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  1. S, For Jazz, try Churchill Grounds on Peachtree in the same structure as the Fox Theater. Not far from your hotel and there is a new :hotspot" across the street , Livingston, located in the Georgian Terrace Hotel.
  2. Kessler wrote a nice piece on SOCIAL, which is behind FAB on West Peachtree Place.
  3. ATLANTA’S STARS The 2009 Mobil Travel Guide’s awards have been announced and Atlanta fared well in the 5 and 4 star dining categories. THE DINING ROOM at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead received its’ customary 5 stars and PARK 75; BACCHANALIA and QUINONES received 4 stars. Congratulations one and all! YOUNG MAN GOES WEST Richard Blais has been invited to serve as athe guest chef at a pretigious California wine festival on February 7th & 8th,2009 .He will prepare a mutli-course dinner with foods abundant in the Wine Country, and a number of those Blais introduced on the number one food show on cable television, Top Chef. The star of the fourth season of Bravo's Top Chef, will be cooking up culinary pleasure at Stevenswood Spa Resort, situated along the Northern California, Mendocino Coast, two and a half hours north of San Francisco. Featuring: Oysters with cocktail sorbet & salmon berries, a Gin sashimi with carbonated lime and tonic jelly, followed by Fish 'n Chips with ranch caviar. Next, a housemade Linguine with geoduck clams, "impasta", then a Canned soup of whiskey and rye, next local fresh Smoked salmon in aroma dome, Blais' Chicken fried rabbit and baby food and a special McLamb rib dish. Dinner will be finished with a pistachio Toffee white truffle. Looks like RB is more than a burger king.Speaking of which, the latest rumor is that he is planning 3 more FLIP BURGER BOUTIQUES: Atlanta,DC and a city to be named later. CRUZ GOES HOME Edgar Cruz,formerly of BALACE,SPICE and New York’s GRAMMERCY TAVERN, has been tapped to become the top toque at the post Blais HOME.The new menu adds some of Tom Catherall’s greatest hits from his much lauded TOM TOM and AZALEA. Maybe the rumors of HOME closing aren’t true,yet. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Folks this will be my last column on the egullet.org site.I want to thank all of you who have made this such an exciting and informative experience for me.I am going to become a contributor to Atlanta Magazine’s web site starting Friday January 30th. I will be updating you on Atlanta’s dining scene at www.atlantamagazine.com. Please join me there! PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What downtown restaurant’s chef has been selected to cook at the James Beard house this spring?-is Shane Touhy ,top toque at DOGWOOD, who will appear this April. This just in:MUSS and TURNER'S is NOT moving! Spoke with Russ and thier new project LOCAL THREE will be located in Buckhead and is slated to open this fall.
  4. THE ICEMAN COMETH Atlanta’s dining scene is about to get fresh infusion of New York talent but this time it will involve a cocktail impresario whose leitmotiv is the use of special ices to craft classic cocktails for discriminating palates. The internationally renowned Sasha Petraske, who developed a reputation for delivering a world class experience with his NYC bars Milk and Honey and Little Branch, has chosen the scintillating W Atlanta-Downtown for the first location of his newest concept, DRINKSHOP, slated to open by the end of this month. DRINKSHOP’s beverage program will focus on fresh ingredients, including a selection of ices. A fruit juicing and vegetable extraction station, featuring mise en place bar inserts with fresh fruit and herbs, will enhance the hand-crafted offerings. In addition, the back bar will have freezers to chill spirits and glassware. Wine will be served as well. But wait; there’s more. A 150-pound showcase block of ice will be used for individual drinks and bottles will arrive at guest tables frozen in a solid block of ice, accompanied by freshly-made mixers such as apple juice, strawberry lemonade or spicy homemade ginger ale. DRINKSHOP’S cutting-edge design is by San Francisco based CCS (BLT STEAK Atlanta). The1, 600 square foot space features low communal cocktail tables, creating private spaces for guest interaction, and DJs spinning an eclectic mix of music. Sasha and his corporate partner, Starwood Hotels, are committed to raising the bar for cocktails in Atlanta and promise that DRINKSHOP will be in the tradition of the “great hotel bars”. I’ll drink to that. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Alpharetta.SAI MURALI,a family-friendly Indian restaurant serving a lunch buffet daily, has opened at 3070 Windward Plaza. Downtown(DT). MEEHAN’S PUBLIC HOUSE, the Irish themed eatery from 101 Concepts, has announced their third location in the former Macy’s building at 180 Peachtree Street. The 4,200 square foot establishment is slated to open in November of this year. Bon Appetit Magazine has named DYNAMIC DISH as one of the 10 hottest vegetarian restos in America. Grant Park. Chef Carmen Cappello is opening SHAME BURGERS, his take on a burger bar, in the former LAMPLIGHTER space” in the near future” depending on the timing of their insurance proceeds regarding the holiday robbery they suffered. Midtown. AMORE, the casual Italian spot located in the Plaza Midtown condos, has closed. Old Fourth Ward (O4W). Local media reports indicate that many of the FOH staff from the recently shuttered TAURUS have found employment at the soon to opened SERPAS TRUE FOOD. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What downtown restaurant’s chef has been selected to cook at the James Beard house this spring? Thanks for stopping by and remember: To praise more and criticize less. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What superstar New York cocktail impresario, who kick started the classic cocktail/ speakeasy trend, is opening a shop in a soon to open downtown hotel?-is Sasha Petraske, whose bars are ranked among the “World’s Best Bars,” and have created a cult following of cocktail aficionados.
  5. A LIVELY PLACE The holiday season was a dramatic time for Atlanta’s dining scene. There were dramatic closings, dynamic openings and, some horrible crimes that captured the headlines but I had an experience that put a focus on the type of operators who, while flying under the radar, are the hope for the brighter future that we all pray comes sooner than later. My dinner at ALLEGRO, the restaurant that Atlanta Magazine described : ” there is no better champion of regional Italian cooking than this swank and semiformal Midtown restaurant rooted in the traditions of the Adriatic coast”, was occasioned by a good friend’s invitation to share some holiday cheer. The meal not only provided a true gastronomic experience but demonstrated that Atlanta’s dining scene is approaching the point where it offers excellence at all price points. Located in an obscure Midtown cul de sac across from the lauded ONE MIDTOWN KITCHEN, ALLEGRO (Lively in Italian) is the epitome of the emerging trend of neighborhood based, chef driven restaurants that are opening up all over town. With an all Italian wine list, crisp service and a romantic atmosphere it is not inexpensive but it is a great spot to chat, chew and chill. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Buckhead. According to their web site, the name of the primary restaurant at the St. Regis Atlanta is VERANDA 88.It is scheduled to open in March 2009. Decatur. MINT No.2 THAI and SUSHI, a casual spot that also delivers within a 5 mile radius, has opened at 1359 Clairmont Road. Grant Park. LAMPLIGHTERS, Chef Carmen Capello’s upscale casual neighborhood joint has closed due to a robbery suffered on Christmas Day. Inman Park. THE GRAPE, entertainment mogul Usher’s wine bar, has closed “for renovations”. Marietta. STEFAN’S OFF THE SQUARE, a long time downtown Marietta favorite fine dining spot, has closed. Midtown. PARK 75 at The Four Seasons Atlanta is serving their Chocolate Lovers Table, a decadent buffet of chocolate delights from Pastry Chef Christopher Jennings, every Friday and Saturday from 9pm to 1 am until March 28th. Old Fourth Ward. JOHNNY’S PIZZA on North Highland is now JACK’S because the owners dropped their franchise agreement and are proceeding as an independent operator with a very similar menu. Question of the Week: What superstar New York cocktail impresario, who kick started the classic cocktail/ speakeasy trend, is opening a shop in a soon to open downtown hotel? Thanks for stopping by and remember: It is our choices, not our abilities that show who and what we truly are.PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW - What Buckhead steakhouse closed over the Holidays?-is TAURUS, which closed on December 31st.
