ATL Food Chatter: August 31, 2009
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After a slow summer for restaurant openings, and in defiance of the economic times, Atlanta’s entrepreneurs continue to press forward with plans for a surprising number of restaurant projects. This fall there are five new restaurants coming on line that stand out from the crowd: They promise to not only add some great new options to our dining scene but also generate some national attention as well with their kitchen talent and visionary design.
In alphabetical order, here are my five upcoming favorites for the fall. (And note: there is not one hotel restaurant on the list.)
BAKESHOP. Super star pastry chef Jonathan Hilaire’s thirty-five seat Midtown artisanal bakery will use organic and locally sourced product to tempt us with goodies such as a signature vanilla-bourbon cake, tarts with red wine, and croissants, ice creams and sorbets made with a touch of molecular gastronomy.
BISTRO NIKO. When Pano Karatassos—a nationally acclaimed restaurateur who has seemingly had more hits than Berry Gordy—does a project, he does it right. The next project for his Buckhead Life Restaurant Group promises to be a classic French bistro done beautifully. With head chef Gary Donlick (from Pano’s and Paul’s); a sous chef, Jeff Pfeiffer, from the Miami outpost of New York’s famed bistro, La Goulue; and son Niko Karatassos as general manager, he has assembled a solid team to run the posh Buckhead spot. Karatassos recently returned from scouting all of the top bistros in Paris for inspiration. The Johnson Studio was hired create a design that architect Bill Johnson says “is like nothing I’ve ever done before.”
BOCADO. Brian Lewis garnered strong reviews for his Birmingham restaurant, Table, which he recently closed. Now he’s turning his attention to Atlanta with a westside small-plates-and-sandwich spot that focuses on incorporating local products into the menu. Bocado will also feature a sustainable garden on site. Todd Ginsberg, formerly of Trois and whose CV includes a stint with Alain Ducasse, will be the top toque. The space takes eco-consciousness seriously with lighting and decor elements constructed from recycled materials integrated throughout the space.
THE IBERIAN PIG. A signature item of this restaurant on Decatur’s downtown square will be acorn-fed Iberico ham sliced in the center of the dining room at a carving station and served with a toasted baguette and espresso aioli. The menu—a mix of Spanish and American dishes—will include pan con tomate; a full list of Spanish cheeses; and slow-roasted goat with chittara pasta tossed in carbonara sauce. The restaurant is the brainchild of the Castellucci family, who’ve had success with their Mediterranean-themed Sugo restaurants. All dishes will be made in house and there will be a strong focus on the use of local and organic ingredients. The Chef, Chad Crete, who is also a sommelier, comes from Las Vegas, where he worked for China Grill Management.
MILLER UNION. Considered by some to be one of two most anticipated restaurants of the year (Abattoir was the other), chef Steven Satterfield (Watershed) and front-of-the-house man Neal McCarthy (Sotto Sotto and Fritti) have partnered to create a southern cuisine version of Chez Panisse. Their Westside spot is “dedicated to seasonal harvest, (using) local ingredients with a fresh, simple approach.” The rustic modern design has transformed the former Miller Union stockyard building into a sophisticated environment that will add further panache to the burgeoning westside dining scene.
A few other spots deserve mention: Ormsby’s, another venture in westside’s White Provision complex from veteran restaurateur Warren Bruno has an October opening scheduled. Vertigo, a Thai barbecue spot from Nan and Charlie Niyomkul, is slated to open this fall in the former Taurus space. Sauced, Ria Pell (Ria’s Bluebird Dinner) Inman Park dinner only restaurant, is prepping for a fall opening. It will feature local produce prepared with a variety of innovative sauces.
NEWS AND NOTES:
Alpharetta. Jerusalem Bakery, featuring pita and challah breads; meat and spinach pies, has opened their second location in Alpharetta at 4150 Old Milton Parkway.
Decatur. Relics & Rarities Ice Cream Parlor, serving old fashion ice cream treats like hot fudge sundaes inside of a 5,000 square foot Americana museum, opened today at noon at 409 N. McDonough Street. The Decatur Metro blog has been following its progress.
Inman Park. The first annual Inman Park Restaurant Week will be held September 21-27, 2009. Prix fixe dinners will be offered at different participating restaurants in three price tiers: $15, $25, $35.
Midtown. More details on Hugh Acheson’s upcoming Atlanta restaurant. Hillary Brown of the Athen’s Flagpole noted that the restaurant, to be called Empire State South, will open at Tenth and Peachtree (We erroneously reported Tenth and Piedmont last week.) An article from the Atlanta Business Chronicle states that the 90-seat spot is slated to open Spring 2010, featuring ingredients and produce from within 100 miles of metro Atlanta in a southern themed “meat and three” menu.
Question of the Week: What Buckhead Italian spot has closed for dinner and is now only open for “private events”?
P.S. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What intown ’hood is slated to get their first gourmet grocery store this fall?—is Inman Park. Savvy Urban Market, a 3,500 square foot store is scheduled to open on Elizabeth Street this fall. (Commenter Darin was the first to call it right last week.)