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James Oxendine

Food Chatter: Closing Time

This is, sadly, my last Food Chatter column for the Covered Dish blog. I will miss working with Bill Addison, the team here at Atlanta magazine, and you, the readers who have provided feedback, tips, and support over the last three years. However, there are a number of projects that I am working on that will continue to allow me the privilege of writing about the places and faces that make Atlanta one of America’s greatest dining scenes.

So, I am leaving you with this last column and my deepest gratitude to all of you who made these last three years a truly wonderful experience. —James

NEWS AND NOTES:

Atlanta native Chef G. Garvin has returned from LA and is working on a new show on the Cooking Channel, “Roadtrip with G.Garvin,” premiering May 29.

The Boston Globe gave a shout out to Atlanta’s burger scene, noting Yeah! Burger, Farm Burger, Flip, and Grindhouse Killer Burgers.

Fast growing Atlanta based restaurant deal site, Scoutmob has recently raised $3.25 million for product expansion, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The ABC is reporting that Scoutmob intends to “expand beyond deals and offer more curated experiences, products and events.”

Brookhaven. Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that Library Coffee Co. will close May 31. An Izakaya from the owners of Ichiban Steak & Sushi will open in the space at 25223 Caldwell Road.

Buckhead. The Imperial Fez has opened a patio and lounge featuring cocktails, appetizers, some menu items, and hookah but no belly dancers.

Decatur. Ruby Tuesday on West Ponce de Leon in Decatur has closed.

Downtown.  Tomorrow’s News Today reports that Fresh To Order is planning a CNN Center location slated to open this fall.

CL reports that popular GSU student hangout Hill Street Tavern has closed.

Druid HillsThe Purple Corkscrew, a wine bar, will open in June at 1445 Oxford Road below Saba restaurant.

Midtown. According to the Midtown Patch, Birmingham, Alabama-based Mamanoes Grocery Shop will open its second store in the heart of Midtown in July. The “old-school but upscale” bodega will feature wine, imported and high-gravity beer, fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, and a full deli near the corner of 10th and Peachtree.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that the second US location of the Italian chain La Tagiatella will also be located in Atlanta. A 5,200 square foot store is slated to open in the former Silk space at the corner of Peachtree and 8th streets in the Metropolis Condominiums by the end of the year. The first La Tagiatella, already under construction, is slated to open in Emory Point this summer.

According to What Now Atlanta, Proof and Provision, a bar offering barrel-aged cocktails and small plates among other items, will open June 1 in the The Georgian Terrace Hotel in the space beneath Livingston Restaurant and Bar. 

The Atlanta Business Chronicle first reported that Kiri, a Japanese and Korean concept, is slated to open in the former NAM space in Midtown Promenade by mid-July.

Virginia Highland. According to Thrillist, DBA Barbecue has added some frozen pudding pops to their menu. The Elvis, a candied-bacon-wrapped banana pudding pop, stands out. The frozen treats will be available from a push cart stationed outside DBA starting next week.

PS.  The answer to last week’s QOTWWho is White Oak Kitchen’s opening chef?— is Ben Vaughn, formerly of Memphis, Tennessee’s Au Fond and Grace. 

Food Chatter: Catching up with T. Fable Jeon

T. Fable Jeon is a man on a mission. The former Sound Table/Lawrence barkeep, who was one of the Beverage Network’s 2011 Ten Mixologists to Watch, wanted to establish a Southern restaurant and craft bar experience for Atlanta’s expanding craft-cocktail/bar scene, and with that idea in mind, he, along with his business partner and consulting chef, Julia LeRoy, opened the Pinewood Tippling Room last week in downtown Decatur.

The multi-talented mixologist labored for months on the highly anticipated project—designing and then handcrafting everything from the menu, the bar, the tables, and the lone ceiling fan—in order to create a sophisticated  environment that reflects his passion for Southern hospitality. Jeon and his team have transformed the former Cakes & Ale spot into a Southern-style gastro pub that “appreciates equally the high class and the homespun.”

Pinewood’s bar menu features cocktails like the Day That I Die, made with rye whiskey, house-made ginger syrup, Meyer lemon juice, roasted Georgia pecan tincture, and buckwheat honey syrup, along with the Goodwood Julep, comprised of bourbon, brandy, Averna, Cynar, mint, tarragon, and castor sugar, which will be served in a cheater tin (a stainless steel cocktail shaker) over crushed ice.

Leroy’s menu focuses on small plates with strong Southern roots, like a fried bologna sandwich with a slice of fried green tomato and spicy egg salad, made-to-order skillet cornbread with fresh jalapeno and bacon, and house-cut fries with cheese curd and sawmill gravy.

Jeon took some time during the final days before the grand opening to briefly chat about his passion for authentic Southern hospitality, why he chose Decatur for the Pinewood’s location, and where the name Pinewood Tippling Room originated.

What were you looking forward to the most about opening Pinewood? Frankly, we’re thrilled to not be covered in sawdust anymore! In all seriousness, we are most excited about sharing our passion for food and drink with our neighbors here in Decatur and Atlanta, respectively.

Where did the name Pinewood Tippling Room originate from? The Pinewood is a restaurant and craft cocktail bar informed first and foremost by Southern inspiration. Pine wood is the backbone of the South … whether a pillar in an Antebellum mansion in Savannah, a piece of hand-crafted furniture, or dunnage for a shipping palette on a dock in New Orleans, the South could not have been built without the pine tree. It holds all of us up, and it shelters us. And almost everything in the space is wood, from the bookshelf-y bar and wicker stools to the unfinished tables and lone ceiling fan.

As for “Tippling Room,” in the textbook sense, it is a house in which liquors are sold in drams or small quantities, to be drunk on the premises. As it relates to the Pinewood, we simply aim to create a comfortable, yet refined social space for the neighborhood to enjoy.

