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Atlanta Restaurant Updates: new places & faces


micropundit
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Tout and about.

I have finally completed the grand tour of Midtown’s tempting T’s in the 14th Street corridor- TAMARIND SEED; TAP; and, TROIS- and I have seen the future of Atlanta’s dining scene: small plates of cleverly prepared food served well in small but slick surroundings.

First things first. Checked out TAMARIND 2.0 last week on a lark.-needed a place to where I could lend a shoulder to an XGF who was going through one of life’s ultimate tests. She is a big Thai fan and we used to frequent the old TAMARIND back in the day, so I suggested we check out the new place. So we dropped into the new place, without ressies, at 9:30pm and the place was full. We literally got the last table in the place.

Long story short; they haven’t missed a beat with the food or the service. In fact, the men in black (as opposed to the ladies in white gowns at the old place) were spot on. They were prompt and attentive without being overbearing and had the right touch of humor and knowledge with their presentation. I had the sea bass and she had the shrimp with curry. Both dishes were just as we remembered them from the halcyon days. TAMARIND SEED is still one of the best in town in terms of value, quality and service. By the way, for those who care about these things-and you know who you are- the bathrooms are a smaller version of the ones at NAN’s

My larger point is that the three aforementioned restaurants all have several things in common, besides their current popularity and close proximity to one another: their price points are lower that comparables of their respective genres, and they deliver their product in an up tempo atmosphere, accented by clever design. The bottom line is that they give great value for the experience. As this model is emulated more and more around town, we should see some really exciting things here in Atlanta’s dining scene.

Question of the Week: What local pub/restaurant group may be having some federal tax issues?

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

Alpharetta. The ATL is getting into the froyo (frozen yogurt) mania that is sweeping the coasts. Atlanta entrepreneur Ernie Kim has gone to Korea (home of LA rage PINKBERRY) and has returned to perfect and unveil JUICY GREEN, a froyo concept whose first outlet is at 3719 Alabama Road. Downtown, Midtown and other locations are in the works as you read this.

Buckhead. BRICKTOPS, an American bistro out of Nashville, is scheduled to open in Terminus this fall.

Downtown. The developers of The Downtown Atlanta W Hotel and Residences are finalizing the lease for a “signature restaurant” within the next 30 days. Sources tell me that will be an out of town operator.

East Atlanta. A very reliable source said to check out THE GLENWOOD at 555 Glenwood Avenue (the old CAMELLI’S spot). The gastopub has a high powered chef-BLUEPOINTE and MONCHRACET in NYC and aspirations for the dining scene in that ‘hood.

Midtown. The former SOUTH of FRANCE location reportedly has a sign on it that says “Coming soon RAIN Asian /fusion.

Vinings. Look for a ROLLING BONES to locate here by late fall.

Virginia Highland. Scott Donnelly is the new executive chef at VINE.

Thanks for dropping by and remember a decision is made with the brain; a commitment is made with the heart.

100% right 50% of the time.

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Tout and about.pt 2

Last week I continued my unrelenting research on the effect of restaurants as drivers of neighborhood revitalization here in Atlanta by delving further into the Midtown landscape at Atlantic Station. The occasion: the return of a certain Stanford student who had not only survived the first year but achieved high academic distinction in the process and therefore was to be rewarded with a meal at a restaurant of their choice .A choice that called in to play a place that I thought had had its 15 minutes of fame but has continued to grow as a restaurant to new heights.

As matters unfolded, GEISHA HOUSE was packed on a Thursday night and due to the 30 minute wait, as well as the Hollywood vibe that the honoree found a bit off putting, we ended up at LOBBY. It turned out that, as we strolled among the populace steaming up and down Atlantic Station’s streets, the former freshman had already dined at DOLCE and was set on doing the scene at GH. So my suggestion, LOBBY, was met with cool indifference. But all that changed after the meal.

LOBBY has still got “it”. Chef Nick’s execution is still first rate; the quality of the product as well as the service shine as well. And the beautiful people still hang out there. So, a good time was had by all in spite of the change in venue: I saw the vibrancy of our newest urban neighborhood and shared a great meal with a very deserving and special young person who thought LOBBY was” cool”. Atlanta may not have a plethora of 5 star dining experiences or be a hot bed of molecular gastronomy; however our street life and overall vitality is on the upswing, primarily due, in my opinion, to spots like LOBBY and GEISHA HOUSE that sit in some cool spots but set the tone for these neighborhoods as well.

