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Archive for August, 2011

Restaurant Inspections, Oxtails and More/Jerk Stuff

A few technicalities added weight to new violations that helped bring down the food inspection grade for Oxtails and More/Jerk Stuff in Clarkston, which has received A-level scores during two inspections last year.

Manager Andrea Page said some citations, such as paper towels and soap not being at the kitchen sink, were corrected on the spot during the inspection that the restaurant failed with a 60 (U), unsatisfactory score.

“We had them in the kitchen, just not at the sink,” she said.

Page explained that other violations, such as not having a certified food safety manager and not washing hands between various operations, are being worked on.

The employee was fairly new, but he was “written up” and retrained, Page said.

“We went over the codes with him again,” she said, noting that he now understands the importance of proper hand-washing procedures.

As far as the certification, Page said she became manager two months ago and will be taking the class soon. Meanwhile, the …

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Table & Main opens in Roswell and more restaurant news

Table&Main“I’m beyond excited to return to my hometown, Roswell, and give this restaurant to the community that got me started,” says Ryan Pernice, General Manager of the newly opened Table & Main in Roswell. Pernice, a 2003 graduate of Roswell High School, studied restaurant management at Cornell University and worked with Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group in New York before returning home to Roswell to begin work on Table & Main.

Located on Canton Street, the main drag in historic Roswell, this restaurant attracted my attention as I watched the hundred-year-old home transform into a charming eatery over the past few months. I toured the space in June during the construction phase and immediately felt the history of the space. The original roof supports were converted to form the bar and roof beams flank the fireplace.

The fare at Table & Main is “simple, seasonal and Southern,” according to Pernice. Chef Ted Lahey, who has worked at 5 & 10 and Pricci, cranks out Southern …

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Homemade ice cream

ice cream makerAround the same time that I started to crawl, my palate’s natural leanings toward the salty end of the spectrum became apparent. When rummaging through the pantry after school, I reached for the bag of chips over the box a cookies nine time out of ten.

But there were some sweet treats that I simply couldn’t resist, none more so than homemade ice cream. I’ll never forget sitting on my Grandfather’s back porch in Alabama, hovering over his old ice cream maker, and filling the warped wood bucket with ice and salt while the deafeningly loud motor cranked away. Invariably, it was vanilla ice cream in there – or, at least the Southern condensed-milk heavy rendition of vanilla – and it always came out soft and slightly soupy. And it was always delicious.

My penchant for salty-over-sweet persisted into adulthood, and even now is a well-established dynamic in my marriage. I cook dinner; my wife handles dessert. She has a sweet tooth that could keep Willy Wonka in business, and I’m not …

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Restaurant Inspections, Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse, which prides itself on an Australian-themed atmosphere and high standards, recently had a setback at its Canton location during a food service inspection.

Repeat violations – which weigh heavier than new ones – helped to knock its score from a 90 (A) in January to a 74 (C), which is five points from an unsatisfactory score. The restaurant was cited for its dishwashing machine’s final rinse cycle not reaching a proper temperature at the manifold. Until the repair is made, the restaurant implemented a sanitizing measure immediately, the inspector wrote. Meanwhile, other repeat infractions include issues with the bathroom doors and food-contact surfaces.

Joe Kadow, executive vice president of Outback Steakhouse, expressed apologies to customers in a written statement.

“Food safety is our highest priority at Outback Steakhouse. For more than 20 years we have been committed to operating our restaurants with the highest standards,” he wrote.

Kadow emphasized that …

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Viande Rouge Steakhouse restaurant review, Johns Creek

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Lock your car, walk across a parking lot so hot the tar is sticky, open a blacked-out corner door of a small retail strip and then your jaw will drop.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

Viande Rouge Steakhouse greets you with a thrilling whoosh of darkness and air conditioning. You stand at the entrance and gape at everything you slowly begin to discern in this dim, glittery room: a waiter flaming bananas Foster on a rolling cart, brocade-patterned walls the color of blood, sexed-up art in gilt frames. The hostess knows to stand by while you soak it in. She seems used to the response.

You wonder for a moment if you’ve taken a wrong turn and ended up in some infamous Nevada funhouse or perhaps a top-secret filming of “Mad Men.” But you have only a moment’s pause because you soon crave the adventure in adults-only dining that the restaurant handily delivers.

Viande Rouge (“red meat”) is the second restaurant from Thomas Taylor and chef Marc Sublette, who own the appealing Trattoria …

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Sabor Inka restaurant review, Lawrenceville

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Anna Leon, a native Peruvian and owner of Lawrenceville’s Sabor Inka, tells me she wants customers from all backgrounds to feel at home in her year-old restaurant — even those who don’t know this distinctive South American cuisine. The restaurant floors sparkle, the menu is chock full of approachable dishes that suit many tastes, and Anna’s teenage niece Veronica — my server on all of my visits — provides service with more affability and knowledge than some seasoned veterans.

