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Archive for the ‘Recent dining reviews’ Category

Timone’s restaurant review, Morningside

Garlic and kale pizza (credit: Becky Stein)

Garlic and kale pizza (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Timone’s, Ron Eyester’s newest restaurant addition. I gave it 1 star.

Eyester established himself in the Morningside neighborhood when he bought out Food 101 and rebranded it as Rosebud in 2008. Three years later, he opened The Family Dog in the same neighborhood. Now he has embarked on a third project, Timone’s, a pizza house that he admitted has been “a challenging project.”

Eyester said his new pizza joint is “New York inspired,” but is careful to avoid calling it “authentic.” Indeed, you’ll find oversized maps of the city lacquered on the tabletops, themed posters and weathered pressed-tin tiles lining the comfortable space. What you won’t find at Timone’s is a perfected “authentic” pie, authentic or otherwise.

Pizza serves as this restaurant’s calling card, but whatever your preferred style, this one will likely rouse your ire. It’s still a work in progress and won’t yet be the place to savor …

Continue reading Timone’s restaurant review, Morningside »

Chick-a-Biddy Restaurant review, Atlanta

Wood-grilled piri piri chicken (credit: Becky Stein)

Wood-grilled piri piri chicken (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Chick-a-Biddy, the sister restaurant to Bantam & Biddy from Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere.

Local product use, chef-driven menus and a diner-esque vibe are trademarks of the two chicken haunts. After that, they begin to distinguish their unique personalities. The family-friendly Bantam & Biddy was developed to fit the Ansley community, which it does so well. According to Doty, both the decor and the menu take inspiration from the past at Bantam.

Chick-a-Biddy, on the other hand, serves the Atlantic Station crowd, folks out for a little fun and entertainment. Here, Doty and Gummere take a more modern and forward-thinking approach. What they’ve created seems to resonate with this audience, but like Bantam & Biddy, may require additional settle-in time to evolve into a true destination.

I gave it a grade of 2 stars.

Subscribers can read the full review on myajc.com.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food …

Continue reading Chick-a-Biddy Restaurant review, Atlanta »

The Butcher The Baker restaurant review, Marietta

pork belly appetizer (credit: Becky Stein)

pork belly appetizer (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of The Butcher The Baker, a newish restaurant in Marietta. I gave it a grade of 3 stars.

The husband and wife team of Micah and Katie Pfister opened this restaurant last spring. The two originally met while working at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago — Bachelor Gulch in Colorado. After relocating to Atlanta, they spent time in the kitchen of Empire State South, Micah (our butcher) as sous chef and Katie (our baker) in pastry.

What they created was a fresh space with broad appeal. The Butcher the Baker asserts its unique voice on the square. Everyone is here by choice, not by default.

The rather large menu is built around local produce, much of which comes from four of the local farmers selling their harvest at the Marietta Square Farmers Market. Small plates dominate offerings, but a solid six entrees level the scale. And those entrees are what you’ll find the most composed and creative.

I can also get behind …

Continue reading The Butcher The Baker restaurant review, Marietta »

Atlanta revisit: Cafe at Pharr, Buckhead

Chicken salad plate (credit: Becky Stein)

Chicken salad plate (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Cafe at Pharr, an Atlanta staple.

Cafe at Pharr opened in 1993 as a bakery, selling an array of cakes and pastries. The Pharr Road location proved to be a bit of a gaffe given that it was located next door to a Pepperidge Farm retail outlet. The heavy competition forced owners Mike and Shirley Liu to quickly modify the bakery concept, adding lunch options, like its signature chicken salad.

Even though they resisted transitioning to a cafe, the Lius watched their business grow over the next few years as Buckhead embraced the model. While still baking breads in-house, the restaurant, now run by son Johnny Liu, has increased its lunch offerings and reduced its baked goods to a few quick-grab items like cookies and Rice Krispy treats.

Today Cafe at Pharr has five locations throughout the metro area, with a sixth opening in Dunwoody later this fall. Its success no doubt stems from its streamlined methods …

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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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Boccalupo restaurant review, Inman Park

20-yolk tagliatelle (credit: Becky Stein)

20-yolk tagliatelle (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC, I have a review of Boccalupo, the new restaurant from Bruce Logue. I gave it a grade of four stars.

Logue, an Atlanta native, introduced our town to his brand of Italian-American cooking at La Pietra Cucina. Before that, he honed his skills at Mario Batali’s Babbo in New York City and spent eight months cooking his way through Italy with the country’s top chefs.

