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Chris Cognac

Time to let the cat out of the bag

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Just top of mind ramblings right now (the 8th cup of coffee hasn't quite kicked in yet) - will put some more thought behind this today and try to add to the list.

Some of my initial thoughts on places that constitute "off the beaten path" dining experiences in Atlanta:

Kool Korners sandwich shop on 14th street - great Cuban sandwiches

Brick Store Pub in Decatur - THE best beer list in Atlanta and excellent pub grub

Happy Valley for dim sum

One Star Ranch in Buckhead for Texas style BBQ - very solid beef brisket sammiches and you have to try the brontosaurus sized beef rib...my stomach is distended just thinking of it (sorry about that image people!)

Vreny's Biergarten in Duluth - good German food and a nice patio/garden area to sit and enjoy our city's fine weather

The Slovakia Restaurant in Marietta Square - authentic Slovakian cuisine, plus two of the nicest people you'll ever meet in Ivana and Stefan (owners & chef)

Osteria del Figo - good, fresh pasta dishes and a boisterous atmosphere combine well

Sushi Huku - my favorite Japanese restaurant in the city (so much more than just sushi)

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Jason,

Welcome to eGullet.

Are you just talking Manhattan, or are you doing the outer boroughs as well? I mentioned this in Chris' post, and I don't think you should neglect them, since you can find great food there.

For example, in Astoria (just a few minutes from Midtown), there's Mombar, a nice Egyptian restaurant. The chef/owner literally cooks your entire meal on a campstove. He's also an artist, a really nice guy, and the entire restaurant was decorated by him. A picture of the exterior can be found here. (If you do decide to go, I'd love to tag along, since I promised him I'd stop by, and haven't had the chance to do so.) And there are a also few hookah bars along Steinway Street.

Also in Astoria is Sabor Tropical, a Brazilian restaurant which has the best capairinhas and feijoada I've ever tasted in NY. (Also a lot cheaper than you'll find in Manhattan.)


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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It's not an eatery, but Charleston is home of the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only place in the U.S. where tea is produced.

Hi Everyone,

Right now, we're lookin for some great places in Charleston.

Jason Levine

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Chris or anyone:

For Chicago, please visit:

LTHForum.com

This is the best Chicago-specific forum for foodie discussions - so you can get up-to-date advice on places to check out, whenver you (or anyone else) visits.

Nancy

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Congrats Chris, nice to see that intelligent "new blood" is being injected into The FN and best of luck to you! I've always enjoyed reading your observations. Melrose,Florida awaits you. :cool:

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I choose places I eat with a "cops eye" looking for clues that would lead me to believe that a certain place is worth checking out....like if I am getting Arab food on the street...I will go to a mosque and start looking around the area for "halal" signs....talk to some locals....check out things like "awnings" and see if they are worn from weather...a sign that the place has been there a long time.....newspaper racks, which indicate that there is a crowd during the day because people by papers when they go eat breakfast, lunch etc.....stuff like that....I also rely on bloggers, foodies, chefs and other informants to give me ideas and clues....

Then I have the Chicago spot for you! It's a pretty divey Pakistani bakery/greasy spoon place, very plain and homely, and full of cab drivers. It's called Zam Zam. I walk down about once a week to get a special sandwich for lunch--lamb sausage, grilled veggies, fresh onions and lettuce, spicy yogurt sauce all wrapped in a big fresh piece of naan!

We could have lunch at Zam Zam and then check out my favorite spice emporium and fruit and vegetable market just down the street.


S. Cue

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jaymes, i am still trying to see how this show is anything different than the same old food network programming.

paula deen's kids are getting a show where they are doing a travel show highlighting small businesses (which will probably be "off the beaten path")

alton brown has a new show, that even cognac says is similar.

bobby flay's foodnation takes you "off the beaten" path exploring local food people and/or restaurants.

foodfinds hit up little bakeries and restaurants weren't tourist traps.

roker on the road and best do  the same, to an extent.

i think rachel ray tries to do a mix of touristy and non-touristy stuff in her shows. inevitably, people seem to have a problem with her selections.

so that's 8 freaking shows about travel and food and where to go, all of which are trying to find that hidden gem. i really don't see what a 9th is adding, especially based on the list of cities. it would be great if the producers could explain the niche that they feel is being left out right now per the current food network programming.

