City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Archive for February, 2011

Grits Cafe dining review, Forsyth



“Where is this place?”

I grin a bit and explain as our group ducks into a borrowed minivan. We are going to Grits Cafe in Forsyth — near Macon. Friends often ask me to select our dining destination, but this time, my selection is met with sideways glances.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

As we exit I-75 in Forsyth, I scan the landscape for a back-up plan if the restaurant fails to please. Not much — save a Dairy Queen. I wonder whether a stellar restaurant could lie here in this little town. I silently beg Grits Cafe to surprise us.

Located in one of the original buildings on the town square, Grits Cafe is charming. We sit beneath grapevines entwined with tiny lights as we sip swoon-worthy Porch Swing cocktails — Maker’s Mark bourbon with chunky-sweet-peach puree — and peruse the menu of Southern dishes with touches of Cajun, Southwestern and Asian influence.

Our road-trip snacks long gone, we dive into our appetizers. We can’t resist ordering the …

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Peter Cheng Cuisine dining review, Sandy Springs



Chinese restaurants – the good ones, at least – are by and large not populist institutions. They present ordinary, Americanized menus to the clientele at large, and secret the interesting stuff away on a special “Chinese” menu. They may have verbal specials only available to special guests, or items served only at banquets. Some larger ones serve different menus on different floors of the building, so in order to eat well you must know where to sit. Chinese restaurant cuisine is by nature elitist.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

This may be why the chef Peter Cheng has emerged as such a populist hero. He wears his heart – which burns with the heat of a thousand hot chiles – on his sleeve. His specialties are there, front and center, for everyone who wants to revel in them. Adventurous American diners respond with cheers, and they see stars in a Peter Cheng menu. Chinese customers, however, aren’t exactly beating down the door. But there is no chef from the Middle Kingdom …

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Exploring the issue of holiday prix fixe menus

Rabbit on the menu at Canoe, credit: Jenny Turknett

Rabbit on the menu at Canoe, credit: Jenny Turknett

What do you think about prix fixe menus (fixed price, limited selections) offered by restaurants on holidays?

Recently for Best of the Big A, readers were asked to nominate restaurants for the best Valentine’s Day dining spot. Some readers chose to use the nomination space to talk about prix fixe menus instead. Here are some of the comments that were posted:

Kristen: Excitedly booked at table at La Grotta for Monday night, only to find out they are serving the prix fixe menu and nothing else. We’ve cancelled, and will stay in.

Jabba the Butt: The wife and I kind of like the prix fixe menu… We get to try weird things… that we probably wouldn’t order on a regular day–and, to tell you the truth, probably wouldn’t order again, but that’s the nature of the prix fixe.

Jeff: …BOYCOTT ANY RESTAURANT that tries to force you to use a prix fixe menu, whether it’s Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve or any other time. We as …

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In the news: New Filipino restaurant opens on Buford Highway, Atlanta gets a banh mi nod

Fil-Am Star Cafe and Bakery

I checked out the newly open Fil-Am (short for Filipino-American) Star Cafe and Bakery on Buford Highway – a small restaurant located in Asian Square. Filipino restaurants are few and far between in metro Atlanta so it’s nice to see a new kid on the block.

And since they just opened, I’m going to refrain from giving an opinion until a later date. With that said, my experience was a bit chaotic (as expected) and I’m speculating that yours could be too if you go there anytime soon.

Here is a description of the dishes that appear in the slideshow above (in the order they appear):

Sinigang – A hearty and sour tamarind flavored soup.

Pancit palabok – Bihon (rice noodles) with a thick shrimp sauce and topped with crushed pork cracklings, diced scallions and slices of hard-boiled egg.

Adobo Pork – Slow cooked pork. A popular Filipino dish that has many different variations depending on the family or restaurant. It can also be made with chicken, beef or …

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Top Chef All-Stars recap, Episode 9: Fallon and friends

Credit: Bravo TV

Credit: Bravo TV

Consider this episode SPOILED.

Ok kids, things are starting to get serious. We have trimmed off most of the fat, as they say, and now we are starting to get down to the close cuts. Only eight chefs remain, and we are now in the phase of competition where an extra pinch of salt can mean the difference between heading home and moving on.

I like how things this season seem to always start at the bar. Dale is sweating his poor performance from last week, and everyone is railing on Antonia for her winning Frenchified mussels from last week. We jump straight into the Quickfire after the credits, and we get some of the best sound bites of the episode.

Where is the first place your mind goes when someone says “fondue”? For you Atlanta folks, maybe It is Dante’s or The Melting Pot? Perhaps straight to that unshakable smell of oil that sticks to your clothes for days?