Question of the Week: What peripatetic ATL chef has joined the Concentrics crew (Bob Amick,et al) after the recent closing of the Midtown venture where he last served?

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

Buckhead. SIP the EXPERIENCE, an “urban lifestyle coffee lounge”, is scheduled to open in Lindbergh Center this month. SIP will feature a minimalist décor and serve six days a week.

Manual Vasquez is the new top toque at HORSERADISH GRILL. Chef Manual, who ironically interned at the restaurant while attending culinary school, comes to the job from GEORGIA GRILL.

JOEL will be closed from August 1 until September 5, for renovations.

Castleberry Hill. A multi-level blues bar and restaurant is under construction at 177 walker Street. It will feature valet parking and an outdoor deck on its top floor. Will keep and eye out for further deets.

Downtown. SUGAR LOUNGE and RESTAURANT opened June 23 at 257 Trinity Avenue. The two story brick structure houses a restaurant featuring American bistro food and a live entertainment venue.

TACO MAC, the locally based wings chain, is looking to score big time with a recent announcement that they are planning a 2 story, 10,000 square foot, $2.5 million location at Phillips Arena., home of the Hawks, Thrashers and the Arena Football League’s Georgia Force.

Midtown. Congratulations go out to the TROIS team: Atlanta magazine‘s “Restaurant of the Year”

Virginia Highland. SALA has been sold by its creators, Fifth Group (ECCO), to the owners of neighboring restaurant VINE. Whoa-first Chef Jeff now this, what is going on!?

West Midtown. In celebration of their sixth and highly successful month of operation, JCT KITCHEN & BAR is unveiling a new menu that includes wood grilled sea scallops served with buttery potato dumplings, warm bacon, pea greens and veal jus. They will also introduce live music every Friday and Saturday, starting at 9 pm on the terrace of the bar.

Thanks once again for stopping by and remember that experience is like money; just when you think that you have enough of it, something happens to make you wish you had more.

100% right 50% of the time.

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Don't forget Waffle House winning best breakfast and Ru Sans winning best sushi, among other tragidies.

Taco Mac at Phillips Arena would be great. People love the idea of hanging around before and after ball games...they just don't have anywhere good to do it now. They would CLEAN UP down there.

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More Midtown magic, so they all say.

Consensus about almost anything seems to be impossible in today’s superheated social and political environment. The people who share their food wit and wisdom with me are of varying persuasions and perspectives, both in life and their enjoyment of food and food related topics, and as such, rarely agree on any one thing, however there has been a curious consensus on the potential impact of two restaurants that will soon grace our shores. From the Industry Bigfoot and beyond, the air of anticipation surrounding the project of one of intown’s most respected chefs is both palpable and inspiring because it speaks to the growing sophistication and depth of Atlanta’s dining scene.

The foodarati are lining up for the opening of BELEZA, Richard Ullio’s Brazilian juice bar and restaurant and CUERNO,his ode to Spanish cuisine that promises to do for Spanish cuisine what SOTTO SOTTO did for Italian cuisine. The two restaurants are located side by side in a swank new Midtown condo development at 905 Juniper and complete a neat little restaurant row, along with CHOCOLATE PINK PASTRY CAFÉ ,that should add further excitement to Midtown’s exploding restaurant scene.

BELEZA will feature organic fruits blended into Brazilian soft drink favorites as well as artesian cocktails such as the classic caipirinha. Small plate options will include credos and ceviches, salads and lightly poached fish seasoned with artesian salts and oils. BELEZA will be open, initially, for dinner and late night Tuesday through Sunday. Michelle McKensie is the Executive chef.

CUERNO will feature authentic regional Spanish cuisine such as paella accompanied by a progressive all Spanish wine list and of course,tapas. The décor, inspired by Spanish Modernism, includes rich fabrics; soft lighting and a life sized metal sculpture of a charging bull by sculptor Thomas Prochnow, whose work is featured in several local museums and galleries.

