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Archive for September, 2011

Fall 2011 Dining Guide: Chef Billy Allin

Billy Allin (credit Becky Stein)

Billy Allin (credit Becky Stein)

In January I used this space to publish an open letter to Atlanta’s chefs. At that time I had recently resumed writing the lead restaurant reviews for this newspaper after a six-year hiatus and found myself in a very different dining town than the one I had last known. The city seemed to be in a restaurant rut — it was becoming a place that admired real personality less than another perfectly acceptable bowl of butternut squash soup. Too many folks were playing it safe, cooking with more competence than heart.

So, without naming any names, I outlined in that open letter 10 challenges to Atlanta chefs and gave the pot a good stir. Hundreds of comments piled up on my AJC blog. Local chefs followed with rebuttals, both on ajc.com and other media sites.

Now I want to name names. In our Fall 2011 Dining Guide — published in this Friday’s Go Guide and Thursday morning here on the Food and More blog — I’ll tell you about 10 chefs who are making …

Continue reading Fall 2011 Dining Guide: Chef Billy Allin »

Former Ecco chef Micah Willix to open new restaurant at Phipps

Chef Micah Willix, who recently vacated his position as executive chef at Ecco, will open his own restaurant, Latitude, at Phipps Plaza early this November. The new restaurant will be globally inspired, reflective of his style at Ecco.

Willix says Latitude will be about “good service, good cocktails and good food.” The food will be “simple, straightforward, grassroots food with no limitations” and the menu will be seasonal and ingredient driven. You’ll be tempted with items such as ceviches, Jonah crab bisque, spicy pork sausage with roasted cherries and more.

According to Willix, he and partner Kenny Pearlman, of Seasons 52, place great emphasis on sourcing. Latitude will use “the best farmers, sustainable fish, natural meats and all-natural produce and dairy products.”

The restaurant will take over he spot that housed The Grape at Phipps. There will be about 80 seats inside and about 30 on the patio. Willix says they are working with a designer to finalize the …

Continue reading Former Ecco chef Micah Willix to open new restaurant at Phipps »

HD1 to open, Pico Auténtico closes and more restaurant news

courtesy of HD1

courtesy of HD1

After a summer of anticipation, HD1, for Haute Doggery, will open with dinner on Sept. 22. This Poncey-Highland restaurant presents a modern take on the hot dog with house-ground meats and sausages.

The restaurant is owned by Barry Mills and Richard Blais is serving as the menu consultant.  Chef Jared Lee Pyles will head the kitchen to execute Blais’s vision.

You can expect the menu to venture well beyond the classic hot dog with items such as fennel sausage with San Marzano ketchup, fontina and grilled radicchio or Merguez lamb sausage with red currant compote and minted cucumber salad. An array of original condiments such as canned-beer mustard and pepper jack foam should also keep things interesting. 664 N. Highland Ave NE, Atlanta. 404-815-1127.

In other news:

Pico Auténtico

Roswell’s Pico Auténtico, owned by The Condiment Group, closed at the end of August. Pico opened earlier this year after a rapid remake of the former Relish Restaurant. The …

Continue reading HD1 to open, Pico Auténtico closes and more restaurant news »

It’s tailgating season!

Executive tailgateFor rabid fans across the country, the welcome chill in the air we’ve felt in the last few weeks signals much more than time to dig the sweaters out from the back of their closets. It means that football is once again upon us.

While I won’t lie and say that I’m all that rabid a fan of football – I’d classify myself as a casual fan at best – I absolutely love a good tailgate. I enjoy watching the games of course, but when I’m ironing my game day shirt, thoughts of grilled meats and solo cups of bourbon cocktails fill my head instead of how my fantasy team will fare on the field that day. I love the ritual of it, the camaraderie, and of course, the delicious game day grub.

Every group needs a tailgating guy (or girl). You know who I’m talking about. The ones that really get into it, much to everyone else’s benefit. The ones up at 6 AM, loading the grill in the back of the truck and heading to the stadium early to snap up the prime real estate. These motivated …

Continue reading It’s tailgating season! »

Restaurant Inspections, Dominincan Restaurant

After an up-down inspection record since May, Dominican Restaurant in Lilburn was closed Monday in accordance with Georgia’s food safety regulations.

On Tuesday, the restaurant at 510 Pleasant Hill Road, Suite D, was allowed to reopen after a compliance hearing, said Joseph Sternberg, the environmental health director who serves Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties.

“Typically, during a compliance conference, the restaurant presents a plan for corrective action,” he said, noting that it could include a weekly schedule of procedures implemented.