  6. NEW FACES AND PLACES. Happy New Year. Hope everyone is ready, after chillaxing over the holidays, for some exciting new faces in kitchens, the front of the house, the local food media as well as new architects that will tweak the usual context of Atlanta’s dining scene. First, downtown’s dining scene gets some TLC from Laurent Tourendal’s BLT STEAK at the W Hotel and Residences slated to open January 27th. The savvy Frenchman promises to bring locally sourced meat themed fine dining set in a modern setting that will redefine Atlanta’s steakhouse dining. In Buckhead, CRAFT chef Kevin Maxey says that he has found a home for him and his family here in Atlanta after stints in New York and Dallas. He promises to bring a skillfully executed style of upscale dining to our fair shores that will make Atlanta reassess what is important to the fine dining experience. Across the street, the affable A.D. Allushi returns to Buckhead as GM at MARKET, Jean Georges Vongerichten’s second coming in The W Hotel Buckead. The ultra chic space, designed by noted interior designer Karim Rashid, is the most unique in Atlanta. The menu choices are both intriguing and delectable but do not miss the hand crafted cocktails, they sparkle. The local food media has some new faces as well. Jamila Robinson is the new food editor for the AJC and she promises to bring some new and exciting changes to their coverage of the food scene. And Bill Addison, a former Creative Loafing scribe, has returned from stints in San Francisco and Dallas as food editor for Atlanta Magazine and is already at work on a feature for the upcoming issue. There are other stories that will be making a significant impact on Atlanta’s dining scene as well but I’ll let you chew on these morsels just to get the year started. So stay tuned for more of the news and notes that will keep you on point and up to date on Atlanta’s dining scene. NEWS AND NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Alpharetta. Oswald Morgan, the friendly former GM of THE GLOBE, is opening his own upscale spot, KOSMO GASTROPUB, at 11890 Douglas Road in the Shops of Douglas shopping center this month. Buckhead. BENTO SUSHI TO GO, serving “fresh Asian food for on the move trendsetters”, has opened at 3060 Peachtree Road (entrance is on West Paces Ferry). Downtown (DT). Cass Smith, whose San Francisco firm, CCS, is renowned for its Modernist idiom and creating projects with exceptional material and spatial qualities, is the architect of record for BLT STEAK Atlanta. It will feature a bustling walnut bar, a banquette lounge and stand-alone fresh shellfish raw bar made from Calcutta marble that will precede the relaxed112-seat dining room, where Macassar ebony tables, caramel-colored banquettes and herringbone black walnut floors will create warmth amid modernity. Inman Park. The much anticipated MISO IZAKAYA is scheduled to open by the end of the month on Edgewood Avenue. Midtown. Eli Kirshtein, a 24 year old Atlanta native with a CIA pedigree and NYC props (DANIEL and JEAN-GEORGES) is the new face at the helm of ENO’S kitchen. He promises to make the wine bar cum restaurant “a little more approachable but still (at) the highest level of quality”. Sandy Springs. FISHMONGER SEAFOOD GRILL is reopening at a new location in the former LOOP PIZZA GRILL location on sandy Springs Road. Toco Hills. MADDIO’S PIZZA,a new gourmet pizza concept from the co-founder of MOE’s, has opened their first location at 3027 Druid Hills Road. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What Buckhead steakhouse is rumored to have closed over the holidays? Thanks for stopping by and remember: The earth was made round so that one cannot see to far down the road.
  7. THE BURGER KING The local blogasphere has been humming with reports about the new spot: the Krispy Kreme shake is the bomb… the duck fat fried fries are to die for… the prime quality beef burgers are scrumpdilious. The good news is that the hype didn’t go far enough- America’s fast food faves have been given a brand new bag by Atlanta’s master of molecular gastronomy, Richard Blais, that brings a whole new meaning to having it your way. FLIP BURGER BOUTIQUE is part hipster lounge; part MOMOFUKU; and part family friendly dining spot. It combines some unique and delicious twists on American staples with a contemporary and engaging design in a West Midtown location convenient to office workers, families and hipsters alike. Recently, I sampled the Flip Burger, the Butcher Cut Burger and the Po Boyger, along with the aforementioned fries and onion rings.All were better than advertised.Both the Krispy Kreme and Nutella and Burnt marshmallow shakes (frozen with liquid nitrogen)were off the chain.And the house made condiments were outstanding as well, especially the smoked mayo. The better news is that FLIP will dazzle your taste buds without busting your wallet. The burgers are $6.50-$11.00(14 on the menu with another 16 on rotation).Sides run from $3.50-$4.50 and all shakes are $7.00. There is a small well crafted beer and wine list as well as some intriguing sounding cocktails.Vintage sodas like Nu Grape and Bubble Up add variety to the beverage list. According to my well traveled tablemates (a shout out to Tiffany and Bren), FLIP’s menu and ai3 inspired décor will be a smash not only locally but nationally. (On that note, Richard stopped by the table and dropped some hints that there are some VERY interesting things in both his and FLIP’s future.) So in a town full of gourmet burger chains, a renowned Ghetto Burger,and with artesianal burgers on just about every menu, there is a new burger king in town: Richard Blais. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Glenwood Park.THE MATADOR CANTINA and TEQUILA BAR has opened its second location at 925 Garret Street. Midtown. The Palomar Hotel developers are courting a “big name” out of town chef for their 4 star hotel slated to open this Spring. ANTICA POSTA, the highly regarded Buckhead traditional tratattoria, is slated to open its second location in the former SAGA location at 1100 Crescent Avenue this winter. SUITE, a modern lounge featuring a menu of sophisticated bites and cocktails in an ultra modern setting, will open in the Metropolis condominiums at 933 Peachtree Street early next year. Sandy Springs. RJ’s CASUAL CAFÉ and BAKERY, featuring salads, soups, sandwiches and pastries (including a complete line of sugar free desserts), has opened at 8540 Roswell Road in the former CAFÉ BRAZIL spot. Folks, this is my last blog of the year and I want to thank everyone who helped me keep the ball rolling. I hope to continue being a strong advocate for Atlanta’s dynamic dining scene but I can’t do it without your support, so please keep the info and love flowing. Have a Happy and Prosperous Holiday Season! PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What deadly Asian delicacy is now being legally served in metro Atlanta- is Tiger Blowfish (Tora Fugu ) at Yasu Japanese Bistro in Suwanee,Georgia.
