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Archive for February, 2014

Chef Angus Brown Talks Cheetah Dinner and Lusca Opening

Fettuccine with sea urchin and pancetta at Octopus Bar

Fettuccine with sea urchin and pancetta at Octopus Bar

Chef Angus Brown — who with chef Nhan Le came to fame at Octopus Bar, their adventurous East Atlanta after hours eats-and-drinks hangout — has been in the news lately for kicking off a new pop-up series at the Cheetah.

Tuesday evening’s inaugural dinner of the Spring Street Supper Club has been dubbed “Octopussy.” And, yes, there will be nude dancing, along with four courses and wine pairings.

For fans of Octopus Bar, though, the bigger news is that Brown and Le are just weeks away from opening a new full-service lunch and dinner restaurant called Lusca in the South Buckhead space once occupied by Bluefin.

Calling earlier today from a cab in New York City, where he’d landed to cater a dinner for some friends, Brown talked about cooking at the Cheetah, Lusca, and Octopus bar.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

How did you end up doing a dinner at the Cheetah?

We have a really good relationship with the …

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Pick 5: Award-Winning Dishes

This Sunday marks movie-lovers’ favorite awards ceremony: The 86th Annual Academy Awards. But here in Atlanta, its worth recognizing some of the standout dishes in the dining scene. So without further adieu, ”We’d like to thank the Chef for these award-winning dishes.”

Buckhead Diner's Banana Cream Pie, (Photo Credit Sara Hanna Photography)

Buckhead Diner's White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, (Photo Credit Sara Hanna Photography)

Buckhead Diner
3073 Piedmont Road, Atlanta
Considered the Academy Awards of food, this banana cream pie won the 1994 James Beard Award. It’s a creamy, luscious and boozy slice of pie made with bananas, banana liqueur, white chocolate banana pastry cream and topped with shaved Callebaut Belgian White Chocolate in a homemade flaky pastry crust.

Watershed's fried chicken

Watershed's fried chicken (photo credit: Letter B Creative photography)

Watershed on Peachtree
1820 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta
Fried. Chicken. A staple in Atlanta. It’s hard to …

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Common Quarter restaurant review, East Cobb

Common Quarter's hot chicken (credit: Becky Stein)

Common Quarter's hot chicken (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Common Quarter, the new east Cobb restaurant from the team behind Muss & Turner’s and Local Three. I gave it a grade of 2 stars.

Common Quarter’s brand of Southern hospitality is infused into each facet of the dining experience, affording the restaurant a unique draw. Everything from the relaxed coastal decor to the young staff in logo T-shirts and ball caps reflects the atmosphere it has worked to cultivate. Even the food, which may challenge our expectations of Southern fare, has an honesty to it. The risks that chef Jeffrey Gardner takes stem from intellectual curiosity rather than a desire to drive sales with shock value.

The chicken and dumplings ($18.25) may have you questioning what this humble comfort dish should be. Grandma may shun the airline chicken breast with perfectly blistered skin surrounded by red-hued tasso gravy and the pillowy gnocchi-style white- cheddar …

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Chef Kevin Gillespie Begins “Competition Training” at Waffle House

Chef Kevin Gillespie on the Waffle House line

Chef Kevin Gillespie on the Waffle House line

Chef Kevin Gillespie is buzzing from the most recent award for his restaurant Gunshow, nominated by GQ Magazine as one of the 25 best new restaurants in America, and he’s hot on the trail of another victory.

This time, he seeks the title of “Master Blaster” (the honorary title for short-order cooks) at the Waffle House Smackdown at this year’s Charleston Food & Wine Festival. Stakes are high, as Gillespie will compete against defending champion Mike Lata of FIG, Chris Shepherd of Underbelly and Michael Hudman of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen.

These chefs have their own restaurants, but wanted to get down and dirty and prove that they can cook up Waffle House food for a panel of judges, including local Waffle House owners and Bon Appetit Restaurant Editor Andrew Knowlton.

Gillespie means business. Armed with a camo Waffle House hat, he jumped on the line to fry onions for omelettes, scramble eggs and brown toast. After all, …

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Nikolai’s Roof Unveils New Look and Menu


Downtown dining stalwart Nikolai’s Roof unveils its new look and menu on Friday. But the iconic panoramic view on the 30th floor of the Atlanta Hilton will remain.

Lounge and dining room renovations were originally scheduled to be completed in early January.

“We’ve invested close to $1 million to transform Nikolai’s Roof into a more contemporary space that’s sophisticated and upscale, but still very comfortable and approachable,” said Hilton Atlanta director of food and beverage, Kevin O’Leary, in a press release.

“We’re moving away from being known as only a fine dining, special occasion destination to welcome a more relaxed vibe into our menu, lounge and dining room.”

The Russian-inspired design for the 7,500-square foot space includes floor-to-ceiling wine cabinets and a new dining niche for wine dinners and large groups.

