RING THE ALARM: Occupying prime real estate in the 100-year-old Engine 11 firehouse on North Avenue, this laid-back tavern formerly the Spotted Dog maintains its antique charm. Grand mahogany accents, dimly-lit lamps (made out of copper-plated fire extinguishers) and two large arched windows give the dining room and patio some common ground. The space upgrades to the present with three large plasma TVs broadcasting the latest games
HOSE EM DOWN: The fully stocked bar houses 16 beers on draft, with most of the focus on domestic favorites. A few gem craft beers include Kona's Fire Rock Pale Ale from Hawaii. Theres a small wine list, but beer and straightforward mixed drinks are the main draw for the after-work crowd.
STOP, DROP AND ONION ROLL: The menu features the usual bar fare as well as a few stand outs, including meat loaf and "Flashing Lights Shrimp" fried shrimp with a trio of dipping sauces. If you really plan to chow down while throwing back a few, your best bet is to go with the juicy Engine 11 burger.
Engine 11 Firehouse Tavern, 30 North Ave. 404-873-3473. www.engine11atl.com. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.- 3 a.m.; Sunday 10:30-midnight.
(Photo courtesy Engine 11)
HOUSTON'S: This long-standing go-to spot for classic American fare serves one hell of a veggie burger. The pattymade in-house with brown rice, black beans and oat branis glazed with sweet soy sauce, covered with melted Jack cheese and nestled on a buttered bun toasted on the griddle. It also comes with a large mound of the restaurant's famous shoestring fries. 2166 Peachtree Road. 404-351-2442; and other locations. www.hillstone.com.
THE PORTER BEER BAR: This Little Five Points beer bar's veggie burger uses a homemade organic black bean and quinoa patty that is at once hearty and light. A smattering of briny feta, shaved red onion, lettuce, tomato and heady red pepper mustard elevate this over the string of mushy competitors. The kitchen opts for a focaccia style bun encrusted with caramelized onions. And each burger comes with the much-improved garlicky fries or an arugula salad. 1156 Euclid Avenue. 404-223-0393. www.theporterbeerbar.com.
VEGGIELAND RESTAURANT: Join the throngs of regulars at this tiny and hidden vegetarian restaurant in Buckhead. Veggieland makes its own patty with oats, brown rice and other secret ingredients. Depending on your preference, the restaurant fries the patty to a crunchy crisp or griddles it before placing it on a whole wheat bun. The burger comes with your choice of trimmingsguacamole, vegetarian cheese, etc.and a side of sweet potato fries. Try it with a smear of the tofu-based Ranch dressing for a little tang. 211 Pharr Road. 404-231-3111.
(photo by Jennifer Zyman)
Although he is the owner of Method Coffee Bar & Tea Lounge (1593 North Decatur Road. 404-549-8942. www.methodcoffeebar.com), Don Lowell insists Dale Donchey is the mastermind behind the operation. Donchey placed third in this year's Southeastern Regional Barista Championship and is going to Portland for the Nationals in March.
The coffee shop's name comes from its devotion to methodology from beans to brew. Method sources all of its coffee beans from Intelligentsia, the lauded Chicago roaster whose "direct trade" sourcing philosophy and commitment to quality has made it the preferred bean for discerning coffee drinkers. The coffee shop serves am ever-changing handful of varietals in a range of prices, which the seasoned (and super friendly) baristas will describe to you in such romantic detail you'd think you were discussing wine with a seasoned sommelier.
While the coffee shop brews its espresso on a top-of-the-line La Marzocco machine, its use of Chemex coffeemakers is the draw for aficionados. The Chemex method employs a heat-resistant, non-porous glass carafe with a special unbleached paper filter. The coffee grounds are slowly saturated with hot water resulting in a clean cup of coffee where each note shines. Method "pre-doses" (or pre-measures) each bean varietal accordingly to achieve the perfect strength and balance of flavor. Each dosage of whole beans is stored in an individual glass bottle until it is ground to order and brewed drip by precious drip before your eyes.
Tea is another area where Method excels as they treat and present their impeccably chosen whole leaf teas with great care. An assortment of Vosges sipping chocolatelike the spicy Aztecis perfect for chocolate junkies and kids alike. And a short, but sweet list of locally made pastries from tattooed baker Larisa Slaughter provides that much needed nibble as you linger, sip and type.
(photo by Jennifer Zyman)
Brad Lapin and I had our regular Friday lunch today at Craftbar. This is the more casual (less expensive) operation downstairs from Craft, in the Mansion on Peachtree.
We had a good lunch but I feel as mystified by the hoopla over this restaurant, part of celebrity chef Tom Collichio's empire, as I am by the raves about the upstairs operation. The food reflects all the recent trends -- organic, local, comfort-oriented -- but I don't think it has the panache of the cuisine at La Pietra Cucina, Bacchanalia, Aria or Holeman and Finch, just to name a few.
We started with a beet and pear salad with some crumbles of feta. The beets and pears didn't have a drop of sweetness about them and the feta tasted more like fresh goat cheese. In all honesty we had difficulty distinguishing the ingredients. Even slices of the recently ubiquitous radish were virtually flavorless.
