Friday, December 17, 2010

Gravy Train: Coffee shops, Colicchio, celebrity sightings

Posted By on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Coffee, coffee and more coffee. This week we have heard news of the addition of not just one, but four new coffee shops to the Atlanta area.

Little Cafe Paris opened last Friday in Ormewood Station (home to Morelli’s, Spoon and Little Azio) in the space that previously belonged to e2. Owner Samira Messaound moved to Atlanta from Belgium just a few months ago and wanted to create a new community gathering place with a sprinkling of European tradition. The coffee shop — open until 9 most evenings — serves homemade crepes (both sweet and savory) and waffles alongside classic coffeehouse drinks. Beginning in January, Little Cafe Paris will host monthly Cafe Philo evenings — a time for patrons to gather and engage in friendly debate around a set topic.

A few miles east, My Coffee Shop at East Lake is opening on Memorial Drive at the intersection with Fourth Avenue/Cottage Grove.

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Atlanta restaurant New Year's Eve events

Posted By on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 11:06 AM

10 Degrees South: Four-course menu special for $65 a person tax and gratuity not included. 4183 Roswell Road.

4th & Swift: Seasonal five-course New Year's Eve menu from chef Jay Swift. The menu includes Braised Tanglewood Farms Rabbitraised Herb Gnocchi, Olive Oil Bread Crumbs. New Year's Day offers pork, greens and everything in between along with an expansive Bloody Mary menu. Open 5:30-10 p.m., offering the traditional dinner menu in addition to the festive menu specials. $70 per person. Wine pairings for $35. 621 North Avenue. 678-904-0160.

Anis Café and Bistro: Four-course prix-fixe menu. Live music and complimentary champagne toast. $55. 2974 Grandview Ave. 404-233-9889.

Aria: Four-course prix fixe menu is offered starting at 5:30p.m. $85 a person. 460 East Paces Ferry.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Julian Assange to reveal McDonald's secrets?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Coming hot on the heels of the WikiLeaks scandal, now comes the disturbing news that McDonald's has been hacked:

The recent theft of customer information belonging to McDonald's is thought to be part of a larger security breach that may affect more than 105 companies that contract with Atlanta-based email marketing services firm Silverpop Systems.

In a notice on its website, McDonald's recently warned customers who registered for promotions or subscribed to any McDonald's website that their email addresses and other personal information may have been compromised by hackers.

The fast-food chain said an unauthorized individual was able to gain access to customer information after defeating the security measures put in place by an email database management firm.

Conservative McDonald's customers are advocating prosecuting and hanging the guilty hacker for treason.

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Chef Kaighn Raymond moves to Waynesville

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Well-known Atlanta Chef Kaighn Raymond and his wife Tania are moving to Waynesville, NC, to open a new restaurant, Frogs Leap Public House.

Raymond has worked as a chef in many of Atlanta's notable restaurants, such as Brasserie Le Coze, French American Brasserie, Tavola, Horseradish Grill, the Vinings Inn and the River Room.

The couple has bought the space in downtown Waynesville that was occupied the last 16 years by Lomo Grill. The Smoky Mountain News has the story, including an interview with Raymond:

“I’m able to finally get out of Atlanta and do what I really want to do, which is opening my own place in a small town,” said Raymond as he worked on repairs in the former Lomo Grill last week.

His new spot, which will be called Frog’s Leap Public House, will feature, he said, a local atmosphere with tasty, local food at affordable prices. He’s interested in serving farm-to-table fare that showcases local farmers as much as possible, offering a simple menu that captures the flavor of its location.

I've weekended in Waynesville a couple of times and it's a charming town, not far from Asheville.

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Dining on the Silk Road

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Tantra is the newest resident of the space last occupied by Ibiza, next door to the Imperial Fez in South Buckhead.

The restaurant features an interior that is meant to be highly sensual. It's red and gold and includes a very large piece of art depicting a couple cuddling. The name comes from a Hindu and Buddhist path to enlightenment that sometimes includes sex. In the American understanding of tantra, it's usually about nothing but sex and pleasure.

The food here is mainly quite good. While a lot of the dishes appear to be the usual around town, many of Tantra's include surprising, sometimes exotic ingredients. These are inspired by The Silk Road, the ancient route from Europe to the Far East.

My favorite dish was a short rib cooked in a pomegranate sauce and served with a clump of mustard greens and collards. You get sweet, sour, bitter and earthy flavors.

More later this week in "Grazing."

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Atlanta Christmas restaurant events

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day events around Atlanta:

Christmas Eve:

Atlanta Grill: Four-course dinner for $58 without wine pairings, $80 with wine pairings. 181
Peachtree St. 404-659-0400.

