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Archive for March, 2011

Restaurant Inspections, Los Recuerdos

Los Recuerdos, a Colombian restaurant in Lawrenceville, learned the hard way the importance of keeping food at the proper temperatures.

The family restaurant at 1455 Pleasant Hill Road had its food permit suspended briefly last week because of persistent problems with not keeping potentially hazardous cold foods at 41 degrees or below.

During a routine inspection March 22, the East Metro Public Health inspector noted a cooler was letting cold air out and wasn’t maintaining the proper temperature. Ice was used to keep food cooled down, but this was ineffective. Some of it had to be thrown away.

There were other code violations, too. Raw chicken was being thawed at room temperature instead of under cold running water or in the refrigerator. Ready-to-eat foods were not separated from raw meats. And some of the temperatures for hot-held foods were not up to the standard and had to be discarded as well.

Los Recuerdos was given a failing inspection score of 66 out of 100.

And …

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Kitchen Design Show in New York worth catching

If you find yourself in New York before May 2 and have an interest in kitchen design, then you should swing by the Museum of Modern Art for a small but interesting exhibit. “Counter Space: Design + The Modern Kitchen” looks at the evolution of the modern home kitchen over the course of the past century with objects drawn from MoMA’s permanent collection and archival film footage. In the words of its introductory text, this explores “the twentieth-century transformation of the kitchen as a barometer of changing technologies, aesthetics, and ideologies.”

I’m not sure this modest show, with its mixture of art and artifact, is comprehensive enough to sustain its big-picture theme. Most lacking is any serious discussion of the transformation of the American kitchen during the late 20th century into a social space.

But what it does brilliantly is show how modernist ideals completely remade the home kitchen during the years between the two world wars. Social scientists, designers …

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New Grindhouse Killer Burgers to open soon

Credit: Alex Brounstein

Credit: Alex Brounstein

After months of delays, Grindhouse Killer Burgers’ new Piedmont Heights location seems to be in the home stretch. But the road has been anything but smooth.

Originally announced nearly a year ago, the new location on Piedmont Ave. was originally slated to open in the fall of 2010. But, as often seems to happen with many new restaurants in Atlanta, a series of permit delays and roadblocks pushed that opening date into January of this year and beyond.

To most passers-by, the construction of the new location, which dwarfs the original counter location at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, seems to have been completed for some time now, yet the doors have remained shuttered.

I recently spoke with Alex Brounstein, the founder/owner of Grindhouse, about the status of the opening and the reasons for the delays.

The delays have mostly boiled down to permitting, from months of lag time awaiting the approval of completed permit applications to where Brounstein sits …

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Beignets in Atlanta

Artisan Foods Bakery & Cafe beignets, credit: Jenny Turknett

Artisan Foods Bakery & Cafe beignets, credit: Jenny Turknett

Recently, I met a friend for coffee at Artisan Foods Bakery & Cafe in Roswell. We splurged on an order of beignets. At Artisan Foods, these small square puffs of fried loveliness are not on the printed menu, yet regulars know to order them. Looking around, there was nary a table without them.

As we laughed about how hard it is to go wrong with fried yeast dough and dusted the powdered sugar from our clothes, we reminisced about the days of the now-closed Huey’s and Crescent City Beignets.

There is a new beignet spot in town serving both sweet and savory beignets. In addition to traditional beignets, the Beignet Connection will serve crawfish, lobster or potato beignets (to name a few). Non-beignet Creole/Cajun specialties are also offered at this new restaurant in Midtown West’s Pencil Factory opening today.

7 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays, and 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sundays. …

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Restaurant Inspections, Pizzeria Vesuvius

Pizzeria Vesuvius is a trendy hot pie place that’s also a cool music venue in the heart of Atlanta’s historical old 4th ward.

While the wood fired pies are named after famous volcanoes, it was a health inspector who nearly blew up during a visit March 17.

The restaurant’s food permit had expired. Temperatures in a refrigerator were too warm. A hand sink had been removed from the kitchen and the  staff had to wash their hands in the prep sink.

The pizzeria at 327 Edgewood Avenue received a score of 45 out of 100, a failing grade well below their string of straight A’s.

Vesuvius Manager Russell Meyer called it a case of “bad timing.”

“She came in and saw those major offenses and said, ‘Hey, you better get these things fixed right away. I’m going to have to give you a bad score,” he said.

The restaurant’s food permit was quickly renewed. Meyer said the permit had expired for about a week and a half because he misplaced the bill.

