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Archive for November, 2009

Speakeasy called Prohibition to open in Buckhead


Paging Maxwell Smart! There’s a new speakeasy-style drinks place coming to Buckhead. But if you want to get inside, you have to secure a secret pass code, go to the special phone booth across the street and only then will you get the intel on the location of the secret entrance.

Is this for real?

Apparently so.  You can read all about it, below.

A little quick context: The speakeasy trend was big in New York several years ago. One of the most famous examples was Milk & Honey, started by mixologist Sasha Petraske. Of course, there was no press release, no Web site, no published number to call for the pass code. You actually had to know someone.

Petraske, by the way, is the fellow behind Drinkshop in the W Hotel downtown.

Here’s the press release:

Prohibition will open on Thursday, December 3rd at 56 East Andrews Drive in Andrews Square. This upscale Buckhead lounge has the feel of a 1920s underground speakeasy and no sign makes it more discreet. While it is not a …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Canoe

canoeWhen you walk into Canoe, you are first greeted not by a hostess but by a display of photographs set up on two easels in the foyer. They show the flood that destroyed the restaurant in late September and the ensuing cleanup, rebuilding and redecorating that culminated in the restaurant’s reopening eight weeks later.

Once inside the dining room, you can’t help but notice the high-water mark — a thin white line painted on the wall at about six feet above the ground.

If you were very familiar with Canoe before the flood, then you will notice a change in mood. The color scheme is richer, the lighting dimmer, the wood partitions darker. It feels more elegant — more like a special night out, less like a scene.

My memories of the antediluvian Canoe go back to its serious scene days. I first dined here soon after it opened in 1997 for a meal with a group of editors after a two-day job interview at the AJC. I remember that the bright, cheerful room thrummed with that Olympics-era …

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Sunday Column: Me and Mickey D’s


Here is the column I wrote in response to the discussion that followed my post on McDonald’s.

When my editor and I began talking through the “30 Restaurants in 30 Days” project for my blog, I said that I wanted to pick as broad and as surprising a range of restaurants as I could. We started brainstorming, and I threw out the names of restaurants — French and Thai, in the city center and beyond its periphery, down home and exotic — that had piqued my interest recently. “What about McDonald’s?” I asked. My editor blinked.

Seriously. I was curious to try the fast-food chain’s new line of McCafé coffee drinks. If their lattes were less expensive than Starbucks and no worse, then I’d have some good, informed opinion to share.

“Are you going to get a burger, too?” asked my editor, thinking a cup of coffee wasn’t much of a blog post.

“I can’t,” I said, admitting that I’m way too wary of ground beef. I always ask about where the meat comes from before ordering a burger in any …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: West Egg Cafe

westegg1What we have here is one extremely well made sandwich ($7.95). Between these two thick, pillowy slices of toasted challah bread are two hard-cooked fried eggs, cheddar and jack cheeses, bacon, crisp greens, slivers of red onion, enough mayonnaise to gush ever so slightly out the sides and a surprising tomato jam.

When you pick it up, you realize that you are in for the long haul with this creation. It will fall apart into its slippery constituents should you loosen your grip. You have no choice but to bite, chew, bite, chew, bite, chew until you are close enough to the crust to lay it down without mishap.

Each one of those bites will be a mouthful of conflicting signals. That tomato jam is sweeeeet – too sweet you will think at first. But, no, those red onions respond with their sharpness and bite. The bacon, like a scary ex-girlfriend, will not be ignored, and chimes in with smoke and salt. Meanwhile the eggs, gooey cheese and gushy mayo keep trying, unsuccessfully,  to …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Community Q BBQ

community3 I like to think of barbecue as a verb rather than a noun. It’s something that happens, not a pile of product sitting around waiting to be consumed.

That’s why barbecue restaurants can be so disappointing. One time the barbecue is the stuff of dreams  — moist, tinged with pink, smoky in that way that suggest an alchemical union of wood and flesh. And then on another day it is dry, stringy and forgettable.

I still recall how exciting it was years ago to discover Hometown Barbecue when it operated from a weekends-only travel trailer in a Lawrenceville parking lot. People lined up early and waited to get their hands on a slab of the incredibly juicy and smoky ribs. Then the owners moved into a full-service restaurant. I visited a couple of times and found the product bedeviled by the inconsistencies that always beset barbecue restaurants.

Who knows how Community Q BBQ will fare in the long run, but I’m here to tell you that after a mere fortnight on the scene, this place is …

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Turkey on Fire!

I had to share this video my nephew send me of my brother-in-law, Ed, trying to cook a whole stuffed turkey on the grill after the oven conked out.

Just what you want to have happen on Thanksgiving Day with a crowd of people coming over. My sister said the dinner preparations were a little hairy for a while there, but the turkey was, eventually,  delicious.

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Restaurant Review: The Iberian Pig

Churros (Credit: AJC Staff)

Churros (Credit: AJC Staff)

This week dining critic Meridith Ford Goldman reviews the Iberian Pig in Decatur. I haven’t been yet but am eager to try it, if only for the Pata Negra Spanish ham on the menu.

Have you been? Do you agree with Meridith’s review?

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This Week in Eggs: Thumbs Up Diner

thumbsupBoo! Hiss!

I usually love Thumbs Up Diner. Then again, I usually get either the tofu and veggies or eggs scrambed with goat cheese and spinach. I also like their “heap” of seasoned spuds with cheese and all sorts of add ons.

But this brown, bouncy omelette really didn’t do it for me.

Are overcooked omelettes the norm here?

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Pricci

Chef Piero Premoli and staff at Pricci

Chef Piero Premoli and staff

One of the most interesting things I’ve learned over this 30-day dine-a-thon is that restaurants throughout Atlanta are really thinking hard about the new economic reality and adjusting their menus to find that sweet spot where the prices feel like a bargain and the meal tastes like an indulgence.

At Pricci, the longstanding Italian restaurant in Buckhead, chef Piero Premoli has devised a fascinating concept. Each month, the Milan native focuses on a different region of Italy and explores that cuisine through a fixed-price ($29) three-course menu.There are several choices of appetizer and entree as well as two desserts.

On the night we visited, the special menu features dishes from Friuli Venezia Giulia — the corner of Italy bordered by Slovenia, Austria and the Adriatic Sea. I have good friends from Friuli and have visited them at their home in Udine. I remember going out to a restaurant and being impressed with the slight Germanic sweet-and-sour …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Umaido and Blue Fin Sushi



Happy Thanksgiving! Today, let me tell you about something that will taste very good this weekend after feasting on turkey, potatoes, stuffing and pie.

It is ramen — not ramen from a crinkly package but from a steaming bowl in a Japanese restaurant.

Earlier in this series, I visited two restaurants that serve Vietnamese pho, which is made with rice-flour noodles in a clear beef soup.

Ramen is served with wheat-four noodles in a soup made of chicken, pork or combination of the two. The broth can range from pale, to soy-dark to milky white depending on what style it is.

If I can make one flaky comparison of these two Asian soups, it is this:

Pho, with its sweet spices and fresh greenery is cooling. It’s the kind of hot soup that tastes best to me on a sunny afternoon or a summer evening. Ramen is warming. It flicks the comfort-food switch in your head like no other food can on an overcast fall day.

umaido1Umaido in Suwanee is the only local restaurant I know of that makes the …

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