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Archive for November, 2009

30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Skumba

skumba4How’s this for a recommendation? I’ve got a great restaurant for you; I just don’t know its name.

I’m going to go with Skumba, which is what its owner, Adam, calls it. Other signage says “Skumbia,” and “Kumba.” But according to a foodservice report, it was recently incorporated as  “Xkumba.”

Let’s just call it tasty, exotic and worth the effort to search out. Located in an East Point mini-mall at the corner of Stanton Road and Langford Parkway, Skumba serves wings, kosher dogs and fish sandwiches off its menu and fantastic Gambian food from a line-up of hotel pans in its steamtable. Ask Adam what’s good, and he will get busy preparing you tastes.

Chicken in peanut butter sauce

Chicken in peanut butter sauce

West African cooking can be challenging, but not here, where the food is made with crossover appeal in mind.

This chicken stew with peanut butter and okra has the wonderful, perfectly tempered presence of a gumbo — the spices and aromatic vegetables cooked so deeply into the sauce that it blooms and …

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Sunday Column: The Mary Mac’s Melee


For my Sunday column (which appeared in the print edition of the newspaper yesterday), I wrote about the lively discussion that followed my 30 Restaurants visit to Mary Mac’s Tea Room. Here’s the column. I’m going to go run for cover. See you next restaurant!

(P.S. Check out this nicely written blog inspired by the same comment that caught my attention.)

When I first moved to Atlanta in 1997 to become the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s dining critic, my editor drew up a huge list of restaurants for me to visit. As luck would have it, a 50-year-old institution called Mary Mac’s Tea Room had just received an aberrantly low health-inspection rating.

“I don’t think you need to go there, ” this editor said, looking a little relieved that we wouldn’t have to deal with it. For reasons too complicated to go into, some people loved this restaurant, others hated it, and it was so far off the food-trend radar that my time would be better spent elsewhere.

So years passed — years in which …

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Dessert sandwich, anyone?

Take 2 slices of Pepperidge Farm Very Thin White bread and toast until crisp. Add 3 squares Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate (or any chocolate) to one slice and microwave for 10-15 seconds to half soften. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with coarse salt. Assemble. Eat. Sigh.

Posted via web from ajcfoodandmore’s posterous

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Crawfish Shack Seafood

crawfish1My prediction?

In six months, Crawfish Shack Seafood will have gobbled up the empty retail space next door in its mini-mall, expanded it table seating five-fold and turned its small fresh seafood case into a full-service market.

This small Buford Highway restaurant, which has been quietly chugging along for over a year, is just about ready to break out of its shell.

Customers come early for lunch and dinner, line up patiently, and wait in prey for one of the four (count ‘em) tables inside and two outside. Carryout is an option, but with the fried and boiled seafood comes fresh from the kitchen, you want must eat it right away.

Owner Hieu Pham keeps things simple. The menu is that of a classic old-fashioned fish shack: a few common varieties of finfish and shellfish, plucked from an ice-filled display case and served raw to take home and cook yourself, or fried or steamed to go or to eat in house. Everyone, of course, wants fried fish to eat in house. This is basic human …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: McDonald’s

Would you eat this burger?

Would you eat this burger?


Well, because…

  1. I really haven’t ordered anything from a McDonald’s in years (my fast food preferece is Chick-fil-a or bust). I was curious.
  2. I’ve been following news and lifestyle reports on the new McDonald’s McCafé coffee drinks. If you’re not with the latte you love, love  the latte you’re with. I’ve been known to order up sweet, frothy coffee drinks from machines.
  3. I had a question for McDonald’s employees: “Do you know where the beef comes from?”

I think this an important question we all should be asking about ground beef before we eat it. Ever since reading this story in the New York Times, I have too many bad images in my mind of the way ground beef is processed. I’m not sure those details belong in this blog, but I won’t eat ground beef unless the person selling it can answer my one simple question.

