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Atlanta Restaurant Updates: new places & faces


micropundit
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Soto closing is heartbreaking to me. I am a huge fan. Between now and the 28th, I intend to go at least twice.

I haven't been everywhere in the city, but of the places I have been, only Bacchanalia competes with Soto, in my opinion. Part of the reason I haven't been to more places is because I go to Soto so often when I feel like getting a great meal. It has no competition when it comes to Japanese food, and few peers in the city for any style of food. I highly recommend going to anyone who hasn't been or to anyone who enjoys truly great food.

Edited by Voodoo (log)
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only Bacchanalia competes with Soto, in my opinion.  Part of the reason I haven't been to more places is because I go to Soto so often when I feel like getting a great meal. 

Welcome to the SE Forum, Voodoo, and I hope you have been keeping up with the information in this Soto thread ... many here agree with you about the quality of Soto.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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New York City to be exact.

While I thank you for the information, here he was a huge fish in a little pond .. in NYC, he will be among others just like him ... odd choice, I guess, but he has his reasons ... :hmmm:

Please note: our Soto discussion will continue here ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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As promised,here is my conversation with Super chef Marvin Woods who was in town recently to tape his Turner South show and scout around town for possible restaurant sites.

First,let me give a shout out to marketing maven Marsha Middleton for hooking us up.The Four Season's PR director is the best.

I found Marvin to be a great guy.I found him to be humble in spite of his groundbreaking accomplishments;humorous in the face of his hectic schedule and a strong family man.And he knows a hell of a lot about food,the restaurant business and the world that we live in.So here is my take on an hour long chat and chug session with one of the culinary world's brightest young stars.

His story is one of a young man who has risen from humble Southern roots to traverse the globe and become an author,TV celebrity ,an entrepreneur as well as a celebrated chef.All at a relatively young age.Marvin is a 23 year veteran of the culinary wars starting with his first big break in Atlantic City 's Harrah's at Trump Plaza in 1983.He received his culinary degree from New Jersey's The Academy of Culinary Arts.He then hit the big Apple and worked at several New York hotspots like,THE SEA GRILL at Rockerfeller Center and WINDOWS ON THE WORLD.He spent four years in London to further hone his skills and has been top toque at restaurants in Miami and New York as well as opening his own resto, M.WOODS in North Miami.He has also authored two books;been invited to cook at the James Beard House several times ;and, is a hot commodity on the lecture circuit where he shares his vast knowledge of cooking skills with emphasis on Southern and healthy cooking techniques.

As we sat down at a local watering hole,I asked this muti-talented and energetic individual why Atlanta and why now? His response was that several people,including officials at Turner South, have been encouraging him to open a restaurant here in Atlanta and after checking out the scene here over the last couple of years ,he came to the conclusion that it might not be such a bad idea. He believes that the Atlanta dining scene is starting to get its due both nationally as well as internationally and that his innovative style,what he calls "New American Cuisine" ,can add value to our scene.The fact that he has built up a tremendous regional following through his TV show "Home Plate" doesn't hurt either.

He defined New American(influenced by Southern and African) as as being based on the many different cultural influences that now impact and influence contemporary American life-Soulfood meets salsa with a twist of South Beach ,done with an emphasis on healthy and exciting cooking techniques.After scouting the local restaurant scene-JOEL is one of his faves-Marvin feels that he could be a major player here. One thing that he observed is that ,unlike in New York or London, there are very few restaurants here that have that"wow" factor.He cited EMERIL'S as one place that he thought had "wow ",architecturally speaking. This is how he hopes to enter the Attlanta marketplace : with great, innovative food , great service and in a wow factor setting.

I concluded that if Marvin Woods does open a restaurant in Atlanta,and that is still a big if, we will all be better for it because of his community orientation,drive ,energy and most of all, his commitment to excellence.

NEWS and NOTES:

According to published reports in a food industry periodical,Buckhead's fast rising Terminus project will be the site of the second operation of the Las Vegas luxe seafood fave, AQUAKNOX.A 12,000 square foot operation that will sit facing Peachtree Road is scheduled to open in 2007.

The same publication also reported that Here to Serve Restaurants -TWIST,SHOUT and STRIP- next restaurant will be an Italian concept in Buckhead.

Also,that periodical reported that as of January 2006,$ 5 million has been spent on Bob Amick and company's TROIS! (And the construction has not really started yet) I wonder what the final price tag will be?

Charlotte foodies , Atlanta based Novare Group will open a TWELVE Hotel & Condominiums in the Queen City that will feature the popular LOBBY restaurant/bar in 2008. Look for TWELVES in Nashville,Tampa and Austin,Texas in the next few years as well.There will be at least three in Atlanta,downtown,Atlantic Station and Midtown.

The first Rathbun Brother's Wine Dinner,featuring Atlanta's Kevin and Dallas's Kent,will be held Saturday.March 5th at RATHBUN's.All proceeds will benefit the High Museum of Art.

And for all of you foodies out there, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports in today's edition that Trader Joes has signed leases for two Atlanta locations,one in Midtown and one in Sandy Springs, and has plans for 12 more metro locations. Two buck chuck comes to the South,finally.

Speaking of wine,a local weekly alt is reporting that OWC,a" wine bar and merchant n an old world style", will open in June at 329-31 Walker Street in downtown Atlanta's artsy Castleberry Hill neighborhood. BALTIMORE CRAB and SEAFOOD,a seafood resto,is also scheduled to open in Castleberry Hill this June at 253 Peters Street.

