Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Doty Does Dinner (Half-off!)

Posted By on Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 5:39 PM

On Thurs. Oct. 9th, chef Shaun Doty is offering Inman Park Neighborhood Association members half-off on their dinners at Shaun's (but they have to flash their Inman Park Patrol Membership Card or it's a no-go).

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Pig out for PRIDE!

Posted By on Mon, Oct 6, 2008 at 2:19 PM

Homegrown Restaurants is celebrating peace, pride and pasta throughout the month of October. Every Wednesday, Rich Chey restaurants (Doc Chey's Noodle House, Osteria 832, and Stella Neighborhood Trattoria) will donate 15 percent of their revenue to The Pride Committee Inc. The organization promotes unity in the community and also encourages fellow Atlantans to speak their minds. All proceeds go toward the 2009 Atlanta Pride Festival. The schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, October 8th at Osteria 832

Wednesday, October 15th at Doc Chey's Emory

Wednesday, October 22 at Stella Neighborhood Trattoria

Wednesday, Octobert 29th at Doc Chey's Virginia-Highland

For more information, log on to http://www.homegrownrestaurants.com.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Carmen Cappello cooking in Grant Park

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 6:36 PM

Here's some good news: Carmen Cappello has reopened the Lamplighter in Grant Park. Cappello left an announcement on an earlier post, but it's worth top billing:

Hello Omnibloggers –

Just wanted to let everyone know that Lamplighter reopened  Monday, Sept. 22. Below is our menu from Monday night.

Brunch begins this Sunday, Oct. 5, at 11 a.m.

Lunch begins Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 11 a.m.

Please check http://www.lamplighteratl in the coming weeks for more info.

First course

Tomato, Red Onion & Goat Cheese Salad, Croutons, Basic Dressing 6

New England Clam Chowder 5

Hummus, EVOO, Toasted Naan 3

Romaine, Roasted Garlic Dressing, Parmesan, Anchovy 4

Antipasta, Guanciale, Coppa, Sicilian Tuna, Italian Olive Salad 7

Second Course

Hanger Steak, Sautéed Vegetables, Lentils 15

Mussels, Coppa, Tomatoes, Onion, EVOO, Bread 12

House Burger (no temp, always well done), Scrapple, Fried Egg, American cheese, Salad 10

Mezze Penne, Mushrooms, White Beans & Tomato Butter 12

Skewered Shrimp, Toasted Potatoes, Kale, Chimichurri Sauce 14

Dessert

Bread Pudding 5

Chocolate Mousse 5

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Revenge is a dish best served on the phone

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 11:01 PM

Ever wanted to take revenge on restaurants that done you wrong? Here's one Atlantan's problem:

  1. I was in high school, and needed a job. I applied at a local restaurant called “Atlanta Bread Company.” The manager at this particular restaurant was a complete bitch. I could go on forever about how she made me wait for an hour only to talk to me like a child, but… just trust me. This whore needed to be slapped. I did not slap her, though. Nay, I simply walked out peacefully and held a grudge for 5 years. Not a day goes by since then that I don't drive by said restaurant and get a bitter feeling in my stomach.
  2. Yesterday, I went to a Burger King. I’m not a huge BK fan, and this day reminded me why. The service was slow, the food was disgusting, and the cashier (who was clearly the product of a brother/sister marriage) was as much of a bitch as the bread lady.

That's the setup. You have to read the entire (funny) post here, in order to understand how the writer plotted simultaneous revenge on both restaurants...if you can call the recording below revenge.

Got that? This person must have an easygoing disposition to find this adequate vengeance for five years of bitterness and a really bad burger.

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The irony of the Catherall-Blais split

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 3:19 AM

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Just in case you haven't noticed, Richard Blais has been on the road constantly since his departure from Home in early September. But you can keep up with him on his eponymous blog here. It's well written and entertaining.

As Besha noted earlier, Blais' departure from Home was no surprise to his longtime fans and viewers of his performance on Bravo's "Top Chef". While he brought his usual wit and deconstructive style to the Southern cooking at Home, it was clear that he wasn't expressing the usual depth of his imagination.

Explanations for his departure from Home in the AJC were courteous but said little about what we all knew was likely the issue: artistic freedom. Blais laid things out quite clearly in a blog post written the day after he resigned:

As an artist, it’s all about creative control. It’s all that matters (at least when it can afford to be all that matters), and the constant struggle between an owner’s view, and a chef’s perspective, has strained me to the point of re-focusing my efforts elsewhere.

It’s time to work for myself, and it’s a liberating feeling.

I have my current commitments to Bravo/NBC, my creative consulting company Trail Blais and my young family to keep me more than busy.

What made my decision very easy were a few uncomfortable meetings, where it was obvious that ownership didn’t value what I brought to the table and were insistent on a very archaic outlook of my position. HOME valued my physical time only, of which at times was limited because of prior commitments. When entering into this partnership, I laid out my full slate of commitments and everything was checked off on and approved. But “in theory” and “in practice” are two different things, I guess.

Read the entire post here.

Artistic freedom is an issue raised constantly by chefs at all levels — not just by celebrity chefs like Blais. Sometimes, they fight with management over cost of first-rate ingredients. Other times, it's about the "vision thing." Sometimes, it's the grim reality that the public doesn't appreciate the "edgy" work of particularly creative chefs. That, I'm afraid, is part of the reason Chefs Guenter Seeger, Sotohiro Kosugi and Joel Antunes left our city. Blais himself left Atlanta for a stint in Miami at one point.

