City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Archive for May, 2012

Home barbecue 101: Memorial Day ribs

Disclaimer: Not my ribs

Disclaimer: Not my ribs

If there is a holiday that marks the beginning of the backyard barbecue season, it has to be Memorial Day. Though it is a year-round practice in my house, I always make a point to fire up the smoker at some point over the long weekend for some ‘cue.

I’ve already talked about how easy it is to smoke some pulled pork at home. But sometimes, when I don’t have enough time to prep a butt, or too full of a schedule to man the Egg for 10-12 hours, I go to the next best thing: Spare ribs.

Yes, spare ribs. While I’ll never turn down a tender rack of baby backs, I’m very partial to the meatier, porkier spare rib. The notion that baby back ribs are always more tender than spares is false, assuming that the spare ribs are properly smoked. A key exception to this is if you are so pressed for time that you have to cook the ribs at a temp higher than 250 degrees. In that case, the spare ribs won’t work out well, and you should stick to baby backs.

So, for …

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Restaurant inspections, Village Cafe

Village Cafe in Fayetteville recently dipped below its normal high A-B food safety range to a mid-70s score, according to reports.

The restaurant’s 76 score resulted from violations related to temperature controls, sanitation and food storage methods. Village Cafe, located at 1240 Ga. 54 W, Suite 200, was advised that it must ensure proper separation of raw and cooked foods. The inspector noted that “thawing raw chicken and thawed raw chicken [was] held on [the] shelf/rack above cooked pork and beef.”

“Store raw chicken on the bottom shelf/rack,” the inspector wrote.

Other citations included build-up on the soda gun at the bar, inadequate storage of sanitation cloths, and improper use sinks. The vegetable and meat sinks must be separate, the inspector advised.

Most of the violations were corrected at the time of the inspection, according to the report. And manager Oscar Avina said all of the workers were retrained on proper procedures.

Clayton County

  • Gina’s Bistro …

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Ariana Afghan Cuisine restaurant review, Sandy Springs



If I may make a suggestion: We should all start calling the stretch of Roswell Road just north of I-285 “Flatbread Row.” All the best restaurants serve these hot-from-the-oven loaves. They come as big as Monopoly boards at Persepolis Persian Cuisine; they’re pocked with undulating bubbles and cut into elegant wedges at Rumi’s Kitchen; and they take the form of blistery Old World pizzas at Double Zero Napoletana.

John Kessler is the chief dining critic for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

John Kessler is the chief dining critic for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I love them in all these iterations, but none as much as the terrific nan-e Afghani at the new Ariana Afghan Cuisine. Unlike any other flatbreads in town, the thick whole wheat loaves prepared by owner Jalil Aziz arrive as coarse and pitted as your grandfather’s unshaven cheek. They are crackly and crusty on the surface but steamy and soft inside, like the best yeast rolls you’ve ever had. They are glorious when they arrive hot and sided by a creamy herbed yogurt chutney for …

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The French Market & Tavern restaurant review, Locust Grove



“We wanted to be a high-end Cracker Barrel.”

The French Market & Tavern in Locust Grove, one part restaurant, one part home decor and gift store, does, in many ways, resemble the well-known chain country store and homestyle eatery.

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

Owners Rick and Lauren Weaver originally purchased the old Gardner Hardware store in Locust Grove as an investment property. Lauren Weaver, with a passion for decorating, hoped to convert the 1906 building into a home and garden design boutique, while her husband envisioned it as a po’ boy shop. During the renovation, the two reached a compromise, and the French Market & Tavern was born, a handsomely decorated 5,000-square-foot space with tables made from the building’s original heart-of-pine flooring.

As the vision for the building expanded, so did the menu, venturing well beyond po’ boys. Rick Weaver, a New Orleans native and now full-time employee of a software company, comes from a line of chefs. He drew …

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Openings: cookies and schnitzel

Ali's submitted building permits for its new location on a (what else?) giant cookie cake.

Ali's submitted building permits for its new location on a (what else?) giant cookie cake.

Ali’s Cookies, which has had a store in East Cobb for 30 years, recently opened a second location in Dunwoody in the Perimeter Place shopping center. Both locations are certified kosher by the AKC (Atlanta Kosher Commission).

Cookie shops in Atlanta have not experienced the same growth as those devoted to cupcakes. Founder and owner Ali Rosengarten hopes to change that, saying in a press release, “We are excited to be leading the resurgence of cookie storefronts…”

The hand-scooped cookies at Ali’s are made from scratch and include more than 22 different flavors like the spicy hot chocolate cookie with cayenne, the Georgia peach and pecan praline. The shop is more than a grab-and-go spot. It offers a coffee and milk bar in an attempt to encourage customers like to stay and linger over cookies.

10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sundays-Fridays. 4511 Olde Perimeter Way, Dunwoody. 770-350-2547.