Atlanta has been fortunate to have the big names such as Pano and Bob to bring us (their interpretation of) the next big thing. But there are some other folks out there who have some thoughts and talent as well. And these two restos should have an equal, if not greater, impact on the future dining scene as any other projects. At least that’s what those in the know are saying.

Question of the Week: What is the Culinary Concierge and what is it proposing to bring to our city?

NEWS and NOTES (From my keyboard to your screen)

Airport. SWEETWATER BREWING COMPANY will open two operations at Hartsfield –Jackson in the next few weeks: SWEETWATER DRAFTHOUSE in concourse B and GEORGIA BROWN’S JUKE JOINT on concourse C.I guess some people will really be flying the friendly skies now.

Buckhead. LITTLE CAKE BAKERY, a cupcake shop, has opened at 3792 Rosewell Road.

Fuyuhito Ito will be the man to see at MF BUCKHEAD, the Kinjo brother’s sushi and more spot to open this fall. According to John Kessler, Chef Ito has the culinary skills,as well as the personality, to make the new spot an authentic Japanese ya.

Dunwoody. Long time intown favorite, ALON’S BAKERY, is opening a second and larger store in the former EATZI’S in Park Place. It will feature gelato, house wares, gifts and “a few surprises”.

Poncy Highland. The ATLANTA CUPCAKE FACTORY is now open at 624 Highland Avenue, between North Avenue and Ponce de Leon.

Toco Hills. Check out SOL CATERING at 1145 Zonelite Road(near FLOATAWAY CAFÉ) and see a new slant from the TAQUERIA DEL SOL folks.

Thank you again for stopping by and remember to be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself ;for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.

100% right 50% of the time.

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Holy smokes! I scooped micropundit! :blink:

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Atlanta will soon have another fine dining option to offer its growing population of downtown residents.

Chef Shane Touhy and business partner Scott Black have leased 5,000 square feet in the street-level retail section of The Reynolds, 565 Peachtree St.

Chicks dig wheelguns.

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Do you feel lucky?

Cool. Sleek. Upscale. Modern. These are just some of the descriptions I had heard about LUCKY FOOD LOUNGE, the newbie that is located next store to the hot downtown attractions, The World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium and after visiting it last week ,I can say that is all that and more.

My visit was occasioned by an invite to a gathering of some of downtown Atlanta’s shakers and movers by The Industry Bigfoot, who moves in those circles. I arrived a bit early and was invited by the staff to wander around and so I did with some degree of skepticism; but that soon passed as I surveyed 15,000 square feet of a combination sports bar, diner, nightclub /sushi bar. The skepticism turned into wonderment-I wondered what the owners meant when they conceived the place. (Outsized)

Don’t get me wrong, it is full of the standard architectural features guaranteed to wow the patrons but the flow and sequence of the layout puzzled me a bit. There weren’t any lines of demarcation that separated the functions so that if you were, say, not interested in seeing folks kicking it on the dance floor while you slurped your sushi, you would not be spared the sight/sounds. Maybe that just adds to the allure but for me it did not razz my berry. (Disjointed)

The food served at the function was good but I will have to return to get a better handle on the cuisine here. The winner, IMO, is CHARM, the gelato bar/coffee shop that adjoins the resto. Nice space and even better gelato. All in all the location of this venture should spell success in one form or another.( Fortunately for them.)

Question of the Week: What New England based upscale seafood chain is reportedly seeking a location in the ATL?

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

Buckhead. FADO’S IRISH PUB may have to move because of the recently announced, and soon to be under construction, The Streets of Buckhead, but it will not be far from its present location. They will be moving around the corner and down the street to a “slightly larger” location on Buckhead Avenue next to the library by years end.

Speaking of the Streets of Buckhead project, they announced the first of several restos that are slated for the $1.2 billion mixed use development at the groundbreaking last Friday. Look for BOTTEGA DEL VINO, an Italian white table cloth restaurant with locations in Verona and Manhattan (with a $1million wine cellar) and LE GOULUE, a French bistro with a location at 64th and Madison, to open in 2009.

Decatur. Batdorf and Bronson, the famed Washington state coffee negociantes, are opening a DANCING GOATS COFFEE BAR in downtown Decatur in late summer.

