Summer Afternoon at Hand in Hand

September 2, 2014 at 9:19 am , by Serina Patrick

Is it Tuesday yet? It was when LC, little T, and I happened to stop by this neighborhood Irish pub for lunch recently. Unaware of the Tuesday special, we were reviewing Hand in Hand’s menu of classic pub fare before our server told us about the $2 pub burger. Sold! But just to me and LC; his daughter chose a grilled chicken sandwich with an arugula salad instead.

The pub burger is a six ounce beef pattie on a Holeman and Finch bun, topped with lettuce, tomato, and crispy onions. That’s it. Sides are extra. We got one order of fries to share. Refreshment was in order in the Summer heat, so LC and I ordered Moscow mules made with ginger infused vodka.

Little T enjoyed her chicken sandwich but there was an issue with the arugula salad. Only greens, it was dressed with a sharply citrus vinaigrette. An unorthodox sprinkle of Splenda made it more palatable.

Our pub burgers were the perfect size, thick patties cooked medium by request. We both added cheese (extra charge), and considered bacon but decided to keep it simple. Crunchy fried onions added texture and flavor. Mayo on the side worked for the burgers and the fries.

Served on Hand in Hand’s charming patio, the Tuesday $2 pub burger is perfect for a mid-week burger fix…or a cheap date.

752 N. Highland Avenue 404-872-1001

A Proper Southern Lunch at Horseradish Grill

August 27, 2014 at 7:39 pm , by Serina Patrick

Seems as though most of my recent meals have been Southern, from fried chicken at Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons in Savannah to pulled pork at multiple barbecue joints around Atlanta. So I gladly accepted a recent lunch invitation from Jody Rosen of the Rosen Group, the PR company that represents Horseradish Grill.

My last visit was a very pleasant evening with LC and another couple. We sat at the bar and shared the restaurant’s signature shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and a big juicy pork chop.

Although I enjoyed all of those dishes, I wanted to be adventurous and explore the menu. Jody recommended the North Carolina style pulled pork served on a crispy corn cake, which he’d been served in miniature at a recent event. Topped with cole slaw and drizzled with barbecue sauce, this hefty appetizer could easily make a hearty lunch.

We sipped our iced teas while chatting about the historic significance of the building that is now the Horseradish Grill. Located across from the North Fulton Golf Course at Chastain Park, it once served as a general store for hungry golfers. Eventually a dining room was opened under the direction of Bill Daly, who furnished the restaurant in the style of a horse stable, with rustic wood beams and traditional equestrian decor.

Steve Alterman purchased the property in 1995, renaming it Horseradish Grill. One of the opening chefs was Dave Berry, a born and bred Southerner who was named executive chef two years later, consistently delivering authentic Southern flavors to the delight of diners, until his departure some years later.

Jody and I decided to share two very different dishes; a lunchtime favorite, the pimento cheese chicken club sandwich and their signature HRG blackened redfish entree. Earthy shiitake mushrooms and grilled asparagus complimented the expertly prepared and seasoned fish, served atop rich, creamy Carolina rice grits. An amazing grainy mustard cream sauce was generously spooned on top adding depth and a bit more decadence.

But that was light compared to the quadruple decker pimento cheese chicken club, a massive stack of deliciousness including tart fried green tomatoes, zesty housemade pimento cheese, grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon and arugula on griddled sourdough. The fries weren’t as crispy as I like, but that’s just nitpicking next to a sandwich that manages to be crispy, melty, and chewy all at the same time.

As we worked on our entrees, owner Steve Alterman came by to say hello and practically insisted we have dessert. We finally agreed to a half serving of their famous Kentucky oatmeal spice cake with housemade caramel ice cream, fresh whipped cream and berries. The warm, moist cake had a crispy exterior with bits of chewy coconut. Amazing.

Horseradish Grill remains the oldest continually operational restaurant in Atanta. The menu has undergone subtle changes over the years, however recently, longtime patrons may have noticed some old favorites have returned, brought back by former chef Berry who is once again heading the kitchen at this neighborhood institution.

4320 Powers Ferry Road NW 404-255-7277

Gypsy Kitchen Opens in October

August 25, 2014 at 4:48 pm , by Serina Patrick

News from Amy at Melissa Libby & Associates:


GYPSY KITCHEN BRINGS SPANISH FLAIR TO BUCKHEAD

Southern Proper Hospitality Announces Opening in Buckhead Atlanta Development

Atlantans will take a culinary journey through the different cultures and flavors of Spain at Gypsy Kitchen, opening in October in the much-anticipated Buckhead Atlanta. The latest concept from Southern Proper Hospitality (which also owns and operates Smokebelly BBQ, The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill, Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails and Osteria Cibo Rustico) promises to bring Atlanta a unique, Spanish-style dining experience.

