Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So that's why Nick Melvin left the Farmhouse

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 7:04 PM

This just in from Concentrics:

Atlanta, GA (March 31, 2009) – Concentrics Restaurants’ Bob Amick and Todd Rushing are proud to announce that New Orleans’ native Nick Melvin has assumed the lead of Executive Chef of PARISH: Foods & Goods. With a passion for food and all things pure and local, nationally acclaimed Chef Nick Melvin will create New Orleans-inspired dishes with modern influences at the Inman Park neighborhood restaurant and market.

“Nick possesses the ideal qualifications that I’m certain will make for a standout chef at PARISH – he is New Orleans born and bred with an exceptional passion for farm to table fare and was a part of the Concentrics family for quite a while,” said Concentrics Restaurants founder Bob Amick. “While at Serenbe, he utilized the local, sustainable and farm-to-table philosophies that PARISH embraces, and he brings the flavors of his hometown back to Atlanta. We are excited to have him back as a part of the Concentrics team.”

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The life of a Peep

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 6:50 PM

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The Chicago Tribune has a photo gallery up about how Peeps are made. Take a look, and then visit this blog dedicated to Peep murder. Ahh, the glorious circle of life.

(Photo courtesy

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Knife's Edge: Ponzu scheme

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 6:15 PM

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It’s the last day of our financial period. Our walk-in shelves are considerably barren, especially for a Saturday with 350 on the books. My sous chef will be working another double and working a station tonight to salvage labor cost a bit. We’ve scrambled around all afternoon, picking up enough provisions to get us through this one night. We are hoping, praying, gambling, that the 34 portions of scallops and halibut will sustain a busy night. But we need to run out, because they won’t be fresh enough to sell Monday after being closed Sunday. And we’ve already calculated that we need to do twelve thousand dollars in food sales to make our numbers.

Although the entire month yields the final result, as in any race, we kick extra hard as we near the finish line. Here’s my Tony Bourdain moment: Want a good time to not go to a restaurant? Try the very last day of their financial month. At around 9pm.

This isn’t what I fell in love with, for sure. I detest it. It’s the only part about what I do that I consider work. And the three days that we wait for the email from the accountant revealing our managerial efforts are sheer agony.

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Ever'body eats tapas, y'all

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 12:18 AM

OK, now there can be no doubt: Tapas have been completely assimilated by the culture.

I say this because my friend Gregg called me this evening from the Colonnade, the iconic Southern restaurant on Cheshire Bridge Road,  where he said a tapas menu is being offered.

I called the restaurant and was informed that the menu was offered all last week and will "probably" be offered all this week. The tapas basically comprise this week's specials menu.

Dishes on the menu include your usual Colonnade favorites like fried oysters. I couldn't hear much else of Gregg's or the restaurant employee's description above the din of noisy diners in the background, but I can't wait to try it.

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Talking Head: Hop City here we come; Plus, a beer dinner conundrum

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 12:11 AM

On the case: Kraig Torres stocks his beer store, Hop City, for its April 2 opening
  • On the case: Kraig Torres stocks his beer store, Hop City, for its April 2 opening

The Westside is looking more and more like a beer Mecca. Hop City, a craft beer and wine specialty store, will open this week across the alley from the soon-to-open 5 Seasons Westside in the Brickworks complex on Marietta St. Along with beer and wine, Hop City will also stock beer-making supplies, a rarity in Atlanta.

Owner Kraig Torres will host a Grand Opening party on Thursday April 2 at 5 Seasons that will feature nine craft brewers, including local favorites Terrapin, 5 Seasons, Sweetwater, and Atlanta Brewing Company. There will be free beer samples, food and live music from 6-9 p.m.

Torres is the self-proclaimed "beer guy" in the operation, with his general manager, Doug Schaller, handling the wine side of the aisle. Torres will stock about 1,000 varieties of beer, along with about 800 wines. The store will have a 12-door cooler for beer, as well as a chiller on hand to prep those large, single bottles of American craft beer and Belgians.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Review: Leon's Full Service

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 1:30 PM

I'D TAP THAT: The bar at Leon's Full Service
  • I'D TAP THAT: The bar at Leon's Full Service

It’s a rare but beautiful thing when a restaurant inhabits its surroundings so thoroughly that it immediately feels like an intrinsic part of a city’s landscape. Leon’s Full Service, located in Rue de Leon's old location on the corner of Ponce de Leon Avenue and Church Street, has managed to become such a natural part of Decatur already, it’s hard to believe the restaurant is only eight weeks old.