  8. A SKILL IN MAKING PEOPLE HAPPY. That, according to Tom Coliccho,is the secret of the success of his restaurants and if a recent tasting event is any indicator of how well the recently opened CRAFT and CRAFTBAR,his modern American bistros housed on the grounds of the Mansion on Peachtree, will achieve that goal then he will have, once again, proven he is a master of his, well,craft. The Atlanta store, the 4th edition of the storied New York City franchise, has assembled a dynamic team comprised of long time Colicchio cohorts. Chef Kevin Macky hails back to GRAMERCY PARK as do several other members of the kitchen team. The front of the house is lead by a veteran of LE BEC FIN,Philly’s finest, and POSH here in the ATL. The menu is well sourced, local provender, prepared simply but skillfully that mirrors the New York and other outposts’ menus. CRAFTBAR is the less pricey of the two but the price points overall are not out of line with the market. The setting, courtesy, of Peter Bendel, designer of record for all of the stores, is posh casual. I had expected a sterile, big box but it is a very intimate, sophisticated, 2 level space accented with wood, stone, copper, and dramatic artwork that allows the food to be the primary focus.(think WOODFIRE GRILL with multi-million dollar upgrade.) The staff, trained by the Mansion on Peachtree folks, appears to ready for prime time with their knowledge and deportment and they seemed to be very serious about their work. With the second coming of Jean Georges Vongerichten directly across the street and PANO’S GRAND CAFÉ opening down the street, CRAFT is competing in the new epicenter of Buckhead fine dining. Their goal: to make their customers so happy with the food and service, that in 5 years CRAFT will be regarded as one of the best local spots in Atlanta. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Atlanta and its dining scene lost a true pioneer a couple of weeks ago with the death of Mr. James Paschal, founder of the famed PASHCAL’S, where many of America’s civil rights and political leaders once dined. Buckhead. A new player has just entered the Atlanta dining scene. This hot new entity is not a person, but a car service that is spicing up the average dining routine and bringing a new feeling of luxury and style to the Buckhead community. Buckhead Restaurant Chauffeur Service (BRCS) is a brand new transportation service that has innovatively penetrated the fine dining market of Buckhead, creating a smart, safe, and stylish way to arrive at dinner and return home in a Mercedes limousine. PIZZERIA VENTI, a Florida based chain which bills itself as “America’s only sliceria”, has opened its first Atlanta location at 2770 Lennox Road. Clayton County. TAQUERIA LA OAXAQENA, a favorite of former and soon to be again Atlanta food scribe Bill Addison, has expanded and moved to 603 Mt. Zion Road. Downtown(DT). Legacy Properties and Concentrics Restaurants, who previously partnered on STATS, are now planning a $5 million+, 10,000 square foot spot on the roof of the Hilton Garden Inn that will be dinner only. Slated to open in 2010, there is no word yet on the cuisine but Concentrics created CIBO MATTO, an upscale Italian store, and STATE and LAKE, an American gastro-pub, for their theWit hotel project in Chicago. Reynoldstown. DEPOT, the renovated train depot turned bar and restaurant on Memorial Drive, has closed after less than a year in operation. Toco Hills. MATIO’S PIZZA will open soon in the former MAMA FU’S spot. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What deadly Asian delicacy is now being legally served in metro Atlanta? Thank you for stopping by and remember: The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. PS.The answer to last week’s QOTW-What chef, whose former downtown spot received rave reviews for its food but not its service, has returned to downtown to helm a Centennial Olympic Park area restaurant-is Lenny Robinson. Chef Lenny Robinson, formerly of LES FLEUR De LIS CAFE is now at the helm of PEASANT BISTRO.
  9. CALL ME GASTRODAMUS. The Industry Bigfoot and I chatted over lunch recently about the what was on the horizon for Atlanta’s dining scene in 2009 and we came to the conclusion that while there was not a whole lot to be excited about there are a couple of projects that may brighten up our market going forward. THE GOOD NEWS: Outside of Buckhead Life Restaurant’s two entry’s (PANO’S in the ST Regis Hotel and PANO’S GRAND CAFÉ in the 3344 Peachtree Road tower) , there will be very few “big box” restaurants opening in 2009. Most of the reported openings involve small, chef driven, neighborhood spots like SERPAS TRUE FOOD in the Old Fourth Ward or ABATTOIR in West Midtown, that feature value priced menus. And there are 2 hotel restaurants, The W Hotel and Residences in downtown (BLT STEAK) and The Hotel Palomar Midtown, that also promise some exciting spots in 2009. THE BETTER NEWS: There will be opportunities for the brave/cash rich who can pin point the right locations. According to the IB, ethnic food, especially Asian, is in, i.e., he believes that another high-end sushi resto could make it in Buckhead. Other opportunities: a steakhouse in midtown and another upscale seafood spot. While the influx of bold name out of town chefs will come to a halt, locations such as the former MICK’S/ PLEASANT PEASANT on Peachtree Street offer local operators prime opportunities for small, chef driven neighborhood spots. THE BEST NEWS: I’m predicting that 2009 will provide an opportunity for Atlanta to create a dining scene that offers excellence at every price point. Every operator will be challenged to provide the best service and value in order to survive and only the very best will. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Alpharetta. ROJO TAQUERIA, serving gourmet tacos and featuring a premium tequila bar, has opened at 2850 Holcomb Bridge Road. Airport. ONE FLEW SOUTH, the upscale southern cuisine spot featuring a Johnson Studio design, has opened on concourse E. Buckhead. NEO, the luxe contemporary Italian spot at The Mansion on Peachtree, is having a special “NEO Unplugged “- an exquisite Italian dinner by candlelight- on Wednesday, December 17th. Contact 404-995 7545 for reservations. Downtown(DT). Ciao baby. IL MULINO, the New York old school Italian import, opened December 4th at 191 Peachtree Street. East Atlanta.THE SHED at GLENWOOD is hosting a vodka and caviar tasting, featuring Petrossian caviar and 4 Russian and Imperial vodkas, Wednesday, December 17th. For details, visit: www.theshedatglenwood.com. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What chef, whose former downtown spot received rave reviews for its food but not its service, has returned to downtown to helm a Centennial Olympic Park area restaurant? Thanks for stopping by and remember: The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today’s work superbly well. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What Dekalb County Italian spot is changing their menu to “totally Southern” soon- is CALVINO’S. Update: Recent media reports indicate that CALVINO’S may close at the end of December.
  10. A HSU IN. The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) recently named veteran Atlanta restaurateur Anna Hsu its 2008 Restaurateur of The Year, the highest honor bestowed by the prestigious (and powerful) organization. Part entrepreneur, part socialite but a complete professional, Ms. Hsu, the co-owner of such Atlanta mainstays as HSU’S; PACIFIC RIM and SILK, is a 25 year veteran of Atlanta’s dynamic restaurant scene. Her long time support of the restaurant industry and its legislative initiatives earned her the award and a hallowed place in Georgia’s restaurant history. She was also a prime mover in the creation of the Taste of Asia week, a program that affords metro Atlanta’s growing Asian restaurant population an opportunity to market themselves both to residents and tourists. Not one to rest on her laurels, Ms Hsu and her business and marital partner George Hsu are already planning a new, upscale restaurant group, A-Z-N, that is scheduled to have its Atlanta debut in 2010.A-Z-N will provide a contemporary ,upscale Pan-Asian dining and entertainment experience in a 200 seat setting. So hats off to Anne Hsu for her past and prospective contributions to Atlanta’s dining scene; being selected for this honor speaks well of both her and Atlanta. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Buckhead. JACK & DIANE’S GENUINE FOOD and DRINK, a 4,000 square foot sports and rock and roll bar owned by the 10 DEGREES SOUTH team, has opened in the Chastain Square shopping center on Roswell Road. Midtown. FAT MATT’S CHICKEN SHACK has closed. Old Fourth Ward (O4W). Christian Shultz, the opening GM at 4th& SWIFT, has left the building. Sandy Springs. HEARTH PIZZA TAVERN, from the owners of midtown’s CYPRESS STREET PINT & PLATE, has opened in former ARTUZZI’S spot on Roswell Road. Smyrna. GOODNESS GROCERY, a health food grocery featuring a deli serving all natural and organic selections, has opened at 4500 West Village Place, in the West Village Development. Virginia Highland. VINE, the lauded but lamented wine bar cum restaurant, has closed (again). QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What Dekalb County Italian spot is changing their menu to “totally Southern” soon? Thanks for stopping by and remember: Hope and patience are the softest cushions to lean on in adversity. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What renowned O4W eatery is replacing its’ signature “feature” this spring- is TWO URBAN LICKS. They are replacing the 14 foot tall rotisserie with a specially designed fire pit.
