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Archive for November, 2009

Still Wondering where to go for Thanksgiving?

AJC Staff

AJC Staff

You might try one of these restaurants and see if they still have openings:

(Note: the verbiage belongs to the restaurants, not to me.)

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving, and I appreciate all the comments and interactions on this blog. (Even the ones where people told me to get a life. ) An open forum, where people of different persuasions and backgrounds, can get together and talk about food is a fine thing, indeed.

I’ll see you on the other side of the tryptophan haze!

1. South City Kitchen Midtown

1144 Crescent Avenue

404.873.7358

OPEN THANKSGIVING DAY 12-6:30pm

http://southcitykitchen.com/midtown

Three-course dinner for $35/person ($17.50 for children 12 and under) plus tax.

APPETIZER (choose one)

Fried Green Tomatoes goat cheese, sweet red pepper coulis

Oysters Rockefeller Gratin

Spicy Pimento Cheese toasted corn crackers, celery hearts

Harvest Salad roasted butternut squash, chopped romaine, shaved red onions,

black pepper vinaigrette, toasted pecans, …

Continue reading Still Wondering where to go for Thanksgiving? »

30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Joël Brasserie

joel1The party of three secured one of the last free tables on a busy Thursday night at Joël Brasserie — that size-reduced, downscaled, weekday-special-touting restaurant that used to be big, fancy Joël.

Madame #1 was in a resplendent red jacket covered in so many sequins that it shimmered like snakeskin. Madame #2 was plainly dressed in a black skirt and cardigan. Monsieur wore a turtleneck under a blazer and sported Daniel Libeskind black-framed glasses.

All three ordered the evening’s special — coq au vin served with a glass of the newly released Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau ($19). Because there were three of them and they appeared to be regulars, sommelier Perrine Prieur gave them the whole bottle.

This scene made me happy. I loved seeing this dressy Buckhead party taking advantage of a bargain. Fifty-eight dollars for three — food and wine! It said to me that this restaurant that has struggled so hard to stay relevant in today’s economy had succeeded in making itself …

Continue reading 30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Joël Brasserie »

Blog buzz puts pizza on local map

ggFord1106+03This risks serious overkill, but here’s my story that ran in today’s print edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about how social media turned a certain pizza parlor into a major sensation. Promise, promise, promise I’m onto new pizza adventures henceforth.

It was not quite two months ago when Giovanni di Palma opened Antico Pizza Napoletana on the ragged edge of the Home Park neighborhood and saw a curious thing happen.

Three young women ordered a pie from the small to-go counter, and since there was no seating inside, they spread a blanket in the pizzeria’s grungy parking lot, lit candles and opened a bottle of wine.

“Is this even safe?” he wondered. “I never anticipated young girls having picnics. There are a lot of dicey characters out there.”

Within the first week, word of di Palma’s game-changing Neapolitan pizza had spread to influential local food writer Jennifer Zyman, who wasted no time in staking her claim to the year’s best discovery on her blog, Blissful …

Continue reading Blog buzz puts pizza on local map »

Canoe Reopens

photo-1Just eight weeks after devastating flood waters rose to nearly six feet in the dining room, Canoe restaurant reopened for business last night.

I stopped by to have dinner and get a look at the interior, which had to be completely refurbished. Managing partner Vince Palermo was there, looking sharp in a tux, as were his partners George McKerrow, Jr., and Ron San Martin.

Dining room manager Jennifer Krapp and chef Carvel Grant Gould made the rounds, beaming.

“You were here on the worst day,” said Gould, recalling September 23, two days after the flood, when I trudged through the muddy parking lot to report on the devastation. “And now you’re here on the best!”

Carvel Grant Gould

Carvel Grant Gould

The restaurant looks essentially the same, but with a more subdued color palette, which I really like. Gone is the Southwestern patterned fabric on the banquettes that gave Canoe the vague look of an Aspen ski lodge. Now, there is a rich burgundy fabric and a darker stain on the wooden railings to …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Han Il Kwan

credit: funkidivagirl.com

Eating and Tweeting (credit: funkidivagirl.com)

Have you ever been to an “Eat ‘N Tweet?”

I hadn’t either until last week when I visited Han Il Kwan — an excellent Korean barbecue restaurant on Buford Highway — with a trio of lovely social media powerhouses.

With handheld devices at the ready, we all logged into Twitter and Tweeted throughout the entire meal, simultaneously pushing tiny buttons and stuffing faces, fielding questions from followers and lobbing them at our savvy and amused waitress, snapping pictures and knocking back glasses of the warm barley tea called boricha. If anyone had asked me to pat my head or rub my stomach, I think I would have lost it.

My guests for this grand experiment included:

  • @funkidivagirl
  • @chatterboxcgc
  • @AskWifey

The latter two also blog and Tweet as @blogrollers. For this event I, too, shed the name on my birth certificate and chewed as @jdkess.