Review by Gene Lee

Review by Gene Lee

But Sabor Inka is not devoid of minor issues. A forgotten drink order and a mistimed entrée delivery had me scratching my head. (I received my entrée before appetizers were served and for an uncomfortable amount of time prior to my dining companions’ entrées.) Some dishes, particularly ones involving chicken, are lackluster.

My quarter order ($6.95) of pollo a la brasa — a roasted seasoned chicken also served by the half or whole — looked promising with its deep golden-brown …

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Battle of the Burgers Tour starts next week

Credit: Battleoftheburgers.com

Credit: Battleoftheburgers.com

Atlanta’s Battle of the Burgers returns for the second year on October 1st. For those that didn’t attend last year, this is a great little outdoor festival featuring 25 local restaurants competing for the best burger in town, with proceeds benefiting Embraced, a charity that provides orthopedic and prosthetic devices to those in need. If you aren’t a beef eater, there is a meatless category as well. Last year’s winners included Kaleidoscope Bistro, Grindhouse, The Nook, and Atkins Park.

I’ll post more details on the event itself as we get closer to it, but for those of you that can’t wait, this year the BotB crew is getting the festivities started a little early with the Battle of the Burgers Tour.

Starting Monday, August 22nd, the tour will feature a participating restaurant each day through the end of September. Participants earn raffle tickets for check-ins at the participating locations, with the drawing being held at the Battle of the …

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Japanese and Korean drinking and eating customs

Korean soju

Korean soju

Over a year ago while vacationing in Osaka, Japan, I inquired with my hotel concierge about a nearby lounge or bar that my wife and I could go to before dinner one night. He gave me a puzzled look, which I read as a need to clarify to him what one was. He responded: “In Japan, we generally don’t drink without eating so the closest thing to that here typically serves food with alcohol.” (Not entirely true, we found a tiny (albeit hidden) lounge nearby that sold only beer and spirits.) But what he told me that day made me realize something about the Japanese and Korean drinking culture: booze and food typically go together.

Growing up, whenever I saw my Korean dad drink beer just by himself or with a bunch of his friends, they always drank alcohol with snacks. These snacks commonly consisted of a medley of raw vegetables accompanied with a salty dipping paste, or chewy dry squid (ojinga) that have been toasted, salted and cut into strips. These drinking snacks are …

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Tamales in Smyrna

noemis1

A while ago, a reader emailed be about a food stall in Smyrna called Noemi’s. It operates every Wednesday, from 4-8 p.m., in the Cumberland United Methodist Church parking lot alongside a couple of other proprietors selling handmade crafts. Noemi’s sell pre-made tamales from its parent Kennesaw restaurant — Noemi’s Cocina.

noemis2a

The tamales are kept warm in coolers and cost between $2.50 to $3.50 per tamale. (They are slightly discounted if you buy them in bulk.) The stall is cash-only and the tamales are bagged and then tagged with description labels inclusive with a full list of a tamale’s ingredients.

I purchased a pork, beef and chicken tamale — all with cheese and salsa verde — and hurried home to dig in. Overall, I had to heavily salt these to draw out their anonymous flavors. I did get these at the tail end of the day so I’m wondering if time was a factor.

Have any of you all tried these? What do you think?

- by Gene Lee, Food and More …

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Atlanta’s princess of pie: Mims Bledsoe of Pie Shop

Mims Bledsoe, owner of Pie Shop

Mims Bledsoe, owner of Pie Shop

“I want people to get something nostalgic. Something real. If it slows people down or makes them go into a different state for just a minute, that’s enough for me.”

Meet Mims, Atlanta’s princess of pie. Only two months after opening Pie Shop in Buckhead, it seems this pie maven has already won the hearts — and tastebuds — of Atlanta. Pie Shop was just crowned “Best Pie in Atlanta” over on Best of the Big A. Both the voters and I picked Pie Shop as our favorite local pie spot.

Mims has pie in her blood. Although her mom “didn’t cook at all,” her grandmothers did. In fact, her great-great grandmother owned a fried-pie shop in rural Cumming at the turn of the century. While none of those original fried-pie recipes survived in written form, they have always been a part of the family’s holidays. Every Christmas, Mims’s grandmother, now 92, brings the fried pies. Mims uses the same dough for Pie Shop’s fried pies.

But Mims didn’t originally intend to …

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