  11. AJA VU. With the influx of bold name celebrity chefs; ultra luxury Hong Kong hotels, featuring 4 restaurants; and fashionable interior designers creating spaces that are more London than low country, Atlanta’s dining scene is no longer defined by or confined to its’ Southern roots and nowhere is that phenomenon more evident than at AJA, Here to Serve Restaurants’ opulent ode to the Orient. Globally, Asian haute cuisine has been given the critics’ seal of approval and, more importantly, the customer’s cash, at fabled spots like MONKEY BAR and BUDDAKAN . And that is apparently where Tom Catherall has taken his cues from: the large, high volume glamour palaces featuring the requisite statue of Buddha and a menu of various and sundry Asian delights, all carefully packaged to attract fashionable foodinistas . AJA's menu, skillfully executed by William Sigley, formerly of Atlanta’s AQUAKNOX but now plying the skills gained helming Wolfgang Puck’s CHINOIS , is a veritable journey on the Silk Road. My favorites are the wok seared items but save room for the young coconut dessert, it is not to be missed. The former EMERIL’S spot is an acknowledgement of the coming of age of Atlanta’s market: we now have a well done representation of a global dining trend. So when you go to New York or Paris and dine at one of their Asian glamour spots, you can say: isn’t this just like AJA? NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Atlantic Station. PARIS BISTRO, serving traditional breakfast items, sandwiches, salads and daily specials, has opened at 171 17th Street, inside the Wachovia bank tower. Buckhead. BONE’S was voted most popular Atlanta restaurant in the 2009 Zagut survey, the first time in years that it was not BACCHANALIA.( who was voted as having the best food). Dunwoody. TWISTED TACO, the midtown casual taco joint, is opening a new location in Park Place this winter. Midtown. Jeremy Lieb has left TROIS and is currently in Cincinnati working as “consultant” to a local operator. Tony Ginsberg (TAP) has replaced him as top toque. Old Fourth Ward (O4W). HIGHLAND BAKERY has recently completed a 1,200 square foot addition and as a gesture of good will for their fortune, they are offering free goodies to customers who donate canned goods to the Hosea Feeds the Hungry campaign. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What renowned O4W eatery is replacing its’ signature “feature” this spring? Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW-What restaurant was named downtown’s 2008 best designed restaurant by Central Atlanta Progress- is NONI’S BAR and GRILL, designed by Matt Ruppert, NONI’S owner.
  12. GRILL OF MY DREAMS. A confession: in all of my years of visiting, researching and enjoying many of Atlanta’s best restaurants, I have never been to WOODFIRE GRILL. So finally, I had the opportunity to dine at the fabled spot and it was love at first bite. Nicolas Quinones and Bernard Mousa, formerly of midtown’s LOCA LUNA, and Chef Kevin Gillespie have faithfully continued former owner Michael Touhy’s mission of providing great, locally sourced, sustainable and organic food, masterfully prepared in a charming rustic setting. My dining companion and I were blown away by our experience. She had recently dined at Jean Georges new spot in the Chambers hotel in Minneapolis and found WOODFIRE to be even better. From the rich, sumptuous, quail to the clever vanilla trio dessert, I marveled at the consistent flavor and presentation of the meal. The service was attentive and knowledgeable. I followed our server’s recommendation and ordered the 3 course tasting menu and after 6 courses, I had to agree wholeheartedly with his judgment that the tasting menu best captures the chef’s talent and skills. Now that I have finally experienced WOODFIRE GRILL and enjoyed the depth and complexity of flavors in the unique and interesting pairings on the menu, I can say that it is as good as any restaurant in Atlanta, farm-to-table, organic or otherwise. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen) Alpharetta. AMERICAN ALE HOUSE GRILL has opened at 9945 Jones Bridge Road. Buckhead. CHASTAIN’S NEIGHBORHOOD SUSHI BAR and GRILL, a casual spot that features a menu that ranges from burgers to sushi, has opened in the former CARBO’S CAFÉ spot at 3171 Roswell Road. Chamblee. VIET TOFU, a casual Vietnamese deli and sandwich shop specializing in made to order banh mi sandwiches, has opened at 4897 Buford Highway. Downtown (DT). SOCIAL WINE BAR and RESTAURANT, a 2 level tapas and wine bar, is open and already getting some media buzz, at 12 West Peachtree Place. Midtown. SUBLIME DOUGHNUTS, an independent bakery featuring some spectacular doughnuts and whose owner, Kamal Grant, is a CIA graduate, has opened at 535 10th Street near Georgia Tech. Stone Mountain. MAMA NEMS, a seafood/soul food spot also features live jazz and gospel music, has opened at 6049 Memorial Drive. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What restaurant was named downtown’s 2008 best designed by Central Atlanta Progress? Thank you for stopping by and remember; In theory, there is very little difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What formerly closed Buckhead sushi bar has recently reopened in their original location?- is GENKI NOODLE and SUSHI BAR at 3186 Roswell road.
  13. RAISING A BAR. I had been hearing the rumors over the last few months: Kevin Rathbun is opening a speakeasy. But I was having some trouble confirming the fact that the King of Krog Street was looking at taking his internationally acclaimed skills and planning a speakeasy type spot. Well I finally caught up with Chef Kevin Rathbun and it is true, that while nothing is signed yet, he is planning to bring a sophisticated bar to Atlanta’s dining scene. He said that after visiting spots in New York and Chicago like THE PEGU CLUB and THE VELVET ROOM, and scoping out the scene at HOLEMAN & FINCH, he decided to pursue opening a ‘pocket bar”; the kind that are opening all over the world. One of the locations that have caught his interest is the White Provisions development springing up at 14th Street and Howell Mill road. He likes the look and feel of the development and the fact that it offers a space that is downstairs –a sort of hidden jewel. But thinking about venturing outside of Inman Park is not the only new thing on Chef Kevin’s plate. He has recently developed a daily blog for his customers so that they can keep abreast of the specials, menus and other news about his dining empire. Like all of his endeavors, the consistent thread is keeping it simple. And, like all of his restaurants, it is very good. So, when the bar deal is completed, we can look for a world class spot where one can drink and dine with class. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen) Buckhead. JIMMY JOHNS GOURMET SANDWICHES, the 25 year old, Illinois based sandwich shop chain, is slated to open their 4th metro area location in the lobby of The Realm Condominiums, by the end of the year. Decatur. SILK: A SMOOTHIE CAFÉ has closed after a brief run at 902 College Avenue. Midtown. BELEZA, the Brazilian cocktail lounge, is revamping its menu this fall to include serving all raw food items; cerviche, carpaccio, crudo in addition to its’ current vegetarian fare. Sandy Springs. Both MAMBO ITALIANO and THE GRAPE have closed their locations in the City Walk development. West Midtown. Tim Gaddis has returned to STAR PROVISIONS as the Cheesemonger in chief. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What formerly closed Buckhead sushi bar has recently reopened in their original location? Thanks for stopping by and remember: There is a great deal of difference between advice and help. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What Atlanta chef is Dallas bound to open a new seafood concept there?-is Joshua Perkins, who is helming COAST GLOBAL SEAFOOD out there in beef country.
  14. BACK TO BUCKHEAD. Ian Winslade, the bright Brit who has dazzled Atlanta’s diners with his continental flair and charm for over 15 years in the restaurants of both Tom Catherall and Pano Karatassos, is returning to the scene where he began his Atlanta experience but this time he will be under the flag of international superstar Jean Georges Vongerichten as Chef de Cuisine of MARKET, the celebrated chef’s second restaurant at the new W Buckhead Hotel, opening mid November. I caught up with Chef Ian recently at Piedmont Park’s Green Market and posed a few questions after first sampling his stellar butternut squash soup with ginger and basil. (It’s like drinking your favorite book) Q: What is the difference between SPICE MARKET and MARKET? A: SM is an Asian themed tapas style restaurant; M will be a la cart menu spot modeled after the restaurant in Paris that will essentially be “Jean Georges greatest hits”. I will be managing both kitchens. Q: When will MARKET open? A: November 17th. Q: What is the difference between working for operators like Tom Catherall and Jean Georges? A: Both Tom and Pano are great operators but Culinary Concepts (JGV’s restaurant company) is a global conglomerate. There will more SPICE MARKETS and MARKETS opening up all over the world and I will be part of that experience. MARKET, with its Kasim Reed designed dining room, will feature a multicultural menu features French, Asian and Italian inspirations coupled with alluringly familiar cuisine, from Maine lobster with crispy potatoes and spicy aioli, to bacon wrapped shrimp with avocado and passion fruit mustard, every appetizer and entree on the menu is an old-fashioned favorite with a modern twist. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Buckhead. Andrew Litherland , formerly of the Ritz Carlton Coconut Groove, has joined the Ritz Carlton Buckhead as executive chef with responsibilities to oversee all culinary operations except THE DINING ROOM. Decatur. THUMBS UP CAFÉ will open their 4th metro location in the former CRESCENT MOON location in late November.The breakfast friendly spot is a partnership between former CRESCENT MOON owner, Rob Atherholt and Lou Locricchio, founder of the THUMBS UP restaurants. Doraville. CAFÉ 101, featuring Chinese and Szechwan cuisine in a contemporary setting, has opened at 5412 Buford Highway. Downtown (DT). IL MULINO will open late November under Chef Michele Mazza featuring a décor of dark hardwood floors; black wrought iron chandeliers and grand wall tapestries. Midtown. La PIETRA CUCINA is now open on Saturday evenings. The intimate spot continues to draw media buzz in spite of the unfinished construction. Smyrna. CREPE REVOLUTION, serving both traditional and customized crepes, has opened at 4600 West Village Place. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What Atlanta chef is Dallas bound to open a new seafood concept there? Thanks for stopping by and remember: Kind words may be short but their echos are endless. PS. The answer to last weeks QOTW- What Atlanta restaurant architect has been tapped to do a major renovation to a Beantown landmark by a national restaurant group there?-is Bill Johnson , who rumor has it, is being hired by the folks at LEGAL SEAFOODS to renovate one of their stores.