Downtown. Chef Shane Touhy,formerly of Buckhead’s BLUE RIDGE GRILL, and business partner, Scott Black(BLUE RIDGE and BONES) have announced they are opening DOGWOOD RESTAURANT in the Reynolds condos at 565 Peachtree Street. The 5,000 square foot, 150 seat fine dining spot will feature a seasonal menu incorporating local and regional produce and includes a patio dining experience on Peachtree as well as a lounge and bar.(Norm357 scooped me on this)

OLYMPIA PLACE, the upscale Greek/ Mediterranean spot located in the Georgia Pacific building at 133 Peachtree, is slated to open this fall.

Midtown. Look for the BOOKHOUSE PUB to open at 736 Ponce De Leon late fall.

Roswell. After 11 years in operation, the long time OTP fave, DICK and HARRY’S has closed.

Well thank you again for joining our little chat and remember that success is a ladder, not an escalator.

PS. The answer to last week's QOTW is:Drew Van Leuvan.

100% right 50% of the time.

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The arbiters of taste.

Atlanta’s food scene has been blessed with an abundance of good writers and critics over the last few years that have chronicled and critiqued the people and places that have made our city’s culinary reputation one that is nationally recognized. From Elliot Mackle to Christiane Lauterbach to Jonathan Lerner and the scribes at our newspapers, magazines and alternative publications, they all have provided a steady stream of informative and sometimes, inflammatory, reportage on the dynamic local market. As an advocate for Atlanta’s dining scene, I have followed their commentary closely and have been (mostly) a silent admirer of their craft. Any hagiographic statements that I have made were reserved, in the main, for John Kessler, the former dining critic and now food writer for the newspaper of general circulation, because of his in-depth style.

But now comes a new voice that, in a relatively short time, has not only captured some national recognition for their writing but has set a new standard of excellence that appears to appeal to the various and diverse local constituencies as well. Beshell Rodell joins the many, the shameless, and the hackneyed who set out to tell us what they think about our restaurants, chefs and their cuisine and why. She has a fresh and often irreverent take on the local scene that, while somewhat limited by the fact that she writes for an atl weekly, still resonates with the foodarati. Let’s keep an eye on her people, she is bound for big things in the future and one day we can look back and say: I knew her when.

Local chefs bring Southern style to the Big Apple.

Congrats go out to Ford Fry (JCT KITCHEN & BAR) and Linton Hopkins (RESTAURANT EUGENE) for their invite to the James Beard House to prepare, along with Angie Mosier and Hugh Acheson, a southern dinner on Saturday, August 23.

Question of the Week: What internationally renowned local chef who recently abandoned his eponymous restaurant to seek greener pastures is rumored to have returned and is looking for a restaurant project here in town?

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

Buckhead. MY PANINI, the brainchild of former hotel exec, Ned Barker, debuted in Lindberg City Center last month. The upscale diner features all paninis all the time and is the first of what is planned to be a national chain of eateries.

You can look for a F20, the quick casual fresh to order place, opening in the sleek 3344 Peachtree tower when it opens this spring.

Downtown. The much anticipated and highly secretive Atlanta IL MULINO restaurant has finally been publicly announced. The local paper of general circulation is reporting that the high end New York based Italian restaurant, that has outposts in Tokyo, Chicago, and Las Vegas, will open an Atlanta location in the 191 Peachtree tower.

The $138 million renovation of the Marriot Marquis has produced some new and exciting food and beverage venues: SEAR, the hotels signature resto, is a modern steakhouse; PULSE, a cocktail lounge adorned with a 50 foot tall lighted sail;and, HIGH VELOCITY, a sports bar with 21 plasma televisions and a 40 foot matrix projection screen.

Midtown. TOP ROOF, located at 674 Myrtle Avenue-across from MF SUSHI, is getting a lot of attention because of its eclectic menu that goes from hummus to tobacco ice cream and value pricing. Chef Mike Schon is the top toque.

Oakhurst. Calavino Donata( ROMAN LILLY CAFÉ ) is opening CALAVINO’S on September 1st in Oakhurst Village. The menu will feature an Italian flair with some of the items coming from RLC’s menu. Michael Connelly, formerly of RESTAURANT EUGENE, will be the opening chef.

