In the 2000s, Watershed flourished thanks to chef Scott Peacock's sophisticated, contemporary take on Southern classics. It was the jewel of Decatur's casual but increasingly ambitious dining scene.
But now, Watershed has literally moved on up, to a high-rise condo building on Peachtree Road. The Buckhead transformation encompasses almost every aspect of the dining experience. In place of the chaotic little Decatur parking lot, there's a sleek corporate valet. Instead of a homey feel, there are vast street-facing windows, expansive dining spaces, and stark elegance. It's now Brooks Brothers instead of Birkenstocks, Westminster rather than Paideia, and, well, Peachtree instead of Ponce.
Yebo's brand of fusion uses the cuisine of South Africa as a departure point for a more populist trip exploring the country's flavors. It's location in one of the South's most high-end shopping destinations demands the menu be at once exotic and widely appealing. Where else in town can you plop down with your bags full of Gucci for a choice of ostrich or fried chicken, barbecue-sauced pork or bobotie bunny chow, and then wash it down with a $180 bottle of South African wine? As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, a restaurant with such disparate aims is sure to hit a bull's-eye in spots, and fall short in others. So it goes with Yebo.
Read the full review by Brad Kaplan here.
There may be no restaurant that reflects the cultural cadence of this city right now more than the Spence. Chef/TV star Richard Blais' latest Atlanta project harnesses the excitement surrounding both the local dining scene and the city's role as the Hollywood of the South. At the top of the menu, a list of the kitchen's current influences and inspirations nods to the creative process behind the dishes of the day - root vegetables, the Falcons, candied quince. The staff barely seems able to contain its enthusiasm, eager to funnel the same in-the-moment excitement into the food you're about to order.
Blais' name may not be emblazoned above the restaurant's door, but the Spence still owns the fact that it's a celebrity chef restaurant. In a town teeming with reality show crews and zombies and A-list actors on shoot, it seems fitting to have a representative on Bravo's "Life After Top Chef," the network's latest addition to the franchise that shows Blais building out this very restaurant, hiring cooks, airing doubts, sharing dreams. And if you're not one of the hundreds of thousands of people who tune in on Wednesdays, maybe you're one of the 200,000 who follow Blais on Twitter, where he keeps everyone updated on his dizzying daily duties. If you want to know if Blais will be in the house when you visit the Spence, look no further than his Twitter feed.
Read the full review by Brad Kaplan here.
It's not a boast or an exaggeration, but I'm not a television watcher. I've never seen an entire episode of "Top Chef" or any of the other nail-biting soap operas that toy with chefs' egos and turn a risky condiment into a death sentence.
So, I've never been starstruck by Richard Blais. But I have been eating and mainly loving his food since he turned up at Fishbone on Peachtree Street in 2001. A couple of years later he opened Blais, revolutionary in its introduction of molecular cuisine to Atlanta. I found the restaurant to be a mixed success, but greatly admired his willingness to experiment wildly, under the inspiration of renowned Ferran Adrià of El Bulli, where he worked a stint...
As usual, the commenters on my story are playing out the exact arguments I had with myself about the review. I considered not even writing it. As commenter Kelly W. said, "Change the name and you've just reviewed every O'Charlie's, Houstons, Cheesecake Factory, and so forth in the country."
But there are two reasons why I decided to review Truffles. The first is that it's slightly different from many other chain restaurants in that it's modeled after a well-liked restaurant in Hilton Head, one that many Atlantans may have visited and enjoyed. It's represented by a major Atlanta PR firm (Melissa Libby PR). It has an overall rating of four stars on Open Table. It has received a ton of fawning chatter on blogs around town. (One post, from Pretty Southern, curiously went up yesterday after my review came out and bears a striking, almost word-for-word resemblance to the press release about Truffles I received a few weeks back). Even John Kessler has some positive things to say in his one star review for the AJC.
Assigning stars is anything but an exact science. Most often I get in trouble with readers over the two star rating, with folks arguing that it's two out of five, equivalent to a D letter grade. I argue that there are many, many ways of grading things - for instance, a bronze medal is not the same as a failing grade. As my friend John Kessler over at the AJC says, "We like to think of each star as a bright, shiny object that you earn." One star means "fair." Two means "good." Some restaurants are aiming for mind-blowing, so for them a 2-star rating might be disappointing. But for many places, "good" should be seen as a positive review.
A weird mixture, for sure, but when it's using high-quality ingredients, it actually works. On Tuesday, the restaurant at the corner of 10th and Monroe in Piedmont Park held the "Sushi, Sake and Salt Block Experience" to unveil new items on the menu. Sushi chef Chapin Vilasineekul concocted deliciously simple maki rolls using Hawaiian fish flown in daily and fresh Wagyu beef. The restaurant's Wagyu beef supplier is so exclusive that it only provides to two other restaurants in the entire country. You can even trace the bloodline of the beef using a diagram of the Japanese farm's cows. Now that's some festive holiday fun!
Also on display was their "Salt Block experience." Think fondue but with a searing-hot black cube. It's actually very modern looking and would look great on my side table. A heated salt block is brought to each table and it's up to customers to choose which meat to cook and for how long. Or, of course, since the meat is so fresh, you could eat it raw. It's a fun, interactive eating experience, and isn't that what Christmas is all about?
Still not interactive enough? Downstairs is the Rink at Piedmont Park, Midtown's only ice-skating rink. The rink is probably the only attraction that doesn't match the same high quality. It's small and I felt like I was skating on plastic, not smooth ice. The rink is also covered, blocking the city's skyline. But with Motown jams playing, it's still a fun way to burn off those delicious calories. And really, that's just the appropriate level of holiday festiveness I can take.
In Grazing, Cliff visits Napoleon's, and also takes a peek at Sprig.
Cliff gives us perhaps his most thorough First Look of all time with multiple visits to Empire State South. I guess I'll have to go 17 times to do the review properly. Oh well, it's a rough life.
The only thing getting me to ClusterFuckhead is Umi.
You missed the donut listed in the top 1,000 things to eat before you die!…
Where is Dough in the Box? This list is weak without that location.
Boo! My family and I used to eat Sunday brunch there. I remember when it…
Omg, glad to find this thread. I was a waiter for 12 years and have…
You should try a glazed donut from the original Sarah donuts (Sara donuts) on Satallite…