Bill Addison,long time dining critic of Creative Loafing, has resigned from the local weekly alt.My sources tell me that he will soon appear in a major daily. Stay tuned for that story.

Until we meet again and if you hear anything good ,give me a call.

100% right 50% of the time.

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the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports in today's edition that Trader Joes has signed leases for two Atlanta locations,one in Midtown and one in Sandy Springs, and has plans for 12 more metro locations.

Best news ever, micropundit! Long awaited by me ... and, no doubt, many others.

Thanks for this report today! Lots of highly interesting developments and you picked up on all of them .. keep up the great reportage!

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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The sounds many of you heard coming out of the San Francisco of the South last week were the wailing, gnashing of teeth and renting of garments by many of the local foodies at the news that Chef Sotohiro Kosugi was closing SOTO, his famed Buckhead Japanese restaurant, for good and moving to New York. While this was not good news- it is never a good thing when one of the brightest stars in your town's culinary universe leaves the building- my guess is that someone will step up to the plate and fill in the gap. And as far as Soto san's future prospects are concerned, New York has gone bonkers over Japanese cuisine with the recent addition of restaurants like NOBU 57, MEGU and most recently MORIMOTO coming on line and the promise of more to come. Career opportunities appear to be very favorable for a chef of his caliber.

My highly placed sources tell me that Soto leaves with some regrets and challenges however, what also has come out of this disturbance in the force are rumors of another culinary super star's dissatisfaction with the local scene and his desire to seek greener pastures. This 5-star toque is considered the best of the best and his departure would be a serious blow to Atlanta's budding reputation. Film at eleven.

While on the topic of earthshaking events coming from Buckhead, some good news: BRASSERIE LE COZE, the long time Lennox Mall hang out for the ladies who lunch crowd, is moving from its prime location next to Needless Mark-up to.. cue drum roll... Downtown! Yes, as of March 25, the former sibling to New York's famed LE BERNARDIN, will close and reopen by August. The new location is Allen Plaza, a $ 500 million,8 building development that has one building complete and two more under construction.The new restaurant will be named FAB. It will be a 12,000 square foot , 4 level brasserie featuring 18 foot ceilings, private dining rooms and a roof top dining area..FAB stands for French American Brasserie- but it is also the nickname of the owner Frabrice Vergez. The menu will be expanded to include steaks with "a selection of french sauces". The design of the $2 million project, by Restaurant Designs Group, will incorporate the fixtures of BLC.

With FAB; a restaurant in the soon to be under construction W hotel Allen Plaza; and LOBBY at the adjacent Twelve at Cenntenial Park, downtown is red hot. Looks like it can no longer be dismissed as a culinary wasteland. (Not that it ever was.)

NEWS and NOTES:

Speaking of BLC,,its former top toque,,Joshua Perkins,,now at GLOBE, was cited by food guru John Mariani as one of 4 young chefs to watch nationally in this month's Esquire magazine. Congrats.

Michah Willix,,formerly of SEASONS 52 in Ft Lauderdale, has been named executive chef at ECCO,,the Fifth Group's Midtown Mediterranean gastro pub slated to open this May.

ROSA MEXICANO,,Atlantic Station's sleek New York import, will hold a 28 day long Chocolate festival this month featuring chocolate inspired menus.,Iliana de Vega will be the guest chef for the Thusday,March 9 dinner.

OLA, Here To Serve Restaurants Midtown Mexican fast casual spot has closed.It has been replaced by THAT'S A BURGER. The former PERI PERI CHICKEN restaurant has had three different concepts in two years.

LOLA is name that is reportedly will adorn the door of Here to Serve's Buckhead Italian trattoria and enoteca scheduled to open next year.

And finally,my compulsive TROIS reference: Concentrics ,Bob Amick's company, is projecting $ 8-10 million in revenue in the brasserie's first year. Wow.

Until the next time and remember,if you have some News and Notes, let me know and I will be more than happy to include them.

100% right 50% of the time.

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Two different lunch experiences last week clarified in my mind what the dining scene in Atlanta's intown hotspots will offer in the very near future. One lunch was in a fast growing but still small-6 restos- national operation and the other was at a small ,second venture of a local operator.But what they both shared ,albeit in different ways,was good food and good value for the money as well.

ENOTECA CARBONARI.located at 710 Peachtree in Midtown,is the new sibling of BARARONDA,a" Cafe Italiano" located right next store. It features a stunning array of wines;delicate cheeses and special cured meats,all in a rustic setting.Picture an intimate lower eastside spot with a wood burning rotisserie as you enter. The dining room has a display case for the various cheeses and meats and the shelves are filled with wine.The lunch menu is comprised of soups,salads ,sandwiches and several entrees ,all but one or two under $11.

The crowd,which seemed to be a mixture of office workers,tourists and residents of some the nearby condos,grow steadily from noon until my departure around one thirty.There was a pleasant buzz to the room and the service was accommodating without being cloying.As my guests and I looked around the room we couldn't help but think -this so New York.