While training and sourcing contribute to Logue’s success and reputation as prince of pasta, his cooking resonates on a deeper level than can be reached by technical skill and ingredients alone. This chef cooks with an honesty like few others. You’ll taste it in the soul-settling depths of his dishes.

Subscribers can read the full review on myajc.com.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

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Atlanta revisit: Woodfire Grill restaurant review

Woodfire Grill's cage-roasted quail (credit: Becky Stein)

Woodfire Grill's cage-roasted quail (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC, I have a review of Woodfire Grill, now under the direction of chef Tyler Williams. I gave it four stars.

Woodfire Grill, which opened in 2002, quickly became one of Atlanta’s foremost farm-to-table restaurants, known for use of locally harvested produce and humanely raised meats. It also was known for distinguished service and a value-friendly, approachable wine program. Overall, one of Atlanta’s premier fine-dining restaurants.

Having a “Top Chef” finalist didn’t hurt. When Chef Kevin Gillespie took the helm, he raised the bar and elevated the cuisine at Woodfire. After he departed, chef Tyler Williams put his own stamp on the menu.

“Playful” and “personality” are the two words Williams used to describe his cooking. I’d have to agree. I’d also add analytical and edgy as descriptors for his approach, a play in temperature, flavor and textural contrasts.

Williams said he tries to avoid farm-to-table …

Continue reading Atlanta revisit: Woodfire Grill restaurant review »

Hugo’s Oyster Bar restaurant review, Roswell

Chargrilled oysters at Hugo's (credit: Becky Stein)

Chargrilled oysters at Hugo's (credit: Becky Stein)

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Hugo’s Oyster Bar in Roswell. I gave it a grade of two stars.

Is Hugo’s a casual oyster bar or upscale-ish seafood restaurant or both? The question is how successfully the two concepts can be integrated under one roof. Does the guy who wants to hang at the bar and scarf Gulf oysters by the dozen want a valet to park his car? Do the ladies meeting for a quiet dinner want to watch big-screen TVs while paying $24 for entrees?

Chef Jonathan Schwenk, who is co-owner with Rich Clark, said they weren’t trying to make Hugo’s into the Optimist, Miller Union or Empire State South. “We aren’t trying to be fancy.”

If Hugo’s stuck to that vision, it would do just fine. The restaurant succeeds as an oyster bar with a mixture of Gulf and boutique oysters, making it a destination. The waters are muddied by attempts to simultaneously go upscale — with untrained waiters and comparatively pricey entrees that …

Continue reading Hugo’s Oyster Bar restaurant review, Roswell »

Saltyard restaurant review, Buckhead

Grilled lamb loin, credit: Becky Stein

Grilled lamb loin, credit: Becky Stein

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Saltyard, the new small plates restaurant in Buckhead. I gave it a grade of 2 stars.

At first glance, Saltyard seems to have all the pieces for a great restaurant: shareable small plates, 20 wines (mostly domestic) by the glass for perfect course pairings, a commitment to honest cooking, local sourcing. Yet, Saltyard remains a puzzle. All those pieces don’t assemble the perfect picture. The logistics of coursing muddle the experience, and the food is perhaps a little too unpretentious, a little too straightforward — the two dangers of small plates.

As we trend more toward small-plate dining and wine-by-the-glass sampling, the corollary in beverages, Saltyard has timed its market entry just right. Now with a few adjustments and a little more attention to detail, it could become an Atlanta destination for a more social, shareable dining experience.

Subscribers can read the review on myajc.com.

–by Jenny …

Continue reading Saltyard restaurant review, Buckhead »

Atlanta Classic: Swan Coach House Restaurant, Buckhead

Swan's Favorite: timbales with chicken salad, cheese straws and frozen fruit salad (credit: Becky Stein)

Swan's Favorite: timbales with chicken salad, cheese straws and frozen fruit salad (credit: Becky Stein)

Have you been to the Swan Coach House? If so, you’re familiar with the frozen fruit salad. That dish and others caused much controversy on the Bravo TV reality show, “Chef Roblé & Co.”

Chef Roblé ate at the Swan Coach House as a guest of “Real Housewives of Atlanta’s” Phaedra Parks, who had hired him to re-create a Southern tea for an event she held in New York.

With a leer on his face, Chef Roblé Ali tentatively poked at the cream-colored disc with a fork. “What is that? I’m afraid of that!”

His thoughts on the “ambrosia” served with a piped swirl of mayonnaise? “Grody to the max.”

You don’t have to be Atlanta-born and raised to enjoy the Swan Coach House experience (although it doesn’t hurt). What you need is an understanding of context and a knowledge that food is more than the assembled ingredients set before you. Let’s honor this piece of our Southern heritage. It’s …

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