Amen.

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I choose places I eat with a "cops eye" ....check out things like "awnings" and see if they are worn from weather...a sign that the place has been there a long time.....newspaper racks, which indicate that there is a crowd during the day ....

Now that is fascinating! Truly a detective's POV. Gives me a whole new take on tattered awnings.


_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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>>We are featuring a good mix of ethnic, street food, family run places and the "old school" restaurants...plus places where people that work in the city and make the city run eat...such as the UPS guy, Cops, etc...and for good cheap eat....students and the like....

<<

Well, for Season 2, if you come to San Francisco, my husband and his buddies do a weekly "geezer lunch". (This is a group of retired/semi-retired guys -- and by retired I mean un- and under-employed!)

The idea is great "working-man's lunch" places -- simple, honest but good food, under $10 for lunch. They've got a bunch of great places (the Hard Knox Cafe for fried chicken, Connecticut Yankee for pasta, Double Play , and others). Nothing yuppie or fancy or even ethnic, just good food at reasonable prices in a comfortable setting. With lots of beer.

And good luck on the project!!!

Susan


Edited by waldrons (log)

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if you do visit San Francisco stop into Tommy's Joint for a dish of their Buffalo Stew. I think they also serve sandwiches too, I only go there for the Stew. It's a wonderful Hof Brau/bar, it's located on Van Ness & Geary Street. Jason next time you come to the city we show go there for lunch and I will bring the It's It Ice Cream sandwiches for dessert.

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Okay, I'm joining this way late, but congratulations! I'm looking forward to your take on Philly already.

You already have Holly, Herb and Katie offering their services, but may I also contribute as another rank amateur guide?

When it comes to the Philadelphia region, you can't get much more off the beaten path than Chester, a city that not even the locals visit much. I've already been introduced to or stumbled across several good, small places to eat, some of them run by people with real personality who are doing their small part to nurse this faded industrial center back to good health. I've mentioned one of them in my first foodblog and another in the long-running "Lunch!" thread. A third--which I hoped to include in my blog, but the event fell through--I haven't sampled yet but will report on when I do. (A fourth is a bakery that has amazing donuts (edited to add: It won a "Best of Delco" for its donuts in this year's Daily Times readers' poll) but is only open from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. As my commute to work now runs via Chester train station, I can stop by this place--which is just steps away--en route.)

I'd be glad to assist in any way I can, time and other commitments permitting. As soon as Chris Amirault figures out how best to solicit suggestions, I'll add mine.


Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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OK, lets see if I can clear some stuff up....for this initial run of 11 shows we will be showing "off the beaten path places" in major cities, giving people an alternative to the chains and touristy places...we did the pilot in Vegas and went to 6 places that had never been on food network before....it ended up being really fun, with some great places discovered along the way....everything was "off the strip" which is the "beaten path" in Las Vegas.....we are showing that if you just go a little bit out of the way, there is a ton of real, honest food out there to be discovered. WE are going to highlight and feature places that might not ever get on TV otherwise and can really make a huge difference in some hard working chefs, and restaurant peoples lives...

Cheryl of Cheryl's Southern Style definitely deserves a boost like this. (See my foodblog for details about the place.) I hope to be able to say the same thing about De' Essence of New Orleans soon as well.

The only downside about Cheryl's is that this place is strictly takeout and there's no really comfortable place to eat outdoors near the restaurant. I would hope that wouldn't be an insurmountable bar.

In my short time working at Widener, I've met a bunch of people who love this beat-up old town every bit as much as the residents who left seem to and are trying their best to help it back up.

As for the larger comment from carpetbagger upthread about what makes this different from everything else on the Food Network:

One, Chris is not a food professional, either in a preparing or writing capacity. As a cop who loves good food, he comes to the subject from a completely different angle, and his explanation that I've snipped here explains how.

Two, he is focusing on the places you won't find in the tour guides, it appears.

Is a three really necessary.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Rats, KC is snubbed again in favor of Chicago. No wonder we have a collective inferiority complex :sad:

I know you can't go everywhere in season one, though, and 'get' the need for 1st and 2nd-tier media markets for success. Just promise you won't giggle or do a prolonged "mmmmm" or say "yum-me" (or any variation thereon) and I'll be happy and proud. :wink:


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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As for the larger comment from carpetbagger upthread about what makes this different from everything else on the Food Network:

One, Chris is not a food professional, either in a preparing or writing capacity.  As a cop who loves good food, he comes to the subject from a completely different angle, and his explanation that I've snipped here explains how.