On the other hand,FOX SPORTS GRILL in Atlantic Station felt like a Buckhead Life restaurant.The ambience was not what I have experienced in other sports bars.While this was a late lunch,there was still a nice crowd.But nothing like the around the block lines I had observed every time I had passed by it in the past.Women,young ,and attractive women seemed to be in the majority and there were several functions going on in the private rooms of the main dining area.The see and be seen crowd meets the sports junkies.The food was good and not expensive and the service warm and friendly but when I go back ,it will be for the crowd.This was a new vibe for me but as i stated at the top: there is a new vibrant neighborhood scene in Atlanta and FOX SPOTS GRILL is one of the main hangouts for the Atlantic Station crowd(s).

So it is not all about the fancy,glamorous hotspots.Now if you are in the mood for a neighborhood hang out there are some new and different-as well as good value for the money places -on the Atlanta dining scene.

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead.The big news in town last week was the announcement of a mega project in Buckhead by the Florida branch of,Related Companies, the company responsible for projects like the Time Warner Center in New York.The project, Cityplace at Buckhead , will encompass almost 5 million square feet of residential space in 8-9 40 story towers and 95,000 square feet upscale retail.Based on their website(s) , the developers have substantially raised the bar big time for residential and restaurants in the ATL.They are bringing luxury architecture,art and landscaping at a Miami,Las Vegas/New York scale. Cityplace offcials plan to break ground this year.

The industry bigfoot has heard that not only will AQUAKNOX ,the Las Vegas seafood fave,grace Terminus,the luxe mixed use development at the corner of Peachtree Road and Piedmont,but Here to Serve's LOLA and MF SUSHI will join them as well.The Johnson Studio is being considered for the design LOLA,an Italian trattoria.

Downtown. Vitor Cassorola,formerly of AQUAVIT;BED New York and BED Miami, is now the top toque at BED Atlanta.

NEW YORK NY GRILL and DINER is the new name over the door at the former LANDMARK DINER/SLYVIA'S across the street from City Hall.

Midtown. PARK 75 has completed its makeover.Look for a more upscale casual vibe but with the same great food.

SPICE has stopped serving Sunday brunch as of March,5. Just a the weather was begining to make the patio a must do.

Intown. REDFISH,the creole cousin of AGAVE,has opened. Located on Memorial Drive,the early buzz on local foodie blogs has been mainly positive.

Outside the Perimeter(OTP). Media reports have two new restaurants gracing Dunwoody's posh Park Place: SUGO,a locally based Italian concept with an operation in Roswell and ECLIPSE De LUNA,the Buckhead tapas bar.

Thanks for all the tips people,keep them coming and I'll keep printing them. Have a happy St Patricks Day!

Edited by micropundit (log)

100% right 50% of the time.

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What are the first two questions most ATL foodies ask when they are informed about a restaurant previously outside of their range of experience:Who is the chef and who designed it? While these questions occur in no particular order,they are the defining issues for the go/no go decisions that drive the trend-setters. With that in mind ,I have decided to look at the designers/architects who are getting currently in favor with the see and be seen crowd around our town.

First. The name Bill Johnson is still magic in this town-5 of the newly released top 10 restaurant list are Johnson Studio designed.With more hits than Usher,this guy still commends the attention of the major players in the restaurant biz.When Buckhead Life wants to go national ,who did they call? When the Fifth Group wanted to make a statement in Midtown,who did they call? And when Here to Serve wanted to continue their streak of hits in the new Buckhead,...say it along with me people. Because he can go from downtown to uptown with equal aplomb, in Atlanta,Bill is the man and Johnson (Studios) has become a brand.

The Johnson Studio touch with its art programs,slick lighting and plush pillows has found the dining public's sweet spot in venues as disparate as BLUEPOINT and BED.But what they have done best ,in my opinion,is to capture the industrial chic look that epitomizes Atlanta's dining scene. Starting with THE FOOD STUDIO,by Jose Taval, the look-the Atlanta look- is probably executed best at TWO URBAN LICKS.The art,the lighting ,the fixtures all combine to bring what was once a huge warehouse into a human scaled dining hotspot that has drawn international acclaim for its scene.But while Mr. Bill is clearly number 1,there are some serious contenders ,both locally and nationally, coming on strong.

ASD,a local firm with several offices nation-wide,has created quite a stir lately. First with PIEBAR and most recently with LOBBY at Twelve Atlantic Station.Their modernist take on a 21 st century pizzeria has had both national and local pundits from both the food and design world abuzz.The reto- modern LOBBY-PIBAR meets the W - has become the meet and greet spot in the uber-hip Atlantic Station . There is now a palpable level of anticipation for their design of downtown's FAB,nee BRASSERIE LE COZE.With 12,000 square feet of space spread over 4 levels in a brand new building,the inevitable comparisons with TROIS have already begun.Let's see if the folks at ASD are ready for prime time.

In New York city,David Rockwell is the man.NOBU,NOBU 57 and COUNTRY are just a few of his smash hits.Locally, the Rockwell Group has brought Atlanta the spectacular wine tower at EMERIL'S,along with the rest of that stunning space, and most recently, the dramatic 18 foot water wall at ROSA MEXICANO.The theatrical sense of detail and the use of rich-and expensive-materials that the Rockwell Group brings to the table could become a larger presence on the Atlanta scene as more and more mega projects are announced with deep pocket developers eager to set themselves and their projects apart from the competition.

