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Archive for November, 2011

Chef Ford Fry to open ‘The Optimist’

coutesy of Melissa Libby & Associates

courtesy of Melissa Libby & Associates

Chef Ford Fry of JCT.Kitchen has been working on a new project. In the spring of 2012, he will open two seafood restaurants side by side. The first will be called The Optimist and will serve sustainable seafood prepared in a wood-burning oven.

The second, a more casual spot, will be called Oyster Bar at The Optimist. According to the press release, Oyster Bar will be a “fish camp’” style joint with an outdoor patio and live music. It will be right next door to The Optimist.

Curious about the name? Fry’s father, a sailing enthusiast, suggested it. Apparently, in the world of sailing, “optimist” is also the name of the sailboat, or dinghy, used by children.

914 Howell Mill Road.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

Continue reading Chef Ford Fry to open ‘The Optimist’ »

Pastry chef Chrysta Poulos jumps from 4th & Swift to Woodfire Grill

Chrysta Poulos won the "People's Choice" award for her sticky toffee pudding at Adoption Discovery's "Best Dessert Atlanta" competition. Credit: Eyebeam Photography

Chrysta Poulos won the "People's Choice" award for her sticky toffee pudding at Adoption Discovery's "Best Dessert Atlanta" competition. Credit: Eyebeam Photography

Sticky toffee pudding. It’s pastry chef Chrysta Poulos’ signature dessert and it’s the only item that can always be found in her ever-changing dessert lineup. It was on the menu when she worked at both Holeman and Finch and 4th & Swift and it’s on the menu now in her new home base at Woodfire Grill.

Chrysta replaces Brittany Emerson, former pastry chef at Woodfire, who accepted another position in her native New England. Kevin Gillespie, co-owner and executive chef of Woodfire Grill, said, “We knew this day would come. When we started, Brittany was straight out of school. She had a lot of talent and potential but not a lot of experience. Brittany came to me and said she had exhausted her ideas; she wanted to learn more.”

Chrysta was also ready for a change after two years at 4th & Swift. The grapevine …

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HD1 Restaurant Review, Atlanta



When you order a hot dog, are you the lone-wiggle-of-mustard kind of garnisher or more of a chili-cheese-slaw-Russian-dressing sort? If you’re the latter, then prepare to have a blast exploring the menu at HD1, where the dogs come piled to nose-engulfing heights with garnishes you would never have before imagined. Red currants. Walnuts. Herbed crème fraîche. Grilled radicchio.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

Who could be behind this? If you guessed Richard Blais, you win a canister of pepper jack foam, which is an airy house cheese sauce that finds its way onto something called the “Red Haute Dog.”

Located in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood, across the street from Pura Vida Tapas — the place that belongs to Blais’ “Top Chef” cohort, Hector Santiago — HD1 is like Flip Burger Boutique with tube steaks instead of burgers. Blais, along with his business partner Barry Mills and executive chef Jared Lee Pyles, once again offers a world of flavors within a bun. But …

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Casserole shops take off

Cottage Pie from Casseroles in Virginia Highland (photos by Becky Stein)

Cottage Pie from Casseroles in Virginia Highland (photos by Becky Stein)

What does Southern hospitality mean to you? For many, the tradition revolves around food and bringing nourishment to those in need. Often that nourishment comes in the form of a casserole. Several Atlanta casserole shops are helping us keep this tradition alive.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

One such shop, Casseroles, which opened in Morningside this past summer, sprung to life after co-owner Betsy McKay received some Southern hospitality of her own. When her mother arrived home from the hospital after knee surgery, McKay’s attempts to scrape together a dinner from pantry ingredients were aborted by a casserole delivery from a caring friend.

The relief and appreciation she felt in that moment sparked an idea. Using her years of experience in the restaurant industry both here and in Paris, McKay partnered with friend Hunter Hanger, who has front-of-the-house experience, to open Casseroles. Together, they …

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Top Chef Texas recap, Episode 3: Snakes in the grass

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo


Ahhh, things are getting back to normal.

Finally down to our 16 chefs, we begin with a quick re-introduction to some of the contestants. The editors take the opportunity to re-hash things we already knew: Chris J. and Richie work together, Keith (AKA Rick Ross…if you don’t know who he is, Google it) went to prison, and Beverly’s Stuart Smally moment confirms that she is a little too sweetly optimistic to be trusted.

Then we jump straight into something that I didn’t realize I was missing so much, the Quickfire!

The chefs enter the kitchen, and it doesn’t matter who the guest judge was – Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria – all eyes are on the giant terrarium and albino rattlesnake. In front of each chef is some sort of snake box that holds the “not really going to be a surprise” ingredient. Is Top Chef going to get all Fear Factor on us?? Alas, no, it is all just a tease. The rattlesnakes lurking under the lids are …

Continue reading Top Chef Texas recap, Episode 3: Snakes in the grass »

Anthony Bourdain talks about his new show The Layover

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain — love him or hate him, he and his Emmy-nominated show No Reservations are not going anywhere. The world traveling author and former chef has just wrapped up Season 7 of the foodie-popular Travel Channel show.

