Friday, June 22, 2007

Stirrings from the crypt of Emory Village?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2007 at 6:20 PM

The opening of Emory Village brunch joint Rise N Dine has many students wondering if the long-awaited rebirth of the Village has begun.

One by one, dismayed collegians watched as every worthwhile spot in the Village disappeared — Jake's Ice Cream & Muncheteria, Caribou Coffee, Lebanese spot Cedar Tree, and the only bar within walking distance from campus, Park Bench. With the fairly recent opening of Saba, which serves pasta for lunch and dinner as well as delicious brunch food, it seemed the long-sleeping Village was starting to wake up in terms of dining options. Hopefully, this newest addition will be as pleasing.

Rise N Dine, freshly opened by Georgia Tech engineering grad Marshall Happ, serves breakfast all day as well as nonbreakfast foods, with an emphasis on health-conscious cooking and creative combinations of flavors.

According to a chatty barista at the neighboring Starbucks, (Manifest Destiny ensured that while Caribou was booted, Starbucks obnoxiously would remain one of the only standing businesses in the Village) Rise N Dine has some of the best hash browns — because of the combination of shredded zucchini with potatoes.

Other yummy-looking dishes on the menu include sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon and sandwiches with items like quinoa, hummus, and roasted veggies.

Now if only a new bar would replace the long-defunct Park Bench, perhaps Emory could gain a bit more of the collegey atmosphere that is missing in the Village. ...

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The SAGA is over ...

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2007 at 3:50 PM

Perhaps the Southern cuisine of America doesn't blend so well with that of Africa. SAGA in Midtown — chef Drew Van Leuvan's brainchild that mixed modern Southern dishes with South African ones — has closed.

This curious mix — the name stands for South Africa Georgia — may have proved too much so, although the restaurant's answering machine promises "an exciting new concept" from the owners, with more information coming in late summer.

See Besha Rodell's review of the sadly no-longer restaurant here.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Demonic deer overlooks beer-swilling urbanites

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2007 at 1:49 PM

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I hit Tap (1180 Peachtree St., 404-347-2220), the new gastro-pub, Monday night and got a glimpse of the demonically red deer Besha Rodell mentioned last week. The restaurant is the latest in the empire of Bob Amick's Concentrics Restaurants. I'll be sharing my first impression in next week's paper.

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A couple of observations: The place was phenomenally crowded for a Monday night, partly because it only opened a few days ago, but also because any Amick opening is akin to the completion of a pyramid in the Nile Valley. Everyone has to show up to check it out.

Besides the deer from hell, you'll find brewery equipment that resembles something in a Rube Goldberg cartoon, sci-fi light fixtures (shown here) that look like they are about to descend upon your head and either dry your hair or screw up your brain waves, a single-toilet restroom walled in red and pressed tin, a great staff clad in black T-shirts, and a mixed crowd of urban types.

Chef Todd Ginsberg's menu includes snacks, not-so-small plates, entrees and desserts. We ordered a bunch of food and, in fact, I started trying to pass some of it off to a couple of young guys sitting next to us. (Wayne glared at me when I started this process and he actually yanked back the dish I handed them.) One of the two turned out to be restaurateur/chef Tom Catherall's son Ryan — they look identical — who said he and his friend Robert, who works at the restaurant, were there mainly to drink.

I told Ryan I still miss Azalea, his father's first restaurant here two decades ago. He looked at me blankly.

"I guess you weren't alive then," I said.

Robert laughed hysterically.

Whatever!

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Help wanted...

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2007 at 9:30 PM

I frequently look through the help wanted classifieds in the hopes of finding new restaurants that are about to open. Today on Craigslist, a number of restaurant jobs caught my eye:

What's an Ass Manager? I guess it has to do with those "non-pizza" operations.

I've often said that I'm happy to no longer be waiting tables, not because of the work but because it seems that restaurant jobs seem to be more like casting calls for porn flicks these days. Long legs, big boobs, and a willingness to wear tiny revealing outfits are prerequisites at many places now. And waiters? Forget it — you'd better be female to get a job slinging burgers in this town. Some places are even requiring photos to get an interview.

But wait ... I take it all back. There are jobs out there for men willing to pimp themselves! And be painted as well! Equal opportunity isn't dead after all.

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I'll have the lamb shank and an undulating torso

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2007 at 4:41 PM

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It's been quite a few years since I ate at Nicola's (1602 Lavista Road, 404-325-2524). This Lebanese restaurant was among the first to serve Middle Eastern food in our city, I believe, and, if our visit Saturday night was any indication, it's still going strong.

We arrived late, about 9:30, and I confess I agonized about going in when I saw a sign on the window announcing belly dancing — a spectacle that, to me, ranks only slightly higher than watching dental surgery on someone who hasn't been given Novocain. Wayne knows this and, to annoy me, always begins rifling through his wallet for dollar bills to insert under the waistbands of dancers as they undulate tableside.

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Since the sign said the show was at 7:30 p.m., I convinced myself that the belly dancers had left. Chef Nicola, a man with an obviously large heart, was in the parking lot bidding diners goodbye but assured us he was still open. You know the rest of the story. We hadn't been seated five minutes when the weird music began and two dancers, members of the Nazeem Allayal Belly Dance Studio, appeared in the center of the restaurant. Wayne frantically went through his wallet and I snapped a few pictures.

I'm not exactly sure what it is I dislike about belly dancing. It's not the worst. Mimes, of course, are the very worst. But I don't like mariachi bands, either. Once, in Istanbul, we tipped a very bad band playing by our table in an empty restaurant. The musicians communicated their disgust — "not enough money" — and played louder. "Fine, play all night," Wayne said.

