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Archive for January, 2012

Date night at Brookhaven’s CinéBistro

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My wife and I recently went on a date night over at Town Brookhaven’s CinéBistro. “Quel est ce CinéBistro?” you ask? It’s a full service movie-watching experience where participants (restricted to ages 21 and over) can order complete meals and adult beverages right at their seats.

First, you make movie reservations online for the desired date and time. Then print out your tickets, or elect to have mobile tickets texted right to your phone. When you get to the theater in Town Brookhaven, find parking or use the valet service right outside its front doors. (It came in handy the night I went because of rain.)

Once you walk inside, you present the front desk your tickets and then you can make your way into the theater lobby. This lobby looks and feels like a lounge due to dim mood lighting, a fully stocked bar and cocktail/snack service.

CinéBistro requests that you show up 30 minutes prior to showtime, so waitstaff can take your food and drink orders and deliver them to you …

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Chick-fil-A closes one of its oldest mall stores

AJC file photo

Chick-fil-A will open more freestanding stores than mall stores in 2012. AJC file photo

After almost 42-years in business, the Chick-fil-A at South DeKalb Mall closes this week. This location opened just three years after the first mall store opened at Greenbriar Mall in 1967. At that time, enclosed malls were growing in popularity. In fact, Greenbriar was only Atlanta’s third such shopping facility.

Brenda Morrow, a spokesperson for Chick-fil-A, says, “We had a great run at South DeKalb Mall.” She cites “declining sales over the years” as the reason for the closure. When a location underperforms, “for financial reasons, it is difficult to run a store in the caliber which we run the stores.”

While no other closings are planned, Morrow notes that changes in retail construction have impacted Chick-fil-A’s store placement strategy. Fewer enclosed malls are being built, resulting in fewer Chick-fil-A mall openings. This year, 75 new freestanding locations are planned, while only …

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Restaurant Inspections, Olympia Pizza House

Georgia’s food safety regulations, which were updated with tighter restrictions last year, were a test for new restaurant owners recently.

Not soon after Terry and Lea Sanders re-opened Olympia Pizza House, which was originally started in the 1980s, they were faced with a host of food safety violations that landed Olympia an unsatisfactory 61 (U), according to the report.

Less than a month later, the Henry County restaurant at 5537 North Henry Blvd. rebounded with a 94 (A), the report showed.

While it was cited for basic items – such as improper hand-washing procedures, no paper towels at the hand sinks and employees wearing bracelets and watches in the kitchen – Olympia also was written up for temperature control issues, the report showed.

“There is no written procedure for the cooked pizzas being held for time as a public health control,” the inspector wrote.

This category of infractions heavily weighed down Olympia’s score, leading the owners to write up a prepping process …

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Restaurateurs, bloggers and customers do a lot of lashing out online

We had a problem, and it was Mrs. Lieberman.

“She always sticks her gum under the table,” I complained to the restaurant’s owner as I again found myself down on my hands and knees with a putty knife, scraping gum from under the Liebermans’ regular table.

As a waiter at this upscale French restaurant, I knew the regulars well enough to recognize sweet-faced Mrs. Lieberman as our gum culprit. She always came in merrily chewing. She and her husband asked for the same table. They didn’t drink. They split their entree. They tipped in the 10 percent to 15 percent range. Nobody ever wanted to wait on them.

“I’m going to tell her next time she comes in that she can’t put her gum under the table,” I said to the owner.

“You’ll do no such thing,” she shot back at me. “We don’t talk to regular customers like that.”

That was 25 years ago, when a wall of decorum separated customers from staff.

These days … not so much.

If you follow news about social media and online antics, then surely you …

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Make your Valentine’s Day dinner reservations now

 credit: Becky Stein

credit: Becky Stein

I recently tried to make my Valentine’s Day reservation at one location and only the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. times remained. That means it’s time to make those reservations.

4th & Swift 621 North Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 678-904-0160. Five-course prix fixe menu, $75 or $110 with wine pairings.

Atkins Park 2840 Atlanta Road, Smyrna. 770-435-1887. Three-course prix fixe menu with wine pairings, $45.

Aria 490 East Paces Ferry Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-233-7673. Four-course prix fixe menu, $90.

The Café at The Mansion on Peachtree 3376 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-995-7501 Four-course prix fixe menu, $75 or $99 with wine pairings.

Cibo e Beve 4969 Roswell Road, Atlanta. 404-250-8988. Holiday menu, $$$-$$$$.

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse 3500 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-844-4810. Three-course prix fixe menu. $54, with wine pairings $72.

