Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
Helen, Georgia is known for its Bavarian facade and mostly Americanized German fare like bratwurst and sauerkraut. There are also the ubiquitous and decidedly un-German funnel cakes.
However, for the past nine or so years, visitors have had another more upscale option, Nacoochee Grill. The atmosphere is country casual in a remodeled old house next to the Habersham Winery. But the food is high quality, which is reflected in prices higher than average for the area.
Under new ownership the menu has undergone some changes recently, although I can’t complain. They had a seared foie gras special a couple of months ago that was fantastic and only $13, a bargain by Atlanta restaurant standards. I enjoyed it as my entree with one of their baked sweet potatoes and awesome salad on the side. (see my earlier post Foie Gras and Hot Boiled Peanuts in Helen, GA)
My parents and I have had dinner at Nacoochee numerous times, my Mom usually ordering the grilled Szechuan glazed salmon and my Dad sticks with blackened or grilled fish of some variety. I’ve been known to have the duck, pork chop, skewered shrimp and scallops, or fish, depending on my mood, all of which are served with a choice of two sides.
I’m very picky about my salads. I eat one almost every day. The side salad here is pretty standard field greens and often includes a few icky wilted leaves but I still love it because their signature honey balsamic dressing is delish!
Other sides served are slow simmered collards, sweet corn pudding, baked sweet potato with cinnamon butter, garlic cheese grits, smashed potatoes, and more, all with a sophisticated Southern accent.
Fried chicken, fried seafood, steaks, and pasta dishes round out the entrees while venison chili, smoked trout chowder, fried calamari, and crab cakes can often be found on the appetizers list. I’ve had the crab cake sandwich, sans bread, as a light lunch and it is pretty tasty.
However, my favorite lunch item is the French Country Salad. My Mom and I used to split it and get another dish like the above-mentioned crab cake or the smoked trout chowder, but recently we’ve taken to ordering two of the salads…..we love it that much! Made with field greens, it is topped with copious amounts of gorgonzola, walnuts, thick-cut bacon, and a few slices of apple and onion. It comes with warm bacon vinaigrette (pretty much just bacon fat which is naturally delicious), but of course, we opt for the house honey balsamic dressing.
Their wine list is mostly from neighboring Habersham Winery. Despite Nacoochee’s lack of German cuisine, do have the riesling, it’s a sweet deal!