How will your focus as a Southern-themed neighborhood bar distinguish Pinewood in the Atlanta market? The Pinewood is not a facsimile or a caricature of the prototypical Southern-theme construct. We, as the two partners, are
raised and deeply rooted in the South, aim to achieve an authenticity our grandparents would be proud of. Ours is an establishment that strives to deliver the most genuine and sincere expressions of true Southern hospitality. We will use ice blocks that were cut by a chain saw out back and some of the cocktails [are] laced with bonded corn whiskey and gomme syrup (a sugar syrup that has gum Arabic added that adds a smoother texture to a cocktail).

Why did you select downtown Decatur as a location? The rich culinary environment in downtown Decatur is undeniable and recognized nationally. We are honored and humbled to be in the same community with so many great eating and drinking establishments.

NEWS AND NOTES:
Atlanta has been named one of the best brunch cities in the U.S. by Food and Wine magazine.

Veteran Atlanta restaurateur Warren Bruno, founder of Charlie’s Favorite Uncle Rest Group—Aunt Charlies, Groundhog Tavern, Knickerbockers, Atkins Park, Mike and Angelos, Phoenix Brewing, and Ormsby’s—died last Wednesday.

Buckhead. Tomo was named as one of the ten best sushi restaurants in America by Bon Appetit.

Chamblee. Southern Living magazine has named Francisca Andrin of Old Brick Pit Barbecue one of the South’s ten best pitmasters.

Decatur. Seven Hens, a fast casual chicken centric restaurant, is slated to open next month at 2140 North Decatur Plaza.

Downtown. Der Biergarten is now offering Bitburger, the popular German beer that is making its exclusive U.S. debut here in Atlanta.

Druid Hills. The Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that the General Muir, a Jewish style deli from the owners of West Egg, will launch at Emory Point this fall.

Inman Park. Deborah Craig, formerly of Buckhead Bottleshop, along with stints at Spice Market in New York and Atlanta, was recently announced as executive pastry chef at Parish via a Concentrics Restaurants press release.

Marietta. Botekim Brazilian Bistro has closed.

Midtown. According to a Concentrics’ presser, Tap’s new executive chef is Nick McCormick, who has worked at Chicago’s  mk and Atlanta’s Two Urban Licks.

Poncy Highland. Creative Loafing notes that Super Pan Latino Sandwich Shop is closing. Owners Hector and Leslie Santiago hope to find a new location where they can open a full-blown Latino bakery and coffee shop as well as a sandwich shop.

Westside. Gayot has named Flip Burger Boutique as one of the top ten burger restaurants in the U.S.

Bone Lick BBQ, from the team at P’Cheen, is slated to open at 1133 Huff Road by mid July.

Question of the Week: What Atlanta top toque and owner is a partner in a nation on line restaurant business group?

P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—Who is White Oak Kitchen’s opening chef?—is Ben Vaughn, formerly of Memphis, Tennessee, where he owned 2 restaurants.

Photograph by Dustin Chambers

CORRECTION: The original version of this blog post incorrectly spelled T. Fable Jeon’s name.

Food Chatter: A first glance at the Optimist

A spectacular Atlanta Food & Wine Festival event last week had those who were in attendance speaking in exclamation points about the Optimist, star chef Ford Fry’s latest resto. The sophisticated Southern-style seafood spot has the look, menu, and location to add a new star to Atlanta’s seafood dining profile.

The Optimist, named after a small sailing craft, has a Southern seaside theme that sets the perfect tone for the dining experience. Designer Smith Hanes (JCT Kitchen, No. 246, and Watershed on Peachtree) has created a Hampton’s-meets-the-South look that deftly incorporates nautically themed artwork into a space that features soaring ceilings, subway tiled walls, forged metal fixtures, and re-purposed wood elements like the floor-to-ceiling windows separated by wood strips designed to look like lobster traps. Hanes’s take on the beach house bathroom—hand numbered keys—adds another classic touch to the Optimist’s décor. The star-studded pre-opening event, Oceans 6, presented a progressive selection of seafood delights from Southern chefs Norman Van Aken (Florida), Bryan Caswell (Texas), Mike Lata (South Carolina), Dean Max (Florida), and Brandon McGlamery (Florida), along with some artful pairings by Master Sommelier Kathy Morgan (D.C.). It also served as the debut of the Optimist’s top toque, Adam Evans, formerly of JCT Kitchen, whose contribution to the menu
was equal to the occasion.

The Optimist’s dining menu features a stunning array of sustainable fresh fish and shellfish like Georgia white shrimp, Florida grouper, North Georgia trout, and Virginia clams; all available either fried, grilled, or roasted in a wood burning oven. The adjoining Oyster Bar features a wrap around raw bar in a “fish camp” setting and an outdoor patio.

The huge standalone bar’s menu features seafaring libations such as the Sea Shanty, Mother of Pearl, Old Salty Dog, and the Cutty Shark. In addition, there are four draft beers, fifteen by the bottle, and a nicely balanced wine list.

The dramatic, 10,000-square-foot space is located at 914 Howell Mill Road, at the headwaters of the Westside’s expanding Howell Mill Road restaurant row, which, until now, has lacked a significant seafood presence.

The Optimist is slated to set sail on Monday, May 21.

NEWS AND NOTES:
Atlanta’s first permanent food truck site, the Atlanta Food Truck Park and Market, has reopened after the permitting problems that forced its abrupt closing were resolved last week. According to various media reports, the closure was a result of the fact that individual trucks needed separate vendor permits in addition to those held by the park. Prompt action by City Councilmember Kwanza Hall and others assisted in the acquisition of the required permits.

Brit bad boy chef, Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen” television show is casting in Atlanta.

Slated to release on October 16, star chef Kevin Gillespie’s cookbook, “Fire in My Belly: Real Cooking,” is now available for pre-ordering.

Ford Fry offered up his ATL food favorites in the May issue of GQ magazine.

Buckhead. Eater Atlanta is reporting that twenty-three-year-old Daniel Gorman, the chef de cuisine of the Terrace Level at the Cherokee Town and Country Club, won the Hans Bueschkens Junior Chefs Challenge in Daejeon, South Korea,
earlier this month.

Aria’s twenty-four-year-old sommelier, Jacob Gragg, became Atlanta’s ninth Advanced Sommelier last month. The next step: Master Sommelier.