So if you are missing that “sardonic” northeastern wit, then Bourdain fans you are in luck. His new hour-long Travel Channel show called The Layover debuts at 9 p.m. next Monday, Nov. 21. The premise of the show is described as “a high octane series that gives [Bourdain] just 24-48 hours to explore an unexpected destination.” The shows will focus on places all over the world that are “off the beaten track, no nonsense and budget friendly.”

First stop in the 10-part series: Singapore.

I recently had the opportunity to phone into a group (media) interview with Tony where he briefly talked about the upcoming show and answered some of our questions. Below is a transcript of the interview (edited for length).


Bourdain: Hi …

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What are your Thanksgiving oddities?

chilerWe’re not terribly tradition bound with our Thanksgiving meal. Sometimes we stuff the turkey and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s cornbread and made with stale baguettes. Vegetables are whatever looks good in the market. Gravy is a matter of last-minute inspiration (or whatever replaces inspiration in the clutch).

But there are two dishes that we always have: 1) cranberry salsa made with lots of ginger, hot peppers and cilantro, and 2) a chile relleno casserole (left). I think because we were living in the West when we got married and had our kids that those flavors really seems to resonate.

The leftover salsa makes the best turkey sandwiches on the planet. There never is any leftover chile relleno, which plays along with all the other contents of the plate a lot better than you’d think.

Do you have any similar oddities?

If you’re interested in the recipes, here they are:

Chile Relleno Casserole

Makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes

A San Diegan …

Continue reading What are your Thanksgiving oddities? »

In the news: New Vietnamese on Buford Highway, Mexican restaurant shutters

Left: New Saigon; Right: Hello Dau Hu

Left: New Saigon; Right: Hello Dau Hu

Two new Vietnamese spots opened recently on Buford Highway. First up, New Saigon Vietnamese Bistro has taken over the large spot that was formerly Chinese restaurant Ocean Villa. New Saigon’s menu contains the basic pho (beef noodle soup), com (rice) and bun (rice vermicelli) dishes often found in Vietnamese restaurants.

New Saigon Vietnamese Bistro, 5145 Buford Highway, Doraville.

Across the street in Asian Square — in the space that was formerly Little Malaysia and Thai Pointe — Vietnamese food to go store Hello Dau Hu has opened. Inside you can find a ton of prepackaged treats such as rice cakes, spring rolls and summer rolls. There is also a hot food section mainly consisting of fried items.

Hello Dau Hu, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, 5150 Buford Highway #A 110, Doraville. 770.458.9162.

In other news:

El Chisme, a relatively “newish” Mexican restaurant that sits in the same Buford Highway strip mall as Little Szechuan Chinese restaurant, …

Continue reading In the news: New Vietnamese on Buford Highway, Mexican restaurant shutters »

Where to pick up food for an Atlanta Thanksgiving

credit: William Berry/staff

credit: William Berry/staff

Do you relish the idea of spending Thanksgiving at home but can’t quite commit to cooking a full holiday feast? You might consider one of the many take-out options around town. You could pick up a few sides or the fixings for an entire banquet with one of these options, which represent a taste of what Atlanta has to offer.

Full Meal Packages:

Serpas True Food: Here you can order a three-course meal. Choose from the butternut squash soup or mixed green salad for the first course. Your main course will include an herb-garlic roasted turkey with cornbread stuffing and a choice of three sides. The dessert course may include apple pie, pecan pie or cranberry-white-chocolate bread pudding. Orders must be placed by Monday, Nov. 21. Pick up Wednesday, Nov. 23 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 404-688-0040. $100 for four people, $135 for four with fried turkey. See website for additional add-on options or to feed larger groups.

Murphy’s: Get a complete Thanksgiving meal …

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Chili for a crowd. A big crowd

(Credit: AJC Staff)

(Credit: AJC Staff)

Check out the chili recipe that accompanies this article. See it? Good, because we didn’t exactly follow it. Nor is this lovely picture the chili we cooked. Sometimes you have to wing it.

Let me explain.

The enterprising woman who coaches my daughter’s cross-country team decided it would be a good team-building experience for the kids to cook together. What better way than to enter a chili cook-off, namely the raucous Chomp and Stomp that takes over Cabbagetown one weekend day each fall?

So the kids spent a few weeks combing through chili recipes and took the better part of three versions. Beer, chocolate and ancho chile powder would provide the base notes, and hot peppers would help bring that slow burn of spice forward on the tongue. At least, that was the theory.

On the night before the event we all got together to cook at our house. Boxes and bags of ingredients filled up every possible inch of counter space, and a pot you could bathe a …

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