Friday, March 23, 2012

Midtown Patch and Hugh Acheson throw down in Twitter spat over health rating

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Here's how it went down:

(The very fake-sounding name of) Hunt Archbold at Midtown Patch posted a notice saying that Broadway Diner had scored a perfect 100 in its latest health rating. He then noted other scores from Midtown restaurants, including a 78 on March 6 from Empire State South.

That's when our hero, @HughAcheson, appeared in the Twitter ether. (Tweether?) He scolded @MidtownPatch, pointing out that since that rating (March 9 and 10), the restaurant had scored two perfect 100s. He even linked to the State of Georgia Board of Health for proof. As Acheson fairly noted:

Not saying it didn't exist, nor that it wasn't our error, but our current score is 100.

Archbold responded like any grizzled, ass-kicking news veteran would:
@HughAcheson It's all good. Look forward to my next date with you pork belly and kimchi grits soon. That and a vodka-inspired cocktail.

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Gravy Train: New food trucks, a tippling room in Decatur

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Sandwich Buddha
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  • Keep an eye out for Sandwich Buddha
This week, Concentrics announced a partnership with FLIP Burger Boutique. From here on out, they’ll have a hand in all operations, development, and marketing for the burger restaurants. Richard Blais will remain Creative Director. Concentrics is also working with Blais on his new restaurant, The Spence, which opens this spring.

Decatur Metro reports that The Pinewood will open in the former Cakes and Ale location. So far, all we know is that they will serve regionally inspired cocktails and food, they seem to be Outkast fans (their first tweet read “Decatur, lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor!”), and the full name will be The Pinewood Tippling Room. For those not in the know, a tipple is a drink or, if used as a verb, it means to drink alcohol. In other words, plan to booze it up at The Pinewood.

They haven’t hit the streets yet, but before too long you can expect to see a new food truck called Sandwich Buddha rollin’ through town. They’ll be serving soup and sandwiches. The truck is ready to go, complete with a smiling Buddha, and they are just waiting on final permits.

Another new food truck, Mighty Meatballs, is also getting ready to take to the streets. Inspired by their grandma’s recipe, Mighty Meatballs is two brothers slingin’ meatball sliders in both traditional and creative flavors.

West Midtown Corner Tavern has a new menu, and fancy-pants burgers are in the spotlight. Starting Monday, 10 new burgers will hit the menu - including one that’s deep fried in a PBR batter and topped with pimento cheese and gravy. Holy heart attack.

In other burger news, Smashburger has introduced a new, limited-edition burger at all five Atlanta locations. The Fresh Mex burger (also available as a chicken sandwich) is topped with avocado, cilantro, onions, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and spicy chipotle mayo on a Mexican roll, served with a wedge of lime. The Fresh Mex is available through April 29.

Continue reading »

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Meet Nick Love, founder of ATL Bite Life

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM

  • Courtesy of Nick Love

In a city teeming with food bloggers, finding a unique angle can be a daunting task. But that wasn’t a problem for Nick Love, founder of the blog and YouTube video series ATL Bite Life. With a passion for food and connections in the hip-hop scene, Love was able to create something new: a series that would appeal to foodies and music fans alike.

Love, an Atlanta native, has worked in the local music industry for years. He was formerly the vice president of marketing and promotions for Young Jeezy’s label, and helped put out his first two albums. He also did work for a label with Ludacris in the past.

Love came up with the idea to start a food blog in 2010, when he received an annual report from his bank stating he had spent 45% of his annual income eating out at restaurants.

“That’s something I have a passion for. That was something I did on a regular basis. That’s how I celebrated, that’s how I relaxed. At that point, I was like, I need to make this start working for me,” said Love.

ATL Bite Life started out as a blog and evolved into a video series when Love decided to start taping his dining experiences on his phone. Then, he took it a step further and decided to bring musical artists along with him.

“I realized through doing that, that was my niche when it came to the food thing. I knew that a lot of food blogs around town couldn’t call T.I., 2 Chainz, Travis Porter. These are friends of mine and that’s what made me unique,” said Love.

Love began filming the video series last November. For the first episode, he took 2 Chainz to BLT Steak. Love settled on this location after calling several different restaurants that were opposed to the idea of bright lights and cameras. To decide on which spots to review, Love considers availability, his preference, and his guest’s tastes.

Next week, we can look out for a new episode with Travis Porter at Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint. In the more distant future, Love hopes to feature sushi restaurants, Virginia Highland locales such as Noche and Diesel, and perhaps some vegetarian/vegan spots.

So what’s Love’s favorite restaurant in Atlanta? Well, actually, it’s in Kennesaw. He says Capers has the best food he’s ever eaten, and that we all have to try it.

