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Archive for August, 2012

5 Trends to Watch For

If you follow the progress of Atlanta’s ever-changing restaurant landscape, then you may noticed that things have started to get really fun again this year.

For starters, we’ve got a spate of high-profile newcomers to check out, from the reborn Watershed on Peachtree to Richard Blais’ big return to the thick of things with The Spence.

The Optimist, Ford Fry’s canny seafood restaurant and oyster bar, opened on the westside and was quickly followed by another big fish, Fifth Group’s Lure in Midtown. Intriguing newcomers include two cocktail-focused restaurants (Proof and Provision in Midtown and the Pinewood Tippling Room in Decatur), and Kevin Rathbun is waiting in the wings with his first new restaurant in years — KR SteakBar.

With so much activity, now’s the time to take stock of current dining trends. Here are five for your consideration:

  1. The word of the season is … schnitzel! Yes, the Middle European fried cutlet has become an inspiration for chefs all over …

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Batdorf & Bronson news: new Dancing Goats location and a ‘collabrewation’

Batdorf logoBatdorf & Bronson, a specialty coffee roaster in both metro Atlanta and Olympia, Wash., has recently made inroads in expanding its brand and introducing more folks to the world of specialty coffee. This is being done in two ways — with a collaboration and a new location.

The collaboration, or “Collabrewation” as the company calls it, comes in the form of a new specialty coffee product. Batdorf & Bronson partnered with St. Louis roastery Kaldi’s Coffee to create a blend of Guatemalan coffees containing an equal mix of coffees from each roaster.

Jason Dominy, Batdorf & Bronson’s “coffee evangelist,” said, “The idea of Collabrewation came from my love of the unity of craft beer brewers who, in taking on the giant commercial beer companies, band together releasing collaboration beers.” Dominy hopes to expand the specialty coffee community with the project.

Batdorf & Bronson also will expand its brand with a new Dancing Goats location at Ponce City Market, a …

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The time is ripe for canning

During hands-on cooking classes at The Cook's Warehouse, students prepare three recipes and take home a jar of each.

During hands-on cooking classes at The Cook's Warehouse, students prepare three recipes and take home a jar of each item prepared.

“I don’t want to kill anyone after I give them a jar of something.”

That’s a fear held by many new to canning and one expressed by Karen Geney, who set aside her concerns after taking canning classes at The Cook’s Warehouse. Geney recalls her mother canning vegetables, but the Glenwood Park resident never learned food preservation techniques herself until she adopted an 8-by-8-foot plot in her neighborhood’s community garden.

“The delight you feel when things start growing quickly turns to horror when you realize what a short shelf life they have,” she said.

It’s that time of year, the time when our gardens yield summer’s bounty, the bounty that can be enjoyed through winter if properly preserved. Many of us have childhood memories of our mothers and grandmothers investing days into putting up the garden’s spoils for the winter. I recall braving …

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Restaurant inspections, Seasons Bistro

Season’s Bistro, an upscale restaurant at 41 Griffin Street in downtown McDonough, failed to pass a recent routine health inspection because cold food temperatures were hovering at unsafe levels.

Two coolers were mal-functioning during the Aug. 2 inspection, said manager Lynn Loggins, and that dropped the score to a 67 out of 100.

“That was the total reason for the score,” she said, adding that the coolers have since been repaired.

Potentially hazardous cold foods are supposed to be kept at 41 degrees or below, according to the state health code. At Season’s Bistro, temperatures of various cheeses, grilled chicken, roast beef, ham, tomatoes and sprouts were recorded near or slightly above 50 degrees, according to the inspector’s report.

The inspector noted that potentially hazardous foods were not cooling adequately for safety, and the reach-in coolers in particular were not maintaining temperatures of 41 degrees or below.

There were also storage problems in the …

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The Spence restaurant review, Midtown

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Our waiter brings a plate under a foot-high glass bell filled with an opaque cloud of smoke. What is this? I don’t remember ordering a bong.

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

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

As we gape, the waiter smiles and removes this fanciful cloche with a flourish worthy of a French maitre d’ in a cartoon. The sweet smoke clears to reveal…chicken. Pretty good chicken at that — roasted and served with some loose grits, a bit of tomato and that quick hit of smoke.

What I’ll most remember about this dish, though, is not the flavor but the surprise parlor trick. And that’s OK. People expect a good parlor trick or two from the man, the brand, Richard Blais.