We then proceeded to give a blow-by-blow of our meal and our conversation in real time, using …

Continue reading 30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Han Il Kwan »

Feel-good Blog Comment of the Day

Mary Mac's beloved owner Margaret Lupo, who died in 1998

Mary Mac's beloved owner Margaret Lupo, who died in 1998

This blog comment just came in from Judith Lupo Wold, daughter of Margaret Lupo, on the Mary Mac’s thread. I wanted to make sure everyone saw it. I know I’ll be thinking about Ms. Wold’s letter this Thursday when I’m snapping green beans, making cornbread and roasting turkey.

John: Since you have not been in Atlanta “forever”, you never had the pleasure of meeting my mother, Margaret Lupo who owned and operated Mary Macs Tearoom from the early 1960’s until her death in 1998. Mother was at the “tearoom” every morning around 6 (not home till 10 pm). She personally tasted everything on the steam table (with clean spoons of course) for quality…she was a hands on owner-operator. My father, who was in the produce business for many years in Atlanta, personally visited the farmer’s market daily, choosing vegetables from “produce row.” String beans were snapped by the bartender, at the bar, during slow hours. …

Continue reading Feel-good Blog Comment of the Day »

30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Jerusalem Bakery

baklavaI’m starting with dessert first in this blog post because this square of honey-soaked pistachio baklava ($1.49) was:

a) incredibly delicious; and,

b) photographed reasonably well.

See those layers of phyllo? They collapse in crisp snaps as you bite through, like a little jackhammer.

Where am I? At Jerusalem Bakery in Alpharetta, where I have come in search of falafel that some think is the best in the metro area.

This spot is a branch of the original Jerusalem Bakery in Marietta, which sells Palestinian pastries and fresh pita breads both wholesale and retail from a small counter.

The Alpharetta location has a pastry counter, a nice selection of groceries and dry goods, and a quick-service deli counter where you can order all kinds of Middle Eastern specialties (falafel, shawarma, hummus) and pizzas.

Before we get to the falafel, let me show you the shawarma spits:

shwarmaYou can kind of see that they offer both chicken and beef — nice looking whole pieces of seasoned meat stacked up …

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Sunday Column: The Atlanta Dining Scene, Then and Now

LeftSidelayout_home_03When I stopped reviewing restaurants for this newspaper in early 2005, Atlanta was a different dining town. Atlantic Station was still a construction site. Decatur had as many dusty gift shops as cafes. The few restaurants operating in the Old Fourth Ward and West Midtown were called “outposts.” Two of the nation’s 14 restaurants that merited five stars from the Mobil Travel Guide Five Star — Seeger’s and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead — stood 1.6 miles apart and routinely stole each other’s top talent. Both have closed.

Now that I’ve returned to the dining beat, I’m discovering a new spirit in town. Today’s Atlanta is a city of neighborhoods that have been cobbled together from buildings old, new and reclaimed. The city’s mood and ambition have changed: Atlanta is less concerned about being “cosmopolitan” and more eager to come off as “livable.” Nowhere do you see this change more than in the restaurant scene.

Restaurants are more oriented to their neighborhoods …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Nam

AJC Staff

Rice Flour Tamales: AJC Staff

For at least a year, owner Alex Kinjo has been encouraging me to try the pho at Nam, which is his mother’s recipe.

I have always nodded politely and said, “Yeah, yeah.”

When I want pho, I go to a good, cheap pho parlor, such as I did yesterday at Pho Dai Loi #2. When I dine at Nam, I want something more restaurant-y, such as these rice flour tamales served in the shade of an anthurium. With or without the rude flower, they are wonderful.

But when I was making plans to meet friends for lunch in Midtown recently, I remembered Kinjo’s mom’s pho.

The menu at Nam has changed little over the years. This isn’t the restaurant where you go looking for daily specials and seasonal ingredients, but rather where you revisit old favorites.

nam1We began with an order of cha gio rolls, served with well-trimmed lettuce leaves, marinated veggies and herbs for rolling. All the fresh greenery makes the fried crunch that much more satisfying.

nam7This green mango (as in the …

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30 Restauants in 30 Days: Dai Loi #2

dailoiGranted, I don’t know you. I don’t know anything about you, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that you will like pho if you try it.

There are scores of Vietnamese pho parlors around the city, and I suggest you just walk into whichever one is closest and order a bowl of “pho tai.” This will come with rosy slices of rare beef and none of that tendon and tripe that can put some people off.

Did I say tendon and tripe? OK, please forget about that for now.

Instead, think about these happy words: cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander and star anise. These are the warming, smile-making spices that infuse each pot of limpid beef stock. Imagine a big bowl of this soup, steaming hot, and plumbed with noodles and slivered onions.

Are you hungry yet?

OK, more: That rare beef will come on top, and I suggest you immediately snatch it from the soup and place it on a side dish to keep it from overcooking. You can swish it through the broth later.

Take a sip of the broth and appreciate the …

Continue reading 30 Restauants in 30 Days: Dai Loi #2 »