In yesterday’s print column in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I announced that I will be resuming the role of principal restaurant critic.
BACK TO THE TABLE
Nearly six years ago I wrote that it “was time to put my fork in the dishwasher” and stopped reviewing restaurants for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. At that time my kids were young, my girth was expanding at an alarming rate and my brain was a little worn out from 13 solid years of critiquing food here and elsewhere. It seemed the right time for a change.
But nothing is permanent — not even change. Friday, I will resume the role of principal restaurant critic, replacing Meridith Ford Goldman, who left the paper earlier this summer. You can read my reviews every week in the AJC’s Friday Go Guide and at ajc.com on our Food and More blog, where you will be able to comment on them. I look forward to some spirited discussions online and am busily applying skin-thickening agent as I type!
Now here’s the best news: My chewing will be abetted by a team of bloggers/reviewers that we are assembling. These dining experts will contribute weekly, starred reviews to the Go Guide. With two starred reviews each week — both based on multiple visits — the AJC will be the best local source for informed opinion about the places to search out and those to avoid.
These writers will also help me turn the Food and More blog into a more informative and interactive place to talk about chowing down throughout metro Atlanta. We’ll do a more thorough job of keeping up with and breaking news about restaurants and chefs, and we’ll post more quick hits about great dishes, markets, recipes and drinks around town.
We want to cover everything from neighborhood taverns and bistros to burger joints, international dining and Southern meat and threes, in addition to the more upscale places. We will open restaurants at every price point to critical assessment and discussion.
We’re also making an effort to cover the metro area like never before and will be as on top of what’s going on in Alpharetta and Marietta as we are in Midtown and Buckhead. Everyone wants to talk about the restaurants closer to where they live, and we are committed to doing a better job of leading that discussion.
As I wrote this column, we were still interviewing candidates, so it will be a few weeks before we get our team in place. However, my first review will appear in the AJC Friday.
For my part, I’m anxious to delve back in. Atlanta is a very different dining city than it was when I stopped reviewing in 2005.
Neighborhood dining options are better than ever, yet the high end has melted away. The city has lost too many of its name chefs. Restaurateurs seem a little gun-shy from the recession and perhaps a bit complacent. I know these are hard economic times, but if I’m going to spend any money to eat out, I want some pizzazz.
Street food is just starting to take off, and I hope it will be the engine that one day will reinvigorate things around here. If we can incubate young, creative culinary minds, we’re golden.
As much as I want to keep up with restaurant openings, I plan to revisit places that haven’t gotten a good critical eye in awhile. If restaurants are resting on their laurels, I want to be the one to suggest you might be better off spending your money elsewhere. My duty is to readers, not to chefs. I don’t want to be a jerk, but restaurants have to pass benchmarks to earn each of those stars.
I also plan to explore the far reaches. I love trying international cuisines, and that is one of this city-of-immigrants’ greatest assets. Just as I want to encourage you to splurge on a $100 meal that’s really worth it, I’ll also try to get you in your car and drive for an hour to try a dish that will blow your mind.
Please check out our Food and More blog Monday for more details about how this will all take shape, and join our conversation. Me? I’m heading to the gym, STAT.