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An update on much-anticipated Miller Union

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ATL Food Chatter: August 3, 2009
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Ever since John Kessler’s scoop announcement in spring that two highly regarded Atlanta restaurant stalwarts—Steven Satterfield, executive sous chef of Watershed and Sotto Sotto general manager Neal McCarthy—were teaming up to open a westside venture to be called Miller Union, anticipation has been building throughout Atlanta’s food community. Here a few additional morsels from the two owners to nibble on until this fall’s planned opening.

First, the restaurant, whose name is a historical reference to the nineteenth century Miller Union Stockyards that once occupied the building, will be under construction soon at 999 Brady Avenue, on the corner of Tenth and Brady near Howell Mill Road. The 3,000-square foot, 70-seat, ai3-designed industrial space will be transformed into several interconnected dining areas—including a patio facing Tenth Street, a private dining area, and a wine room with a design motive described as “rustic/modern style.” Think oil can light fixtures and textured wallpaper with steel framed window walls.

Satterfield is further honing his skills by conducting a couple of stages (culinary apprenticeships) this summer at national powerhouses Le Bernardin and Chez Panisse. He promises that Miller Union’s menu will feature southern ingredients prepared in a California style—simple and with a strong focus on local and regional products. It will reflect the honest style of cooking that he perfected during his ten years at Watershed, where he was influenced not only by Scott Peacock‘s cooking but other culinary icons such as Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters.

While continuing his responsibilities at Sotto Sotto and Fritti, McCarthy is busy vetting potential staffers who will reflect his strong commitment to personal service. He’s also compiling a wine list that will emphasize American vintages, including some biodynamic and organic offerings, as well as a few Georgia wines. He has already hired someone to helm the bar (who he prefers to not yet name) who is busy working on creating artisan cocktails to match the restaurant’s cuisine.

So, Atlanta: Get ready for what sounds like an exciting and well conceived project, in a slightly off-the-beaten-track location, from two of Atlanta’s most passionate and skilled culinary stars. And stay tuned for further details.

NEWS and NOTES:

Alpharetta. Look for The Tamale Factory to open at 5950 North Point Parkway this fall.

Buckhead. The latest from the Buckhead Life camp is that Bistro Niko (yes, this name is now official) has hired an “exciting” sous chef from New York’s famed La Grenouille.

Locas Grill and Pub, an Athens, Georgia-based sports bar franchise located at 3167 Peachtree Road, has had a change in ownership and is now Buckhead Bar and Grill.

Besha Rodell reported on Omnivore that H & F Bakery, the outstanding bakery from Linton Hopkins team, has closed its doors to its retail customers due to lack of sales volume.

Decatur. According to New York magazine’s Grub Street blog, Cakes and Ale has been named one of “The Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America” by Bon Appetit magazine in the issue due on the newsstands August 11th.

East Atlanta. Chazz Southern Cooking, with a weekend brunch featuring chicken and waffles, has opened at 517 Flatshoals Avenue.

Westside. Abattoir will next host Atlanta Community Food Bank’s monthly Supper Club on Tuesday, August 11.

Rumor has it that West Egg Cafe, the popular breakfast/sandwich/bake goods spot, will be moving to the adjacent White Provisions building this fall.

Question of the Week: What classic Atlanta watering hole will be celebrating its fifty-third anniversary in August?

PS.  The answer to last week’s QOTW—What Buckhead Italian restaurant is changing their menu to Mediterranean at the end of this month?—is Lola (shout-out to Broderick, who answered correctly on last week’s post). Lola actually made the switch last Thursday, and the difference is mostly with portion sizes: Small plates are now the emphasis, with pastas still available. The restaurant remains open for lunch and dinner.

A speedy first year for 4th & Swift

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ATL Food Chatter: July 27, 2009

(Editor’s Note: Look for Food Chatter to now post every Monday. Better yet, you can sign up for our weekly dining newsletter to have the column sent directly to your inbox.)

