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Atlanta Restaurant Updates: new places & faces


micropundit
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YOUR KNIGHT IN SHINING ARDOR.

Recently I have received some very flattering and encouraging feedback on my column that really touched me and further inspired my passion for highlighting Atlanta’s dynamic dining scene on a weekly basis. That passion is fueled by the encouragement, support and tips that you, the readers, provide on an ongoing basis. So, thank you for all you do, and please, keep the love coming, ‘cause I’m loving you right back!

WRITE ON, BROTHER (and SISTER), WRITE ON.

Atlanta was represented well at the recent Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) convention. Two of my favorite local scribes received the much deserved praise of their peers for their work: John Kessler took second place in the Best Newspaper special food project category for his video/print opus “Sushi-USA: how does a $500 meal taste?” and Beshell Rodell took third place in both the Best Newspaper Criticism and Best Newspaper Food Feature categories. Two writers from the newspaper of general circulation won 1st and 2nd place respectively in other categories as well. (Standing. Clapping.)

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

Buckhead. HAVANA CLUB, the long time West village watering hole and restaurant displaced by the Streets of Buckhead development, will relocate to the former Anteks furniture location on Piedmont Avenue.

Decatur. EPICURIAN, the catering company turned restaurant, closed their doors last week.

Downtown. BURGERS and MORE will open a location on Ivan Allen Blvd next to LUCKIE FOOD LOUNGE this fall.

Galleria. The second location of THE REAL CHOW BABY is opening in the area soon.

Midtown. BUDDHA, an East Asian restaurant featuring contemporary and classic cuisine from Malaysia, Thailand and China, has opened at 100 10th Street It seats 130 and will have a special emphasis on vegetarian cuisine as well.

Z PIZZA , a California based gourmet pizza chain, will open their second Georgia location in the old TASTY D LITE space at 866 Peachtree Street in the Spire condo building.

Chef Richard Blais of ELEMENT has been contracted by the management of HALO, located at 817 W. Peachtree Street, to take over their kitchen. The operation will be called SATELLITE @ HALO and run by a chef from ELEMENT.

Southwest Atlanta. Former high level corporate executives and husband and wife team, Ron Frieson and Belinda Stubblefield- who own WINESTYLES CASCADE- are opening a new restaurant named LANDON’S on Cascade Road.

Question of the Week: What intown award winning restaurant owners are being pressed by developers to expand their mini empire of fine dining spots into a development being built next to their flagship operation?

Hope you had a safe and relaxing holiday. Thanks for stopping by and remember that someone who loses their wealth loses much and someone who loses even one friend loses more, but someone who loses their courage loses all.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is Nick Oltarsh.

.

100% right 50% of the time.

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FROM FARM TO TABLE: THE WAY FORWARD.

Whether it is in response to growing competition or increasing national recognition, Atlanta’s dining scene is constantly trying to increase its offerings both in terms of quality and quantity. The search for increased bandwidth has taken many forms including the seemly sudden influx of New York chefs/restaurants. (More on this trend coming up in the next few weeks.) However, there are some other trends of note as well.

In what I interpret as a sign of the Atlanta dining scene’s growing sophistication, the Atlanta chapter of The American Culinary Federation (ACF) in partnership with The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA), Slow Food movement and Georgia Organics will meet November 12th at the Georgia State Farmer’s Market to discuss, among other things, how to use more Georgia grown products in Atlanta’s restaurants.

This meeting is a follow up to an earlier meeting at the Dunwoody Country Club where over 200 chefs and food service industry representatives enlisted the aid of the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDOA) to assist the parties in coming to common ground on how to create more opportunities for Georgia’s produce to find its way onto the menus of Atlanta’s restaurants. The GDOA agreed to host the next meeting and to facilitate the dialogue.

The resulting public private partnership’s goal is to benefit Georgia, its residents, consumers and food supply. The how(s) will be worked at the November and subsequent meetings. The outcomes could have a very positive impact on Atlanta’s future dining scene. Stay tuned.

LOCAL BOY COMES HOME, SORT OF.

Delta Airlines has hired Sandy Springs native Todd English, who has achieved stardom in Boston, et al, to spice up their in flight menu. I have always wondered why he hasn’t opened a resto here, anyone know anything about that?

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

Buckhead. JOEL reopens Wednesday September 12th with the promise to be “like no other restaurant Atlanta has ever seen”. (Catch Chef Joel quickly because he is off to The Inn at Blackberry Farm September 16-18th for an event there.)

Speaking of Tennessee eateries, BRICKTOPS has opened at TERMINUS.

Former Buckhead sushi master Sotohiro Kosugi got 2 stars from the New York Times last week for his Manhattan SOTO.

Midtown. ECCO bartender Seth Schiendeldecker’s cocktail “Long live the Queen” has been cited as the best in Atlanta via a contest sponsored by the Bombay Sapphire Company, based upon its balance, taste and flavor.

Smyrna. YURAKU JAPANESE RESTAURANT and LIME TAQUERIA and TEQUILA BAR will soon join the growing restaurant roster at West Village on Atlanta road at I-285.

South Fulton. BIG DADDY’S SOULFOOD will open soon on the rapidly revitalizing Old National Highway.

West Midtown. Chef Daniel Poblinsky is back at BACCHANALIA and the better news is that his wife’s health is much improved.

PHILLY BOYS CHEESESTEAKS on Howell Mill Road has closed.

Question of the Week: What intown restaurant’s sous chef is rumored to be in next season’s Top Chef’s lineup?

Thank you for stopping by and remember don’t ever argue with an idiot because they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

PS. The answer to last weeks QOTW is Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison.

100% right 50% of the time.

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South Fulton. BIG DADDY’S SOULFOOD will open soon on the rapidly revitalizing Old National Highway.

I will try this place, but I will be armed. Old National Hwy is a seriously dangerous place.

The things I do to get good soul food. :unsure:

Chicks dig wheelguns.

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How did I miss this thread? I was in the thick of the Bob Amick and Tom Cathrell mix a few years ago when they were both competing to open a restaurant in Colony Square - both are lovely and talented men. It was exciting to be in on the ground floor when the decision was made to go with Cathrell and Shout (which resides in the former location of one of my Atlanta faves - Country Place). My Senior Property Manager coined a phrase at that time (because we were always treated to culinary delights from these icons) "Everyday is Christmas."

