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Archive for August, 2013

Restaurant inspections, Enoz’s Pizza and El Taco Naco Mexican

Two restaurants in Tucker recently failed routine inspections because food temperatures were not held at safe levels.

DeKalb County health officials briefly closed one of the restaurants, Enoz’s Pizza, 4487 Hugh Howell Road, because this was its second failing routine inspection within a year.

Enoz’s scored a 61/U, and the other restaurant, El Taco Naco Mexican, 2255 Idlewood Road, scored a 58/U.

At Enoz’s, pizza toppings of shredded mozzarella cheese, diced ham, sausage and sliced tomatoes were discarded because two coolers were not keeping them cold enough.

Also, some prepared lasagna being warmed on a steam table was thrown away because the temperature had fallen to an unsafe level.

The pizzeria reopened two days later after receiving an 85/B on a follow-up inspection. However, one cooler was still not working correctly and the inspector told them to remove the food and have it repaired.

El Taco Naco Mexican had similar problems maintaining proper food temperatures.

Two …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Yum Bunz

 Char Siu BBQ Pork, Chicken Teriyaki and Mongolian Beef bunz with Asian Green Salad, Corn salad, and cucumber salad. (BECKY STEIN)

Char Siu BBQ Pork, Chicken Teriyaki and Mongolian Beef buns with Asian Green Salad, Corn salad, and cucumber salad. (BECKY STEIN)

When I was a teenager  I visited my brother, who was then living in a studio apartment with two friends in the West Village. We would walk down to Chinatown, to a carryout window where a dollar would buy you one large, hot-off-the-steamer bao filled with char sui barbecued pork.

It wasn’t just the seasoning and the ingredients that made it taste so good, but also that inimitable sensation of eating food that had just minutes before been transformed by steam. Sticky to the touch, airy to the bite, gushy in the center, steamy enough to fog your glasses.

I’d love to repeat the feeling at Yum Bunz, but after one meal my first impression is that the namesake bao are the weakest link in an otherwise pleasant quick-service Asian restaurant. The team behind this clean, modern newcomer to the Westside’s restaurant row consists of Guy Wong from Miso Izakaya

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Hatch Chile Season In Georgia

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Odd as it may seem, Hatch chiles, the famous spicy peppers grown in the Hatch Valley in Southwestern New Mexico, will soon be “in season” in Georgia, again.

Taqueria del Sol is celebrating with a shipment of fresh chiles. And starting August 26, chef Eddie Hernandez will work the peppers into his weekly specials at all Georgia locations, continuing through the entire month of September.

Look for green chile tacos,  pot pie, rellenos, tamales, enchiladas, jambalaya and more. And check the weekly menu specials here: www.taqueriadelsol.com.

A bit of bad news: The annual Hatch Chile Festival Taqueria del Sol has been putting on for several years has been canceled in favor of the month of specials.

And some good news: The Square Pub in Decatur  will hold its third annual Green Chile Roast on September 14, featuring 8,000 pound of hand-roasted Hatch green chiles selected in New Mexico by the pub’s co-owners, Jason Wiles and Bob Rhein.

The Roast will feature lots chile-inspired food …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Sun in My Belly

Hot phyllo tart filled with blue cheese and nuts

Hot phyllo tart filled with blue cheese and nuts

We all like to throw around the expression “neighborhood restaurant,” but I can think of few that fit the bill as well as this Kirkwood spot tucked tastefully into the shell of an old hardware store. Yet as much as neighbors love it, Sun in My Belly doesn’t resonate too broadly outside the immediate area.

Chef/owner Alison Lueker began the business as a catering company in the late 1990’s and then opened up the space several years later as a cafe specializing in breakfast and lunch.

I paid a couple of a.m. visits after it opened. I have to admit the prettily packaged but stodgy breakfast plates left me cold. I like breakfast joints where you can hear the clanking of a busy kitchen and get a big ol’ plate of egg love, or I want a really excellent cup of coffee and and a pastry worth the splurge. This food fell in between.  The dining room — with all its reclaimed wood, battered antique shelving and pastel-painted Mason jars and …

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In memory of Grandma Mercier of Mercier Orchards

Adele Mercier, courtesy of Mercier Orchards

Adele Mercier, courtesy of Mercier Orchards

As we head into apple season, you may be considering a drive to the mountains to pick your own. For many of us, that means planning a trip to Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge.

If you make the annual pilgrimage to pick apples at Mercier, there will be one less familiar face this year. Earlier this week, Adele Mercier, co-founder and matriarch of the orchard passed away in her home on the farm. She was 95.

Mercier opened the business in 1943 with her husband Bill, who preceded her in death in 2007. Mercier Orchards continues to be run by family, with four generations of the family at work.

In its 70th year, Mercier Orchards now grows 40 varieties of apples, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, plums and cherries. In addition to the U-pick fruit, most people who have stopped in the farm store will recall the fried pies, which lend their aroma to the entire store.