Other names of note to watch for are: Ed Seibler,a local guy who received national attention for SPICE and RESTAURANT EUGENE.His firm may do the BRICKTOP'S at Terminus.If the is an upscale Wolgang Puck restaurant in Atlanta's future-and here 's betting that there will be-then look out for an Adam Tihany masterpiece with his trademark whimsical,fine detailed approach that will surely feature the use of bold colors.This the go to guy for the world's elite restaurantuers.Last but not least,look for Los Angles based Dodd Mithchell to bring Hollywood glamor to our shores with DOLCE opening this summer in Atlantic Station.Now a partner in the Dolce Group,he may bring his touch to the other two projects,GEISHA HOUSE and KINGPIN.as well.

Post script.A trend that is emerging in restaurant design both locally as well as nationally is the use of an interior designer in addition to a architect. From the stellar JOEL ROBERCHON,in Las Vegas to the much anticipated TRIOS here,the savvy restaurant gurus are adding the touch of a skilled interior designer to further enhance the customer's experience.Look for this feature to become more prevalent in the higher end operations as the competition kicks up here.There are some serious national developers setting up shop here and they are going to take the restaurant scene to a whole new level because they understand the importance of the dining experience to the residents/customers of their projects.And even the local boys have been traveling to places like Chicago's Michigan Avenue to see how they do it in the big cities.So keep your eyes open people ,you are about to be dazzled even further.

NEWS and NOTES:

What Midtown hotel has hired the hottest interior and restaurant designer in the UK?Keith Hobbs/United Designs Europe,Ltd,who has designed restaurants for such luminaries as Gorden Ramsey and Nobu Matsayari,as well as the Four Seasons is currently working to upgrade the historic space. Might a famous New York chef be recruited for the now vacant restaurant space?

Congrats to Meridith Ford,the AJC's food critic.She is a finalist for the 2006 James Beard House award for restaurant reviews or critics.Elizabeth Lee of the AJC is a finalist in the features category:writing with recipes and Bill Addison ,formerly of Creative Loafing,features:writing about restaurants or chefs without recipes.Also,Scott Peacock of WATERSHED,is a nominee for best chef,Southeast. Big ups to all of you!

Buckhead. Greg Koetting,the former Wine director at WOODFIRE GRILL, is now at PAUL'S RESTAURANT BAR SUSHI in Peachtree Hills.

THE CAFE at EAST ANDREWS has hired Diana Watkins as their executive chef.

Decatur. LITTLE AZIO,the local casual Italian restaurant group, is opening their 3rd location in downtown Decatur at 340 E. Ponce de Leon Street.Pizza's and pasta should be served by summer.

Dunwoody. COM VIETNAMESE GRILL, 2005's star Vietnamese newbie, has opened a second branch in Dunwoody.The restaurant which will feature grilled Vietnamese cuisine is located at 5486 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, at the corner of Chamblee Dunwoody and Mount Vernon Roads.

Intown. The original TIN ROOF CATINA has returned to Atlanta.First opened in 1996,the tex-Mex intown fave is returning with a location at 259 Briarcliff Road set to open this June.

Thanks for checking me out.

100% right 50% of the time.

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Some random musings for this week:

Is it just me or is anyone excited about the collection of restaurants at the Terminus development in Buckhead? AQUAKNOX- a failed concept out of Dallas , retooled in Vegas as seafood EMERIL'S? BRICKTOP's-an upscale HOUSTON's(?),give me a break.The two locals -LOLA and MF SUSHIBAR- are hardly headliners either.After all of the hype,these offerings are not razzin' my berry.

Is the party over at two of Midtown's former hotspots.I went to one last Thursday at 8pm without a reservation and to be blunt,sparse would be a charitable description of the crowd. the other I drove by on the way home and there wasn't anyone on the patio-a nice night-and the front tables .visible through the expansive front window,were empty.Guess the fact that they both have had their big name chefs recently move on to other venues has had some effect.

The crowds just keep growing and growing at Atlantic Stations hot spots.Had lunch at LOBBY this Saturday at the bar-note to self:must have more of the goat cheese and sausage pizza and not share this time- and the bar keep had some tales about the mob scene the previous night.Even the Raving Brands restaurants stay busy. It must be something in the water over there.

What's going on at the site of the WATERHOUSE at 942 Peachtree? After a year of construction, the seemingly complete restaurant sits empty. The website had me believing that this was going to be real plus on the Atlanta dining scene.

Had dinner at TAURUS recently and found the food was as good as ever and the service stellar.Had the veal porterhouse,it was a special occasion,and it was outstanding.Keep up the good work guys.

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. Maxime Kien is now at the helm of AU PIED de CONCHON.London,the Ritz Carlton Buckhead and PANO and PAUL's are some of his previous stops.

Downtown. SOPS on ELLIS will open soon in the Carnegie building.It will be owned by the Dennis Levine and Marty White,the creators of KETTLE and LOAF,the long time soup and sandwich spot in the Healy building. They promise a white tablecloth experience using completely fresh ingredients.

Toco Hills. Long time caterer,Susan Steinberg,has opened THE EPICUREAN, a Parisian style bistro at 1361 Clairmont Road.

Ciao!

100% right 50% of the time.

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Is the party over at two of Midtown's former hotspots.I went to one last Thursday at 8pm  without a reservation and to be blunt,sparse would be a charitable description of the crowd. the other I drove by on the way home and there wasn't anyone on the patio-a nice night-and the front tables .visible through the expansive front window,were empty.Guess the fact that they both have had their big name chefs recently  move on to other venues has had some effect.

