently stopped in, but didn’t sit at one of the tables, instead grabbing stools at the little bar within the restaurant – a position that I think may be the best in the house. Here are three impressions from the visit.
The Cocktails: While the cocktail list is compact--only four drinks--it’s nicely put together, with each choice named after a drink’s base spirit. I’ll admit to being a big proponent normally of creative cocktail names, but the simple elegance in this approach matched the space and set up perfectly. The “Gin” cocktail I had boasted only a few ingredients, but big flavors: house-infused black pepper gin, regular gin (a double gin-ing is a swell and rare occurrence), a little sweet vermouth, some fresh herbs. The end result was a lovely layered drink with that pepper at the front, but not overwhelming other herb and spice hints. The cocktail list rotates seasonally, too, keeping things fresh. It also does a dandy job making the classics (the Manhattan served to my neighbor was a good example).
The Space: The bar is intimate, only eight stools, cuddling up between the dining space and the kitchen. But it has a lovely marble top that perfectly accents the white walls with flower-printed wallcoverings. Sitting there, you get a great view of the bartenders in action, as well as getting to chat with the amiable and accommodating staff of shakers, like Chauncey Arkfeld, who are making the drinks and providing the chatter on my visit. I feel it’s an ideal spot for a date, perhaps especially an earlier date (or an anniversary of some kind) as the atmosphere is all sorts of cozy.
The Wine and Food: Okay, I’m cheating a little and putting two things together, but not mentioning the food would be awful, and the wine list also needs a nod. Like the cocktails, there isn’t an overwhelming wine selection, but the choices and wine and food pairings (ask the bartender for suggestions) are so well picked that more would be overkill. The full food menu is available at the bar, but there’s also less pressure to go all in. Have drink and share a couple of plates – heck, a drink and Eden Hill's absolutely perfect bread and house-cultured butter with wild lavender sea salt is a great after-work idea. With the Gin cocktail mentioned above though, the Cauliflower “Chilaquiles” (fried cauliflower, Manchego crema, jalapeno, merlot cabbage, and a chive blossom hot sauce) are the way to go.