South Fulton. Chef Tony Seachrist is taking a “culinary sabbatical” from Serenbe’s THE FARMHOUSE. On September 1st, Nicolas Bour of the next door BLUE EYED DAISY will assume the helm in Chef Tony’s absence.

Thank you for stopping by and remember that a smile is a medium of exchange that is always worth more than its face value.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is LEGAL SEAFOOD.

100% right 50% of the time.

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What do you all think of Craft coming to Buckhead? Anyone eat at the similar marketed restaurants in the chain ie not NY?

Other subject: Where can we get well prepared foie in town that is not a terrine?

New here and hope to learn tons from all of you.

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What do you all think of Craft coming to Buckhead?  Anyone eat at the similar marketed restaurants in the chain ie not NY?

I think it will be nice to have one here. I have never eaten at any of the restaurants in NYC, but have always had stellar experiences at Craftsteak in Vegas.

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Doodad, Restaurant Eugene has a good seared fois.

As does Trois, at least they did several months ago when I ate there, among the best I've had anywhere, not just Atlanta.

Their menu looks great. And TAP, the gastropub is right across the street! Sounds like a plan formulating around early dinner type of thing.

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What do you all think of Craft coming to Buckhead?  Anyone eat at the similar marketed restaurants in the chain ie not NY?

I think it will be nice to have one here. I have never eaten at any of the restaurants in NYC, but have always had stellar experiences at Craftsteak in Vegas.

Good to know thanks.

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There is no way that Seeger is staying.. know friends of his and they say that he is still here but in prep for a rest. in NY.  Maybe its Soto?

I ate at Craft in NYC several years ago for NYE and was unimpressed. Having worked at Aureole and being a fan of Tom's from when he was at Grammercy Tavern I expected more.

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Go West young man.

There was an interesting piece last week penned by John Kessler regarding a local foody guy being recruited to serve in the temple of California haute cuisine. Tucker Taylor, a manager for Athens’s Woodland gardens and-more germane- a mainstay at the weekly Morningside Farmer’s Market, has been tapped by uber chef Thomas Keller to tend his 2 acre organic garden at the hallowed FRENCH LAUNDRY in Yountville, California.

His new duties include raising produce for the FL as well as Chef Keller’s other two California restaurants, AD HOC and BOUCHEN. The talented Mr. Tucker leaves behind the loyal customers at MFM as well as at the DINING ROOM at The Ritz Carlton Buckhead; BACHANNALIA; and, RESTAURANT EUGENE. (Talk about going to the mountaintop.)

A tip of the toque to:

THE ATLANTA GRILL; BONE’S; EMERIL’S; JOEL; THE DINING ROOM; NIKOLAI’S ROOF; and, VINE for receiving Wine Spectator magazine’s Best of Excellence Awards.

Eat, drink and stomp some grapes:

At Chateau Elan’s annual Vineyard Fest, Sunday, August 26th in Braselton, Georgia, three chefs, including the ATL’s Gary Mennie( TAURUS) and Joe TRUEX ( REPAST) are scheduled to present cooking demonstrations at Chateau Elan’s new CULINARY STUDIO. Festival attendees can also sip some of the more than 100 feature wines and stomp some grapes as well.

Question of the Week: What owner of a downtown petite French bistro is rumored to be planning to open a sushi bar in an adjacent space?

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

Buckhead. R. THOMAS , the eclectic long time late night hangout , is rumored to be closing to make room for (another) high rise development.

The 1 Hotel and Residences will feature a restaurant developed by famed New York gastroprenuer Steven Hanson’s B.R. Guest Restaurants.(FIAMMA,BLUE FIN)

Downtown. Shane Devereux will be the opening chef at Maureen Kalmanson and Pamela Furr’s(PLEASANT PEASENT) PEASENT BISTRO. Located at 250 Park Avenue West, in the swank Centennial Park West Park condominiums, the restaurant will be housed in a two story space overlooking Centennial Park and feature a seasonal menu with French and Mediterranean influences.

Lithonia. C’EST BON CAJUN SEAFOOD RESTARANT has closed.

