May 14, 2013 at 7:15 pm , by Serina Patrick
This may be hard to believe. Despite its location five minutes down the street from my condo and the positive media attention since it’s opening eight years ago, I had never visted P’cheen until last weekend. It was already on top of my short list when friend BB, owner of There Brookhaven, stopped by my office with their revamped menu and some gluttonous gossip. Armed with this titillating information, I couldn’t put off a visit another day, so I talked LC into giving it a try that very night.
Having never visited the former incarnation of P’cheen, I can’t compare the decor before and after, but the space was casual and funky, with bamboo shades and copper trimmings adding warmth. Music was too loud initially, although our late arrival (around 9:30pm) would indicate that most folks have finished dining and have turned to drinking in many establishments….but not here, and not us.
Now for the gossip. Jeff Myers, formerly partner at Top Flr and still sharing ownership of Sound Table with fellow DJ Karl Injex, was expediting dishes alongside owner Keiran Neely. Coupled with the dining room makeover which Myers completed almost overnight on a $500 budget, one might conclude some sort of partnership had been arranged, but again, it’s only gossip.
We debated briefly over sitting outside where it was chilly, or indoors where it was loud, finally deciding on a table inside where we promptly ordered drinks. LC will often try a cocktail from the specialty list, this time ordering a black tea infused moonshine with lemon. I ordered an inexpensive glass of bubbly, but later switched to LC’s impressive selection, a new cocktail developed by Nate Shuman of Proof and Provision.
Moving on to the gluttony. P’cheen’s new menu is designed for sharing, with a variety of small plates that run the gamut from frog legs to turtle soup. Although I recommended we order only four dishes, it was impossible to narrow it down to so few, especially since LC threw in the Thai grilled chicken wings as our server was walking off. No surprise there.
BB had recommended the grilled octopus but it unfortunately didn’t make the cut. Instead we ordered the coconut curried mussels, baked jumbo lump crab mac ‘n’ cheese, potted duck confit (I insisted), Malaysian steak, sorghum glazed baby carrots, and the previously mentioned wings.
I was hoping a couple of dishes would arrive first, then perhaps a couple more, but everything came out almost at once, covering the surface of our tiny two-top. Coconut curried mussels were reminiscent of chef Devereux’ version at Top Flr, although not as spicy. Malaysian steak was in fact a salad, much like the beef salad I’ve ordered at Surin for years. Baby lettuces, cucumber, shaved onion, and cilantro were topped with a generous portion of thinly sliced steak, cooked medium.
Who can resist baked mac ‘n’ cheese? Neither of us, apparently. I loved the crispy edges of elbow noodles and cheese, finding the subtle bits of crab when I dug deeper into the cheesy goodness. I also can’t resist duck confit. P’cheen serves the pulled meat in a bit of light broth in a tiny Mason jar. Thick slices of grilled sourdough provided the crunchy vehicle for the duck, perfectly paired with a sweet and sour cherry chutney.
The Thai grilled chicken wings, a surviving dish from the original menu, were glazed with a spicy sauce then charred until crisp. LC would have been happy with a dozen of these and nothing else, except maybe the moonshine. However, it was his idea to order the carrots…we needed a veggie, right? Whole baby carrots in every shade of orange, yellow, and even purple, turned out to be one of my favorite dishes of the evening.
As we were licking the remnants from each plate, we noticed a bicycle parade passing in front of the restaurant, some riders with brightly colored afro wigs bobbing as they passed. Our car would not be retrievable from valet just yet (yes, thankfully there is valet!), so we ordered a couple of shots of moonshine, this time choosing vanilla bean infused. Smooth dessert.
Myers was spinning at the DJ booth in the back as we left, waving goodbye to him and the new and improved P’cheen.
701-5 Highland Avenue 404-529-8800
May 10, 2013 at 6:46 pm , by Serina Patrick
Tucked into the alleyway between Cosabella and Tootsies, Drew Van Leuvan’s new restaurant in the Shops Around Lenox is truly a hidden gem. DC chose Seven Lamps for our Atlanta Eats writers meeting, and of course, to eat, drink, and socialize.
