As part of Food & Wine magazine's Grow for Good campaign to raise awareness for eating locally, the 5 Seasons Brewing Company chef and owner David Larkworthy and owner Dennis Lange are hosting a day of "Country Fair Fun."
The fair will feature Georgia farmers and their wares, with food, beer and live music -- a winning combination. Part of a weekend-long event, it takes place Saturday, Sept. 29, and helps raise money for Farm to Table, an initiative that educates food professionals, policymakers and the public about the benefits of sustainable agriculture and all that good stuff.
Tickets are $50 per person and are available here or at the door. Student tickets are $25 with a valid student ID.
The fair lasts from 2-5 p.m. at 5 Seasons Brewing Company's newest location at the intersection of Howell Mill Road and Marietta Street. For information about the Grow for Good campaign, click here.
One of the few authentic delis in Atlanta is Bagel Palace (2869 N. Druid Hills Road, 404-315-9016) in Toco Hills Shopping Center. I lunched there last week with my friend Gregg. Both of us were jonesing for good corned beef, so I got a Reuben and he got a sandwich featuring the meat plus slaw. I also tried the borscht (decent but a bit watery), and took home a bunch of what many regard as the city's best bagels. (My usual favorite here, by the way, is the chopped liver sandwich.)
The Associated Press reports that California-based El Pollo Loco has opened its first Atlanta-area restaurant in Hiram. The restaurant, whose name means "The Crazy Chicken," sells Mexican-style grilled chicken and offers itself as a healthy alternative to the fried birds at Popeye's and KFC. The company plans to open 50 restaurants in our area:
"We're giving the South, which loves its chicken, a healthy, wholesome alternative to fried chicken," said Steve Carley, CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based El Pollo Loco Inc. (pronounced El Po-yo Lo-co).
The suburban Atlanta restaurant, which opened at the end of August, is the first Southern location for the chain, which is ranked 70th in the nation's list of top restaurant chains based on sales according to Restaurants & Institutions magazine.
Last month, the privately held company of 340 restaurants reported a net income of $1.59 million for the 26 weeks ended June 30, a 26.4 percent increase over the $1.26 million in net income it reported for the same period a year ago. The company was purchased in November 2005 by affiliates of the New York-based equity investment firm Trimaran Capital L.L.C. and company management.
El Pollo Loco is under contract with a company led by a former Church's Chicken executive to open 50 restaurants in the Atlanta area in the next six years. The chain also plans to open restaurants in the Orlando and Tampa, Fla., areas, in Charlotte, N.C., and in Norfolk, Va.
"We think the South is ready for El Pollo Loco," Carley said. "We have a high level of confidence this is going to be a big winner."
Read the whole story here.
Ugh. Ben Stein, the prolific former Nixon speechwriter and conservative gadabout, apparently has been hanging out in Atlanta lately. If you wondered where he dined, here's a hint from his column in the American Spectator:
I have been meaning to say a few things since this summer and now I will since it's still Indian Summer here in Atlanta where I am.
One, food. I spent a good chunk of the summer in Germany and England. The food there is amazingly expensive. A typical meal in London for 3 people is $400. I'm not kidding. In Germany, a typical mea of Wiener schnitzel that I feel very guilty about eating is about $300 for three people.
Now that I am back, I eat at a lot of expensive restaurants in many cities. They are sometimes good, sometimes horrible. (The worst meal I ever had in my life was at a sickeningly pretentious restaurant in a converted home in Seattle and it was also the most expensive; the second worst meal I ever had was at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco and it was also sickeningly expensive.)
But here is a truth: a freshly cooked Crisp Taco Supreme at Taco Bell tastes better than almost any food at any restaurant. A fresh McDonald's cheeseburger on a fresh bun tastes as good as any meal at any $100 a person restaurent [sic].
We spend so much time criticizing fast food for being bad for us. But like anything else, it's only bad for us in excess. In decent amounts, it's delicious, inexpensive, and healthful. Fast food has given us sturdy, reliable food all over the nation. Not only that, it's served without surly, pretentious waiters with bad attitudes. You just get it, eat it, enjoy it, nourish your body, and out you go to face the world.
Junk food is not the problem. In fact, in normal quantities, there is no such thing as junk food.
Junk thought is the problem.
So go ahead, food peeps, order the tapas plates at Mickey D's and thank God you're not dealing with uppity waiters.
Here's a last sign of summer -- the mobile snowball vendor, Orleagian Snowballs, at the Exxon at the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive. These two boys made their selections quickly, but they were preceded by a woman and her daughter who needed 10 minutes of description of the zillion flavors available. I felt like I was in a gelateria in Florence.
The most popular flavor here, by the way, is called "Hurricane Katrina." I don't know.
The owner of Orleagian (It's a hybrid of "New Orleans" and "Georgian") is a Katrina evacuee, and he's opened another location at the Exxon at the corner of Ponce de Leon Avenue and Briarcliff Road. In case you are uneducated enough not to know the difference between an ordinary snow cone and a snowball, he explains things on his website:
We understand that some Atlantans still don't know the difference between snowballs and snowcones. Orleagian Snowballs has had a presence in the big ATL for almost two years now, and weâre happy to educate folks daily about the differences!
Snowballs originated in the great city of New Orleans, and have been a treat that locals have enjoyed on hot summer days since the beginning of the 20th century.