Our entrees were far better. Brad ordered the fish stew (above), which our server said was inspired by the cioppino popular in San Francisco. The broth, whose making begins with a very piquant soffritto, was full of mussels, swordfish, escolar, tilapia and seabass. I could eat it every Friday.
I ordered a panino made with braised short ribs, blue cheese and grilled onions. It's a recent menu addition and substituted for my original order of the panino made with house-cured duck ham and fontina. The restaurant had sold out of that sandwich, but I was quite happy with the short ribs.
For dessert we split an order of two smores (above, left) by Pastry Chef Pamela Moxley. The dessert features her version of graham crackers sprinkled with a bit of salt to complement the chocolate ganache melted over grilled marshmallows. Next time, I won't share. They're only $5.
Honestly, the food is good, if a bit pricey (except for the smores), and we were surprised to see the dining room nearly empty at 1 p.m. on a Friday. But I can't summon the great enthusiasm everyone else seems to have for this or its upstairs neighbor. I should say, though, that the service was spectacular.
The advent of the gastro pub has brought us good food and lots to drink under one roof for usually good prices. But its also created a health hazard. Im talking about second-hand smoke.
Because most of these places qualify as bars, smoking is permitted under the law. Indeed, theres even the case of the Vortex, which converted its official designation from restaurant to bar in order to let people respire carcinogens. Every gust of laughter in such places turns into a fit of coughing.
Of course, this isnt much of an issue where the food is really secondary to boozing. But there are places, like the Glenwood (1263 Glenwood Ave., 404-622-6066), where the food is good enough that they attract serious diners who would rather not have to shower and wash their clothes as soon as they get home.
The Glenwood, happily, recently opened a smoke-free dining room that also includes a new wine bar. This is not a grudging accommodation. The new area is separated by sliding glass doors and has its own ventilation system. You wont catch a whiff of smoke once youre inside.
A new study of 811 overweight, dieting people demonstrates that the type of food you eat -- carbs, fats, protein -- matters much less than the total calories consumed. So go ahead and eat that pasta and bacon, just make sure you get a half-order.
John Kessler reports on the firing of Joel Antunes from the Oak Room. (Thanks to foodieman for the tip, also).
I challenge you to recall one thing this dude cooked before tonight. Seriously. Stephan was a doucheto, but at least I remember a few things he cooked. In all seriousness y'all, WTF??? Nice guy, but really? I'm going to bed. Ugh.
I give all
If Ecco does as good a job with this as it did with cocido, this should be a hit:
Starting Tuesday, March 3, Ecco will begin serving a new Tuesdays in Spain dish to celebrate the coming of spring a housemade fideuà (a paella-like dish featuring fresh shrimp, mussels, chicken and housemade chorizo with toasted vermicelli in place of rice) along with two new Spanish wines.
Fideuà (from fideu, Valencian for "noodle"), the poor cousin of paella, originated in the 1960s in the city of Gandia when noodles were used instead of rice in the popular dish. It traditionally consists of toasted noodles and seafood with variations that now include chicken, chorizo and other meats. No matter how humble or exalted the ingredients, though, this dish really packs a flavor punch from the slowly caramelized onions, tomatoes and garlic all of which provide a backbone for the rich stock and nutty noodles.
The fideuà is served for two people and includes a 500ml carafe of wine for only $44 (plus tax and gratuity). The featured wines are Senorio de Garci Grande, Verdejo/Viura, Spain, 07 and Altovinum, "Evodia," Garnacha, Spain, 07.
Also, once the warmer weather of spring arrives, Ecco will feature live Spanish guitar on the patio to complete the Tuesdays in Spain trifecta of food, wine and music.
Ecco is located at 40 7th Street NE in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. Reservations are recommended, but not required. Call 404-347-9555.
So, after a hiatus, I am back to drinking for a living. Sorry for the interruption.
This week's wine find is a tad on the pricey side - I said I'd try to keep them under $20, but this one came in at $20.99. There's a couple of reasons for that - one is that I shopped this week at the Wine Gallery and Market in the shopping center on the corner of Piedmont Road and Sidney Marcus Blvd. That place ain't cheap! A great place to go for a really special bottle of wine, but not much that looked super appealing to me in the under-$20 range. The other reason is that I actually think this wine is a good value for the price.
Domaine de la Mordoree 2005 La Dame Rousse, Lirac, France
I'm sad to say that this wine has nothing to do with some French Lord Of the Rings evilness. The Rhone blend (50% granache, 50% syrah) is bursting with black cherry, but is medium bodied and extremely well balanced. Many wines I've had from the Lirac AOC tend to be quite soft, but this exhibits more boldness. It finishes dry, with some liquorish and black pepper lingering. Great food wine, great drinking-without-food wine, and far more elegant than you'd usually find a French red at this price.
Next week I'll get back in recession mode.
KILL IT!! Love you guys!
Sad to hear about Ben's Brown Bag. Hate to say it but it seems like…
Thanks. I guess there are some caul fat haters on this board. I like the…
not only is this a well written article, it makes me want to go out…
Breakfast with Santa, something great for the kids.
@TheGorgeousJR: "[It is] very inexpensive; we sell it at the shop. You can get it…