When Jay Swift, chef-owner of 4th & Swift in the Old Fourth Ward, shared his thoughts with me about the restaurant’s first year, he said he was pleased at not only the response of his local customers—which has enabled him to survive the recession to date—but he also felt good about being part of the dynamic growth in his neighborhood.  In its first six months of operation, 4th & Swift’s American regional comfort food menu attracted both local and national acclaim, including being named one of the top 10 new restaurants in the country by Gayot.com. However, the last six months have seen a significant reduction in the level of business travel and expense account diners due to the economy, according to Swift (and echoed by many in the restaurant community).

Some critical adjustments—price decreases, early-bird specials, re-jiggered staff schedules—had to be made address economic realities, but Swift feels that with the continuing support of Atlanta’s dining community, he will survive until the economy recovers. In fact he believes that the number one lesson learned during his first year was “how to survive the trough.”

In that time, Swift has also demonstrated an impressive commitment to the redevelopment of the restaurant’s intown community. He’s a member of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy, a not-for-profit whose mission is to create a ten-acre multi-purpose park to serve the entire neighborhood.  But he keeps an eye on business possibilities, too: He told me he is almost ready to start thinking about some new concepts that he and his son, Jeb, who is his sous-chef, might develop in the neighborhood.

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. Cami Cakes, a bakery out of Jacksonville, Florida that features cupcake flavors such as red velvet with cream cheese frosting and sweet potato with cinnamon frosting, has opened at 2221 Peachtree Road.

Repeat Atlanta
is reporting that the Buckhead Life Group’s next restaurant, Chez Niko, will now be called Bistro Niko, and is aiming for an October opening.

Decatur. The Decatur Minute blog broke the news that The Iberian Pig, a restaurant run by the Castellucci Family of the local Sugo restaurants, will open in the former Sage site at 121 Sycamore Street by late summer.

Druid Hills. Method Coffee Shop in Emory Village has closed. The space will become the second location for westside’s Octane Coffee Bar and Lounge this fall.

Midtown. The Schumacher Group has Mitra listed for sale.

Vinings. Soho has hired Bob Matthews, formerly of Nikolai’s Roof, to oversee their wine program.

Question of the Week: What Buckhead Italian restaurant is changing their menu to a broader-themeed Mediterranean cuisine at the end of the month?
 
P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What popular ATL concept is rumored to be opening a store in Birmingham, Alabama this fall?—is Flip. (Jimmy posted the correct answer last week.)

Bob Amick looks to the future post-Trois

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ATL Food Chatter: July 20, 2009

During a recent interview with Bob Amick, I learned how the demise of his restaurant Trois has created a new focus for him and his business.

From the Peasant Group of the 70s and 80s to the Concentrics Restaurants of today, Amick has been an integral part of Atlanta’s dining zeitgeist as an operator and innovator. His stable of restaurants has garnered Atlanta’s dining scene national prominence and recognition. But the closing of the $7 million Trois altered his trajectory.

He said he had to face some hard issues, including his own hubris, in the wake of the closing of what he called his “dream restaurant” after less than three years in operation. So after some serious soul searching, he now plans to move forward with singular focus on a new project at the Midtown site.   

The new concept, the name of which is still being determined but will not involve any numbers a la One Midtown Kitchen and Two Urban Licks, will feature a menu of moderately priced American comfort food. (He declines as yet to name the chef, described only as “inspirational” and local.) The Johnson Studio has been hired to create a new design that will “warm” the dining space and, among other things, create a dramatic new entrance. And there will be an even greater emphasis on personalized customer service.

As a demonstration to his commitment in remaking this key location into a successful operation, Amick intends to be at his new spot at Fourteenth and Peachtree full-time while it gets off the ground.

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. Look for Caffe Fortunato, an Italian cafe and bar, to open at 3749 Roswell Road this summer. 

Kirkwood
. Daily Candy reported that Kirkwood Corner Market—serving early morning coffee, croissants and biscuits—has opened at 1610 Hosea Williams Drive.

Midtown. Joia Restaurant & Lounge has opened in the former Saga space at 1100 Crescent Street with Chef Brett Maddox, formerly of Aria, at the helm.