My partner just gifted me with a cooking class at Trois tomorrow and I was researching the head chef there...he seems quite impressive.

Edited by tafkap4d (log)
Whoever said that man cannot live by bread alone...simply did not know me.
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How did I miss this thread?  I was in the thick of the Bob Amick and Tom Cathrell mix a few years ago when they were both competing to open a restaurant in Colony Square - both are lovely and talented men.  It was exciting to be in on the ground floor when the decision was made to go with Cathrell and Shout (which resides in the former location of one of my Atlanta faves - Country Place).  My Senior Property Manager coined a phrase at that time (because we were always treated to culinary delights from these icons) "Everyday is Christmas."

My partner just gifted me with a cooking class at Trois tomorrow and I was researching the head chef there...he seems quite impressive.

I worked at Colony several years during the Country Place and Elton years.

They have cooking classes at Trois???? :shock:

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ANOTHER NYC RESTAURANT STEAKS IT’S CLAIM.

Last week’s announcement that BLT STEAK would be the restaurant at the Downtown Atlanta W Hotel and Residences, opening December 2008, marked the 7th New York based restaurant project slated for our fair shores this year and the year isn’t over yet. This project joins CRAFT; IL MULINO; LA GOULUE and other high end restaurants that being spread from Buckhead to downtown in hopes of trading on the cache of the Big Apple’s culinary excellence or the reputation thereof. My question is: does this mean that the Atlanta dining scene is so hot that even the big boys and girls want to be here or are is our hunger for civic recognition being exploited such that we will get watered down versions of the originals?

Maybe it is a little of both. But there is one thing that all the parties at interest should consider and that is that in spite of the glitz and glamour of these “name” brands, they still have to deliver a consistent quality product or they will fail the market test. And the market test here is going to get harder to pass because of its trendy nature as well as relative size. The increased tourism trade generated by some of the new and proposed attractions will help but in the final analysis, the new kids on the block are going to have to make on merit.

Meritorious service-and their ain’t a whole lot of that here- location and design will all play a significant role in the survival of the current and future crop of big city players who are scoping out the ATL. The good news is that we are on their radar. The better news will be that they not only survive and prosper but they lift the entire market up with their vaunted skills and élan as well. We shall see what we shall see.

APRES LE CHANGE.

The “new” JOEL is smaller, brighter and ,based on my visit last week ,just a little different from the original but there is one thing that has not changed: the food. Monsieur Atunes can still make flavors sing; so fear not, 3290 Northside Parkway is still the spot for haute cuisine, Joel style.

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

Buckhead. California cuisine center, WOODFIRE GRILL, is celebrating its 5th anniversary September 19-22nd with some fabulous food and wine treats. Call 404-347-9055 for deets.

The second restaurant to be located within the Mansion on Peachtree hotel and residences will be named NEO and be Italian, featuring seasonal cuisine.

Downtown. DYNAMIC DISH MARKET DELICATESSEN, 477 Edgewood Avenue, is serving food from local farmers, juices and cheesecakes.

Midtown. GLOBE is sporting some new hours of operation and some new menu items.

CAMELLI’S PIZZA is expanding its space and adding more menu items as well.

Old Fourth Ward. Jay Swift has left RAINWATER and is opening an as yet unnamed “Chef’s tavern featuring a modern interpretation of regional American food” this coming spring.

West Midtown. STAR PROVISIONS has added a brand new bag-literally. Anne Quatrano is the exclusive Atlanta seller of eco-friendly and fashionable handbags by London designer Oria Kelly.

Question of the Week: What local breakfast and lunch chain is poised to expand throughout the Southeast and beyond?

Thank you for checking me out and remember that mental health requires that we learn to grow muscles where our injuries were.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW was KEVIN RATHBUN’S STEAK.

100% right 50% of the time.

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RE-BIRTH OF THE COOL.

The latest issue of America’s society bible, Town and Country magazine, listed Atlanta’s Oakhurst neighborhood, along with nabes in Chicago and San Francisco, as one of its “Communities with charm.” The story, in effect, said that the new thing on the American landscape is the formerly run down community, near the city center, that is now the place to be for the in crowd. And Atlanta has one of the prime examples.

Despite all of the recent press regarding the influx of bold name chefs/ restaurants from the big cities, there are still opportunities for the local folks to develop the strong chef driven, neighborhood based projects that are the new mainstays of a city’s dining scene. The in town communities such as Oakhurst are attracting the young professionals with an appetite for hip spots to dine, drink and discuss. And there are some local operators out there looking very closely at this market.

Shaun Doty (SHAUN’S) is looking for an in town spot to create another one of his patented bistros. The BACCHANALIA folks are looking for a spot for a rumored steakhouse. So look for some cool projects in places like Castleberry Hill, Atlanta’s rapidly growing hipster arts district. Or Decatur, the ATL’s Brooklyn. There is already a great feel and depth in their scene that is sure to attract even more of the culinary avant garde.

(My sleeper is Farlie-Poplar. This downtown community has the location and the infrastructure to serve not only the convention and tourist trade but to serve the growing downtown residential base with the sidewalk cafes and boites that speak to a sophisticated and urbane customer.)

Like Oakhurst and other similarly situated communities in Atlanta there are some exciting opportunities for Atlanta’s dining scene that are not on Peachtree or in Buckhead. The newly emerging neighborhoods are ripe and ready to go. So look for a cool community near you and watch what exciting dining options are popping up. You might just be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

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

Buckhead. The opening chef at LOLA BELLINI BAR and RESTAURANT will be Martin Burge, former top toque at NYC’s Meatpacking district’s VENTO. LOLA is scheduled to open September 26th.

ALI-OLI has closed its doors.

College Park. THE FEED STORE has hired Peter Golaszgweski, formerly of THE EPICURIAN, as executive chef.

There could be a LANDMARK DINER locating on Virginia Avenue near MALONE’S this fall.

Dahlonega. The Montaluce Winery and Estates will open LE VIGNE, their upscale Italian restaurant with a strong wine focus, this winter prior to the opening of the exclusive resort homes and winery located in Georgia’s wine country in the spring of 2008.

Downtown. THE E STREET GRILL, the lounge, restaurant and bar at The Ellis hotel, will open October 1st at 176 Peachtree Street.

