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Posts posted by Voodoo

  1. Maybe I can't see it because I live here, but I don't really see Atlanta as a city with great regional cuisine. I do, however, believe that Atlanta has a very good dining scene with excellent options is virtually every category.

    If money is no object, it doesn't get any better than Bacchanalia and Restaurant Eugene, in my opinion. Eugene is more focused on Southern Cuisine, but both are superb examples of what Atlanta has to offer. For more reasonably priced options, Watershed is quite good, as gwilson mentioned.

  2. Catherall, Aja, and Dale? Makes sense. Richard Blais mentioned that he and Dale are friends and that he's been trying to get him down here. Do you suppose that there is some motivation on Blais' part to turn Here to Serve into a reputable restaurant group after the way he was treated at Concentrics? Don't know. But I do know that in his time at One Midtown, he was delivering the best food that restaurant has ever seen and has seen since and the same is true for Here to Serve which had an even bigger reputation for being all about style over substance.

  3. Are you suggesting that Bone's is no better than any other steakhouse? I can say without a doubt that Bone's served me the best steak I have had anywhere. I do not order steak often, but I have had it at enough places that Bone's does it better. The steak I had at Bacchanalia, for example, did not compare. Nor have the ones I've had at Palm, Morton's or Ruth's Chris. If there are steaks as good as Bone's to be had at a price point cheaper than Bone's, then I'd like to know where. Great meat costs money.

    Bone's waiters' announce that they only serve aged, prime beef after you are first seated.

  4. LOL. You should have seen his space in Atlanta. It was at the end of a strip mall. It was not Tomoe, but it was nothing spectacular for sure. The only thing interesting about the place besides the food and Soto himself was his selection of classical music, which he really loves as he plays both the violin and cello. Andre Watts was and, as far as I know, is still a very good friend and a frequent patron of Soto. That's neat, I guess, but not as cool as seeing Shirley Manson five seats over from me at the sushi bar.

  5. I paid my third visit last week. My two companions—who, to be fair, are not from here—declared it their best-ever meal in New York. Two of my three meals, including last week's, have been business dinners, and I did not feel it appropriate to shoot photos or take notes. The other time, I just wasn't in a blogging mood.

    But I think the quality here is remarkable. I haven't had a bad dish yet, and many of them are superb. They don't seem to be doing badly, but the restaurant hasn't been full on any of my three visits. This is truly an under-appreciated gem, and it should have received three stars.

    It makes me happy to hear someone say that. I always felt that Soto was the best or second best (behind Bacchanalia) restaurant in Atlanta, so I had high hopes for him (as seen earlier in this thread) when he told me he was going to NYC. He was already cooking at a very high level, but with his sourcing improved and the customer-base becoming richer and more savvy, I thought he could be an elite NYC sushi chef pretty quickly. I was obviously disappointed when I read the NYT review which gave him two stars.

    I had not looked at the list until just now, but apparently I have been to four NYT three-star restaurants in my few visits to the city. No contest, my meals at Babbo and Cafe Boulod were nowhere near as good as Soto. I mean not even close to close. I enjoyed Perry Street and Gramercy Tavern very much, but they were still not as good as Soto. Jean-Georges was the only dining experience I've had in NYC that I can say was more elegant and more sophisticated, but that's a four-star restaurant. I don't think Soto aspires to be Masa, but he can be more than just the nice little Village sushi joint.

  6. Big Bacch, for me. Restaurant Eugene is second. Nowhere else comes really that close in my opinion to those two. I don't fancy myself an expert by any means, but I have been to many, if not most, of the places generally regarded as top 25 restaurants in Atlanta. For service, innovation and quality, Bacchanalia and Restaurant Eugene are a clear cut above most places, with Bacchanalia getting an edge.

  7. Great pictures, doczconz. Have you tried the broiled lobster with portabella and mango, assuming he's still serving it? My favorite dish on Earth. The lotus-wrapped steamed lobster with uni mousse is way up there as well.

    Sounds like Soto has turned the corner after some initial jitters. It also looks like he is serving a lot of new dishes, which both makes me happy and sad. Happy that Soto can finally do the menu he wants to do without worrying about if he can source the right ingredients or find customers that will appreciate it. Sad that he lives 500 miles away in NYC instead of 5 miles away in Buckhead.


    The 2008 Mobile awards have been announced and Atlanta and Georgia did quite well in the dining awards compared to the rest of the country. Atlanta received one of the seventeen 5 star dining awards (one was also awarded to Sea Island’s THE GEORGIAN ROOM) and had three 4 star restaurants as well. (See below for deets.) Congratulations to one and all.


    Lately there has been a rash of restaurants closing for” renovations” that have later shown up on the state’s list of businesses who have failed to pay their payroll taxes. With the national economy in a state of flux, could this be a sign of the immediate future of Atlanta’s dining scene?