“It’s the most underwhelming spot from the outside but when you walk in, the restaurant is incredible and the food is probably second to none in the city,” he said.

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Starred reviews: Is it a marketing thing?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Besha filed a post Feb. 28 about the latest brouhaha over the use of stars in restaurant reviews. This issue has come up repeatedly as long as I can remember.

Eater has posted links to a few other critics who have jumped into the fray. It's interesting reading, although the consensus is predictably ambivalent.

Most of the discussion is about what the stars require of critics and what they mean to readers. But there isn't much, if any, discussion about stars' effect on restaurant marketing. Restaurants regularly include star ratings in their advertising. Yet, as everyone has noted, a media critic's one star can be handily rendered meaningless by anonymous Yelpers who dole out three stars without hesitation, often for covert reasons.

Still, can you imagine the Michelin Guides without stars? Eliminating them would kill a competitive system that elates and tortures the planet's chefs. That's not to say Michelin hasn't been the subject of controversy for years. But it's not going to give up the stars, three of which are as coveted as the luscious fruit eternally out of the reach of Tantalus. Actually, even one star is coveted.

Now, here's the somewhat icky part. Much of the pressure to use stars has been exerted, in my experience, by the business side of newspapers. I think this is less the case now, but in years past it was easier to sell an ad if the publication's critic had multi-starred the review. That's because reducing a restaurant's quality to a metric tends to make one err on the positive side. I know you've read reviews that actually seemed rather negative but ended with a better-than-average star rating. Stars are easier to sell than words. (Then again, woe be unto the critic who grants half a star to a restaurant that's already been advertising.)

Linton Hopkins
But how do chefs themselves feel about the system. Eater just published some commentaries by well-known chefs about the system. Among them is Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch Public House. He's as thoughtful as ever. A sample:

Coming up the ranks, there's always a metric that is your goal — in New Orleans it's the five beans, if in a Michelin town it's the three stars, and of course, the New York Times review, etc. As a chef, I'm uncomfortable looking at what I do summed up in a couple of stars, but I do like the system as a goal; it resonates and crystallizes vision within a team....

I think the game to get the stars can bring out some pretty bad behavior from people, and overall, it's sometimes odd to reduce something so important, that involves so many dedicated people, to a metric. That's why I like film reviews, for example, that don't have a star rating. You have to read the piece and understand that there can be nuanced assessments.

That's not always true, but movie marketers are notorious for pulling positive statements out of otherwise meh reviews. And it also happens with restaurants.

In any case, I think the system is more driven by marketing than anything else.

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'In Organic We Trust.' Not really.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 9:30 AM

I've written a good bit over the last few years about how meaningless the term "organic" has become. This is especially true since large corporations like Walmart have gotten into the act. As I've written, eating local food is usually healthier — personally and ecologically — than eating the typical "organic" food in your grocery store.

The clip above is from a documentary, "In Organic We Trust," that will be screened at the Atlanta Film Festival on March 30. Here's the gist, from promotional material:

The term "organic" has become a hugely popular buzz word in the last several years. 73% of Americans eat organic food, but most have no clue what it means. "In Organic we Trust" takes a critical look at the growing organic industry and reveals what "certified organic" really means. It's different from other food documentaries because it focuses on positive solutions and fresh ideas, such as farmer's markets, urban farming, and school gardens.

The documentary will be available on DVD soon.

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Weekend Food Events, March 23-25: German wine tasting, organ meat dinner, and more

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Octopus Bars organ meat event
  • Octopus Bar's organ meat event

Market Fri., March 23, 7:30 p.m. LIVE! On Peachtree. Cocktail specials and MARKET menu bites by Jean-Georges will accompany a musical performance by Brad Foster and Colin Crider. Details

BLT Steak Sat., March 24, 2 p.m. Cooking Class with BLT Steak's Chef Holota. Join chef Cyrille Holota for "Cooking with Veal," an interactive lesson in the kitchen at BLT Steak. Guests will learn to prepare spiced veal hanger skewers and Bearnaise sauce. The class is $65 per person. Details

Le Caveau Fine Wines Sat., March 24, 5:30 p.m. German Wine Fest. Taste a wide range of wines from four producers who will be present at the event. Cheeses and charcuterie will be available. The tasting costs $10, which can be credited toward the purchase of one of the wines. Details

Le Giverny Bistro Sat., March 24, 7 p.m. A Culinary Tour de France. A five-course dinner featuring regional French culinary specialties served with wines that share the same provenance. Details

Octopus Bar Sun., March 25, 9 p.m. An Offal Good Time. Experience Atlanta’s pioneering organ-centric supper in East Atlanta’s Octopus Bar. An intimate crowd will gather to enjoy a reception featuring Cheerwine and moonshine cocktails from Miller Union’s barkeep Stuart White with “redneck” bar snacks, followed by a four-course dinner highlighting deliciously prepared organ meat. Tickets are $83. Details

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Deals: The Shed, Sweet Auburn BBQ, Rosa Mexicano, Alon's

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 4:24 PM

The Shed at Glenwood's $3 slider feast featured a couple of new choices last night. The one (poorly) pictured is slices of boiled egg layered with asparagus and pickled onion. Chef Lance Gummere also applies the slighty-stinging IPA mustard he makes (and which is for sale by the jar).