Stagecoach, a western themed saloon featuring single malt whiskey, has opened at 34 Irby Street.

Little 5 Points. Wrecking Bar Brewpub, which celebrates its first anniversary this month, was recognized as one of the Best Brewpubs in America by Chow, a national food media site.

Midtown. La Pietra Cucina is now under the PR umbrella of Concentrics Restaurants.

Sandy Springs. Beginning Saturday, May 19, at noon, Ray’s on the River is hosting a three-part jazz concert series on their event lawn to benefit local charities. Kicking off the series will be jazz violinist Ken Ford.

Smyrna. The Muss & Turner’s team has opened Eleanor’s, a cocktail bar named for the company’s controller, next door. Eleanor’s will feature some food offerings from M&T’s.

Heirloom Market BBQ was cited as one of America’s best new barbecue spots by Food and Wine magazine.

Westside. On Friday, May 18, Antico Pizza will host a benefit for Embraced, an Atlanta-based 501(c) 3 that provides orthopedic and mobility equipment to those in need.

Speaking of Antico, look for Limoncello Bar, Caffe and Gelataria in Piazza Antico currently under construction across the street from the pizzeria. Piazza will feature over 100 outdoor seats evoking an Italian neighborhood feeling and with optional complimentary valet.

Question of the Week: Who is White Oak Kitchen’s opening chef?

P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What Westside shop is designed to offer handmade bon bons to the public is slated to open this month?—is Chocolate South, from architect Amy Everette Stankus.

Food Chatter: Julia LeRoy on Watershed and fried chicken

Last week the team behind the forthcoming Watershed on Peachtree revealed Julia LeRoy would become the kitchen’s chef de cuisine, working alongside executive chef Joe Truex. LeRoy, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has pursued a diverse cooking career: She cut her teeth at the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead and Seeger’s and led the kitchen previously at the Bookhouse Pub and her short-lived LeRoy’s Fried Chicken. Just prior to her new post at Watershed, she worked as the consulting chef for the menu at Decatur’s Pinewood Tippling Room, which opens on May 15.
 
Q: What were the deciding factors in making the decision to join the Watershed team?
JL: I think one of the main reasons I wanted to join the Watershed team is because I have enormous respect for Joe’s approach to food. I would dine at Repast any time I could talk someone into taking me and I think he’s done a great job transforming the new Watershed menu into his own. He and I are opposites in a lot of ways, but we get along really well and I think that shows in our collaborations.
 
Q: How did you meet Truex?
JL: We were on a panel together at the 2011 Taste of Atlanta and started talking then. I was in the middle of shutting down my fried chicken restaurant and kind of stressed. We talked after the event and found out we had a food ideas in common. We worked together almost a year doing dinner parties before I decided to join the Watershed team.
I signed the contract on my birthday, April 20th.
 
Q: What are some of the new items you will be introducing to Watershed’s menu?
JL: I’m not ready to divulge the fruits of those collaborations yet, but I think you’ll be pleased. But Joe and I plan on expanding Watershed’s current menu with flavors from the Georgia Coast, the Louisiana Bayou and the diverse ethnic flavors found throughout the South.
 
Q: Will you be doing the fried chicken now?
JL: The fried chicken is going to be the same recipe as it’s always been. It’s a vertebra in the backbone of Watershed and I have no desire to change that. I’m sure I will be making the fried chicken from time to time, but it will be the tried and true Watershed recipe I follow.

Q: You have been serving as consulting chef to the Pinewood Tipping Room in Decatur, how is that project coming along?
JL: I have wrapped up the menu [which includes dishes like fried bologna sandwiches gussied-up funnel cake], and it is similar to the food I prepared at Bookhouse.
 
NEWS AND NOTES:
The biggest news of the week, of course, is that Hugh Acheson and Linton Hopkins tied for the title of Best Chef Southeast at this year’s James Beard awards announced on Monday. ( On Friday, at the ceremony for cookbooks, journalism and broadcast media, Acheson also received a Beard award in the American Cooking category for his cookbook, “A New Turn in the South.”
 
The founder of R. Thomas Deluxe Grill, Richard Thomas, was featured  in a Huffington Post piece about his personal journey from President of KFC to founding what the article calls “Atlanta’s healthiest restaurant”.
 
The Southern Food Writing Conference and the International Biscuit Festival will be held jointly in Knoxville, Tennessee on May 17-18.
 
Atlantic Station. Local Asian food truck Yumbii and Cafe at Pharr are hooking up to open a pop-up eatery in the space formerly occupied by the Grape at 19th Street and West District Avenue from June 1 until August 5, according to the AJC.  
 
Brookhaven. After nine years heading up the kitchen, Chef Steven Herman has been named a partner at Haven.

Buckhead. Guests at Phipps Plaza’s movie theater will soon enjoy AMC’s newest concession model, The Marketplace, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Instead of waiting in long lines to order their food and beverage choices, the concessions are laid out at convenient stations, allowing guests to choose what they want before proceeding to the checkout area. In addition, AMC plans to install a MacGuffins bar, allowing guests to order a beer, wine or cocktail at the theatre. Named after a term coined by famed filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, MacGuffins features a variety of beer, wine and cocktails, including frozen and specialty drinks.

College Park. The Ranch, a bar and grill featuring steaks, wings, sandwiches and other casual eats along with eight VIP rooms, has opened at 5456 West Fayetteville Road.

Downtown. The Green Market in the Peachtree Center courtyard has kicked off its 2012 season. It will be held every Thursday from 11:30am to 2:30pm through October. Vendors include LefTeas, Organic Mountains Honey, King of Pops, H&F Bread, Abundant Harvest Gardens produce, and Antico Mercato Artisan Cheeses. Live music will also be featured.

Kirkwood. Creative Loafing notes that Le Petite Marche is moving across the street from its current location in 2013 to a retail development at 1986 Hosea Williams Jr. Drive that will allow them to offer more space and parking along with an expanded menu.  

