First Look

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

First Look: BoccaLupo

Posted By on Tue, May 28, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Crispy lasagna at BoccaLupo

There are few restaurants that I've liked as much as La Pietra Cucina, which opened about five years ago. (The restaurant closed briefly in 2012 and later reopened as LPC.) La Pietra's executive chef, Bruce Logue, was once sous chef at Mario Batali's Babbo in New York. Like Batali, Logue's overall inspiration is Italian, but he fiddles with classics by using American, often local ingredients. Call it Italian-American. Just don't think "New-York-style Italian" overdosed with tomato sauce and cheese.

I lunched frequently at La Pietra Cucina and Logue became my favorite chef in town. But the restaurant's look became bizarre. Originally, meals were served in a small and pleasant, sunny dining room off the restaurant's main room, which awaited remodeling. The redo seemed wrong in every way for Logue. It was gloomy, with terra-cotta walls and completely uninteresting paintings. It was far too large. Lunching there felt lonely. Prices made the restaurant a fine-dining venue - in the middle of the recession. Logue disliked the change immensely and long talked about opening a small, informal, and more affordable place of his own.

Continue reading "First Look: BoccaLupo" by Cliff Bostock

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Atlanta's king of big steaks tries small plates on for size

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 1:13 PM

BACK IN THE KITCHEN: Kevin Rathbun peers out from the line and across the wood-burning grill at KR SteakBar.
  • James Camp/CL File
  • BACK IN THE KITCHEN: Kevin Rathbun peers out from the line and across the wood-burning grill at KR SteakBar.

I knew something was different when the artichokes arrived.

On a Friday night at KR SteakBar, the artichokes just happened to be the first dish to make it to our table. What was this? Just a few skinny artichoke tops and puffed-up rounds of lemon? I took a tentative bite of artichoke and recognized a deeply savory tang of vinegar. I nibbled on a round of lemon and felt a crunch of clean, crisp citrus brightness. Finally, I put the two together and had one of those bites that food writers like to describe as "perfectly balanced," softness paired to crunch, richness balanced by clean finish. Or, as my date said, you could just call it goddamn delicious.

Why linger on a rather weird little vegetable plate for so long? Well, because the weird little vegetable plate represents a tectonic shift in American food over the past decade.

Continue reading "First Look: KR SteakBar" by Wyatt Williams here.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

First Look: Chai Pani

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 7:55 AM


Chai Pani Decatur, the new upscale-ish Indian street food spot in Decatur, is an oxymoron of restaurant wizardry. It has a menu heavy on authentic Indian chaat (that's the street food), yet it also has a gentrified, Southern-fried vibe that's nothing like typical Indian restaurants. Can spice-packing authenticity and a farm-to-fork, feel-good atmosphere really coexist? If the crowds packing into Chai Pani are any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.

Like Taqueria del Sol just across Ponce de Leon Avenue, Chai Pani wraps the elements of ethnic street food in a contemporary Southern embrace. The space has a similarly sleek, minimalist feel, accented with colorful photos of Indian street life and old Bollywood posters on the wall. Chai Pani also takes a similar order-at-the-counter approach at lunchtime (though switches to table service at dinner), with prices that stay affordable despite a premium over hole-in-the-wall chaat shops.

Continue reading "First Look: Chai Pani" by Brad Kaplan

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