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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Archive for February, 2013

Restaurant inspections, Mike’s Mexican Grill

A Gwinnett County health inspector told Mike’s Mexican Grill to stop using pesticides and hire a commercial exterminator instead.

The restaurant at 2522 Cruse Road received a failing health score after an inspector observed live roaches crawling in the kitchen and found several residential pesticides in the facility.

Roaches were seen near the grill and behind the freezer, and pesticides were found near the freezer, underneath the three-compartment sink and in the storage room. All were discarded.

The inspector told management while it needed to minimize the presence of pests, the pesticides used must be commercial and administered by a licensed professional.

Mike’s Mexican Grill scored a 61/U on the routine inspection. The restaurant has previous scores of 87/B and 93/A.

Among other violations, hand sanitizer was being used in place of soap at the employee hand sink. An employee was observed handling a cell phone then putting on gloves to remove a sliced lime from the …

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Atlanta revisited: Aria restaurant review, Buckhead

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As the waiter slid dessert menus in front of us, the young couple at the next table came alive. The woman leaned deep into our space gushing, “You have GOT to get the cheesecake. It’s warm. It’s goat cheese. It’s warm. Ohmygosh. Get the cheesecake.”

After we issued a polite word of thanks and turned back to our serious dessert deliberations, our table neighbor commanded our attention once more with renewed vigor and another rush of cheesecake fervor. And, possibly because we had yet to acquiesce, her husband took up the cause, beseeching us to order the ode to chevre.Jenny-Turknett-Review

At Aria, which opened in 2000, cheesecake has long been a staple. If you’re an Aria loyalist, you may recall the popular warm chocolate cheesecake that occupied a spot on the menu for an extended period.

Herein you find Aria’s modus operandi. Chef-owner Gerry Klaskala has created a comfortable menu framework that shifts slightly with seasonal availability. Your waiter may present it with a …

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Atlanta Classic, Spondivits

Credit: Becky Stein

Credit: Becky Stein

Snaking my way through the packed lobby and past the busy hostess, I stop to survey the crowded bar, hoping for an open stool upon which to pounce. I hover, scan and fidget. Realizing that the owner of that nearly empty margarita glass isn’t coming back, I swoop in, politely confirm my suspicions, and waste no time staking my claim.

“Good lord, it is busy in here tonight,” I murmur, reaching for a menu and eyeing the row of beer taps in front of me.

To my right, from just beyond the neighboring shoulder pressed against mine, I hear, “Yeah, man. It is like this every single night.”

Assuming that I’ve lucked out and landed near a regular, I reply, “Oh, you come here a lot? Any recommendations?”

“I live in St. Louis, but I come to Atlanta every week or two, and I come here every night that I’m in town.”

I’m at the bustling bar of Spondivits in East Point, and it is the busiest Tuesday night I’ve seen a restaurant in this city have in …

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Top Chef Seattle recap, Episode 17: The final finale (no, really)

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

For the first time in all of my years of Top Chef fandom/recapping, the judges, producers, and America got it all right. For the first time, we actually have a finale in which the two best contestants made it through to the end.

If this season of Top Chef was the NCAA tournament, most of America would still be in the hunt in their March Madness pools. The number one and number two seeds made it to the big show without Lehigh (Josie) screwing everyone’s bracket up.

Ok, I’m done with the basketball analogy.

So, if this is the way things should be, with the best two chefs in the finals, why was I so much less invested in this season’s finale than years past? Because, I honestly didn’t care if Kristen or Brooke won…I’d have been totally happy with either outcome. There was no bad apple in the mix for me to root against, no one prompting me to mutter “I swear…if so and so wins, I’m never watching this show again.”

But this was by far one of the best …

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The Argosy in EAV and more

After a series of sneak peeks, The Argosy in East Atlanta Village will attempt to open softly tomorrow, then launch full-on into its first weekend of operation.

Argosy's big room

Argosy's big room

A year-and-half in the works, the labor of love bar/restaurant from the partners behind the Bookhouse Pub — Ben Rhoades, Donald Durant, and Armando Celetano — pays homage to the pulp men’s adventure magazine with reclaimed wood furnishings, artisan metal work, and avian murals and dioramas created by artist friends.

The bar features an extensive American craft beer list, with some 30 draft and 100 bottle selections, plus craft cocktails, like the Rye Buck with Riverboat Rye, ginger, yuzu, soda and lemon peel. And look for wild card offerings, such as a Japanese-style sake night, soon

Drink-friendly food pairings from executive chef William Silbernagel (who also oversees the menu at Bookhouse) include the likes of oysters on the half-shell with marrow compound butter, crispy pork belly kabobs, …

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Cloud 9 to appear on Sunday’s ‘Cupcake Wars’

cloud 9Atlanta’s cupcake boom may have slowed, but our cupcakeries are still battling it out on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” This Sunday, Cloud 9’s Mike Pettenato competes for bragging rights and the $10,000 prize.