The local chef, television personality and burger baron is back with his first full-service restaurant in years. Those of us who’ve been around the Atlanta dining block have followed him for the better part of a decade and through more than a handful of area restaurants. But for …

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Century House Tavern restaurant review, Woodstock

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If you have not made your way up to Woodstock recently, you might just be surprised.

While many of us weren’t paying attention, Woodstock’s Old Town underwent a rejuvenation that has transformed the heart of downtown into a bustling and pedestrian friendly hub of shops, restaurants, and condos. And the hottest new kid on the block is the Century House Tavern.

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

Chef Richard Wilt of Salt Factory and INC Street Food in Roswell has teamed up with Jon Hayano of Harry & Sons to bring their own take on upscale comfort food to downtown Woodstock. The pair has renovated the historic Hubbard House on Main St., converting a 120 year old home into cozy nook of weathered wood and exposed brick. Out front, an old fashioned front porch spills onto a shady hilltop yard lined with wooden lounge chairs and a long community table just waiting for the cooler fall evenings to arrive.

If you find yourself at Century House on a Friday night, a drink while sitting a …

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‘Top Chef Masters’ viewing party tonight with Art Smith

image002Atlanta chefs are getting some air time this week, with two representing the city in competitive cooking shows. Last night, chef Zeb Stevenson, of Livingston and Proof & Provision, appeared on the show “Chopped” and brought home the win. Score one for Atlanta. (Congrats, chef!)

Tonight, you’ll have the opportunity to root for chef Art Smith on “Top Chef Masters.” You’ll also have a chance to meet him at Southern Art & Bourbon Bar. The restaurant will host a viewing party with Smith tonight, offering 20% off bar snacks from 9-11 p.m. The show airs at 10 p.m. on Bravo TV.

Smith is competing for the charity Common Threads, which he co-founded. According to its website, Common Threads provides cooking classes for low-income children in an effort to educate them about “the importance of nutrition and physical well-being, and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity though cooking.”

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

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Chicken Biscuit Heaven

IMG_5613During the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival this past May, Raleigh chef Ashley Christensen was part of an interesting panel of chefs talking about recipe development and experimentation. She was fresh from researching fried chicken preparation methods for her new restaurant, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. After testing all kinds of brines and coatings, she found that simplest was best — just a salt water solution and a bit of seasoned flour.

I spent a few days in Raleigh this past week and got nice and up close with the fruits of Christensen’s chicken labor. Man. This biscuit became a close friend of my face.

If you look closely, you’ll see the chicken had been painted with a bit of pure honey then topped with thin slices of pickled green tomato. The Dijon honey mustard on the other half of the biscuit was not overkill (and not depressing in that way that honey mustard can be). I loved the way the flavors built, with sweetness, tang and salt mirrored in different ingredients. This is …

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“Chopped” competition and viewing at Proof & Provision

Credit: Food Network

Credit: Food Network

In celebration of the upcoming airing of the episode of The Food Network’s “Chopped” in which he is a competitor, Chef Zeb Stevenson of Livingston and Proof & Provision is holding a culinary competition of his own at the Georgian Terrace.

On Tuesday, August 7th, Stevenson and chef Suzanne Vizethann of The Hungry Peach and the upcoming Buttermilk Restaurant, will serve as judges as Andy Thomas of Fig Jam and Andy Gonzales of Steinbeck’s face off in a “Chopped” style cooking competition. Vizethann also competed on “Chopped”, winning her episode that originally aired on July 19th, 2011.

The other judges include Emily Meyers of Emily G’s and food writer and podcast producer Sarah Gleim. Duane Nutter of One Flew South will act as host and MC for the event.

The chef competition begins at Proof and Provision at 7 p.m. Following the competition, there will be a viewing party showing Vizethann’s episode at 9 p.m. and Stevenson’s episode at 10 …

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Restaurant inspections, Grand Buffet

An Atlanta restaurant remains open for business despite receiving a second failing routine inspection in the past year.

Grand Buffet, 2625 Piedmont Road, Atlanta, scored a 48 out of 100 during its July 25 inspection, and was flagged for having numerous repeat violations of the Fulton County health code.

Despite being previously warned, food still wasn’t stored properly, or dated and labeled according to code. Frozen fish was improperly thawing in a container of water. Personal beverages were stored in the food prep area. And the restaurant’s permit had expired, according to the inspection report.

Among new violations, there was mold in the ice machine and no soap or paper towels at the hand sinks. Melting ice from the sushi table was draining on the kitchen floor instead of a drain line.

Staff were told not to re-use old containers for food storage and to clean all equipment, including handles and shelving. A leaky compartment sink, and a hole in a rear wall, both needed …

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