Part of the strange, even ironic situation with Home's closing is that owner Tom Catherall, with whom Blais apparently conflicted, made his name in Atlanta as one of our city's most inventive chefs, starting with Azalea in 1990, followed by Tom Tom at Lenox Square. Azalea was really the city's first fusion restaurant and a rare chef-driven one. I had many memorable meals there, including some by guest chefs like Stephan Pyles.

I'm not sure that Catherall's cuisine was as edgy in its time as Blais' version of molecular gastronomy is now, but it's certainly true that both chefs, um, blazed new trails in our city's culinary life. It might have been cool to see them work out a less compromising compromise rather than terminate their association.

I do remember that Catherall, the Azalea chef, ended his business partnership with Todd Kane, the businessman, when he opened Tom Tom. I have no idea if artistic freedom was an issue.

We are lucky to have some very gifted chefs in Atlanta, and I hope more choose to stick around like Blais. I find myself already urging people to waste no time trying the cooking of Bruce Logue at La Pietra Cucina and David Sweeney of Dynamic Dish. I have no reason other than gastronomical paranoia to expect them to leave Atlanta or change venues ... but it does happen a lot.

About 25 years ago, I wrote a brief photo-essay for the AJC on the city's first restaurant, Nikolai's Roof, to receive a four-star rating from the Mobil Guide. The opening chef was the late Heinz Schwab, who went on to open Hedgerose Heights. (He had worked as Anne Cox Chambers' personal chef.) Schwab told me he was shocked how easy it was at the time to manipulate Atlanta diners. A complex, labor-intensive dish would easily be outsold by any dish that he garnished with a piece of lobster. (I've heard this same example from other chefs.)

We've certainly evolved beyond that. Blais makes the point in the post cited above that the city is really ready once again for restaurants that depart from the norm, if only owners get savvy:

For the first time, it is clear to me, that I am in the position where the guests’ threshold of creativity has reached a parallel with a successful business model. Meaning I think Atlanta is ready for a restaurant that stretches. I know that if it is going to happen in Atlanta, it’s going to happen soon.

I'm glad to see Blais speaking out about these issues. It feels to me like he's committed to seeing our culinary scene take another step in its evolution. Maybe that comes with marriage, a new baby and getting a huge thumbs-up from the entire country for his imaginative cooking. I'm just glad he's talking.

(Photo of Richard Blais by James Camp. Tom Maicon of Atlanta Cuisine writes a good summary of Blais' career prior to Home here.)

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

NPR inventories restaurant annoyances

Posted By on Sun, Sep 28, 2008 at 7:02 PM

I woke up this morning to the voice of Bonny Wolf, who does weekly food commentary on  NPR's Weekend Edition on Sundays.

This morning's comment was entitled "The Problem with Dining in Restaurants," and she manages, in three minutes, to take a swipe at just about every annoyance one routinely encounters when dining out these days. She even takes a swipe at the new server question, "Is this your first time to dine with us?," that  Besha brought up a few months back.

Hear the commentary at NPR's site.

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Hittin' the pig roast

Posted By on Sun, Sep 28, 2008 at 4:13 PM

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We hit Saturday's pig roast at Cabbagetown Market. Here's farmer Mike Aiken of Waco, Ga., at the smoker, which was placed in the lot next to the market, along with a community table. I've never heard of a Waco in Georgia, but Mr. Aiken told me it's off the last exit of I-20 west, just before you cross the state line into Alabama.

The pulled barbecue was lightly smoky, just enough on the fatty side to provide a full blast of flavor. I confess I didn't much care for the sauce served with it -- one of those ketchupy-like, sweet sauces. I prefer the coastal Carolina types, with plenty of vinegar.

Cabbagtown Market provided side dishes, including cheese grits with collards and some especially good cornbread. I also ordered some sliced tomatoes. (The Market buys its eggs from Mr. Aiken, by the way.)

I ran into Jennifer Zyman, the Blissful Glutton, and her boyfriend Mr. Moonie. Jennifer, who also writes CL's cheap eats column, said she is leaving to visit India in a few days. She'll be stopping in Turin, for the truffle festivities there. I'm not jealous, really I'm not.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Cabbagetown Market to host pig roast

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 3:08 PM

Don't miss this: Cabbagetown Market (198 Carroll St.) is hosting a pig roast 12 noon-6 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 27. It's part of Eat Local Week.

The event will feature a Tamworth pig, smoked and served by farmer Mike Aiken. Plates, with two side dishes prepared by the Market, will cost $10. Sandwiches, made with the Bread Garden's brioche, will cost $7.50, with one side included.

You'll also find local beer, local music and lotsa local yokels.

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Sonny's Bar-B-Q files for bankruptcy

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 12:21 PM

The metro-area operator of 10 Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q restaurants has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Four closed yesterday, including the Cheshire Bridge Road, Indian Trail, Smyrna and Austell locations.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that locations in Athens, Conyers, Marietta, Buford, Jonesboro and Lawrenceville remain open. Get the whole story here.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Watershed to mark 10th anniversary with benefit

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 7:10 PM

This just in. I have removed many adjectives from the original text:

Watershed restaurant will celebrate its 10th anniversary 5-9 p.m. Oct. 27.

The evening will feature live music, games, raffles, a cakewalk and Chef Scott Peacock’s legendary Southern cuisine. The menu will also feature barbecue by award-winning pit master Jimmy Hagood of BlackJack Barbeque in Charleston, SC.

Admission is $100 and total proceeds will benefit Plymouth Harbor which provides assistance to senior adults and their caretakers. Edna Lewis, Peacock's famous mentor,  attended Plymouth Harbor in her later years.

Watershed is the collaborative creation of Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers and Peacock, a James. Watershed has received awards and recognition on both local and national levels.

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