In …

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The Atlanta Braves go gourmet with cooking demos

A trip to Turner Field may include more than a hot dog these days. Brant Sanderlin/ AJC Staff)

A trip to Turner Field may include more than a hot dog these days. (Brant Sanderlin/ AJC Staff)

It’s not just popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks anymore. Baseball is going gourmet.

This year, Kevin Rathbun opened the Kevin Rathbun Steak concession stand serving sirloin steak sandwiches by section 203 of Turner Field. And starting this week, the venue will host a series of cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs in the Turner Field Cooking Suite.

Celebrity chefs will prepare a meal for each of these “Big Night Out” events developed around the cuisine of the visiting team’s hometown.

Of the ten events in the series, half will be hosted by Atlantan Herb Mesa, who competed on “The Next Food Network Star” and the other half will be hosted by Donna Rodriguez, who hosts the radio show “The Dishing with Donna Show.” Other chefs and restauranteurs including Kevin Rathbun, Bobby Deen and Emily Saliers will team up with the host to lead the demonstrations and prepare …

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A roasted chicken recipe to keep on file

IMG_5305I don’t want to brag on my vast experiences, but I really used to think I had tried every chicken roasting position out there: The Inverted V-Rack, the Beer Can Prop-up and my favorite — the Spatchcock. The latter involves removing the bird’s backbone and keel (breast) bone, then laying it spread eagle on the roasting pan. It gets crispy.

That’s the point with all of these: you want crispy skin, cooked-through legs and still moist breast.  You can just shove it in the oven like your grandmother did, but it seems like you’ve got to either sacrifice crisp skin or juicy white meat, or you’ve got to deal with a little pinkness of thigh.

Now I find out, thanks to Melissa Clark’s story in the New York Times, there exists another path to roast chicken bliss. A chicken position I had never imagined. This bird gets splayed.

Here’s what you do: Cut through the skin between the legs and the breast and push the legs down until the joint pops a bit and they splay out like an avian yoga …

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The Spence to open this Saturday

Credit: Concentrics Restaurants

Credit: Concentrics Restaurants

The wait for Richard Blais’ newest venture is nearly over. Originally announced back in August of 2011, The Spence is finally set to open to the public this Saturday, May 26th.

The new restaurant sees Blais partnered back up with Concentrics Restaurants, and will serve the Top Chef All-Stars winner’s takes on classic American dishes. The restaurant will open in the old Globe space at 75 5th street in midtown. At the heart of the new kitchen sits this behemoth, a 2500 lbs. refurbished English forge found abandoned on a road in the UK.

It has been a few years since Blais has truly run a kitchen in Atlanta, operating instead as a consultant for Flip and HD1. It should be interesting to see if a busy few years and a little notoriety has changed his style.

For the first few nights, the new restaurant will be reservation only, and tables can only be reserved through DMs to their Twitter account.


UPDATE – 5/22: I just spoke with Hannah Huffines …

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The Optimist by Chef Ford Fry opens tomorrow

Photos by Andrew Thomas Lee, courtesy of Melissa Libby & Associates

Photos by Andrew Thomas Lee, courtesy of Melissa Libby & Associates

Beginning tomorrow evening, The Optimist and Oyster Bar at The Optimist will join JCT. Kitchen and No. 246 in Chef Ford Fry’s lineup of restaurants.

Both The Optimist and its more casual neighbor, Oyster Bar at The Optimist, will serve sustainable seafood prepared under the direction of Chef Adam Evans, most recently of JCT. Kitchen.

The Optimist, named by Fry’s father for a child’s small sailing vessel, will serve lunch and dinner from wood-burning oven and grills. Options include crispy day-boat flounder with ricotta gnocchi, field peas and grilled lemon and duck fat poached swordfish with pickled sweet peppers and crispy pancetta. These can be paired with wines from coastal regions or beers from American port cities.

The adjacent Oyster Bar will feature a raw bar and serve items such as Maine lobster rolls and smoked haddock chowder. The bar will offer “oyster backs,” cocktails created to pair …

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Restaurant inspections, Pura Vida Hospitality

Pura Vida Hospitality in Atlanta recently rebounded from a C-level food-safety score – its second time in two years, according to reports. Its new score is an 85 (B).

The recent poor score results from improper procedures related to food preparation, temperature controls, date-marking of food items and other issues. The inspector also noted that the “establishment operating without a current food service permit,” a citation that was corrected at the time of the exam, the report showed. For comment on corrective actions or training to maintain high-level grades for routine exams, a manager was not able to be reached. Its scores are as follows:

  • May 4: 85/B
  • April 26: 70/C
  • July 27, 2011: 98/A
  • July 19, 2011: 72/C
  • Sept. 7, 2010: 85/B

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

Cobb County

  • Nik’s Place, 645 Whitlock Ave., Marietta. 84/B
  • Oolala Yogurt, 2500 Dallas Highway, Suite 650, Marietta. 100/A
  • Paper Mill Village Food Truck 2012, …

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