I confess I'm a bit cynical about events like Midtown Restaurant Week. The advertised special is three courses for $25 at some very good restaurants. My fantasy, though, is that once I'm seated, the restaurant will find a way to redirect me to spend more money.
That's not what happened when Wayne and I went to Beleza Wednesday night with our friends Brad and Eric. We were offered three choices for each course and ended up tasting everything. Exotic Brazilian-style cocktails and wine for my companions added to the cost, of course, but there was no pressure to do things differently.
That was not, however, the experience Brad and Eric had the night before when they went to Trois. Things got off to a bad start when an annoying but bearable 15-minute wait stretched out to a famishing 40 minutes.
Then, as soon as they were seated (behind a pillar), the server informed them that while the special $25 menu was available, they might want to know that if they ordered from the regular menu, they would receive complimentary wine.
Rapid arithmetic told the couple they'd save money and eat better ordering from the regular menu. So, when the server came back, they ordered food and selected a bottle of wine.
You know the rest of the story: When the bill arrived, they'd been fully charged for the $45 bottle of wine. They protested and the server said, "Oh, that was for a free glass of wine, not a bottle." Of course, they would have spent significantly less had they ordered the special menu and a bottle of wine.
Arguably, they should have asked for more details about the wine special. But the details should have been spelled out more clearly to begin with. And when they abandoned the $25 menu and ordered the bottle after hearing about the wine special, the server should have clarified things. Brad writes:
The wine was $45. There was a special wine list that they provided (similar to the small handout menu that is part of the Midtown Restaurant Week) that had all the wines available as part of the promotion. At the top there was a three sentence blurb about how they understood how pinched we all are as a result of the economy and this was their way to help through election day. There was no mention as far as I know of only providing one a glass of wine with one's entree.
Brad, not the reticent type, got angry and, to Trois' credit, the cost of the wine was deducted from their meal.
Back to Beleza....
Among the dishes at Beleza I especially liked was a "ceviche blanco" featuring coconut milk, habaneros and cucumber, as well as fish. Roasted beets with oranges, basil and tofu in an orange vinaigrette was also a hit. But my favorite dish here remains the shrimp moqueca, featuring white shrimp in coconut milk with extra-virgin red palm oil, cilantro, cashews and basmati rice.
Last Friday, the Food and Drug Administration gave the go-ahead for irradiation of spinach and lettuce (and possibly tomatoes) in response to recent outbreaks of E.Coli and salmonella in our produce. Grocers and food-industry groups have been ready for the irradiation allowance for quite a while, but are consumers?
When I read about the FDAs nod of approval to have our veggies zapped with gamma rays, the high pressure-hosing scenes from Silkwood haunted me every time I glanced in the direction of a salad. A bit extreme, I know, but quite frankly, radiation is scary. And I will admit I had some questions.
Turns out, a lot of our meat, fruit, and imported spices have been irradiated for years. Fortunately, labels will let you know which products are treated with electronic pasteurization, so if youre not down with irradiation just yet, dont buy the beef (or vegetables) with the Radura logo.
Full Sail IPA
Full Sail Brewing Company
Hood River, OR
Full Sail beers are ubiquitous in the Pacific Northwest, but are just showing up in Georgia. The labels seemed to be redesigned from the way I remember them, touting that the brewery is independent and employee-owned. I dont know if this has anything to do with recent mergers in the world of industrial lagers, but as long as its true, I have no problem with it.
Superb clarity, a nice, persistent cap of off-white head, and some sticky lacing give the Full Sail IPA an inviting appearance. The aroma has a sweet, floral essence with a hint of pine and lemon tea. The taste echoes the nose, with some fruity, pale malt to back up the soapy, leafy hop flavors. Theres bit of aspirin astringency in the finish, but the lively carbonation and bright character give it an easy drinkability. A well-balanced IPA and a good stepping stone for those looking for more flavor in their beer.
(photo by Jeff Holland)
ABC News is investigating the role of lobbyists and big-money donors at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. One of its staff was arrested, 1968-style, for photographing senators and their donors as they headed to a private party.
Among ABC's documentation of excess are pictures of the food the high-rolling Dems are gobbling up. You can check them out here (but you'll have to scroll through the pictures to find the 3 or 4 pertaining to food). I leave it to you to determine whether the food looks luxuriously decadent.
There have been many complaints about the downfall of Decatur's Crescent Moon since ownership changed. It looks as though the original owners may come back though. Read about it here.
Popeyes is re-branding itself. Read about it here.
Here's some more good news from the Old Fourth Ward. Cafe 458, whose popular Sunday brunch helps fund programs for the homeless, is opening for dinner 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, beginning Sept. 4.
A spokesperson for the Cafe, whose chef is Johnathan Metellus, said this:
The new dinner menu at Café 458 will feature an eclectic mix of traditional Southern comfort food and American cuisine influenced by tastes from around the world. Dinner patrons can choose a prix-fixe, three-course dinner ($28) or á la carte entrees including Lobster Ravioli, Seared Filet Mignon, and Sunflower- Encrusted Salmon. Diners may bring their own bottle of wine.
On Sundays, Café 458s will continue to serve signature brunch favorites such as Southern Comfort French Toast, Costa Rican Pancakes, Thai Chicken and Waffles, and the ever-popular Carolina Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict.
During other hours, the restaurant, operated by Samaritan House of Atlanta at 458 Edgewood Ave., provides regular meals to the homeless in a restaurant setting instead of the usual soup kitchen.
I've eaten brunch at the Cafe several times. If the dinner menu is as good as brunch, this should be another great dining spot in the same area as Dynamic Dish, Noni's and Cafe Circa.
We dined Tuesday night at Stella (563 Memorial Dr., 404-688-4238) and found the place crowded with people playing its weekly trivia game.
For me, though, the big attraction was a special -- a thin-crusted white pizza topped with prosciutto and fresh, local figs. It was a bit pricier than the average special -- $15 for a single-serving pie -- but worth every penny. I could eat one of these daily forever.
According to our very entertaining server, Bria, the special's appearance is unpredictable, so call ahead to find out if it's available.
Stella is now open for lunch weekdays, by the way.
If you've never heard of Outstanding in the Field, they're this group that drives around the country and throws dinners out in a field somewhere. They invite a local chef and showcase local produce. They're coming to Atlanta on September 28th, and throwing a five course dinner with Watershed's Scott Peacock (check out the details here). The event sold out a while back, but I've been contacted by someone who has six tickets he can't use. If you're interested in taking all or some of them off his hands, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll put you in touch.
8-28-08 update: All the tickets have now been taken.
I reported Aug. 1 that the Lamplighter Cafe in Grant Park seemed to be closing.
I now learn from Atlanta Cuisine that Carmen Cappello, the talented chef who left Mix for Sweet Lowdown, which also closed, is now taking over the space. He hopes to be open in early September.
I assume Cappello will be preparing his usual kinky fusion, although I'm told he'll be featuring -- all together now -- a farm-to-table menu. Is anyone not doing farm-to-table cooking these days?
The only thing getting me to ClusterFuckhead is Umi.
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