Friday, June 24, 2011

Gravy Train: Beer Garden at Piedmont Park, Taqueria Tsunami to open in July

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Taqueria Tsunami
  • Taqueria Tsunami on Facebook
This week, Piedmont Park began ongoing Beer Garden events, where you can enjoy a happy hour beverage around the park. It may be a little tough to find the spots, as locations and hours vary (why not at least stick to one set of hours?!). The schedule for Beer Garden operations is: Thursdays at Dockside (6 p.m.—9 p.m.), Fridays at the Dog Park (5 p.m. — 8:30 p.m.), Friday and Saturday at the Pool (5 p.m. — 7 p.m.) and Saturdays at Legacy Fountain (5 p.m. — 8 p.m.). Proceeds benefit Piedmont Park.

Taqueria Tsunami, taking over the Toulouse space in Buckhead, has announced an opening date of July 18. The restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, will serve Latin-Asian tacos. They also put a charitable twist on things, donating 5% of their profits to the Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund. On Facebook, Taqueria Tsunami hints that they are working on opening a second location in Decatur.

Y’all, this cupcake news just won’t quit. Cupcakes are officially the new froyo, with shops popping up everywhere! Smallcakes, a national cupcake chain, is working on building out a shop on Peachtree near Pharr Road.

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Ullio starts blog, critics tremble

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 11:26 AM

I love this. Riccardo Ullio, owner of Fritti, Sotto Sotto and the new Escorpion, has started a new blog, "Una cosa alla volta." Not surprisingly, because Riccardo is both among the most sensitive and intelligent restaurant owners I know, it's gonna be hell for us critics.

The first post, in fact, discusses his debate with John Kessler of the AJC over the "structure" of pizza made in Fritti's new oven. There's also an encounter with Christiane Lauterbach. Since I wrote a "First Look" of Escorpion this week, I expect to be next.

Here's his bit about Christiane:

I walk into Escorpion the next day and notice Christiane Lauterbach at the bar chatting amicably with mixologist Adam Fox. I say hello and Christiane muses in her classic French accent: ” ho ho ho, I see you are debating pizza with John…he, he, he, you are a one man debate team Riccardo…” Christiane has never been a fan of Fritti, and I remember having to keep my opening pizzaiolo Salvatore, from running out into the dining room and arguing with her ten years ago. “I want to know what she know about pizza. If she know about pizza, I say ok, u know about pizza, u can tell me about pizza… I make pizza since I was 12 years old, my grandfather make pizza, my father make pizza….” ” Yo, just go back to the oven and shut up would you…”

How well I remember this debate. That's why the newest feels so deja vu.

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

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 11:07 AM

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.

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....

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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In defense of potatoes

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 10:52 AM


Potatoes have been having a rough time lately.

To start, the USDA began their crackdown on starchy vegetables in school lunches back in January. The potato, as well as corn, green peas and lima beans, is now limited to one cup a week per lunch, and is banned from school breakfasts. Potatoes have been limited and eliminated in high-protein diets for years, as dieters scramble to scrape each and every carb off their plates. And now, according to a study done by Harvard researchers, potatoes are the number one food to eat if you're looking for some long-term weight gain. Here's a quote from the Washington Post article:

Among all the foods studied, potatoes stood out. Every additional serving of potatoes people added to their regular diet each day made them gain about a pound over four years. It was no surprise that french fries and potato chips are especially fattening. But the study found that even mashed, baked or boiled potatoes were unexpectedly plumping, perhaps because of their effect on the hormone insulin.

Of course, I trust the researchers at Harvard know what they're talking about. I get that the whole controversy behind potatoes is that it's so easy to prepare and purchase them in unhealthy, unnatural ways - french fries, potato chips and those horrible powdered "mashed potato" mixes you get in a bag for $1.09 at the supermarket, to name a few. And obviously, that plate of hash browns you just got at Waffle House that was cooked in a pool of butter and covered with processed cheese isn't the healthiest, most weight-concious choice. But considering the prevalence of sugary, fatty, refined and completely empty calories in our diet these days, I think we need to cut potatoes a little slack.

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Weekend Food Events, June 24 - 26

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 9:33 AM


Hop City Craft Beer and Wine Sat., June 25, 11 a.m. Home Brewing Class. Learn the basics of home brewing with Hop City's brewing classes. Details

South City Kitchen: Vinings Sat., June 25, 11 a.m. Grilling Class. Guests will create four dishes and enjoy lunch with beer pairings. Details

Five Seasons Brewing Company Sat., June 25 and Sun., June 26, 1 - 6 p.m. All You Can Eat Beer-B-Q. Guests can enjoy barbecue, beer and sides at the second annual Beer-B-Q. Details

BLT Steak Sat., June 25, 2 - 4 p.m. Cooking Class with Chef Holota. BLT Steak's chef Cyrille Holota will offer a cooking class titled, "Cooking with the Season: the best Georgia has to Offer for Summer." Details

The Masquerade Music Park Sat., June 25, 5 - 10 p.m. Atlanta Summer Beer Fest. Enjoy music and sample beers at Creative Loafing's Summer Beer Fest. Details

Fado Irish Pub and Restaurant Sat., June 25, 10 p.m. Ladies 80s Party. A DJ will be spinning 80s tunes and the bar will serve $6 80s-style cocktails. Details

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

An interview with Richard Blais about his new restaurant in partnership with Concentrics

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Yesterday, the AJC reported that Richard Blais and Concentrics would be opening a new, as yet unnamed restaurant in Technology Square in Midtown. I caught up with Blais, who is in Beijing "demonstrating modern western culinary techniques in front of 6,000 people" today, to find out a little more.