Where’s it from?

mcd2So, I try out two branches of McDonald’s. At the first, the cashier laughs and rolls her eyes when I ask about the …

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Restaurant Review: Social Resto Cafe Bar

105518104_-2_299925lToday, AJC dining critic Meridith Ford Goldman reviews Social Resto Cafe Bar — the fun little French/Tunisian spot on a side street around the corner from Allen Plaza.

Have you been? What do you think of this restaurant?

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Bone’s Restaurant

AJC Staff

AJC Staff

This visit to Bone’s ends a three-day look at Atlanta steak houses. Tomorrow I go back to inexpensive dining — with a vengeance!

Anyone who has been following my Atlanta snarf-o-rama thus far knows that I am not above skewering  sacred cows. I figure the restaurants will sink or swim on their own merits, whether they are local favorites or branches of out-of-town chains.

And so I’ve been to two steak houses in short order.

The first, Kevin Rathbun Steak, is a local favorite. A modern interpretation of the genre, it’s all about big flavors, lots of choice, creativity and indulgence.

The second, BLT Steak, is a link in a global chain. It’s part of the new breed of hyphenated steak houses that hotels are finding to be sure bets these days. We’ve got “Italian Steak” at Pacci in the Palomar, “Southern Steak” at Park 75 in the Four Seasons, and this “French Bistro Steak.”

The third, Bone’s Restaurant, is a dinosaur. A wonderful, wonderful dinosaur.

I love that even on a …

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Playboy Names the Majestic One of America’s Top Ten Diners

AJC Staff

AJC Staff

The skin mag’s Web site has scoured the country for dives that give really, really good diner, and have named the Ponce fixture as one of their top finds.

It looks like the good folks at have done their homework. The Majestic, they say, is “located along a stretch of “Hot ‘Lanta” that’s resisted urban renewal, so the freaks do come out at night.”

You can read the whole thing and see what others made the cut here. Yes, it’s safe for work, as long as you don’t click the browser tab marked “girls.”

(Hat tip to the awesome Omnivore blog over at Creative Loafing.)

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: BLT Steak

AJC Staff

Decked-out ribeye (AJC Staff)

Yesterday’s visit to Kevin Rathbun Steak — with its huge, something-for-everyone menu — got me thinking about how much this kind of restaurant has changed over the past few years. This town is suddenly filled with all kinds of hyphenated steak houses. Pacci is an Italian steak house. Park 75 at the Four Seasons Hotel has become a “Southern Steak” house.

BLT Steak in the W Hotel downtown may be the strangest hybrid of all — a French bistro steak house. “BLT” stands for Bistro Laurent Tourondel, named for the French chef and empire builder.

Yes, it is one of these galumphing New York chains that has set itself up in wealthy cities throughout the world. It can also be ferociously expensive if you don’t watch carefully. (Was that really a $35 glass of wine I espied on the menu?) But the kitchen can cook with a level of finesse that few restaurants — chain or otherwise — match.

Being an equal-opportunity dad, I bring another one of my daughters to this …

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Top Chef Recap: Episode 11: “More Spamalot than Camelot”


Dale Chihuly canopy at the Bellagio

Dale Chihuly canopy at the Bellagio

As we return to “Top Chef” land after a special two-week palate-cleansing hiatus, we find our six remaining chefs showing signs of stress. At the McMansion, Robin roots through the drawer of Glad Flex bags with an untold purpose, possibly the intention to smash a piano into bits. Jen is sallow and wild haired. I mean really wild haired. She looks like she has just suffered a botched electroshock therapy session. Bryan pines for his wife and young son back home in Maryland. Everyone seems ready to get on with it.

Soon, the chefs find themselves in the bowels of the Venetian hotel, in a kind of kitchen catacomb. A phone rings, and a disembodied voice comes crackling through the line. Is it Charlie looking for his Angels? No, it’s Padma demanding food.

Cut to our hostess, who is upstairs splayed out in a guest room bed, and she’s not alone!

Padma is having a slumber party with erudite British food sensualist Nigella Lawson. These two …

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