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Archive for July, 2013

IPA Day and 25 Best Craft Breweries

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Lovers of hoppy beer will note that Thursday, August 1 is IPA Day.

Founded in 2011, by the Colorado-based Brewers Association to “unite craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation.,” it claims not to “serve any particular beer brand.”

Here in Atlanta, there are at least two breweries celebrating IPA Day:

August 1, IPA Day, SweetWater Brewing Co. — IPA inspired casks, hop-induced brews from the cellar, and food. $10 includes souvenir tasting glass, tasting tickets, and brewery tour. sweetwaterbrew.com

August 1, 3, 5  – IPA Week, Monday Night Brewing — Each public tour day they will be tap a cask of  Eye Patch Ale. $10 includes souvenir tasting glass, tasting tickets, and brewery tour.  mondaynightbrewing.com

Sweetwater and Monday Night missed out on the final ranking of the 25 Best Craft Breweries in America, posted on Tuesday by The Daily Meal.

In fact, Tampa’s Cigar City (ranked at No. …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: BoccaLupo

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Yeah, so this is a picture of the fun wallpaper in the men’s room at BoccaLupo — that new Inman Park Italian restaurant that has become a magnet for the city’s pasta lovers. We sat on the lovely back patio (a repurposed garage with its doors hoisted open) with a little ambient electric light creeping in from the corners. Easy on the eyes but hard on the iPhone. So, in getting a sense of the food from this post, you’ll have to deal with the 1,000 words, not the picture.

BoccaLupo is the new restaurant from chef Bruce Logue — a native Atlantan and veteran of the kitchen at Babbo in New York  – who first caught our attention as the chef at La Pietra Cucina in Midtown. Logue has serious chops as a chef, particularly when he turns his attention to pasta.

Pasta is BoccaLupo’s calling card. Unlike other restaurants that hew to a repertoire of classic recipes and a pantry full of imported ingredients, the cooking here is modern Italian American. The prosciutto is proudly Iowan, …

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Wolitzky leaves Cakes & Ale to head pastry for Fifth Group Restaurants

Eric Wolitzky (courtesy of Fifth Group Restaurants)

Eric Wolitzky (courtesy of Fifth Group Restaurants)

Earlier this month we learned that there’s been another shake-up in the pastry department at Cakes & Ale. In an email to customers, Cakes & Ale announced that sous chef David Garcia was changing roles at the restaurant and would utilize his baking and pastry degree by sliding into the position of pastry chef of the bakery/cafe.

This left us wondering what happened to Eric Wolitzky, who moved to Atlanta in the spring of 2012 to lead the Cakes & Ale pastry department. Wolitzky once considered himself a baker, but then transitioned to the pastry chef role after his time competing on “Top Chef Just Desserts” gave him confidence in his skills.

This week Fifth Group Restaurants announced they have snapped up Wolitzky. Of his time at Cakes & Ale, he says, “I appreciated my experience there and am now looking forward to the next step in my career.”

Wolitzky will settle into his role of executive pastry chef for a couple of …

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Restaurant inspections, Cinco Mexican

A Mexican restaurant in Suwanee lost its permit after repeat problems maintaining safe food temperatures and clean equipment led to a failing health score.

The 65/U was the second consecutive failing routine inspection for Cinco Mexican, 1500 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The inspector said two coolers were not keeping temperatures within the proper range. Numerous food items, all prepared the day before, were discarded.

Points were also taken off for repeatedly using improper cooling methods to lower the temperature of potentially hazardous foods. For example, a container of hot cheese dip was allowed to cool at room temperature, then placed into a deep covered plastic container in the walk-in cooler.

Equipment was not being kept clean, the inspector said. Knives and fry baskets, that had been cleaned and stored, were still dirty with food debris. The knives were stored in an unclean container.

In other violations, an employee was cutting onions prior to washing them. …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Vinny’s on Windward

IMG_7781From the outside Vinny’s on Windward looks not unlike the Alamo — a fortress of fusilli standing tall against the onslaught of honking SUV’s.

The inside, as you can see in the picture at left, is a monumental expanse of brick and gleaming granite, with amphora-sized baskets and mullioned glass partitions both offsetting the grandeur and bringing it down to a human scale.

I actually took this snapshot for my notes, for details to describe how the Sedgwick Restaurant Group has worked to infuse this big-box space  with Italian rusticity.

But then I also saw it served as an apt metaphor for the menu, which has a big-box, something-for-everyone attitude with an overlay of Italian sensibility. There are pears and pecans in the arugula salad, and the zuppa di pesce contains clams, cream, potato and bacon. Come si dice? Clam chowder?