Midtown. The Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Well Seasoned Chef series has begun. The cooking demonstration program has a stellar lineup of local chefs and takes place from May through October in the Edible Garden’s outdoor kitchen and features four-part tasting menus using produce harvested from the Edible Garden. Some demos with celebrity chefs like Kevin Gillespie and Kevin Rathbun are already sold out.

Roswell. Look for Ricky’s Fish Camp to open soon at 659 Atlanta Street.

Serenbe. Chef Garrett Marsteller, most recently at Abattoir, has joined the team at The Farmhouse.  
 
Westside. For the seventeenth consecutive year, Bacchanalia was rated the number one restaurant in Atlanta by the Zagat 2012-13 Atlanta Restaurant Survey.
 
Question of the Week: What Westside shop offering handmade bon bons is slated to open this month?
 
PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What nationally renowned ATL dining scene star was presented with a prestigious award for “sterling service” to the industry by Food Arts magazine its April 2012 issue?—is Bill Johnson of the Johnson Studio.

Food Chatter: Checking in with BLT Steak’s Cyrille Holota

It has been almost a year since star chef Cyrille Holota decamped from the now-closed FAB and moved, literally, across the street to helm Atlanta’s outpost of BLT Steak at the W Downtown Atlanta. Since joining BLT, the classically trained Holota, who worked at several Michelin starred restaurants before joining Joel Antunes at Joel, has added a sense of elegance to the high-end steakhouse. Holota, a native of Montluçon, France, recently completed the first of a series of boucherie (French for “butcher”) dinners, which highlighted whole-animal cookery in five-course meals. Holota recently chatted about why he has remained in Atlanta and some of his future plans for BLT Steak.

Q: With all of your international experience and reputation you could have had a top position anywhere in the world, what motivated you to stay in Atlanta after Joel closed?
CH: Atlanta is a wonderful city that can be family friendly, and I have found some very nice dishes in the restaurants around Atlanta. As well, Atlanta is a town that is rapidly growing in terms of the food industry. We are lucky enough to have several local farmers who are doing a fantastic job in supply us with extremely fresh fruits and vegetables.
 
Q: What attracted you to BLT Steak and what inspired you to create the Boucherie series?
CH: BLT Steak has a great reputation in the industry, as chef Laurent Tourondel brings his personal touch to each property. The Boucherie series, specifically, is a great way to showcase some of our local ingredients as well as our local artisan talent. We are currently working on the next series of dinners and playing around with a few new recipes, which will be announced soon.
 
Q: Many chefs have said that they enjoy music in their kitchens because it helps them to relax, do you listen to any music while you are cooking?
CH: No, I do not like to listen to music while in the kitchen because I find it to be distracting while trying to communicate and coordinate with the rest of the kitchen staff.
 
Q: What are some of your favorite restaurants here in Atlanta?
CH: Some of my favorites around Atlanta are Bacchanalia, Muss & Turner, and Douceur de France.
 
NEWS AND NOTES:
StarChefs.com has announced its 2012 Atlanta Rising Stars, which include Andy Carson, chef de cuisine at Bacchanalia and Ryan Smith of Empire State South, and Robert Phalen of One Eared Stag. Check out the full list.
 
Harold’s Barbecue, an Atlanta institution, announced last week that it would close Thursday ,May 3, after 65 years. However, veteran journalist Jim Auchmutey reported to food editor Bill Addison yesterday that, at a mobbed lunch yesterday, a staffer told Auchmutey the restaurant would stay open for another month after a deluge of business. We’ll keep you posted on developments.
 
Buckhead. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Del Frisco’s Grille has officially inked a deal for the former Craft space in front of the Mansion on Peachtree/soon-to-be Mandarin Oriental Atlanta.
 
Newbie STG Trattoria is now open for lunch, Tuesday to Fridays from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
 
Fox Brothers Restaurant Group, owners of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q and Big Tex Decatur, are opening Fox Bros. Rib Joint, a fast-casual concept, in the former Maddy’s space at 1479 Scott Boulevard this summer.
 
Downtown. On Tuesday, May 1, the Municipal Market (home of Sweet Auburn curb market) on Edgewood Avenue will celebrate its eighty-eighth anniversary in the same location and the completion of major renovations. The official ribbon cutting will take place at 11 a.m.

Studio 7, a Jamaican resto, lounge and art gallery, is slated to open in May at 393 Marietta Street, the former Endunu spot.

Inman Park. Concentrics Restaurants announced last week that Eddie Russell of the FourCoursemen (a group of seven who host five-course dinners for 28 guests every few weeks) is the new executive chef of Parish. Russell was previously the pastry chef at Five & Ten in Athens and executive chef at another notable Athens eatery, Farm 255.
 
Vinings. Café Pharr is slated to open its fifth metro location in Vinings by June
 
Westside. What Now Atlanta is reporting that Chipotle has filed for a building permit to open a store in the Howell Mill Village shopping center.
 
Question of the Week: What nationally renowned ATL dining scene star was presented with a prestigious award for “sterling service” to the industry by Food Arts magazine its April 2012 issue?

Food Chatter: Bill Johnson talks Red at Philips Arena

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Bill Johnson and his firm, the Johnson Studio, have designed high-profile restaurants around the country, but recently the company tackled one of its most challenging projects: Red, the 10,000-square-foot, 250-seat eaterie that replaced Headline Bar and Grill inside of Downtown’s Philips Arena. I recently caught up with Johnson to chat about Red, The Spence and some of his upcoming Atlanta projects.
 
Q: Red is somewhat different from many of your other Atlanta projects because of its location inside Philips Arena. What types of challenges did the location present and how are you planning to address them?
BJ: Access, for one: No one really knew the restaurant existed before this. Now they will, as the restaurant will be visible from the bowl of the arena into the restaurant’s interior. Several rows of seating and structural concrete were removed to make this visibility possible.

Another challenge was the destination: Previously it was not easy for the arena patrons to locate, and now with a new entrance it will be obvious. A stair inside the arena will be painted red, leading guests to the restaurant providing a “red carpet” type of entry effect.