Midtown. ALLEGRO , the central Italian fine dining restaurant, located at 560 Dutch Valley Road(across from ONE MIDTOWN KITCHEN), will open October 1st with Jose Rego(SOTTO SOTTO) at the helm.

Question of the Week: What Buckhead club/restaurant, located on a major street, is rumored to be shopping both the building and the land it owns ?

Again, thank you for stopping by and for your feedback and info as well. And remember,that life is not always about how to survive the storm but how to dance in the rain.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is J. CHRISTOPHER’S.

100% right 50% of the time.

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PICNIC, MEET THUNDERSTORM.

This past week brought another round of announcementsof luxury developments promising a 5 star hotel and restaurant that will be“like nothing Atlanta has seen before”. Atlanta will have both a Loews Hotel and a Hotel Monaco in addition to the current roster of upscale hotels that include stellar restaurants as part of their allure.

Well I am flattered as the next guy that some big time chef or operator has graced us with their presence but you have to ask yourself: will this be another knock-off version of the original or will it hold up to the original’s standards ?

We have seen star chef ventures here and they have had mixed success at best. Let’s face it, the bloom is off of the rose at EMERIL’S. And another consideration is whether or not there is enough skilled talent to staff the newbies? While location, design and, of course, reputation are going to be part of the initial attraction, it will be the service that will bring folks back. And service at the level that has brought the national reputation these restaurants earned comes at a price and the question then becomes who will pay it and how often?

So while we can rightfully feel proud that the economics and demographics of Atlanta’s dining scene are attracting some of the legendary brands to our shore, let’s consider how we can retain them in a mutually satisfactory manner.

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

Alpharetta. RAINWATER has filled its Executive Chef position with Boyd A. Rose

, who brings a strong resume from Charleston, South Carolina to the table.

Buckhead. Pano Karatassos has been named the 2007 recipient of the National Restaurant Association’s Humanitarian of the Year award for his work with Share our Strength. Congratulations sir, well done.

BTW, the name of The Buckhead Life Restaurant Group’s Boca Raton restaurant will be CENTRAL FISH MARKET. It will be a smaller but more upscale version of the ATLANTA FISH MARKET.

Decatur. LEVI’S KEY WEST FISH HOUSE, at 308 W. Ponce de Leon, is now NATHALIE’S FISH. The new menu is more compact and includes fish and seafood prepared to your request.

Downtown. The name of Lenny Robinson’s sushi restaurant to be located next door to his CAFÉ FLEUR de LIS will be TOKYO 2020.

Midtown. MARY MAC’S , the venerated Southern style restaurant, has undergone an expansion and redecoration and will start serving brunch later this fall.

The owners of TOP FLR , already getting major buzz, are planning to(re) open SWEET REVOLUTION, the former Little 5 Points sweet shop owned by their pastry chef, next door to the hipster hangout.

West Midtown. THE FIVE SEASON’S BREWERY in the new Brickworks development at Howell Mill Road and Marietta Blvd will open this month.

Question of the Week? What NYC super chef is now advertising for staff to operate his first Atlanta project(and what is the name of the project) ?

Thank you for stopping by and remember to live your life so that your nights are not full of regrets.

PS. The answer to last weeks QOTW is SAMBUCA.

100% right 50% of the time.

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A RISING STAR CHEF.

Chef Robert Gerstenecker is starting to create a national stir with his cool culinary style and personality. The PARK 75 at The Four Seasons Atlanta’s top toque has garnered some serious attention from the national food media of late and with some closely guarded changes afoot at the Mobile 4 star restaurant, I am certain that there be even more acclaim headed his way in the future.

A veteran of several Four Seasons Hotel restaurants, the rangy Canadian has settled in here in Atlanta and using his deft touch with seafood and a focus on simplicity in both preparation as well as presentation to become a major figure in Atlanta’s dining scene.

Keep an eye on him folks; he will be a star among stars.

STAR CHEFS RISING.

On Wednesday, October 10th the Star Chefs Rising Stars Review will be held at the Georgia Aquarium. This event is being held in Atlanta for the first time and will certainly put our fair city’s dining scene in the national spotlight.

AND THE ATLANTA JOURNAL COSTITUTION’S RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR IS WHERE?

It is in Athens. FIVE AND TEN was named to that honor last week and pardon my confusion but it seems to me that the Atlanta paper of general circulation’s restaurant of the year would be in, well, Atlanta. Go figure.

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

Atlantic Station. The 6th annual Taste of Atlanta will be held Saturday and Sunday, October 13-14th at the intown live, work and play community.

Buckhead. LOLA BELLINI BAR and RESTAURANT, Tom Catherall’s first Italian venture, has opened in Terminus.

Castleberry Hill. STAR BLUES RESTAURANT will open this month at 177 Peters Street.

Downtown. The Marvin Woods project slated for the former LUXE/MUMBO JUMBO location has been canceled.

OLYMPIA PRIME, the upscale Greek steakhouse, is open for dinner at 133 Peachtree Street in the Georgia Pacific building.

Inman Park. RATHBUN’S was featured in a recent Wall Street Journal edition of “Power Tables”. Power Tables focuses on restaurants across the country where a city’s shakers and movers dine and notes the power seats in the restaurant that are coveted by the bold face names.

Marietta. ROSA’S PIZZA, the long time downtown lunch hotspot famed for its New York style slices, will be opening a second location at 3605 Sandy Plains Road this fall.

Midtown. ELEMENT GASTRO LOUNGE and FOOD LAB, Richard Blais’s latest Atlanta venture, has closed.

The opening chef at STEEL will be Wade Goodmay, who comes from the Dallas mothership.

Question of the Week: What local restaurant group will have four of their chefs to prepare a “classic Christmas dinner” at the James Beard House this year?

Thank you for stopping by and remember that talking to much is like driving to fast; sometimes the brakes are bad and you pass the point you where you intended to stop.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is John -Georges Vongerichten and the project is SPICE HOUSE ATLANTA.

100% right 50% of the time.

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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.

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...more on the Globe's new fall hours.

Quite a few changes are taking shape at the midtown bistro. Chef Joshua L. Perkins reigns over his fall menu which has always been an exciting mash-up of modern and classic mediterranean fare. Also, the week lines up a restaurant sponsored event each night of the week. Notably, a service industry night, or S.I.N on Tuesdays. As well as After Dark Sessions with DJ Bigg H, Thursday nights from 10pm-2am. The restaurant is now open until 2am Thursday-Saturday and offers a great late night line up either before or instead of the club.

the GLOBE

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AND ATLANTA, LOLA WANTS YOU.