Which two Midtown hot spots are we talking about here? The second sounds like Spice, but you'll have to give us a hint about the first.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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i was thinking mid city cuisine.

had dinner there on wed night with my fiance. about 6-7 people having dinner as well around 8:15. too bad because the location has so much potential. the food was mediocre (sp?)

watermelon lizards catch bass in charleston!

simplicity is the mother of all beauty - Big John's Tavern

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The popular local weekly, Creative Loafing, has named former food critic Bill Addison's replacement and they are already on the case.This week marked the debut of Besha Rodell here in the Capital of the "New South".Ms Rodell comes to us from a two year stint as the food critic for the Independent Weekly,an alt newspaper that covered the cuisine scene in the cities of Raleigh,Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.In addition to being an award winning food critic,Ms. Rodell is the author of a book on wedding etiquette as well.

In her first Atlanta column she laid out her portfolio,shared her initial experiences and solicited her readers for their assistance in framing her approach to the marketplace.A nice touch.There are a lot of very opinionated,highly passionate foodies in the Atlanta market and they are not shy when it comes to sharing their food related opinions.Especially when it comes to the opinions of the "experts". So ,I like what I've read so far and wish Ms. Rodell the very best.We will be following her take on the Atlanta dining scene very closely.

A shout out to DAILY'S on their 25th anniversary.The downtown restaurant and bar has been a crowd pleaser from day one.A charter member of the original MICK'S group of restaurants,they were warehouse chic before anyone in Atlanta. Their dessert bar still thrills me.

The question of the week is:who will be the first operator to successfully do upscale Chinese cuisine here? It is a tricky proposition given that one of the newer ,and much lauded operators,is not doing well and may soon be gone.BTW,the three responses to last week's question concerning my take on the prospects of two midtown restaurants contained two "correct" answers.

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. Look for LOTUS SUSHI to open in the late,lamented SOTO'S location.

Downtown. Look for a slick and chic restaurant/nightclub to open this summer/fall near the ultra hot BED.

Slated to open in the artsy Castleberry Hill neighborhood this spring :o.W.C.,which stands for "old wooden crates". It will be a wine and tapas bar run by Sam Governale,a former manager at MIDCITY CUISINE.

East Atlanta. CRAVE, will open soon in the old IRIS space as a restaurant and bar serving eclectic American

flavors with a sturdy wine list.

Midtown. An industry big foot has advised me that a new concept F2O-food to order-is worth keeping an eye on.It will open this spring at 860 Peachtree Street.

Anyone looking for a Midtown location should inquire about 942 Peachtree. The earstwhile WATERHOUSE concept is no more. Legal stuff and all that is what I've heard.

Thanks for checking me out.And please note that no animals where harmed in the writing of this column.

100% right 50% of the time.

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Had the distinct pleasure of chatting up Ms. Beth Rodell,the new dining critic for Creative Loafing,this week and came away feeling good about her passion for her craft.I took her up on her offer,made in her column,to give her my take on the Atlanta scene and to suggest where she might want to focus her inquiries.She took my comments and provided me with some insights of her own.

Beth is a native of Australia with very strong New York roots.In fact she says that is where her passion for food sprung full force in her because of the depth and breadth of the dining options there.Her particular passion regarding food is for the product to locally sourced and fresh.In addition,she really understands the and strongly supports the neighborhood independent operators.Especially those who believe as she does that food is a way to enrich our lives.She is busily taking in the local scene and my prediction is that we will be enlightened and entertained by her comments.

By the way,Beth shared with me that Bill Addison,her predecessor will be joining the San Francisco Chronicle as a food writer. Man,talk about dieing and going to heaven. Best wishes to Bill in his new endeavors.

Question of the week is : What famous French chef who previously denied interest in branching out to the Desert,is now "exploring options" in both Las Vegas AND New York?

NEWS and NOTES:

Downtown. VERVE LOUNGE,the ah.. interestingly colored building at 511 Peachtree Street ,will finally open next month. Has a great looking deck...?

Buckhead. Diana Watkins is the new top toque at EAST ANDREWS NEIGHBORHOOD BAR and CAFE,replacing Nico Romo,now at BED.

Midtown.CRESCENT CITY CAFE has replaced the nightclub/bar Whisky Peach at 44 12th Street.The new owners describe it as "a rock and roll club with a neighborhood bar 'Cheers' kind of feel".

Numbers Ale : a sweet, honey-flavored pale ale that has insiders atwitter.What is it you ask?

It’s sixteen ounces of smooth,cherry-tinged goodness, invented by Bob Amick and Todd Rushing — owners of One and Piebar — who’ve just spent a month at the Atlanta Brewing Company perfecting the formula of proper ale.

See you next week and if at first you do succeed,try hard to hide your amazement.

100% right 50% of the time.

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Question of the week is : What famous French chef who previously denied interest in branching out to the Desert,is now "exploring options" in both Las Vegas AND New York?

hmmm.. im guessing joel. very clever :wink:

watermelon lizards catch bass in charleston!

simplicity is the mother of all beauty - Big John's Tavern

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Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and are now safely back in front of their computers ,fired up and ready to go.

First,is it just me or has anyone noticed how the local media seems to favor the locals versus the big name out of town restaurants in their reviews? I first noticed it with EMERIL'S. (will now recite several spells and incantations to ward off curses of the local paper of general circulation).Boy did it get a cold shoulder. And it continues even in the local alt weekly;if read what is written about a "big name"and compare it to a local restaurant review,you will find at least a star difference in the ratings.Check it out,I kid you not. Being an avid sports fan ,I have heard of the home field advantage but...IMJS? People,out of town imports are what lifted "Sin City" from the commen place into the rare world of international culinary acclaim.And with a hefty impact on the civic bottom line I might add.

