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Archive for December, 2012

Pura Vida to close and more news

Chef Hector Santiago and wife Leslie to close Pura Vida.

Chef Hector Santiago and wife Leslie to close Pura Vida.

After 12 years in business, Pura Vida will be closing its doors permanently at the end of the month. Owners Hector and Leslie Santiago recently posted the announcement on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

They wrote, “We want to thank all of our fans for 12 years of living the Pura Vida! The continued support throughout the years from our loyal fans and our staff has meant the world to us.”

The announcement also indicated that the couple is working on new concepts and is looking for partners and investors.

The Facebook post received a number of comments from customers lamenting the news, questioning why and calling the Poncey-Highland restaurant an Atlanta landmark. Several well-known Atlanta chefs also joined the conversation, calling Pura Vida “One of the best restaurants in Atlanta, by far.”

New Year’s Eve will be the last chance to grab some Latin tapas at Pura Vida.

656 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta.

In other news:

La …

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New Year’s Day brunch specials

Have you been wondering where you are going to spend your first meal of 2013? If you can drag yourself out of bed, here are some great brunch spots to ring in the New Year.


From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 1, The Angry Chef, Ron Eyester, will serve up a spread of traditional New Year’s Day classics for brunch from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. The special brunch menu will include smoked pork loin, black-eyed peas, and collard greens, as well as the regular Rosebud brunch menu. 1397 North Highland Ave, Atlanta. 404-347-9747. $$

Del Frisco’s Grille

Buckhead’s newest casual steakhouse will be serving a New Year’s Day brunch featuring a special “Morning After” cocktail, made up of coconut vodka, coconut water, lemon sour, and a splash of sprite. They will serve their regular brunch menu as well. 3376 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-537-2828. $$

For a movie and a meal, there's CineBistro in Brookhaven.
For a movie and a meal, there’s CineBistro in Brookhaven. (Photo by Phil Skinner,


If you feel like …

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Restaurant inspections, Table One

A Buckhead restaurant rebounded from a recent failing health score as its new manager took charge of food safety procedures.

Grant Bounds had been manager at Table One, 1201 W. Peachtree St., for less than a month when a customer’s complaint prompted a visit by a Fulton County health inspector. The inspector cited the restaurant for numerous food temperature and storage violations and gave it a score of 44/U.

After management made the necessary changes, the restaurant was re-inspected and received a 97/A.

Bounds said since beginning his new job he has been putting in long hours just trying to keep the operation running smoothly. “The previous manager left after giving a week’s notice,” he said.

The inspector said containers of food were left on a counter without any temperature controls. There were no thermometers to take food temperatures. Displayed food was not properly protected from contamination because it wasn’t behind a sneeze guard.

In addition, employees were not …

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Far From the Heart of Texas: Enchiladas, Orange Queso, Frozen Margaritas

Mi Cocina's bright interior (all photos by Becky Stein unless otherwise noted)

Mi Cocina's bright interior (all photos by Becky Stein unless otherwise noted)

If you’re not with the queso you love, can you love the queso you’re with?

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

AJC Chief Dining Critic John Kessler writes about all cuisines.

That is the question transplanted Texans ask themselves every day when they search out the Mexican food from home. They certainly will have no trouble finding hundreds of restaurants that sling tacos, enchiladas and burritos. But does any of this food taste like Texas?

“I was basically told by CNNers here from Texas that you couldn’t find any good Tex-Mex, anywhere in Atlanta,” says Travis Nichols, a news producer for the cable network who has lived here for five years. He recalls a first experience at a now-shuttered Midtown Latin restaurant where he ordered chorizo and queso and was served pepperoni and mozzarella.

But Nichols has since learned that most of the Mexican food in Atlanta isn’t that bad, and some it is actually acceptable to his band of Lone Star …

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Atlanta revisited: One Midtown Kitchen



Almost two years ago, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s chief dining critic John Kessler wrote an open letter to Atlanta chefs calling upon them to “up [their] game,” noting that “The standards aren’t what they used to be.” He issued a 10-part challenge to the restaurant community to boost the quality of the Atlanta dining scene.

In response, chef Nick Oltarsh, then leading the kitchens of Concentrics’ Lobby Bar and Bistro and Room at Twelve, wrote an Jenny-Turknett-Reviewopen letter to Atlanta diners, highlighting their role in supporting quality restaurants and chefs, thereby enabling them to accept Kessler’s challenge for improvement. He called for Atlantans to be more adventuresome, allowing chefs to express their creativity, and to support restaurants financially by dining out, especially on weeknights.