With its architecture, location and menu, LOLA BELLINI BAR and RESTAURANT wants to be our city’s go to spot for those seeking California style Italian cuisinein a sleek, sexy setting.

I joined the Industry Bigfoot there last week for dinner and came away impressed with several things about Here To Serve’s first Italian restaurant: Unlike some of their recent ventures, LOLA did not have a club-like atmosphere; the sleek interior looks as if it was straight from Milan with two fantastic patios, an antipasto bar and a dramatic fire pit and the price points were not bad at all.

I had the grilled octopus with chick peas for my appetizer and while it was completely different from my favorite at KYMA, it was just as delicious. The antipasto bar offerings I tried, ricotta stuffed eggplant, marinated Tuscan white beans and prosciutto di Parma, were spot on. My main was the 12 oz. strip steak Putanesca (peppers, pear tomatoes, capers and olives). I got it without the Putanesca and the USDA prime steak was prepared almost to my order. For dessert I had the fresh berries with a topping of whipped cream.

Located just off the corner of Peachtree Road and Piedmont and on the plaza portion of the Terminus development’s restaurant row, LOLA has just got to tighten up its eager but inexperienced staff as it grows and it should be another hotspot on our dining scene.

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

Two Atlanta restaurants were among the 20 selected by Esquire magazine for their Best New restaurants of 2007and the restaurant selected as best new Restaurant, FEARINGS, was designed by Atlanta’s Bill Johnson. (See below for details.)

Alpharetta. PISCES SEAFOOD and JAZZ will take over the former COQUETTE’S on old Milton Parkway.

Buckhead. BLU FIN, a seafood restaurant, is slated to take the former CHINA GRILL location on Peachtree Road near CAFÉ INTERMEZZO.

College Park. TABAGO’S is going into the former KOSMOS CAFE location at 3383 Main Street this fall.

Decatur. PANGAEA, the popular Huff Road global sandwich shop, is opening a second location at 2752 E. Ponce de Leon Avenue this fall.

Downtown. The new owners of the soaring Bank of America tower located at 600 Peachtree Street are strongly considering building a 15,000 square foot stand alone restaurant on the west plaza to enhance the buildings attractiveness. Stay tuned.

East Atlanta. The EARL was named one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine in the November issue. Congratulations!

Inman Park. SHAUN’S was named one of Esquire magazine’s Best New Restaurants for 2007. Congratulations!

Midtown.TROIS was named one of Esquire magazines Best New Restaurants for 2007. Congratulations!

Question of the Week: Who was considered Atlanta’s culinary bad boy before Richard Blais came on the scene? (Hint: some of his restaurants are still around although he has been gone almost 8 years)

Thank you for stopping by and remember when you help someone to get to the mountaintop, you get there as well.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is 101 Concepts.

100% right 50% of the time.

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ATLANTA’S NIGHT OF STARS.

Atlanta’s first StarChefs.com Rising Star Stars Revue was held Wednesday, October 10th at the Georgia Aquarium. The Rising Star Revue is a national award program that recognizes chefs from around the country as they come into their own as young leaders in the culinary field. The event attracted a food savvy crowd that was treated to some stellar food and drink.

The crowd included local bold face names like Bob Amick, out of town foodies and industry big shots that noshed and voted on selected treats and libations from 24 stations set in a circle around a huge ballroom. The room buzzed with excitement and ecstasy as we shared our impressions of the tasty delights.

There was not a bad dish in the house but Kevin Rathbun’s “Hickory Smoked Beef Short Rib with White Balsamic Butter and Garlic Chips” was voted the best dish by the audience. Anne Quatrano was The Mentor Award winner, an award given out for only the 4th time by StarChefs.com, for her integral role of educating young chefs while helping them to succeed in Atlanta’s market. A richly deserved award in my opinion.

Now entering its sixth year, The StarChefs.com Rising Stars Revue has been held in cities like Boston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York. Atlanta’s culinary stars are now part of that august body of nationally recognized culinary scenes.

START SPREADING THE NEWS.

Not only is Jean Georges-Vongerichten’s SPICE MARKET the latest New York restaurant to enter our market but it will be joined at the W Hotel Midtown by another Gotham City favorite, Rande Gerber’s WHISKEY BAR as well.

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

Buckhead. THE BUCKHEAD DINER is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month with several celebratory events being planned.

Downtown. On November 10, 2007, The Big Splash III, the black-tie, signature fundraising event for The Marcus Institute, which offers comprehensive diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities such as autism, will be held at the Georgia Aquarium. For tickets or additional information on Big Splash III please contact 404.419.4086.

LEGAL SEAFOOD, the Boston based seafood group, has committed to open a 9,000 square foot, two level restaurant in the Hilton Garden Inn currently under construction across the street from the Georgia Aquarium.

SERRANO MEXICAN GRILL will open on Walton Street this fall.

Emory. FLOATAWAY CAFÉ is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month not only with an expansion of the space, designed by Patrick Coyne, but with the addition of tableware from California designs maven Edith Heath’s handcrafted Heathware line as well.

Midtown. Jay Swift (RAINWATER) is consulting at ENO, filling in until a new top toque is hired, while he is developing his Old Fourth Ward spot slated to open spring of 2008.

Vinings. BLACKSTONE CAFÉ, the casual sibling of BLACKSTONE STEAK & SEAFOOD, has opened at 4686 S. Atlanta Road, adjacent to its big brother.

Question of the Week: What type of cuisine is hip hop super star Chris ”Ludicris” Bridges hinting at bringing to the former SPICE location when he gets around to re-opening it?

Thank you for stopping by and remember that if charity cost nothing and benevolence was free, the world would be full of philanthropists.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is Paul Luna.

100% right 50% of the time.

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A RANT. (And just as the national media was recognizing the local culinary scene with a number of awards and positive articles.)

The” water crisis” has dominated the headlines here the last few weeks with cries of doom and perdition emanating from everyone from residents to restaurateurs across the region. In fact, the New York Times did a multi-page story on the crisis that involved quotes from several public officials that not only appeared to spread the blame around-absolving themselves of course- but, in my opinion, reinforce the notion that Atlanta is governed by several members of the Order of the Scarlet Nape.