Some of Dominican’s violations included raw meat being thawed at room temperature in a sink. The inspector advised that cold water must be running over the meat. Dominican was also cited for storing a bucket of food directly on the floor. Other infractions ranged from sanitation issues to improper handwashing procedures.

According to food safety reports, Dominican’s record since August 2010 is a follows:

  • Aug. 31, 2010: 86 …

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Reinvent the $5 value meal

PrintWho says that fresh local foods are only for those with abundant resources? Not anymore. This Saturday Sept. 17, folks all across the country are making $5 meals using “slow food.”

What is slow food? Quite simply, it’s the opposite of fast food. According to Slow Food USA, who organized The $5 Challenge, it “is food that is good for those who eat it, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet.”

Can you create a $5 “slow food” meal? That’s your challenge. “Slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food. It’s time we take back the ‘Value Meal,’” said Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA.

The $5 Challenge was developed in response to Michelle Obama’s call to end the childhood obesity epidemic in one generation. It was developed to teach us that we can make healthy meals on a budget. And it was developed to promote discourse on the state of our nation’s food and equal access to fresh sustainable products.

Will you take The $5 …

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Escorpion restaurant review, Midtown

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You don’t hear much anymore about the Broadway show “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” but last I checked, $157 tickets were widely available.

Yet this past fall, as actors flew through (and occasionally fell from) the air, “Spider-Man” was in the news constantly. The producers asked for an excessively long preview period before deeming the musical ready for review.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

Despite this injunction, critics from major publications began weighing in one by one on the (manifest) faults and (seemingly few) merits of the show. The ticket-buying public, they argued, needed some guidance.

I followed this discourse with interest as it pertained to a constant concern in reviewing restaurants. The first weeks of a restaurant’s life are its de facto preview period, and even the great ones will screw up royally as they get their sea legs and churn through staff and menu items that aren’t working out. Fair critics should wait a good month before fork to mouth …

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Nine Street Kitchen restaurant review, Roswell

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Stretched back in my chair, I quietly fan myself with a folded napkin beneath a welcome umbrella for a smidge of shade. In my heat-induced daze, I watch beads of condensation gain momentum as they streak down the sides of glasses littering the table. And I’m not the only one tapping my feet while humming “Margaritaville” along with the guitarist working his way through a well-worn playlist.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

Oh, if only we could extend our beach escape. After tiring days of romping in the sun, there’s no simpler pleasure than chilling with a drink at the marina listening to familiar tunes. As I mentally tick off the remaining days of vacation, I glance at the solid line of cars jockeying for parking spaces. Why do all of the license plates read “Fulton County?”

We’re not at the sandy shores anymore. We’re on Canton Street in historic Roswell at Nine Street Kitchen. Nine once butted against the other restaurants on the main drag in Roswell. When …

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Hatch Chile Festival at Taqueria del Sol

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This past Sunday, I paid an unplanned visit to the Second Annual Hatch Chile Festival held at the Howell Mill location of Taqueria del Sol. Chef/Owner Eddie Hernandez initially launched this festival around the same time last year when these long green chiles that hail from Hatch, N.M. are in season.

Hernandez and co. took over a large area of the parking lot right in front of his restaurant, and set up food stations offering various dishes incorporating the chiles. The event plays off as a block party also inclusive with a live band and cash bars (serving cold beer and wine) stationed throughout.

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Most of the recipes served that day required the chiles to be roasted and skinned of its char first, which I observed go down in the parking lot by a couple of restaurant employees. One man roasted a generous batch of chiles in a large gas-powered roaster, which he would constantly rotate for about five minutes. Then he would dump the finished chiles into a box where a second …

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Grant Park Farmers Market

Left: casual scene at the market; Right: Holeman and Finch Bread Co.

Left: casual scene at the market; Right: Holeman and Finch Bread Co.

I am a little late to this party that spawned earlier in spring, but I love what this intown neighborhood farmers market offers. The community food market is not big by any means, but there are some fun things to look at and nosh on.

Left: Nazifa's Bakery; Right: Riverview Farms "Farm Mobile"

Left: Nazifa's Bakery; Right: Riverview Farms "Farm Mobile"

Some familiar local vendors such as King of PopsHoleman and Finch Bread Co., and Nazifa’s Bakery, offering fresh baked Mediterranean goods, run little operations here.

And there are some unfamiliar ones such as the Farm Mobile truck selling products sourced from local farms, and The Little Tart Bakeshop who make a to-die-for quiche that I sampled.

The market is open 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Sundays through November 20 and also run events and chef demos from time to time.

Have you been? What do you like here?

by Gene Lee, Food and More blog

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