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Archive for March, 2011

A visit to Parish

photo 3I have long been meaning to make it back to Parish Foods & Goods — the Inman Park restaurant that went up during the building boom along Highland Ave. a few years ago.

Actually, it didn’t go up but in fact it was the last remaining structure from an 1890s pipe factory that once dominated the streetscape. This long, weathered brick building has good bones, and  Parish uses the space well. The front entrance leads to the warmly funky top floor, which is a full-service restaurant. The back entrance takes you down to a market/cafe with a great communal table, sandwiches and salads, coffee and pastries, and lots of fun clutter to look at.

While I’ve enjoyed the cafe many times, I hadn’t been back to the restaurant since the opening chef Nick Melvin left (to go to Empire State South, and then Rosebud) and a new chef, Joe Schafer, took over. With Schafer, the restaurant subtly but definitively steered away from its Louisiana menu and toward a more general Southern one.

Our meal …

Continue reading A visit to Parish »

Cooking with Rathbun’s

Kevin Rathbun, credit: Jenny Turknett

Kevin Rathbun, credit: Jenny Turknett

It’s 11:50 p.m. and I’m fading fast. As an early-riser, it’s quite late for me on a Thursday night. I must stay awake. The Rathbun’s cooking class list is released at midnight each October 1st and I don’t want to miss out this time. Competition is fierce for the few spots available in the six classes offered each year.

It sounds extreme for a cooking class, right? Yes, for a cooking class, but not for the cooking experience at Rathbun’s Restaurant. Their approach is genius. I recently attended my third class in three years and the theme was “Rathbun’s Classics.”

In this series entitled “Think Like A Chef,” class-goers put together a menu based on the freshest ingredients available for the theme of the class (Japanese, Southwestern, Farm-to-Table, etc.)

Genius part 1: Cooking enthusiasts cook in lockstep with the Rathbun’s staff in the Rathbun’s kitchen. This is the closest most “civilians” will come to …

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Atlantans among James Beard nominees [UPDATE]

james_beardThe nominees for the 2011 James Beard Foundation awards — which honor the best chefs, food book authors, journalists, graphic designers and broadcasters — were announced today in Portland, Oregon. Several Atlantans were cited for these awards, called “the Oscars of the food world.”

They are:

Book Awards:

American Cooking: “The Food, Folklore, and Art of Lowcountry Cooking: A Celebration of the Foods, History, and Romance Handed Down from England, Africa, the Caribbean, France, Germany, and Scotland” by Joe Dabney.

Restaurant Awards:

Best chef: Southeast:

  • Hugh Acheson (Five and Ten, Empire State South)
  • Linton Hopkins (Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch Public House)

Journalism Awards:

Travel and Culture: “Best BBQ” by Bill Addison, with (former AJC staffer) Jim Auchmutey, in Atlanta Magazine.

Personal Essay: “My Mom Couldn’t Cook” by Tom Junod in Esquire.

The winner will be announced during two ceremonies on May 6 and May 9 in New York. For the full list of nominees, look …

Continue reading Atlantans among James Beard nominees [UPDATE] »

Restaurant Inspections, Buckhead Diner

The upscale Buckhead Diner is one of the city’s destination restaurants.

Located at 3073 Piedmont Road, it’s a place to go not only for its award-winning cuisine, but also to glimpse celebrities and other notable big wigs dining out.

The diner has had impeccable health inspection reports since opening more than two decades ago, with high grades consistently in the 90s.

But over the past month scores have plummeted.

In early March, the diner received a 75 out of 100. That’s a C. Then during a follow-up inspection March 14 they got a failing score of 57.

Nothing has changed much in the kitchen. General Manager Maureen Baker said the staff is doing same things as always. And the food quality hasn’t diminished either, she said.

What have changed are Fulton County’s food service health regulations.

The sanitizer bucket can no longer be stored in the food prep area, for example. Thermometers in coolers now have to be placed where they can be easily read when opening the …

Continue reading Restaurant Inspections, Buckhead Diner »

Blair River, morbidly obese spokesman for Heart Attack Grill, dies at 29

The 575-pound spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, AZ — a restaurant that mocks and glorifies cardiovascular disease — has died of pneumonia at the age of 29. Scantily clad waitresses in nurse uniforms and hugely caloric burgers and fries are the headliners at this restaurant, where everyone has to wear a hospital gown, and people who weigh over 350 pounds eat free.

A new obese spokesperson, who is a survivor of open-heart surgery, will replace River.

Watch this video from ABC News. What do you think: freedom of speech or shut the place down?

