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Todd Ginsberg leaves Bocado to open the General Muir

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Yesterday, Westside restaurant Bocado announced that chef Todd Ginsberg would be leaving the restaurant on October 20. Rumors have been circulating for months now that Ginsberg would be opening a Jewish deli with Jennifer and Ben Johnson, owners of West Egg, and Ginsberg has finally confirmed his involvement in the project. The General Muir, slated to open in Emory Point by the end of 2012, was announced earlier this year with a press release that promised, “traditional deli classics, such as pastrami and corned beef, chopped liver, smoked fish, and hand-rolled kettle-boiled bagels, as well as innovative takes on traditional dishes.”

The addition of Ginsberg to the kitchen certainly puts an emphasis on the “innovative takes.” Those familiar with Bocado and, especially, the constantly evolving small plates section of the menu, will be pleased to know that Ginsberg will be approaching the General Muir’s menu with the same creativity. As Ben Johnson explained in an email yesterday, “We don’t want people to think too literally about it, expecting us to recreate Katz’s or something.  There will be classic dishes on the menu, but we are not pigeonholing ourselves as just a deli or just a Jewish restaurant.  Todd is an amazing and creative chef and will have wide latitude to take things in new directions.”

Rather than Katz’s, one might look at Mile End, the much-praised new Jewish delicatessen in New York, as part of the inspiration for the General Muir. Ginsberg, who grew up in New Jersey and New York eating pastrami sandwiches, says that he’s wanted to open a Jewish deli for his entire career. “The deli has been such a strong, magnetic pull for me. I remember having conversations with my dad about opening a deli,” he says.

The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have a full bar. Breakfast and lunch will emphasize the traditional options, like those “hand-rolled kettle-boiled bagels,” which Ben Johnson has been obsessively working on, and the smoked meat sandwiches that Ginsberg speaks fondly of. For dinner, expect Ginsberg to continue working with small and sharing plates alongside the entrees. He says, “Being Jewish myself, a lot this food feels family oriented, sharing and communal. So, we want to have some of that on the menu.”

There are certain agreed-upon touches, like using local Georgia trout smoked in-house for smoked trout rilletes, but the menus are still very much in development. Ginsberg shared some other ideas, like a nightly three-course prix fixe menu, that may or may not end up in the finished restaurant. 

The restaurant has been designed by Square Feet Studio. In addition to the Johnsons, both Ginsberg and Shelly Sweet, the current general manager of West Egg, will be part owners of the restaurant.

In case you were wondering, The General Muir, is named “for the U.S. refugee transport ship that brought Jennifer’s mother and grandparents, Holocaust survivors, to New York following World War II.” 

Rendering courtesy of Square Feet Studio
Photo of General Muir exterior by Ben Johnson 

A rough draft of The Lawrence’s new cocktail list

Since opening in April of this year, the Lawrence has been quietly evolving in their dimly lit corner of  Midtown. At first, the restaurant was open just a few days a week, now they’re open every day but Monday, including brunch service on Sunday. The menu has continually changed, bringing seasonal dishes in and out and adding a bit more emphasis on chef Shane Devereux’s affinity for French cooking. And now bartender Eric Simpkins, who initially served a very abbreviated selection of classic drinks, is rewriting their drink list to include a lengthy, inventive array of cocktails.

I ate at the chef’s table, a two-person marble countertop poised to watch the kitchen while you eat, this past weekend and Simpkins dropped by to show off a rough draft of his new cocktail list. You can check it out below. In addition to the ten house recipes, he adds a couple of neat touches: cocktail recipes from other bartenders around the country and space for changing seasonal innovations. I had the 8th & Juniper #2, an herbaceous drink that was both to and entirely distinct from a Negroni, with a plate of some decadent steak tartare and ended the night with rabbit leg confit and the Robert L. Burnside, a whiskey-sipping nod to the late blues guitarist served in a jar.

You might be able to cajole Simpkins into making one of those drinks for you this week, but he plans to put the new drink menu out by October 23. By that time, the list, which is still being tweaked, should be ready to go.

