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Archive for November, 2012

Restaurant inspections, Pho 168

Not posting the correct health score can cost a restaurant on its next inspection. That was a lesson learned by a Vietnamese restaurant in Gwinnett County.

Pho 168, at 1932 Grayson Highway in Grayson, can now proudly point to its perfect inspection score. They earned a 100/A during a recent follow-up inspection.

However, earlier this month a Gwinnett County inspector questioned why the restaurant posted a score of 100 when its most recent inspection score was an 80/B. At that time, Pho 168 had not had a perfect score since March of 2011. And since then the restaurant had earned scores in the low 80s.

State health code requires all food service facilities to post for public view their most current inspection report.

The false score cost them points, and Pho 168 was given a 68/U on that routine inspection. The restaurant was also docked points for violations in hand-washing procedures and food temperatures. In addition, some cooked foods did not have expiration dates, and some …

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Neighborhood spotlight – Old Fourth Ward

joystickThis will be old news for some of you, but for everyone else – if you aren’t spending time in the Old Fourth Ward, you should be.

This part of town certainly isn’t for everyone. If, for example, seeing a homeless person on the street will make you clutch your purse, break into a slow jog, and whisper a quick prayer of thanks once they have passed you by, it might put you a little outside of your comfort zone. But due to a steady flow of new restaurants and bars that have been infiltrating the neighborhood over the last few years, the Old Fourth Ward/Edgewood area is quickly becoming a destination area for a night out.

Most of my friends live closer to the midtown/Buckhead area, and even though I generally consider them to be adventurous, and I’m always dragging them to new restaurants with me, getting down to the Edgewood area can sometimes be like pulling teeth. And I wish that wasn’t the case.

What I love about this area is the proximity of great dinner choices so close to …

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Three New Chefs; Three Established Kitchens

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

Before I became a writer I was a cook and, for a brief couple of years, a head chef at a small, neighborhood restaurant. When I took over, the menu was like a pentimento picture — with layers of handiwork from previous chefs visible through the successive overlays.

The house specialties at the time were (pretty overwrought) creative Southwestern dishes, though there were “traditional favorites” that hearkened to simpler times when the kitchen was better known for its enchiladas and tortilla soup. Then, on the bottom of the menu, were the classics that dated to the original chef who opened the restaurant with a American comfort food menu of fried chicken, chicken fried steak and stuffed trout.

In other words, the menu was a minefield of dishes I couldn’t take off for fear of alienating our dwindling and increasingly geriatric customer base. Yet I had to make changes. We needed to cook with real butter and peanut …

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Atlanta Classic, Greenwood’s on Green Street

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky Stein

In 1986, Bill Greenwood didn’t want you to eat his fried chicken.

His Roswell restaurant, Greenwood’s on Green Street, had only been open a few months, and Greenwood, a classically

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

AJC Dining Team member Jon Watson writes about popular eats.

 trained chef from Maryland, was working the line by himself. At the time, he served a run-of-the-mill white-meat fried chicken, and as the lone man spinning plates in the kitchen, the 30-minute cooking time routinely put him in the weeds and frustrated the more impatient customers.

Despite his desire to get out of the fried chicken game, members of his staff vehemently opposed pulling it off the menu. So he hatched plans to make a fried chicken his customers would never order.

First? Double the portions to a half bird. Then remove the skin entirely before frying and coat the breading in hot pepper vinegar and honey. Finally, charge customers a then-staggering $4.25 a serving. Once customers rejected his

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky …

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Top Chef Seattle recap, Episode 4: ’50s food and freak outs

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

Aaaaaaand here comes the drama.

Up until this point, Season 10 has given glimmers of hope that the drama wouldn’t overshadow the food like last season. I felt like every week on the Texas season, I was lamenting mediocre dishes prepared by people I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with (not all of them of course, but the hose-beast otherwise known as Heather dominated the experience).

But this week jumps right in with a catfight, and we finally get a real taste of why John T. is “the most hated chef in Dallas.” While I didn’t think his initial comments about Kuniko, last week’s reject and my fantasy team heartbreaker, were all THAT offensive, his reaction to being challenged peeled back the layers of crazy. As soon as CJ chimes in with the “come on man, that’s not necessary” spiel, Tesar lashes out. Josh chimes in, Tesar insults Oklahoma, and it turns into a stew room full of awkward.