Two, he is focusing on the places you won't find in the tour guides, it appears.

Is a three really necessary.

whatever. paula deen's kids are coming at it from a differnet angle than say al roker (not a food pro), alton brown (neci alum), bobby flay (obviously a pro), or rachel ray (the hojo girl). it's still remains to be seen how much they can do to avoid making this seem redundant.

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I'm having a hard time understanding the philosophy here...

On the one hand, the phrase "off the beaten path" has been used repeatedly to describe the concept.

But then, there seems to be a list of cities that are nothing if not right smack dab in the big ol' middle of the beaten path.  In fact, they define the beaten path.

Is it just me or is that puzzling to anyone else?

Agreed. The one thing almost all of these places have in common is you don't have to change planes to get to them if you're traveling from a major metro area. Florida is a huge state population wise these days - but the only place mentioned is Miami. I suppose if someone who's never eaten Cuban food before eats at a hole in the wall Cuban place - they can say it's "off the beaten path". In the meantime - the "important" restaurants basically fail - because all that so-called foodies are interested in when they come to Miami are Cuban sandwiches and the like.

To me - off the beaten path - in terms of metro areas - are places like Detroit - Minneapolis - San Jose - etc. And - obviously - there is lots of stuff that is really off the beaten path (but you have to get out of metro areas to get to them). Robyn

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This has been done ... no? Is this not another variation on Tasty Travels, $40 a Day, The Best Of, Unwrapped, Top 5, Ciao America, FoodNation, Roker on the Road? Yada yada yada?

To me off the beaten path is Guyana, Greenland, Armenia, Andorra, Tunisia, Eritrea ... what do people eat there?

I already know what people in Detroit, San Jose and Minneapolis eat, let alone Chicago and Miami.

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Looks like we have a great opportunity to let the Food Network see the real Atlanta ... hope to hear some great ideas from our local food enthusiasts ... Julia, Tryska, Therese, Milt, Thomas, Dave, Collins, Greg ... just to name a few of our regulars ...

Off-the-beaten-path ... hmmm ... :rolleyes:

maybe Watershed in Decatur for classic Southern cuisine?

Fat Matt's Rib Shack on Piedmont for barbecue?

Tamarind and Nan Thai for authentic Thai cuisine?

Havana Sandwich Shop

more on Atlanta here

Madame Gifted Gourmet -

If we could limit the cuisine to some specifics, I could provide some off-the-beaten-path input. As great as they are, I feel there are better places than Fat Matt's and Tamarind for candidates for their categories. I don't remember visiting Watershed.

I wanted to nominate "The Varsity" to outdo Rachel Ray, but then I also expressed my wishes for Thomas Keller to copy the old Red Barn motif at his new burger joint. :raz:

The finest Mexican food I've had anywhere, including California and the border area into Texas, is Nueva Laredo Cantina on Chattahoochie St. in NW Atlanta. I take all my out of town business associates there. The Vortex in Little Five Points has the best burgers/pub food in town. For Vietnamese/Thai, have you been to Saigon Cafe on Jimmy Carter (the best Pho)? For barbecue, have you tried Swallow At The Hollow in Roswell? I still prefer Touch Of India for the food and atmosphere in midtown, too. Pastis for authentic Provencal food on old Roswell square (my sister's firm help them with their visas). Canoe for their impeccable wine list. Thelma's Kitchen for Southern/Soul. Mary Mac's Tea Room on Ponce and Bobby and June's Country Kitchen on 14th for meat-and-three or breakfast, or Aunt Fannie's Cabin in Marietta for southern comfort (cliche, but the kind of places that have the traditions and stories the Food Network would eat up)

All of these are Top Shelf, Gifted Gourmet, Top Shelf!

If you'd like, I would be pleased to meet you at any of these locations to Chew and Discuss. (And this isn't some cheap come-on, as far as you know)

:cool:

Edited to add more ideas

Matthew's Cafeteria on Main Street in Tucker for a great southern cafeteria experience.

