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Archive for September, 2013

Drink, Eat, Go to Festivals in October


Troy Ball
Troy Ball

Distiller Troy Ball at The Barrel Bar

On Tuesday, get to the The Barrel Bar at Food 101 for a meet-and-great with Troy Ball of Troy & Sons Distillery in Asheville, N.C., famous for the likes of Blonde Whiskey. In case you didn’t know, Troy is a she and one of the few woman distillers on the scene today. There will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres and the usual Tuesday night 1/2 off cocktails and wine specials. 5-7 p.m., Food 101 4969 Roswell Rd, Atlanta,  food101atlanta.com.

Atlanta Eats Goes Live at Verizon

Atlanta Eats, the weekly restaurant roundup TV show hosted by Steak Shapiro, will take the stage at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Alpharetta on October 6 for a “rockstar” program and benefit for Staplehouse and The Giving Kitchen. Atlanta chefs Kevin Rathbun and Linton Hopkins will be honored during an evening featuring food and drink from 30 Atlanta restaurants, including  Hal’s, Rathbun’s, The Optimist, 4th & Swift and Watershed, chefs dueling in …

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Restaurant inspections, Che Van Lai at the Hong Kong Supermarket

Bugs were found in bulk containers of starch and rice at one of the food stalls inside the Hong Kong Supermarket on Jimmy Carter Boulevard in Norcross.

Che Van Lai, 5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd., was given a failing score of 68/U on the recent routine inspection and told to discard the food items.

Gwinnett County health officials also suspended the food service permit for repeatedly not documenting time controls used for potentially hazardous foods.

Corn, mung beans and sweet rice were all thrown away because they had been left out on the prep table and were not within the safe temperature range. The staff did not document start and discard times to ensure food safety.

The inspector said it was the third time Che Van Lai has been cited for this code violation.

Che Van Lai also had repeat violations of unclean utensils and other cooking items. Knives, a slicer and a strainer were dirty with food debris, despite being stored as clean. The items were rewashed, rinsed and …

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Marcella Hazan’s Salad

Here’s a column I wrote in 2005 about Marcella Hazan’s tips for dressing salad. Hazan died yesterday at the age of 89.

Whenever I thumb through my worn-to-shreds copy of Marcella Hazan’s “The Classic Italian Cook Book” and see the boldface heading “Italian Dressing” on Page 404, I always have to get the instant associations out of mind. The tan gloss beading over fierce shards of iceberg. My mother shaking her cruet of Seven Seas with the snap-on lid. Paul Newman.

Hazan was referring to none of the above — nothing ladled, shaken or poured from a Newman-faced bottle. Marcella Hazan’s Italian dressing consisted solely of oil, vinegar and salt. “For Italians, ” she wrote, “salad dressing is not an element separate from the salad; it is not added on to the greens as you might add a sauce to pasta. Dressing is a process rather than an object, a verb rather than a noun. It is the act that transforms greens and vegetables into salad.”

I first read Hazan’s salad discourse about 15 …

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Fun Things at Eat Me

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If you want to chase down the most interesting cooking in Atlanta today, you may need to give up your preconceptions about what makes a dining experience. At Gunshow, where the hyper-creative kitchen performs a nightly data dump, they’ve done away with menus and ordering, if not waiters, plates and wine. Wait until you try Eat Me.

This semi-permanent pop up at the Candler Park Market is probably not the restaurant to take your wife to for your anniversary. Or maybe it is, depending on your wife.

On Monday through Friday evening, a young upscale-dining refugee named Jarrett Stieber cooks his brains out from behind the deli counter. He plates the food inside cardboard sandwich baskets with all the Zen sauce swooshes, organic produce and frilly microgreens you’d expect from a five-star kitchen. You collect a disposable plastic fork and a Dixie cup of water whilst looking longingly at the chilled beer that you can’t drink on the premises.

A veteran of the kitchens at Empire State …

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What’s cooking at TomorrowWorld

IMG_8379TomorrowWorld, the huge electronic music festival that has taken over a Chattahoochee Hills farms for the weekend, offers one of the most ambitious food programs you’re likely to find at an outdoor event.

Scores of stalls — all operated by foodservice giant Levy Restaurants — serve drinks, meals and snacks to more than 50,000 festival-goers daily as music booms from one or more of the eight stages spread over the property. You order a burger, you shout a lot.

If you’re familiar with the mother ship — i.e., the TomorrowLand music festival that happens annually in Belgium — you might find that the choices here are less eclectic (no Korean food, for instance) and less “cheffy.” In Belgium, the organizers collaborate with Michelin-starred chefs to serve VIP meals. There’s even a small restaurant built right into the main stage for VVVIPs, who dine behind a glass wall.