When I arrived, he was seated at the communal table chatting with two contributing bloggers, one of whom was enjoying a cocktail with a salted rim. It turned out to be a Paloma made with tequila, grapefruit, and soda. Moments later I was sipping my own Paloma…tasty but certainly not enough alcohol to warrant it’s $10 pricetag.
Although there are only five actual lamps on the exposed brick wall and four naked bulbs over the communal table, they provided the kind of warm amber lighting that makes everyone look pretty. The dining room is dressed in cool shades of gray against thick repurposed wood tables and schoolroom chairs. Shiny white subway tiles provide a clean backdrop for the staff working in the open kitchen next to shelves of put-ups like pickled fiddlehead ferns.
L and J were already having some cheeses with accompaniments, including L’s favorite pistachio macaroons filled with mortadella mousse. Apparently, they make one want to go topless, so perhaps I’ll get some to go on my next visit.
KR, who is already a Seven Lamps regular, arrived as I was pondering what I might put in my mouth. I decided on a small plate of savory crepes filled with wood grilled Tuscan kale and vidalia onion, then sliced and baked with a gruyere gratin in an iron skillet. The decadent dish was finished with a smoked vinaigrette. Loved it! Another cocktail was in order as we discussed why some folks think all we do is drink and eat, this time a “fizzy lifting drink” made with Bacardi Superior, fresh lime, black peppercorn syrup, then carbonated while shaken. Again, delicious but not enough liquor.
A selection of four handmade pastas, each offered in two sizes, included the alluring black linguine with braised rabbit legs, in a white bolognese sauce. I ordered the small plate for $10. The wonderful toothsome quality of the pasta, colored black with squid ink, was the perfect match to the succulent pulled rabbit meat and sinfully rich sauce. It was the very definition of comfort food…one of the best dishes I’ve eaten in recent memory.
Van Leuvan’s menu evolves with the seasons, and is tweaked daily reflecting the fresh ingredients available at the farmer’s markets. Among a table of food writers, there was not a single complaint, which is a strong indication that Seven Lamps will continue to shine brightly.
3400 Around Lenox Road #217 404-467-8950
May 6, 2013 at 8:47 pm , by Serina Patrick
The Kentucky Derby, with its BBQ, big hats, and bettin’, has become a tradition for me and LC. It’s pointless to photograph and write about the horrific food available in the stands at the event itself, (although I am still nibbling on the leftover kettle korn as I write this) nor the enormous grilled crab legs at Sandy’s annual shindig.
But I will tell you about Bob Evans. Although I’m familiar with Bob Evans products, primarily sausage, I had no idea there were restaurants. In fact, there are nearly 600 in the U.S., located throughout the midwest and south.
On the morning of our drive back to Atlanta, LC admitted Bob Evans was one of his favorites during his college years as we pulled into the parking lot, ready to fuel up on a good ol’ Southern breakfast. Our Derby hostess TH and her man D joined us before she headed north on business. The restaurant’s sunny yellow decor was inviting on this rainy morning as we chose a booth just before the crowds arrived.
I strayed from my boring scrambed eggs and ordered them over easy with bacon, fruit instead of potatoes, and wheat toast. However, I neglected to request the toast dark, receiving warm buttered bread in its place (see photo). I’m always baffled when restaurants serve toast that isn’t toasted. The second attempt was much better, although I had asked for dry toast and it was buttered.
No matter, the bacon was chewy, the yolks were runny and we were all set for our six hour drive!
May 5, 2013 at 10:05 am , by Serina Patrick
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Instead of making guacamole today, I’ll be driving back from the Kentucky Derby. So make a big batch for me, here’s how:
OK, this is the real deal. I got this recipe from an old Mexican cleaning lady 20 years ago and have made it according to her standards ever since. Perhaps she prepares it with loving care in a traditional molcajete, a lava rock mortar and pestle. I make mine in my traditional Pillsbury Doughboy bowl!
(Note: the photo of ingredients includes a Corona Light. This ingredient is not mandatory, however, I find that it helps the culinary process. You may substitute a shot of Herradura Silver if you prefer.)