If it was up for debate, it is now clear who this season’s bad guy is going …

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Downtown dining options for Saturday’s SEC game

Pork pibil tamale at Alma Cocina (photo by Becky Stein)

Pork pibil tamale at Alma Cocina (photo by Becky Stein)

Need to find a meal before Saturday’s big SEC game? A word of advice: start walking away from the predictably thronged chain restaurants near Georgia Dome and CNN Center in any direction — to Castleberry Hill, the Luckie-Marietta District or the streets of downtown Atlanta — where far better choices await. Here are a few:

Alma Cocina

191 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-968-9662.

A smart, sleek modern Mexican restaurant tucked into the lobby of a downtown office tower. Great margaritas and ceviches as well as more involved entrees. The kitchen also makes a mean tamale.

Lunacy Black Market

231 Mitchell St., Atlanta. 404-736-6164.

Like walking into someone’s living room. This super-casual place serves wine and ridiculously inexpensive small-plates fare in a setting filled with eclectic artwork and comfy lounge furniture. Braised chicken legs and cabbage salad are highlights.

No Mas Cantina

180 Walker St., Atlanta. …

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KR Steakbar announces chef de cuisine

KR Steakbar's new chef de cuisine Chris McDade

KR Steakbar's new chef de cuisine Chris McDade

Rathbun’s Restaurants released a tidbit today about their newest project, KR Steakbar. Chef Chris McDade has been appointed chef de cuisine of this new neighborhood restaurant and bar in the Peachtree Hills/Peachtree Battle area.

McDade, originally from Gwinnett county, once worked as sous chef at Rathbun’s. For the last two years, he’s served as sous chef at Danny Meyer’s Italian restaurant Maialino in New York City. There, he has been responsible for the restaurant’s pasta, cheese and sauce programs.

McDade’s experience with Italian cuisine makes him well suited to KR Steakbar, which will serve both Italian fare and small plates of prime steak.

Kevin Rathbun has also been honing his skills in Italian cuisine, having recently returned to Atlanta from New York City after working a stage at Del Posto, the Italian restaurant owned by Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich.

KR Steakbar, slated to open late January 2013, is …

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Restaurant inspections, Boston Fish Supreme

One of the area’s Boston Fish Supreme fast food restaurants has some work to do to pull up a recent failing inspection score.

The restaurant at 3263 Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway in south Atlanta scored a 60/U during a routine inspection because the facility and some of the kitchen equipment wasn’t clean.

The inspector noted food debris on the can opener and on the cooler doors and lids. The walls and kitchen floor, and the freezer floor, all needed cleaning, the inspector said.

The restaurant also had a lot of clutter. Employee personal items were found throughout the kitchen. The facility housed unused, broken equipment that needed to be repaired or removed.

In other violations, several food items in the cooler were uncovered and subject to contamination. There were no date markings on food left in the refrigerator. And food containers were not labeled.

Some food was not put in a container, but stored directly on a refrigerator shelf.

An employee at Boston Fish Supreme said …

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Munchies for SEC Championship game: Homemade gluten-free pizza

gf pizza mix

For those with gluten sensitivity, much of the traditional football-watching snack fare is off limits, including the king of game-time noshing — pizza.

Just in time for the SEC Championship game, C4C has added a gluten-free pizza crust mix to its product line to remedy that problem.

Last fall, Thomas Keller and Lena Kwak of The French Laundry released a gluten-free flour called C4C, which was intended to act as a cup-for-cup substitute for all-purpose flour in most recipes. The new pizza crust mix makes two crusts, each yielding six to eight slices. It retails for $14.95 at Williams-Sonoma. The mix includes a yeast packet in addition to the flour, but you’ll need to supply an egg and olive oil for each crust.

I haven’t tested the crust mix yet, but I have been pleasantly surprised with the C4C flour ($19.95 for three pounds at Williams-Sonoma). When it was first released, I used it in my pumpkin bread and was disappointed with the gumminess. Since then, however, I’ve had …

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Restaurant inspections, Hana Japanese

Faulty equipment cost a Cherokee County Japanese restaurant a failing inspection score.

The dishwasher and one of the coolers weren’t working properly at Hana Japanese, 147 Reinhardt College Parkway, Canton, during a Nov. 8 routine inspection.

The inspector noted that the dishwasher wasn’t sanitizing the dishes and told management to call a technician and have it repaired. The restaurant’s manager said a cooler also needed fixing because it was recording high temperatures. Some cooked rice from that cooler was discarded because the temperature was too high.

Both the cooler and dishwasher have since been repaired, he said.

In other code violations, points were taken off because the staff did not document how long the sushi rice had been left out. Also, not all of the restaurant’s raw or partially cooked food offerings were noted as such on the menu.

Both kitchen hand sinks were blocked from use by either trash cans, dish carts or a rice cooker. These items were removed.

Some …

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