THE PLACE TO BE: DT.

Last week, the world as I formerly knew it suddenly reversed its spin.

Backstory: The Industry Bigfoot , who just a few years ago had pronounced downtown as totally unfit for decent restaurants/ people, said that he and his lovely bride voluntarily spent two days downtown as “tourists”. They took an opportunity to experience the downtown that had been getting some very positive press lately because of a convention of retailers that they are members of was in town and headquartered at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Long story short, they and their collegues had a great time. They took cabs to and from the Georgia World Congress Center back to their hotel-the newly opened Ellis hotel located on Peachtree Street- and partied at several spots –THRIVE, FAB and The Glenn Hotel-all downtown. They had so much fun that he is looking forward to the 2008 convention when there will be even more restaurants/attractions open.

And well they should: a local downtown marketing organization is predicting there will be 40 new restaurants in downtown by 2008. With an expanding apparel market; several new hotels-a Hard Rock boasting several restaurants was just announced in a location across the street from the Georgia Aquarium- and the addition of several restaurants beyond the current crop of grill and garnish steakhouses coming on line, things are indeed looking up for downtown. Soon DT will be at the headwaters of the urban revitalization of Atlanta.

News and Notes (From my keyboard to your screen).

According to a blog at the newspaper of general circulation, Guenter Seeger is leaving the building. In a very good interview with the godfather of Atlanta fine dining, it was revealed that he has re-married (to a former employee) and is following her to New York where she can pursue her dancing career. It was unclear as to what his NYC restaurant plans are but another ATL venture was not ruled out.

Brookhaven. The restaurant roster of the proposed one million square foot new urbanist development, Town: Brookhaven, includes new projects for RAY’S ON THE RIVER, NUEVA LATINA CANTINA, ATKINS PARK, ROLLING BONES, THE REAL CHOW BABY, FLYING BISCUIT and more. Sounds like another Virginia Highland to me.

Buckhead. The Buckhead Life Restaurant Group was ranked 33rd in the nation among the top 75 multi-unit operators by Restaurant & Institution magazine. 2006 revenues were quoted as $69.9 million.

The OK CAFÉ was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best “Power Breakfast” spots in the country.

POSH was named one of America’s Top 10 New Restaurants by the French owned gayot.com.

Emory. Drew Belline, FLOATAWAY CAFÉ’S top toque, was named one of the Rising Stars of 2007 by gayot.com

Inman Park. KEVIN RATHBUN STEAK was named one of America’s top 10 steakhouses by gayot.com. They join such bold face names as CUT and PETER LUGAR on the list.

Little 5 Points. GRANDMA LUKES, the small and quirky dining spot, has closed its doors.

Midtown. LOUISE ON PONCE , the soul food fave, has closed.

West Midtown. BACCHANALIA was named one of America’s Top 40 restaurants by gayot.com. Also, it was 1 of only 11 restaurants to earn a near perfect 29 out of 30 food rating on the national Zagut surveys. Congratulations!

Question of the Week: What San Francisco star chef is rumored to be coming to the ATL bringing some Singapore delights?

Thank you for stopping by and remember that communication is most complete when it proceeds with the smallest number of words.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is the cuisine of Singapore.

100% right 50% of the time.

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ROOM IS NOT JUST A ROOM.

ROOM, the latest from the Concentrics Restaurants hit machine, located in the Twelve at Centennial Park Residences and hotel is the look and feel of the new downtown Atlanta and judging from my recent lunch there with the Media Maven ,it will attract –and satisfy-the requirements of hotel residents, tourists and local trendinistas equally well.

At first blush it is a modern, comfortable upscale casual spot that provides the flair of a CR resto but with out the flash. Its visual and culinary vocabulary speak to the current global trends of less is more and small is big. The space is right sized and the menu hits all the notes that are currently being observed in the hip spots all across the globe.

At the end of the day what impressed me the most about ROOM was the emphasis on service. The GM was from a non restaurant background but had extensive experience a in high end service industry. Immediately after being seated, the wait staff provided some great insight on not only the menu but some of the architectural features of the restaurant as well. There were no” I don’t knows” but several” I’ll find outs”-and they did, promptly. I’ll give it some more time to find their groove but the first impression was lasting and very good.

A COLLECTION OF SPORTS AND CULINARY DATA.

Speaking of Concentrics Restaurants and DT: coinciding with the Hawks season opener was the preview party for STATS just a couple of blocks away. And both organizations came away a winner.

The party was a serious production, both in terms of the hoopla at the red carpet that graced the entrance –along with several spotlights and lovely ladies at the door- and the interior as well.

The theme of this huge, tri- level sports bar/restaurant/special event facility/radio broadcast studio is “Stats Food Play” and from the clever graphics and high tech toys to the groundbreaking computerized beer dispensers this not your father’s sports bar.

The menu has every thing from snacks to full deal meals and there are several bars, dining areas, as well as private rooms that offer a plethora of fun for everyone from eight to eighty. Once again, Concentrics has redefined a dining experience here in Atlanta.

CORRECTION.

The Industry Bigfoot called me to say that the statement in last week’s column regarding the number of restaurants in DT by 2008 should have read that there will be a TOTAL of 40 restaurants by 2008, not 40 new ones. Mea Culpa.

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

Buckhead. JOEL received 5 stars from the AJC’s dining critic last week, only the 5th time that the highest award has been granted. The only other restaurants to reach the plateau: SEEGERS;BACCHANALIA;QUINONES;and THE DINING ROOM at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead. Congratulations!

Cheshire Bridge. RAIN, the self styled Asian fusion bistro, has opened in the former SOUTH of FRANCE location at 2345 Cheshire Bridge road.

Downtown. MELLOW MUSHROOM, the local pizza group, will open a 4,600 square foot, two level upscale spot in the Twelve at Centennial Park Hotel and Residences in the spring of 2008.

Rumor has it that “popular bartender” Chris Lopez will be opening a restaurant serving “hearty American food” at 322 Edgewood Avenue soon.

Virginia Highland. MOE & JOE’S will celebrate their 60th anniversary starting today with 6 days of celebration s that includes $.60 hamburgers and PBR beer as well as a proclamation from the Mayor. Congratulations and here’s hoping you guys have 60 more years.

Question of the Week: What other current Concentrics Restaurants concept will be joining the Twelve Charlotte in Atlanta based Novare’s Uptown Charlotte mega project?