But there’s a lot to consider here in Georgia:

    • The Belgian Beer Cafe serves a small selection of bottled and …

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Chef Asha Gomez Set To Open Spice To Table

Asha Gomez

Asha Gomez

Spice to Table, a new breakfast and lunch restaurant and retail concept from chef Asha Gomez of Cardamom Hill and The Third Space, is set to open in November in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward Studioplex development.

According to the the press release, look for “globally inspired cuisine, as well as an open market filled with retail for purchase including spices, sweets, bottled sauces, preserves and much more.”

Here’s more from the release:

Chef Gomez elaborates on her new concept stating, “I’ve always wanted to open a fast-casual breakfast/lunch spot that explores other parts of my global food influences. I grew up in Kerala but I also lived in other parts of India like Gujarat and Bombay before living in areas of New York, and now I find myself calling the American South home. The menu will feature traditional items from all of my favorite food memories but with a few twists.”

Spice to Table’s inviting menu will offer an array of signature dishes including appam …

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Dining at Steinbeck’s Ale House

IMG_8177Bad bar food starts to look enticing after a few drinks when you realize your choices are few. But good bar food? Aah, that catches your eye the moment you sit on a stool and crack the menu.

It seems that more and more watering holes throughout the city now break with the orthodoxy of burgers and brats and offer dishes that need washing down with a good pint of beer.

I had a perfect moment at Steinbeck’s Ale House in Decatur’s Oakhurst Village. Among the evening’s bar snacks were chicharrones — cubes of fried pork belly served Mexican style with sliced jalapeno and lime wedges. Salty, fatty, chewy, with that glassy layer of skin that threatens to break a tooth but then dissolves into porky goodness. Now, that’s what pork belly is for.

Chef Andy Gonzales has fans for his offbeat Asian/Mexican/Southern stylings. It’s the kind of food I don’t want to oversell because it’s sort of slipshod and not always quite thought out, but welcome in the moment. Kung pao brisket, fatty and …

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Restaurant inspections, Tech Diner

A 24-hour diner near the Georgia Tech campus failed another health inspection, but refused to shut down and take care of reoccurring food safety violations.

Tech Diner, 531 10th St., Atlanta, scored a 40/U on the routine inspection and was asked to voluntarily close or face a court citation. Management chose the citation, instead.

This was the second citation for the restaurant, which has had past scores of 44/U, 66/U and 74/C, the inspector said. Fulton County health officials have even conducted on-site training to help the staff improve.

Health officials expressed frustration over management’s failure to implement procedures to prevent repeat violations.

Among these violations, food was stored improperly, dishes and food containers were not clean and the dishwasher was not sanitizing.

Old retail containers were being re-used to store food, and they weren’t labeled or date marked.

Employees were washing raw meat in one compartment of the dish sink, while dishes were being …

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Gunshow restaurant review, Atlanta

Chef Kevin Gillespie shows off some of his creations (credit: Becky Stein)

Chef Kevin Gillespie shows off some of his creations (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Gunshow, Kevin Gillespie’s new restaurant. I gave it a grade of 3 stars.

Gunshow’s format, inspired by dim sum and Brazilian churrascarias, not only combats the pretense of fine dining, it also makes it accessible to more cost-conscious diners. Granted, some plates seem a bit light for a $12-$18 price tag, but the model makes it easy to track and manage costs.

And while the food may ring true for fine dining, logistics can be a bit of a bugger. Dishes will begin flying in for you to refuse or accept at a rapid pace once you sit. You might feel a little rankled when you’ve had three courses before ordering a beverage because servers won’t give your group more than one menu despite requests for another.

Maybe you’ll feel put out by the constant tally marking of your menu to track the dishes you’ve accepted from the chefs. You might long for a fresh plate after four or …

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Kimball House Opens in Decatur

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Kimball House Partners

The the team behind Brick Store Pub and Leon’s Full Service opens its new bar and restaurant in the old Decatur train depot on East Howard Avenue tonight.

Dubbed Kimball House in homage to a pair of historic Atlanta hotels of the early 1900s, the elegantly refurbished space was designed by Square Feet Studio and features a towering back bar area as the focal point, ornate library-like seating nooks and vintage tables and chairs.

Look for a raw bar with a large selection of oysters and a full dinner menu from chefs Jeffery Wall and Philip Meeker. Miles Macquarrie, formerly of Leon’s, is charge of a sophisticated cocktail program that features classics and originals, along with carefully curated wine and craft beer lists.

There are seven partners involved in Kimball House, including Macquarrie and longtime friends and former Brick Store coworkers Matt Christison, Bryan Rackley and Jesse Smith, as well as Brick Store and Leon’s owners, Dave Blanchard, Mike …

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