Bakeshop, a retail and wholesale bakery that will feature pastries and coffees, will open this fall as part of the re-concepting of the former Trois space. Jonathan St. Hilaire, Concentrics’ executive pastry chef, will move the company’s baking operation from Trios to a still-being-determined retail site and operate a small patisserie as well as the wholesale operation there.

Roswell. Thrillist is reporting that Lakeview Bistro has opened at 1010 Mansell Road, serving a deli-esque selection of sandwiches and salads. 

Westside. Bacchanalia has again won the top spot in Zagat’s 19th annual Atlanta edition, followed by Quinones at Bacchanalia in the number two spot.
 
Question of the Week: What popular ATL concept is rumored to be opening a store in Birmingham, Alabama this fall?

PS: The answer to last week’s QOTW—What downtown chef in a fine dining venue is planning to soon unveil a “smokehouse menu?”—is Atlanta native Bennett Hollberg of downtown’s Ritz Carlton Atlanta. He is hard at work planning a menu that he says will include his own barbecue sauce.

Johnson Studio’s ATL style wows Windy City

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ATL Food Chatter: July 10, 2009

Bill Johnson
, whose architectural alchemy has elevated Atlanta’s dining scene with numerous projects, has lately been moonlighting in other cities. His Johnson Studio recently designed three projects for Chicago’s Wit hotel, and the spaces have captured the attention of the national trade magazines, the local press and the New York Times.

Cibo Matto is the Wit’s centerpiece Italian restaurant, featuring a ten-foot glass-enclosed cheese and salumi display and a 4,000 bottle wine vault; State and Lake, the hotel’s more casual spot, serves “seasonal, chef-driven American” food; and Roof, a 7,000-square-foot bar, 27 stories up, that serves “small plates” and cocktails and features dramatic views of Chicago’s skyline.

A recent New York Times’ travel feature described the Wit as “a modern, sleek hotel that … houses Chicago’s hottest new rooftop bar …” And, according to Johnson, Bob Amick—whose Concentrics Restaurant group manages the three projects—has stated that Roof may be the most successful venue he has ever opened.

While he is enjoying the stir created by of his latest Chicago triumph, Johnson has previously designed some of the city’s most renowned restaurant, including the acclaimed Tru. He has also been busy in other cities: Over the last couple of years, the Johnson Studio has designed for the Ritz-Carlton (his multi-room design of Fearing’s in Dallas is dazzling) and is currently working on a restaurant for the Ritz Carlton at Lake Tahoe, to be run by famed San Francisco chef Traci des Jardins.

But there just might be a project on the drawing board that will soon bring some of the elements that have wowed the Windy City to the ATL. Stay tuned.

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. A correction on a piece about a coffee shop coming to the Terminus complex: It isn’t an Emeril Lagasse project but a location of Emerald Coast Coffee & Grill.

Dunwoody. Taki Japanese Steakhouse—with locations in Macon and Hiram, Georgia—is slated to open its third outpost in the Perimeter Village shopping center this fall.

Downtown. Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week is scheduled for July 27 to August 9 and will feature more than twenty restaurants.
 
The Ellis Hotel is “re-concepting” its restaurant, Terrace. The new menu will feature locally produced, organic ingredients and is being developed by famed chef and food activist, Michel Nischan. The new menu will be unveiled this fall.
 
East Point. Thrillist is reporting that The Blackwood, a pizzeria/ nightclub featuring house made dough and live entertainment, has opened at 3560 Camp Creek Parkway.

Grant Park. Redfish, the popular Memorial Drive Creole spot, has closed.

Midtown. As first reported in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the Oceanaire restaurant chain  has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closed four of its restaurants. However, the Atlanta location remains open.

Morningside. Jason Hill, whose ATL chef credits include Harvest and Wisteria, has signed on as consulting chef for DBA Barbecue.

Westside. Chef-owner Ford Fry of JCT Kitchen and his “angry mussels” with bacon will appear on Food Network’s bacon episode of its “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” program this Saturday, July 11th at 6 p.m. EDT.