Thanks for stopping by and think about this: Are you a thermometer or a thermostat? A thermometer only reflects the temperature of its environment, adjusting only to the situation; but a thermostat initiates action to change the temperature of its environment.

PS The answer to last weeks QOTW is Chris Yeow.

100% right 50% of the time.

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A STAR THAT IS STILL SHINING BRIGHTLY.

The influx of star chefs, big city restaurants and their designers has brought new ideas and concepts to our dining scene that has enriched our vocabulary of cuisine and design. But the local guys are still relevant, especially in the field of design.

Although Atlanta starchitect Bill Johnson has been responsible for the design of most of the mise en scene ATL restaurants developed over the last 10 years, in the last couple of years he has been far busier outside the city than inside, but a couple of proposed projects may change that condition.

With 4 projects in Chicago, as well as projects in Nashville, Denver, the Bahamas and Boca Raton, he is as busy as he has ever been. And the calls keep coming in; especially now that his design for Dean Fearing’s Ritz Carlton Dallas restaurant is generating rave reviews across the country (see, for example, the November issue of Food Arts magazine).The word on the street in Big D is that FEARING’S is doing a million dollars a month.

But fear not Atlantans: the master is quietly working on some very significant projects here that promise to add some dynamic elements to our dining scene. First, there is a small upscale café at Hartsfield-Jackson airport and then there is the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group’s flagship restaurant in the soon to be completed 3344 Peachtree, a dramatic 50 story mixed use development.

However, the project that could create the most buzz is the proposed project for Hip Hop star Chris “Ludicris” Bridges at the former SPICE site in Midtown. It will be collaboration between Bridges, who has professed a love for the cuisine of Singapore, and San Francisco star chef Chris Yeo, a specialist in the polyglot cuisine of the Asian hotspot. Given the current dearth of high end Chinese cuisine, the combination of Bridges’ money; Chef Yeo’s kitchen skills and Bill’s design skills should create another star restaurant in the ATL.

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

Buckhead. William Sigley, formerly of AQUAKNOX Las Vegas and Wolfgang Puck’s POSTRIO, will be the opening Executive Chef at AQUAKNOX, slated to open this month.

Downtown(DT). STATS, the Concentrics Restaurant, Legacy Property and Sports Radio 790 sports bar/ entertainment restaurant will open Wednesday, November 14th.

SaBAR, a restaurant, lounge and bar, has opened at 150 Walton Street, across from Centennial Olympic Park.

Midtown. The SILVER GRILL is returning. The Monroe Street institution is reopening this fall under management and with some new furniture and fixtures.

Inman Park. ZAYA , a Mediterranean cuisine spot, is scheduled to open at Highland Steel Lofts this spring.

Virginia Highland. PURA VIDA’s Jose Santiago is rumored to be looking for a location for a more upscale version of his red hot tapas spot. Stay tuned.

Question of the week: What local restaurant group is rumored to eyeing the never filled CLADDAGH’S IRISH PUB site at Atlantic Station?

Thank you 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 is LUMA on MAIN, Concentrics’ Orlando fine dining resto.

100% right 50% of the time.

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WHAT IS HIP?

Well if you think you know, then you will be among the patrons of MF BUCKHEAD because this sexy, sublime spot features both great food and a great scene for those who enjoy both of these elements in a restaurant. And they do both very well.

In fact, based on a recent visit, this brand new Kinjo brother’s restaurant seems to refute a recently posited theory, advanced by a local critic, that there are only two types of restaurants in the world: those who are about the food and those who about the scene.

First, the food. Given the pedigree of this restaurant, it evolved from Midtown’s MF SUSHIBAR, the food should be outstanding and it is. My date and I partook of the robata grilled menu and our entrees-the eel for me and sea bass for her- were outstanding. We also had sushi and it exceeded our expectations-we agreed that is was better than MF SUSHIBAR.

As far as the scene, we had an early reservation but by the time we left, the place was filling up with the hip and beautiful of all descriptions. There were the sushi fiends huddled over the longest and best staffed sushi bar we had ever seen and there were also some young couples showing off to their acumen by ordering from the ginormous sake menu. Last, but certainly not least in my book, there was a group of young ladies who looked like Destiny’s Child circa 2002 who turned heads as they sauntered in bejeweled and bedazzling.

The décor of the 8,000 square foot spot was serene and modern without being intimidating; Alex Kinjo drove the design for both the room and the custom tableware which matched the pristine quality of the food perfectly and for all of you design freaks, check out the chandeliers. In addition, the exotic wood floor eloquently pulls all of the elements together. Finally, the sound track was as smooth as the individual floral arrangements on the tables in the main dining room.

So a tip from the Trend Czar : get there soon while you can-and take big bank- because, save some eager but inexperienced servers, this is the spot for the hip crowd that seeks both great food and a great scene, all in one fell swoop.

GRA TAKES THE FIFTH.

Fifth Group Restaurants- partners Robby Kukler, Steve Simon and Kris Reinhard -are the proud recipients of the Georgia Restaurant Association’s Crystal of Excellence Award (GRACE) for Restaurateur of the Year. The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA), Georgia’s voice for the food service industry, presented the trio with this honor at the inaugural awards ceremony held at The Grand Hyatt in Buckhead on November 11th. Other honorees included Bob Amick, Pano Karatassos and George McKerrow Jr.

NEWS and NOTES (From my keyboard to your screen)

Buckhead. The DINING ROOM at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead has the most expensive and elegant Thanksgiving Day menu in town so, if you want to do the holiday meal uptown call 404-410-7035 for details.

Cheshire Bridge. NAKATO’S, the long time Japanese restaurant, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this month. Congratulations!

Decatur. TOSSED, the NYC based gourmet salad chain, has opened a location next to the CHOCOLATE BAR in downtown Decatur.

Downtown(DT). A BUFFALO’S EXPRESS CAFÉ is slated to open on the corner of Peachtree and Baker Streets this spring.

East Atlanta. The owners of Decatur based BRICK STORE PUB are looking at a space at Ormewood and Confederate Avenues for a new restaurant.

Sandy Springs. MAMBO ITALIANO has opened their second location in CityWalk at 227 Sandy Springs Place.

Question of the Week: What renowned pastry chef is rumored to have given up his Chief pastry chef gig at a posh ATL hotel and joined a popular dining group as their corporate pastry chef?

