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Archive for September, 2012

Restaurant inspections, China Garden

Gwinnett County health inspectors will keep an eye on a Duluth Chinese restaurant after it posted a health score in the 40s for the second time this year.

China Garden, 2590 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, had its food service permit suspended last week after the restaurant scored a 43 on a routine inspection.

There were live bugs in the bulk container of flour, employees were washing utensils in the dish sink without soap or sanitizer, thermometers were not working, and employees were preparing food without wearing hair restraints, according to the inspection report.

Among other code violations, raw chicken and beef were stored above prepared sauces in the walk-in cooler, cooked chicken and egg rolls were stored in plastic bags from a grocery store, and containers were being re-used for food storage.

Restaurant management was asked to submit a plan for improvement and go through a second inspection because of a previous failing score of 49.

Jhong Gao, the owner’s son, said …

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FALL 2012 DINING GUIDE: Beyond Restaurants

 Jesus and Dannia Balestena of Dough in the Box (credit: Becky Stein)

Jesus and Dannia Balestena of Dough in the Box (credit: Becky Stein)

THE ATLANTA 50: Great Eats

(Introduction by Jenny Turknett)

I remember the first time I stepped into Pine Street Market. Bacon. I stood rooted to my spot in the doorway, flooded with the heady scent. After I collected my white-paper-wrapped purchases and headed to the car — with a glance behind for hounds attracted to the meaty perfume clinging to my clothes — I reflected on this shop, so dedicated to perfecting its craft.

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

John Kessler, AJC chief dining critic and head of our Dining Team, writes about all cuisines.


AJC Dining Team member Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and neighborhood fare.

It’s the local producers like Pine Street that we feature in this, our Fall Dining Guide. In this year’s Spring Dining Guide, AJC chief dining critic John Kessler presented “The Atlanta 50,” a guide to the top 50 restaurants defining metro Atlanta’s dining scene. In it, he noted white-linened dining no longer sets …

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FALL 2012 DINING GUIDE: A Feast For The Eyes

Also in our FALL 2012 DINING GUIDE: The Atlanta 50: Beyond Restaurants

A Guide To Great EatsA Dozen Top Food Trucks | Map: Where you’ll find them

Our most recent previous dining guides:

Spring 2012: THE ATLANTA 50: Where To Eat

• Fall 2011: Distinctive Culinary Voices | Spring 2011: Where To Splurge!

– For the AJC Food and More blog

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FALL 2012 DINING GUIDE: A Dozen Top Food Trucks

The Blaxican Food Truck (credit: Becky Stein)

The Blaxican Food Truck (credit: Becky Stein)

THE ATLANTA 50: Great Eats On Wheels

By Jon Watson

The food truck movement shows no signs of slowing down, and it seems every day more mobile food vendors roll through metro Atlanta’s byways. Here are our dozen favorites to watch out for (and a map of where they’re regularly seen):

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.
AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

Chay J’s New Orleans Candies

Known for its original Creole pretzels, this mobile New Orleans confectioner serves Cajun twists on candies and treats. Be sure to check out an order of the Banana pecan Creole crunch — popcorn coated in buttery caramel toffee flavored with bananas, banana chips and sweet pecans. Regularly seen for lunch and dinner Saturdays at the Atlanta Food Truck Park (1850 Howell Mill Road, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 5-10 p.m.). 678-439-6652

Good Food Truck

Part of the old guard of the Atlanta food trucks, the Good Food Truck has been around longer than most, …

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Dine with chef’testants at NYC’s Top Chef Kitchen

If you’ve watched Bravo TV’s “Top Chef,” you’ve certainly had a moment of wishing you could taste those winning dishes. And we all know that’s part of the reason we flock to places like The Spence and Woodfire Grill, at least initially.

If you’re game for a little road trip to New York City and lucky enough to score a reservation, Bravo will open Top Chef Kitchen for five weeks starting next month. Each week two former chef’testants will prepare a four-course menu ($95, $125 with wine pairings). Guests pick one of those menus or opt to dine at the Chef’s Table, which includes an eight-course tasting menu with wine pairings ($250) and the opportunity to interact with the chefs.