Vinny’s attracts a big Northside power lunch crowd — so much so that the adjacent parking lot fills and smart cookies know to keep on heading down to …

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Kevin and Kent Rathbun “Chopped” Watch Party

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Atlanta chef Kevin Rathbun has endured a few mishaps lately, including a fire at his namesake restaurant and a broken ankle. But on Sunday, August 11 at 9 p.m., Rathbun and his brother, Kent, will be featured on the Food Network show “Chopped.”

In honor of the occasion, there will be a watch party at Kevin Rathbun Steak that evening from 7:30-10:30 p.m.

$125 with proceeds benefiting a local charity. Price includes passed apps, steak and desserts, plus tastings from Atlanta chefs, including former Chopped contestants, Zeb Stevenson and Suzanne Vizethann.

154 Krog Street NE 404-524-5600, www.kevinrathbun.com.

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Valenza

Pappardelle with ragù and house ricotta

Pappardelle with ragù and house ricotta

Hello good people, and welcome to Italian Week here on Food & More as I continue my tour of 30 Atlanta restaurants.

All this week I’ll be stopping in at neighborhood Italian restaurants. The thought most likely came to me because my wife and I have been paying our respects to James Gandolfini by rewatching the entire run of “The Sopranos,” an exercise that has left me starving for pasta on a nightly basis.

But, really, is there any dining experience more perfect than Italian? When an Italian restaurant clicks, it gets the big picture, the reason we like to go out to eat. There’s a warmth to the setting, a generosity of spirit to the service, a feeling that you’re being taken care of.

When the Zagat Survey of Atlanta Restaurants came out last year, four of the top 10 rankings for food were claimed by Italian places. Among them was Valenza, a Brookhaven spot that gets big love from its neighbors.

The rustic setting seems stagy for about …

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Shed Chef Todd Richards Previews Pig & The Pearl

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On Sunday, chef Todd Richards and the team at the Shed at Glenwood will be previewing their new restaurant concept, The Pig & The Pearl. The smokehouse and raw bar, which combines two hot dining trends, is slated to open later this year at Atlantic Station.

Richards will be firing up the smoker and trying out new menu items including, duck, chicken, pork belly, brisket, ribs, salmon, shrimp and veggies. For the evening, the Shed’s regular menu will be replaced by the The Pig & The Pearl preview menu.

Reservations and more information: 404-835-4363 or e-mail toddmartin@theshedatglenwood.com.

You can also catch Richards at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market on Saturday at 10 a.m., where  he’ll demo a shrimp chowder using ingredients from local farms.

The Pig & The Pearl Preview, 4-9 p.m. The Shed at Glenwood, 475 Bill Kennedy Way, Atlanta, 404-835-4363, www.theshedatglenwood.com.

— Bob Townsend, Food and More blog.

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Highland Tap

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Welcome to meat-lovers Friday here on Food & More.

For today’s installment of 30 Restaurants in 30 Days I decided to revisit an old-time favorite to try a specific dish that I often recommend but have never tried.

Let me explain.

In my job as a restaurant writer I get certain emails over and over again:

  • “Help, it’s my wife’s 40th birthday.”
  • “What restaurants are open on Christmas?”
  • “What’s a good quiet restaurant where we can dine without screaming?”
  • “Where can I go for prime rib in Atlanta?”

For that last one, I’ve always had a stock answer: Highland Tap. As once-ubiquitous prime rib has become less popular over the years, this basement-level bar and tavern in Virginia-Highland has been going strong — feeding Atlantans slabs of rosy beef since the 1980’s.

Have I tried it? No, which I’m sure to explain as I tell readers of Highland Tap’s reputation. I don’t think I’ve eaten prime rib in 20 years myself.

So the time had come, and here it is: the 14-ounce “King Cut” because …

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Waffle House comes to The Ted

Credit: AJC staff

Credit: AJC staff

With little hype or fanfare, one of the most successful restaurant chains in the country that originated out of Atlanta is expanding into the major leagues – Turner field will debut its first Waffle House today.

The announcement came from the Braves Twitter account (@Braves) yesterday, simply stating:

@WaffleHouse will make it’s debut @ Turner Field tomorrow. Serving hashbrowns & waffles with several different toppings. #smothered+covered

As one of the Southeast’s most trusted late night dining spots, this location at Turner Field marks Waffle House’s very first location that is NOT open 24 hours.

The menu is limited, offer only hashbrowns and waffles a few ways. After all of the improvements to the vending choices at The Ted – most notably, the addition of H&F burger – I can’t imagine a situation where a Braves game would be made worse by a stop through the Waffle House stand. Unless you order your hash browns “All the way.”($9)

In that case, …

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