Thank you for stopping by and I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday!

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is the Metrotainment Group. They are looking at locating a HUDSON’S GRILL there.

100% right 50% of the time.

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THE TRIFECTA.

STEEL RESTAURANT & LOUNGE, the latest Asian themed import to grace our shores, has a warm, uptown vibe that is complimented by a solid but pricy menu featuring quality, sourced product prepared perfectly. And the service, at least on a recent lunch visit, is warm, prompt and knowledgeable.

The recently opened Midtown resto, located in the Plaza Midtown condos, is the second branch of a Dallas fave that features Indochine cuisine - Japanese, Vietnamese, etc- along with a stellar wine list, all encased in a sexy Johnson Studio design. By entering the ATL market with a restaurant whose theme is “Never Settle”, Dallas dining Czar Patrick Columbo is throwing down the gauntlet to the competition; telling them that they had better bring their A game.

When I compare STEEL to GEISHA HOUSE and MF BUCKHEAD two things stand out: Their product is at least the equal of MF’s; but their service staff, many of whom are from the Dallas mothership, is the best of the three. But all three have distinct and well earned reputations in their respective markets- Dallas; LA and, Atlanta-that will make them formidable competitors.

At the end of the day, all three are great additions to Atlanta’s dining scene and it will be interesting to see how well all of these high end; high quality Asian themed spots do, especially with the caliber of competition slated to come on line in the near future(NYC’S SPICE MARKET). But in the meantime, the Dallas boys have come to town with a solid contender that will never settle for second best.

HOLIDAY HELP.

Another tip from the Trend Czar: if you self anointed gourmet chefs are looking for that special element to set off your holiday meal(s), the get thee to STAR PROVISIONS for choice provender, spices, spirits and culinary themed gifts. My post Thanksgiving meal was a hit because of the prime steaks and pastries that I picked up at the West Midtown goodie shop. And where they get the extra brownie points is their sage advice on preparing your purchase.

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

Decatur. MICK’S in downtown Decatur has closed.

Downtown (DT). THE SAN FRANCISCO COFFEE ROASTING COMPANY will soon open their 3rd location at 1660 Dekalb Avenue.

Midtown. Former VINO LIBRO top toque Chad Anderson will assume that role with LOCA LUNA when it moves to Amsterdam Walk this January.

Roswell. TWISTED TACO, the popular Midtown spot, has opened their second location in the former DICK and HARRY’S at 1570 Holcomb Bridge Road.

Vinings. THE VININGS INN is under new management and has brought in a new chef, Victor Amato, formerly of HI-LIFE in Norcross.

Question of the week: What intown Italian restaurant partnership has recently broken up with lawsuits and separate restaurants?

Thanks for stopping by and remember that it is not what we have but what we can enjoy that constitutes our abundance.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is David Jeffries, former head pastry chef at The Four Seasons Atlanta. He is now with the Fifth Group.

100% right 50% of the time.

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But all three have distinct and well earned reputations in their respective markets- Dallas; LA and, Atlanta-that will make them formidable competitors.

Does Geisha House LA really have a good reputation? All I've ever read of it (and here in Atlanta for that matter) is that's it's all about the scene, and that the scene now is all wanna-be scenesters anyway. My lone meal at GH Atlanta made clear that I won't be back for more. I'll take Taka any day over GH (or MF for that matter - I do think MF has some excellent food, but the prices and attitude are not my cup of tea).

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MAKING A BIG SPLASH.

If making a dramatic entrance into Atlanta’s dining scene was the goal of E-Brands, an Orlando based restaurant group with a portfolio of several exciting dining concepts, then based on the first impressions of AQUAKNOX, their ultra luxe seafood concept located in Buckhead’s Terminus tower, they have succeeded.

AQUANOX, whose theme is “Global Water Cuisine”, is a huge, Las Vegas slick spot featuring some serious seafood. I am talking lobsters as big as puppies; jumbo shrimp that you almost have to use two hands to pick up and stone crab claws the size of boxing gloves; all fresh and succulent.

Set in a sexy, subtlety curved space on the second floor of a complex that includes 3 other restaurants; AQUAKNOX provides a spectacular view of the newly renovated (and named) Peachtree Boulevard. The sleek décor includes a number of booths, nooks and private dining spaces that offer an exciting or intimate experience for singles, couples or groups.

This is not an inexpensive place by any means but the experience appears to be commensurate with the cost. This is neither your formally attired steakhouse themed seafood palace nor your casually dressed Savannah fish house: AQUAKNOX is the Armani of Atlanta’s seafood restaurants.

And rumor has it that E-Brands is planning to bring 3 more of their concepts to Atlanta, including an Italian steakhouse, TIMPANO CHOPHOUSE and MARTINI BAR.

DT : A CULINARY MECCA ?

A leading downtown advocacy and marketing organization recently conducted a workshop that focused on what is making DT so attractive to restaurateurs and how developers and brokers are luring quality operators to the market. It featured a large bandwidth panel of Bob Amick, President, Concentrics Hospitality; David Marvin, President, Legacy Property Group; Harold Shumacher, President and managing Broker, the Shumacher Group; and, Fabrice Vergez, Owner, FRENCH AMERICAN BRASSERIE, who spoke to an attentive crowd of developers and operators.

The upshot of the discussion was that while the current market is being created in large part by incentives, there is a growing and palpable interest in DT by operators and developers that is beginning to attract destination restaurants, from both national and local operators, to the neighborhood.

David Marvin, the developer who brought BED; RUTH CHRIS’S and STATS to his developments commented that he had a deal-the particulars of which he declined to disclose- that would bring an operator to the roof top of his Hilton Garden Inn project, which has already attracted a prototype LEGAL SEAFOOD to its ground floor, that would attract diners from across the metro area.

He also said that his roster of new eateries on Marietta Street would include a pizzeria, a latin themed resto and a hamburger spot.

Stay tuned for details.

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

Buckhead. The Streets of Buckhead’s French bistro recruit, LA GOULUE, is closing its New York location which has been a Madison Avenue fixture since 1972 as well as a 2006 Michelin star award winner.

College Park. GIOVANNI’S ITALIAN KITCHEN, from the owners of OLDE MILL STEAKHOUSE and MALONE’S, has opened at 1375 Virginia Avenue.

