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Archive for April, 2011

In the news: openings and events

Openings:

Still Waters Restaurant

Located in the former Grayson House Restaurant space, Still Waters recently opened for business. Billing themselves as “A Chic Bar-B-Q Joint,” Still Waters grew from a barbecue-on-wheels operation started by owner Anthony Butts in 1994. While barbecue smoked with hickory is the restaurant’s specialty, they also serve steaks, pastas and seafood. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Sundays, 516 Grayson Pkwy, Grayson. 678-376-3001, $$-$$$.

Pure Knead Bakery Retail Hours

Pure Knead Bakery, specializing in products that are free of gluten, dairy, soy, nuts and shellfish, is now offering retail hours on Saturdays. The bakery sells their allergy-friendly fare to wholesale accounts but now the products they supply to Yeah! Burger, Farm Burger, Sprig, Victory Sandwich Bar and more are available to the public. Offerings may vary each week but could include boules, hamburger buns, crackers, bread …

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Spring Dining Guide: Splurges and Destinations

Spring vegetable plate at Restaurant Eugene (photo by Becky Stein)

Spring vegetable plate at Restaurant Eugene (photo by Becky Stein)

Spring has sprung! Will you?

Are you ready to spring for a memorable meal?  Maybe that means an excursion to find that hamburger or Mexican restaurant you’ve heard so much about? Maybe that means finally making a visit to that restaurant your neighbors are talking about. Maybe that means a blowout: one of those once-a-year dining experiences you won’t ever forget.

However you choose to spring, we have some suggestions here in our Spring 2011 Dining Guide.

Jenny Turknett travels all over the metro area to find the most babysitter-worthy restaurants in each neighborhood.

Jon Watson tells you where you need to go to find the best barbecue, pizza, fries and sandwiches in the metro area.

Gene Lee takes a look at the scores — if not hundreds — of Mexican, Indian and Korean restaurants around town and tells you which ones to put on top of your lists.

And I talk splurges:

“It’s our anniversary…”

“My parents …

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Spring Dining Guide: Bacchanalia Restaurant Review

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After all these years, it’s still a thrill when Bacchanalia’s manager Frances Quatrano (Anne’s sister) gets up from her desk near the restaurant’s entrance and leads you up the few stairs to the dining room and your table. As much as I haunt Star Provisions on bread-and-cheese shopping expeditions, I never venture into the restaurant looming in the back like a sanctum sanctorum.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

This restaurant — with its yellowy glazed concrete walls, earth-toned carpeting, fluttery sheers and chocolate velvet banquettes — hums with the same timeless, chill elegance it has since relocating here in 1999 from Buckhead. It feels rarefied but relaxed; people dress up for here or they don’t, but both feel comfortable.
In fact, there remains a kind of anti-establishment attitude that has always been part of Bacchanalia’s special charm. Managers dress casually; the kitchen holds no secrets behind a glass wall to the dining room; dinner starts with a …

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Spring Dining Guide: Restaurant Eugene Restaurant Review

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A couple of years ago Linton Hopkins made a bold move. He deep-sixed the traditional appetizer-entree format of the menu at Restaurant Eugene and redrew it by food group. Fish down one column of the tri-fold list, vegetables on another and meat and game on a third. Not only that, the menu held dozens of offerings, most of them small plates.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

Today the menu strikes a happy medium. There are more entrees and far fewer appetizers, but the tripartite formula remains, and it focuses your attention on the ingredients, where they come from and — bear with me — what they mean.
In the six years since Hopkins and his wife, Gina, opened Eugene (named for his grandfather), he has emerged as one of the great thinkers about Southern food. The current president of the Southern Foodways Alliance and a founder of the Peachtree Road Farmers Market, Hopkins cooks with a nod to history and tradition as much as to the community of farmers, artisans, foragers …

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Spring Dining Guide: A note on the star ratings

Dining room at Bacchanalia (AJC Staff)

Dining room at Bacchanalia (AJC Staff)

I know what you’re thinking: Why, if Bacchanalia and Restaurant Eugene are the two most prominent special occasion restaurants in Atlanta, does neither of them get our highest rating of five stars?