3 ripe avocadoes
1/2 white onion (I use Vidalias)
1 large tomato, peeled
Split the avocadoes and scoop them out into a medium bowl. To keep the guacamole chunky I use the spoon to coarsely cut up the avocadoes just a bit. Very small dice the onion by first cutting it in half, then making 1/8″ cuts in both directions (like a checkerboard pattern). Slice it across the pre-made cuts to make tiny diced pieces. Use the same method for the jalapeno, being careful not to touch the pepper and then your eyes (or other sensitive areas)! Chop a shitload of cilantro to taste. Rest the tomato in hot water to ease peeling, then peel, seed, dice and add to bowl. Add the juice of half a lime. Fold all the ingredients together and salt to taste. Refrigerate for up to 8 hours, completely covered in plastic to avoid oxidation.
Is that f*ckin’ delicious or what? Buy restaurant chips and salsa to serve with it….my new favorite is Uncle Julios.
Sure, there are a couple of acceptable variations but authentic quacamole contains no sour cream, no garlic, no mayonaise. Mayonaise is a French sauce like bearnaisse….not invented in a trailor park in Mississippi as you may have suspected. Mexicans do not use French sauces. There was no sour cream in Mexico in the 1700′s.
Just use the real ingredients above and you will have quacamole as good as what I had in Playa del Carmen a few years ago…..Ole’!
May 3, 2013 at 11:01 am , by Serina Patrick
They are opening a restaurant! Go to Kickstarter to help them raise the funds for their new venture.
Quite some time ago, I signed up for email alerts from PushStart Kitchen. Chef Zach Meloy and his wife Cristina create intimate dinner parties in a rustic space at The Goat Farm two or three evenings a week. Each menu is unique, featuring veggies one week, Latin flavors the next, or a mad combo of both.
The menu sent out last week was particularly intriguing, with words like bacon and coffee catching my attention. I responded, albeit not right away, only to find out the dinner for Sunday was fully booked. However, a few days later I received a last minute email from Cristina saying there had been a cancellation. Were we still interested? Indeed!
LC joined me on our first visit to the art complex on the West side known as The Goat Farm. Upon arrival, we were met in the parking lot and escorted to the space upstairs where Zach was preparing an appetizer of smoked ham on a stick, dotted with BBQ sauce, and mixing some sweet yet deceptively strong rum cocktails with black tea and ginger.
We mingled with our fellow diners to discover most of them had attended PushStart several times, each one raving about the intimate dining experience and the amazing food. After a couple of cocktails, we were seated at the 100 year old table, a thickly varnished repurposed door, set for sixteen guests.
Inspired by his cravings when hungover, chef Meloy started us off with chewy yet crispy hunter’s bacon lardon. It was paired with neat squares of dense and creamy bread pudding, arugula, and slices of pickled Asian pear, all resting on a generous drizzle of smoked maple syrup. Manchego cheese had been made into a foam which was piped onto each plate. Each component was presented somewhat individually, representing a variety of textures and flavors. An oaky chardonnay was a tricky pairing (perhaps only because I dislike chardonnay). The chatter at the table suddenly ceased as we all became mesmerized by our perfectly balanced plates.
Meloy’s main course was a flank steak served with a soft cooked egg made in his countertop sous vide machine. Introducing familiar Latin flavors, a heavy smudge of black bean puree decorated the plate, along with pickled tomatillo halves and small orbs of crispy masa. He paced around the table as we broke our eggs, anxious to confirm that the yolks remained soft. Success! The tartness of the pickled tomatillos and the earthy corn flavor of the masa once again showed the chef’s ability to compose a perfectly balanced plate. A spicy, earthy cab was an excellent pairing.
Dessert was served in large white bowls, two doughnuts sprinkled with sugar mixed with a bit of ancho chili powder for a surprising but pleasant kick. A mound of malted milk balls were beneath them, all atop a drizzle of bourbon gel. They would have been excellent just like that, but the chef’s assistant came around with a pitcher of cold coffee custard that she elegantly poured into each bowl, completing the dish. Ridiculously awesome. How about some champagne with that? Yes, please.
The finale was a strong after dinner cordial and a dish of chewy candies made by Cristina, who was busy caring for their new baby.
Naturally, discussion at the table centered around food, and as a food writer, my fellow diners were eager to know how I rated this meal. To be honest, it was exquisite, definitely in my top ten meals of all time. And for a mere $60 suggested donation per diner, a bargain as well.