The chef’s table, by the way, is the way to go. Devereux has a quiet and exacting presence; watching him put the final touches on his plates is a real pleasure. 

Hudson North, pop-up restaurant, opens in Atlantic Station

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The team responsible for the beloved midtown neighborhood joint, Cypress Street Pint and Plate, have opened a pop-up restaurant in Atlantic Station. Taking over the space formerly occupied by The Grape, Hudson North is a tavern focusing on a locally-sourced menu and craft beers.

The interior of Hudson North was designed by local heavyweights ai3, aiming to evoke the shipyard haunts near the Hudson River that co-owner Billy Streck once frequented. Recently relocated from Washington D.C., executive chef B.H. Hibbs has put together a menu of bar snacks, raw seafood, and local meats alongside a page-long list of craft brewed beers. 

You can check out the full menu on Hudson North’s Facebook page. The pop-up restaurant will run only through Decemeber 31. No word yet on what will happen to the space after that date. Indulge in a few rather attractive photos of the food below.

Scallop crudo, watercress, lemon, dill, fennel, blood orange

Figs with amber ale glaze, bacon, almonds, chile, parsley

Photos via Hudson North’s Facebook page

Buttermilk Kitchen opens today on Roswell Road

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You might be familiar with chef Suzanne Vizethann but, if you’re like many Atlantans, you haven’t had a chance to taste her food yet. Vizethann made a splash on television, winning the Food Network’s 2011 season of Chopped, and she’s been running a small lunch counter, The Hungry Peach, inside the until-very-recently private design center ADAC. So, unless you’ve been a television food judge or a design professional, Vietzthann’s food has been out of reach. Today that changes, as Vietzthann’s new restaurant, Buttermilk Kitchen, opens today at 4225 Roswell Road.

The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch seven days a week, opening at 7 am (everyday but Sunday) and closing at 4pm. On Sundays, they’ll open at 8 am. Starting on October 22, the restaurant will serve a BYOB fried chicken dinner every Tuesday night. 

The restaurant design is the epitome of farmhouse chic and Southern kitsch. There are reclaimed wood panels by the boatload, buckets repurposed as light fixtures, handpainted everything, mason jars, and so forth. 

The menu matches that vibe, full of Southern staples like buttermilk biscuits, pimento cheese, farm eggs, shrimp and grits, and so on. We’ve got the full menu and interior photos below. Take a gander. 

Photos by James Camp for Green Olive Media

King of Pops robbed, offering reward for information

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Atlanta’s beloved popsicle masters, King of Pops, were robbed after Music Midtown in September. They’ve posted this information to their Facebook page today: 

King of Pops can be contacted through their website or on Facebook. We’ll update the story if and when we hear more.

Five things to look for at Taste of Atlanta this weekend

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The three-day Midtown local culinary festival, Taste of Atlanta, returns to Tech Square this weekend. Here’s a quick clip of what to expect:

There are more than 80 restuarants participating, lots of cooking demos, and many drinks to be had, so how should you keep it all straight? Here’s five ideas for the weekend:

1. Have a drink at the bartender competition
Everything goes down easier with a drink or two, right? Stop in for a cocktail sip or two before heading out to the tasting tents. On Saturday, the semi-finals competition gets going in the VIP tasting tents from 12:30-2:00 pm. On Sunday, the final competition starts at 3:45 pm in the Inside the Food Studio tent.

2. Get some pastured poultry Bantam and Biddy style
Bantam and Biddy, Shawn Doty and Lance Gummere’s new restaurant in Ansley Mall, hasn’t opened yet, but Gummere will be showing off some chicken butchering and cooking skills in the Kitchen Workshop on Sunday at 1:15 pm. Will Harris of White Oak Pastures will be on hand for the seminar, too.

3. Get an early taste of the General Muir
Be one of the first to taste the offerings of the General Muir, a contemporary Jewish restaurant opening near Emory at the end of this year. Looks like they’ll be offering just a couple sweet bites (Warm chocolate babka and Rugelach), but we have a feeling this is an upcoming one that you’ll want to have on your radar.

