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9. Binge on books

The annual book fest makes me so proud to be an Atlantan. A quarter of a million folks come together over Labor Day weekend for the AJC Decatur Book Festival to hear from renowned authors—and enjoy local musicians, craft beers, cooking demos, a children’s parade, poetry slams.

This Story May Contain Spoilers

The face—knitted brow, scrunched nose, curled lip, eye roll at the ready—is familiar to anyone who’s ever been, or been in the orbit of, a teenager. With elegant simplicity, it says one thing: You suck. Morgan Saylor is a pro at making the face.

Cakes & Ale’s Jordan Smelt talks (re)building a beverage program

After almost four years of working at Holeman & Finch mostly as a general manager, Jordan Smelt left Buckhead to come to Cakes & Ale in Decatur, where he took over the beverage program last June. Since his arrival, Cakes’ offerings have both expanded and become more focused, giving visitors the option of simple old world wines, craft cocktails, or specialty beers to accompany their meal.

Cupcakes meet Christmas at Sugar Moon Bake Shop

Amy Kiefer has always been comfortable in the kitchen, but she didn’t decide to make a living at baking until the organization she worked at faced budget cuts.

Eddie’s Attic Turns Twenty

Shut up and listen.

Cakes & Ale

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.

No. 246

I thought I'd stumbled onto a private party for the local food glitterati the first time I visited Decatur's No. 246 in July. It was the restaurant's inaugural Monday, six days after opening for business. The full house generated such a clamor that the noise bouncing off the white brick walls vibrated in my hands and feet as well as my ears. High-profile chefs like Kevin Rathbun and Empire State South’s Ryan Smith shouted happily, twirling pastas and sharing pizzas among wine distributors and off-duty managers and servers from other restaurants. What drew them—and the unremitting crowds that have shown up night after night since then—so immediately?

Watershed

Note: This location is now closed and has reopened in Buckhead as Watershed on Peachtree.

If we were to play a restaurant version of word association, what would come to mind if someone shouted "Decatur"? My instant response is "Watershed." It has stood solid for twelve years, becoming an anchor of the community as condo buildings materialized along West Ponce de Leon Avenue and Decatur’s dining scene found its burger-and-craft-beer-loving soul.

Drink Up: Pappy Knows Best

“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.

Discovery: Afghani flatbread at Alosta Bakery

If Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, coauthors of the extraordinary Flatbreads & Flavors, ever come to Atlanta, I want to take them straight to Nazifa Garib’s humble bakery. The hand-painted sign above the door and the improvised nature of the space would remind them of their fieldwork documenting traditional recipes from around the world. We would tear into large, flat rounds of simple bread just peeled from a freestanding tandoor and share a vivid and timeless moment.

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