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Archive for November, 2011

The Red Eyed Mule restaurant review, Marietta



Driving down a side street of U.S. 41 in Marietta, blink and you just might miss it; it’s little more than a brick shack. But walk into the Red Eyed Mule on a Saturday morning and you will see that plenty of locals are able to find the place just fine.

More commonly referred to by regulars simply as “the Mule,” what lies behind those unassuming brick walls may surprise you.

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

Run by the soon-to-be husband-and-wife team of Joe Woods and Sabra Wessell, this cash-only hole in the wall has been serving breakfast and lunch in Marietta since January 2010. Open only until to 2 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, this little dive serves up a stripped-down menu of breakfast sandwiches and a lunch menu that features only a few burgers, a chicken sandwich and a daily soup.

The small free-standing building, oddly placed in the middle of the parking lot of Marietta Feed & Seed, dates to the 1930s, when it housed the superintendent of a neighboring mill. Since then it has served as …

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Top Chef Texas recap, Episode 4: There is no crying in cooking

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

Spoiler alert y’all!


Things open with the chefs commiserating over drinks, and we learn little more than Nyesha’s realization that this is a competition. Sorry sweetheart, things “turned cutthroat” a while back during Shrimpgate, but you probably don’t remember because I’m pretty sure that you weren’t even in the last episode.


Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Border Grill serve as the celebrity chefs this week for a Quickfire that hurts so good. Spread before the cheftestants is an array of chili peppers spanning the Scoville scale, and they much pick one to showcase their ability to balance heat and flavor. As the capsaicin increases, so does the payout, with the infamous Ghost chili topping out at $20,000.

Product Placement #1: Tabasco hot sauce beautifully adorns the smorgasbord of peppers. Too bad they couldn’t get a sponsor that makes hot sauce that is actually hot.

Not surprisingly, sickly-sweet Beverly opts for the weakest chili of the …

Continue reading Top Chef Texas recap, Episode 4: There is no crying in cooking »

Happy Thanksgiving!

The raw, salt-rubbed bird in my fridge

A raw, salt-rubbed bird in the Kessler fridge

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and please, please, please don’t freak out over it. Remember:

  • It’s just a big dinner like any other.
  • You’ve got all day to cook.
  • If your turkey isn’t cooked enough, throw it back in the oven.
  • If it’s too cooked then, well, that’s what gravy’s for.

Be grateful for the friends and family you get to spent time with. Be grateful you have enough food to eat. And if you’re feeling a particular surfeit of gratitude, consider sharing some of it with the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

– Your friends from the Food & More blog

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The Google dining experience

Google-cafeteria To many of us, Google is a verb. An internet action one takes to find/learn anything and everything. Another thing one might think about when hearing the word “Google” is the $500-600 cost per share of the company’s stock. That price puts the company’s valuation in the billions and makes it one of the wealthiest technology companies in the world.

Recently, I visited family living in California’s Silicon Valley where the main Google office is located and where my wife’s cousin works. He gave us a tour of the company’s campus including complimentary lunch in the main cafeteria where breakfast, lunch and dinner are always free for all employees and their occasional guest(s).

Google’s campus is similar to an office park you can find around metro Atlanta. (Silicon Valley reminds me of a posh version of Alpharetta.) The company occupies many buildings in the area and has artwork and sculptures strewn all over the campus to keep you visually busy.


There is also a quirky food …

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Behind the curtain with Hector Santiago: Top Chef Texas, Episode 3

hector_santiago_headshot_05As part of our ongoing Top Chef Texas coverage, Atlanta Top Chef alum Hector Santiago of Pura Vida and Super Pan Latino Sandwich Shop will drop in from time to time with an insider’s perspective on the week’s events on the show. Here is Hector’s take on episode three….

On the Elimination Challenge:

Right off the bat you can tell that Keith is going to have a bad day – frozen cooked shrimp?? Yikes! And I had such hopes for him as a “minority” chef that had gone through so much and having become a James Beard nominee.

The green team seems to have a better hold on the challenge. They have a plan before shopping – a must to assure a win and having an expert Mexican palate to guide them through the challenge is a big advantage. The fact that they use Chuy as a sounding board shows the maturity level of the team. All of their dishes look promising and well conceived. Chris J’s empanadas with a masa dough looked goooood.

There is no bickering or backstabbing going on, unlike the pink …

Continue reading Behind the curtain with Hector Santiago: Top Chef Texas, Episode 3 »

Treasured family recipe: Cornbread dressing

Make fresh buttery cornbread for your dressing. (credit: Will Kirk Photography, National Cornbread Festival)

Make fresh cornbread for your dressing. (credit: Will Kirk Photography, National Cornbread Festival)

Oh, cornbread dressing, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

If there’s one food that was present at every family meal of my childhood, it was cornbread dressing. It was on the supper table every Sunday and every holiday. When I met my (now) husband when I was 15, we ate cornbread dressing at his family gatherings, too.

