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Archive for February, 2009

LowCountry Barbecue Restaurant closes

After two years, the Suwanee outpost of this well known and well loved local catering operation has pulled the plug.

 “Despite our efforts and loyal customer base, we were not able to make ends meet during this difficult time,” said owner Bennett Brown in a prepared statement.  “Our efforts will now be focused on our 24 year old catering business.”

For more information about LowCountry Barbecue Catering, call 404-352-1121, or visit

Continue reading LowCountry Barbecue Restaurant closes »

Canned soup and crackers

Wedged between the snacks and the candy at the prescription pick-up window at CVS. Is dinner an afterthought to medicine for some (a lot of?) people?

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Joël Antunes no longer with Oak Room at Plaza Hotel

Joël Antunes, the chef who left his namesake restaurant in Atlanta to take over the kitchen at the fabled Oak Room in New York’s Plaza Hotel, has been let go, according to Oak Room management.

Antunes was hired following a national search to helm the kitchen in the Oak Room, which reopened several months ago following a massive face lift. His luxurious French cooking was pitched to evoke the Gilded Age glory days of the Oak Room.

But reviews have been poor. After receiving a one-star takedown from the New York Times’ powerful restaurant critic, Frank Bruni, the chef got drubbed again in the most recent edition of New York magazine with a zero-star review

No word yet on the chef’s next move, but sources say the chances of him returning to the Atlanta restaurant that bears his name are quite unlikely.

Continue reading Joël Antunes no longer with Oak Room at Plaza Hotel »

сырники (syrniki) joy!

I made a great discovery yesterday at the New Odessa European Market and Deli, but had to consult a Russian syllabary before I could figure out what it was. My discoveries are stacked in the cake stand on the left, and they are identified here as “сырники.” 

The woman behind the counter advised me to heat them up in the oven first — maybe even to top them with a little jam after they were hot.

Who needs jam? These little beauties emerged from the oven with crisp edges and a soft, creamy-custardy interior. The flavor teetered on the sweet/savory edge between cheesecake cheesy and fried mozzarella stick cheesy. 

Once I could sound out the Cyrillic letters into “syrniki” I found both many odes to and and many recipes for this cheese pastry that is well loved through the Slavic world. Most recipes list only whole-milk farmer’s cheese, eggs, sugar, salt and a bit of flour. Wowza. 

I also picked up some fried pirozki pastries, with fillings that ranged from sauerkraut to …

Continue reading сырники (syrniki) joy! »

New Chef at 5-Star Georgian Room

The folks at the Cloister at Sea Island have confirmed that Scott Crawford is no longer chef at its Georgian Room restaurant. Crawford, who was previously chef at the Woodlands Inn in Summerville, S.C., opened this destination restaurant after the Cloister’s $500 million renovation. It earned five stars from the Mobil Travel Guide in its maiden year. (You can read my story about the restaurant and Crawford’s cooking here.)

The new chef de cuisine is Daniel Zeal, who had worked in Crawford’s kitchen. (He has this title because he reports to an executive chef for the resort.) He’ll continue working with the mother-daughter duo of farmers at nearby Sapelo Farms and continue preparing “refined Southern cuisine.” A couple of specialties on his new menu: “Vanilla Poached Maine Lobster, Sunchoke Puree, Buttered Citrus, Marcona Almonds” and “English Pea Ravioli, Morel Mushrooms, Sweet Onion, Parmesan Cracklings.” 

Crawford will take over the kitchen at the Umstead in Cary, …

Continue reading New Chef at 5-Star Georgian Room »

Restaurant openings and non-openings: Livingston, 30 Tables, La Goulue, Japonais

The Georgian Terrace in 1911I just got off the phone with chef Gary Mennie, who sounds a whole lot happier than he did in early January after closing Taurus — the South Buckhead restaurant he helmed for over three years.

Mennie is looking forward to a mid-April opening of Livingston in the Georgian Terrace after the Midtown icon gets an $11 million facelift. The name pays homage to former Atlanta mayor Livingston Mims — a well known turn-of-the-(20th)-century gourmet whose residence was at at the site of the Georgian Terrace. 

Micropundit — who moved from eGullet to the Atlanta Magazine blog — posted a good recap of the whos and whys behind the restaurant. 

Speaking of the competition, take a look at the Omnivore blog at Creative Loafing online, where Atlanta’s favorite Top Chef has started a regular column called “Knife’s Edge.” I think he’s referring to his hair…

Omnivore also reports that Concentrics Hospitality will take over the Maxim Prime space in the Glenn Hotel downtown with a new …

Continue reading Restaurant openings and non-openings: Livingston, 30 Tables, La Goulue, Japonais »

Can *you* keep your food budget to $30 a week??

The lovely Tami Hardeman — the only woman on the planet who can unite mollusks, a paintbrush and black nail polish into a vision of desire — has talked a number of her blogging, Twittering and Yelping zoomates into getting by for the week on just $30. She admits she can blow through nearly that much “in a nanosecond in the right store or restaurant,” but was motivated after reading about the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which averaged to $24 per week in fiscal year 2007.

You can follow Tami’s progress on her blog, Running with Tweezers. (You have to click through to get both the link to the blog and the strange reference to nail polish.)

Continue reading Can *you* keep your food budget to $30 a week?? »

All together now…

Normally, Atlanta’s big restaurant groups — Buckhead Life, Fifth Group, Concentrics — compete. They compete for attention, for press, for customers.

But with the poor economy taking a toll equally on all of them, these restaurant groups plus several others have decided to pool their advertising resources for a full-page ad that will first appear in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Business Chronicle this Friday.

“Thanks for sharing life’s great moments with us,” the ad reads. “Join us for another one tonight.”

Among the memorable occasions enumerated in the ad copy are “Dinner with the in-laws” and “Coming out.”

Hopefully, not on the same night….

Continue reading All together now… »

Guess what, kids? It’s Alien Stomach Rice!

It can be hard to make brown food look delicious even when you don’t photograph it with an iPhone. But this may be particularly ugly even by brown food standards. It looks more like John Hurt’s exploded stomach from “Alien” than anyone’s idea of an appetizing dinner. 

It did smell wonderful, enough so that all the little girl people and the dog in my house kept cycling through the kitchen to find out when dinner would be ready. 

What we have here is an improvised steamed rice dish with links of Italian sausage and pieces of bone-in chicken. I suppose it is akin to paella though I don’t want to bastardize the word. Paella uses short grain rice, cooks in a shallow vessel and should develop a crunchy crust. This dish used long-grain rice and cooked with a tight-fitting lid. The rice came out moist and clumpy, which is exactly what I was hoping for. Late winter is the perfect time for moist, clumpy, Alien-stomach rice.

What gave this particular version an appealing depth was the …

Continue reading Guess what, kids? It’s Alien Stomach Rice! »

Restaurant Stories

Where do you eat along the Beltline? Heather Hussey-Coker (left), the young urban planning student who leads the weekly bus tours of the proposed 22-mile loop, goes exploring. 

If you want to sign up for a tour — something I highly recommend to anyone who lives in Atlanta — you can do so here.

Continue reading Restaurant Stories »