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Archive for April, 2011

Mongkoltep Thai Restaurant, Newnan

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Mongkoltep Thai Restaurant is a family-run operation in Newnan’s picturesque town square. Pulling into Newnan, I am hearing immediately the anthemic chorus of “Ain’t that America” from John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” in my head.

Review by Gene Lee

Review by Gene Lee

Images of wholesome families, quaint storefront businesses and the stately Coweta County Courthouse in the center of the square could have all been glancing shots in Mellencamp’s music video. I had not been to Newnan before, but this small-town charm is not new to me. I grew up in a town like this in east Tennessee.

I feel as if I’m home, but my hometown didn’t have any exotic dining choices like Mongkoltep. Owner/chef Montri Youngfuengment (Young for short) relocated to Newnan and opened the Thai restaurant 13 months ago, opting for a quieter life after a couple of restaurant ventures in metro Atlanta. Young grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, where he honed his cooking skills at his parents’ street market …

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Grindhouse Killer Burgers’ new location open for business

Credit: Fred Perry

Credit: Fred Perry

Despite the delays that owner Alex Brounstein endured over the last year, the Piedmont Heights location of Grindhouse Killer Burgers finally opened for business yesterday. When I spoke with Brounstein a month ago and he projected opening by the second week of April, I was skeptical given all of the unforeseen delays that had slowed the project. But it seems that he was pretty close, missing the mark by only a few days.

Here are some more details from Grindhouse’s press release:

Burger lovers have a new mecca with the opening of a second outpost of Grindhouse Killer Burgers on Tuesday, April 19, located in a remodeled fueling station at 1842 Piedmont Road (next to the Gorilla Car Wash near Cheshire Bridge Road). Until now, satisfying one’s Grindhouse craving was no easy task – the original location was open for lunch only and closed on Sundays. But the second Grindhouse location will be offering up their tasty burgers for lunch and dinner, seven days a …

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An outdoor Latin feast

01_Grill

I think we can all agree the residents of metro Atlanta LOVE good weather, no? The city snaps alive with activity, and intown traffic, especially near parks, stalls like the Connector during rush hour.

This past weekend, some friends of mine took advantage of the weather and threw a Latin-themed dinner utilizing their Big Green Egg for grilling elote (corn) and carne asada for tacos. It’s good to have friends that share a similar passion for food. Especially when these friends are cooking everything, and all you have to do is show up with some booze.

02_drinks

I contributed some season-appropriate beers. And another friendly straggler, who was also relieved of cooking responsibilities, stationed herself in a tiny section of the kitchen that she took over for mojito production. Her first batch wobbled me like a Pacquiao right hook.

Tortillas - tomatillo verde - queso fundido

The friends that hatched this festive meal took care of most of the cooking, accompaniments and appetizers – mostly made from scratch. Earlier in the week, …

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Napa veg out

Local Marcona almonds, vadouvan spice, sweet herbs

Local Marcona almonds, vadouvan spice, sweet herbs

I’ve just returned from a conference in the Napa Valley, where I had a couple of free nights to dine out. One night I met up with a friend at a convenient, casual spot called Farmstead, where we sat at the bar and ate fried potatoes and a really tasty salad of raw, shredded Tuscan kale dressed in a garlicky vinaigrette and showered with cheese crisps.

The other night was my blowout. I tried a restaurant that has long intrigued me. Ubuntu in downtown Napa serves an all-vegetable menu, is attached to a yoga studio and has earned a Michelin star. The restaurant opened and earned its reputation under previous chef Jeremy Fox, though I heard a few people comment that they’ve found the food even better under current chef Aaron London.

London is a chill dude in his 20’s, who wears his hair in a topknot during service. There’s a feeling of reach in his cooking, with big flavors that stretch as far as they can go. If his food were a …

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The perfect desktop picnic

Empire State South Tiffin

Who’s in the mood for a picnic? This time of year I just want to get outside. It’s picnic time.

No peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for me. I’ve found the perfect take-along lunch that will have me inventing excuses for picnics.

Have you tried the tiffin lunch box at Empire State South? When the restaurant first opened, I noticed the tiffins on its website (“coming soon”) and couldn’t wait for them to become available. I was drawn to the tiffin box itself — a perfect little package complete with silver rolled in a dish-towel napkin that could have jumped right off the pages of Martha Stewart Magazine.

