Friday, December 18, 2009


Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 10:39 PM

For the story behind this ad by the New York City Health Department, check out the ad's Facebook page.

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Bon Appetit <3s Octane

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 5:02 PM

This from my friend Brad:

Bon Appetit named Octane one of their ten "hot" boutique coffee shops in the country in their Jan. 10 issue. "This loft-style shop brews coffee in French presses, and its syrups (chocolate, caramel and vanilla) are made in-house. To go with your coffee, try the grilled PB&J." (Only gave the Marietta Street address). Brad Lapin sez: best cap he's had outside of Italia!

Believe me: Brad, who resides much of the time in Rome, is harder to please than Bon Appetit, so try the cappuccino.

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Grazing: First Look: Bistro Niko

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 3:00 PM

BISTRO NIKO: The dining room
  • BISTRO NIKO: The dining room

"Gah, it's like a quick trip to Paris, except that we don't have to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers," Wayne said soon after we took our seats at Bistro Niko (3344 Peachtree Road, 404-261-6456).

"But I want to rub shoulders with zillionaires," I replied. The new restaurant from the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group is located in the Sovereign Building near Lenox Square. The mixed-use skyscraper includes 82 condos listed as high as $9.5 million. Here, the recession is merely an inconvenience – mainly to one's slightly poorer friends. The bistro was packed, with waits, during my lunch and dinner visits.

Bistro Niko is named after Niko Karatassos, who runs the Buckhead Life Group with his father, Pano. This is the first Atlanta restaurant they've opened since Kyma (by far my favorite of their operations) in 2001. But, like all their restaurants, Bistro Niko excels at service and style.

Although the Sunday night crowd seemed almost purely composed of Buckhead types – yes, that's stereotyping – the lunch crowd was more diverse. I counsel you in any case to dress decently. You know, in lots of black to offset your bleached teeth. And borrow a good car if you're going to use the valet. And do use the valet, because parking will cost you $8 or more if you don't. Plus, using the valet allows you to loiter among the cluster of fox sculptures by Michael Stipe.

Continue Reading "Grazing: First Look: Bistro Niko"

(Photo by James Camp)

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Kevin Gillespie wins 'Top Chef' fan favorite

Posted By on Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 2:03 PM

Last night, Woodfire Grill's Kevin Gillespie was awarded $10,000 for being the favorite among "Top Chef" viewers. The announcement was made (by Carrie!!) on Bravo's “Watch What Happens Live.”

This was a relief to me, seeing as I promised to eat my foot if he didn't win. Mmmm, toejam.

I've been trying to find something about the announcement on the Bravo website, but they seem way more interested in promoting some crap about whether or not Michael Voltaggio is single or something. Uh...who cares?

Yay Kevin!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Highland Bakery to open Midtown location

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 3:56 PM

The Old Fourth Ward staple for breakfast, lunch and baked goods is opening a Midtown location at 1180 Peachtree St. They expect to open this coming spring. Press release after the jump.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cheap Eats: Hankook Taqueria misses the mark

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 3:00 PM

HANKOOK TAQUERIA: Pork and beef Korean tacos
  • HANKOOK TAQUERIA: Pork and beef Korean tacos

Last year, the blogosphere and Twitter exploded with unbridled enthusiasm over the Kogi taco truck in Los Angeles. But Kogi is no ordinary taco truck. It specializes in Korean tacos. Much like the cupcake and haute burger trends, Atlanta soon followed L.A.'s lead with the opening of Hankook Taqueria (1341 Collier Road, 404-352-8881).

Given Atlanta's vast amount of Korean and Mexican restaurants, the taqueria's location (on the ethnically-starved Westside) and know-how via owner Tomas Lee, a Buckhead Life alumnus, Hankook seems like the perfect storm. Having all of the right ingredients in place, however, isn't always a recipe for success.

The atmosphere of Hankook hangs thick with the smell of stale fryer oil. A cluster of tables surrounded by booths with sticky seats are covered with worn plastic tablecloths – a possible holdover from the former establishment.

Most of the food is stored in steam trays where Lee assembles your order. The menu is small – perhaps because Lee is new to Korean cooking. Tacos dominate the choices, but there are also quesadillas, burritos and a "street snack" section with straightforward Korean options.

Continue Reading "Cheap Eats: Hankook Taqueria misses the mark"

(Photo by Jennifer Zyman)

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Last call for gift subscriptions to Knife & Fork

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 2:02 AM

Time is running out for you to benefit from reduced subscription prices for Knife & Fork, Christiane Lauterbach's monthly dining newsletter. The November issue has some great reviews, written in Christiane's crystal-clear and incomparably informed prose.

The lead review is an unrated but mainly positive first impression of Miller Union. The highest-rated restaurant in this issue is Bishoku (2.5 stars), a japanese restaurant that is the successor to the very popular Sushi Huku. The second-highest rating (2 stars) goes to Iron Age, a Korean pork-belly house in Duluth.