Question of the Week: What downtown chef in a fine dining venue is planning to soon unveil a “smokehouse menu?”

PS—The answer to last week’s QOTW—What local entrepreneur/ restaurateur is rumored to be looking at the former Macy’s building as the site for the first location of his latest concept?—is Mike Blum.

Rising stars on Atlanta’s culinary horizon

ATL Food Chatter: July 6, 2009

Atlanta’s dining scene—slower with restaurant openings these days but still undeniably energetic—is always introducing new cooking talents. Here are three chefs, either new to the city or new to running their own kitchen, whose food I have recently experienced and who I suspect have promising futures:

Lance Gummere. The top toque at The Shed at Glenwood, who worked for several years under Shaun Doty, keeps his menu in seasonal flux with New American dishes heavy on local ingredients. Check out his pan-fried chicken hearts.

Andrea Montobbio. The 25-year-old native of Capriata d’Orba in Northern Italy keeps the menu at Taverna Fiorentina on Cobb Parkway focused on traditional Italian dishes. (He sneaks in some modern twists—walnuts, raisins, and bacon in a beet salad, for example.) I really enjoyed his wild boar pappardelle.

Keira Moritz. A Georgia native, Moritz has returned from San Francisco to lead the trattoria-meets-steakhouse concept at Pacci in Midtown’s Palamar hotel. Her take on pasta is not to be missed, and check out the nibbles she created for the hotel’s open-air bar, AltoRex.

Other notable up-and-comers such as Scott Hemmerly at Neo and Daniel Chance at 30 Tables also show great promise. Any other names you’d put on the list of Atlanta’s new cooking talents?

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. Repeat Atlanta is reporting that Lenox Marketplace will be the new home to Atlanta’s eighth Buffalo Wild Wings. Opening August 2nd, it will be the franchise’s first store ITP.  The site also reports that the former Rock Bottom space will soon reopen as another Gordon Biersch outlet.

Candler Park
. The Arizona Pub, serving nearly a dozen on-tap American microbrews, has opened in the Arizona Lofts development at 130 Arizona Avenue.

Decatur. Look for both Yoforia and Yogurt Tap, a self-serve yogurt shop, to open by mid-July on College Avenue in downtown Decatur.

Midtown. Dogwood is celebrating its first anniversary on July 20th with a special wine dinner in partnership with Napa’s Falcor Winery. Ten percent of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to Breast Friends for their fight against breast cancer.

http://www.dogwoodrestaurant.com/

http://www.breastfriends.org/

Old Fourth Ward. Beginning this past Saturday, July 4, from 8 a.m. until 1p.m., Michele Niesen (former chef/owner of the Supper Club and Billy Goat’s Cantina) will run Courtyard Market in the Studioplex development at 659 Auburn Avenue every Saturday until November. The market will feature local produce and prepared foods as well as crafts.

Poncey Highland. Two Urban Licks has installed their new open fire rotisserie and judging from some of the new menu items like the jerk rotisserie chicken and the lamb flat bread appetizer, Chef Cameron Thompson and crew will continue lighting up Atlanta’s culinary fires.

Westside. Urban pL8—featuring fast, affordable, healthy food prepared with local, envrionmental friendly, sustainable products—is slated to open July 23 at 1082 Huff Road.

Question of the Week
: What local entrepreneur/restaurateur is rumored to be looking at the former Macy’s building as the site for the first location of his latest concept?

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What local restaurateur is rumored to be partnering on an organic farm-to-table concept with multiple locations?—is Shaun Doty. I spoke with Doty, who said that he and business partner Eric Maier of Better Brands Restaurant Group are still in the conceptual stage.

Two ATL restaurant power couples ponder new ventures

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ATL Food Chatter June 26, 2009

In the year that foodinistas chirped about Atlanta’s “pizza wars” (spurred by the opening of Varasano’s and a new Italian pizzaiolo at Fritti), here’s an intriguing possible addition to the mix: Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison are considering the possibility of a pizza spot in the White Provisions building, where their latest restaurant, Abattoir, resides. After a cooking demonstration at Morningside Farmers Market last weekend, Quatrano mentioned that there is a space in White Provisions that is “calling our name.” And though no lease is signed yet, they’ve also been pricing Italian pizza ovens.