A third challenge was to create a line of visibility or “sightline” within the restaurant so that patrons dining or at the bar can see the activity of the game or event. Several individuals will be able to see the action, while others will see the energy of the reactions from the attendees and view the scoreboards while watching it all unfold on TV. Nearly every seat has a view of the floor now. Tiered seating and “stadium” booths were added to give guests a great view of the performance on the arena floor as well as the action at the bar and expo kitchen. Dramatic lighting effects and live action cooking will be a prominent feature and will help to counter the energy inside the bowl.
 
Q: Can you provide an update on the Spence, your project with Concentrics Restaurants and Richard Blais?
BJ: It was very slow moving at first because Bob [Amick, President of Concentrics] was focused on Prato opening in Orlando, Winter Park. We are currently working on the look and feel of the interior decor. We will be featuring materials like natural heart pine, raw zinc and brick. It looks like the middle of May before it will be open.
 
Q: Over the last five years you have had some nationally lauded projects in cities like Dallas (Fearing’s) and Royce in The Langham Hotel (Pasadena, California). What have you learned from those projects that we might see in your future Atlanta projects?
BJ: New York City, at Rockefeller Center, is getting the newest concept from the Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, called Del Frisco’s Grille, a grille that is also proposed for the Atlanta area. The positive reaction to the more casual comfortable atmosphere and varied menu with small plates appears to be a concept that will be well suited for Atlanta.
 
NEWS AND NOTES:
The Cook’s Warehouse won About.com’s 2012 Reader’s Choice poll for Best Kitchenware Retailer, according a presser issued April,23rd.The contest, conducted online, included Cook’s as well as King Arthur Flour, Bed Bath and Beyond, Sur La Table and Chef’s Catalog.

Atlanta’s Sweetwater Brewery was ranked 24th among the Top 50 craft breweries, by sales volume, in 20011 by the Brewers Association.
 
The more than 1,000 people who gathered at the Georgia Aquarium on Thursday, April 12 for the twenty-fourth anniversary celebration of Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation Atlanta raised $786,000 to end childhood hunger in Atlanta and across America.
 
On Wednesday, April 25, over seventy Atlanta restaurants will participate in the twentieth annual Dining Out for Life project. The participating restaurants will donate 20 percent of each check to support Open Hands community nutrition programs.
 
On April 29, May 6 and May 20, Meals on Wheels Atlanta is introducing Sunday Suppers. On three these three dates, intimate dinners prepared by some of Atlanta’s finest chefs will be hosted in private homes. All proceeds from the suppers will benefit the continued work of Meals on Wheels.
 
Avondale Estates. CNN featured Pine Street Market owner Rusty Bowers’ charcuterie skills in a story on the making of salami from start to finish.

Brookhaven. The second annual Brookhaven Farmer’s Market will open on Saturday, May 5 , in the Haven and Valenza parking lot just off Dresden Drive. The market will be open weekly on Saturdays, from   9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. though late fall.

Buckhead. Julia LeRoy e-mailed last week to say that she has signed on to become the Chef de Cusine at Watershed on Peachtree. The AJC notes that Watershed on Peachtree is slated to open at the end of May in its new location at 1820 Peachtree Road.
 
Decatur. Fox Brothers Restaurant Group (Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, Big Tex Cantina) are opening Fox Bros. Rib Joint sometime this summer in the previous Maddy’s space on Scott Boulevard.

Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that a Mexican concept is planned for the former Decatur Diner spot. The new owner, Mike Brosius, is quoted as wanting to open a “full service hi quality hi energy Mexican restaurant and bar with a street food twist and exciting patio service”.

Decatur Metro reports that the Courtyard by Marriott on Clairemont Avenue is looking for a new tenant in their restaurant space. The space is 3,300 square feet plus a patio.
 
Downtown. What Now Atlanta reported that Pizzeria Vesuvius has shuttered, temporarily, due to the construction of the Atlanta Streetcar along Edgewood Avenue. 

Roswell. Ryan Pernice and Ted Lahey, the duo behind Table & Main, are planning to open a dinner-only Italian spot, Osteria Mattone,  at 1095 Canton Street, next to the Fickle Pickle, by summer 2013. The neighborhood trattoria’s menu will feature rustic Italian cuisine including handmade pastas and wood-fired pizzas along with a wine list comprised of many Italian wines and other continental varietals.
 
Vinings. Hoki Japanese Restaurant has opened in the former Tomo Japanese Restaurant space.

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What national culinary internet magazine will host an awards event in June recognizing the young vanguards of Atlanta’s restaurant scene?—is Starchefs.com. Check out this year’s nominees.

Food Chatter: Q&A with Floyd Cardoz of North End Grill

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Last week, Atlanta’s Share Our Strength celebrated the twenty-fourth anniversary of their Taste of the Nation event. Fifty local top chefs donated their time and talents to help raise funds to end childhood hunger. This year they were joined by superstar chef Floyd Cardoz, who flew in from New York to assist in making the evening a truly stellar affair. Cardoz is executive chef of North End Grill, the latest restaurant from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Cardoz is best known for his groundbreaking modern Indian cuisine restaurant, Tabla, however, he has an equally strong commitment to social responsibility.

In 2007, Cardoz received the “Humanitarian of the Year” award from Share Our Strength and in 2011, he designated his $100,000 grand prize from winning the Top Chef Masters to the Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Prior to the Taste of the Nation event, the dynamic Bombay native chatted with me about his desire to give back, how he became involved in Share Our Strength, and why he chose to participate in Atlanta’s benefit.

Q: Where did your sense of social responsibility come from?
FC: My father. He instilled a strong sense of social responsibility in our family with his deeds around Bombay. I remember one Christmas when I was a very young boy, he brought some homeless children into our home and served them dinner before our family had eaten. Over the years I also realized that giving is much better than receiving.

Q: When did you first become involved with Share Our Strength?
FC: In 1997, just after I had opened Tabla. I was asked to participate in Taste of the Nation NY. I didn’t know anything about the cause. After working with them over the years I did some research and I have been involved ever since after seeing what they did. I also realized the issues we have with childhood hunger in the United States.

