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Friday, June 24, 2011

Here and there: Super Pan, Delia's, Richard Blais

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NOT SO CRISPY AT SUPER PAN: My friend Lee mentioned Hector Santiago's Super Pan Latino Sandwich Shop yesterday and I got an immediate craving for the Medio Dia, a take on a classic Cuban sandwich. Its bites of ham, Swiss cheese and roasted pork are punctuated by little explosions of crispy, fatty pork skin — kind of like micro-chicharrones.

I hadn't been to the shop, located beneath Pura Vida in Poncey-Highland, in a few months. So we rushed over. I gotta say that paying $13 for a sandwich, even one of this ample size and art, makes me balk...about five seconds.

Unfortunately, my sandwich was, for the first time ever, sub-standard. Weirdly, the chicharron content seemed extremely increased. But the bites were not crispy. They were brittle to the point of being jarring, like the over-rendered cracklin's in your mama's cornbread.

No doubt, this was an unusual experience that proves even the normally fantastic trips now and then. I did like my mango-lemonade and Lee's ordinary Cuban sandwich was fine.

YUM FOR TONGUE: That's braised tongue with tomatillo sauce on a slider bun at the Shed at Glenwood. Chef Lance Gummere's $3 sliders every Wednesday night keep us coming back after — what? — a year or more. The man's brain must be exhausted from inventing new filings week after week.

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SAUSAGE AND A VIEW: I paid a visit Tuesday night to Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand for the first time since its opening a few months ago. If you visit, don't take your food home. Take a seat at a picnic table out front and watch the world go by on Moreland Avenue.

I arrived about 9:30, 30 minutes before closing on Tuesday, and the steady stream of visitors was quite entertaining, from cops and ambulance drivers to tipsy party girls. A guy approached me at my table and told me he was lost, in search of the Flatiron, across the street in East Atlanta Village. I gave him directions twice and watched him literally walk in a circle for the rest of my meal. Drugs are bad, mkay?

I wonder what the crowd is like at 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

As I've explained before, I'm not much of a hot dog fan. I like good sausage, like Delia's is serving, but I much prefer eating it straight up without too many toppings. Nonetheless, I do like the "slinger" here with sauerkraut and hot mustard.

Molly Gunn, the operating partner, told me that she and co-owner Delia Champion are still working on getting set up to operate a food truck. As is everyone's case, though, the city is making licensure akin to becoming qualified to transport radioactive material....

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NO WAY, RICHARD BLAIS: Speaking of hot dogs and strangeness, that reminds me of Richard Blais, who is opening "Haute Doggery" later this summer in the former location of San Francisco Coffee in Poncey-Highland. You've already heard that he is also partnering with Concentrics Restaurants to open an unamed restaurant in Midtown.

The restaurant will be located in the space that was once-upon-a-time the much-missed Globe and, after that, Waterhaven. A winter opening is planned.

My "no way" is prompted by earlier memories of Blais working as chef at the Concentrics-owned One Midtown Kitchen, about six years ago. He offered a fabulous 14-course tasting menu at the bar on Mondays and Tuesdays. Food & Wine did a great interview with him during that time. It gives considerable insight to his imagination.

But the rumor was that Blais began to feel inhibited by the management at Concentrics, as later happened at Home, owned by Here to Serve Restaurants. At least, this sense seemed to show up in the menu at One. His original eponymous restaurant, Blais, in Buckhead infamously crashed because his highly experimental menu didn't attract business sufficient to support the owners' investment. (Paul Luna later crashed at the same location.)

I assume Blais' mega-fame and own investment in the new restaurant buys him more freedom. No doubt, the kitchen there will be something of a stage to entertain fans from everywhere. It's quite a coup for Concentrics, but surprises me nonetheless. I'm betting his term as actual chef at the restaurant is limited.

Of course, I could be wrong about everything. Maybe Bob Amick and Todd Rushing of Concentrics have had a longtime bromance with Blais that only suffered because of Blais' outside flirtations with fame.

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