4. Try a restaurant that isn’t near your neighborhood
The local restaurants recruited for Taste of Atlanta cut across the full geography of Atlanta, from the Westside to Virginia Highlands to suburbs like Marietta and East Cobb. If you’re coming in from OTP, maybe this is the right time to taste the Todd Richard’s cooking from the Shed. If you’re an intowner that never ventures pass the 285 boundary, you might want to give Seed a shot.

5. Learn sustainable seafood with Adam Evans of the Optimist
Adam Evans, executive chef of Atlanta’s new seafood hotspot the Optimist, will be talking catching, cleaning, and cooking sustainable seafood with experts from the Georgia Aquarium on Saturday at 1:15 pm in the Kitchen Workshop tent. 

Life After Top Chef with Richard Blais premieres tomorrow, Bourdain in ATL

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Perpetual television personality and Atlanta chef Richard Blais returns to the small screen tomorrow for the latest variation on the Top Chef franchise: Life After Top Chef. The show will chronicle Blais, Fabio Viviani, Spike Mendelsohn, and Jennifer Carroll as they navigate the difficulties of being known by lots of people for making food on television or something along those lines. You can check out the drama-packed preview below. The exact timeline of filming is unclear, but Bravo’s description of the series seems to promise a look at the process behind creating the Spence

More TV news:

Anthony Bourdain has been filming an episode of Layover at spots around Atlanta for the past few days. Here’s a picture of him hanging out with the lovely ladies of The Little Tart Bakeshop. Other reported sightings: Star Provisions and Home Grown. Have you seen him around town?

Escape to Brasstown Valley Resort

We were taking the long way through North Georgia, made even longer because I kept falling prey to roadside distractions. Turning off the highway for boiled peanuts, I half teased my companion that I was looking for moonshine. A few months ago, a friend had given me a jar of the stuff. There’s no label and the contents are as clear as the glass that holds it. You might mistake it for water if the faintest whiff didn’t make your nose hairs stand on end. Headed into the mountains where Prohibition-era bootleggers gave birth to NASCAR, I kept thinking about that jar.

“What we’ll do is drive real slow on the back roads. That way we can look for a little plume of smoke rising from a still, and we’ll follow it to the source,” I said. She rolled her eyes.

Our first serendipitous find was Jaemor Farms Market—up past where I-985 branches off of I-85 and then narrows into I-365, just north of where legions of gas stations and fast-food joints beckon boaters headed to Lake Lanier. We bought a brown paper bag of steaming peanuts ladled out of a barrel-sized steel pot on the front porch, and admired the fresh produce and local crafts. If you’re looking for something pickled in a jar, this is your place. Pickled carrots, hot pickled garlic, pickled quail eggs. But no clear jars of North Georgia ’shine.

An hour or so down the road, we reached our destination just south of the North Carolina border. Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa is a full-service retreat built (and still owned) by the state of Georgia when Zell Miller was governor—not so coincidentally, in Miller’s hometown of Young Harris. Long before “LEED certification” became developers’ favorite buzzword, Brasstown was carefully planned to protect its 500 acres. Builders took out eighteen environmental permits before breaking ground. Golf course construction was halted and reconfigured when its path crossed an ancient Cherokee burial ground. The result was a massive 102-room lodge tucked unobtrusively into the mountainside.

A long driveway wound through thick woods before delivering us to the main entrance. We had just enough time to check in before our dinner reservation on the dining room veranda. We couldn’t have arrived at a better time. The porch faces where the sun sets over the mountains, and on this particular night, rain clouds were turning deep shades of purple and red against the black silhouette of the Blue Ridge. Every few minutes, lightning would strike a bright white flash through the sky.

The restaurant—a sort of glorified camp dining hall with sturdy pine furniture—serves the something-for-everyone menu typical of hotels everywhere: weekly prime rib and seafood buffets, steaks, pasta, salad bar. We opted for the few regional dishes: fried green tomatoes piled high with pickles and thick fillets of North Georgia trout, along with a couple of bourbons. It suited the evening just fine.

