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Pastry chef Eric Wolitzky is having a good year. Until 2012, Wolitzky might have been best know for having a solid (but not winning) run in 2010 on the first season of Top Chef: Just Desserts. Since taking over the baking team at the expanded Bakery at Cakes & Ale, Wolitzky has recieved a glowing nod of approval on Bon Appetit's list of Best New Restaurants for 2012. "Don't even think about skipping dessert at this restaurant and bakery, where the last course gets top billing," the headline glowed. They also included a gorgeous slideshow of his sweets.
What's better than getting named one of the best new restaurants of the year? Getting named one of the best new restaurants of the year twice!As mentioned last week, Bon Appetit released their list of top ten new restaurants of 2012 today and Decatur's Cakes & Ale edged in at the number ten spot. After Cakes & Ale opened in 2008, Bon Appetit included the restaurant in their top ten new restaurants of 2009 list. Now, after moving to a new location and adding a bakery that enlists the skills of chef David Sweeney for lunch and pastry chef Eric Wolitzky for baked goods, Bon Appetit has deemed the restaurant new enough to bestow the honor on the restaurant for a second time. Bill Addison agrees.
A few bites into the fried okra brimming out of a paper cone, I relaxed; the move to larger, tonier digs on the southeastern edge of Decatur Square had not unhinged Cakes & Ale's personality. Stubby little purple okra pods sheathed in crackly batter popped with the same playfulness I remembered from Septembers past. So did the menu’s only mainstay: arancini, two-bite spheres of fried risotto stuffed with melty sheep’s milk cheese.
ATL Food Chatter: September 20, 2011 (To receive the Chatter and other culinary tidbits directly in your inbox, sign up for our weekly dining newsletter) The recent move of Cakes & Ale, to a larger space on Decatur Square not far from its original home, has been met with relief: Despite the changes, the charms of popular neighborhood bistro’s remain in tact—and then some. Ed Seiber and Stacy Kirby of Seiber Design talk about the firm’s part in the creation of the new space:
Surrounded by the trappings of his trade—cheeses and cured meats, olives and mushrooms, clams and oysters—what is the item that really knocks the socks off Cakes & Ale chef Billy Allin? Chicory, that family of bitter greens including endive, frisee and radiccio.
“Two cubes?” asks Corina Darold, the bartender at Cakes & Ale in Decatur, before she pours my glass of Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-Year Family Reserve. I nod. Water unlocks the aromas and flavors of bourbon, but I particularly like the way slowly melting ice awakens the character of this unusually mature whiskey. Drinking it is like lingering over a world-class pastry chef’s ace creation: Apple and toffee scuffle for taste-bud space with sneaky spice and vanilla. A flash of orange peel shimmers through each sip’s afterglow.