Downtown(DT). The PEASANT BISTRO is slated to open Wednesday, December 12th. (Pending liquor license approval)

Little 5 Points. CALCUTTA on Euclid Avenue has closed.

Midtown. ECCO’S Seth Shindeldecker was named as the “Most Inspired Bartender” in the nation by the Bombay Sapphire Company and featured in a 4 page color spread in the December issue of GQ magazine.

BELEZA, the months old Brazilian restaurant/ juice bar/ natural food place, has a new chef: sous chef Ken Bouse has replaced opening chef Michelle McKenzie.

Sandy Springs. AMERICAN PIE, the Atlanta icon, has closed.

West Midtown. PANGAEA, the Huff Road sandwich shop, is closing the second week in December.

Question of the Week: What Concentrics Hospitality star chef has an Ivy League degree in French literature?

Thank you for dropping in and remember that time has a wonderful way of weeding out the trivial.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is the FIGO GROUP. Mirko di Giacomantonio, one of the co-founders, who has already started is own concept, MIRKO’S PASTA.

100% right 50% of the time.

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REQUIUM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT YEAR.

2007 is almost in the books and looking back, it was a very good year for Atlanta’s dining scene on several counts. Here are a few of the highlights:

Overnight Sensations.

TROIS; TAP; JCT LOUNGE and BAR; KEVIN RATHBUN STEAK and SHAUN’S were some of the newcomers who created a big buzz and national attention from the jump. They all combined both style and substance in design, menu and execution very well and appear to be more than flashes in the pan.

Location,location,location.

Midtown was the hotspot for both newcomers as well as relocations. TROIS; TAP and TAMARIND SEED, as well as others, combined to capture most of the attention of the trendy set. However, Buckhead’s Terminus development made a strong showing at the end of the year with LOLA, MF BUCKHEAD and AQUAKNOX.

The “IT” cuisine .

Upscale Southern comfort food and the All-American favorite, steak, were the fan favorites this year. JCT and SHAUN’S were the frontrunners in the former category and KEVIN RATHBUN STEAK and ROOM sizzled in the latter. Desserts also were also in the sweet spot as the success of THE CHOCOLATE BAR attests.

. Shakers and Movers

Bob Amick was the star around which all of the rest of us orbited. His creations not only redefined dining in Midtown- again- but his two new DT restos, ROOM and STATS, have created a brand new focus on that market as well. Richard Ullio’s new midtown hotspot, BELEZA , has got folks panting for the opening of the Spanish themed CUERNO, set to open soon, next store.

Atlanta’s dining scene continued its growth and development in 2007 and despite the uncertainty currently hanging over the economy; I believe that 2008 will be just as great.

NEWS and NOTES (From my keyboard to your screen)

Buckhead. SOUPER JENNY now has a web site that lists their daily menu: www.souperjenny.com.

MF BUCKHEAD, speaking of web sites, has got one of the most artistic and creative ones that I have seen: www.mfbuckhead.com

Downtown(DT). CAFÉ CIRCA, a bar, restaurant and lounge serving a fusion of Caribbean, Asian and Spanish themed cuisines, has opened at 464-B Edgewood Avenue.

OLYMPIA PRIME has one of the most dynamic and chic designs I have seen this side of Bill Johnson. Designed by local firm ZaKspace; the DT newcomer is also getting a lot of positive internet buzz about its cuisine.

Duluth. MERLOT has closed after a solid 5 year run.

Midtown. FLASH: PIEBAR closed December 8th! This the first Concentrics Restaurant concept to fail after an almost 10 year run of unqualified successes.

Amick and Company promise a new concept in the space by spring

FUNE SUSHI BAR has closed.

Sandy Springs. BREADWINNER, the project from 3 former bread suppliers for SUOPER JENNY, serving whole loaves, platters, coffee and tea, has opened at 175 Mt Vernon Highway.

West Midtown. BACCHANALIA was named the 2007 number 1 dining destination in Georgia by Georgia Trend magazine.

Question of the Week:What opening chef at a Midtown hotspot has returned to the fold after opening his employer’s luxe Buckhead spot?

Thank you for stopping by and remember that some people have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they really want to , when all they need is one reason why they can.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is Nick Oltarsh, who has a degree in French Lit from Penn.

100% right 50% of the time.

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2007 has been a very good albeit interesting year for me, especially as it pertains to this column. Without the love and support that all of you readers have provided none of this would have been possible, so I would like to send some thank yous and Holiday wishes out to all of you for what you have meant to me.

To all of my friends and family who have kept me focused and semi- lucid in this a labor of love, thank you. To all of the local media(and bloggers) who do such an excellent job of chronicling the local scene and its dynamism, thank you. These folks are the foundation upon which we all base are opinions of the people and places that make up the ATL’s dining scene. Love’em or hate’em; they are our leaders.

And to the chefs and operators who bring their energy, creativity and money to what is described as a risky business at best; for all you do, this shout out is for you. Sometimes we forget that these are real people who are struggling to make a living and not just persons who exist solely to provide for our personal pleasure.

Last but not least, I want to thank the Sage; the Industry Bigfoot; the Media Maven and Tonya for their support. Much love people.

I am going to be out of pocket until 2008, so everyone have a Happy Holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

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

Buckhead. JAPONAIS, the upscale contemporary Japanese restaurant, has announced that it will open its fourth location in the Streets of Buckhead. The other locations are in Chicago, New York and Las Vegas.

PIZZA FUSION, an organic ingredient focused pizza chain, will locate their first Georgia restaurant in the under construction Astoria at Aremore condominiums.

Dunwoody. FIRBIRD, a casual restaurant and sports bar, has opened 2 blocks north of Perimeter Mall on Ashford Dunwoody Road.

Hapville. BUTTERSWEET BAKERY, located at 625 N. Central Avenue, is cited in the January issue of Bon Appetit as being one of America's hot boutique bakeries to watch in 2008.

Roswell. URBAN, the upscale bar and restaurant, has closed.

Virginia Highland. DISH, the classic American bistro and neighborhood mainstay, is closing after a ten year run.

Vinings. LE FRENCH NEIGHBORHOOD has opened at 2850 Paces Ferry Road, Suite 300.

Thanks again for stopping by and remember that if you do not do good too, then doing well will not be enough.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW is Ian Winslad ,who is back as the top toque at SHOUT.

100% right 50% of the time.

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