Well, enough of that.Anywho,on to some good stuff.My friend,the local industry bigfoot,has begun to mutter about ECCO.According to him,the location and timing of the project add up to what he feels will be a really big hit for the Fifth Group.The renovations are proceeding and it should be open this month.Can't wait to see what the Johnson Studio's take on this project will be.

In an insightful interview with Creative Loafing prior to his departure to San Francisco,Bill Addison described Atlanta's dining scene as "adolescent".But not in a negative way.I agree and a article in Travel and Leisure magazine on the 50 hot spots to dine in America kind of underscores the point: No ATL restaurants made the list.Although,3 ATL restaurants made Zagat's 2006 top 100 hotel restaurants:RITZ CARLTON-BUCKHEAD(#9),NIKOLAI'S ROOF(#56)-a downtown restaurant-and,FOUR SEASONS(#64).

Question of the week: What Asian husband and wife team is following several local operators -Buckhead Life,Concentrics- to Florida and opening a branch of their local hit there in 2007? There was a correct answer to last week's question.

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. SEEGER'S head guy is becoming quite the media darling lately.A front page spread in Georgia Trend magazine followed by a nice article in USA. As mom used to say,you get more flys with honey than with vinegar.

Midtown West. SAMPAN has sailed into the sunset.The twice doomed location -formerly COMMUNE-is now shuttered along with sexy sibling SUSIE WONG.

Star provisions,the gourmet grocery arm of the BACCANALIA folks, will be adding a charcuterie of house-made pâtés, spicy saucissons, and paper-thin prosciutto.Can we say KROG BAR?

Until next week,remember that a friend may be a gift you give to yourself, but they are not tax deductable.

100% right 50% of the time.

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The industry bigfoot that keeps me in the know has surprised with a startling statement or two in the time we have known one another but this week, I have to admit I was shocked by his latest statements on the ATL's dining scene.

Backstory: For years this individual has been spot on with his prognostications. So much so that there are those in the media who consider him the truth and the light.Privately,he has always said to me that Buckhead is Atlanta's culinary epicenter,period.In the last few years he has allowed as to how Midtown ,particularly the 14th Street corridor,has become a hotspot.But his vision for downtown was as dismal as a Seattle Spring forecast.So imagine my shock and surprise when he proclaimed downtown-downtown Atlanta-as hotspot.Never one to just accept things at face value,I took the occasion of the groundbreaking ceremony for the hotel formerly known as the Winecoff to check things out.And surprise ,surprise, downtown Atlanta es en fuego!

First,after years of being a derelict,the Winecoff Hotel,built in 1913 at Peachtree and Ellis Streets, is being renovated into a luxury boutique hotel re-named The Ellis.The 127 key property "will epitomize simple chic in a modern world"and will feature a restaurant and bar on the second floor that includes a balcony like the Ritz Carlton across the street. In addition,there will be an al fresco experience in a courtyard next to the street at Ellis Street. With the addition of the W and Twelve hotels at Centennial Park,downtown will have four(The Glenn and The Ellis) of Atlanta's 6 boutique hotels and their destination restaurants.

Second, Central Atlanta Progress ,a downtown advocacy organization,announced that a 6,000 square foot restaurant designed by the Johnson Studio,will be constructed on the ground floor of Centennial Tower.This location is catty corner to BED and down the street from CNN Center et al.

Third,and most surprising as well as telling in my opinion, the old All Star Cafe location at 270 Peachtree is under renovation and being marketed as a prime site for an upscale restaurant.This is a 15,00 square foot site. But wait there is more: there is a big set of renderings in the lobby by the Johnson Studio that are out- freaking -standing.And the Allen Plaza developers won't say who they are lining up for the W Hotel but they have said there are more announcements to come.

Well, on to other matters.Congratulations and welcome back to chef Richard Blais,who has just returned from his honeymoon.

Hector Santiago,the chef/owner of Poncy-Highland hotspot PURA VIDA,is being give serious national respect.Recent food media has compared his work with the likes of DC's Jose Andres as a tapas artist.

The question if the week is:What Atlanta uber architect has been hired to bring the ATL magic to Big D for a restaurant that it's high profile chef has proclaimed will be "..the center of the universe" ?

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. MICK'S at Lennox Square has closed.That's all I know right now.This one caught me by surprise.

Downtown. Look for an AU BON PAIN to join THE FRENCH AMERICAN BRASSERIE aka FAB at 30 Allen Plaza .Ah ,the smell of fresh baked bread.

Midtown. The construction of TROIS has begun.The bar ,which will be on the street level facing 14th Street, has received its construction permit and work has commenced.

Oakhurst. BADDA BING is back. The former Decatur fave who was felled by a fire has returned at 350 Mead Road with it's sandwiches and soups.

Poncy Highlands. The former vegan restaurant LUSH is now PACIFIC KITCHEN.It will feature California cuisine with Asian and Mexican influence.

You know with all of the discussions going around town about the dining scene and all,if I had a dime for every time someone asked my opinion,I would have about $.20.In spite of it all though,I am here again next week.

100% right 50% of the time.

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That's interesting about downtown. I hadn't considered what impact all the boutique hotels coming downtown would have. Still, I'll have to see it to believe it. Downtown is as devoid of quality dining as anywhere else in the city. It's really startling.

