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Archive for August, 2011

Art Smith to open Southern Art at Intercontinental Hotel

Art Smith (credit: Swehla Photography)

Art Smith (credit: Swehla Photography)

Art Smith (left), the Chicago-based restaurateur who made his name as Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef, gave us a phone interview to talk about his plans for a restaurant in Buckhead’s Intercontinental Hotel to replace the defunct Au Pied de Cochon. Smith, who runs Table Fifty-Two in Chicago and Art and Soul in Washington, D.C., will call his new place Southern Art. Smith foresees a September 21st or 22nd opening, and he shared these details:

  • The restaurant chef will be Daryl Shular, who currently teaches at the Art Institute of Atlanta culinary arts program and coaches the U.S. Culinary Olympics team.
  • The interior “will look like a Sea Island beach house.”
  • “Gorgeous African American art” will hang from the high ceilings on ropes and pulleys. Says Smith, “We always have a lot of art in our restaurants. My partner [Jesus Salguerio] is a painter, and it’s very important to us.”
  • This Southern boy, who grew up on a family farm near Valdosta, …

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Packaged Food in Great Britain

Raspberries from Marks & Spencer

Raspberries from Marks & Spencer

Here’s a nice thing to do for teenagers whom you’ve led on a forced march through museums, outdoor monuments and unair-conditioned subway trains on a hot August day: Give them fruit. Specifically, skinny cups filled with upright spears of chilled mango, pineapple and melon with peel-back plastic lids printed with a helpful message telling you to eat the fruit with your fingers. This isn’t an amazing product — do you really trust a mango that is cut into spears? — but as an afternoon snack it’s perfection, thanks to its clever packaging.

We discovered these tropical fruit sticks at Pret A Manger, London’s ubiquitous fast-food outlet, during a recent family vacation in the British capital. It was one of the many ingeniously packaged foodstuffs in a city that seems to have gone gaga for all manner of shiny packages and wrappers.

From fast-healthy sandwich shops such as Pret A Manger and Eat to the supermarket chains such as Tesco and Marks & …

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New barbecue spot in Roswell and more food news

Grand Champion


The dining scene in Roswell just expanded — again. This time, it’s barbecue. Newcomer Grand Champion BBQ recently opened and is working to earn its market share.

Owners Robert Owens and Gregory Vivier didn’t start their culinary careers in the barbecue business. Instead, they met during stints in Concentrics Restaurants’s kitchens, working together at Pie Bar, Trois and ONE. midtown kitchen. Owens later dabbled in barbecue at Sam’s BBQ-1, where he learned the tricks of the trade from barbecue master Dave Roberts.

Owens and Vivier now fire up the smokers from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. every night at Grand Champion BBQ, also called G.C. BBQ. They will tell you with pride that they use only fresh — never frozen — ribs sourced from Smithfield, a Virginia-based meat company. And, as with any good barbecue joint, they don’t stop with ribs. You’ll find a plethora of meaty goodness including chicken, pulled pork and brisket.

Sides consist of Southern …

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Spicy food that hurts so good

The Flamethrower

The Flamethrower

If you don’t love the burn of capsaicin burrowing into your mucous membranes, then this may not be the post for you.

I grew up liking spicy food from a young age, and my current love affair with hot sauce is no secret. As my pain tolerance has grown over the years, I find myself immediately drawn to the spiciest thing on the menu. Now, I’m no masochistic food pain junkie, and I’ve got a ways to go before I’m flossing with ghost chilis like I’m sure this kid is by now. But I’m at the point where I can comfortably say, “It hurts so good.”

The rush of endorphins, the runny nose, the face-sweats…the whole thing has really grown on me.

Every year during an annual trip, I make a stop into a little pizza place in Victor, Idaho called Wildlife Brewing to punish myself with a few slices of the Flamethrower. Pepperoni, hot Italian sausage, jalapenos, Frank’s Red Hot, and spicy tomato sauce. While it is no Diavola, it is a delicious pie with a …

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Restaurant Inspections, Wings Things & More by Janice

Wings – chicken wings, that is – have exploded into a popular staple with a growing list of flavors. The demand shows in the supply of wings restaurants opening in strip plazas, locating next to convenience stores and sitting on popular corners.

While the flavors meet the tastes of customers, the restaurants aren’t all meeting all the food inspection standards. Wings Things & More by Janice, located at 1531 Campbellton Road in Atlanta, recently failed its test. And Marietta Wings & More, at 1869 Cobb Parkway, received a score slightly above failing.