Morningside. YOFORIA, a local froyo group, is opening their first outpost at the former WHAT’S THE SCOOP location on Highland Avenue.

Poncy Highland. PURA VIDA was highlighted by Gourmet Magazine as one of the” Top Latin Restaurants in 14 Cities” in their September issue.

Thank you for stopping by and remember that everyone can see difficulties in opportunities, but a truly wise person sees opportunities in difficulties.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is Guenter Seeger.

100% right 50% of the time.

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Question of the Week: What owner of a downtown petite French bistro is rumored to be planning to open a sushi bar in an adjacent space?

The owner of Les Fleurs de Lis? Loaf & Kettle did just move out of the space right next door to them in the Healey building.

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FALL FAVES.

Although summer is not yet officially over, I have already started to salivate over the prospect of some of the culinary treats headed our way this fall. Here are the restaurants that I feel will razz my berry come autumn.

ROOM. Bob Amick and company’s first steakhouse-a genre that is fast becoming the new black, culinary speaking- located in the swank Twelve @ Centennial Park Hotel promises to put the ATL on the cutting edge of the other latest resto trend: hot hotel restaurants with one syllable names, i.e. CUT.

CUERNO and BELEZA. U Restaurants dynamic duo brings the flavors of Spain and Brazil to Midtown in two well appointed and sexy projects. Midtown’s flavor profile just got put on blast.

MF BUCKHEAD. Those badass Kinjo boys bring midtown cool to Buckhead that won’t be lost in translation in Atlanta’s first authentic izakaya, featuring robatayaki and yakatori cuisine as well as sushi.

In addition to these projects, I am looking forward to Marvin Woods’ new project; STATS, a Concentrics downtown sports bar- ONE MIDTOWN KITCHEN meets the ESPN ZONE; and, AQUAKNOX, Las Vegas style seafood swims to Buckhead. Let me know if there are some other new hotspots you think will brighten up the dining scene this fall and I ,your knight in shining ardor, will get right on the case and add them to my list

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

Buckhead. The Buckhead Life Restaurant Group is opening their second restaurant outside of Atlanta this fall in West Boca Raton, Florida. Described as a smaller, more upscale version of THE ATLANTA FISH COMPANY, the restaurant whose name will be revealed later, will be designed by the Johnson Studio.

Inman Park. SWEET POCKETS, located at 660 Irwin Street in the Irwin Street Market, is the latest cupcake spot for those who crave the petite sweet treats.

Little 5 Points. FOX BROS. BAR-B-Q opened to the public Friday, August 24th , at 1238 Dekalb Avenue. Look for Texas style ‘que prepared on 2 custom built smokers.

Midtown. TOAST is ah, toast. The spot that launched a couple of notable careers will become THE CYPRESS STREET CAFÉ in about 8 weeks after the new owners (HALO) complete the revamp that will include a new chef and décor.

Moringside. POMODORO, an Italian spot with a value priced menu, has opened on Highland Avenue in the old PIZZA VINO location, across from FOOD 101.

South Fulton. The Industry Bigfoot reports that THE HIL, the Serenbe folks latest, helmed by Hillary White (103 WEST), and its farm to fork cuisine is worth the drive, especially if you spend the night at The Inn next store.

Vinings. The Fifth Group has welcomed back Chip Ulbrich as the new executive chef at SOUTH CITY KITCHEN’s Vinings location. The former top toque at both THE FOOD STUDIO and BOLD AMERICAN CATERING had been executive chef and owner at his restaurant in Beaufort, South Carolina since he left town.

West Midtown. BACHANNALIA is featured in the September issue of GQ magazine’s section on “Hot Cities” as one of Atlanta’s star attractions.

Question of the Week: What chef of a super hot local restaurant group has been given a big promotion that has them overseeing several of the company’s new restaurants menus and operations? (Could they be trying to keep them from a certain NYC chef who is opening a restaurant here?)

Thank you for stopping by and remember that sometimes we like someone because but we love someone although. Have a great holiday! I will return on September 4th.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW-What downtown owner of a petite French bistro is rumored to be planning a sushi bar next store -is Lenny Robinson ( LES FLEUR De LIS).

Edited by micropundit (log)

100% right 50% of the time.

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