ATL Food Chatter: September 14, 2009
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NEWS AND NOTES:
A young Atlanta chef and his wife are courting Atlanta foodies by creatively using the Internet and tasting dinners to help create buzz about a neighborhood restaurant they plan to open, to be called Staplehouse. Ryan and Jen Hidinger’s marketing strategy, appropriately named “A Prelude to Staplehouse,” has been a series of intimate, supper club-style meals with limited seating held at the home of the two young Grant Park residents. In a spirit similar to Jeff Varasano’s tastings parties before he opened his eponymous pizza joint, it introduces Hidinger’s cooking style to diners and provides feedback for future menu planning.
An invitation to one of the affairs, which have been held monthly since January, can only be requested via e-mail. Each event has been chronicled on the project’s website and Facebook page, and pictures and comments from the participants have spread virally through the various social media outlets. Dinners, which typically cost between $45 to $60 per person, have started to sell out in advance, and waiting lists continue to grow.
Hidinger—a graduate of the culinary program at the Art Institute of Atlanta whose local resume includes Bacchanalia, Floataway Café and, currently, Muss & Turner’s—envisions Staplehouse as a casual, neighborhood focused restaurant featuring his spin on seasonal cooking. The credit crunch has slowed Hidinger’s timetable for opening his dream spot, though he still hopes to find a location and be in business by year’s end. In the meantime, he and his wife will continue to conduct a series of culinary events that will hopefully give their forthcoming restaurant a built-in audience.
NEWS AND NOTES:
The October 2009 edition of National Geographic Traveler, a magazine designed to serve as a resource for the active, curious traveler, proclaimed Atlanta as one of the “Fifty Places of a Lifetime” to visit.
The article described Atlanta and its dining scene: “Though steeped in Civil War history and a devotion to Southern hospitality, Atlanta is also a hotbed of upscale shopping, creative cuisine, and an exploding arts scene. Locals are passionate about college and professional sports, but also about foie gras, collard greens, and pecan pie.”
Alpharetta. Yogen Früz, with more than 1,000 stores worldwide, has opened their first Georgia location in North Point Mall.
Buckhead. Rumor has it that Charlie and Nan Niyomkul’s new Thai restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Taurus will be called Tuk Tuk, rather than Vertigo. A tuk tuk is a three-wheeled cab popular in Southeast Asia—one is parked outside the Niyomkul’s Midtown restaurant, Tamarind Seed.
Repeat Atlanta noted that Roy’s, the upscale Hawaiian fusion spot, has closed.
Downtown. CCS, the San Francisco-based firm who designed W Atlanta Downtown’s BLT Steak and Drinkshop, is working on “re-creating” the three lobby restaurants (as well as the lobby itself) in the Hyatt Regency.
East Atlanta. The rumor is that a Vietnamese pho spot will open in the former Cantinia Casita location by the end of October.
Little Five Points. Aurora Coffee is now serving Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream—not only by itself but also incorporated into some of their coffee drinks.
Vinings. Mulberry Street Pizza, a fifty-seat parlor, has opened at 4355 Cobb Pkwy.
Question of the Week: What former Holeman & Finch chef has returned to his native New Orleans?
PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—what former Dining Room chef is rumored to be planning a restaurant in London with famed pastry chef Pierre Herme?—is Joël Antunes, according to Shaun Doty.