    The Industry Bigfoot recently opined that he hoped that the economy doesn’t affect some of the resurgence of the DT dining market and sour investors just as there appears to be some momentum being generated there. I concur, in part, but because the global economy’s tourism index is rising, Atlanta’s DT can and should benefit from that trend. The key of course is timing because of factors such as the possible expansion of Delta’s international routes; and the continued investment in infrastructure.

    In the meantime, operators both large and small must contend with higher costs, more competition and of course, taxes. 2008 ,economically speaking, looks as if it will provide some very interesting times for Atlanta’s dining scene.

    NEWS and NOTES: (From my keyboard to your screen)

    For all you design freaks out there the nomination period for the James Beard Foundation’s 2008 Restaurant and Graphic Design awards has been extended to Thursday, February 7th. For further details: www.jamesbeard.org

    Buckhead. THE DINING ROOM at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead has retained both their Mobile 5 star award and the AAA 5 Diamond award status.

    Castleberry Hill. TILT, a coffee shop named for its building’s structural feature, has opened at 274 Walker Street and is drawing crowds with its eclectic brews, art, as well as their yoga and Pilates classes.

    Decatur. WATERSHED’s James Beard award winning chef, Scott Peacock, recently cooked a Southern meal at the SOL food temple CHEZ PANISSE that had one local food critic raving and ready to..”head south.”

    Midtown. PARK 75 at the Four Seasons Atlanta retained their Mobile 4 star status.

    Sandy Springs. CHICAGO STEAK and SUSHI, located at 5920 Roswell Road, will become BLUEPLATE DINER at the end of the month.

    West Midtown. BACCHANALIA retained their Mobile 4 star status and its little brother, QUINONES at BACCHANALIA, received its first Mobile rating, 4 stars.

    JCT KITCHEN and BAR celebrated its first anniversary last month. Many happy returns!

    Question of the Week: What local wine bar group is rumored to be having problems with its franchisees’ closings?

    Thanks for stopping by and remember that life is tragic for the person who has plenty to live on but nothing to live for.

    PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW- What highly successful West midtown based restaurant group is rumored to be locating one of their concepts downtown-is: Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison.

    Quatrano and Harrison coming downtown would be nothing short of epic. They moved out of Buckhead, what, 8 years ago and look how they neighborhood around them has developed and the one they left has diminished. Please come downtown!

  9. Jean-Georges is coming to ATL? If they are anything like his superlative NYC places, I will be thrilled. I have been to Perry Street, Jean-Georges and Dune in the Bahamas. All were great, especially the first two. I asked the GM at Dune if Jean-Georges ever comes there, and he said yes, all the time, so perhaps his restaurants are able to maintain a high level.

  10. omg...this is becoming surreal...and completely absurd.

    langoustines (of which there are multiple varieties...the most well known being the Venetian scampi, the Scottish langoustine and the New Zealand langoustine....there's an excellent article on wikipedia if you really want to get into it)...are a part of the lobster/prawn family.


    ok, so some people in Atlanta think that Soto's best dishes were the ones using American or Nova Scotia lobster (wherever he was sourcing from).  that's nice.  langoustines are far easier to source in NY than Atlanta (heck, they weren't even regularly available in NY five years ago)...Soto comes to NY...and starts using langoustines regularly.  and Bruni thinks that a langoustine dish (which may very well have been a "regular lobster" dish in the past...or its something Soto dreamt up when he came here) is the best thing on the menu.  maybe it is, maybe it isn't.  but to say that Bruni's all wet cause Soto does regular lobsters even better than he does langoustines (oh really?  how would one know that?)...is beyond asinine.  think about it: "Bruni's an idiot because he almost picked perfectly the dishes that I personally think are Soto's best...but he's really a moron cause he does that dish better with regular lobster than with langoustine...even though that's the one Bruni had.  Bruni's a real moron because he didn't say "I bet that when Soto was using regular lobsters in Atlanta this dish was even better".....

    in reality, substitute a langoustine into most lobster dishes, and they'll be even better.

    2.  how the hell does one know that Soto wasn't a "cold fish" when Bruni was around.  people have disagreed with Bruni over many things...but no one here has called him a liar before...especially from 1500 miles away.

    It is not necessary for you to speak in hypotheticals. Soto serves one langostine dish. He served it in Atlanta for at least 5 years, and he's been serving the same dish in New York. Soto serves at least three non-langostine lobster dishes. The langostine dish is buttery, rich and delicious, but displays no exceptional talent or complexity that I can discern. The lobster dishes are not only better, in my opinion, but showcase a far more intricate understanding of food with their interplay of flavors which the langostine is lacking. The first bite of the langostine tastes the same as the last bite because that's all there is. The lobster dishes all include other things, and whether it's mango, caviar, yuzu, uni, the combination enhances the dish in the way that the langostine never experiences. The funny part about this argument is that you don't even know that I'm wrong when I say he's wrong to point out the langostine as Soto's best from the kitchen. Go and see for yourself.