Next best of the newbies was a panino made with lamb sausage....

A good deal: Scout Mob is offering 50-percent off ($8 max.) at Sweet Auburn Barbeque, unique in the city for its fusion experimentation. It's located — naturally — inside the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Another recent good one, available on the Scout Mob app only, offers 50-percent off at Sufi's. And there's also a deal at the Grant Park location of Octane. You get small plates, cocktails, and coffee — a $50 value — for $25. That's for two....

Speaking of fusion: Looking for a Mexican Passover dinner? Here you go:

Rosa Mexicano debuts its Mexican Passover menu, crafted by Culinary Advisor Jonathan Waxman, April 6 — 13. Drawing inspiration from his Jewish heritage and current culinary trends in Mexico City, Waxman has created a menu including dishes such as Red Snapper Gefilte Fish; Tecate Pulled Beef Brisket Tacos; Date, Lemon & Piñon Cake with Honey and a special Passover Sangria with Manischewitz© reduction.

Check out Rosa's site for the complete menu....

Alon's. is also, by the way, offering complete Passover meals.

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Poisons in everyday foods

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Sure you would probably have to eat a truckload of most of these to experience serious health risks, but still.

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Au revoir, pink slime [updated]

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 2:25 PM

  • By Rainer Zenz (Wiki Commons)

Pink slime, as we all know, is that chemical-infested, pasty amalgamation of spare cow parts that's mixed into beef as a filler. Although the USDA weirdly says it's legit, schools and grocery stores have announced in the past couple weeks that they plan to phase it out.

According to Gawker, New York City Public Schools promise to ditch the pink slime in their cafeterias. Starting next fall, kids will be chowing down on filler-free meat.

Safeway and Supervalu, the second and third biggest grocery chains in the country, announced yesterday that they would stop buying pink slime. This is great news ... for places with those grocery stores. Here in Krogertown, we won't have as much luck. Kroger stated that it carries beef both with and without the filler. But of course, that could all change quickly. After everyone's collective pink slime freak-out earlier this month, it seems like some corporate folks are getting shamed into purchasing real meat. And that's probably not a bad thing.

That is, unless you're Alton Brown and you're tossing around cookbook ideas.

Update: Minutes after this was posted, Kroger announced that they, too, would stop selling products with pink slime. I called it!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Knife & Fork prints its best of 2011 list

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Barcelona Wine Bar makes Christianes best of list
  • James Camp
  • Barcelona Wine Bar makes Christiane's "best of" list
The latest issue of Knife & Fork is out. Owner Christiane Lauterbach is behind on issues, so this one is dated January 2012. That means it includes her annual "best of" list — for 2011. She notes that "in this exceedingly lean past year, we had to dig deep to find ten worthy candidates."

Those that made it include Barcelona, Cardamom Hill, Gu's Bistro, Heirloom Market BBQ, No. 246, Octopus Bar, One-Eared Stag, Seed Kitchen & Bar, Shami Kabab, and Viande Rouge.

The January issue also includes an article entitled "The Pizza Wars: Neo-traditionalist vs. Old-School." It begins with this statement:

Who likes soggy pizza? Not you, not us, and yet anyone who offers feedback that the top of a Caprese (basil, tomato, and mozzrella) shouldn't slide off the crust and lie on the plate like a wet blanket is considered a rank amateur by our local high-octane pizzailoli.

She then takes a look at Fuoco di Napoli, Avellino's, and Piola. In the end, she favors Tartufo, which she finds not too thick and not too thin, producing a "happy medium Goldilocks would settle for."

The November issue includes a positive "first impression" of Cardamom Hill, while the December issue awards a 2.5-star rating to Philippopolis. It also includes a a round-up of mainly newer burger joints, with a few older ones mentioned for the sake of comparison. There's not much she gives a really enthusiastic review, even writing that "the iconic burger at Holeman & Finch is a little too bloody for our taste."

She does enjoy the burger bar at Park 75. Every Wednesday, the restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel offers fascinating burgers — how about a tongue-and-cheek one? — for $12. The seating is limited, so make a reservation (404-881-9898).

To subscribe to Knife & Fork, call 404-378-2775.

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