The story and mission of Benne on Eagle is written, quite literally, onto its walls. Before the kitchen’s final metal fireproofing materials were put up, founding chef Ashleigh Shanit wrote “sankofa” from one end to the other. An African work, “sankofa” translates roughly “go back and get it” — and that’s just what the restaurant does.
Benne on Eagle sits in this historically African American section known as The Block. The hope is to reclaim this neighborhood and build on its roots, and to that effect many of the current employees had parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who worked and owned businesses in this part of town.
The focus on the area’s heritage continues with the menu, where there are many classic Appalachian soul food options. Items include well-known items like cornmeal pancakes and eggs benedict, as well as lesser-known local favorites like liver with pickles. There’s also a catfish and waffle combination, braised rabbit dinner and yellow grits. Everything is prepared with fine ingredients, many of which are sourced locally when possible.
Complementing these food options is an impressive cocktail menu that features many sweet concoctions. While you can always ask for a classic that’s not on the menu, the sweet and spicy options are too tempting. Many combine citrus with spice, but there’s also sesame, poblano and sage flavors dotting the listed drinks.
Don’t be fooled by this restaurant’s location in a historic neighborhood. Although The Block has gone through ups and downs, this is definitely a bright spot in its story. Beene on Eagle is a high-end restaurant that’s pursuing a great mission. It’s the perfect place to go for a fancy meal or just to get after-dinner drinks.
A few of our menu favorites and Benne on Eagle include:
Chili and Lemongrass
A creative cocktail in itself, the Chili and Lemongrass is made even better by using local Chemist gin. The gin’s mixed with chili, lemongrass and lemon juice for a spicy and sour concoction that’s surprisingly good.
Liver and Pickles
Only for the adventurous, the Liver and Pickles appetizer features liver pudding, trout rillette, pickled trotter terrine, Lusty Monk mustard, assorted pickles and crackers. Half those things might be unfamiliar if you’re not from the area, but many old-timers swear by them. If you’re up for something new, see why these are local favorites.
Fried Catfish and Waffles
A truly Appalachian take on the chicken and waffles, Fried Catfish and Waffles blends is both breakfast and dinner. Smother the white gravy on it all.
Collard Green and Fennel Salad
If looking for a healthy meal while traveling, the Collard Green and Fennel Salad is top-notch. The greens are complemented by fresh strawberries and local peas, and everything is topped with a plantain dressing (one of the few items that aren’t from the region).
Pan-Fried Sunburst Trout
Good fish fried to perfection and placed alongside fresh-roasted vegetables. Just like your grandparents used to eat, except you don’t have to clean the fish or scrub the veggies.
Benne on Eagle is located within the Foundry Hotel. If you’re looking for the restaurant, find the hotel and head inside. You’ll see the eatery.