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Chris,

Let me throw my hat in the ring for Houston. We can get as off te eaten path here as possible. If you want regional specialties we can do bbq, mex, vietnemese. Its a reat cop food town IMO.

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Chris,

Let me throw my hat in the ring for Houston. We can get as off te eaten path here as possible. If you want regional specialties we can do bbq, mex, vietnemese. Its a reat cop food town IMO.

I have not read all six pages of this great announcement, so first off big congrats Chris. Looks like FTV is moving in the right direction with this show.

I'll add my voice to Jscarbor's. Houston as it all, so a stop here when in south TX is mandatory.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Hello Chris,

Congratulations to you, who seems to be a real person who happens to like food. Really nice to hear the Food Network is giving you this oppurtunity.

I'm a Miami local and am offering my services. The places I can recommend are definately places locals go to, certainly not touristy at all. But they are pretty usually busy and loved by their clients. Hope that's a help.

S & S Restaurant, 1757 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, 33132

1930s diner around a U-shaped counter. Just listed on the National Register of Historic places last year.

Picnics

This little diner just moved out of Allen's Drugs last fall. They are in a new location a little further west on SW 40th St. The food is still good and the same waitresses are still there.

I will happily volunteer more. Best wishes to you on this journey in search of great food.


Edited by I Dream of Tiki (log)

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Dignan votes Houston over Dallas. I move we convene a panel over in the Texas forum so we can come up with some reasons why....

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I just wanted to add some of my favorite places in Charleston that don't seem to be major players on the tourist track. Most of these places are full of locals, particularly at lunchtime. The first place is the Hominy Grill on Rutledge Ave. I love both the cozy interior (like Grandma's kitchen) and the bamboo screened patio area, not to mention the wonderful breakfasts, and my all time favorite version of shrimp and grits. Just about every time I've eaten here, it's been full of MUSC staff.

G&M Fast and French on Broad St. near the courthouse is possibly the narrowest, but coolest restaurant I've ever eaten in. It's like a little slice of Paris dropped down in Charleston. People sit at the long counter or a one of the community tables in the back and the menu is very French. At lunch, this seems to be the domain of lawyers and other courthouse dwellers.

The Boulevard Diner, in Mt. Pleasant, is housed in a converted Dairy Queen, but the days of frozen french fries and Blizzards are long gone. Instead, there are daily specials featuring fresh seafood, as well as comfort food like meatloaf. I have had an amazing spinach salad with fresh oysters here. Lunchtime clientele ranges from construction workers, to retirees, to beachgoers.

My last favorite place is Poe's Tavern, on Sullivan's Island. This, to me, is just the quintessential beachy restaurant. You can eat inside or out on the porch. They seem to specialize in really good burgers, chicken sandwiches, and fish tacos, although there are other options on the menu. Everything is named after an Edgar Allen Poe work.

I can't wait to see where you visit in the Lowcountry!

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Hi Chris, and congratulations!

I am interested in the old dairy restaurants of New York City. These were restaurants for Jewish people (generally men, as it would be shameful for a woman to be seen dining alone,) who kept kosher in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in New York.

The modern kosher gourmet seems to be more interested in imitating food which is usually non-kosher...seafood, barbecue, Chinese food...and producing rough equivalents of this kind of food. Generally, it isn't very good!

But our grandparents and great-grandparents didn't want to imitate, they wanted the same foods they had had in the shtetls, the Jewish villages of Eastern Europe. Sour cream and canned fruit or dried fruit. Smoked fish and cream sauce or wine sauce. Cheese that could be made with the milk from one underfed cow and eaten almost immediately.

It was somewhat bland (the heat came from radishes, onions, scallions) and very comforting. Noodles, rice and potatoes were the starches of choice. Nothing was served al dente--the texture was supposed to be gedempte, which means soft and overcooked. Babies and grandparents shold be able to eat this food--everyone should be welcome at the table.

If one isn't eating "dairy" food, as a kosher Jew, one is eating "fleischig" or meat cuisine. The original delis of Manhattan, Katz's and all the others, were all about "fleischig", including pot roast, brisket, pastrami, salami. You didn't ask for a glass of milk to go with that, or cream in your coffee!

This is a very small slice of the ethnic foodways of New York, but I wanted you to know about it.

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