A creative culinary tribute to the diverse regions and cuisine of Spain, the Gypsy Kitchen menu features a variety of shareable snacks (picas), small plates (platos pequeños) and larger entrees (raciones) for communal-style meals. The menu from executive chef Randy Lewis, named “10 Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine in 2001, takes influences from the many different regions of the country.

“The menu is very eclectic,” explains Lewis. “We’ll be using both classic and modern techniques in the kitchen, and there will be the traditional, shareable Spanish dishes like cheeses, Marcona almonds, charcuterie and grilled breads with smashed tomatoes. We’ll also have many larger dishes—whole fish and pork shoulder. While the menu draws inspiration from the culinary riches of Spain, it is also infused with some Moroccan and Indian flavors as well.”

Just like the menu, the atmosphere of the restaurant is vibrant, with an expansive indoor and outdoor space on the second story of the Buckhead Atlanta development. Designed by New York-based architecture firm Lacina Heitler, the design takes inspiration from a rich, colorful Baroque style with hints of copper and a large, custom bull sculpture as a focal point in the restaurant. The spacious patio overlooks Peachtree Road and will play host to live Spanish guitar and Flamenco music several nights a week.

A robust bar program completes the Spanish concept. General manager Garron Gore assures patrons plenty of innovative cocktails that play off indigenous Spanish ingredients including spices like smoked paprika, cloves and saffron-infused gin made in-house.

The wine list will focus completely on Old World wines, and the beers will feature mostly foreign labels along with domestic craft beers that have surprising, herbal qualities to them.

“Spain is one of the most exciting places from a culinary standpoint, and also from a lifestyle standpoint,” explains Chris Hadermann, co-owner of Gypsy Kitchen and principal of Southern Proper. “So to bring that to Atlanta and be able to celebrate the Spanish culture and food is something we are really excited about.”

3035 Peachtree Road

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Southbound Debuts in Chamblee

August 23, 2014 at 6:15 pm , by Serina Patrick

After more than a year of renovations, Dennis Lange’s highly anticipated restaurant, Southbound, opened in Chamblee in June. He began with lunch service, working his way up to dinner. Still without a liquor license, it didn’t seem to be affecting business when LC and I were invited to visit on a bustling Saturday night.

Tucked away among the antique shops in a 130 year old building, Southbound is visually stunning with impossibly high ceilings and original distressed brick. A dramatic white tufted banquette runs the length of the dining room adding a fresh, bright element. Metal chairs and light fixtures made of repurposed butter tubs create a rustic farmhouse atmosphere. Guests are invited to hang out at the thick concrete bar that will likely be the most crowded place in the neighborhood once the spirits start pouring. Luckily, the heady aroma of the wood-fired grill was intoxicating enough.

Our brief visit to the bar resulted in a glass of champagne for me and an uncharacteristic beer for LC, which we took to our table upstairs, a cavernous room that can easily double as an event space, with its own restrooms and bar.

We started with two selections from the small plates section of the menu, wood grilled octopus and mushroom toast. Both dishes were earthy, but we preferred the octopus, its firm meat paired with smoked potatoes, creme fraiche and tart diced green tomatoes.

Although not on the menu this evening, Dennis personally delivered a plate of crispy fried green tomatoes, simply adorned with goat cheese, sunflower sprouts, and a little pineapple habanero jam. Having grown up in the South, I adore fried green tomatoes, especially when their natural tartness is showcased rather than drenched in sauces and toppings. Bravo!

We chose two entrees to share, pan roasted grouper and smoked short rib. The grouper wasn’t nearly as impressive as the short rib, served Flintstones style with its smoky meat falling off the massive bone. Mustard greens and housemade herb spaetzle completed the comfort food appeal of this hearty dish. The fish was more sublime in a mushroom broth with sherry vinegar, toasted garlic, kale, and potatoes.

Despite our large meal, it wasn’t a question of whether we would indulge in dessert, but rather which one to try. Our server recommended a Southern inspired ice cream made with tangy buttermilk and pieces of sweet cornbread muffins folded in. Texturally surprising with whole kernels of corn here and there, this dessert ranks among my favorites in recent memory.