  15. A TASTE OF HONEY (is better than..) With some of the national and international restaurant awards being recently announced, it appears that Atlanta’s dining scene has to be content with a smaller, albeit somewhat significant, national profile. Of course there are no Michelin stars shining brightly in our firmament but we usually have 1 or 2 spots on Esquire magazine’s annual Best Restaurants list. But this year we got zilch. Gayot.com, the online restaurant database, has saved the day with its’ 2008 Best OF listings. Atlanta got shut out in the 40 Best Restaurants category that in the past always had a BACCHANALIA on it. (The inclusion of Sea Island’s GEORGIAN ROOM under Atlanta just adds insult to injury.)However, 4th and SWIFT was named one of the 10 Best New Restaurants; KEVIN RATHBUN STEAK was named as one of the 10 Best Steakhouses; and TOP FLR was named one the Top 40 Best Cheap Eats. ATLANTAN magazine’s Danny Bonvissuto does do us a solid with her piece on our dining scene in the November issue of Food & Wine but for the most part this is truly looking like the winter of our discontent as far as our status as an up and coming national dining destination. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen) Alpharetta. FIN AND FAUNA, a fine dining spot in downtown Alpharetta, will open this fall. Brookhaven. Ray Schoenbaum(RAY’S ON THE RIVER), will not locate one his restaurants in the Town mixed use project. Buckhead. Ian Winslade, currently top toque at SPICE MARKET, will also become the opening chef at MARKET, Jean Georges Vongerichten’s 2nd Atlanta restaurant at the W hotel Buckhead. A D Alushi(THRIVE) will reunite with his former BLUEPOINTE co-worker as the front of the house guy. F2O, Fresh to Order)is scheduled to open its newest location at 3344 Peachtree Road Monday, October 27th featuring their signature $10 sandwich in 10 minutes. Midtown. The owners of SIDEBAR, the DT hipster hangout, are opening a new concept, ENGINE 11, in the former SPOTTED DOG location( formerly a fire station) at 30 North Avenue this fall. THE BOOKHOUSE PUB has opened at 736 Ponce De Leon near the MJQ LOUNGE. West Midtown.BACCHANALIA’s chef de cuisine,Joshua Hopkins, who has worked as part of the BACCHANALIA family since 2005, has been named top toque at the ” whole animal cuisine” restaurant ABATTOIR ,slated to open in spring 2009. He will serve as business partner of the new concept as well. QUESTION OF THE WEEK : What Atlanta restaurant architect has been tapped to do a major renovation to a Beantown landmark by a national restaurant group there? Thanks for stopping by and remember: If you count all of your assets ,you will always show a profit.PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What former NFL great has opened a new wine store in sandy Springs?-is Chris Hinton, former all Pro tackle for the Colts and Falcons. NEWS FLASH: Former Creative Loafing food writer and critic,Bill Addison, is returning to Atlanta January 2009 as food editor and critic for Atlanta Magazine. Bill ,who is currently food critic for the Dallas Morning News, assures me that Christiane Lauterbach,the current food scribe is not leaving but will focus on her beloved ethnic eateries. Welcome home!
  16. FIRST BITE: THE ORIGINAL EL TACO The colorful collaboration that replaces SALA opens Tuesday, October 21st and it adds both a new taquaria and a new tactical approach to our dining scene. Fifth Group Restaurants (SOUTH CITY KITCHEN, ECCO) consulted with Shaun Doty (SHAUN’S) on EL TACO’S mainly Tex-Mex menu. (Here ) While I am not the biggest fan of Mexican food, after sampling several items I am convinced that that the food here is several cuts above my previous experiences. However, from my point of view, the bigger news is the collaboration of two big time Atlanta players that produces a product that has a depth and heft that can survive in this market. Fifth Group‘s Robby KUKLER and Chef Shaun are excited about the partnership that had the peripatetic Chef Doty actually manning the stove during my visit. Both agreed with my assessment that these types of partnerships historically only happened in New York, i.e.,DEL POSTO ; Mario Batali and Joe and Linda Bastianich. THE ORIGINAL EL TACO, the combination of Fifth Group’s science and Shaun’s art, welcomes both local residents and visitors to a family friendly spot with a value price menu that adds some serious salsa to our dining scene. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen) Buckhead. Jimmy Meas, formerly sushi chef at PRIME, has been named top toque at its sexy new Asian sibling AJA, scheduled to open soon. Taria Camerino, formerly of TOP FLR and her short lived LP5 BAKERY, has joined H&F Bakery as “lead pastry angel”. MY PANINI, the first in what was to be a national group of Atlanta based panini restaurants, has closed. Downtown (DT). MINGLES CAFÉ, a restaurant /bar, is slated to open soon at 182 Courtland Street. Norcross. In town fave FLYING BISCUIT CAFÉ has opened its first Gwinnett County location at 5720 Peachtree Parkway. Roswell. CARRO DE BOI, a churrascaria located at 8612 Roswell Road, has closed. West Midtown.Todd Immel has replaced Charles Schwab as the meat and seafood manager at STAR PROVISIONS. Charley has joined the folks at BLUE RIDGE GRILL. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What former NFL great has opened a new wine shop in Sandy Springs? Thanks for stopping by and remember: Who can better heal the wounds of another than someone who has felt the same wounds.? PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What owner of a popular in town café is rumored to be opening a spot on the red hot Edgewood avenue strip?- is Ria Pell of RIA’S BLUEBIRD CAFÉ.
  17. A THRILL ON THE ‘HILL. A recent visit to an in town neighborhood bar provided an example of hope for Atlanta’s dining scene in the midst of the economic malaise that is spreading throughout the land. Castleberry Hill, already known for its many art galleries and boutiques, has several new restaurants and clubs, like the dynamic Studio 281 jazz club, popping up all over. 255 TAPAS LOUNGE, located at 255 Peters Street, is the newest spot in the ‘hill. More of a lounge than a restaurant, this hot spot has a pretty decent bar menu (although not really tapas). The main attraction here is the bustling bar scene and gorgeous outdoor patio with cabañas-a perfect spot for pre/post game libations. There are a number of other neighborhoods whose restaurant scene is providing significant opportunities for bold and creative entrepreneurs. In Inman Park, Kristen Hard has turned her passion for chocolate into an opportunity for profit with CACAO, a boutique selling her unique chocolate creations, just opened next to her production kitchen at 312 C N. Highland Avenue. In these tough economic times our resilient and creative dining scene is thriving in places like Castleberry Hill that continue to offer opportunities for the creative and bold. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Buckhead. CRAFT will begin taking reservations on November 15th. No word on the actual opening date for the long awaited Atlanta’s version of the famous New York hotspot. Ben McPherson has been named the new top toque at ECLIPSE DE LUNA, one of Atlanta’s oldest and best tapas bars, at 764 Miami Circle HOLEMAN & FINCH has begun its soup and sandwich menu that features a fresh soup and two sandwiches from 11am-3pm during the week. There is a limited version during the weekend. Buford Highway. THE HAVANA SANDWICH SHOP, the 32 year old Cuban sandwich favorite located at 2900 Buford Highway, was gutted by fire recently and will be closed indefinitely. Downtown(DT). THE WINE LOFT, an upscale wine and dine spot, has opened at 300 Marietta Street next to STATS. DESSERTS BY LATRELL, serving up an impressive array of cakes and pastries, is sweetening up the Sweet Auburn district at 581 Edgewood Avenue. Decatur. TOSSED, the New York based salad bar on E.Ponce de Leon in downtown Decatur, has wilted for good. Marietta. SOBA BISTRO and BAR, a casual upscale Asian cuisine spot, has opened at 1060 East Piedmont Road in the Piedmont Commons shopping center. Midtown. Jerome Legendre, formerly of the Four Seasons George V Paris, is the new lounge manager at PARK 75 in the Four Seasons Atlanta. Check out his vast assortment of unique cocktails. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What owner of a popular in town café is rumored to be opening a spot on the red hot Edgewood avenue strip? Thanks for stopping by and remember that clinging to the status quo is anchoring you to failure. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- Who won the annual Best Dessert Atlanta competition this year?-is Kristina Tweems, Pastry chef at WOODFIRE GRILL, for the second year in a row.