So, that’s my disclaimer –I was enchanted by the packaging from the start. Thankfully, the contents did not disappoint.ESS Tiffin 2

Last week, I picked up my first tiffin lunch ($15). I placed my order that morning and picked it up promptly at noon. As soon as I got to my car, I pried the lid from the top of the box, impatient for a peek.

The snacks in the top compartment …

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The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival: Are you going?

FoodWineFestLaunch81_DSIn about a month the tents will start going up for the inaugural Atlanta Food & Wine Festival in Midtown.

Top culinarians from throughout the South and a number of out-of-town visitors will make this festival — as educational as it is sybaritic — unlike any other the city has seen.

It will also be the most expensive: tickets start at $500 for those who plan on attending all three days, though single day passes and one-shot dealios for the tasting tents will be available for less.

Here is the ticket pricing.

Here is a story I wrote about the festival that appeared in yesterday’s paper.

Who here is planning to go?

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Restaurant Inspections, Rice Box

Rice Box offers fresh made-to-order Chinese in the Midtown area of Atlanta. The restaurant at 931 Monroe Drive doesn’t use MSG and goes light on the oil. That’s good news for those craving take-out but want it healthy.

Just be aware that the restaurant has had trouble keeping up its health inspection score.

During a routine Fulton County inspection April 12, Rice Box was given a failing score of 56. This follows another failing score of 68 from a March 16 inspection prompted by a customer complaint.

In between those two scores, Rice Box received a 79 during a follow-up inspection. That’s a C.

Rice Box has been flagged for repeat violations of improperly storing food and other items. They’ve also been warned to stop re-using single-service items. These are supposed to be thrown out if the customer doesn’t use them.

During the April 12 inspection, food was observed being stored underneath the plumbing fixtures at the hand sink. A dish rack was being stored inside an …

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In the news: Chef Guy Wong and David Sweeney to plan Sunday dinners, ramen fever slowly unfurling in Atlanta

Cliff Bostock of Creative Loafing reported that Guy Wong of Miso Izakaya and David Sweeney, former chef/owner of Dynamic Dish, are planning Sunday dinners to be held at Wong’s Miso Izakaya. The first event will be held 4-10 p.m. May 1.

According to Wong in the article, “..the menu will be a la carte, not the usual prix-fixe around town. We want it to be very casual.”

Miso Izakaya, 619 Edgewood Ave., S.E. #101, Atlanta. 678-701-0128.

In other news:

MisoIzakRamen

Speaking of Miso Izakaya, the restaurant now offers ramen every night of the week after 10 p.m. (except on Mondays when it is closed). I’m generally an early eater, but I did sample a friend’s order on a recent visit. I can’t really pass an opinion yet as I only had a few slurps of the broth.

Diners can choose from tonkotsu (pork bone based broth) or shoyu (soy sauce based broth) ramen, which come with toppings of green onions, menma (bamboo shoots), soft-boiled egg, fish cake, roasted pork, corn and a sheet of nori (seaweed) that …

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Roswell’s Salt Factory Pub to appear on Food Network tonight

The Salt Factory's shepherd's pie, courtesy of The Reynolds Group

The Salt Factory's shepherd's pie, courtesy of The Reynolds Group

Tune into Food Network’s Meat & Potatoes tonight at 10 p.m. to see Roswell’s The Salt Factory featured. The gastropub’s shepherd’s pie made with locally-raised lamb made the cut in tonight’s “Comfort Meats” episode. Go behind the scenes to learn the secrets of The Salt Factory’s dish. The pub’s diners are also highlighted in interviews about this Roswell hot spot. Stop in the restaurant tonight to watch the show and to try the shepherd’s pie for yourself.

11 a.m.- 3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays. 952 Canton Street, Roswell, 404-518-8229.

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Laboratory of magic

51os438dTzL._SL500_AA300_The Spanish restaurant elBulli surely tops the bucket list of most avid diners. Set by cliffs near a beach resort on the Costa Brava, it is both the most influential restaurant of modern times and the hardest to get into. Complicating matters, it is only open six months of the year; people the world over plan their European vacations around reservations.

But the coming season will be elBulli’s last before its genius chef Ferran Adrià turns his attention to other projects and plans to turn the space into a culinary research foundation. A lucky few will scratch this dinner from their bucket lists; many more will come to terms with the fact that they will never win the reservation lottery, make a Mediterranean pilgrimage, and sit down to the dozens of startling courses that will offer them a lifetime of bragging rights.

For those destined to miss the boat, I recommend “The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià’s elBulli” (Free Press, $26). Author Lisa …

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