Southbound celebrates its Southern roots with savory farm-fresh dishes, and brings charm and elegance to this once-forgotten neighborhood.

5394 Peachtree Road 678-580-5579

Cooks & Soldiers to Open This Fall

August 19, 2014 at 10:54 pm , by Serina Patrick

A tasty morsel from Lacey at The Reynolds Group:

Cooks & Soldiers to Open in West Midtown

Castellucci Hospitality Group Announces the Opening of New, Basque-Inspired Concept

Castellucci Hospitality Group’s latest concept, Cooks & Soldiers, will open on Atlanta’s Westside this fall. Drawing inspiration from the Basque regions of Spain and France, the restaurant will offer guests a modern approach to the rustic cooking style of southwestern Europe.

“We’re thrilled to introduce the city to the undiscovered and vibrant flavors of Basque country,” said Federico Castellucci III, president of CHG. “As a flourishing and trendsetting neighborhood, West Midtown is the ideal spot for Cooks & Soldiers, where the cuisine will amplify the diverse mix of existing restaurant concepts.”

Located at the base of the new Elan Westside luxury apartment development, Cooks & Soldiers will focus on the signature cooking methods of the Basque coast, a culture robust with gastronomic societies and some of the world’s best restaurants. The menu will feature traditional pintxos, tapas-like snacks served on toasted bread; raciones featuring large shareable plates; asador including a variety of wood-grilled fish, meats and vegetables; and postres, a selection of unique and modern desserts, a contrast to the rustic, savory fare.

Dish highlights include queso de cabra pintxo with roasted tomatoes, green pepper, shallot jam and candied pistachios; Spanish octopus served with charcoal potatoes, rosemary and piquillo emulsion; chuleta featuring wood grilled bone-in ribeye served with quince membrillo and green salad; and tuna marmitako “hot pot” featuring seared ahi tuna, Iberico broth, potato and charred onion.

Behind the bar, Cooks & Soldiers will offer guests an extensive list of Basque wines and ciders in addition to craft beer and signature cocktails. The dessert menu will include regional specialties like goats milk gelato served with Amaro, frozen berries and cotton candy; and Basque cake with a rum pastry cream filling, white and red wine poached apples, goat cheese and pine nut brittle.

Executive chef Landon Thompson, previously chef de cuisine at The Iberian Pig, will lead the kitchen at Cooks & Soldiers. In 2013, Thompson traveled to San Sebastián, Spain, with Federico while John Castellucci, sous chef of Cooks & Soldiers, worked at three Michelin-starred Arzak, providing a true emersion into the Basque cooking style.

The restaurant’s name draws inspiration from the annual Tamborrada festival in San Sebastián. Also known as the “feast of Saint Sebastián,” Tamborrada happens each year on January 20 when parades of drum corps, dressed as cooks and soldiers, march across the city in honor of the patron saint of Donostia.

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International Snacks at Fado

August 15, 2014 at 10:43 am , by Serina Patrick

This year our annual Atlanta Food Blogger Society meeting was held at the library in Buckhead, conveniently located next door to Fado, the celebrated Irish pub.

Although the main area downstairs is furnished with authentic vintage pieces brought over from Ireland, guests that ascend the stairs will find a cozy rooftop deck with hightops and modern sofas for lounging.

It was a pleasant spot to unwind and grab a snack with fellow food writers Erica of Eating with Erica, Jessica of Good Eats Mundial, and our fearless leader Denise, who is the mastermind behind We Like 2 Cook, and makes a mean jalapeno jam. Of course, Guinness is popular at any Irish pub, but I opted for a refreshing Stella Artois from Belgium.

Although Fado serves traditional Irish favorites like fish and chips, its menu also features a variety of American pub fare and ethnically inspired dishes. There is a section devoted to chips (fries) smothered in tasty toppings like the ones Jessica and I shared with chicken curry. Unfortunately, the fries were not crispy, and the saucy curry only served to make them more limp. Limp is never good.

Denise and Erica raved about their order of smoked salmon bites. Served with the traditional accompaniments of capers, diced onions, and a light horseradish sauce, it was the crisp potato “boxty” blinis beneath the salmon that made this dish a standout.

We also tried the mini Greek tacos filled with spiced lamb, tomato pico, greens, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce. I devoured two of the three tacos and found them delicious, however, I concluded the lamb was spiced with about fifty cloves of garlic. I was left with a serious case of garlic breath that would have paralyzed any fool in my path.