    As for Bruni's comments on Soto's disposition, I do take issue with his characterization of Soto. But I've stated my case, and I have no reason to argue with you about it. That is, unless you are Frank Bruni.

  11. The difference between langostine and "lobster," as it is commonly used, is crystal clear, especially after I articulated which lobster dishes in particular stand out.

    Bruni described Soto as a "cold fish." That's not just telling only part of the story, it's grossly and possibly willfully inaccurate for all the reasons I articulated above. He is many things, extremely short and hot-tempered being one of them, but cold fish? No.

  12. two points:

    1.  "Bruni missed the boat if he thinks the langostine is the best hot special. His lobster dishes are his strongest dishes".  Re-read what you wrote and re-think it.  than re-read it again.

    2.  if Bruni didn't see the warm and engaging side than he didn't see it.  not his fault.  if he did see it and didn't write about it...he probably should have.

    I think it is clear that while langostine is a type of lobster, it is very different than a traditional American lobster. Did I really have to clarify that?

    I doubt Bruni saw Soto lose his temper, but he still spent a small chunk of his article detailing what he had heard or read about. Seems unfair that he would talk about Soto's hot temper without mentioning how friendly he is. He either should have mentioned both or neither. Mentioning one or the other does not convey an accurate picture of what Soto is like.

  13. Soto does sushi well, but his strength, as has already been pointed out, has always been in his creative specials. His menu is much more expensive and focused than it was in Atlanta. He tried to cater to a wide audience in Atlanta, but he does not have to do that in New York where there are more foodies and less seats to fill. Don't get the impression that his pieces are average because they are not. They are always at least good if not great. Soto will never serve you a mediocre piece of fish; he is way, way, way too much of a perfectionist to do that.

    Bruni missed the boat if he thinks the langostine is the best hot special. His lobster dishes are his strongest dishes, in my opinion, starting with the broiled lobster/mango/portabella cake and the steamed lobster with uni mousse wrapped in lotus root. Hamachi tartare is also a hit with its roasted pine nuts, wasabi tobiko and soy foam. Terrific blend of textures in that dish, though I don't know if that's on his NY menu. I also love the broiled chilean sea bass marinated in citrus soy, but that's not the most difficult dish in the world.

    Bruni also has a mistaken impression of Soto's personality. He got the temper part right; I have never been in a restaurant where a chef has lost his cool like Soto has on a couple of occasions. But Bruni failed entirely to mention that there was another side of Soto, the far more common side. He was liked by his followers here for more than just his sushi; he is a pretty funny guy and extremely nice. When he is not swamped, he engages everyone at the bar, which is why it is best to go late to grab a seat close to him, witness his incredible knife skills, and talk to a genuinely nice guy.

  14. I finally made my appearance at Soto this past weekend after waiting a year and a few months for him to reopen. Several of my old favorites are still on the menu like the broiled lobster with mango and portabella, shima aji carpaccio and steamed lobster with lotus root, uni mousse and caviar. All, predictably, were superb. Some of his newer offerings were excellent, but some are clearly works in progress. I also thought his nigiri, while very good, is not quite to the level he was known for in Atlanta. Then again, nigiri is not where he specializes...it's his creations that make him great. Word around the campfire is that the owner of Jewel Bako was in recently and was very impressed.

    I really like his new space. It is very clean and simple. The table at the end of the sushi bar is neat. I don't think I've ever seen that.

    His prices are roughly 50% higher than Atlanta, and the menu is much smaller and more special-based. I personally don't think it's out of line with other places in New York, but it is by no means a bargain like it was in Atlanta where his main competition was 25% more expensive.

    One legit knock on Soto is that he puts little to no effort into his dessert dishes. I'm not sure how it is at either top sushi places in NYC, but Soto basically offers ice cream and that's it.

    To the poster earlier who expressed concern that Soto came to NYC to "cash in," I can assure that is not the case. He was doing very well in Atlanta, but the market was not challenging enough for him. After growing frustrated with the increasing number of "boring" dishes being ordered at his restaurant (california rolls, tempura, etc), he went omakase-only. The omakase was spectacular, but his business took a massive hit . Ultimitalely, there are not enough foodies in Atlanta to support more than a handful of high end restaurants here, which is why three of our best chefs left the city (Gunther Seeger, Soto, Richard Blais) last year alone. Blais is back, but I know that Soto left Atlanta because he wanted a new challenge, not for more money. On the contrary, he was losing tons of money for the 1+ year he was out of business.

  15. Hmm...maybe I'll give it a shot Friday night then. Can anyone recommend a restaurant nearby that I can use as a contingency plan just in case the wait at Momofuku is insane? Obviously, since I am trying to go to Momofuku, I am looking for something sub-$40 pp.

  16. 8 p.m. Saturday, June 2nd for me. I can't wait. Sounds like he's not the relative bargain that he used to be, but that's only fair now that he's able to command the prices he deserves. I understand that his omakase he had in Atlanta cost him around $50 in food costs and he was only charging $80. That's insane!

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