Continue reading Blair River, morbidly obese spokesman for Heart Attack Grill, dies at 29 »

Behold the Mighty Pickle Back

photo 1When I was in New York a couple of years ago, I went out  with some friends to a bar called The Woods in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There, and seemingly everywhere in New York, people were drinking “Pickle Backs” — shots of Jameson’s Irish whiskey chased by shots of pickle juice.

I had to try one and, well, it wasn’t exactly my thing.

Question: are there any places in Atlanta serving Pickle Backs? Seems a natural here…

Continue reading Behold the Mighty Pickle Back »

Atlanta Botanical Garden features Atlanta chefs

courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

If you would like to watch some of Atlanta’s top chefs demonstrate their craft and sample their fare, Atlanta Botanical Garden has a full schedule of choices for you. The Edible Garden’s Outdoor Kitchen will host local chefs in the Neighborhood Nosh series and in the Well-Seasoned Chef Series. Each includes a demonstration and four-part tasting menu.

The Neighborhood Nosh series presents chefs from Atlanta’s favorite neighborhood restaurants who demonstrate how to prepare their signature dishes. In the Well-Seasoned Chef series, a number of Atlanta’s best-known farm-to-table chefs will prepare menus with food harvested from the Edible Garden. Recipes and wine pairings are designed to highlight locally-grown produce.

Neighborhood Nosh Series:

Dates:  Last Tuesdays, May – October, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

  • May 31: Chef Joe Schafer, Parish
  • June 28: Chef Ron Eyester, Rosebud
  • July 26: Chef Micah Willix, Ecco
  • Aug. 30: to be confirmed
  • Sept. 27: …

Continue reading Atlanta Botanical Garden features Atlanta chefs »

What’s new: Spring supper at Farm Burger, The Local Farmstand opens

courtesy of Farm Burger

courtesy of Farm Burger

Burger-less Spring Supper at Farm Burger

On Thursday, March 24th, Farm Burger will host its third “taking the burger out of Farm Burger” dinner. Chef Terry Koval will craft a four-course dinner featuring items such as chicken-heart skewers with gremolata, trotter fritters, oxtail with gnocchi, baby carrots with rainbow chard and beef cheeks salad with shaved beets, spring-onion purée, pea tendrils and toasted pistachios. Spring supper pricing is $38 and owner George Frangos says that the dinner “is a way for us to have fun and show our other side.” Call to reserve your spot.

410 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-378-5077, $38 (plus beverage, tax, and gratuity).

The Local Farmstand at Star Provisions

The Local Farmstand at Star Provisions has opened, kicking off farmers market season. It offers mostly organic produce from local farms, ready-to-eat gifts and ready-to-plant seeds and herbs.

From the press release:

The Local Farmstand …

Continue reading What’s new: Spring supper at Farm Burger, The Local Farmstand opens »

Beaver Creek Biscuit Company and Barbecue dining review, Austell



As I pull into the gravel lot off Six Flags Road in Lithia Springs, the smell of hickory snakes through my air conditioning vents, filling the car with the mouth-watering aroma of smoke. I park among the line of industrial vans and trucks, and when I see the line of hungry workers backed out of the front door, my excitement grows.

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

These guys seem to know something that I don’t. I can’t help but wonder: How am I just now discovering this place?

Beaver Creek Biscuit Company and Barbecue is a restaurant with a split personality. By morning, it sells Southern breakfast fare and converts to a barbecue smokehouse for lunch.

Originally opened by Paul Turner in 1952, Turners Store began selling barbecue in the late 1980’s. Current owners John Ray and Terry Kirby regularly ate Turner’s barbecue, and when they purchased the business from him in 2002, they changed the name and added a country-style breakfast menu, but left the barbecue recipes alone.

The breakfast …

Continue reading Beaver Creek Biscuit Company and Barbecue dining review, Austell »

4th & Swift dining review, Atlanta



A couple of years ago, I visited 4th & Swift with a friend who had just moved back to town after a long spell in the West. Still shell-shocked by the old-yet-newness of everything, he glanced around the room, down at the menu, to the dressy foursome at the next table, and said, “Wow. This is such an Atlanta restaurant.”

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

I knew what he meant. Here was another high-ceilinged warehouse space, another selection of tricked-out Southern comfort food, another crowd looking for a scene. We drank a nice bottle of wine and sawed at pork chops (from a dish with the cutesy name “Three Little Pigs”). We agreed our expensive meal was pretty good but no more. Not as exciting as Rathbun’s, nor as refined as Restaurant Eugene, nor as chill as One Midtown Kitchen.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally gave 4th & Swift another shot. We were lucky enough to take our seats as dusk was turning to night, and the pendant lamps cast pockets of warm glow against the whitewashed …

Continue reading 4th & Swift dining review, Atlanta »