The bread pudding Denise and I planned to share never materialized, but another Stella did as we chatted about…you guessed it…food!

273 Buckhead Avenue NE 404-841-0066

Smokebelly…Craft Barbecue in Buckhead

August 12, 2014 at 8:03 pm , by Serina Patrick

LC and I were recently invited to try Smokebelly, the new barbecue restaurant in Buckhead that features a selection of smoked and roasted meats paired with tempting sides and craft cocktails. Our friends TH and D joined us.

The fellas behind Smokebelly were all born and raised in the South and are involved with several successful restaurants and businesses in and around Atlanta including Tin Lizzy’s, The Big Ketch, Milton’s Cuisine, and The Furbus. Here, they combined rustic wood elements with colorful metal chairs for a casual country atmosphere. There’s a big front porch where guests can relax and enjoy an ice cold beer and entertainment on the weekends.

We began our visit with cocktails, a Paloma for me and a drink made with vodka and watermelon juice for LC called From the Vine. It was so delicious, we all ordered one later.

Our fantastic server, Tyler, came by to get us started on a complimentary round of appetizers. We decided on the fried pickled okra and pimento cheese. Although the spread comes with thick and crispy housemade crackers, I was craving it on their chiccarones, the way they served it at a recent charity event. The combination is heavenly. We also tried some mighty fine deviled eggs.

Unlike most traditional barbecue restaurants, Smokebelly offers a variety of healthier options called “skinny fixin’s” like lettuce wraps with vegetables or smoked turkey. I applaud this approach and look forward to trying these lighter dishes, but on this particular evening, I would be eating meat, and lots of it.

But not LC. He ordered the BBQ glazed salmon for his entree with bourbon sweet potato souffle and sweet corn and edamame succotash on the side. He was, and I quote “enthralled by the succulent taste of the fishy wow wow!”

The rest of us decided to share the Pit Masters’ Platter, an assortment of meats with two sides. Since D and I were craving pulled pork, we got two servings of it, along with smoked sausage and chopped brisket. We chose mac ‘n’ cheese and smoky braised kale for our sides and also dug into LC’s sides while he was distracted by his salmon.

The Pit Masters’ Platter was a gigantic metal tray piled high with our meaty selections. Pulled pork and smoked sausage were tasty, but the sauce on the chopped brisket stole the show. My favorite side was the smoky braised kale, but my friends loved the corn and edamame succotash.

For dessert, I was outvoted, so we tried the Coca-Cola cake. Since I dislike cake and Coke, I didn’t think it stood a chance. The result, however, was moist with a hint of spice.

We really enjoyed our visit to Smokebelly and look forward to coming back for some live music and more chef-crafted ‘cue!

128 E. Andrews Drive NW 404-848-9100

Lady and Sons…a Savannah Institution

August 9, 2014 at 4:03 pm , by Serina Patrick

Ya’ll know Southern food ain’t my thang, but when I was invited to have lunch at Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons in Savannah, I couldn’t say no.

The restaurant is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the heart of the city, surrounded by historic squares with live oaks draped in Spanish moss. A gift shop provides a clever gateway to the restaurant, where guests can wait several hours to be seated. But not us, no ma’am, we were whisked up the stairs and seated like royalty! (Turns out our host works for the lady.)

The decor is old-timey Southern charm in shades of vintage pink with white paper doilies for placemats. Our server delivered garlicky biscuits and greasy hoe cakes to our table as we ordered drinks. Meanwhile, guests enjoyed their sweet tea and took turns at the buffet. Now, you know I hate the very thought of a buffet. I considered ordering off the menu, perhaps a bowl of seafood gumbo? But all five of my tablemates, including LC, were already returning from the buffet carrying plates piled high with scattered, smothered, and fried Southern favorites.

Since we were short on time, I joined the crowd at the buffet. Although there was a baked option that LC tried, I felt like it just wasn’t right if I didn’t get fried chicken. I chose collard greens, candied yams, and macaroni and cheese for my sides. I skipped the black-eyed peas, cole slaw, baked beans, mashed potatoes, fried okra, and a few other indistinguishable items.

Beneath the chicken’s thick, crunchy crust, the meat was juicy and tender. My favorite side was the vinegary collards flavored with delicious chunks of ham hock, followed by the sugary yams, although I wish they both had been hotter. The lack of heat caused the macaroni and cheese to coagulate, making the texture clumpy rather than creamy. While others returned for second helpings, I finished my plate, pleased with my restraint.