  18. AN URBACEOUS FLAVOR. At the request of The Trend Spotter himself, Jonathan Lerner, I recently attended the unveiling of a new non-dairy frozen dessert created by a local naturopath, at the Irwin Street Market and was wowed by both the product and the other dining options at the in town spot. Nestled between the Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park neighborhoods at 660 Irwin Street, Irwin Street Market is a mixed use urban market with a delightful collection of vendors. Among them is Flower Bar, with custom bouquets named after cocktails; JAKE’S Ice Cream with a retail shop; CAFÉ 660, a white table cloth restaurant; DELECTABLES, the former downtown fave; and SWEET POCKETS, the cupcake spot. JAKE’S is where you will find Nicecream, an organic frozen dessert , made with coconut oil instead of dairy, featuring flavors such as tropical vanilla bean; passion fruit( my fave) and double cappuccino. Irwin Street market offers free wireless access and invites folks to drop by and just hang out. And for an even more urbane touch, the Museum of Contemporary Handcrafted Art is opening next month and will curate a series of programs featuring local artists. The Irwin Street Market: a cool addition to the dining scene. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen) Alpharetta. STEAK & STONE, serving Portuguese cuisine as well as steaks, has opened at11105 States Bridge Road. Buckhead. The Streets of Buckhead, the $1.5 billion upscale mixed use development, has added LE COLONIAL, a French –Vietnamese restaurant that captures the atmosphere of French colonial Asia of the 1920’s, to its restaurant roster. LE COLONIAL has locations in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. The top toque at AJA, Here to Serve’s pan Asian restaurant will not be Dale Tardes but a chef that Tom Catherall discovered on a recent trip to Thailand. Candler Park. THE MERCANTILE, the gourmet and specialty food shop, is now open at 1660 Dekalb Avenue. Decatur. WATERSHED will celebrate its 10th anniversary on October 27th with a benefit dinner for Plymouth Harbor, a resource center for seniors and their caregivers. Visit www.watershedrestaurant.com for details. Little 5 Points. BASIL LEAVES, a Thai spot, will open next month at 1138 Euclid Avenue. Midtown. On Friday, October 10th, THE GLOBE will close. The former Atlanta Magazine Restaurant of the Year has fallen on hard times of late but the new management, The Fifth Group, plans an as yet to be named venture in the spot in early 2009 but there is no word yet on the fate of noted chef Joshua Perkins. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Who won the annual Best Dessert Atlanta competition this year? Thanks for stopping by and remember that people are more easily led than driven. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What dispute between landlord and tenant that threatened the future of one of Atlanta’s most noted restaurant groups has been amiably resolved?- is 5 SEASONS BREWING COMPANY and Sembler, the owners of the Prado Shopping Plaza who had been in dispute regarding parking issues while the redevelopment was proceeding.
  19. FALL PREVIEWS. Well summer is officially over and with the temperatures (as well as gas supplies) dropping, here are a few anticipated restaurant openings to brighten up your outlook: AJA. Here to Serve’s ode to modern Asian cuisine, featuring soup dumplings and dim sum, is slated to open in November at 3500 Lennox Road. BODEGA GASTRONOMIC. Chef Hector Santiago’s latin fine dining small plate/tapas spot in the basement of PURA VIDE is slated to open in November at 656 N. Highland Avenue. CRAFT. This highly anticipated New York import focusing on upscale American cuisine has “sometime before Christmas” at 3376 Peachtree Road at The Mansion on Peachtree. FLIP. Richard Blais’ West Midtown gastromolecular burger bar should open late October at 1587 Howell Mill Road. IL MULINO. This New York based high end, old school Italian spot should be brighten downtown’s dining scene by late November at 191 Peachtree Street. LA PIETRA CUCINA. While technically open now, the full menu and restaurant space won’t be available untill late October at 1545 Peachtree Street but it’s Italian cuisine is already drawing positive reviews from local media. MARKET. Jean Georges Vongerichten’s 2nd Atlanta spot, located at the W Hotel Buckhead Atlanta should open mid November at 3373 Peachtree Road. ONE FLEW SOUTH. Frequent flyers and others will enjoy the contempory Southern cuisine in the International Terminal at Harstfield-Jackson, scheduled to take off in October. SERPAS. Scott Serpas’ ( TWO URBAN LICKS) first solo venture,serving American bistro fare, should open late October in The Studioplex at 659 Auburn Avenue. THE ORIGINAL TACO. The Fifth Group ( SOUTH CITY KITCHEN,ECCO) and chef Shaun Doty (SHAUN’S) hooked up for this casual Mexican spot at 1186 N. Highland scheduled to open late November. NEWS and NOTES : (From my keyboard to your screen) Atlantic Station. Taste of Atlanta 2008 will be held Saturday ,October 11th through Sunday ,October 12th at Atlantic Station. For details,visit: www.tasteofatlanta.net Buckhead. Opening chef Tony Sechrist has left HOLEMAN & FINCH. College Park. OUR PLACE BAKERY CAFÉ, a family owned and run bakery with a private dining room and wine cellar, has opened at 3387 Main Street. Decatur. CAPOZZI’S RISTORONTI and PIZZIA has opened on Clairmont Road. Downtown. BISTRO 191, a mahogany walled café, and THE BEAN COUNTER COFFEE BAR have opened at the 191 Peachtree office tower courtesy of John Metz Jr and his partners at Sterling Spoon Management ( AQUA BLUE,Hi-LIFE,MARLOWE’S TAVERN) Glenwood Park. Lance Gummere , former sous chef at SHAUN’s, has replaced Daniel Atwood as top toque at THE SHED at GLENWOOD. West Midtown. Congratulations are in order for Anne Quatrano for her selection as the 2008 Golden Wisk awardee from Women Chefs and Restauranteurs(WCR) this month. Question of the Week: What dispute between landlord and tenant that threatened the future of one of Atlanta’s most noted restaurant groups has been amiably resolved? Thanks for stopping by and remember to live your days so that your nights are not full of regrets. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What Atlanta branch of a national sports bar chain was one of only two to remain open in the wake of the parent companies Chapter 11 filing?-is FOX SPORTS GRILL.
