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Archive for January, 2011

Where are the best breakfast sandwiches?

Egg and Swiss from Einstein Bros. Bagels

Egg and Swiss from Einstein Bros. Bagels

Lately my morning routine has changed so that twice a week I need to grab a quick breakfast on the go. Like everyone else in this great land of ours, I seem to have settled on the breakfast sandwich as my go-to drive-by breakfast.

I have been trying different ones on my route, with varying degrees of success. I don’t like to eat meat in the morning, so I’ve been munching my way through various combinations of egg and cheese.

I didn’t mind this multigrain bagel from Einstein Bros., bouncy and fluffy with innocuous yellow egg curd and a slice of Swiss cheese subbed for cheddar.

I really hated the gooey, pressed, leathery, steamy bagel from Panera Bread holding an egg puck and dripping napalm gobs of yellow cheese.

But if I’m looking for a good breakfast sandwich, where do I go?

- By John Kessler, Food & More blog

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Postcard from New York

photo 1NEW YORK — For nearly a year now I’ve been hearing about this funky new Italian restaurant in Lower Manhattan called Torrisi Italian Specialties. During the day it’s a sandwich shop, cannily designed to look like the markets of nearby Little Italy, with a front deli counter, white subway tile on the walls and cans of tomatoes and other dry goods stacked in shelving on the walls. At night it turns into a restaurant that serves a fixed-price dinner ($50) to at most about 20 guests at a time. Plates and chairs are basic, and cheap cutlery arrives in paper napkin rolls.

The restaurant scored an impressive 2-star review in the New York Times from Sam Sifton, who said its two chefs, Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, were cooking with “a burst of creative excellence.” It all sounded great — especially the $50 part. Serious dining in New York is usually a lot more expensive than that.

But there’s nothing serious about Torrisi. It plays and winks constantly — both with the recipes and …

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Souper Jenny owner to open new restaurant

ajc.com file photo

ajc.com file photo

According to a press release from her publicist, Jennifer Levison, owner of the ever-popular Souper Jenny, is opening a new restaurant concept in town next month. The new restaurant, Café Jonah and the Magical Attic, will offer coffee service, breakfast and lunch as well as prepared to-go items including dinner entrees.  See the excerpt from the press release below for additional details:

The new concept takes Levison’s desire to provide an old-fashioned outlet for busy Atlantans to take time for themselves, restore and find inspiration – core elements at Souper Jenny where she shares daily inspirations, accepts only cash and limits cell phone use – to a new level. Café Jonah and the Magical Attic – which is named after her 7-year-old son, Jonah – will be a blend of neighborhood coffee house, café and mini spiritual retreat.

“Café Jonah and the Magical Attic really combines everything I love in life,” says owner Jennifer Levison. “It’s inspired by how I …

Continue reading Souper Jenny owner to open new restaurant »

Behind the Review: Sprig’s chicken livers

Last of the red-hot livers

Last of the red-hot livers

I often almost like chicken livers. They’re creamy, rich, full of flavor…and just a little too bitter.

Cooks have many tricks for removing the bitterness, such as salting the livers or soaking them overnight in milk. I suspect the best trick is to start with fresh livers.

And I suspect that’s why the chicken livers at Sprigreviewed in today’s paper — were so fantastic. Chef Robert Elliott uses large livers from Springer Mountain chickens and then fries them until they are crunchy outside and creamy pink inside. No one at our table — including one semi-squeamish teenager — could resist.

I also wonder if by pairing the livers with other bitter and sharp ingredients — endive, arugula, blue cheese — it let the sweet flavor of the meat take center stage.

Are there other great chicken livers around town? The Colonnade? Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse? I’ve liked them well enough at these places, but nothing like the version at …

Continue reading Behind the Review: Sprig’s chicken livers »

Places to watch the Super Bowl

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

A couple of weeks ago it looked like our Atlanta Falcons were on track to make it back to the biggest event in American sports. Alas, it was not in the cards. But come Feb. 6 that won’t stop us from crowding around the TV in our living rooms or jockeying for a spot at a local sports bar. On Super Bowl Sunday, even the most lackadaisical football fan will be watching, even if it is really just for the commercials. For those who want to get out of the house, here are some great spots around town to watch the game.