Mercier operations manager Rob Kaser credits the Merciers with creating “a …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Samad Mediterranean Grill & Market

Chickpea and dried fava bean salad

Chickpea and dried fava bean salad

A reader whom I’ve learned to rely on for excellent tips (hint, hint, everyone) turned me on to  Samad Mediterranean Grill & Market – this sweet Lebanese restaurant set in the corner of an aging strip shopping center in northern Sandy Springs.

It is a modest place that doesn’t quite fill its large space with tables and shelves of Middle Eastern dry goods. What it lacks in atmosphere it makes up for with soulful cooking.

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You order from the dry-erase boards hanging over the counter, pay, serve yourself a fountain drink and wait for your food. Check the salad case and order the freshest looking ones for your side dishes. We best liked the ful with chickpeas, each bean and pea cooked to that perfect point of creamy surrender and marinated in an addictive garlic-forward dressing.

IMG_7790Samad makes the chicken shawarma I’ve long looked for in Atlanta and haven’t found until now. The meat comes crisp and juicy off the spit, and the fresh garnish goes in …

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Breakfast out? Try Bantam & Biddy

Bantam & Biddy's chilaquiles

Bantam & Biddy's chilaquiles

Where do you go for breakfast out? I’m not talking drive-thru fare. I’m talking about that good, hearty, full breakfast your grandmother always tried to feed you.

I’m always looking for spots that have dishes with a little more pizzaz than a plate of eggs, bacon and potatoes or the you-name-it-topped sugary french toast. I’m looking for items like chilaquiles, which can be found at a few restaurants in town.

Bantam & Biddy offers a nice rendition of this dish on the weekends. A large bowl comes filled to the brim with softened but still the tiniest bit crunchy salsa-coated Los Amigos tortillas. A sunny-side-up egg and soft avocado slices join the fiesta, as does my addition of Bantam & Biddy chicken. Add a quick squeeze of lime and you’re set.

Next time, I may try the breakfast burger, a pork sausage patty topped with pimento cheese and a fried egg on jalapeno-cheddar bread. And where else can you have poutine for breakfast?

Next time you’re …

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Farm Burger Grassfed Fete Happening Today

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Farm Burger is celebrating three-and-a-half years in Decatur with a party in the parking lot and the restaurant and lots of local farmer friends. Here’s the word from the Farm Burger blog:

It’s a pasture-raised palooza with $1 dollar value menu featuring Moonshine meats 100% grassfed beef sliders, pulled pork sandwiches from a whole roasted Anderson Farms hog (thanks for the smoker Community Q) and pastured chicken wings from Darby Farms. It’s music from Atlanta’s own Southern Folk Preservation Society All Stars. It’s face painting for the kids and Mary from Decimal Place Farm bringing her beautiful goats*. It’s $3 dolla’ beers from Monday Night Brewing and $1 Red Hare root beer floats with Morelli’s ice cream. It’s trivia, Farm Burger corn hole, prizes, balloons….

Here’s the schedule and info:

Monday, August 19: 11:30 a.m.-close, $1 value menu; 4 p.m.- close, music, whole hog, Mary’s goats, face painting, beer tent and more.

410 W Ponce De Leon Ave, Decatur, 404-378-5077,

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Restaurant inspections, East Point Corner Tavern

Employee hand sinks at the East Point Corner Tavern weren’t being used during a recent health inspection, according to a Fulton County health official.

Both appeared to be “bone dry” during an afternoon inspection, she said. One had an ice scoop and a soap container in the basin, and the other had no available hot water.

The Fulton County inspector noticed the sinks after observing an employee switching tasks without washing hands. Also, a sink in the bar area had no soap or paper towels, she said.

Points were taken off, and the restaurant’s routine health score dropped from a 90/A to a 56/U.

East Point Corner Tavern, 2783 Main St., East Point, was also operating with an expired food permit. The restaurant was given 24 hours to renew the permit, which expired in June, or face closure. The restaurant was also given 30 days to obtain a certified food safety manager.

In other code violations, two coolers were not keeping food temperatures at safe levels. And some food items were …

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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: South City Kitchen

Vegetable Plate at South City Kitchen

Vegetable Plate at South City Kitchen

True admission time. I’ve only been to South City Kitchen a few times since I’ve lived in Atlanta. On one of those visits I was dining with celebrity chef Todd English when he was in town. He pulled a picture of his then-wife, a bodybuilder, out of his wallet to show to me. I missed the handoff and dropped it in a plate of bread pudding with custard sauce. Awkward!

Aside from that memory, I have two reasons why I’m never keen on going back.

One, that restaurant is so frenetic and noisy that I always feel like I have to meditate in a quiet room after dining there.

Two, it has always struck me as fine; not horrible, not memorable, but decent. There are much better places to sample modern Southern fare in this town, such as Empire State South and Miller Union. Right?

Yet SCK remains perpetually packed and ever in the news. Visiting celebrities never tire of this restaurant, as my colleague Jennifer Brett will tell you. When I try to secure …

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