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Archive for March, 2012

Restaurant inspections, Pero’s Pizza and Pasta

Charles Pero, manager and owner of Pero’s Pizza and Pasta Restaurant in Atlanta, recently expressed seriousness about high-level food safety standards. His stance became more evident when the restaurant scored a 99 (A) during its follow-up exam.

The Italian eatery, located at 3521 Northside Parkway N.W., received a 71 (C) at the end of February on a routine inspection report. After the low score, Pero said all of the employees were undergoing retraining sessions.

It’s follow-up report with an almost perfect score shows only two infractions related to minor cleaning issue, the inspector noted.

Pero, who says his restaurant has been serving patrons in the Buckhead community and other metro Atlanta areas since 1969, has said that employees understand the significance of food safety.

Here are more recent restaurant inspection scores from across the metro area.

Clayton County

  • Chili’s Too, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Concourse A F-11, Atlanta. 86/B
  • Freshens …

Continue reading Restaurant inspections, Pero’s Pizza and Pasta »

Some more notes on the Atlanta 50

Hey, folks — I’m going through all your comments on the big 50 with a fine-pronged fork and will recap them in  a post.

Here is my column that ran in the Sunday paper on some of the very good restaurants I visited that did not find a place on the list.

Atlanta has at least two great things going for it as a food town. First, it has — as the largest metropolis in the Southeast — become a crucible for chefs, restaurateurs and all kinds of smart people with good palates who are rethinking Southern foodways and traditions. Is there any question that Southern cooking today has become the most robust and influential regional cuisine in America?

Second — as one of the country’s most international metro areas — Atlanta has an incredible breadth of world dining options. From Brazilian bakeries to Korean noodle joints, from Oaxacan taquerias to Sichuan spice-o-ramas, this city keeps giving and giving the more you explore it.

So how do you survey hundreds of very good …

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Weekend event: Tour of kitchens with chef demos

Photo courtesy of Design Galleria: Kitchen and Bath Studio,

Photo courtesy of Design Galleria: Kitchen and Bath Studio,

If you don’t already have weekend plans, grab your umbrella and galoshes and check out The Junior League of Atlanta’s 15th annual Tour of Kitchens.

Get a glimpse inside the designer kitchens of 14 different Atlanta homes and catch some of your favorite Atlanta chefs doing demos on the tour. Here are some of the programs and the chefs participating:


  • How to brew better coffee at home techniques and coffee tasting with David LaMont of Counter Culture Coffee-Atlanta
  • Cooking demonstration and tasting with Chef Chris Hall of Local Three Kitchen & Bar
  • Farm Burger Buckhead, outside demonstration with The Big Green Egg
  • Baking demonstration and tasting with Pastry Chef Heather Hurlbert of HH Desserts
  • Cooking demonstration and tasting with Chef Todd Ginsberg of Bocado
  • Cooking demonstration and tasting with Chef Virginia Willis
  • Cooking demonstration and tasting with Chef Scott Serpas of Serpas …

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Homebrew chronicles: Day 3 – Bottling

photo(1)After a few weeks of waiting, and a few panic attacks about the malfunctioning air conditioning unit in my house, the fermentation process is complete.

My brew has been fermenting for a little over two weeks, and after a few days of consistent specific gravity, it is time to get this sucker into bottles and get one step closer to drinking my spoils.

Here are the basic steps.

1. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. If it touches the beer, sanitize it.

2. Prepare and add priming sugar to bottling bucket.

3. Siphon the fermented beer into a bottling bucket and gently stir.

4. Fill bottles, cap, and store for two weeks at room temperature.

And the required equipment:

1. Bottling bucket

2. Plastic tubing

3. Bottles and bottle caps

4. Bottle capper

5. Auto siphon

6. Bottling wand

Again, sounds simple, right?

Well, 5 gallons of beer yields about 46 12oz bottles (or, in my case, 24x 12oz bottles and 12x 22oz bottles). Including the hoses, buckets, nozzles, hydrometer, floating thermometer, …

Continue reading Homebrew chronicles: Day 3 – Bottling »

Restaurant inspections, Roswell’s Lotus Cafe

Lotus Cafe in Roswell dropped into the C-level range months after being issued a food service permit under new owners, according to a recent report. It rebounded to a 97 (A) weeks later in February.

Outside of the routine inspection, attention was drawn to Lotus after a reader inquired about the restaurant:

“For a few years there has been a Chinese restaurant at 1085 Holcomb Bridge Rd. called Lotus Cafe. When first opened food was great, then went downhill, and they changed owners a few times with no improvement with the food. Now, they have another new owner and are advertising with flyers in the local papers, and yet since day one, I have never been able to pull up a score for them. … Can you find out why there has never been a score posted for them?”