Orleagian Snowballs consist of finely shaved and tightly packed ice, topped with your choice of over 30 handmade flavored syrups. Our snowballs can be enjoyed with either a straw or a spoon, or a combination of both. The superior softness of the ice is conducive to both means of enjoying!
On the other hand, snowcones are made from coarser chunks of ice and must be eaten (or crunched) with a spoon. Some customers have told us that once they've had a snowball, they can never go back to snowcones, because they're just not as satisfying! Well, our opinion may be biased, but we agree!
As we've noted repeatedly in the Creative Loafing food section, Southern cuisine has staged an enormous comeback in our city. The latest -- celebrating its grand opening tonight, in fact -- is Relish (590 Mimosa Blvd., Roswell, 770-650-7877).
The new restaurant is owned by Andy Badgett (who also owns the Fickle Pickle) and chef de cuisine is Ignacio Barquera. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. The evening menu includes starters such as cheese straws, pimento-cheese fritters and deviled eggs. Entrees include shrimp and grits, fried catfish, a couple of steaks and pan-roasted chicken. Among desserts, I'm anxious to try the "Krispy Kreme bread pudding."
The restaurant is located in the old Roswell Funeral Home. As far as I know, only one restaurant in our area has ever been located in a former mortuary. That would be the infamous Gallus on Cypress Street in Midtown. It was a very rococo building whose main floors were dining rooms while the basement was a gay bar with a hard-drinking clientele.
Linton Hopkins, executive chef and co-owner of Restaurant Eugene in Buckhead, is teaming up with his wife, Gina, and mixologist Greg Best to open Holeman and Finch Public House, a restaurant that will focus on charcuterie and dishes like house-made fettuccini, fried bologna and mustard, and cane sugar cola floats. The new restaurant, named for Hopkinsâ and Bestâs maternal grandfathers, will also feature unique spirits, using tonic and soda made in house, and wine from boutique wineries.
Holeman and Finch Public House is slated to open this fall at the Aramore across from Restaurant Eugene. For more information about Hopkins, check out Besha Rodellâs interview with him here.
We hit Buddha on Sunday night. This new restaurant is in the 100 Midtown Building (100 10th St., 404-874-5158). The name is creating some confusion. Its menu calls it "Chinese Buddha" but the press materials all call it simply "Buddha."
We found the food much better than the average intown Chinese restaurant catering to American tastes. There's a lengthy menu of vegetarian choices, including lots of faux meat dishes. I couldn't face that, but did try some superb vegetarian dumplings.
The restaurant also serves some Thai and Malaysian specialties and, besides the vegetarian choices, these are the only unusual dishes on the menu. We both selected Malaysian entrees â baked squid for Wayne and softshell crab for me.
The place is quite a looker. There's a window on the kitchen that turns everything in view red â a cinematic touch.
More in a forthcoming issue of the paper.
Here's a recommendation from Steve Harper, an Alpharetta foodie:
Just wanted to tell you my friend and I visited Banaras Indian Restaurant last evening. It's OTP, but possibly the best pan-Indian we've had outside of Canada. (It's all vegetarian but not strictly southern; there are some creamy northern curries as well.) It's in a strip at 3300 Peachtree Industrial Blvd, just past Pleasant Hill on the right (a little hard to find).
It was everything we might have hoped for. We enjoyed a truly well-prepared, interesting vegetarian Indian meal where not everything on the menu was familiar.
We tried the tapioca cutlet appetizer: crunchy medallions of breaded onion with large tapioca beads embedded in them, accompanied by the most delicious and creamy raita I have ever tried.
For our main meal, Ken and I shared the kofte banana curry dish, which reminded him of navaratan korma, except the dumplings were made of bananas and cheese. The okra dish, bhindi kholapuri, was exquisite and, like the kofte, surprising in its overall flavor.
And there's no fake meat here! (And as a vegetarian, Ken loves any restaurant where he can order anything on the menu!)
Adding to the experience, a man who must have been manager, Rayomond Umrigar, engaged in an animated discussion at length of the food, recommending dish pairings and just generally being a charming fellow.
Banaras (678-417-1911) is located at 3300 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Suite J, Duluth. It's been recommended to me by numerous people, including an Indian couple dining at an adjoining table at Floataway Cafe some time ago.
I've been getting a lot of raves about Beleza, Riccardo Ullio's (left) new Brazilian cocktail lounge and restaurant. This really is the most unusual restaurant to open in our city in memory and, as a commenter on my earlier post says, it's going to be hard to get a table when Ullio actually puts a sign on the place. Make a reservation now. ...
My apologies to Erick Newman, the owner of Lamplighter Cafe, whose name I misspelled here and in my review. ...
Zocalo, the popular taqueria in Midtown and Grant Park, has debuted some new menu items â a couple of burritos and a few other dishes. Honestly, the one burrito I've tried was a hodgepodge of flavors and not very well assembled. I'm still waiting for the promised new menu of tacos, not that I will ever tire of the al pastor here. ...
Dale writes: "Whatâs the story on Spice? I walk past it several nights each week and see lights and tables set, but never any actual people." It's been closed for some time and, as far as I know, there are no plans to reopen right now. ... Another reader writes that the popular Ali-Oli in Around Lenox seems to have closed. Indeed, I've tried to call numerous times and the voice mailbox has been full for a week. I hope it's temporary!
Love pork belly.
Some food just doesn't photograph well, even if it is tasty.
Nothing wrong with grease on the walls if the burger is tasty.
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