A new restaurant called do (pronounced “dough,” because that’s totally obvious to diners...) will be opening in April at The View at King Plow, and places a focus on creating an experience for all of your senses. From the team behind One Stop Productions, do promises to have flashy features including a barrage of light and video elements, waterfalls and high tech iPad ordering. The menu was created by owner Christian Ruffin’s wife, Nacasha, and focuses on high quality, natural ingredients. The menu is fairly simple, featuring primarily pizzas, but there is no mention of the creators having any culinary background, so we can only hope that the food packs as much punch as the overall experience.
One of those is Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale in Decatur. Following are his descriptions of current dining trends, his own philosophy and customer expectations. (I'll be featuring other chefs in future posts.)
Trends: I think currently the overall trend in dining is “casualing” — a made-up word. Very important word, though. Dining is an experience that entails good food, good/slightly refined service, and a good, comfortable, accepting environment in which to have it. Also, guests are demanding to know the lineage of what’s on their plate more often. A much more concrete trend is wine pricing. In general, markups are coming down on quality wines, offering guests a better wine experience at a fairer price.
Philosophy: Our philosophy as it pertains to the aforementioned, especially in Decatur, is a hope to exceed the guest’s expectations. At the current location I think we surprise many guests with the quality of the food and service, given the surroundings (though we really like them).
We all work really hard in the kitchen to purchase the best ingredients and either transform them or present them in a way that highlights their attributes, especially our vegetables. We use an overwhelming majority of local vegetables in our cooking. We truly are a vegetable-driven restaurant. This also goes for our beverage service. I work very hard at keeping an affordable and unique wine list together. Our servers work really hard at being less salespeople and more guides.
Customer expectations: That’s a hard one because everyone that walks in the door is different. Sometimes people like big portions and we have a hard time satisfying that, as we feel we serve healthy and adequate portions and we get a lot of positive feedback based on that. Sometimes people want to be completely blown away and I think we can do that but in today’s restaurant world many guests come fully "loaded" with research and an idea of what they want.
What we try to do is give them a Cakes & Ale experience. This entails what I mentioned above as well as a commitment by the guest to let go and let us be a guide to a meal. In the end, a table of guests just wants to have a good time.
Park 75 at Four Seasons Hotel Fri., March 25, 9 p.m.-12 a.m.: Celebrity Chocolate Buffet. Q100’a Melissa Carter joins Exectuive chef Gerstenecker to host the radio personality’s favorite chocolate desserts at the Chocolate Buffet. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Health System. 75 14th St. 404-253-3840. fourseasons.com
Ray’s at Killer Creek. Sun., March 27, 6 p.m.: Top Chef. Executive Chef Tracey Bloom and four of her fellow “Top Chef” contestants from the seventh season of Bravo’s hit television show: Andrea Curto-Randazzo, Tiffany Derry, Kenny Gilbert and Arnold Myint and eather Hurlbert from Top Chef Desserts will prepare a six-course meal with wine pairings. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. $150. Complete the sign up form and email or mail it to the restaurant. Seating is limited. 770-649-0064. 1700 Mansell Rd. www.raysrestaurants.com
Sip @ Riverside Sun., March 27: SINdays — SERVICE INDUSTRY NIGHT. Every Sunday evening, Sip @ Riverside will offer specials on beer, wine and liquor, plus two tapas for $10.00 to any service industry worker who presents their work check stub. A SIN card will then be given to the guest in order to redeem the special offers. 404-233-5455. 4403 Northside Parkway. www.siprestaurants.com
Check out Mark Bittman's latest column in the New York Times. It's entitled "Food: six things to feel good about."
Here's a sample:
Not just awareness, but power | Everyone talks about food policy, but as advocates of change become more politically potent we’re finally seeing more done about it. Late last year, public pressure enabled the federal government to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, which will improve school food, and the Food Safety Modernization Act, which will make food safer. (Gripe alert: Neither is perfect, and it’s easy to be critical of both — the child nutrition bill, for example, may be partially funded by a cut to food stamps — but they mark real progress and increase the possibility of further reform.) Combined with increasingly empowered consumers and a burgeoning food movement (one that Time magazine’s Bryan Walsh suggests has the potential to surpass and save the environmental movement), guarded optimism is called for, especially with the farm bill up for renewal in 2012. If the good guys fail to make some real gains there I’ll be surprised.
Spending this much close-up time with Isabella is kind of akin to being stuck in a horror movie. You want to look away but can't. Because you have to blog about it. Or because it's so sickening and depraved, those teeth, that head...is he really as appalling as I think, or am I losing my mind? Has spending this much time with this show turned me into a murderous psycho? Is it me or Bravo? I can't tell.
Patti Davis emails this news:
Cake Hag will open their new location for breakfast kolaches and baked goodies this Friday at their new location at 575 Boulevard in the old Baptist church in Grant Park. They also have a Cake Bike selling ice cream sandwiches (the lemoncello is to DIE for) and cakewiches around town. To access where the bike will be, you can follow them on Twitter at SweetRideATL.
The cake shop will open for breakfast at 7 a.m. Tuesday-Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday. The kolaches will also be available for lunch.
Just what I needed — a cake shop less than a mile from home.
I also had a great experience with Andrea at So Ba recently. She has contagiously pleasant presence and, believe me, I don't catch that bug often.
The stories I hear from server friends continue to astound me. Most recently, my friend Pat, who works at a very popular chain in a mall told me this one:
He was waiting on a table of three women. During his second visit to the table, one of the women said, "I should tell you that I'm not usually this nice to servers."
Pat laughed, but realized this was a bad omen.
On his next visit to the table, the same woman noticed aloud that he was wearing a wedding band. (The band actually belongs to his deceased mother.)
"Are you married?" the woman asked.
Pat, who is partnered, said, "Yes."
"To a man or a woman?" the woman asked.
Pat maintained his cool, but said that was not really something he wanted to talk about and that it was an inappropriate question.
The woman suddenly became effusively, annoyingly apologetic and did not relent even when the meal was over. In fact, she asked to see a manager, to whom she praised Pat and apologized again for five minutes. As Pat gathered his 12-percent tip, he noticed that the woman patted her manager on the stomach.
When the woman left, Pat asked what the stomach pat was about. "She spent five minutes apologizing for insulting you," he said, "and then patted me on the stomach and told me I needed to get rid of my belly."
Really, I don't see how restaurant people stand it.
I did come across an article on Health.com recently that says servers are the second-most depressed workers in the country:
Ranking just below professional-care workers are the people who are serving the food at your favorite local digs. Wait staff often get low pay and can have exhausting jobs with numerous people telling them what to do each day.
While 10% of workers in general reported an episode of major depression in the past year, almost 15% of women in this field did so.
“This is often a very thankless job,” [therapist Deborah] Legge says. “People can be really rude and there is a lot of physical exertion. When people are depressed, it is hard to have energy and motivation—when you have to be on, it is difficult.”
Perhaps Georgia should enact a mental health tax to be charged in restaurants.
The High Museum will begin its 19th annual Wine Auction tomorrow with an auction entitled "Dine Around Dinners — Toast the Tastemakers." Chefs at restaurants around town including Bocado, Canoe, Holeman & Finch, and Sotto Sotto, will work with featured Winemakers for a wine-paired prixe-fixe dinner. Reservations for the dinners can be made at the individual restaurants.
Complete Event List
To attend the events, interested parties should go to the High Museum Wine Auction Contact Page, where they can submit a query to be invited to the events, as well as volunteer, donate, become a corporate or individual sponsor or apply to become a benefactor.
KILL IT!! Love you guys!
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