While both are great destinationsin their own right, neither one to me — based on the two meals I had at each — feels like they are setting the standard for fine dining in the region. I’m not looking for perfection, because that doesn’t exist. But I am looking for that recipe of thoughtfulness, delight, surprise, consistency and poetry that some restaurants can attain. I’ve seen this level of dining in past Atlanta restaurants, and I’ve seen it in travels throughout the South. The grand vision of foothills cuisine at Blackberry Farm in eastern Tennessee comes to mind, as does the astonishing invention and energy of the cuisine at McCrady’s in Charleston, and the keen attention to every last detail at Highlands Bar & Grill in …

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Spring Dining Guide: Mexican, Indian, Korean bests

Tlayuda at Taqueria Oaxaquena (AJC Staff)

Tlayuda at Taqueria Oaxaquena (Becky Stein)

MEXICAN

My choices for top Mexican restaurants are for different reasons. In order, one offers a variety of traditional Mexican food, another serves delicious Oaxacan (a state in Southwestern Mexico) dishes not found on a lot of restaurant menus, and the third choice I like simply for its tacos.
El Rey Del Taco
El Rey Del Taco (5288 Buford Highway, Atlanta, 770-986-0032) is a popular foodie destination and rightly so for its authenticity and diverse selection of Mexican food. I enjoy its barbacoa (barbecue) and lengua (tongue) tacos, but it’s a dish like the El Mexicano parrillada that grabs my attention. A friend introduced me to this fajitalike dish of steak, chorizo sausage, peppers and cheese delivered to your table on a sizzling serving griddle with warm tortillas on the side.

Taqueria La Oaxaquena

Jonesboro’s Taqueria La Oaxaquena (605 Mount Zion Road, Jonesboro, 770-960-3010) focuses on the cuisine of Oaxaca, a city in …

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Spring Dining Guide: Best burgers, barbecue and more

The Bocado Burger (AJC Staff)

The Bocado Burger (Becky Stein)

I’ve eaten my way through countless burger joints, barbecue shacks and pizza places in Atlanta, and I’ve found a lot of great eats in the process. But here are the best of the best.

BURGER (THICK)

I’ve yet to find a thick burger in Atlanta that can hold a candle to the juicy grass-fed patty from Muss & Turner’s (1657 Cumberland Parkway, Smyrna, 770-434-1114) in Smyrna. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, topped with roasted poblano peppers and slivers of red onion, and draped in melted cheddar and cilantro mayonnaise, this burger has no equal.

BURGER (STACK)

Chef Todd Ginsberg’s burger at Bocado (887 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, 404-815-1399), a double stack of house-ground farm-raised beef, American cheese and house-made pickles served on an H&F bun, stands out amongst the many contenders for Atlanta’s best stacked burger. Ginsberg’s simple preparation and attention to quality ingredients makes this the strongest offering of its kind …

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Spring Dining Guide: Date night, throughout the metro area

Bistro VG (AJC Staff)

Bistro VG (AJC Staff)

“Make time for date night.” Sage advice for new parents. Yet, that’s easier said than done. Coordinating schedules, finding a baby sitter and preparing the kids can be daunting. Somehow, you’ve done it. Date night is on. There will be no chicken fingers nor highchairs. No bag of toys for entertaining little people with little patience. Not tonight.

Milton’s Cuisine and Cocktails

Tonight you want to be pampered and you want a good meal. Head to Milton’s Cuisine and Cocktails (780 Mayfield Road, Milton, 770-817-0161), pass your keys to the valet and prepare to be treated with care. Well-informed servers will advise you on the menu and provide an oral history of the 150-year-old farmhouse the restaurant occupies. After dinner, the manager will check on “first-timers” to ensure you enjoyed the Southern-inspired fare, including fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and balsamic reduction ($8) or the shrimp and grits with smoked bacon and …

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It’s Low Country Boil season!

LCB spreadSpring has now sprung, and as the heat starts to roll in that means that many of us in the South will begin our regular migrations to large bodies of water. And few things make for a better feast for friends at the beach or lake than a good ole’ fashioned low country boil.

I spent his past weekend at the beaches of L.A. – that is Lower Alabama for those of you not from this neck of the woods – and put together my first boil of the season. Beyond the fact that most people can’t help but enjoy a bounty of seafood, the Low Country Boil is a favorite of mine because it is A – extremely easy to do and difficult to mess up and B – the people that you feed are always more impressed with your work than they probably should be.

One of the biggest issues that I have with other people’s LCBs is that they go too light on the seasoning. Many recipes simply call for “Old Bay to taste”, and a lot of folks wind up under seasoning the food. Or if you are working off of the …

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Thoughts on cooking

02-bulkThis past weekend, I cooked a bulk of food to get my wife and me through the work week. All of it was Korean meals that can keep and we can easily reheat. I made two types of soup, shrimp and vegetable pajeon (savory fried pancakes), soy ginger chicken, and chicken juk (rice porridge). All we have to do is steam some rice and we have convenient homemade meals all week long.

04-green onionsMy mother taught me a lot about cooking. Particularly, waste little as possible. One time I was chopping some green onions and discarded the white/green ends (closest to the bulbs). My mom freaked. She quickly plucked them back out of the wastebasket and ran them through a thorough rinse. “Don’t waste this part, they still can be used,” she stated. From time to time, I’m still served pickled scallion bulbs as banchan in Korean restaurants.

To this day I’ll still find some use for the whiter parts of scallions. Sometimes I’ll process them and use them as an oniony base for a sauce or marinade. Or I’ll …

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