Approaching its twentieth-birthday mark in 2015, Brasstown seems mature beyond its years. Rocking chairs line wide verandas for soaking up an expansive vista that includes Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest point. Inside, fussy 1990s furnishings have mellowed into a shabby elegance. The octagonal lobby’s oak-paneled walls and vaulted ceiling and the soaring seventy-two-foot stone fireplace are grand enough to carry off the standard lodge-issue antler chandeliers and Adirondack knickknacks. Many of the guest rooms, furnished with quilts and twig furniture, have private balconies and gas-log fireplaces. Brasstown has become a place of simple comfort rather than precious pampering.

The next morning the grounds were still wet from rain. We strolled the narrow, hilly trails that run through the Chattahoochee National Forest, stopping to watch horses graze through a field. The hotel keeps a full stable here and offers trail rides. There’s also a golf course, a spa, tennis courts, and nearby streams and pristine Lake Chatuge to explore. The unique hotel pool is half indoors, half out; to swim across, you literally duck under a glass wall. We would’ve lingered longer, but the road was calling again.

Just outside the resort, in Young Harris, we came across a store stocked with sorghum. We found some country ham and sawmill gravy at the Hole in the Wall in Blairsville. We happened upon fried pies at Walker’s outside of Ellijay—making a mental note to return during October’s big apple festival. But still no moonshine.

Just when the humid clouds started to lift, we pulled up and peered over the rocky edge of Amicalola Falls, a high, narrow cascade that is the tallest in the Southeast. The sun glared down on wet trees in the distance, while steam rose up in thin, misty plumes—a mirage that was as close as I would get to whiskey smoke.

This article originally appeared in our October 2012 issue.

Table Talk: AJC releases fall dining guide, CL cuts the cheese, Eat It talks ramen

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AJC releases 2012 fall dining guide WITHOUT restaurants
With the myriad makers and bakers opening up shop all around Atlanta in mind, the AJC had released a fall dining guide that completely ignores restaurants. Check out the full list.

STG Trattoria now serving Sunday brunch
Eater Atlanta reports that STG Trattoria is now serving Sunday Brunch starting at 10:30 a.m.

Todd Immel named executive chef of Floataway Cafe
Todd Immel, who has run the meat department at Star Provisions since 2008, has been named executive chef of Floataway Cafe.

CL cuts the Georgia cheese
Brad Kaplan takes a look at the Georgia cheesemakers who making a name for themselves around the state.

Eat It, Atlanta talks ramen at Miso Izakaya
Jimmy Sobeck goes in depth with Guy Wong of Miso about the ramen he’s cooking up at lunch in the Old Fourth Ward. 

Are these the top ten chefs to know in Atlanta?

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Yesterday, national food gossip blog The Braiser released a list: “The Top 10 Chefs You Need To Know In Atlanta.” Hopefully no one is confusing a blogger phoning it in from New York for a critic that actually has first hand experience with the chefs and city in question, but it is useful, I suppose, for seeing how Atlanta is perceived from the outside. So, here’s the list that the Braiser cooked up:

– Anthony Gray of Southern Art and Bourbon Bar
– Asha Gomez of Cardamom Hill
– Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale
– David Sweeney of the Bakery at Cakes & Ale
– Hugh Acheson of Empire State South and Five & Ten
– Kevin Gillespie of Gunshow and Woodfire Grill
– Kevin Rathbun of Rathbun’s
– Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch
– Richard Blais of the Spence
– Whitney Otawka of Farm 255

At first glance, the list looks pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised to see David Sweeney and Asha Gomez make the list, as they seem to be somewhat under-recognized talents in Atlanta. Then I realized that the person writing this list probably just read Bon Appetit last month. A solid half of the list have been a big presence on the Top Chef franchise, or, in the case of Anthony Gray, will be. 

There are probably more than a few ways I’d change the list, but the big, glaring obvious ommission is Anne Quatrano, right? I mean, if practically kick-starting the farm-to-table style in Atlanta and then turning that success into an empire of restaurants including probably the best specialty grocer and sandwich counter in Atlanta doesn’t put you in the top ten to know, what does? Oh, right, television. 

Screengrab via the Braiser

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