accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Archive for the ‘Recent dining reviews’ Category

Better Half restaurant review, Atlanta

Costa Rican milk truffles (credit: Becky Stein)

Costa Rican milk truffles (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Better Half, the new supper-club-turned-restaurant funded by a Kickstarter community funding campaign. I gave it a grade of 3 stars.

Better Half is one of our city’s newest casual fine dining spots. You’ll find the kitchen on full display right in the dining room, the absence of a liquor license (but it’s coming), and a place where the best seats are at the bar. While Better Half doesn’t adhere to formal dining traditions or ostentation, the kitchen performs with the exceptional skill and efficiency of one that does. With such artistry and precision, the food coming out of this kitchen could only be considered fine.

Vibrant colors and contrasts mark chef/owner Zach Meloy’s artistic plating style, with items like the pork belly served alongside small cylindrical sopes placed catty-corner and filled with plugs of brilliant orange carrot puree. Consider items like the seared yellowfin tuna paired …

Continue reading Better Half restaurant review, Atlanta »

Salt Factory Pub restaurant review, Alpharetta

Thai beef lettuce wraps (credit: Becky Stein)

Thai beef lettuce wraps (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of the new Alpharetta location of Salt Factory, the self-proclaimed gastropub that first opened in Roswell in 2008. While the menus at both Salt Factory spots are identical, the space, clientele and energy all diverge.

Perhaps because I’m not part of the historic Roswell neighborhood circle or perhaps because I like a little breathing space and hassle-free parking options, I much prefer this new Alpharetta outpost of Salt Factory. But both are built around the beer selection, which has the variety you’d expect of a gastropub and a nice representation of local craft beers. The accompanying provisions range from modern gastrofare with dishes like sumptuous Thai beef lettuce wraps to a cardboard pizza that qualifies as bare bones pub grub. You’ll find the best bites are the lighter ones that you might not typically associate with traditional bar food — ones befitting a gastropub.

Ask for beer pairings …

Continue reading Salt Factory Pub restaurant review, Alpharetta »

Smoke Ring restaurant review, Castleberry Hill

credit: Becky Stein

credit: Becky Stein

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Smoke Ring, the new downtown barbecue joint by 101 Concepts.

The restaurant occupies a lofty, highly styled and carefully rustic space designed to showcase a new side of barbecue. This is a spot where you can pull up a stool to the long wrap-around bar for a domestic craft beer or a creative cocktail made with Whistlepig rye whiskey or any number of brown spirits. It’s not your homey brisket barn. While you can get that paper-lined quarter sheet pan piled with some satisfying pulled pork and spare ribs, you can also fancy it up with pork belly sliders and brisket burritos. This is the place where the oft-neglected barbecue sides become the most interesting part of the meal. Welcome to gastro’cue.

I gave it a grade of 2 stars. Subscribers can read the full review on myajc.com.

–Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

Continue reading Smoke Ring restaurant review, Castleberry Hill »

Campania restaurant review, Alpharetta

credit: Becky Stein

credit: Becky Stein

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Campania, the one-year old Neapolitan pizzeria in Alpharetta. Here, the imported custom-made oven is the restaurant’s main draw and takes center stage. It produces thin, wet pizzas dotted with blistered dough bubbles that will feed your pizza lust. You may or may not notice that they are missing a moment of magic. But that shouldn’t stop you from experiencing one, if only for the wood-charred crust alone. You may just have to sniff out the right set of toppings.

You’ll also discover that there’s more here worth trying than just what’s kissed by the oven. For me, the perfect meal is a salumi plate ($12) paired with a simple verde salad ($7), its magnificent piling of arugula expertly dressed with a pop of lemon and extra-virgin olive oil. Servings are large, so plan to share and chat while you nibble olives and pick over meaty stacks of prosciutto di Parma, spicy Calabrese salami and Parma cotto. That plus a triangle or …

Continue reading Campania restaurant review, Alpharetta »

Osteria Mattone restaurant review, Roswell

Tortelli di Zucca (credit: Becky Stein)

Tortelli di Zucca (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Roswell’s Osteria Mattone, the sister restaurant to Table & Main. I gave it a grade of 2 stars.

The puzzle is beginning to come together at Osteria Mattone, an Italian osteria-trattoria hybrid. Each member of the assembled team brings a unique set of strengths to this restaurant.

Owner Ryan Pernice masterfully manages the dining experience while Chef and co-owner Ted Lahey brings relatable cooking that has a polished simplicity and the potential to ascend from goodness to greatness. The restaurant also benefits from Dan Pernice’s well-considered beverage program and pastry chef Micki Kimberly’s inherent understanding of the dessert experience. These key players make Osteria Mattone the most likely of the two sister restaurants to become the destination where Roswellians have to compete with outsiders for a coveted table.