Our server replenished our teas, then came by with a tray of desserts to choose from…banana pudding, peach cobbler, and Deen’s signature toffee gooey butter cake. LC and I took one of each to taste. I loathe banana pudding (I mean puddin’), and merely dislike cobblers and cakes, so I took a bite of the cobbler first and found it appropriately doughy. The simple slice of cake, thankfully without frosting, was the best of the three.

The Lady and Sons is exactly what a Southern buffet is supposed to be…fried with lard, drenched in butter, covered with gravy, and prepared with love, ya’ll.

102 W. Congress Street 912-233-2600

Parish Debuts New Look & Menu

August 6, 2014 at 10:23 am , by Serina Patrick

Exciting news from Hannah at Concentrics:

Inman Park Welcomes The Brasserie & Neighborhood Café at Parish

An exciting re-launch of menu, design, and concept under Chef Zeb Stevenson

Inman Park’s beloved, BeltLine go-to destination has evolved with a new presence, taste, and feel. Led by acclaimed Chef Zeb Stevenson (formerly of Livingston, Proof and Provision), he explains “my goal is simple…to provide inspired familiar food, inventive beverage and warm hospitality to both our immediate neighborhood and to all of Atlanta.”

The largest change lies in the restaurant…now known as The Brasserie at Parish. By definition, a brasserie is an unpretentious restaurant, tavern, or the like that serves drinks and simple, hearty food. With Snacks, Small Plates, a Raw Bar, Meat/Fish/Fowl and Sides, Chef Stevenson’s new menu will strive to support the local community and, most importantly, remain true to a classic “American” brasserie definition with dishes that exude comfort throughout.

Soon to be signatures include Goat Cheese and Beet Jam on Toast, Sourdough Gnocchi with porcini, crimini, kale pesto and candied lemon, Pistachio Sausage with dijon potato salad, vinegar onions, Pressed Pork Shoulder with butter-braised vegetables, peaches and mustard and a Porcini-Scented Bread Pudding. The restaurant’s design received a new look with marble white top tables, Bentwood chairs, luxe leather banquettes and brasserie accents.

The Neighborhood Café at Parish (formerly the Market) will continue to offer breakfast, lunch and lively wine events 7 days a week. Patrons of PARISH, both old and new, will revel in the new aesthetic and menu.

240 N. Highland Avenue 404-681-4434

Pacci at The Brice in Savannah

August 4, 2014 at 12:05 pm , by Serina Patrick

My recent whirlwind trip to Savannah began with a dinner meeting at the new boutique hotel, The Brice. Located just a block from River Street, the Kimpton property has been meticulously renovated in shades of gray and white, with modern furnishings and splashes of primary color.

The restaurant, Pacci, is casual gourmet Italian, with blond wood tables topped with plaid runners sitting on an intricately tiled floor. It proved itself as the place to be seen in Savannah as we ran into Jamie Deen, Paula’s son, before being seated.

After our drive from Atlanta, a glass of prosecco was in order. It was late and our cohorts had already been fed, but the four of us were ravenous. LC and his colleague KB and her boyfriend decided I should order appetizers for the table since I’m some sort of food expert, so I chose the porchetta crostini and Georgia flatbread to share.

Slow roasted herbed pork shoulder was served on toasted bread, then garnished with balsamic cipollini relish for a tasty start to our meal. Moments later, our server delivered the crispy flatbread, simply topped with vidalia onion, olive oil, and fresh ricotta. The flavor of the charred crust was the perfect compliment to the sublime cheese and sweet onions. Crazy good!

For entrees, LC ordered a half plate of the gemelli caserecce pasta with market vegetables, fresh parmesan, and Georgia shrimp because he knew I couldn’t resist the blueberry duck. Cooked medium-rare, the succulent breast was sliced and served with cauliflower puree, haricot vert, and a brandy blueberry reduction with a hint of sweetness. His pasta was delicious as well, with a generous portion of shrimp tossed in a light cream sauce.

Never ones to skip dessert, we ordered a traditional Italian tiramisu with forks for everyone. Then LC and I headed upstairs to our spacious room…I only wish we could have stayed longer!

The next morning we visited Pacci again for breakfast. We were in a hurry so we shared a panini stuffed with eggs, bacon, cheese and a flavorful roasted red pepper sauce and a bowl of berries and melon, intentionally eating light because in a few short hours we would be having lunch at The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen’s famous Southern buffet.

601 East Bay Street, Savannah 912-238-1200

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