Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cheap Eats: Grindhouse Killer Burgers

Posted By on Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 3:00 PM

GRINDHOUSE KILLER BURGERS: The burger and chili cheese fries
  • GRINDHOUSE KILLER BURGERS: The burger and chili cheese fries

To most people, a burger is just a burger — a timeless American treat worth the occasional caloric splurge. Playful flavor combinations and fancy deconstructions are exciting, but there’s something to be said about a spot, such as Grindhouse Killer Burgers (209 Edgewood Ave., 404-522-3444, www.grindhouseburgers.com), that skips the pretense and gets straight to the beef.

Owner Alex Brounstein (a real estate developer and attorney) chose the Sweet Auburn Curb Market as the restaurant's location for many reasons. The market already has a captive audience of shoppers with food on the mind, and the overhead is much cheaper than a traditional bricks and mortar space. What's more, the restaurant’s presence helps revitalize a historic Atlanta food-centric landmark.

Amid the hustle and bustle of the market, tucked away in a corner, sits a curving counter surrounded by stools. The seating faces a semi-open kitchen and a makeshift movie theater where kooky action movies such as Kung Fu Hustle are projected on the wall.

Continue reading "Cheap Eats: Grindhouse Killer Burgers"

(Photo by Jennifer Zyman)

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ethnic soups

Posted By on Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 4:00 PM

korean-soup_27
RINCON LATINO: Latinos consider chicken soup to be a complete meal. Every country and region has its own version. At Rincon, the caldo de pollo has more of an El Salvadorian slant. A large bowl of clear chicken broth studded with submerged pieces of tender bone-in chicken comes with a bowl of white rice, oversized El Salvadorian corn tortillas, minced cilantro, chopped onion and jalapeño. You can doctor the soup to your tastes or make a few tacos with a juicy chunk of chicken plucked from the broth. 5055 Buford Highway, Doraville. 770-936-8181.

SO KONG DONG: Forget one-dimensional soups when you are sick. Your body needs a jolt, and a bubbling pot of Korean tofu soup from this tofu house — the kimchee style in particular — is just what the doctor ordered. After a parade of panchan (including one of those little fried fish), the waitress rolls out a cart holding midnight black cast iron bowls perched on tiny wooden coasters. Due to the intense heat of the vessel, the soup bubbles and spurts in front of you — too hot to eat even though you know you want to dive in. Take the time to crack a raw egg into the red liquid and watch it cook while the dish reaches a more manageable temperature. Then dig in to the mounds of silken tofu, zucchini and other vegetables as the red broth burns away all that ails you. 5280 Buford Highway, Doraville. 678-205-0555.

Continue Reading "Ethnic Soups"

(Photo by Jennifer Zyman)

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Friday, October 30, 2009

'Top Chef' auditions: Nov. 8 in Atlanta

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Photo courtesy of Bravo TV

To all who are interested in showing off their awesome culinary skills, "Top Chef" will be holding auditions here in Atlanta for season seven. This open casting call will be held at Craft Restaurant, 10 am-2 pm, on Nov., 8. Be sure to bring a filled out application, video submission and all other required materials, which can be found on the Bravo TV website.

Also, be sure to brush-up on you pastries and cakes, as a new "Top Chef" spin-off, titled "Top Chef: Just Desserts," will also be casting at the same audition. The newest version of the show was just recently announced on Oct., 26 and auditions are already underway. The spin-off is said to premiere in 2010.

Craft is located at 3376 Peachtree Rd. 404-995-7580. www.craftrestaurant.com.

(Photo courtesy Bravo TV)

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Big trouble in Little Havana

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 2:05 PM

havana

There have been conflicting reports of where and when Havana will resurface. Apparently, two restaurants named Havana are slated to open on Buford Highway in the near future. And two different people—Debbie Benedit and William Benedit—claim they are resurrecting the original "Havana."

Mrs. Benedit (pictured above in the black shirt) has given me her side of the story. However, I have been unable to reach Mr. Benedit for a comment at this time.

Stay tuned as I gather additional facts and get to the bottom of this.

(photo from Debbie Benedit's website, www.havanarestaurantatlanta.com)

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First Look: Lupe Taqueria

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 2:00 PM

LUPE TAQUERIA: The trio of guacamole
  • LUPE TAQUERIA: The trio of guacamole

This is a cautionary tale about first impressions and foodies. The protagonist is Riccardo Ullio’s new Lupe Taqueria (905 Juniper St., 678-904-4584). The antagonist is the foodie community, including its bloggers and critics like me.

I long ago learned that a first impression of a new restaurant – the usual subject of this column – is not reliable if the visit turns out to feature extremes.  In such a case, particularly when the extreme is negative, I usually go back, hoping for better. Contrary to popular opinion, most critics don’t enjoy thoroughly panning a restaurant, which is typically a huge investment and provides a livelihood for its staff.