Q: What motivated you to participate in the Atlanta event?
FC: Atlanta is a great food city and I was honored to work with some of the great chefs here. I also heard that the Taste of The Nation in Atlanta was one of the best in the country and raised the most money.

Q: Is this your first visit to Atlanta and where have you eaten here?
FC: This is my third visit. I first came here in 1987 and I was here last year at a cooking demo in Alpharetta. I have eaten at Empire State South and Southern Art. I had the best Tandoori chicken I have ever had at Zaika in Decatur.

NEWS AND NOTES:

The Dekalb Farmer’s Market wants to add 518,000 square feet of retail space to its 140,000-square-foot spot at 3000 Ponce de Leon Ave, as well as a new 718,367-square-foot warehouse and 2,637 new parking spaces by October 2013, according to a report in the Skylineviews real estate blog.

Metro Atlanta’s five Corner Tavern locations are partnering with the King of Pops to offer a summer treat called Poptails. Beginning on Friday, April 20, patrons can enjoy chilled libations such as the Loaded Arnold Palmer, the Bourbon Cowboy, and Chocolate Sea Salt.

Five Atlanta restos were named among the Top 25 Restaurants in the Southeast by a national online survey, Opinionated About Dining: Restaurant Eugene (4), Quinones Room at Bacchanalia (6), Bacchanalia (17), Woodfire Grill (21), and Abattoir (24).

Atlantic Station. Thrillist previews the opening of Yard House, slated for Sunday, April 22. The piece describes how the huge beer inventory is delivered in a variety of ways, yet stays temperature controlled.

Buckhead. What Now Atlanta reports that the second location of DTox Juice Bar is slated to open at 3210 Roswell Road this May.

Johns Creek. Meat and Potato Kitchen and Bar is opening this spring at 5710 State Bridge Road.

Midtown. The Friends of Dogwood Pavilion tasting event will be held during the Dogwood Festival, April 20–21, in Piedmont Park’s Greystone event facility overlooking Lake Clara Meer. The Friends of Dogwood Pavilion offers tastes from several Atlanta restaurants — plus sangria, beer, and wine – all included in admission.

Smyrna. The Corner Taqueria is opening at 2860 Atlanta Road.

Westside. Bake Magazine named Sublime Doughnuts as America’s Best Bakery of 2012. Owner-baker Kamal Grant will be featured in the publication’s May issue.

Question of the Week: What national culinary Internet magazine will host an awards event recognizing the young vanguards of Atlanta’s restaurant scene this June?

P.S. The answer to the previous QOTW—What soon-to-open OTP Mexican restaurant is promising to bring a completely different type of Mexican cuisine to Atlanta?— is BOCA Mexican Grill in Smyrna, which will feature a menu based on the Michoacan region.

Food Chatter: Q&A with Bruce Logue of BoccaLuppo

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Last week I caught up with Bruce Logue, who recently left his executive chef position at La Pietra Cucina, to chat about plans for his highly anticipated new restaurant, BoccaLuppo. Logue said that the new resto will feature a casual Italian-American menu that  include some of the pasta dishes he made famous at the four-star La Pietra but at a lower price point. He is still locking down his location but it will be smaller and more centrally located with ample parking. And for all of his fans, BoccaLuppo should be up and running before the end of the year,if not sooner.

Q: What will be the main differences between La Pietra and BoccaLupo in terms of menu and price point?
BL: The only similarity to La Pietra will be the flavors and ingredients found in some of the food. Things like my Calabrese sausage and my Bolognese ragu will surely be at BoccaLupo. BoccaLupo will focus more on some of the Italian-American favorites that people already know and what makes those dishes great. My goal is to add to the vernacular of what is considered Italian-American cooking by using American made artisan products that would normally be imported from “the old country.” Things like cured hams and salumi, Parmesan style cheese, and San Marzano tomatoes are now being produced at a very high level in the U.S. There are dairies in Georgia making mozzarella and burrata and other Italian cheeses as well as local farmers growing vibrant produce year round. Our country produces excellent wine and olive oil and our semolina is of the best in the world for making extruded pasta. These are some of the building blocks that we will use to achieve Italian-American flavor. I want people to connect deeply with the food whether it is on an intellectual level or just plain old “this tastes amazing” level. Another big difference will be the price point. We will be very creative in keeping our price point low. We want people to feel like they can drop in any time and enjoy a satisfying meal.

Q: What about the décor?
BL: The décor will be vastly different in that the whole concept will center around the pasta bar which is essentially an open kitchen much like a sushi bar. The remaining tables will be comfortably spaced around the dining room in full view of the pasta bar. The staff will be friendly and knowledgeable without being arrogant. We want to create a happy, hometown feel with a cool vibe. We will have adequate parking convenient to the restaurant and will be open for lunch and dinner.

Q: Where have you been looking in terms of a possible location and what type of space are you looking for?
BL: I have been primarily looking at second generation restaurant space between 1800–2500 square feet. A first generation space would be nice but the time and money it takes to get it in restaurant shape can be excessive for a small start up. As far as what part of town, I am pretty open. There are many neighborhoods that I think would be a great match for this restaurant. When you are shopping second generation I think you have to be flexible on the location because your options are limited.

Q: Where did the name BoccaLupo come from and how did you settle on it as the name of your restaurant?
BL: There is an Italian expression “In bocca al lupo,” which means in the mouth of the wolf. It is like saying good luck or break a leg. I first heard it about seven years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I just shortened it and ran it together to form BoccaLupo. I think it is fitting for a restaurant because in this business you need all the luck you can get.

Q: What is your time line for the project and where are things, in terms of your business plan?
BL: My goal is to be opening up in the next six to nine months. The business plan is complete and most of the legwork is done. I am now working on finalizing financing and finding a space. Timing has a lot to do with this part and many things have to come together at about the same time. Once the space has been identified I can bring in the architect/designer and we can breathe life into the project.