Tap — Midtown

The game will be shown with sound on numerous TVs throughout the Midtown gastropub, and multiple food and drink specials will be offered starting at 5 p.m. In addition to the regular menu, special dishes for the game include Macho Nachos and chili cheese fries. If you think you know how the game will play out, submit your guess of the halftime and final scores for a chance to win your bar tab on the house. Reservations are not …

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Sprig dining review, Oak Grove

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For nearly as long as I’ve lived in Atlanta, I’ve been driving my daughter to her best friend’s house in Oak Grove — an East side neighborhood with a Decatur mailing address and a whole lot of big, new homes.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

At first there weren’t many restaurants of note in the strip shopping centers by the main intersection. I recall a nice-enough meat and three. But soon came a local market with good sandwiches, and then a sweet Middle Eastern spot that kept getting better and better, and then one fun pub, and then another. But with the opening of Sprig, the neighborhood finally has the restaurant it has long wanted — a Southern bistro to call its own.

Owner Daniel Morrison — the longtime manager and friendly face behind the bar at Decatur’s Watershed — unveiled Sprig in October, and it has been slammed with business from Day One. I know this because Oak Grovers of every persuasion immediately started peppering me with notes and comments about Sprig. Some …

Continue reading Sprig dining review, Oak Grove »

My favorite table: Lunch in the “Hot Tub”

photo-67Whenever I eat at Leon’s Full Service I’m always happy to snag the table the staff refers to as the “hot tub.”

It’s a semi-private kidney-shaped table carved from the dead space between the hostess stand, the bathroom corridor and the bar. A high back wall keeps it feeling private enough for lively conversation — even when the rest of the place is jamming.

Are there any other great tables around town? It might be fun to compile a list of tables to to put on your radar when making reservations or scouting the room.

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In the news: two classes – trout fishing and chocolate making

Here are two unique classes for the food enthusiast. Possible Valentine’s Day gift?

Catch, Clean and Cook with Montaluce Winery

If you want a true river-to-table experience, this is it. Chef Steven Hartman of Le Vigne restaurant at Montaluce has a passion for fly fishing and is ready to share it with you. Join him for an hour of instruction followed by two hours of guided trout fishing in the Etowah River. After catching your lunch, you will set up by the river for a demonstration on how to clean and cook your fish. Enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch on the river.

All fishing gear is provided. Tours typically start at 10 a.m. with lunch at 1 p.m. but alternate timing can be arranged. All expeditions are private and therefore require a minimum of two people but can accommodate up to six. Pricing is $200 per person.

Daily. 501 Hightower Church Road, Dahlonega. 706-867-4060

Chocolate classes at Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, you can learn …

Continue reading In the news: two classes – trout fishing and chocolate making »

Alton Brown comes to The Walker School for a special show

Credit: Don Chambers

Credit: Don Chambers

Fans of Alton Brown are in for a treat in the coming weeks, as the “Good Eats” host has offered to donate his time for a good cause.

On Saturday Feb. 12th, The Walker School in Marietta will host “An Afternoon with Alton Brown” at 12:30 p.m. in the Coca-Cola auditorium. All proceeds will benefit the school’s Annual Fund, the school’s primary fundraising vehicle, which helps fund teacher salaries, technology in classrooms, campus improvement, and financial aid.

Brown, one of the busiest culinary personalities today, plans to give a live demonstration that should be exciting and educational for a crowd of nearly 500 attendees. Between shooting his Food Network hit, “Good Eats”, acting as the main commenter on “Iron Chef America”, and authoring numerous cook books – including his most recent, Good Eats 2: The Middle Years – his dance card is certainly full. But he still made time to help The Walker School, where his daughter Zoe is a student.

Known for his …

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The Bocado Wimpy Plate

I’m such a sucker for peer pressure.

Since I joined the team here at the AJC, my intake of hamburgers has increased by roughly 500%. This means that I rarely eat a burger unless it is “work related”, lest I grow tired of them. However, I still occasionally get a craving that must be fed.

Last week, I met up with The Blissful Glutton for lunch at Bocado, fully intending to order The Bocado Stack. For those that don’t know, it is easily one of the best burgers in town – two griddle-style loosely packed patties, melted American cheese, house-made pickles, nestled in a beautifully buttered and grilled H&F bun.

The Bocado burger has been thoroughly covered by the local food media, and I had no intention on blogging about this meal. This burger was going to be all pleasure, no business.

As we looked over the menu she mentioned that they have an off-menu item called “The Wimpy”, which is a plate of three Bocado burgers for $21. I rolled my eyes in response, with a “Good lord, that …

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