In fact, the recipe I cook every year comes from my husband’s family, though it is similar to the one my grandmother made. This treasured family recipe was passed down to my mother-in-law from her mother, whose hand-written version was modified and adjusted over the years.

This dressing is somewhat labor-intensive since it requires both biscuits and cornbread, but many of us will be making those for our holiday meal anyway. Once you taste it and find yourself standing around the kitchen island cutting nibbles of cold dressing at midnight, you’ll realize …

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Restaurant Inspections, El Porton

After a history of perfect 100s on its food safety inspection exams, El Porton in Roswell received an unsatisfactory score – during a time of stricter standards that restaurants have faced.

The restaurant at 910 Marietta Highway, Suite 90, which is known for its Mexican cuisine, caused questions for one patron after it scored a 42 (U) recently.

“I recently saw that El Porton … received a 42 at its last inspection. For the last several years our family has started our Thanksgiving holiday with a dinner there on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and I’m wondering if I need to make other arrangements. Please let me know if they have been rescored,” wrote Theresa Wooldridge of Sandy Springs.

Yes. El Porton had undergone a follow-up inspection about a week later that resulted in a 98 (A).

Its routine poor score, however, was a result of new violations, involving substandard cleaning and basic food safety procedures, such as hand washing, glove changing and equipment …

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Guys, why don’t you take over Thanksgiving?

credit: William Berry/staff

credit: William Berry/staff

For many years as a food writer I’ve helped perpetuate the notion that the Thanksgiving dinner is something that requires much in the way of advanced planning. All those shopping and to-do lists. All those schedules for making pie crust and peeling potatoes. All those containers of make-ahead food that find their way to the recesses of the fridge and freezer, only to reemerge after the big day. (So that’s what happened to the Brussels sprouts! Behind the iced tea all along!)

Forgive the gender stereotype, but I think this approach hews more to the way women cook than men. In my experience, women tend to be more detail-oriented and focus on the big picture of timing and serving the meal. The turkey is important but, then, so is the presence of clean towels in the bathroom and the bowl of nuts on the coffee table. Men, on the other hand, more often get swept up in a big cooking project — pit-roasting a whole pig, say — and let the details fall where …

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Fifth Group’s Alma Cocina to open and more news

Alma rendering courtesy of Fifth Group Restaurants

Alma rendering courtesy of Fifth Group Restaurants

Alma Cocina, by Fifth Group Restaurants is slated to open in just a couple of weeks on Dec. 6 in the One Ninety One Peachtree Tower downtown. Fifth Group also owns South City Kitchen, La Tavola Trattoria, Ecco, The Original El Taco and Bold American Catering.

Alma Cocina will serve Mexican and Latin American specialties. Its kitchen will be headed by Chad Clevenger, who has worked with chefs such as Rene Ortiz, Jesse Perez, Rick Bayless and Tim Love.

Here are menu excerpts from the press release:

Clevenger has created a menu that features antojitos (appetizers), ceviches, sopas y ensaladas (soups and salads), huaraches (soft corn masa tortilla with delicious toppings), taquitos (two small tacos), platos mayor (main plates) and sides. Dishes include cachaca braised short rib with Brazilian feijoada beans, chicharrons and cilantro chimichurri ($9); bay scallop ceviche with blood orange juice, aji Amarillo chile, Agrumato oil, …

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Atlanta restaurants open for Thanksgiving

You’ve asked for it, so here it is — a list of restaurants open for Thanksgiving Day. Check out some of the places ready to serve your holiday meal.

  • 103 West: Noon – 7 p.m. 103 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. 404-233-5993. Holiday menu, $69.
  • Atlanta Grill: 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. brunch, 5:30-10 p.m. dinner. 181 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-659-0400. Brunch buffet, $70; Dinner – holiday menu, $65.
  • Blue Willow Inn: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. 294 North Cherokee Road, Social Circle. 770-464-2131. Buffet, $25.95.
  • Brasstown Valley Resort: Noon-7 p.m. 6321 U.S. Highway 76, Young Harris. 706-379-4617. Buffet, $39.95.
  • Chateau Elan Versailles: Noon – 6:30 p.m.100 Rue Charlemagne Drive, Braselton. 678-425-0900 x6181. Buffet, $59.
  • Chequer’s Seafood Grill: 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. 236 Perimeter Center Parkway N.E., Atlanta. 770-391-9383. Buffet, $32 adults.
  • Chicken and the Egg: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. 800 Whitlock Ave., Marietta. 678-388-8813. Holiday menu, $18.
  • Colonnade: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. 1879 Cheshire …

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