A pizza restaurant from this duo actually makes great sense: They’ve been making pizzas for years at Floataway Cafe, they have impeccable credentials with cheese suppliers from the cheese shop in Star Provisions, and the toppings would surely include some of the in-house charcuterie Star also produces. And the exploding restaurant scene on the Westside needs a standout pizza joint. Fingers crossed.

Across town, the food scene pundits have been wondering who might take over the vast space in south Buckhead formerly occupied by Taurus. It appears the answer is Charlie and Nan Niyomkul of Tamarind Seed Thai Bistro and Nan Thai Fine Dining. The Niyomkuls are hard to reach for comment, but we’ve already heard a name for the restaurant: Vertigo. [Editor’s note: I beg the Niyomkuls to seriously consider offering some of the less common regional Thai dishes at this restaurant. Atlanta has enough pad Thai and green curry. Look here for inspiration.—BA]

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. Chez Niko is the rumored name for Buckhead Life’s 3344 Peachtree spot slated to open this fall.

Another rumor: Emeril Lagasse may be opening his newest concept, a coffee shop and patisserie, in the Terminus development this winter. [Editor’s note: If this is true, you gotta love the bravado of a guy who remains undaunted despite his previous missteps in our city.]

Decatur. Repeat Atlanta is reporting that Piece of Cake is opening its’ third location at 307 E. College Avenue on July 1.

Downtown. Thrillist notes that City Limit Cafe—featuring burgers, barbecue, and wings—has opened at 280 Connally Avenue in the former Lamplighter Cafe spot.

Midtown. Metrotainment’s sports bar concept, Hudson Grille, is slated to open their fourth store at 942 Peachtree Street, in the former Sweet Lowdown spot in early 2010.

Marietta. Lola’s Cantina has opened at 4665 Lower Roswell Road.

Question of the Week:
What local restaurateur is rumored to be partnering on an organic, farm-to-table concept with multiple locations?

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What noted Atlanta restaurant power couple is rumored to be opening a spot in the former Taurus location—was answered above: Nan and Charlie Niyomkul are rumored to be opening a Thai spot there called Vertigo.

Where the chefs hang out

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ATL Food Chatter—June 19, 2009

Where do Atlanta’s chefs go after a grueling day at the “office” when they want to kick it with their comrades in arms? Well, according to one of Atlanta’s top toques, Holeman & Finch Public House is the current hotspot where Atlanta’s chefs meet, eat, and decompress.

Gary Mennie, executive chef at Livingston, recently joined a couple of his buddies there after a busy Saturday night and said that they enjoyed themselves “until well after 2 a.m.” They were even able to snag one of the cult, post-10 p.m. burgers. Another spot Mennie mentioned as an after-hours hang for local chefs is JCT Kitchen. Top Flr is also close enough from his post at the Georgian Terrace Hotel that he can walk over there on occasion.

If any other chefs out there want to reveal their late night off-duty spots, we’re curious. Leave a comment below.

NEWS and NOTES:

Buckhead. Villa Vino Restaurant and Bar—featuring Italian cuisine, pizzas, and a strong wine list—has opened at 3188 Roswell Road.

Locos Grill & Pub closed its Buckhead location.

In another sign of the times, Neo, the Mansion on Peachtree’s in-house restaurant, is now “going casual with light, farm-fresh fare” (as it says on the Mansion on Peachtree’s website) and has a new chef, Scott Hemmerly.

Buford Highway. Havana Sandwich Shop, the highly regarded Cuban sandwich shop that was destroyed by a fire last fall, is opening a new version at Crossroads Village, at 3979 Buford Highway. (It currently has a location in Canton as well.)

Chamblee. Salsa Con Sabor, the Puerto Rican tapas spot, has closed.

Downtown. The latest intel has Max’s Coal Fired Pizzeria from the Concentrics folks opening sometime next week.