Lahey makes a mean mess of sausage and peppers ($12), a perfectly rustic and …

Continue reading Osteria Mattone restaurant review, Roswell »

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 dumplings. But …

Continue reading Common Quarter restaurant review, East Cobb »

The Georgia Pine restaurant review, Lawrenceville

Dijon-pistachio rack of lamb. Credit: Becky Stein

The Georgia Pine's dijon-pistachio rack of lamb. Credit: Becky Stein

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of The Georgia Pine, sister restaurant to Local Republic. I gave it a grade of 1 star.

The Georgia Pine is among the first to offer Lawrenceville a taste of chef-driven fare made with mindfully sourced ingredients, as well as craft beer, in a sleek, current space.

Yet, it has struggled to earn the trust of area residents with unfamiliar dishes like octopus with pickled ginger and rabbit with raisin jus.

The process is further complicated by awkward servers who don’t quite have restaurant rhythm, and the kitchen’s consistency issues as it tries to push the envelope with varying degrees of success.

The restaurant should shift its focus to what it does best — preparing approachable sandwiches and small plates for customers to pair with craft beer.

Your best option will be the honey pork and greens sandwich ($9). Take a Cuban roll, stuff it to bursting with honey-laced, …

Continue reading The Georgia Pine restaurant review, Lawrenceville »

Stem Wine Bar restaurant review, East Cobb

Stem's patatas bravas BECKY STEIN/SPECIAL

Stem's patatas bravas BECKY STEIN/SPECIAL

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Stem Wine Bar, the new spot from Seed owner Doug Turbush. I gave it a grade of 3 stars.

Stem nails many of the essential features of a great wine and tapas bar. While the decor may feel a touch sterile, it excels at making the world of wine accessible with guidance from servers that don’t take themselves too seriously and affordable with extensive sampling options. Its European-inspired charcuterie, cheeses and true small plates play a supporting role, pairing well with a smart wine list designed to satisfy, educate and surprise both wine novices and oenophiles alike.

Stem suggests you try the 2010 Gran Familia tempranillo ($7 glass) with the patatas bravas ($7), small potatoes carved into miniature shot glasses containing a rich pimento sauce and a zippy garlic aioli. You could also pair that red with the chorizo-stuffed dates ($12) in a smoked tomato sauce, a lovely mingling of sweet, spicy, salty …

Continue reading Stem Wine Bar restaurant review, East Cobb »

Kimball House restaurant review, Decatur

Shaved Brussels sprouts with pimento-pecan puree. BECKY STEIN/SPECIAL

Shaved Brussels sprouts with pimento-pecan puree. BECKY STEIN/SPECIAL

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Kimball House, the most recent of a string of restaurants to occupy the old Decatur train depot. I gave it a grade of 3 stars.

At Kimball House we find an inspired revival of the once-dying cocktail culture and a raw bar with a brilliant oyster selection unparalleled in Atlanta, the restaurant’s two main draws. We also find an impressive restaurant garden and co-executive chefs Philip Meeker and Jeffrey Wall taking inspiration from early Kimball House hotel menus as they develop new and mostly successful combinations with scores of ingredients, many pickled, cured or fermented in-house. All of these pieces have come together in something of a time capsule for Atlanta dining in 2014.

If you can save room after gorging on oysters, try the sweet and salty fun of the luxuriant pork belly ($12) dotted with crisp fennel slices and brightly sweet orange segments. Be sure to …

Continue reading Kimball House restaurant review, Decatur »

Better Half shows real promise

140116kessler0124

Potato soup with ham hock, crispy potato and chive pudding (all photos by Becky Stein)

On a high shelf overlooking the dining room at Better Half, a six-volume set of the landmark food-geek bible “Modernist Cuisine” stands between a moonshine jug marked with a cartoon-worthy “XX” and a stuffed penguin. The juxtaposition may make you laugh, but it encapsulates the unusual spirit here, where culinary precision keeps company with good humor and a keen sense of the pleasure principle.

Better Half snuck onto the scene in mid-December, opened with only a Facebook post and a tweet. Set on a dark stretch of 14th Street halfway between Midtown’s buzzy hotspots and the Westside’s gourmet warehouses, it comes across like the studio apartment of Atlanta dining. A two-man kitchen, surrounded by a dining counter, juts into the small room like a proscenium stage. When a mere 25 people settle inside this space, it’s a party.

Cristina and Zach Meloy with their daughter, Amalia.

Cristina and Zach Meloy with their daughter, Amalia.

One of those …

Continue reading Better Half shows real promise »