  20. ONE FLEW SOUTH. In the wake of all of the recent chef departures from Atlanta comes the news that some top toques from the 5 diamond restaurant in a plush Louisville Kentucky hotel have landed at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to open an upscale restaurant in the International Concourse this fall. ONE FLEW SOUTH, an 80 seat spot whose menu features local fare and ingredients, is the brainchild of the top two chefs at the Seelbach Hilton's Oakroom restaurant and the hotel's director of restaurants. Director of Restaurants Jerry Slater, Chef de cuisine Duane Nutter and Executive chef Todd Richards resigned from their positions in July to start on their dream restaurant. According to Slater,’ it’ll have a nice bar, a sushi bar and some communal tables [and] behind the bar will be all premium selections and a small boutique wine list.’ Chef Todd, whose resume includes sous chef, Ritz Carlton Atlanta, culinary instructor for Atlanta Area Technical College, chef de cuisine at Spice Restaurant, Villa Christina and Blue Ribbon Grill, was an Iron Chef America contestant and has cooked at the James Beard Foundation. He has already been spotted cooking at several local charitable functions so I guess he has flown south (again). NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen) Buckhead. THE CLUBHOUSE, a celebrity backed American bistro at Lennox Mall, has closed. Rumors are floating around that an upscale Cheesecake Factory company concept is being considered by mall management as a replacement. KYMA has been named one of America’s best seafood restaurants by Forbes magazine. College Park. ACADEMY GRILL on Virginia Avenue has closed. Decatur. GREENE’S FINE FOODS, featuring gourmet sandwiches, candy and gifts, has opened at 141 East Trinity Place (the old post office) in downtown Decatur. Roswell. DIESEL PIZZA PUB, serving thin crust pizzas, salads, paninis and more, has opened at 994 Alpharetta Street in downtown Roswell. Questionof the Week: What Atlanta branch of a national sports bar chain was one of only two to remain open in the wake of the parent companies Chapter 11 filing? Thanks for stopping by and remember to make the most of the best and the least of the worst. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW-What local intown restaurant group has commissioned a private label of wines from California that will be served exclusively at their restaurants starting October 6th?-is the Fifth Group. Two new private label wines - a Chardonnay from the Central Coast and a Syrah from Santa Barbara County - will be served at all of the restaurant company’s concepts come October 6, 2008.
  21. CULINARY CULTURE REVOLUTION. The impact of the 2008 Olympics continues to resonate throughout the world as we were exposed to a vivid slice of Chinese culture that will spur new interest in its various forms. Here in Atlanta, I have found a growing excitement about some of our current Chinese restaurants and those on the horizon. First, the return of Frank Ma with FRANK MA SOUTH has soup dumpling fans a twitter. Now comes news that AJA, Here to Serve’s Buckhead Asian creation, will prominently feature dumplings and dim sum on their menu.And the first family of Asian fine dining, the Hsus,( HSU’S, PACIFIC RIM and SILK) have a new upscale restaurant called AZN (pronounced Asian) that will premier spring 2009 in Naples,Florida but will hit our shores in 2010. Now add the rumor that chef Chris Yeo(STRAITS) is putting one of his SINO concepts here and Atlanta’s Chinese dining scene begins to have some depth and sophistication. Discussions of Chinese food will no longer be limited to Buford Highway haunts or take out places with fortune cookies in every order. As more of our new residents and visitors come with sophisticated palates, our growing culinary culture will offer them more Chinese options. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen ) Folks, the Atlanta Community Food Bank is having problems keeping up with the increasing demand for their services. Please contact them at www.acfb.org to see how you or your organization can assist them in these challenging times. Thanks. Buckhead. GLOBAL DINER is the name of the 2 level “high energy” restaurant at the W Hotel Buckhead developed by Culinary Concepts, Jean Georges Vongerichten’s company. Downtown (DT). WISHBONE CHICKEN, WAFFLE HOUSE and RITA’S ICE will open in Underground Atlanta this November. On another DT dining scene note, the downtown marketing group, Central Atlanta Progress, is reporting that 30 new restaurants have opened downtown in 2008. Little 5 Points. PORTER HOUSE BEER BAR, featuring 120 brands of bottled beer and 27 on tap, has opened at 1156 Euclid Avenue. Midtown. LA PIETRA CUCINA, a progressive Italian restaurant featuring noted Executive Chef Bruce Logue (VIVACE ,BABBO) , is currently operating a 50 seat “trattoria” Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner until mid October at 1545 Peachtree Street, (MID CITY CUISINE). When they have their full seating capacity of 175, they will serve dinner and brunch on Sundays with an expanded menu of ingredient driven Italian cooking. Poncy Highland. PURA VIDA owner and top toque,Hector Santiago, plans to open BODEGA GASTONOMICA, a 12 seat chef’s table and wine cellar in PV’s basement that will serve 9 courses of small plates on Thursday,Friday and Saturday, this fall. Roswell.SE’VAUGE, the Cajun –Creole spot at 10800 Alpharetta Highway has closed. Question of the Week: What local intown restaurant group has commissioned a private label of wines from California that will be served exclusively at their restaurants starting October 8th? Thanks for stopping by and remember that what you do today is important because you are exchanging a day in your life to accomplish it. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What former chef at an intown French restaurant is now top toque at a suburban American bistro?- is Kaighn Raymond formerly at FAB, now at THE RIVER ROOM.
  22. BUCKHEAD BOUND. With all of the rumors swirling around town about which of the proposed big name restaurants will or will not open and the specter of overbuilding that clouds the commercial real estate picture, especially in Buckhead, I was curious to hear Ryan Turner talk about he and his partners’ new Buckhead project. The co-founder of MUSS and TURNER’S, the suburban self described deli/gastro pub/wine bar, has become a star player in Atlanta’s dining scene with his energy, creativity and, most of all, passion. Like his culinary idol, Danny Meyers, he is all about creating a consistent rewarding experience for his customers and puts a great deal of energy into that philosophy. And so far it has paid off big time, in Smyrna. He is excited about the project slated to open in the tony Piazza on Paces-home to JOEL- in spring 2009. The concept: “a neighborhood joint that won’t be anything like MUSS and TURNER’S.” Chris Hall, currently Chef de Cuisine at 4th & SWIFT, will be the top toque. And they have hired the new go-to team for restaurant architecture, ai3, to design the space. Sounds like the guys have a plan and I look forward to seeing it happen. NEWS and NOTES: ( From my keyboard to your screen) Alpharetta. PISCES JAZZ and SEAFOOD, which just opened last December, has closed. Buckhead. As many had predicted, Richard Blais has resigned from his position at HOME,He termed his resignation [as] “a very positive decision, as my focus needs to be directed towards FLIP, as well as future Trail Blais (his culinary company) projects, of which there are many.” Decatur. THE GRANGE PUBLIC HOUSE , self described as “a little piece of Dublin in Decatur”, opened September 6th at 426 West Ponce de Leon Avenue. Downtown. In a recent column , Meridith Ford, the Atlanta Journal Constitution food critic, addressed the rumors surrounding whether or not BLT STEAK will open in The W Atlanta downtown. She quoted their New York PR firm as saying that the project is proceeding as planned.PS. Congratulations are in order for Ms Ford, she is getting married this month. East Point.GIOVANNA’S ITALIAN KITCHEN , a casual fine dining spot, has opened at 1375 Virginia Avenue. Inman Park. KROG BAR is celebrating its 3rd Birthday with a big party October 18th. Visit www.rathbunrestaurant.com for details. Vinings. SWEET POCKETS, the cupcake shop in Irwin Street Market, recently opened a second location at 4338 Paces Ferry Road West Midtown. The much delayed 5 SEASONS WESTSIDE BREWPUB is on track for an opening early next year. The 17,000-square-foot restaurant and brewery in the Brickworks at Midtown West will be the largest brewpub in the Southeast, covering three floors, with three separate bars, private event facilities, and indoor and outdoor seating for 400. David Larkworthy will serve as Executive Chef and continue the farm-to-table concept Qestion of the Week : What former chef at an intown French restaurant is now top toque at a suburban American bistro? Thank you for stopping by and remember that what happens to a person is less significant than what happens within them. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What popular restaurant that recently declared Chapter 11 may emerge from it and return to its original owner?- is CRESENT MOON.
