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Archive for October, 2010

John Kessler Column: Inside the Edwards pie factory

Key lime pie (all photos by Phil Skinner)

Key lime pie (all photos by Phil Skinner)

For this week’s column, I take a tour of the Edwards pie factory in Edgewood and explore the mystery of the pie smell that wafts through Candler Park.

If you have ever driven down DeKalb Avenue, skirting along the MARTA tracks, your mind a jumble of home and work, your eyes focused on the vagaries and changing direction of the middle lane, you have smelled The Smell. O, that most excellent smell! That consciousness-piercing smell of buttery goodness filling the ether, of a thousand grandmas leaning over a thousand window ledges and holding out fresh-from-the-oven pie.

Pie!

Pie. Pie. Pie. Pie.

Key lime squirtage

Key lime pie

That aroma of freshly baked pie reaches out like a steam tendril. No, like a crooked index finger, beckoning you. And even as your eyes focus on the late-model Volvo one car length in front, you have an out-of-body experience, rising like a blissed-out cartoon character, floating through the air, to that pie on the ledge.

If you …

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Behind the Review: Sip Wine

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The stars are out (Credit: Wikipedia)

Today Jon Watson and I both come out with one-star reviews — his of Yeah Burger and mine of Sip Wine. I’ve noticed that some of the comments so far are on the seemingly low grades of the new AJC dining review system. Why do we keep handing out ratings that seem so punitive when on sites like Yelp, decent restaurants often get three or four stars?

Well, for starters, our system is different: we want each star to designate a level of quality. We figure that readers need to know more about neighborhood restaurants and less about destination restaurants if they are to glean good, useful information from these reviews. We want to alert you to good places near where you may live and give you some suggestions on how to order and best appreciate the experience, but we’re never going to sugar coat it. Many restaurants are inconsistent.

We also think the wording in our star-rating system focuses attention solely on the user experience and less on …

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Yeah Burger dining review, Midtown

$-$$

$-$$

If you build a burger, we will come.

That seems to be the thought process behind Shaun Doty and Erik Maier’s Yeah Burger in West Midtown, a latecomer to Atlanta’s burger explosion. And if you stop in during peak lunch hours, it seems they were right.

A stacked beef burger (all photos by Becky Stein)

A stacked beef burger (all photos by Becky Stein)

All the pieces for a top-notch burger experience are in place: Culinary pedigree? Check. High quality, grass-fed beef? Check. Flavorful toppings? Check.

But as any good chef will tell you, ingredients are only half of the battle.

Guests order at the counter, take a number, and seat themselves, either on the spacious patio or in the dining room. The step-by-step menu allows for a lot of customization and, depending on your toppings, the price escalates quickly. You start with the patty ($5.99-$7.99) and build from there. Cheese adds $1, as do “premium toppings” such as a fried egg, bacon, and avocado.

For those watching their pocketbooks, I recommend making the most of …

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Sip Wine dining review, Milton

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I have arrived at Sip Wine from the south. Behind me wend the roads that led through Alpharetta and Roswell neighborhoods. Across the street lies the clear-cut acreage for a subdivision where homes may or may not one day surround the empty cul de sacs. Next to that is a kind of New Urbanist complex with a tavern and shops on the bottom floor of blocky brick buildings. And just beyond that lies the quaint intersection of streets that comprise downtown Crabapple.

Enomatic wine preservation system at Sip Wine (all photos by Becky Stein)

Enomatic wine preservation system at Sip Wine (all photos by Becky Stein)

Had I come from the north, the journey would have taken me through farms and horse pasture. I would have turned a corner and arrived at a country crossroads trying mightily to establish itself as a suburban town. In other words, I’ve found the invisible boundary of this amorphous thing we call greater Atlanta.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

But here’s the good news: Whatever direction you come from, Sip Wine proves itself to be the kind of …

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Front Burner: Zaza Pachulia closes second restaurant in Peachtree Street space

slzaza0326-01Apparently casual didn’t work either.

The Atlanta Hawks Forward-Center Zaza Pachulia (left) has decided to shutter Midtown’s Fifth Street Cafe only after about three months in operation, according to reporting on the website What Now, Atlanta. Co-owner A.D. Allushi told the website, “We were losing a tremendous amount of money” at the Peachtree Street eatery,  and that “projected revenues were nowhere near our actual sales.”

Pachulia and company had tried to make a go of the space as Eno by Zaza, a revamping of the longtime former tenant, Eno Restaurant.