The reason may be the owners' intimate familiarity with the hopes, desires, and beer enthusiasms of Decaturites. They've spent the last 12 years running the legendary Brick Store Pub around the corner. But it’s more than Leon's pitch-perfect reading of what a young, booze-friendly customer base requires. The space is brazenly appealing, evoking a slightly nautical feel with its white wooden booths, blue walls and red accents. Just enough of the building’s vintage character has been left in place to communicate its aesthetic, and just enough has been done to modernize the space to make it feel clean and vibrant. It’s Decatur all over. Don’t you just hate Decatur sometimes for being so … awesome?

There are certain qualities of Brick Store the owners have imported to Leon’s. The commitment to outstanding beverages includes a manageable but thrilling beer selection, and extends into wine and cocktails. (Try the Belgian champale cocktail for something truly weird and delicious.) The enthusiastic service here mirrors the passions of Brick Store's brew-loving barkeeps. It’s not uncommon for a server to take a seat at the table to fervently discuss a certain beer, cheese or dish. It sometimes makes for slow service at other tables, but is wholly worth it for the attention when you do get your turn.

Continue reading "Review: Leon's Full Service"

(Photo by James Camp)

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The pizza, its char is just right

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 4:37 AM

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Let's hear it for that rarest of psychiatric disorders, folie à plusieurs, "the madness of many," whereby large groups of people develop a shared delusion.

You remember how thousands drove to Conyers once a month to see the Virgin Mary screw with astronomical phenomena and channel messages to a woman living there. That was arguably a case of folie à plusieurs, even though nobody really deserved classification as loony-toons. (Of course, religion always exempts itself from characterization as crazy, even when its statues are bleeding grape jelly.)

I'm sorry, but I feel some of the same is going on with Varasano's, the new pizzeria in Buckhead, whose opening -- 10 years in the making, according to our server Sunday night -- has caused more buzz than any restaurant in memory. Last week's opening was even announced in the New York Times.

There's a very simple explanation for all of this: Owner Jeff Varasano (whose passion for pizza I certainly do not question) has been hosting foodies at his home, where he has long experimented with making the perfect pizza.

Continue reading »

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Memo to Michelle: Use chemicals in your garden!

Posted By on Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 4:17 AM

This is unbelievable. The Obamas are planting an organic garden and some Big Ag folks are annoyed that the White House couple isn't showing appropriate appreciation for the value of conventional farming practices (i.e. use of chemicals).

This was attached to copies of a lengthy letter mailed to Michelle Obama and circulated on the Internet:

Did you hear the news? The White House is planning to have an “organic” garden on the grounds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Obama’s and their guests. While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I [Bonnie McCarvel] shudder. As a result, we sent a letter encouraging them to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy….

The Reluctant Eater summarizes the story and links to the full text of the letter.

(Hat tip to Broderick Smylie)

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Spoon opens in East Atlanta

Posted By on Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 3:55 AM

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Oh happy day! Spoon, the terrific Thai spot on Marietta Street, has opened a sister operation in Ormewood Park shopping center, 749 Moreland Ave. That's the shopping center that houses Azio.

The restaurant opened Friday and we dined there Saturday night. Our meal was flawless. We both ordered specials. For me: soft-shell crabs in a panang sauce that has no equal in the city. For Wayne: this crispy duck in a basil sauce. (Warning: the latter cost $26 while the crabs were only about $16.)

The restaurant is not yet serving alcohol and probably won't until June. You can carry your own beer and wine, if you like. The bar is, however, in place and customers are welcome to dine there. The place, generally, has a very sociable vibe.

The restaurant was crowded when we visited but was running without any obvious glitches. The staff, just like the Westside one, is beautiful, solicitous, friendly and witty. There's nothing like being waited on by marriage material.

I'll have more to say in an upcoming Grazing column.

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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It's a very small portion of gelato

Posted By on Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 3:27 AM

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My pal Brad Lapin has been in Los Angeles the last two weeks, but returned home in time for us to lunch Friday, as usual, at La Pietra Cucina. Thanks to Facebook, we had a reunion lunch with our friend Frank Miller, author, professor, stage director and Funniest Person Alive.

Frank and I both ordered the porchetta panino (right), stuffed with thin-sliced, roasted, buttery pork and arugula, while Brad ordered the calamari (in the background).

But the highlight of lunch was the slimming portion of housemade gelati sent out by Chef Bruce Logue. I've never seen spoons move quite so rapidly as Brad and Franklin engaged in a virtual sword fight to get at the last dollop of the stuff.

Logue says plans are still on for the restaurant to expand into the larger adjoining space by May 18. The present space will revert to its original purpose as a private dining room. Business has picked up considerably lately, in part due to AJC critic Meridith Ford Goldman's recent four-star review. Hey, maybe they'll even put up a sign and create a website one of these days.

I have no doubt the restaurant will continue to be first-rate, but I suggest you visit before the expansion. For now, it's open weekdays for lunch and for dinner Friday and Saturday.

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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