The refrigerator that couldn’t hold down the …

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Kaleidoscope Bistro & Pub review, Brookhaven

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Ladies and gentlemen, behold the pork bun. This beguiling handful starts with a folded ivory oval of steamed Chinese bread, as soft and warm as your mama’s cheek. Into it goes the tangy crunch of pickled cucumber, the sweet funk of hoisin sauce and a fat chunk or two of hot pork belly. Think: crisp meat and quivering fat that dissolves into rivulets of pork nectar in the heart of this three-bite wonder. Everyone who eats a pork bun goes nuts for it.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

You used to have to go to the restaurant that popularized the modern pork bun – Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York’s East Village – to have one. Then a few more Asian or Asian-enough restaurants debuted their pork buns, first in New York and then in other cities.

Now there are pork buns ($8 for two) at Kaleidoscope Bistro & Pub – a loud, drinky new restaurant in Brookhaven. Some may decry the popularization of a once-cult dish, but these tasty morsels sure stave the craving. It’ll be hard for me to drive …

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West Cobb Diner review


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I glance at the check and prepare to signal the waitress. Surely they forgot to charge us for something. Four of us just ate three courses for $30? That can’t be right. But it is – at West Cobb Diner.

Chef-owner Chad Martin tells me the restaurant was designed with value in mind. Money is not spent on things “that don’t transfer to the plate.” The utensils and china are inexpensive, and the diner pays for no advertising. The restaurant is sparsely decorated with area photos taken by a local teenager – ones they fit into pre-made frames. The focus is on the food.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

Value is expected because it is a diner, right? Well, it is and it isn’t. West Cobb Diner is not a typical diner. You’ll hear the expected din of crowded conversation and dishes clanking in the open kitchen, but that’s where the parallels end. Warm wood tones replace the classic stainless steel vibe – traces of the Atlanta Bread Co. that originally inhabited the space.

The “diner” moniker, …

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Top Chef All-Stars recap, Episode 15: Then there were two…

Credit: Bravo TV

Credit: Bravo TV

We finally made it guys! It is the finale!

Oh, wait.

From the opening scene with the not-so-final three, Richard and Mike are squaring themselves off against each other, while Antonia just wants some respect from the boys.

QUICKFIRE

A blindingly yellow-clad Padma and Wolfgang Puck greet the chefs in the kitchen, standing by a spread representing seven “classic” Quickfires.

Hey, do you remember when the cheftestants could only cook with canned food? Oh, man! That was CLASSIC!

The first twist of the evening is that the chefs get to decide on the challenges for their opponents. Since Mike is on such a roll, he gets to go first, giving his “cousin” the canned and dry goods challenge. Antonia picks the hot dogs for Richard – perhaps this was the inspiration for Haute Doggery? Richard, in his first of multiple displays of horrible strategy, gives Mike the one-pot challenge and access to all of the ingredients in the kitchen.

In strolls the busty Indian Big Bird with …

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Ethnic dining mashup

Today I’m going to do a round-up of dishes I’ve recently had around town. Some of these were research for blog stories or revisits of existing ones to try other things that I didn’t get to the first go-around.

It must be Japanese

If there is one cuisine I eat on a consistent basis more than others, it is Japanese. I wouldn’t say metro Atlanta’s Japanese restaurants are world class but they are respectable.

Chicken karaage and ikura

Chicken karaage and ikura

On a recent evening after work, I visited Sakura (named after Japanese cherry blossoms) in East Cobb. I ordered some crunchy chicken karaage (think chicken nuggets) and several pieces of nigiri, which included ikura or fish eggs formed gunkan style (seaweed wrapped around rice shaped in a boat form). The sushi here is decent (not spectacular) and the chef is pleasant and chatty. If you are in the area and looking for a light dining option, stop in.

Sakura Japanese Restaurant, 4880 Lower Roswell Roadd # 130, Marietta. 770-565-6369.

nasu

Nasu …

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What’s in the pot?

whatisdas

Does anybody know what this is and where I had it? I’ll give you a hint, even though it looks like a soup it’s not. It’s a beverage.

I’ll post an update in a little while when I hear some of your answers.

UPDATE

Some of you all guessed it. It’s Korean makgeolli (sometimes spelled makkoli) aka rice wine. Sweet in taste, almost like yogurt or a mild keffir in flavor and very similar to dong dong ju, what Brandi guessed below. The main difference between the two is that dong dong ju generally has a little rice floating in it.

I recently had this at Marietta’s Tofu Village Korean restaurant where it runs for $12.99 and is served the traditional way, in a large bowl and ladled into shallow wide cups/bowls.

The first time I had makgeolli was last year in Korea, and it was love at first sip. Koreans like to drink this lactic acid rich beverage with oily Korean savory pancakes or samgyeopsal (pork belly), which helps cut the richness and aid in digestion. You can find this at most …

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