Allushi, Pachulia and their third partner, chef Ian Winslade, still operate Buckhead Bottle Bar.

Continue reading Front Burner: Zaza Pachulia closes second restaurant in Peachtree Street space »

What’s new: Restaurant openings, closings and events

Here are a few area restaurant openings, closings, and food-related events…

Restaurant Openings:

The Square Pub, Decatur

The already cool bar and pub scene of the Decatur Square just got a little cooler, thanks to The Square Pub, which opened next door to Mac Magee on October 24th. In addition to 19 craft beers on tap and a full bar, The Square Pub’s kitchen will stay open late, dishing out a diverse menu of southwestern influenced pub fare. 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday – Sunday. 115 Sycamore St, Decatur, (404) 844-4010, $-$$

–Jon Watson

America’s Top Dog, Chamblee

With 35 free toppings at your disposal, diners at this new hot dog haven in Chamblee can construct their own pig-out masterpiece. Choices include the all-beef hot dog, red hot, or the beef/pork blend “half smoke”. The menu also includes numerous specialty dogs, such as the deep fried Jersey dog and the NY Deli dog, topped with sauerkraut and salami. 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 12 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, …

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Jon Watson: Christiane Lauterbach wins lifetime acheivement award

“If you avoid foods that are strange to you, unimaginable culinary experiences will pass you by, as the cart winds its way to another part of the room.”

-Christiane Lauterbach, Knife & Fork, 1984

At their annual symposium last weekend, the Southern Foodways Alliance – a non-profit dedicated to the documentation and celebration of the diverse food cultures of the South– bestowed the Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award to Atlanta’s own Christiane Lauterbach.

For the better part of 30 years, Christiane has consistently been one of the strongest, most eloquent, and most interesting voices to come out of the south. In addition to having been the main dining critic for Atlanta Magazine for over 25 years, a publication to which she still contributes, Lauterbach also helped found Knife & Fork, a monthly 8-page newsletter that has chronicled the culinary evolution of our city since 1983. She has influenced nearly every food writer in this city, including upstarts like …

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Burger patty debate: thick vs. thin?

Photo credit: Jessica Farreny/Community News Service LLC

Photo credit: Jessica Farreny/Community News Service LLC

If you could only eat one kind of burger for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Now pause. Think that over for a moment…picture it in your head. I’ll wait.

Got it yet? Ok, let’s move on.

Yesterday, Eatocracy posted an article referencing Alton Brown’s recent declaration on the Food Network special America’s Best that the late-night burger at Holeman & Finch Public House is the best burger in America.

And a tsunami of passionate comments ensued.

As I read through the comments, some of which agreed with the claim while most countered with what they considered to be the best burger and how crazy he/she thought Alton was, I noticed something. Most of the suggestions had a common theme: they weren’t just suggesting a burger from a different restaurant, they were suggesting a different style of burger.

Ranking food– specifically, claiming that one dish is the best of its kind in the country–can be tricky. So …

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Gene Lee: A tale of two hot pots

Pot of Spicy and Mild Broth, Hot Pot - Buford HighwayLast week, I went to a relatively new Sichuan (also spelled Szechuan) Chinese restaurant located off of Buford Highway. It sits in the corner of a large deserted shopping center that once was home to a Value City department store. For the sake of this post I’ll call it Hot Pot as advertised on their sign outside. Although the restaurant’s take-out menu, my debit card receipt and a hidden sign out front makes references to the place calling themselves “Chong Qing Hot Pot.”

While waiting for my order, I googled the restaurant on my iPhone and unbeknownst to me there was another Sichuan restaurant of a similar hot pot name located nearby at the Chinatown food court. And for the sake of this post, I will call that place Chong Qing Hot Pot as advertised in English on their sign.

A comment at the bottom of local blogger Eat Buford Highway’s write-up caught my eye, which appeared to have been made by the wife of the owner of the restaurant in the food court.

She stated “[t]his …

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They’re alive!

(From my Flickr account)

Can anyone take a guess on what these ocean inhabiting creatures in the video are?  Also, where in the metro Atlanta area did I spot these?

I’ll give you a hint on the first question: they can be eaten raw or cooked.

Ten seconds after I stopped recording the video above, every single one of those “suckers” started moving like they were auditioning for the next Dancing with the Stars.

– Gene Lee writes about International Cuisine for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Eat, Drink, Man… A Food Journal.

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