Pettenato got his start in the food industry working as a waiter in New York City restaurants like Mario Batali’s Babbo and Eleven Madison Park. Those jobs sustained him while he tried to break into the stand-up comedy business.

When this local boy, a Westminster graduate, returned to Atlanta, he opened Cloud 9 with his family. The original Roswell location began as a cupcake/frozen yogurt store. Cloud 9 has since expanded to Lenox Mall and will open a cupcake/milkshake spot at Perimeter Mall any day now.

With his background as a performer and a few years of cupcake baking under his apron, Pettenato felt ready to take Hollywood by storm via “Cupcake Wars.” He jokes that he would be quite content if his Food Network appearance led to a sitcom, “Who …

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Toothpaste, anyone?

IMG_6387I’m pretty particular about most highly flavorful things, but toothpaste isn’t one of them.

For as long as I can remember, Crest has been the default brand in our house. It was the flavor, the only flavor, the toothpaste flavor. Then, one day last month, a couple of tubes of Aquafresh bought on sale appeared and pushed the Crest aside. The flavor seemed so sharp and aggressively mouthwash-medicinal the first morning I tried it, but after a couple of day it became the default flavor of toothpaste in my mind.

Now, we’ve just gone back to Crest, and it tastes so sweet in comparison! That, and it has an almost clove-like spice. Does anyone else notice this, or am I crazy?

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

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Frida & Diego: A great museum show that makes you crave Mexican food

The Arsenal by Diego Rivera

The Arsenal by Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera’s 1928 mural, “The Arsenal,” is one of the first of his grand tableaux you see as you walk through the High Museum of Art’s astonishing new show, “Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting.” In many ways it set the up the narrative. With a communist hammer-and-sickle flag flying behind her and a bayonet in her right hand, Frida Kahlo — Diego Rivera’s soon-to-be wife — stands front and center.

At the far right of the image stands a prim-looking woman in a red top and black skirt holding an ammo belt. She is Tina Modotti, an Italian photographer and activist who would host the couple’s wedding banquet at her apartment building the following year.

Rivera’s daughter from a previous marriage, Guadalupe Rivera, was at that banquet, and her published recollections give insight into the feasts that fueled Frida and Diego’s relationship.

“Tina’s patio was lavishly decorated with pendants and streamers, transformed into a festive setting …

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Twitter cookbook contest

soyouwanttowriteacookbookSocial media has changed the way companies do business. And now, apparently, it’s also changing the way you can get a cookbook deal.

Any cookbook hopefuls out there? If you have a Twitter account (or can sign up for one), you’ve got a shot. The Lisa Ekus Group, an agency providing literary representation and media training for folks in the culinary industry, will host a Twitter contest to find “fresh voices, new ideas, and untapped talent,” according to a press release.

Literary agent Sally Ekus believes, “The Tweet is the new elevator pitch.”

The Twitter-based contest will take place beginning Mar. 11 and was inspired by the March Madness basketball tournament. If you want to pitch an idea for a cookbook or culinary non-fiction idea in the areas of food, health or wellness, here’s your chance.

After tweeting your pitch in 140 characters or less, you’ll have to wait to see if you make it to the “playoffs.” Those who move on in the competition will be asked to …

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KR SteakBar opens big

Chef Kevin Rathbun’s eagerly anticipated casual Italian-inspired place, KR SteakBar in Peachtree Hills, surprised fans with a stealth bar opening on Feb. 19.

Kevin Rathbun (Credit: Rathbuun Restaurants)

Kevin Rathbun

The entire restaurant was open for business the next day, and inundated with reservations all week, as anxious crowds elbowed in around the bar.

“We got clobbered on Friday,” Rathbun said, grabbing a brief break on a bar stool early on Saturday evening before hustling back to the kitchen.

Executed by chef de cuisine Chris McDade, who Rathbun allowed, “has “taught [him] a few things,” the KR menu focuses on small plates, pasta, and wood-grilled meat, fish and poultry.

In many ways, the menu — not to mention the open and casual ADAC space and the more sophisticated bar program — appears as the fourth refinement in the evolution of what has become Kevin Rathbun’s Restaurants.

The “official” website (kevinrathbun.com/restaurants) links to Rathbun’s, Krog Bar, Kevin Rathbun Steak and KR …

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