Q: What restaurants have you been visiting to gain some ideas for the new resto?
BL: Momofuku in New York was the original inspiration for BoccaLupo. In the past six to seven years, the idea has been shaping up. Recently I have been hugely influenced by Torrisi Italian Specialties and Parm. I like the direction all of those restaurants are taking.

Food Chatter: Q&A with The Pecan’s Tony Morrow

Chef Tony Morrow, owner of the award-winning upscale Southern resto, The Pecan, has a new project located just a couple of blocks south of his company’s flagship in downtown College Park. The spot will not only serve up some serious barbecue, but will add another neighborhood bistro to the Southside dining scene.

Tony Morrow’s Real Pit BBQ is located at 3807 Main Street in a building built in the 1920’s. It will feature old school Southern barbecue combined with nouveau design features like Coca-Cola stained floors, cowhide covered booths, and an exhibition barbecue pit where customers can watch the pit master create edible magic.

For three years, Morrow has been planning his ode to the pit barbeque he enjoyed as a kid at his family’s business in Decatur, Alabama. The New York native was raised in Atlanta, and has an impressive culinary CV that includes a stint at Buckhead Life Restaurants. He is also an MBA and a retired Air Force officer who is, in addition to running a restaurant, a catering company, and writing a cookbook, opening two restaurants at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Morrow took some time from his hectic schedule last week to talk about his latest venture and how he plans to add something special to the Southside’s barbecue offerings.

Q: What is it about Tony Morrow’s Real Pit BBQ that will make it special?
TM: My parent’s family owns a barbecue pit restaurant in Decatur, Alabama, and our restaurant will barbecue our meat just like they do over there. It is a real pit style barbecue; the fire will never touch the meat. There will be an exhibition pit like nowhere else in Atlanta that will allow our guests an opportunity to watch just how their barbecue is being prepared. We will also be using a local meat supplier that will allow us to offer a premium product to our customers. In addition, we are offering a humidor and cigar locker service and a portion of our 3,000-square-foot covered patio will be sectioned off to permit cigar smoking.

Q: When will it open and what will be the hours of operation?
TM: We are planning on opening by early May. We will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Breakfast will be served on Saturdays and brunch on Sundays with earlier opening times. Customers can also enjoy dine-in or takeout.

Q: Who designed the restaurant? It doesn’t look like a typical barbecue joint.
TM: I started out wanting to do a shack, but as I got into the project, my creative juices kicked in. I added some artwork for the walls, some reclaimed wood, and some dramatic light fixtures. We want to offer our customers a relaxed atmosphere with comfortable seating at either a table on the patio, or our cowhide booths inside. We put in some flatscreen televisions so that our customers can check out sporting events while dining with us as well.

Q: Describe some of your menu items.
TM: We will offer both Memphis-style dry rub and Carolina-style barbecue. We will source everything locally: our soul food sides like collard greens come from a local farmer. We will have some lighter fare like our barbecue chicken salad as well. We probably will not have our liquor license until June, so until then we will be BYOB.

NEWS AND NOTES:

Thrillist notes that Happy Belly, featuring a Big Green Egg that allows it to fry, sauté, bake and flat top grill its menu items, is the newest food truck in Atlanta. No menu items cost more than $10 and the food orders are taken via iPad.

Restaurant Informer reports that Alan Palmieri, a 37-year veteran of the restaurant business, has joined the team at Marlow’s Tavern as a partner to help guide the next phase of the growing concept’s expansion in the Atlanta market.

Local frozen treats royalty King of Pops has teamed with caffeine cult faves, Batdorf & Bronson, to create a line of coffee based frozen treats, reports the AJC.. The special pops will come in three flavors: coffee, latte and mocha. Coffee pops are made with freshly brewed Dancing Goats coffee, and the mocha version incorporates a chocolate syrup made with Cacao Atlanta’s chocolate.

Do Restaurant at The View, Twist, and Two Urban Licks are on Open Table’s 2012 100 Top Restaurant list. The list is based on nearly five million restaurant reviews submitted by Open Table diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Buckhead. The AJC is reporting that Decatur Northern Indian cuisine resto, Bhojanic Restaurant, will open a location at 3400 Peachtree Road in the Shops Around Lenox retail center this summer. The 135-seat spot will feature a full bar, outdoor seating, and a private event area.

Online food, wine, and hotel publication, Gayot.com has named Restaurant Eugene as one of its Top 40 Restaurants for 2012.

Decatur. Chef Julia LeRoy and mixologist T. Fable Jeron are the creative team behind the recently announced Pinewood Tipping Room. Their concept is described as “part cocktail bar, part Deep South diner, The Pinewood aims to take the pretension out of the craft bar/gastropub model with a creative, yet relaxed approach to food.”

Downtown. Joystick Gamebar, a bar and lounge featuring games, cocktails and food, is slated to open at 427 Edgewood Avenue in the former Dynamic Dish space.

Druid Hills. West Egg founders Ben and Jennifer Johnson will open a second eatery later this fall in Emory Point on Clifton Road, near Emory University. According to Tomorrow’s News Today, the new eatery may offer a number of bagels and a larger assortment of breakfast beverages.

Marietta. The AJC is reporting that locally-owned Moxie Burger has opened at 255 Village Parkway.

Midtown. Eater.com has named The Spence as one of the country’s 25 most anticipated restaurant openings of 2012. No pressure now.

Eater Atlanta notes that Campagnolo, the rustic Italian spot from the Peasant Group, will open for a fundraiser on Saturday, April 7 and will open its doors for business on Monday, April 9.

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill at 903 Peachtree opened March 28.

Poncey Highland. Gayot.com named Babette’s Café as one its 2012 Top 10 Romantic Restaurants.

Question of the Week: What soon-to-open OTP Mexican restaurant is promising to bring a completely different type of Mexican cuisine to Atlanta?

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What ATL resto that is nationally lauded for its take on New South cuisine is now being recognized for its coffee?—is Empire State South.

Food Chatter: Q&A with Eric Wolitzky of Cakes & Ale

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Cakes & Ale’s hotshot new hire, Eric Wolitzky, who has only been on the job for three weeks, took some time last week to chat about why he left New York to come to Atlanta and what he has added to the menu at the lauded Decatur resto.