Wine Shoe Tasting Room + Boutique, featuring 138 boutique wines and weekly sipping tutorials, has opened at 339 Nelson Street in Castleberry Hill.

The Wine Loft wine bar on Marietta Street has closed.

Russell Sleight has replaced Thierry Grodet as executive chef at the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel (not to be confused with the executive chef at the restaurant’s Sun Dial, whose kitchen is helmed by Christian Messier).

Rolling Bones has been named one of the top 10 “new barbecue restaurants in America” by Bon Appetit Magazine in their July issue, which is entirely devoted to barbecue. [Editor’s note: Unfortunately, given magazine deadlines, this accolade surely refers to RB’s former regime before Todd Richards and his company took over the business. FYI: Richards’ new Rolling Bones menu, which includes smoked duck and revamped sides, is reportedly rolling out today.—B.A.]

Midtown. Rumor has it that STK—a hipster steakhouse chain with locations in West Hollywood, Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, Miami, and Vegas—has signed a lease to open a spot at 1075 Peachtree, the office building currently under construction as part of the 12th & Midtown project.

Andy Fox, formerly of Ecco, is the new general manager at Livingston.

As has been reported widely, Trois is no longer open. The space will remain under Concentrics ownership and a new concept will be revealed in the early fall. Trois’ bar does remain open with a limited menu. 

Morningside. On July 6, Food 101 Morningside will become Rosebud. The new name comes from Jerry Garcia’s favorite guitar. There will only a few cosmetic and menu changes.

Sandy Springs. Yoreka, a frozen yogurt spot, has opened at The Prado Shopping Center,5590 Roswell Road NE, Suite 130.

Westside. The Warren Bruno bar project in the White Provisions development will be called Ormsby’s.

Question of the Week: What noted Atlanta restaurant power couple is rumored to be opening a spot in the former Taurus location?

PS. The answer to last post’s QOTW—What intown chef has his son working beside him at his hot spot?—is Jay Swift. His son Josh is a chef at 4th& Swift.

Parish Gets a Redoux

ATL Food Chatter: June 8, 2009
 
If you haven’t been to Parish, the Concentric Group’s New Orleans’ inspired restaurant on Highland Avenue, since it opened last year, you’ll find the kitchen has a different direction these days. In late March, Nick Melvin came on board as the restaurant’s new executive chef and has now almost completely revamped the menu.

New appetizers include Pork and Beans, with huge pickled white beans and bourbon glazed pork belly, and New Orleans “bbq shrimp.” Entrees go both traditional (crawfish pie) and gently experimental: The Mississippi Stuffed Catfish, featuring a tasso and fresh crab stuffing and a lemon Pernod sauce, marries two different dishes into a sophisticated Southern main course. And for the Big Easy Fried Chicken, an “airline chicken breast and wing”—that’s a deboned breast with the wing attached—are marinated overnight in buttermilk, then fried golden and served atop creamed red mule grits with a warm pickled bean salad on the side. [Editor’s note: Sounds like a thoughtful presentation, though I do argue that, for true fried chicken, all bones should always be left in, even in a finer dining environment – B.A.]
 
Have you been to Parish since Melvin took the helm? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience.
 
NEWS and NOTES:
 
Buckhead. As reported by Richard Eldridge of Peach Buzz, Lenox Square Grill, a 300-seat spot serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, will take over the former Clubhouse location at Lenox Square mall this fall. The restaurant will be operated by CentraArchy Restaurant Group, the parent company of New York Prime, Tavern at Phipps, and Joey’s Oakroom.
 
Candler Park. The Mercantile, the fresh food and wine emporium, has finally received its liquor license.

Decatur. Look for Dick Mack’s, an Irish Pub, to go into the space of the recently closed Saba at 111 Sycamore Street this fall. Saba remains open in Emory Village and plans to launch a second location in Oakhurst Village soon.

Downtown. City Grill and Daily’s Restaurant and Bar, two of downtown’s iconic restaurants, closed suddenly last Wednesday. Karen Bremer, president of Great Hospitality Restaurants that owned the two venues, cited “economic conditions.”