Well, not our boy Richard!

“When I see the fondue pots, I think of bellbottoms, heels, and I …

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Pizzeria Vesuvius GM responds to review

Credit: Pizzeria Vesuvius

Credit: Pizzeria Vesuvius

Last Friday, I reviewed Pizzeria Vesuvius in the Old Fourth Ward. While my impressions of the food were mostly positive, I experienced some service issues that I felt needed to be mentioned.

Usually, I’m not one to nitpick minor service hiccups. As long as I’m enjoying the meal, I can totally forgive the food coming out a little late or a mix-up on the check, especially if the restaurant is busy. I try to remain understanding about the fact that sometimes these things happen, and everyone is human. Obviously, if the issues are severe or detract from the experience, then it merits a mention. But I won’t write off a restaurant just because my water glass sat empty for a few minutes.

Well, the general manager of Pizzeria Vesuvius, Tracy Shayhorn, took to her own blog to respond to the review. When she is not running the restaurant, Shayhorn – who gave me permission to re-print this – is an advertising student at The Art Institute of Atlanta, with a …

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Event: An Evening in Kerala and a chance at free tickets


On February 18, local Atlanta supper clubs Dinner Party Atlanta and Spice Route Supper Club have joined forces to bring you “An Evening in Kerala.” The event will be held downtown at The Grand Atrium: 200 Peachtree Street (formerly Macy’s), and the meal will be prepared by Asha Gomez – founder of the Spice Route Supper Club and former resident of Kerala, India (watch her in action on the event website).

Kerala is a state in the south-western region of India that faces the Arabian Sea. The area was a major port and subsequent player in the Euro-African-Asian spice route that traded black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger – all spices and ingredients popular in Indian cuisine.

An Evening in Kerala will be a 21-course vegetarian sadya (banquet feast) inclusive with music and dancing.  Cocktails will begin at 8 p.m. followed by dinner at 9 p.m.

I recently spoke to Asha where she dished vibrantly about Kerala cuisine and what to expect at the event.

Q: So walk me …

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Where is this place?

aaI have an accumulation of iPhone photos on some interesting dishes I had recently.  Can you tell me where I took this food photo montage?  You also might be wondering what these are.

Hint: If you couldn’t tell, the dishes are from a Japanese restaurant (and it’s located in metro Atlanta).

My wife and I recently went here with some friends and had a wonderful time. The comforting food and overall experience really reminded me of Japan – particularly when my wife and I stayed at a ryokan (traditional style inn) outside of Tokyo.

Anybody know what the dishes are and where I had them? Sorry, no prize for guessing the correct answers.

- by Gene Lee, Food and More blog

– 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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What dishes are irresistible to you?

Restaurant Eugene Menu, credit: Jenny Turknett

Restaurant Eugene Menu, credit: Jenny Turknett

When I am not reviewing a restaurant attempting to sample the majority of the menu, there are a few dishes that I have trouble resisting — my “go-to foods.”

Recently, I celebrated my birthday at Restaurant Eugene where my husband and I ordered five dishes to share. Three of those dishes also happen to be on my “go-to” list.

First on my list is pork belly. I know, it is so last season. But that matters little — I like it whether it’s trendy or not. At Restaurant Eugene, it is sorghum-glazed and served with pickled-peach puree. Last season never tasted so good.

She-crab soup is also on my list. This soup-obsession began with a trip to Charleston many years ago during which I toured the city through she-crab soup tastings. The she-crab soup on the menu at Restaurant Eugene is more complex than the typical cream-sherry style you find at many restaurants in Charleston — and it was likely the best I’ve had. Here, a bowl …

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Considering schnitzel

photo 3Restaurants around town have begun bandying about a welcome word: schnitzel. Abattoir had a chicken schnitzel on its opening menu. Shaun’s had a following for its pork schnitzel with peanuts and Vidalia onions. Now Leon’s Full Service has begun offering a turkey schnitzel.

Although they’ve all been good, I’d think they should properly be called cutlets. All schnitzels are cutlets, but not all cutlets are schnitzels.

To earn the funny and strangely appetizing German name, the meat should be pounded very, very thin and fried to an elegant crisp. This is not the kind of fried item you see in a commercial for vegetable oil, with juices beading from each knife cut, but rather an Old World fried item. Something that’s plain and brown and — though tender — frankly on the dry side. Something that flops over the better part of a plate, naked save for a bit of lemon or parsley adorning it, and has a green salad hovering somewhere nearby. Something that’s strangely, beguilingly …

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