Wolitzky, who previously served as pastry chef for Baked, a celebrated bakery and cafe located in the Red Hook ‘hood in Brooklyn, where his focus was updated classic American comfort desserts, has been hired by Cakes & Ale to not only lead its bakery team but be in charge of the dessert menu as well.

The Rochester, New York, native, who was born into a family of bakers and has been working in kitchens since his teens, has a culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute as well as a BFA in drama and MA in performance and cultural studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Wolitzky’s recipes have been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, O Magazine, and Daily Candy, and he has presented desserts at the New York Chocolate Show, Martha Stewart’s Milk and Cookies, Food Network Food and Wine’s Sweet, and the Village Voice’s Choice Sweets.

Q: With the success you enjoyed in New York, what brought you to Atlanta and Cakes & Ale?
EW: A move to Atlanta has always been in the back of my mind. I have great friends here and have always loved how nice everyone is, how people smile back at you when you walk down the street. It makes my hard, New York edge start to melt away. I also enjoy how people respond to food in Atlanta. When they like a dessert, they are appreciative, want to talk more about it. That’s exciting to me. Cakes & Ale happened because Billy and Kristin were looking for someone who would not only grow a bakery, but also produce desserts for the restaurant. I never wanted to lose the baker in me—but I also wanted to grow and expand my repertoire. This was the perfect opportunity!

Q: You’re in charge of both the bakery program and the restaurant’s desserts. What immediate changes have you made and what can we expect in the long run?
EW: I’ve made a lot of changes in the short time I’ve been there. I wanted to make sure that every item out there could stand on its own; even if it was a cookie, it would be fantastic. There is a big focus on flavor as well as seasonal ingredients—just like the restaurant. It’s kinda funny, but I also increased the size of a lot of things. I think you should get a lot of bang for your buck in a bakery. Among other things you will definitely notice a new croissant, an amazing New York coffee cake, danish with homemade jam, my “famous” chocolate chip cookie, and a slew of big, bold layer cakes. The fresh mandarin orange creamsicle cake is already a hit. And now you can order celebration cakes in advance! The restaurant menu is filled with items that I have been dying to put on a menu for a long time. For instance, my pineapple upside down cake served with salted caramel and cherry ice cream (the cherries are stewed for an hour with brandy, orange, and cinnamon). Also you will see my version of Mississippi mud (chocolate cookie crust, flourless chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, and stout whipped cream) and a very cool triple layer ice cream cake. Expect to see plated desserts that focus on bold (but not too rich) flavors rather than ones with multi components. I don’t believe in a lot of excess.

Q: What are your favorite kinds of desserts personally?
EW: I love working with dough and love playing around wtih yeasted items like danish, croissants, and brioche . . . so many things you can turn brioche into! I also will never turn down a nice slice of cake on a plate.

Q: Have you had a chance to try any Atlanta restaurants yet that you’ve enjoyed?
EW: I haven’t really had a chance to get out a lot, but have enjoyed Holeman and Finch, Woodfire Grill, the Shed, Bacchanalia, Farm Burger, and Casseroles.

NEWS AND NOTES:
Concentrics Restaurants and Flip Burger Boutique announced that they will partner on operations, marketing, public relations and future expansion.  According to Concentrics’ PR staff, they are also consulting on HD1 and handling all of their PR/Marketing. “We are currently not involved in operations there like we are at FLIP.”

Linton Hopkins was one of five chefs nationwide who were asked by Eater to comment the importance of starred reviews in the wake of the recent announcement—and resultant feedback from critics, food fans, and others—that the LA Times would discontinue the practice. Hopkins’ comments presented a thoughtful analysis of why he believes
that starred reviews have merit.

Seasons 52 announced their spring 2012 menu at a media event simulcast through all twenty-one locations in the United States. Senior Culinary Director Cliff Pleau and Master Sommelier George Miliotes, MS, speaking from Florida,
introduced several of the new dishes and accompanying wines that will grace the menus of both Atlanta locations.

Buckhead. The Cheyenne Grill in the Peachtree Battle shopping center is changing its name to the Whitehall Tavern, according to a report in the Amateur Gastronomer.

Latitude closed on March 20.

Decatur. Atlanta Dish is reporting that No. 246 will be closed from Sunday, March 25, until 6 p.m., Friday, March 30, due to it being reserved by the filming of the Amy Poehler–Adam Scott movie “A.C.O.D.”

Downtown. Thrillist is reporting that Spin, a “neoclassic pizzeria” featuring a well curated beer selection and open late night hours, opens Thursday, March 29th at 259 Peters Street in the former Slice spot.

Druid Hills. Tomorrow’s News Today is reporting that a Tin Drum Asia Cafe will open in the former Wonderful World Burger & Fries space at 1561 North Decatur Road “late next month.”

Midtown. We hear that the new cocktail spot designed by Seiber Design at the Georgian Terrace Hotel will be named Proof & Provision. It will feature barrel-aged craft cocktails, an extensive selection of beers and seasonal bar snacks, including locally-sourced charcuterie in the 3,000 square foot former Basta space.

Bantam and Biddy is the name of Shaun Doty’s new resto that is focused on chicken.

Noted New York chef Suvir Savin will be conducting a demonstration and class from his new cookbook, Masala Farm at Cook’s Warehouse Midtown on April 5th from 7 to 9 p.m.

Old Fourth Ward. The Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that Ammazza, a Neapolitan style pizzeria featuring local ingredients, is slated to open at 591 Edgewood Avenue this June.

Westside. Eater Atlanta is reporting that Community Q’s long anticipated second location will be at 810 Marietta Street in the former Burger Joe’s spot “sometime after June.”

Question of the Week: What ATL resto that is nationally lauded for its take on New South cuisine is now being recognized for its coffee?

P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—Who is being tapped by Ford Fry to helm the Optimist?—is Adam Evans, Chef de Cuisine at JCT Kitchen.

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