Atlanta gets all kind of McLovin’ from the James Beard Foundation today. From the nods for best chef and restaurateur nationally to the expected Southeastern chef awards, our city looks like more of a player this year than in awards seasons past.
The semifinalists comprise 20 nominees in each of 19 categories from more than 15,000 entries. The James Beard Awards are the most hyped and among the most prestigious prizes given to American chefs and restaurateurs. (The foundation also grants awards to cookbooks, restaurant designers and media, but these do not have a semifinalist stage in the process.)
And here’s where the full disclosure comes: I am one of the 400-some judges, so my vote had some bearing on the results announced today.
I can also say that in years past, this list was called merely “the second round of voting” and wasn’t promoted. But lately the list has gotten out and morphed into this pre-pre-award. The five finalists will be announced on March 23, and the
And yet everything I had heard about and all the pictures I had seen of Bone Garden Cantina made me think, “Well, there’s a moderately appealing restaurant. I’ll wait until I’m in the neighborhood.”
Why? Because I get my Mexican Mex fix at modest taquerias in Chamblee or Forest Park, and I get my Gringo Mex fix at Taqueria del Sol.
This place, from one of the owners of the Vortex burger bars, sounded like neither. I feared bastardized Mexican dishes, but no greasy, cheesy nurstiness to knock back with a margarita. Plus, I remember the former tenant, Ambra, as being a lonely, sad cafe. Set in the remote corner of the Lumber Yard complex on the west side, this is a restaurant you really have to want to find.
And what an awesomely fun menu. Just about everything is à la
The answer isn’t here.
If my parents hadn’t taken me to eat at Chez Michel restaurant in Bethesda, Md., when I was five years old, I think my life would have turned out differently. Instead of becoming a food obsessive I might have developed another passion — swing dancing, say, or collecting porcelain figurines.
Chez Michel was country cozy in decor, with copper pots and dried flower arrangements on the walls, and doilies upon doilies — serious doilies under every vase on every sideboard.
The waiters were almost comically courteous, and the classic menu was written with flowery prose and peppered with enticing words like délice and “sauce.”
Sauce? “It’s like the juice in stew,” my mother explained.
I ordered escargots and licked the shell indentations clean. My parents gave each other the “have we spawned a demon child” look.
Some of you all may just be discovering this blog today after following the link provided in the printed Food & Drink section. If so, welcome.
I started blogging under the radar about a month ago so that I could get a feel for the pace and learn what topics would better resonate with readers. So there’s a backlog of posted items that I hope you’ll look through.
Please take a moment to bookmark this blog or add it to your Google Reader or RSS feed. I plan to update it very frequently with Atlanta restaurant and dining news, excursions to food shops, cooking notes and recipes, posts about nice things to drink, and a few assorted stupidities that may or may not be as amusing as I find them.
Now meet the Rayettes! Betty Joan Thurber, Christina Arpante and Tami Hardeman are three of the best food bloggers in Atlanta. My story about them can be found here.
Thanks for stopping by.
Leon’s co-owner Mike Gallagher notes that the idea for selling the first pint to benefit employees of Trackside Tavern and 5th Earl Market came from Daren Wang, one of the founders of the Decatur Book Festival.