The new menu from chef de cuisine Stephanie Alderete will feature American and Russian influenced dishes served a la carte or in …

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RECIPE: Homemade Hummus

Calling all hummus lovers! Are you a roasted red pepper or pine nut groupie? Do you dip carrots and celery or pita chips? Regardless of the answer, you have surely been around the block trying different brands. But we invite you to try your OWN brand. Make it yourself. This homemade hummus is easy and creamy, with an essence of Mediterranean spices and tangy lemon.
Homemade Hummus

2_26_hummusadapted from Vegetable Literacy on Life with Lampnsofa

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • juice of 1 1/2 fresh lemons
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

1. Add the chickpeas to a food processor with the fresh lemon juice and tahini. Puree until smooth.

2. Add in the garlic and spices. Puree again for about 20 seconds.

3. Drizzle in olive oil and process until combined.

That’s it! Taste and adjust, adding what you need! I ate mine with carrots and celery. This would also be delicious atop roasted eggplant.


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Da Via Italian Market Eating

Salad bowl at Da Via

Salad bowl at Da Via

Quick-service Italian comes from many places — delis, pizza parlors, and those uniformly grim but occasionally tempting mall food court outlets that serve garlic knots and pans of baked ziti cloaked with cheese. Now we have it from a place that looks an awful lot like Chipotle. Da Via Italian Market Eating in the Perimeter Place Shopping Center in Dunwoody seems to have taken a page from the burrito chain’s book. Or several pages, from the room design to the menu format.

It’s a good looking place with dark-stained wooden tables and benches, and a menu presented on the wall with clean, spare graphics. You choose to start with a salad, a (disposable, biodegradable) bowl of spaghetti with your choice of sauce, or a rolled flatbread sandwich called a piada. You pick either a protein (salmon, sausage, chicken or meatballs) or mixed vegetables and then add as many or as few toppings as you’d like.

The salad is just like what you would expect from one of those …

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Behind the Scenes: Ali Wild of Across the Street

2_25_AcrosstheStreet1Last weekend gave us a taste of patio season, and when the warm weather comes, it seems like Mexican food is no-brainer. Ali Wild, owner of Across the Street, had an idea to create a restaurant that combined fresh Mexican food with a killer patio view. She is the first to tell us that authentic Mexican food is not what we imagine.

What made you decide on opening a Mexican restaurant?
After a long hard day of working, my partner Lana and I wanted to sit somewhere outside on patio with food she could eat and margaritas I could drink. But many places in Atlanta are on busy streets or they don’t have a patio. Our favorite thing was chips, salsa, margaritas and the patio, so it just made sense.

Lana is vegetarian and you are allergic to flavor enhancers and preservatives. How did you use your dietary restrictions to create the menu?
We always start our recipes from a vegetarian’s point of view, that way people can build on and add meat if they want. Our beans and rice are not …

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Three Atlanta Restaurants on GQ 25 Best of 2014

 King + Duke candied lamb belly

King + Duke candied lamb belly

On the heels of the announcement of multiple Atlanta chefs and restaurants as 2014 James Beard Award semifinalists, three newish Atlanta restaurants are on GQ dining critic Alan Richman’s list of the 25 Best Restaurants in America, 2014 — with two in the top 10.

Austin’s Asian-Texan Qui took the top spot, with Richman calling it “the most fascinating new restaurant in America.”

Ford Fry’s first Buckhead restaurant, King + Duke is number five. Richman writes, “In the middle of the meal, I sat up straight and thought, This is the one. This is informal American dining, perfected.” No surprise, he loved chef Joe Schafer’s candied lamb belly.

Kevin Gillespie’s Gunshow in Glenwood Park takes the number seven spot. “Gunshow has pulled off the improbable,” Richman says. “It manages to be the most intimate restaurant in America without candles, flowers, or post-dinner petits fours.”

The General Muir with Todd Ginsberg at the helm …

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VIDEO: How to Make Chocolate from Bean to Bar

Executive Chef Robert Gerstenecker of Park 75

Executive Chef Robert Gerstenecker of Park 75

Small-batch chocolate making has been popping up in recent years, as people are starting to realize that the traditional Hershey’s bar is more an indulgence of milk and sugar than true cacao.

Executive Chef Robert Gerstenecker of Park 75 at the Four Seasons works with his culinary team and Pastry Chef Charles Barrett to make fair trade chocolate bars in-house.

In this video, he takes us through the three day process of making the small-batch chocolate bars that Park 75 sells in their retail section.

A few things to know about the origins of cocoa

  • Cacao grows on trees in large, oval-shaped pods. The pods are broken apart, each yielding around 30-50 cacao beans.
  • When the pods are ripe, they are harvested and left to ferment for several days, which causes the beans to lose bitterness.
  • From there, they are dried in the sun before they arrive at Park 75.
  • There are three types of cocoa beans with varying flavors: criollo, …

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