Besha Rodell: Okey Dokes. Super did this come about?

Richard Blais: It came about quite organically. Todd Rushing sent me a text the night I won "Top Chef" saying congrats. I said we should chat. The three of us met [Blais, Rushing and Amick] and they already had a space, And I enjoyed my time with them at One Midtown Kitchen. We hashed out a plan over a few meetings, and here we are.

BR: Are you a partner? I'm assuming is the relationship different now than it was when you worked for Concentrics before?

RB: Yes, I am a partner. The relationship is different because of the partnership. They've always been great employers, now they'll be great partners. They respect my vision, I've always respected their operations. They have contributed a great deal to the dining scene here. They also have the management and operational foundation that I don't. We both are bringing much to the table.

BR: From the statement I saw it seems like you're planning on spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Do you see this as a more hands on chef gig than Flip etc? Will you have an executive chef there or will that be your title alone?

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gary Mennie has left Table 1280

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 11:27 AM

I got an anonymous tip this morning that Gary Mennie had left Table 1280 as of yesterday. The source told me that the A Legendary Event owner Tony Conway had a plan to close the restaurant and only keep the lounge open.

I spoke to Dave Lishness at A Legendary Event, the company that took over operations of Table 1280 last year, who confirmed that Mennie was no longer with the company. Lishness denied that the Table 1280 was closing though, stating that it was still a fully operational restaurant. "I'd love to make you a reservation," he said.

Mennie took over as chef last August. He left Livingston to take the job.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Funding cut for food safety programs; NYT features EAV Farmer's Market teen

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Eat those carrots! And beans, oysters, oily fish and sweet potatoes
  • Eat those carrots! And beans, oysters, oily fish and sweet potatoes

Overfishing, habitat loss, climate change and pollution could lead to a mass extinction in the world's oceans, according to the International Programme on the State of the Ocean. The IPSO presented a preliminary report to the U.N. today which highlighted the threats and possibilities if our treatment of the ocean continues. The full report will be released at a later date, according to the IPSO's website. Pretty scary.

On Friday, the House passed the agriculture appropriations bill with a 217 to 203 vote. The bill cuts funding for the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program and government food safety programs, and "effectively guts the USDA's new school lunch nutrition standards." It also bans the FDA from approving genetically engineered salmon, and it doesn't cut subsidies for farmers making more than $250,000 a year. It's not the final word on the bill, however - the Senate still needs to write and vote on its version in the coming weeks.

On a lighter note - an Atlanta teen who works at the East Atlanta Village Farmer's Market was featured in a New York Times article last week! Cameron Stephens got hired as an intern at the EAV Farmer's Market after just showing up and helping out there, without being asked and without knowing anybody, for two weeks. Maybe I'll take that approach next time I'm looking for internships - since the New York Times published this article, I'm sure they'd take me on after I show up unannounced and start helping people with their articles for a few weeks. Really though, what a cool story.

If that last post about cancer-causing red meat scared you, check out Saveur's list of meat-free grilling ideas, including more unconventional grilling fare like feta cheese, cactus and strawberries.

Mom was right - eating carrots really can help you see better. A new study from researchers in the Netherlands found that nutrients like zinc, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the risk of vision loss in middle age.

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Email of the day

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 4:03 PM

In today's email, from the new pizzeria named "do" — as in "dough," as in "pizza dough. Do at the View:

Atlanta`s First All iPad Driven Restaurant Now Taking Reservations!:

Imagine a restaurant so advanced that it combines the arts of music, food and science….

Imagine indulging in a gourmet “SYMPHONY” of flavors while being surrounded by four walls that transform at the blink of an eye…

Imagine a powder room with no mirrors… Imagine a restaurant so “IN TUNE” with technology that it satisfies your appetite with the touch of your fingertips…

Imagine a restaurant where paper menus are a thing of the past…

Imagine do…

We’re doing pizza, musically inspired!


I'm not sure how I missed this newbie, but I'm intrigued by an "iPad driven" restaurant. The address is 955 W. Marietta St. (404-541-9060). Make a reservation via Open Table.

Does anyone have an iPad I could borrow?

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Eater interviews Richard Blais

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Eater interviewed Richard Blais a few days ago at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. This part of the interview will be of most interest to Atlantans:

EATER: So, I know you're planning on opening something new soon…
Flip Burger Boutique has three locations. [knocks glass table in front of him] Hm, that's not wood. We're headed for DC next and then we're trying to get to Miami soon after.

After that, I'm opening a place called HD. That stands for Haute Doggery. [pauses] I apologize for that, but it's a gift to you guys. We're going to have some fun with the American hot dog, sausage, and charcuterie. It's going to open within the next couple of weeks in Atlanta.

Tell me about the space at HD.
It's a small space, about 3,000 square feet. It's in the Virginia Highlands area of Atlanta, which is a hip area. It's got a rooftop bar, it'll have a soft-serve ice cream machine, and we'll sell only beer in a can. Not full service. Dark wood. Flip's look is more pop-Los Angeles. At HD, it's a little darker. Goth, almost.

Actually, I think the location is in Poncey-Highlands, in the old San Francisco Coffee building. This is interesting too:

On Top Chef, it seemed you wanted to distance yourself from your southern roots. Why?
Hmmm, I'm not sure I agree. I live in the South. But I was born and raised in New York for 25 years. I do connect with the South now. When I first moved to Atlanta, I was a stubborn New Yorker. I hated grits and I loved polenta. Ha—they're the same thing. I think Southern Food is one of the only true American foods. I'm not just going to fry up catfish and collard greens and call it a day.

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Restaurant Review: Bread & Butterfly
Restaurant Review: Bread & Butterfly

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