Now two years later, we find Oltarsh at the helm of One Midtown Kitchen, the 10-year-old Concentrics venture that has been the training ground for some of Atlanta’s finest, including …

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Top Chef Seattle recap, Episode 7: Tuna-Gate 2012

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

With every week of Top Chef, it is always a dice-roll on what kind of an episode we are going to get. Will this week showcase the food? Will we get a better insight into a contestant’s compelling backstory? Or will it be mostly drama and backbiting, with screenshots of the occasional dish? You aren’t sure what you are going to get until the episode is already underway.

Personally, I love the food-centric episodes. It reminds me that this is a serious cooking competition featuring serious chefs. And while I certainly enjoy some of the drama – and it does make these posts a little easier to write – it gets old quickly. If I wanted to watch a bunch of egomaniacal people scream at each other, I’d watch…well, pretty much anything else that Bravo broadcasts.

But, with Top Chef, as in Vegas, the dice come up craps just a little too frequently.

To start things off, the chefs enter the kitchen to find Padma and this week’s guest judge, Stephanie Izard (the winner of …

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Last call for gingerbread house photos

A class set of gingerbread houses on the way to be decorated by five-year olds.

A class set of gingerbread houses on the way to be decorated by five-year olds.

We know you’re out there baking and decorating gingerbread and we’d love to see your handiwork. Today’s the last day to submit your photos to our Facebook page. Just post them right on our wall.

Add a note to your post to give us a little information about your house and design. If you’re submitting a photo of your child’s gingerbread house, let us know your child’s name and age.

If you aren’t on Facebook but would still like to share a photo of your house, email your photo to Jenny.

Our dining team will choose our favorites and share them on the Food and More blog on Dec. 21. Anyone who submits a photo will be entered into a drawing for a prize.

On a similar note, has anyone been to see the entries in the Trailer Park Gingerbread contest at the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club? Photos from past years are interesting, to say the least.

–by Jenny Turknett

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Three Books for the Cooks on Your Gift List

121612-kessler-2Need a last-minute gift for a home cook in your life? A new cookbook is never unwelcome. Whether it ends up in a kitchen shelf, on a den coffee table or in the bedside nightstand stack, an intriguing cookbook always finds a place in the home of someone who thinks about good food.

Here are three of the year’s best new cookbooks, tailored to different kinds of cooks:

For the classicist: “The Essential James Beard: 450 Recipes that Shaped the Tradition of American Cooking” by James Beard, edited by Rick Rodgers with John Ferrone (St. Martin’s Press, $35).

Compiled from 12 of the big guy’s classic volumes, this book pretty well taps into the collective unconscious of midcentury America in the way “Mad Men” never will. Flip through the pages, and you see those recipes your mother cursed her way through for one of those dinner parties when you had to eat early and go upstairs to watch TV while daddy’s boss came over to the house. We’re talking chicken with 40 cloves of garlic as …

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Sauced closed, E.J. Hodgkinson to leave Woodfire Grill and more news

Ria's Bluebird remains open while its sister restaurant Sauce closed.

Ria's Bluebird remains open while its sister restaurant Sauce closed.

After her recent win on Food Network’s competitive cooking show “Chopped,” chef Ria Pell, of Ria’s Bluebird and Sauced, announced the closing of her Edgewood Avenue restaurant Sauced.

In an explanation posted to the restaurant’s Facebook page, it was revealed that the restaurant has been purchased by Bruce Logue, former chef at La Pietra Cucina. Logue, known for his extruded pasta, plans to open the Italian concept Bocca Lupo.

Pell will use the opportunity to take her prize money from “Chopped” and jet off on a family trip to Denmark, where she will plan her “next concept in the Atlanta restaurant scene.”

753 Edgewood Ave. N.E., Atlanta.

In other news:

New chef for JCT.Kitchen & Bar

  • Beginning in January, chef E.J. Hodgkinson will take the reins as executive chef at Ford Fry’s JCT.Kitchen & Bar. Hodgkinson comes from Woodfire Grill, where he was slated to take over as executive chef in January upon chef …

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Restaurant inspections, Hello Dau Hu

A DeKalb County Vietnamese take-out restaurant voluntarily closed last week after an inspector found infestations of roaches and rodents, as well as a host of other health violations.

Hello Dau Hu, 5150 Buford Highway, Doraville, was given a failing score of 15 out of 100, and management was given a laundry list of areas that needed improvement.

The restaurant serves mostly take-out meals, snacks and desserts prepared in-house and packaged for customers to grab and go.

The inspector said Hello Dau Hu had a severe roach infestation problem, which was observed inside several open boxes of dry foods. In addition, rodent droppings were found inside open boxes of dry noodles and other open bulk food containers. The facility’s walls had holes consistent with rodent holes, the inspector said.

All of the contaminated boxes, as well as some plastic bags of food, were thrown away.

Other contaminated items — a packaged rice dish with a hair inside, moldy bananas and uncovered prepared …

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