Little Five Points. Niramish, serving vegetarian Indian cuisine, is slated to open in the former Calcutta spot at 1138 Euclid Avenue, this month.
 
Midtown. Spanish-themed Cuerno closed last Sunday—it was first announced by owner Richard Ullio on his Facebook page, and covered heavily by the local food media thereafter.

The Repeat Atlanta blog reports that Aurum Restaurant & Bar is slated to open this summer in the Metropolis Condominiums. Owner Mike Hsu, a resident of Metropolis, was inspired by Dolce and Gabbana’s Gold Restaurant in Milan. The menu will include typical bar fare along with sushi, small tapas and sandwiches. [CORRECTION: Per the comment below, Hsu’s new spot is not inspired by Gold in Milan, though D&G’s swanked out web site is still worth a look—B.A.]

Nonna Mia Cafe and Pizzeria, serving casual Italian fare, has opened in the former home of Sweet Devil Moon (and several restaurants before that — anyone remember Balance?) on Piedmont Avenue.

Old 4th Ward. 4th & Swift celebrates its first anniversary with a special four-course prix fixe menu on Saturday, June 27th. They also have a new pastry chef, Lindsey Peluso, whose resume includes a stint at Bacchanalia.

Roswell. Little Alley Tapas Bar and Restaurant has closed.
 
Southwest Atlanta. Look for KC BBQ Pit to open their second location in the former Up the Creek Seafood spot at 3752 Cascade Road this summer.

Question of the Week: What intown chef (mentioned in this blog post) has his son working alongside him at his hot spot?
 
PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What owner-operator who formerly owned some of Atlanta’s classics of the 70’s and 80’s is rumored to opening a new bar concept in the White provisions development—is Warren Bruno, he of Aunt Charley’s, The Mansion, and The Abbey fame.

Openings continue apace

ATL Food Chatter: May 29, 2009

These may or may not be the best of times and/or the worst of times to open a restaurant in Atlanta, but there continues to be a parade of new projects added to our culinary landscape. Here are three restaurants taking decidedly different approaches to winning the approval of the dining public:

As of today, Rolling Bones (377 Edgewood Ave., 404-222-2324) is now under the direction of Todd Richards, who also serves as the corporate chef for One Flew South, the fine dining restaurant in Hartsfield airport. Rolling Bones will remain a barbecue joint, though it will offer a drastically different product under Richards’ direction. As of June 8, the whole new menu will include smoked duck in the meat mix, sides such as potato salad dotted with Alan Benton’s bacon, and red velvet cupcakes. In July, look for a new neon sign and a liquor license.

30 Tables, the most recent Concentrics endeavor, takes over a seemingly cursed location inside the Glenn Hotel and right-sizes it into an intimate one level space that offers a true dining spot, as opposed to its previous nightclub atmosphere. The energy level of the previous occupants has been dialed back to a softer, more sophisticated level. Its American bistro comfort food menu should attract not only hotel guests but also diners looking to grab a bite or a drink downtown.

On Monday, June 8, RA Sushi bar and restaurant is slated to open in the 1010 condominiums on Peachtree Street. The 7,000 square foot, bi-level space is an upscale casual spot that hopes to whip up new dramatic intensity to the hot dining scene bubbling up on and around Crescent Avenue. Beyond sushi, the menu offers teriyaki and noodle dishes paired with various proteins. This RA is one of twenty-three locations from a restaurant company based in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s their largest venue to date and features a private dining room and a mezzanine level—two firsts for the concept. The design elements also include a slick indoor–outdoor bar and collapsing windows that open up the interior to the street. The RA folks are clearly looking to attract whose wanting to get their party on in Midtown.

NEWS and NOTES:

Alpharetta. Look for Cha Cha Bongo Cuban Grill to open their second location featuring authentic Cuban cuisine in a fast casual atmosphere this summer on Winward Parkway.