I heard through the grapevine that Blais was on his honeymoon last week when my good friend and his good friend, the latter of which is a very prominent chef in the Atlanta area, popped into One last Monday to do the tasting menu. Imagine their surprise when they found out Chef Blais wasn't there.

Mick's is maybe the worst dining experience I've had in Atlanta. Maybe the Buckhead IHOP at 2 am was worse, but that's it. Good riddance.

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The word for the week,in fact for the last two weeks here in Atlanta,is Barbecue.The local media has had polls,reviews,blogs and seances on the topic. Well maybe not seances, but you get my drift. Well allof that discussion worked up a serious jones for some 'que.Without the traversing all over Robin Hood's barn,I checked a few places out and found that there is indeed some of the good stuff here in the ATL.

Now church, I am from a region of the country that does not consider anything that did not oink before it was cooked AND did not have some bones in it ,barbecue. Period. Imagine my shock and surprise then when ,upon arriving upon these fair shores ,I discovered some serious religious differences! Oh,did I mention that barbecue sauce is A) red,and B) applied to the meat both during and after cooking. Well after years of traveling to places where non pork products;boneless offerings and non red sauces were part and parcel of the local orthodoxy,I remain true to my faith.And it has been trying because the ATL is many,many things but a great 'que town are not one of them.

However, I have found a couple of places that have given me hope or in the alternative a very good set of bones to work with. First,the long time fave is DADDY D'Z.It is not what it used to be(what is these days) but their ribs still pack a punch and they still bring in their faithful flock.A worthy newcomer is ROLLING BONES.The Edgewood Avenue upstarts have brought style -the building-and sauce together in a truly heavenly combination.Last,but not least, SHANE'S -a Raving Brands resto-but they didn't make this one up they bought the owner out -that has a nice feel about it. Their second location in Buckhead is starting to have a choir singing it's praises and I am one of them.They feature quality meat and a nice al fresco experience .A tad pricey, but what price can you put on salvation of the spicey variety?

So go forth ye of the faith,there is a balm in Gilead that will soothe the barbecue lovers soul.

Question of the week: Why are all the Chefs quitting at the Midtown hotspots?

NEWS and NOTES:

Alpharetta.Matthew Hughes is the new executive chef at VILLAGE TAVERN in Alpharetta.He is relocating from the VILLAGE TAVERN outpost in Denver, which he helped open. He replaces former chef Albert Charles.

Atlantic Station. ATLANTIC GRILL,a sibling of Tucker's BLUE RIBBON GRILL,is opening late Spring.Look for straight forward ,home style food at reasonable prices.

Midtown. Shaun Doty is leaving TABLE 1280 at the end of this month to open his own restaurant,SHAUN's, in the former INMAN PARK PATIO location at 1029 Edgewood Avenue.News accounts have him continuing to consult at TABLE 1280 and the reasons for leaving.."to spend more time with his family.." Hmmm.

And at MID CITY CUISINE,Chef Shaun's previous location,Nicolas Bour,formerly of the late ,lamented IRIS,is leaving."...Personal reasons" Dc is said to be his next port of call. Hmm.

Virginia Highlands. PAD THAI,the long standing local favorite is closing at the end of the month. Man,I have some good memories of that place.They will be missed.

Guys,thanks for the tips. We will keep using them( although usage may vary according to mileage.)

100% right 50% of the time.

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Finally,someone did it right. What is it and who,pray tell,did it to my absolute satisfaction? The Atlantan magazine with their stellar feature on Atlanta's gourmet guru,Guenter Seeger and some of the other faces and places that make the ATL's dining scene shine.The layout,in the May/June issue,is outstanding;its photo -journalism at its best.The writing was crisp and buttoned down ; the lede tied it all together into a global perspective.Would that this quality of journalism would become the rule here. Check it out for yourself.

The Atlantan is just one of the several new glossies to hit town lately.All arrived with splashy parties and highlighting fashion,food and fun on the local scene with similar but varied approaches.With names such asThe Peach,Shecky's and Skirts and the year old,Paper City,they all seem to be engaged in a urinary fusillade to attract the local upscale market.The better news is that the quality of food journalism will be raised significantly.Mini- rant alert(: how in the #$&* can a town that has 2 Bloomingdales have such %#@$ poor fashion coverage from the newspaper of general circulation? Hey, maybe that's why the glossies have been flocking to town) End of rant. I am just happy to see some serious ,in-depth coverage for our restos.They deserve it all and more.

Speaking of deserving,a shoutout to Anne Quatrano for her nomination for the YWCA's 2006 Women of the Year award.Only 10 candidates a year are nominated from throughout the city based upon their contributions to the community and outstanding achievements.

Question of the week:

What high profile New York chef whose empire spreads to Vegas-think synonym for skill-has an Atlanta project in the works?

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. SURIN,the long standing Thai restaurant, has undergone a name change: it is now RAMA 5 of THAILAND.(?)

College Park. The late lamented OSCAR's location is being resurrected as PECAN, a southern fusion restaurant seating 75.Tony Morrow,a former Buckhead Lifer and owner of Flavors Gourmet Catering,will be the chef/owner.

Ponce de Leon.REPAST,the new American cuisine bistro at 620 N. Glen Iris, was featured on the Food Network's Opening Soon program this past week. They just opened 2 months ago,talk about timely.