Here’s the lineup of cooks in the kitchen:

  • Oct. 16-21: Edward Lee and Mike Isabella
  • Oct. 23-28: Tiffany Derry and Paul Qui
  • Oct. 30 – Nov. 4: Tiffani Faison and Jennifer Carroll
  • Nov 6-11: Richard Blais and Grayson Schmitz
  • Nov. 13-18: Antonia Lofaso and Fabio Viviani

Menus for …

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Villains pop up lunches this week

popup-menu-v2Alex Brounstein of Grindhouse burgers is teaming up with Jason McClure of FLIP Buckhead and Jared Lee Pyles (former executive chef of HD1) to open Villains, a new sandwich shop in the Old Fourth Ward.

While the trio has yet to settle on a location for the new concept – though, they are reportedly in negotiations and hope to have the new locale picked out in the next week or two – they are hosting pop-up lunches on Thursday and Friday of this week. The preview pop-ups, hosted at Miso Izakaya in the O4W, will give a taste of what is to come – “wicked heroes.”

Sides are “Henchmen” and the sandwiches get monikers like “Odd Job” – Korean fried chicken, pear slaw, chili sauce, and black garlic aioli – and the in-famous “El Guapo.” The hundredth person to order an El Guapo wins a plethora of piñatas.

The lunches are this Thursday Sept. 28th and Friday the 29th from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. While the Villains pop-ups are going on, Miso Izakaya will not be serving during their normal hours.

- …

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12th annual Afternoon in the Country event

image001I still remember the cakes.

Two years ago, I attended Afternoon in the Country, an event hosted by The Atlanta Chapter of Les Dames d’ Escoffier International (LDEI) at Serenbe. This large tasting event includes a cake raffle with treats from Atlanta’s pastry chefs.

Although I remember it vividly, the cake raffle is but one aspect of this event, which is coming up this year on Nov. 4. Over 90 restaurants like 4th & Swift, Bacchanalia, Miller Union, Restaurant Eugene and Rathbuns will proffer bites alongside 20 wines and an assortment of microbrews. Local organic farmers will also be on hand to share their harvest.

During the event, guests can catch a performance by the bluegrass band Drivetrain, take hayrides and visit the children’s activities tent.

Last year’s Afternoon in the Country event raised almost $80,000 to benefit Georgia Organics and the LDEI Atlanta scholarship fund for women in the culinary, beverage and hospitality arts.

1-4 p.m. Nov. 4. Inn at Serenbe, …

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The Upstart Cattleman: A profile of farmer Will Harris

Will Harris on his farm (credit: Brant Sanderlin, AJC)

Will Harris on his farm (credit: Brant Sanderlin, AJC)

For yesterday’s print edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution I wrote a profile of farmer Will Harris, who raises and butchers cows, sheep, goats, chickens and other animals at White Oak Pastures — a sustainable family farm in Southwest Georgia. You can read the story here.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

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Restaurant inspections, Pita House

Pita House, a fast-casual restaurant in the Emory area, was forced to close briefly last week to clear up some repeat health code violations that led to a score of 52.

This was the second failing score on a routine inspection this year for the restaurant at 2050 N. Decatur Road, Decatur. The inspector found live roaches, food that wasn’t stored properly in the cooler and left-overs with no discard dates.

Pita House had been marked down for these same infractions at its last routine inspection in May, in which it received a failing score of 59.

Ammar Kareem, the restaurant’s certified food safety manager, said the violations were “minor” but cost a lot of points because they were repeat violations.

“We’ve fixed everything now,” he said. “There were just some minor things, like we didn’t have a label on some food.”

Pita House did have a few new violations of the health code, as well. Moldy bell peppers and uncovered food were in the walk-in cooler. There was no prepared bucket …

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Food trucks embraced OTP

Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays

Smyrna Food Truck Tuesdays

While conducting interviews for the story on the police citations at Food Truck Wednesday in Virginia Highlands back in August, I had an illuminating conversation with Bettie Cagle, the organizer behind the gathering. While discussing the restrictive nature of the Atlanta permitting process, Cagle mentioned that many of the food truck operators have been looking more and more to locations outside the perimeter to get away from the frustrations the face dealing with the City of Atlanta.

And in that conversation, she casually referenced crowds of over 1,000 that regularly show up at here other event, Smyrna’s Food Truck Tuesdays.

At that time, I must admit, I’d only attended the food truck gatherings in town, since it is more convenient for me and because the OTP gatherings feature mostly the same trucks that also make stops in Atlanta. But Cagle’s statement had me intrigued. So, the following Tuesday, I headed up to Smyrna to check it out, and I was …

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