The Fulton County health services office confirmed that a glitch in the system occasionally hinders online viewing of some inspection reports. After notifying the state office, it also noted that inspection report for …

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Spring Dining Guide: The Atlanta 50

Beyond The Atlanta 50: Our print book and e-book versions are loaded with extras, including expanded reviews and excellent options in every category. How to preorder your copies.


OTP or ITP, there’s a whole lot of dining out there to explore
By John Kessler

The last time I summoned the sheer chutzpah to propose a list of metro Atlanta’s top 50

John Kessler is the AJC's chief dining critic

John Kessler is the AJC's chief dining critic

restaurants, the year was 2004. Back then many of the best restaurants were also the most ambitious ones. Scouting out the talented chefs who used top-tier ingredients meant going to a lot of places with tablecloths and ice-filled wine buckets.

That hierarchy has collapsed, and I have to say it makes this quest a lot more rewarding. Today you can eat great food in scores of casual joints, in bars where you shout over head-banger music, in revitalized neighborhoods throughout the metro area, in farmers markets and at food truck rallies.

All across …

Continue reading Spring Dining Guide: The Atlanta 50 »

BaconFest returns March 31st

Picture_016-3Bacon lovers rejoice!

The 12th annual BaconFest, the outdoor pork-lovers festival hosted by Dad’s Garage Theater, is returning on March 31st. The Vortex Bar and Grill is donating over 1200 lbs. of bacon to be cooked up and served by the crew from D.B.A. Barbecue. PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) and Ale Yeah! Will provide the beer and, as always, the festival will include games and live music.

Tickets for this usually sell out, so if you want to get your bacon on, I would definitely advise buying in advance. The event runs from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday March 31st, and the complete details and ticket info can be found here.

There are multiple levels of ticket, depending on how bacon-y you want to get. Details below:

Portioned Porking ($25 online, $35 phone/door): For the average Joe that’s new to the bacon guzzling world. This pass gets you admission to the festival, 5 carnival game tickets, and 3 cups full of bacon/PBR (it’s your choice whether you fill your 3 cups with beer, bacon, …

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New Richard Blais-affiliated partnership

Credit: Concentrics Restaurants

Credit: Concentrics Restaurants

Richard Blais is working with Concentrics Restaurants to open his new restaurant, The Spence, in Midtown this spring. Concentrics now has another Blais-affiliated venture: FLIP burger boutique.

Concentrics recently announced a partnership with FLIP’s owners Ron Stewart and Barry Mills to manage operations, marketing, public relations and expansion plans. Blais will continue in the role of Creative Director for this popular hamburger joint with locations in Midtown, Buckhead and Birmingham.

Bob Amick, Concentrics Restaurants’ owner says,

We are thrilled to be working with owners Ron Stewart and Barry Mills, restaurant veterans and visionaries. We are currently working to develop Chef Richard Blais’ newest concept, The Spence, so it was a natural progression that we partner.

In addition to these partnerships, Concentrics Restaurants owns and manages restaurants including Two Urban Licks, Parish, Murphy’s and spots in Orlando and …

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Latitude to close after service tonight [UPDATED]

Wine stacked in shelving. Pretty, but it could be a few degrees cooler.

Latitude — the Phipps Plaza restaurant helmed by chef Micah Willix — will close after service tonight. When I reviewed the restaurant in February, Willix told me that he had difficulties working from a tiny kitchen. No word yet on where the talented chef will go from here.

And here’s the press release:

“While Latitude has been grateful for the support of diners, neighbors and friends, the current economic environment and lower than anticipated sales have led ownership to make this unfortunate decision. Chef Micah Willix enjoyed the opportunity to expand his culinary boundaries with Latitude’s globally inspired cuisine and is currently looking for a new and exciting opportunity.”

Continue reading Latitude to close after service tonight [UPDATED] »

Crazy for yuzu

IMG_5060Anytime I see a yuzu product on the shelves of an Asian market, I have to buy it. Called citron in English, the yuzu is a small yellow citrus fruit about the size of a lemon, with a knobby skin and a whole lot of seeds inside. It is widely grown in Japan and Korea. While it can be very difficult to get fresh yuzu in the United States, preserved products, such as these, are readily available.

The flavor is unlike any other citrus, which is why I so love it. But if I had to liken it to something, I’d say it’s a little like Meyer lemon and a little like grapefruit with a dash of cucumber.

On the right in the picture above is a bottle of yuzu juice that I bought at First Oriental Market in Decatur (2774 East Ponce De Leon Ave., 404-377-6950). I use it salad dressing (a splash added to a half-and-half mixture of seasoned rice wine vinegar and good olive oil with a lot of minced shallot) and in any sauce where I’d use lemon. Mixed with honey, it makes a great base for a soda (add …

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