Midtown. Look for at least three new restos in the just completed,sleek Plaza Midtown condo development on West Peachtree..First,a J. CHRISTOPHER'S will open this fall,along with a new concept,DRESSED.Chef/owner Justin Smolev,who has stints at DANIEL and THE FRENCH LAUNDRY under his belt,will open a sophisticated salad restaurant in a space designed by Michael Habachy( NOODLE).Early 2007 will bring another Asian resto , Dallas fave STEEL,a chic "Japanese-Indo Chine"(Vietnamese) spot. I checked out when it first opened and STEEL was the see and be seen spot in Big D.

Well folks thanks for tuning in and be advised that the reproduction of this column in any form is strictly forbidden without the expressed written consent of major league baseball.

100% right 50% of the time.

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A war among southern cities for bragging rights as to who has the "coolest" city is heating up. Atlanta is finding that despite the acclaim-built primarily by the Olympics- it has received, for its hot restaurant scene, etc.it is not going unchallenged by several of the major Sunbelt cities. Cities whose future is being tied to recasting their images from sleepy hamlets with drab downtowns to epicenters of cool with thriving inner cities chock -a-block with all of the urban chic anyone could want. And, owing to demographics and developers, this trend has put Atlanta's status as the premier urban center in the South in play. How and why you say?

How? Simply put,money. Cities are spending billions and billions of dollars to reinvent themselves and particularly their inner cities to attract new residents and visitors. And it is working even here in the famously suburbancentric South.Why? Because the urbanites have ,for the most part,money and they spend it early and often.Moreover,for restaurants,these are the prized customers because of not only their propensity to eat out but their appreciation for the experience as well.The new shorthand for urban development is restaurants then rooftops then retail plus the arts equals revitalization.And the prospect of attracting the cool crowd has set of a fierce competition between and among the fast growing Sunbelt siblings.

Restaurants have been one of the main weapons in this conflict again,because of their "cool "factor.And for a long while the Atl held a decided advantage because of all of the recognition it received because of the local restaurantrepreneurs and starchitects (Bon Appetite just named TABLE 1280 one of the Nation's Ten Hotspots).But while as some of our neighbors tried,unsuccessfully,to duplicate our Olympic success,they are now engaged in a beauty contest to make their inner city the "one." Cutting edge restos have been recruited;world class brands have sought and marketing campaigns have been engaged.Case in point,Dallas.

In the last 10 years Big D has been slowly overcoming the indignity of being upstaged by its little sister to the east.The Wall Street Journal,Investor's Business Daily and other publications have had recent feature stories on the muti- billion dollar revitalization of Dallas's inner city.Dallas is building a $ 275 million arts complex that includes an opera house and a separate theater designed by award winning European firms.Also, the $ 3 billion Victory Park development-their Atlantic Station-has lured nationally known restos such as Chi-town and Vegas fave, N9NE,a steakhouse, the Big Apple's CRAFTand a sports bar from LA's hot Dolce Group. Further,over the last two years culinary super novas,NOBU,BICE and IL MULINO have landed in the prairie.And Dallas developers have just announced a 5 star Mandarin Oriental hotel that will feature 6 eateries that will join a brand new W hotel and residences in Victory Park..The point is that let us not think that our present status as the South's culinary hotspot is unchallenged/unchallengeable.So ATL ,what cha' gonna do,cuz they're coming for you.

Question of the week:What Seattle based eaterie that promises a three hour whirlwind of international cirque,comedy and caberat artists ,all served with a gourmet meal ,is considering Atlanta for its third location?(Understand that a major push is underway by the City,State and ACVB to lure them because of their tourist potential.)

NEWS and NOTES:

Alpharetta.BARCELONA,the eclectic spanish themed spot,has closed.

Buckhead.Look for AQUA BISTRO to open this summer in the chic Eclipse condos on Pharr Road.

RESTAURANT EUGENE has a new sign out front that makes it easier to spot them as you go whizzing down/up Peachtree Road.

Marietta.SUGAR CAKES PATISSERIE,owned and operated by an ex- RITZ CARLTON BUCKHEAD pastry chef,has opened at 101 N. Park Square.

Midtown.Speaking of inner city development,according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle,The Sheraton Colony Square hotel will be converted to a W hotel that will have 4 eateries including 2 lobby bars.

Look for two new offering's from Richard Ullio(SOTTO SOTTO) in the slick new 905 Juniper condos.CUERNO,a tapas spot and BELEZA,a South American seafood resto will add even flavor to the ever growing Midtown scene.

Vinings. Atlanta Bread will open ZARIA, in Vinings Jubilee later this spring. The company is taking over an existing location and beefing up the menu with more entrees-pizzas, pastas, etc.- to entice evening business.

The two locations of long time intown fave,THE FLYING BISCUIT, have been purchased by Raving Brands-MOE's,et al-with a view toward future expansion.Hurray,I think.

Hope everyone had a great Mother's Day,see you next week. And remember:if you are being run out of town ,get in front of the crowd...and make it look like a parade.

100% right 50% of the time.

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Is this Raving Brands planning on touching the existing Flying Biscuits? They shouldn't...

I heard on NPR today that they are planning on opening 100 Flying Biscuits nationwide with the first branches right here in Atlanta. Frankly, even as insanely packed as the Candler Park location I go to is, I'd rather they not open any more branches in Atlanta. For one, I don't want the quality to go downhill. Secondly, I hate when businesses cater to the OTP crowd.

Edited by Voodoo (log)
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