  23. PISCINE ON THE PARK. Beantown born LEGAL SEAFOOD opened their first Atlanta store last week and if first impressions are lasting, the multi-storied spot docked in front of the Georgia Aquarium and Centennial Olympic Park should attract tourists, conventioneers and locals with their lobster centric and fresh menu. LEGAL SEAFOOD is a deep, broad restaurant with high-backed booths, deep colors, and polished wood floors. The tables are set with good napery, stemware, and silverware, the wine list is very strong on every count, and service was amiable throughout the evening, well attuned to the pacing of the kitchen.During my visits the decibel level in the upper room never rose above the conversational level. This is a restaurant for people who want to dine, not be part of a scene. The downstairs OYSTER BAR appears to have already established it self as a watering hole for hotel guests and local office workers. It features a street level cocktail lounge, state of the art Wine Bar and freshly shucked shellfish. So as the economy and other factors permit, I expect that Atlanta’s dining scene will have more opportunities to have fresh fish dishes in an atmosphere (and price point) between OCEANAIRE and McCORMICK and SCHMICK’S. NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen). Buckhead. John McGarry, who started his Atlanta career at PRIME, has returned to become top toque at the Lennox mall based steakhouse. Marietta. BRAZIL’S CENTRAL STEAKHOUSE has opened in the Powers Ferry Plaza and will operate 7 days a week. Midtown. The Fifth Group has signed a management contract to operate, but not own, THE GLOBE. Expect major changes around the first of the year. Reynoldstown. DEPOT, the award winning renovation of a former train station, has a new menu that makes their patio dining and drink scene even more alluring. Roswell. VIII FIFTY on Holcomb Bridge Road has closed. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What popular restaurant that recently declared Chapter 11 may emerge from it and return to its original owner? Thank you for stopping by and remember that talent may develop in solitude but character is developed in society. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What hotshot local firm is designing AJA, Here to Serve Restaurant’s highly anticipated Asian resto?-is ai3, they also designed FLIP, Richard Blais’s burger bar.
  24. ATL NOT READY FOR DUCASSE. That was one of the reactions some local chefs and foodinestas had concerning the possibility that a Buckhead Life restaurant would go in the St Regis hotel, opening March 2009 on West Paces Ferry Road. The news that local legend PANO’S and PAUL’S was closing after thirty years and that a new and improved successor would move into a “premier” location on West Paces Ferry had industry insiders buzzing about a prospective St. Regis location( and PANO’S GRAND CAFÉ opening on Peachtree in December.) Some questioned Buckhead Life’s capacity to create a 5 star restaurant.One chef- describing Atlanta as lacking excellence at all price points, his hallmark of a true culinary capitol- felt that another 5 star restaurant could not survive in Atlanta’s limited market. My take: in contrast to the New York and DC properties, which have Alain Ducasse restaurants, the Atlanta operators would opt for a popular local draw that would keep the cash registers ringing like FEARING’S at the Ritz Carlton Dallas. As for Pano; he goes upscale on someone else’s dime. Though Atlanta may not attract an Alain Ducasse caliber restaurant, two new Buckhead Life restaurants are a major improvement to the dining scene. NEWS and NOTES From my keyboard to your screen) Alpharetta. SLICE CAFÉ has opened on Main Street with Charles Delbac, formerly of EMERIL’S, at the helm. Buckhead. CAFÉ DUPRI, the diner owned and operated by local producer/rapper, Jermine Dupri, has closed. Stephanie Ruhe, Bar Manager and Mixologist at The Mansion on Peachtree competed in the Atlanta Bombay Sapphire Gin Competition and won in the "best overall drink" category. She will now compete with the best mixologists across the country for a national championship. Cobb County. THE REAL CHOW BABY has opened its second store in the Galleria, an 8,000 square foot spot that has several spiffy bells and whistles. Grant Park. Carmen Cappello (SWEET LOWDOWN) is planning to re-open the former LAMPLIGHTER CAFÉ as LAMPLIGHTER this fall serving farm to table fare. Little 5 Points. SWEET POTATO PIE CAFÉ, a natural soul food spot serving goodies like chicken and sweet potato waffles, has opened inside 4 Corners Market at 1087 Euclid Avenue. West Midtown. POLLO BRASSA, a Peruvian chicken spot, will open this fall in the Howell Mill Village. Mark Nanna, who worked alongside him at HOME, has been tapped by Richard Blais to be the top toque at FLIP Atlanta, scheduled to open this fall. QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What hotshot local firm is designing AJA, Here to Serve Restaurant’s highly anticipated Asian resto? Thanks for stopping by and remember that what is now proven was once only imagined. Have a great holiday. I will return after the holiday. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What recently opened Cajun concept is rumored to be looking for a buyer?-is DEPEAUX.
  25. ATLANTA’S WIZARDS OF AHHHS. Two of the major components of the dynamic engine that is Atlanta’s dining scene, Bob Amick and Todd Rushing, whose energy and ingenuity have brought national acclaim to our fair shores, are now extending their magic to a hotel project in a major dining market that may become the template for even bigger and better things down the road. The Wit Hotel project in downtown Chicago will feature an Americana restaurant, serving the country's best traditional cuisine, on the first floor; a fine dining restaurant offering authentic Italian fare on the hotel's second floor, while a chic lounge and eatery will be situated on the 27th floor rooftop. The 3 restaurants are scheduled to open in May 2009 and the deal also includes managing the banquet facilities and room service. The Johnson Studio designed the three restaurants. Sources tell me that Concentrics is considering potential hotel deals in Baltimore; Durham,North Carolina; and Philidelphia that, like theWit, are management contracts ie, the guys are not using their money. However, the best news is that there are 2 Atlanta projects on the drawing board for 2009 ; one of which could bring fourth an Italian concept in the West Midtown area. NEWS and NOTES: ( From my keyboard to your screen) Buckhead. Pano Karatassos has announced three big news items: Number one is the relocation of his flagship restaurant,PANO’S and PAUL’S, to a unnamed location on West Paces Ferry Road(rumor has it the under construction St. Regis Hotel). where it will bear a new name(PANO’S ?); sport a brand new upscale design; and, feature a new chef(Pano jr?) . Current PANO’S and PAUL’s top toque, Gary Donlick, will head up PANO’S GRAND CAFÉ, the “comfort French” store opening in December at 3344 Peachtree Street. Finally, THE ATLANTA FISH MARKET will become THE CITY FISH MARKET and become part of the new upscale seafood group that Buckhead Life will expand to Florida and beyond. Buford Highway. ZUFFY’S PLACE, the successor to the beloved FUZZY’S, a live music bar and restaurant, opens this week at 1860 Corporate Boulevard NE. Chamblee. CHATEAU DE SAIGON, featuring combined Pho, Mandarin, and Cantonese elements, has opened at 4300 Buford Highway, suite 218. Decatur. LEON’S FULL SERVICE, a new gastro pub from the owners of THE BRICK STORE ,will open in December at 131 East Ponce de Leon in the former RUE DE LEON space. The guys enlisted the assistance of the HOLEMAN & FINCH folks in planning the spot. Downtown (DT). LEGAL SEAFOOD plans to be open for business Wednesday, August 20th. Occupying two levels within the Hilton Garden Inn on Baker Street, this initial entry into the Atlanta market may be the first of many. Other possible locations are in Dunwoody, Buckhead and, possibly, Hartsfield-Jackson. Inman Park.Kristen Hard, owner of K Chocolates, featured at such trendy boites as BELEZA, is rumored to be opening her own “ chocolate apothecary shop” this fall in the trendy ‘hood. Midtown. VICKERY’S BAR and GRILL is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Saturday, August 23rd with a neighborhood wide celebration called the Cresent Crawl. Visit www.vickerys.com for details. Old Fourth Ward (O4W). 4th & SWIFT received a 4 star rating from the AJC’s dining critic. Virginia Highland. The owners of Fifth Group Restaurants have joined forces with Shaun Doty, owner of SHAUN’S, to create THE ORIGINAL EL TACO in the former SALA space. Opening in mid-October, it will feature recipes for creative Mexican fare that Doty is developing. The Fifth Group Restaurants team is working with William Peace of Peace Design to change the look and feel of the restaurant. Doty will continue as Executive Chef of SHAUN’S while serving as Chef de Cuisine for THE ORIGNAL EL TACO. Question of the Week: What recently opened Cajun concept is rumored to be looking for a buyer? Thanks for stopping by and remember that what some people mistake for the high cost of living is really the cost of living high. PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW-What locally based Italian chain has closed half of their stores?-is ARTUZZI’S.
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