On the other hand, I think the effect any one critic has on a restaurant is short-lived. Of course, if the critic does pan a restaurant that ends up failing, he gets the blame. Typically, though, the restaurateur has not heeded any of the criticism directed his way.

Continue Reading "First Look: Lupe Taqueria"

(Photo by James Camp)

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A terrific meal at Amuse

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 4:08 AM

amuse octopus

amuse piglet
We dined Thursday evening at Amuse (404-888-1890), the new restaurant in the short-lived Allegro's space at 560 Dutch Valley Rd. in Midtown. The owners have improved the interior significantly, turning what was a rather chilly space into a warm, intimate bistro, replete with an instrumental jazz duo. We'd expect nothing less of the owners of Anis (Arnaud Michel) and Apres Diem (Andy Alibaksh) who have teamed up to create Amuse.

The menu by longtime Anis chef Lenny Robinson includes a number of novelties like the appetizer of sliced, charred octopus with pickled seaweed and cucumbers (above). My entree was a chunk of roasted, orange-glazed piglet (right) with shredded, pickled brussel sprouts and a paprika brodo.

Both dishes were terrific, although I thought the pickle flavors tended to overwhelm the octopus, which was sliced from a grilled tentacle. Wayne ordered an interesting appetizer of roasted cauliflower with a cauliflower puree. A bit of chili oil added zing to both forms of my favorite cruciferous vegetable. His entree was crispy mackerel over chickpeas with mint and sultanas.

Dessert: a butterscotch creme brulee with a roasted marshmallow topping for me and two scoops of housemade ice cream for Wayne -- one lavender and the other violet.

The restaurant is also open for lunch weekdays and brunch on weekends. Did I mention that portions are huge? Some of the appetizers I saw go by our table looked like entrees, especially one of crispy pork belly over napa cabbage, plum, avocado and yuzu.

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

(Photos by Cliff Bostock)

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Atlanta food events this week

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 1:48 AM

Here are some events coming up for Halloween and through next week:

Treat Before You Trick at The Melting Pot, Oct. 31, For Halloween, The Melting Pot's Midtown, Duluth, Kennesaw and Roswell locations will offer a special menu price starting at 1 p.m. You can eat a three-course meal that includes cheese, salad and an entrée for $25, which, compared the their normal menu pricing, is quite a deal. If you come dressed in costume you will receive a chocolate course for $5 per person. 404-389-0099.

RA Sushi's Boo Bash 2009, Oct. 31, Starting at 7 pm RA Sushi will be celebrating Halloween with food and drink specials for the night. The "Boo Bites" specials, the $6 Creepy Cali Roll, $7 Voodoo Roll and $7 Spider Roll, can be paired with some $7 "Potent Potions," which include Vampire's Kiss, Bloody Brain and Skullini. DJ Scott will be entertaining with a mix of horror movie theme songs and top 40s hits. There is no cover charge and the kitchen will remain open until 1 am. 1080 Peachtree St. 404-267-0114.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

He's back

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2009 at 6:50 PM

Paul Luna, our city's first celebrity chef (before there was Top Chef and such), was spotted at Atmosphere last night. I havve not confirmed that he's moving back, although AtlantaLatino.com reports that "he is looking to make Atlanta a new home and to teach cooking classes and English."

Luna has, amazingly, crossed the US on bike to promote his children's book, "Luna Needs a Miracle," an English-Spanish text about bridging cultural difference. He's recorded his impressions of how Atlanta has changed since his departure on one of his blogs.

Let's hope the brilliant chef decides to cook in restaurants now and then!

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'Top Chef' Las Vegas, Episode Ten: Whatever, Whatever

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2009 at 4:16 PM

I guess one good turn, or challenge, deserves a repeat.

Last night's episode of "Top Chef" Las Vegas was a virtual vegetarian deja vu as the remaining cheftestants cooked up veggie entrees for quirky actress Natalie Portman, taking a cue from last summer's "Top Chef Masters" where the masters cooked a dinner for quirky vegan actress Zooey Deschanel. While the first incarnation was mostly interesting (Art Smith making vegan food with love, come on!), this time around the majority of the cheftestants served up plates of thrown together veggies and then freaked out about it. The most interesting thing about the meal, aside from Padma and Natalie's giggle-worthy double entendres, was Michael Voltaggio's banana polenta, and even that wasn't his original idea.

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Eat this now: The burger at Bocado

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2009 at 1:50 PM

My latest obsession: The "Burger stack" at Bocado (887 Howell Mill Road, 30318. 404-815-1399. www.bocadoatlanta.com) on the Westside.

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Read all about it on my blog, The Blissful Glutton.

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