Double Zero Napoletana 5825 Roswell Road, Atlanta. 404-991-3666. Prix fixe menu, $59. Regular menu will also be …

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When baking goes bad

baking2

How does this?

baking1

Become this?

1. Because the instructions are written in a language (Korean) that I have elementary knowledge of.

2. I failed to understand in the instructions that I should have handled the batter and form the bread balls with wet hands.

3. It stuck to my hands like epoxy.

4. I didn’t want the glob of batter to go to waste, and my oven already reached cooking temperature.

After my wife stopped laughing at me, we did tear off a sample. It was pretty good despite resembling some misshapen 1970’s B movie creature. And obviously I didn’t quite achieve that golden, crackly dreaminess pictured on the box.

And if you are curious — the batter is tapioca-based, so the texture is chewy (similar to Brazilian pao de queijo). It also tastes nutty from sesame and just a tad sweet.

Yes, it’s not always homeruns in my kitchen, but hey — you live, you learn.

by Gene Lee, Food and More blog

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MF Buckhead going through ‘major reorganization’

Alex (left) and Chris Kinjo at MF Sushibar (AJC Staff)

Alex (left) and Chris Kinjo at MF Sushibar (AJC Staff)

Lately, there’s been a great deal of speculation online and in social media about the future of MF Buckhead.

MF Buckhead is the much larger and grander version of the original MF Sushibar, which closed in last November, its owners filing bankruptcy a few days later. At the time, co-owner Chris Kinjo told John Kessler that MF Sushibar closed because of the declining area, saying that it was unrelated to tax issues. Kinjo said, “No matter what happens, there will always be an MF in Atlanta.”

This week, Kinjo told John Kessler that MF Buckhead is going through a “major reorganization” and “for now we’re open.”

I also connected with Sa Kinjo, General Manager at MF Buckhead and co-owner with her cousins Chris and Alex. When asked about the possibility of MF Buckhead closing, she said, “Not at all. We are in the process of restructuring, but that shouldn’t affect our operating the restaurant.”

Sa indicated that allegations of …

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Restaurant inspections, Sombreros Mexican Cantina

After receiving a nearly perfect score about a year ago, Sombreros Mexican Cantina in Atlanta was told to fine-tune its food safety practices because of a recent unsatisfactory score, according to a Jan. 3 inspection report. And it did.

It received a 99 (A) on a follow-up exam Wednesday — two weeks after it scored a 56 (U). Its grade last April was a 93(A).

Joanna Yim, manager of the restaurant at 411 North Central Ave., said preventative measures, such as retraining and posting of signs that remind workers of procedures, was implemented after an inspector noted the person in charge during the inspection lacked awareness in key areas regarding risk factors and proper retail practices.

“Person in charge, managers or CFSM [certified food safety manager] must be properly trained or retrained,” wrote the inspector.

The violations that Sombreros faced were related to temperature controls, date-marking and cleanliness, the report showed. More specifically, the inspector noted soil …

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Tomo Japanese Restaurant review, Buckhead

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In its former location, Tomo Japanese Restaurant was my oasis. Every few months I’d grab a friend and steal away to the Vinings shopping center that housed this restaurant for an indulgent lunch. I would give chef Tomohiro Naito a budget and then put myself in his hands.

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

I could always count on a few sudden shivers of bliss during these meals — of that lovely feeling when sensory input flips a switch of emotive pleasure and neurochemical release and, aaahhh, you’re so alive to the beauty of the moment.

No food does this for me as well as great sushi.

The Vinings restaurant had a funny dual nature. Fans like me came for this experience of rare excellence. We counted on Tomo to bring in stunningly good fish and to wow us with his palate, his invention and his finesse. Others came because it was the neighborhood’s reliable Japanese restaurant, where the lunch bentos provided good value, and the chicken teriyaki didn’t disappoint. Naito and his …

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Wildflour restaurant review, Alpharetta

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A flurry of handmade signs paper the front door and flock the walls and cash register. “Closing early today.” “Out of pork today.” “New hours.” “We take these credit cards now.”

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

Meet Wildflour restaurant in Alpharetta, where you never quite know what you’re going to get. Michael Fields, who owns this sandwich haunt, has amassed more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He began his career as a dishwasher at Fuddruckers when he was 16. Fields soon realized that he wanted to cook — just not burgers. He sought on-the-job training, shadowing both savory and pastry chefs.

At 19, Fields opened Sweet Creations Bakery in Alpharetta. Over the next 12 years, he traded in one shop for another, moving from bakery to sandwich shop to full-service restaurant before calling it quits.

After a five-year hiatus during which he led trout fishing expeditions and worked a brief stint at Spice, Fields tried his hand as restaurateur once more, opening …

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