Aqua blue
: Offering a three-course holiday menu priced at $25 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve only. The Roswell restaurant will also be serving its regular menu. 1564 Holcomb Bridge Road,
Roswell. 770-643-8886.

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse: Five-course seafood menu on Christmas Eve. The savory selection from Executive Chef Bennett Hollberg is priced at $58 per person or $78 with wine pairings. 3500 Peachtree Road. 404-844-4810.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Craft Atanta to close "in early 2011"

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 3:15 PM


I just got a press release from the Reynold's Group confirming the rumor I've been hearing that Craft and Craftbar will be closing early next year. The release reads:

ATLANTA (Dec. 14, 2010) - Craft Atlanta and Craftbar, located at The Mansion on Peachtree in Buckhead, will close in early 2011. The restaurant's agreement with the original owners of The Mansion on Peachtree, Mansion Centre Development LLC, was not assigned to the property's new owners, 3376 Peachtree Rd — Atlanta LLC, when they took possession of the property in February 2010.

While efforts have been made by both parties to negotiate a new agreement, unfortunately, Craft and 3376 Peachtree Rd — Atlanta LLC could not agree on terms. The restaurant's chef/owner Tom Colicchio is disappointed to be closing the doors and remains extremely proud of the Craft Atlanta team and all they have accomplished, including receiving four-star reviews from The Atlanta Journal Constitution and Atlanta Magazine, as well as a spot on The Atlantan's list of best new restaurants.

Too bad. I'm gonna miss that wine list.

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Sandwich of the week

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 3:05 PM

It's the Vietnamese-style banh mi at Star Provisions. The cafe used to make this with pork shoulder but is now using four gigantic strips of pork belly with the usual pickled chilies on a toasted baguette.

The only drawback, besides feeling half-comatose after eating the sandwich, is the $13.95 cost. That's about $13 more than you'd pay on Buford Highway for a more traditional (smaller, less meaty) banh mi. But it's worth it. The pork belly is cooked just right.

My friend Lee, who tries to eat healthily, ordered an antipasto salad — also $13.95 — but, quantity-wise, it was yin to my yang. It was a bowl of greens topped with three or four slices of sopressata and Manchego cheese, with a few olives and some Marcona almonds. The upside is that it motivated Lee to buy us each a chunk of flourless chocolate cake....

Speaking of banh mi, Scoutmob is featuring a 50-percent discount at Thien Thanh Restaurant (5219 Buford Hwy., 770-676-0512) today. The banh mi there start at $2.50. I haven't visited this restaurant (yet), but I know that it's most popular for its pho, a perfect soup for this freezing weather....

Sonya Jones, chef/owner of Sweet Auburn Bread Company, writes to let me know that I used the wrong name of her business in my review of H. Harper Station. (She makes the desserts.) Sorry 'bout that.

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Chick-fil-A spicy chicken biscuit debuts Jan. 10

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 2:44 PM

I guess Chick-fil-A's spicy chicken sandwich has gone over pretty well, because the company is about to debut a breakfast version. Apparently you can get a free one if you register ahead of time. The press release states:
From Dec. 27 to Jan. 1, customers can visit to make a reservation for a FREE Spicy Chicken Biscuit at their local Chick-fil-A restaurant.

The photo is from the crazy 2011 cow calendar the company sent me. Anyone want it?

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Closing time: what do a restaurant's hours really signal?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 12:33 PM

Restaurant hours have long been a pet peeve of mine, particularly in regards to closing time. What exactly does it mean to say that an establishment is open until 11 p.m.? Is the last seating at 11 p.m.? Does the kitchen officially break down at that hour?

What about a half hour before closing?

I do my best to arrive at any restaurant about an hour before stated closing time at the latest. This isn't because I think that I shouldn't be served after that time, but more because I remember how frustrating it was, when I waited tables, to think your night of work was almost over only to have one straggling couple show up five minutes before we locked the door. I try to arrive early out of consideration. I will say that when I worked in restaurants, the ones I still think of as paragons of service at least, if someone did show up late the goal was to make them feel completely at home and give no signal that they were unwelcome.

The other night, I experienced almost exactly the opposite of that. For various reasons, the person I was dining with was held up until 10 p.m. There were a few places I needed to visit for work purposes, and all but one of them closed at 10 - one was open until 11. I hesitated to go there, but was eventually convinced. When we walked in the door, it was 10:25. There were two other tables still eating. I asked if the restaurant was still serving. "Yes, but we're about to close. If you can order in the next 20 minutes, it's OK."

I assured the host we would order quickly.

Our waiter came to the table, obviously unhappy that we were there. "We're about to close," he said. "Do you want something to drink?"

"Yeah, but we're looking at the menu first so we can get our order in," I said.

"Yeah, you need to order soon," he said. "The kitchen's about to close."

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