Three restaurants earn the issue's lowest ratings (1.5 stars). They include Amuse, Lupe Taqueria and Hankook Taqueria. Under the newsletter's "Reports" column, just about everyone mentioned gets slapped down: Johnny Cakes, Cafe de Sol, Kaboobee and Evos.

Call 404-378-2775 to subscribe.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Atlanta New Year's Eve restaurant events

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 9:34 PM

This New Year's Eve in Atlanta, there are plenty of restaurants with special meals planned. Here's a list to guide you:

30 Tables, a four-course meal of oysters, scallops, choice of steak, lobster scampi, or duck, and dessert all with a complimentary champagne toast for $55. 110 Marietta St. 404-469-0700.

Amuse!, Offering a three-course prix-fixe menu at $48 per person. French-inspired cuisine. 560 Dutch Valley Road. 404-888-1890.

Aqua Blue, three-course prix-fixe menu for $59 per person. Seating is available at 5:30, 7 and 9:30 p.m. A DJ will begin the festivities at 9 p.m. and there will be a complementary champagne toast at midnight. 1564 Holcomb Bridge Road. 770-643-8886.

Aquaknox, Four-course prix-fixe meal, live entertainment, hats and noisemakers to ring in the New Year. $75 per person. 3280 Peachtree Road. 404-477-5600.

Aria, Offering a four-course prix-fixe menu for $85 per person. 490 East Paces Ferry Road. 404-233-7673.

Atlanta Grill, Offering a four-course prix-fixe dinner at $70 or $120 with wine pairings. There will be two sets of seating, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and 9 to 9:30 p.m. 181 Peachtree St. 404-221-6550.

Atmosphere Bistro, A prixe-fixe, four-course menu at $65 per person. 1620 Piedmont Ave. 678-702-1620.

Bistro Niko, Offering a four-course meal for $59 with wine pairings for an additional $25. 3344 Peachtree Road. 404-261-6456.

Blackstone, Four-course menu that includes Blackstone's signature items, a champagne toast, party favors, and live music at $55 per person. 4686 S. Atlanta Road. 404-794-6100.

BLT Steak Atlanta, Offering two menus; a four-course $65 menu between 5:30-6:30 p.m. and a $95 five-course menu between 8-9 p.m. 45 Allen Ivan Jr. Blvd. 404-577-7601.

Bluepointe, A four-course meal for $85 per person. $30 for wine pairings. 3455 Peachtree Road. 404-237-9070.

The Cafe at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, A special three-course, prix-fixe menu for $75 per person with a live jazz band and dancing to bring in the New Year. 3434 Peachtree Road. 404-240-7035.

Cafe Circa, Complimentary cocktail and noisemaker with $50 three-course prix-fixe menu and band after 11 p.m. 464 Edgewood Ave. 404-477-0008.

Dogwood, A four-course menu for $60. 565 Peachtree St. 404-835-1410.

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The art of menu design

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 9:27 PM


If you've been to Balthazar in New York, you'll find the new Bistro Niko similar in many ways -- including the menu's design.

Check out this link, from New York Magazine, which recently printed an excerpt from William Poundstone's Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value, to be published in January.  A sample of his analysis of menu design:

1. The Upper Right-Hand Corner

That’s the prime spot where diners’ eyes automatically go first. Balthazar uses it to highlight a tasteful, expensive pile of seafood. Generally, pictures of food are powerful motivators but also menu taboos—mostly because they’re used extensively in lowbrow chains like Chili’s and Applebee’s. This illustration “is as far as a restaurant of this caliber can go, and it’s used to draw attention to two of the most expensive orders,” Poundstone says.

2. The Anchor

The main role of that $115 platter—the only three-digit thing on the menu—is to make everything else near it look like a relative bargain, Poundstone says.

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Dining for a good cause

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 8:56 PM

Eat at Waterhaven and support a good cause -- fundraising for a new gay newspaper in Atlanta. As has been widely reported, Atlanta's two principal gay publications, Southern Voice and David, have ceased publication because their parent company was forced into bankruptcy by the Small Business Administration.

Now, former employees of the publications are  organizing to begin a newspaper named Georgia Voice.

Check out the link above or the fundraiser's Facebook page, from which this is excerpted:

WaterHaven, located at 75 5th St. in Atlanta, will host a fundraising dinner for the GA Voice this Saturday, Dec. 19.

The restaurant will donate 50 percent of food sales during Saturday’s dinner hours to support start-up costs for our efforts to create a new LGBT news outlet for Atlanta and the rest of Georgia.

WaterHaven is known for using local ingredients in a menu featuring creative takes on familiar favorites, like fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and pumpkin seed pesto.

With dinner hours from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., you can spend the evening or stop by for a great dinner before heading out to holiday parties.

Reservations are requested and can be made by calling the restaurant at (404) 214-6740 or on their website at

Please help us spread the word and raise money for the launch of the GA Voice! You can also donate directly to support our efforts by visiting and clicking "join our cause."

This is a good group of people. Leading the charge is Chris Cash, the original publisher of Southern Voice, along with Laura Douglas-Brown, the former editor of SoVo and one of the city's finest journalists.

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