Buckhead. According to Buckhead Life Restaurant Group spokesperson, Jennifer Boozer, Pano’s at the St. Regis is not on hold and they “are moving forward as planned”.

Doraville. John Kessler has some very good things to say about Shoya Japanese Restaurant, a new izakaya located at 6035 Peachtree Road.

Midtown. Midtown Mediterranean Cafe, featuring 24 hour service; a perpetual breakfast menu, a hookah lounge and Middle Eastern menu, has opened at 912 10th street in the former Jock’s and Jill’s location.

Roswell. Coldbrew’s Sports Bar & Grill, featuring 17 chilled beer taps and a Cajun influenced menu, has opened at 880 Holcomb Bridge Road.

Virginia Highland. La Tavola Trattoria is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a special menu running from Friday, June 17 until Saturday, June 27.

Question of the Week: What owner-operator who formerly owned some of Atlanta’s classics of the 70s and 80s is rumored to opening a new bar concept in the White Provisions development?

PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What intown sweets suite is rumored to be for sale?—is Chocolate Pink Cafe

Abattoir meats its public

ATL Food Chatter: May 22, 2009

Abattoir, the highly anticipated opening of Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison’s homage to “locally-raised proteins” opened last night, Thursday, May 21. Thanks to Quatrano and PR maven Mary Reynolds, I got a sneak peek on Wednesday night and I was blown away! From the china to the lettering on the back of the bar stools, there is clear attention to whimsical details in this intimate space.

The adventurous menu builds on the growing local and national penchant toward “nose-to-tail” restaurant cooking. (And it fits perfectly with the location, a former meat-packing plant.) The opening night menu offered reasonable price points—entrees ranged from a $10 to $19 for poached Gulf snapper with fennel and peppers and $22 for a New York strip. Refreshingly novel items include tripe stew, corned lamb kidneys, homemade “Slim Jims” and beef jerky, wood-grilled bratwurst, and fun desserts such as strawberry pie and sourdough waffles with cream and bitter chocolate.

If you hit Abattoir this weekend, comment below and give us your report. (And by the way, the website says the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, but service is dinner-only for now.)

NEWS and NOTES:

Avondale Estates. Savage Pizza, the long time LP5 fave, is slated to open its second location on June 1 at the corner of Clarendon and Laredo Drives.

Buckhead. The latest rumor surrounding the name of the Buckhead Life Group’s store at 3344 Peachtree Road is that it will now be called Niko’s or Niko’s Place, after the group’s director of operations and HR (and family member), Niko Karatassos.

Twisted Taco will open its fifth location this summer in the former Wieuca Tavern spot on Wieuca Road.

Downtown. IL Mulino New York will begin offering a quick lunch menu with selections priced at $12 this summer.

The Au Bon Pain store on Ivan Allen Drive has closed.

Drinkshop at the W Downtown Atlanta was prominently featured in this week’s New York Times food section article about homemade ginger ale’s popularity in top bars across the country.

Kirkwood. The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that Ann’s Snack Bar, home of the famed “Ghetto Burger,” is for sale and that “Miss Ann” is looking to move on after 37 years at the helm.

Midtown. The owners of Apres Diem and Anis have teamed up to take over the former Allegro space with a new concept that will feature a casual cafe and posh bar that will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. More details soon.

CL’s Besha Rodell reports that Shane Devereux, opening chef at of Peasant Bistro, is the new top toque at Top Flr.

Vinings. South City Kitchen Vinings will host a three-day Blues, Brews and BBQ festival, June 5-7, featuring live performances from local bands, a special barbecue menu, and lots of beer.

Westside. Central City Tavern has moved from its long tome location at Peachtree Road and Collier to 1801 Howell Mill Road in Howell Mill Station.

Question of the Week: What intown sweets suite is rumored to be for sale?

The answer to last week’s QOTW—What intown restaurant/gastropub has revamped its menu to include barbeque grilled on site every Monday?—is P’Cheen. It has started “Mike’s Bone-Lick BBQ Monday Menu,” with the likes of baby back ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and chipotle-rubbed smoked chicken, all served solo or in three-meat combos.

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