Like Dinner Party Atlanta which morphed into a full-blown restaurant, The Lawrence, and Spice Route that became the brick-and-mortar Cardamom Hill, the Meloys are on the hunt for a space, hoping to turn PushStart Kitchen into the restaurant of their dreams. But for now, it’s one dinner at a time.
The Goat Farm is located at 1200 Foster Street NW
May 1, 2013 at 10:09 am , by Serina Patrick
Brunch used to be a regular thang, but these days it’s a rare luxury. Lately, I’ve been longing for the Sundays of years gone by…the plates of rich eggs benedict drenched with hollandaise sauce, and the extra-thick bacon that I’m too lazy to fry at home.
So I vowed to do brunch more often this Spring and Summer, starting with La Tavola. It’s so close to my place and I had a coupon for a free brunch entree so LC and I stopped by on our way to the final round of a golf tournament.
We arrived before 12:30pm, the designated time that the church says it’s OK to drink in restaurants, so LC ordered a bottle of sparkling water and some orange slices, creating a refreshing, fizzy non-alcoholic cocktail. Knowing we had BBQ awaiting us for lunch, he wanted to keep it light, simply ordering two fried eggs with applewood-smoked bacon, polenta, and fresh fruit.
Their fried egg panino with fontina was certainly tempting but as I mentioned, eggs benedict was always a favorite, so the poached eggs bruschetta was an obvious choice. An Italian rendition of the American brunch classic, La Tavola’s bruschetta was made with a thick slice of toasted artisan bread topped with sauteed Swiss chard and two perfectly poached eggs, generously covered with parmigiana-basil fonduta, a creamy cheese sauce. A crispy pinwheel of pancetta decorated the top. Perhaps by chance, perhaps by design, the dish reflected the colors of the Italian flag, green, white, and red.
My bruschetta was difficult to cut. A sharper knife would have probably helped. Otherwise, the flavors were terrific, just wish the pancetta was more prominent…and less crispy. LC’s portion was rather skimpy, although I was impressed with the mixture of blood orange slices and strawberries in his fruit cup.
Not a fan of Italian food, I was pleased with the lack of tomato in the dishes we chose, although a small selection of pastas, including spaghetti with tomato sauce and veal meatballs, is available for the those craving a more traditional Italian meal.
992 Virginia Avenue 404-873-5430
April 28, 2013 at 9:46 am , by Serina Patrick
When Atlanta Eats approached my friend BB to shoot a segment at his restaurant There Brookhaven, he was pretty excited. It was scheduled for lunch so my friend and colleague MC joined me for his nearly famous bison burger.
We arrived as the film crew was setting up, interviewing BB who is always good for a shocking tale involving the FBI and/or multiple celebrities. Mutual restaurant industry friends arrived as MC and I were relaxing with inappropriate lunchtime beverages, red wine and Corona Light.
Although it doesn’t say so on the menu, the bison burger is a double stack, with melted white cheddar in between. As a smallish chick, I’d prefer just one patty, or at least the option. Roasted poblano pepper, avocado, red onion, and spicy mayo come standard on this hefty sandwich, served with crispy fries seasoned with garlic and rosemary, or plain if you will be having any conversations with anyone the remainder of the day. I chose the latter, of course.
What you’ll need to eat this burger: fifty napkins and the ability to unhinge your jaw. It’s tall. It’s messy. Juice will run down your chin. Mara Davis, providing a little feminine counterpart to sportsguy Steak Shapiro, came over to our table to interview us for the show, both of us wiping our chins of meaty juices and green smudges of avocado. If you are like us, you’ll also need another drink.
The roasted poblano is a smoky contrast to the creamy, sublime avocado, with a surprisingly spicy afterburn. Both bison patties were cooked medium, to order, and served on a dreamily soft sesame seed bun. No surprise, BB’s bison burger is considered one of Atlanta’s best!
Watch for the episode featuring There Brookhaven on Atlanta Eats Season 2!
305 Brookhaven Avenue NE 404-949-9677
April 22, 2013 at 8:25 am , by Serina Patrick
Asian Concept Provides Healthy Options to Busy Atlanta Intersection
The burgeoning Pencil Factory Flats & Shops is pleased to announce the opening of Chow Bing, a fast-casual Asian concept featuring natural, sustainable and primarily gluten-free options. Proprietor Gary Lin is already known for his popular Asian concepts “R Rice” located in Sandy Springs and “Papa Chow” on Camp Creek Parkway.