Anyway, as belly dancing goes, the flat-out gorgeous dancers at Nicola's were obviously better than average and the mainly older crowd enjoyed them. Indeed, after the dancers finished, four diners got up and danced in a circle. Chef Nicola darted in and out of the kitchen during the evening, clapping his hands and greeting diners.

The food? It was really good ... and inexpensive. I ordered the menu's most expensive item, the lamb shank, at $12.95. The meat, slightly garlicky and juicy, was served off the bone with lemony rice, the best stuffed grape leaf I've eaten in memory and some sauteed vegetables. A great bargain. Wayne ordered a mezze platter of hommos, baba ghanoush, fattoush, grape leaves, tabbouleh, artichokes and spinach pie for $9.95.

If you haven't been here in a while, it's time to return. The belly dancing takes place Friday and Saturday nights.

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Vietnamese fast food, 744! 744! 744!

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2007 at 4:33 PM

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I'm addicted to No. 4 at Saigon Basil (1870 Piedmont Ave., 404-892-8688). That's bun (vermicelli) with shrimp, marinated pork, spring roll and veggies. It costs $7.44, including tax. I remember because the staff all scream "744!" when I walk through the door for my frequent fix. The pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) isn't bad, either, but I avoid the Thai dishes, which are served from steam trays.

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Put your washed hands together and welcome to the table Sal Monella and the Pathogens!

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2007 at 4:31 PM

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Check out this toe-tappin' animated rewrite of an Eagles tune from the food safety folks at the University of California:

Stomachache Tonight

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Great 'cue, good music, beautiful staff, not a decent fork in the place

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2007 at 4:07 PM

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We ate at Daddy D'z (264 Memorial Drive, 404-222-0206) in Grant Park Friday night. The restaurant's ribs remain my favorites in the city, but I also like the chicken a lot.

Three things distinguish Daddy D'z from other barbecue joints. First, even if another restaurant approaches the quality of Daddy D'z ribs, they don't come close to the quality of vegetables. The collards are my favorite, but any of the sides are good, including the fried okra, mac-n-cheese, and red beans and rice.

Second, the restaurant has no real silverware -- just plastic crap that breaks when you try to eat anything more than cole slaw or potato salad with it. We always try to carry our own forks and knives. We forgot them Friday night. Here's a picture of Wayne with his hand bloodied after attacking half a chicken.

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Third, there's a killer staff, including Will, flanked in this photo by twins Tia (on the left) and Kia. The beautiful TiKi are from Philadelphia.

Oh, there's a fourth thing: Great music, especially 8-10 p.m. Wednesday nights when singer Bernadette Seacrest and Her Provocateurs perform. Kia calls Bernadette a cross between Billie Holiday and a rockabilly singer. Rockabilly Holiday, get it?

Oh, wait. There's a fifth thing: the best red velvet cake in Atlanta.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Restaurant coming to historic depot

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 10:42 PM

If you're one of the multitudes who've driven past the vacant railroad depot on Memorial Drive across from the Glenwood Connector and thought, "That'd be a great place for a restaurant," you're on your way to getting your wish.

After nearly a year of waiting for utility upgrades and miscellaneous permits, the Atlanta-based NNNW restaurant group -- owner of the nearby Vickery's in Glenwood Park, as well as Highland Tap and the soon-to-close Steamhouse Lounge -- plans to open another of its trademark casual, moderately priced bar and grills.

The old Atlanta and West Point Railroad freight depot, built about a century ago on the edge of Reynoldstown, has sat empty for years, even as residential development rose up on both sides.

An NNNW spokeswoman says that although the menu is still being fine-tuned, the restaurant will feature an oyster bar and a double-sided bar to serve both inside and patio customers. One side of the shotgun building will be largely opened up to allow inside diners a view of the expansive, partly covered patio, which will have a large fountain.

The interior will have a wood-burning stove and period details to give the place an "Old World bar feel," the spokeswoman adds. The restaurant, which has no name yet, will likely have about a dozen beers on tap.

The target opening date is somewhere around Sept. 1.

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Hungarian salami and prosciutto come to Cabbagetown

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 9:48 PM

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When I was a kid, the small neighborhood market was a fixture. In my hometown of Bryn Athyn, Pa., there was Soneson's, where you could get a sandwich and buy produce and candy (then go upstairs to a bar where I played darts and drank soda, while my father drank beer with my aunts and uncles). During our summers at Cherry Grove Beach, S.C., there was Boulineau's, where I used to deposit my pool of fake vomit on the checkout counter. Mrs. Boulineau would pretend she was horrified, no matter how often I did it.

The closest thing I've seen to such places now is the relatively new Cabbagetown Market and Little's Grill (198 Carroll St., 404-221-9186). I say "relatively new" because the place was operated for 80 years by the same family. Now, it's under new ownership and has turned into a kind of gourmet convenience market. It's great that you can pop in here for organic produce or a single lightbulb (as someone did during my visit today), but the best feature is

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the grill. Today I had a sandwich of Hungarian salami on a baguette with radishes. There are other sandwiches, including burgers and Patak hot dogs, along with prosciutto.

The owners have created a wonderfully welcoming ambiance. I'll be writing about it in a few weeks in the paper, but you should check it out now. Warning: Hours are kind of irregular, so call ahead. Warning 2: The parking on Carroll Street is pretty much a nightmare, as I mentioned in an earlier post about Carroll Street Cafe. You may have to walk a block, but don't worry. You will find a space.

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