Wings Things & More by Janice failed with a 48 (U) with a note to “detail clean the entire facility, “especially the door handles and other non-food contact surfaces.” This cleaning violation extends to the inside of all freezers and refrigerators.

The inspector noted that the current year’s food service permit must be obtained and displayed, replacing the one that expired Oct. 29, 2010.

Kevin Jones, Fulton County’s …

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Big Tex Cantina Restaurant Review, Decatur



As the last of our checks are paid, I look across the table at the droopy eyes staring back at me from behind stacks of styrofoam boxes and see only defeat. We made a valiant stand, but in the end, we stumble home with our heads hung low and 5 pounds of leftovers between us.

The source of our humiliation is Decatur’s Big Tex Cantina. The latest venture from Jonathan and Justin Fox — more widely known for their other restaurant, Fox Brother’s BBQ — serves up hearty Tex-Mex cuisine that can put even the most ravenous of appetites into a food coma.

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

Adorned with countless sets of longhorns, lone stars and all kitschy things Texas, the feel is unmistakably “roadhouse,” only brighter. The neighborhood seems to have already caught on, as the large wooden bar is regularly packed, overflowing into the nearly hidden game room tucked away in the back, complete with a pool table and skee-ball.

The menu of self-proclaimed “Texas-style comfort …

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[Updated] F.A.B. not relocating to Ritz-Carlton Residences, opening sister restaurant there

Update 8/11/11:

We confirmed yesterday that F.A.B. will not be moving to the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Buckhead as rumored. A press release today tells us that F.A.B. will remain in its downtown location but that owners Fabrice Vergez and Cindy Brown will open a new restaurant concept called F&B at the Ritz-Carlton Residences. This neighborhood bistro will feature French and Mediterranean flavors using a farm-to-table approach.

F&B will join Tomo Japanese Restaurant and To-Go Bistro at the 3630 Peachtree location.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog

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Atlanta restaurant sales up for Q2

AJC file photo

AJC file photo

Earlier this week, Jeremiah McWilliams of the AJC reported that for the 2nd quarter of 2011, independent Atlanta restaurants reported a 7.2 percent increase in sales over same period last year.

The figures, gathered from a recent survey by Atlanta accounting firm NetFinancials, covered fast food, casual dining, and fine dining restaurants. This trend in Atlanta goes against the figures for the rest of the country, where over 8,600 restaurants closed their doors during the year ending in March, making it the worst year for the industry since 2001.

It is no secret that the dwindling economy strained our pocketbooks, and that the restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit (excluding the real estate/construction business, of course.) Many of us have trimmed back on extraneous spending, and how often we eat out and how much we spend when we do, is one of the first areas to go for many households.

However, it seems that, at least in Atlanta, we have been …

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Chicken chops

photo-84My wife came back from the supermarket with a couple of those mega-enormous monster-sized split chicken breasts. I wasn’t sure I wanted to wait around for them to roast, so I cleaved each into three pieces, cutting through both the flesh and the bone. Each breast yielded two flat chunks that looked remarkably like pork chops and one triangular end piece.

Hmm. What next?

I decided to dredge these chicken chops in seasoned flour and fry them in shallow oil in a Dutch oven until they were nicely browned all over. I dumped the oil, fried up tons of chopped scallion, deglazed the pan with chicken stock and used this thin pool of liquid for a stovetop braise for the browned chops and many carrot coins. A splash of cream at the end finished the sauce.

The chicken was succulent and really satisfying. One chop made for a perfect portion, and it was a pleasure to turn attention to the gnarly bits along the bone after finishing the medallion of meat.

By the way, this particular sauce …

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Jaws ice pops and the summer of 1982

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

The first time I visited Korea (my parents’ country of origin) was in 1982. We landed on a humid Seoul night, and the whole city glowed with neon signs written in Hangul (Korean alphabet).

Coming from my rural Southeastern U.S. surroundings, driving into the thick of a big bad foreign city was simply awesome. I loved spending my days in Seoul’s arcade rooms and in food markets where strange foodstuffs filled coolers that my mom didn’t even carry in her scary-freezer-full-of-smelly-alien-things-that-she-somehow-miraculously-transformed-into-delicious-meals back home.

It was then and there in Korea that I was first introduced to Korean ice pops. Growing up, my siblings and I were ice pop fiends, but the ones I had in Korea rewired my love for them entirely. There were so many kinds and so exotic compared to the familiar Nutty Bars and Fudgesicles we ate stateside. Fruity ones were multi-layered in different but congruent flavors, and textures could be creamy, …

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