City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Archive for March, 2010

Atlanta 2010 Zagat Survey released

zagat_logoZagat released its 20th annual survey of Atlanta restaurants yesterday, and the results are…..not very surprising.

Bacchanalia again headed the list of 737 restaurants in the “top food” and “most popular” categories. Quinones at Bacchanalia got the nod for “top service,” while Nan Thai Fine Dining earned “top decor.” Other high-scoring restaurants include Bone’s, Rathbun’s, Aria, Canoe and Nikolai’s Roof.

In other findings:

  • 51% of Atlantans make their reservations online, second nationally to San Francisco with 52%.
  • Atlantans eat out 3.3 times a week, slightly above the national average of 3.2 times.
  • The average meal here costs $31.35, significantly below the national average of $35.25.
  • Significant percentages of the 2,731 survey respondents reported cutting back on alcohol, appetizers and desserts in an effort to keep meal costs down.

Here’s my question: Does anyone still keep a copy of the Zagat Survey in the glove compartment, or have we all moved online for our hoi …

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Wall Street Journal Restaurant Critic quits

Ann Price (AJC Staff)

Ann Price (AJC Staff)

Raymond Sokolov — the journeyman food writer who has recently been penning restaurant reviews for the Wall Street Journal — has decided to leave his post, the New York Times reports. He quit after the paper announced it would abandon opinion-driven restaurant reviews in favor of food trend stories.

In recent years, the New York Daily News has also shed its restaurant reviewer.

Sokolov is the writer who called the Ghetto Burger at Ann’s Snack Bar the best burger in the country. The “trendiest” burger in the country, it is not.

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Oxford American Food Issue hits newsstands

oacoverThe annual Oxford American Food Issue is now out on newsstands.  (We all remember what those are, right?)

It’s a bounteous meat-and-three of Southern food writing — lots of meaty features and compelling side stories, a few of which are up online:

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Yuzu Drops, anyone?

photo-10Last weekend a friend and I got together and cooked for a mutual friend’s birthday party. It was one of those turning-of-the-odometer birthdays, so we went all out. I was charged with inventing a cocktail, and since I’m a fiend for the flavor of yuzu — i.e., Asian citron — I came up with this concoction.

I started with a jar of Korean citron tea — basically a yuzu marmalade that is meant to be stirred into hot water for a beverage. Instead, I pureed the contents of the jar with the juice of 4 large lemons and double strained it, first through a sieve and then through cheesecloth, to get rid of all the fine bits of rind.

A shake in a shaker with some nice, botanical-forward gin, a few drops of Fee Brothers orange bitters and some ice, and we had one helluva cocktail. I really love the unique perfumed tang of yuzu, which is like lemon and jasmine combined.

You can get the citron tea at any large Asian market and the bitters at any good liquor store.

Continue reading Yuzu Drops, anyone? »

Stayin’ Alive

jpegFeel the city breaking!

Everybody shaking!

Where? Why, at Andrews Upstairs in Buckhead — or what was Andrews Upstairs above East Andrews Cafe & Bar but is now — Bee Gee falsetto, please! — 8 Traxx Disco!

You should go this Saturday night to the “St. Paddy’s Night Fever” party. If you don’t like it, I’m sure the bartender will give you the password to get into Prohibition downstairs.

You just have to be able to speak jive…

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The burger search is on

Thanks to everyone who, in more than 200 comments on this blog, gave me an idea of where to start looking for the city’s best and most interesting burgers. There is a real burger revolution afoot as restaurants rethink the staple menu item. The 8-ounce patty that you can barely fit your mouth around has given way to much more elegant and carefully constructed sandwiches. I’m noticing several trends:

  • Thanks to the runaway success of the Holeman & Finch Public House 10 p.m. burger, stacks are in. Gooey, drippy, American-cheesy stacks.
  • Flip Burger Boutique has found the sweet spot between ginormous and slider with its 5-ounce burger. You savor every bite, you have room for one of the creative sides and, heck, you maybe order a second one to share with a friend.
  • Burgers served in fast-food restaurants and made from some supermarket ground beef can be the ultimate in unwholesome mystery meat. So more and more burger places are reassuring customers that the beef is from a reliable …

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Pacific Oysters — the Chihuaha and the Great Dane

photo-8Last week, Inland Seafood’s general manager of plant operations, Rich Luff, took me on a tour of the distributor’s Tucker headquarters. Three things particularly fascinated me:

  1. The building, a former Mary Kay Cosmetics distribution center, has hallways laid out in the form of the letters “MK.”
  2. Fish cutters insert sides of salmon into a machine that spits out perfect 6 ounces portions. If the fillets are very large then the long, skinny slices that emerge are called “hot dog cuts” in the trade.
  3. These two oysters, which are really the same critter. Both are Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) — a species native to the Pacific coast of Asia but now cultivated all up and down the North American Pacific coast. Left to their own devices, these pups can grow to a foot or longer. Indeed, Chinese chefs are quite fond of the 6″-8″ specimens (right), which can be steamed and then topped with black bean or ginger/scallion sauce.

So what do we have on the left? This little guy is a …

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Where am I?

Any guesses where I am or what — valued in the tens of thousands — lies in these boxes?

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Sunday Column: Looking for, not finding, street food

Gwinnett County Taco Truck, June 2005

Gwinnett County Taco Truck, June 2005

In yesterday’s Sunday column I caught up with my old friend Christiane Lauterbach, the longtime Atlanta food writer, who has started a blog that documents both the paucity of and the growing cry for food carts in Atlanta. There are a few taco trucks that fly under the radar here and there, but nothing of the gourmet food truck revolution that has rocked other cities like Los Angeles, Portland and New York.

If you know of any good food carts, be sure to let Christiane know.


Christiane Lauterbach takes an appreciative bite of her Sonoran hot dog — a bacon-wrapped tube steak piled high with messy, gunky yumminess — beans, queso, slaw, mayo. It is a fine simulacrum of the dish served from trucks parked throughout Tucson, Ariz.

“I like this, ” she says, “but I don’t believe in $9 street food. How about that?”

How about that.

This hot dog was not served from a real truck, but rather from a stage-set truck parked in front …

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Couscous! It’s about time

Couscous prepared by Yves Samake of the Atlanta Ritz-Carlton

Couscous prepared by Yves Samake of the Atlanta Ritz-Carlton

Normally I prefer to not dwell on what Atlanta lacks in terms of food choice and instead go looking for what we have. But I have long decried the lack of a good French North African couscous meal.

I know we have a couple of good Moroccan restaurants — Imperial Fez in Buckhead and Imane in Gwinnett County — that serve couscous. But a Moroccan meal can be kind of an event with the floor cushions, the eating with your fingers, the acrobatic green tea pouring, etc. It’s shebang-y.

In France, couscous is a popular ethnic dish that cuts across economic levels. People may go out to a fun, slightly cheesy, super-cheap couscous restaurant the way we might go out for Mexican. Or a neighborhood bistro might serve couscous once a week as a special and use high quality meats for garnish in the spirit of fried chicken Tuesdays at Watershed. Or a Parisian might invite a bunch of people over for a couscous dinner at home the way a …

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