“Chow Bing is an ideal addition to a perfect tenant mix at the Pencil Factory”, says Aaron Goldman, President of Perennial Properties, the Pencil Factory’s developer. “This rapidly expanding community plays hosts to thousands of commuters, students and residents that will undoubtedly thrive off of this healthy, fast and economical option”.
Chow Bing offers signature or build your own “Bing (burrito) or Bowl” options featuring premium proteins, vegetables and sauces from $8.00 and below. Sides (lobster philly wontons, sesame fries) and soups and salads will also be available ranging from $2.25-$4.50. Chow Bing will also offer a first come, first serve daily Blue Plate special such as the half chicken (fried or baked) served with rice, boiled tea egg, pickled radish and broccoli for $8.75.
A native of Fujian, China, proprietor Gary Lin boasts an inspiring story. He arrived in New York City at the ripe age of 19 knowing no English. He began as a restaurant dishwasher and has never left the business. He views Chow Bing as his piece de resistance and is extremely excited to share “responsible Chinese food” with Atlanta.
Pencil Factory Flats & Shops, located at the historic intersection of Hill Street and Decatur Street, is fast becoming one of Intown Atlanta’s premier mixed use communities. Chow Bing is joining an array of businesses in the thriving Pencil Factory Lofts which offers complimentary hassle free parking.
349 Decatur Street 404-614-6199
April 17, 2013 at 9:48 am , by Serina Patrick
Over the last ten years I have probably driven to Helen, the faux Bavarian village in the North Georgia mountains, over fifty times, each trip passing a burger stand called Yonah Burger. As the years went by, the stand grew into a building, then expanded further to include a covered patio.
The place seemed to have somewhat of a cult following with regulars lining up to grab a sack full of hand-pattied burgers to go. And that’s what LC and I did on our way back to Atlanta last weekend. I was so excited to finally get a Yonah Burger, I eagerly stood in line, ordered two cheeseburgers at the window and waited. At only $4.45 each, they are quite a bargain. I didn’t order fries since they were the crinkle variety, which I loathe.
Each burger is cooked on their flat top and dressed to order, both of ours topped with bacon, shredded lettuce, and mayo. No aiolis or fancy toppings here, just good old-fashioned burgers like the ones you find at family cookouts….greasy, juicy, and full of flavor. It was worth the wait!
2051 Helen Highway, Cleveland 706-865-4791
April 16, 2013 at 9:49 am , by Serina Patrick
Much has changed since October 2012. Longtime upscale favorite Nacoochee Grill has closed and is being renovated to reopen soon. Doors and windows were boarded up at Old Heidelberg, home to my favorite tiny balcony overlooking the square. Word is the owner is wanted to attempted murder.
LC and I enjoyed our meal at Hogpen Gap Grill when it was brand new last Fall, although it was too chilly to sit outside. Now the training wheels are off, its spacious patio nearly full of patrons in the Springtime sun. With my Mom along for lunch, we chose a table ouside where I started off with an unfamiliar German beer called Weihenstephan, from the oldest brewery in Germany founded in 1040.
Hogpen Gap Grill specializes in organic beef burgers with a variety of fancy toppings. However, I was secretly planning to stop by Yonah Burger on our way home, a trick I’ve yet to accomplish in the many years I’ve traveled that route. So, I chose the bratwurst platter instead, which comes with the ubiquitous sauerkraut and potato salad on the side. LC surprised me with his order of fish ‘n’ chips, while my Mom didn’t surprise me at all, ordering the salad with grilled chicken.
Mom enjoyed her salad while LC inhaled his fish and fries. My bratwurst was appropriately browned in a skillet, consuming my attention to the extent that I didn’t even steal a fry from LC’s plate. The only disappointment is that the original menu offered a choice of sides including spaetzle and red cabbage, both of which I love when done properly. Now neither is available, just the standard sauerkraut and chunky potato salad that is not exactly German, but not entirely American either.
Service here is friendly and the food has been quite good on both visits, although my experience so far is limited to their German fare. I’m certain we’ll be seeing more of this patio in the months to come!
8735 N. Main Street 706-878-1822