Top Golf…Drivin’ ‘n’ Dining

September 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm , by Serina Patrick

In honor of the FedEx Cup taking place at Eastlake…

Sporting venues are rarely known for gourmet cuisine. Top Golf aims to change that with an extensive menu of craveable appetizers, artisan sandwiches, and upscale bar food.

(Aug. 2, 2014) We recently visited Top Golf’s first southeast location in Alpharetta. It’s a sprawling three level facility, with a full bar and restaurant downstairs, a bar with patio seating upstairs, and full service at each of the 100 bays. LC’s family and a couple of colleagues met us there to test their golf skills and enjoy a fun dinner. The golfers in our group made use of their drivers, aiming for targets in the field, earning points for accuracy and distance with microchipped balls.

Meanwhile, the eaters among us were enjoying a variety of upscale pub fare. LC had visited before and recommended the gumbo, an original Louisiana recipe with loads of andouille sausage, house-smoked chicken, and plump shrimp ladeled over a generous serving of cilantro rice. We shared a bowl of it along with a char-grilled steak flatbread with roasted corn, grilled onion, and fiery red Fresno peppers, and washed it all down with a $13 pitcher of Miller Lite kept ice cold with an ingenious frozen wand. (We’ll get the $250 bottle of Dom next time.)

Little T and her cousin practiced their swings in between bites of flatbread with basil pesto, prosciutto, artichokes, and olives. They also gave a thumbs up to Top Golf’s signature dish called “mushi”, a hybrid Mexican sushi roll made with sticky rice, beans, spiced chicken, and cheddar cheese wrapped in a jalapeno tortilla, then baked and garnished with sour cream and avocado.

Top Golf is a great place for a casual date, family outing, or corporate party, offering fresh food, cocktails, and some friendly competition. Now all I need are some golf lessons.

10900 Westside Parkway 770-217-0513

Brookhaven Chili Cook Off Set for October 11th

September 9, 2014 at 11:45 am , by Serina Patrick

Nothing says autumn like a chili cook off! Get your recipes ready and sign up to participate. This year I am excited to be one of the judges, so let’s see who can cook up the best chili in Brookhaven!


The 3rd Annual Brookhaven Chili Cook Off

From Texas to Cincinnati, chili recipes can vary from place to place and there is always a fun secret ingredient or preparation that makes it unique. Everybody has a go-to recipe and we all think our special concoction is the best.

Come enjoy a relaxing afternoon of food, fun and live entertainment while getting some great ideas for your fall chili recipe at the 3rd annual Brookhaven Chili Cook Off and see what it takes to be called the best. Maybe you just want to come out and sample some of Atlanta’s great restaurants or enter your family recipe. Let the judges see what you got! The possibilities really are endless: Beans or no beans, spicy or mild, chicken, beef or vegetarian! And how can we forget the wide variety of toppings: sour cream, cheese, onions or crackers. With chili just about anything goes. What are you waiting for…. Enter today!

This FREE neighborhood festival will feature over 60 local restaurant & amateur teams competing for bragging rights, plaques, medals, cash and prizes totaling over $2500. Each team will be cooking up 5 pounds or more of a variety of Chili and Brunswick Stew that can be tasted by festival goers starting at noon. A limited amount of tasting spoons will be available in advance on the website for only $10.00 or at the gate for $15.00, so arrive early.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society. The festival features live music from Martay Partay, Neil Cribbs & Ashford Sons starting at noon. Activities include a kidzone area for the children and arts & crafts, cold beverages as well as other great food from Atlanta food trucks and local restaurants.

An all-star line-up of judges featuring restaurant chefs, owners, food writers and bloggers (including me!) will determine the winner of both the Restaurant & Amateur Division competitions for the “Best Tasting Chili” and “Best Tasting Brunswick Stew”. The winners will be awarded that afternoon along with the Most Spirited Team and People’s Choice Award chosen by the festival voters.

For an application to enter your team or other information about the festival please visit the website at

WHEN: Saturday, October 11th, 2014 (Noon – 6:00 p.m.)

WHERE: 2740 Apple Valley Road, Atlanta 30319 (Brookhaven Warehouse District just North of Dresden Dr & walking distance from Brookhaven MARTA.)

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Reeled In at Lure!

September 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm , by Serina Patrick

Please enjoy this rerun, originally posted June 6, as I prepare to relaunch Hot Dish Review!

At the recent Eats and Beats event, LC won several restaurant gift cards, one of which was for any Fifth Group restaurant. We visit El Taco so frequently they put in our order when we walk in the door, so I thought it would be nice to try one of the newer restaurants…Lure perhaps.

The menu online was intriguing and the weather was perfect so I booked a table for the patio. Located on Crescent Avenue in midtown, I find myself avoiding this neighborhood due to the traffic I imagine, a lingering side effect from the many late nights I’ve spent at bars on that street years ago. But with valet parking there were no worries, especially on a sleepy Sunday.

Although alcoholic beverages are usually our budgetary downfall, I was curious to see how far our $75 gift card would go if we made an effort at frugality. A few moments later I found myself ordering a $12 cocktail called the other girl, a modern take on a pisco sour. LC ordered a micha caliente ($9), a lightly carbonated craft cocktail individually bottled at Lure. The pink drink was made with lemon-lime soda, jalapeno vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry, and verdejo, and served in a tall glass with a sliver of cucumber and a slice of red jalapeno. We were particularly impressed with the subtly spicy bottled concoction. We suck at frugality.

Our first course was a dish from the shared plates section, grilled octopus and pork lettuce wraps, a pricey $18. Crisp lettuce leaves provided perfect wrappers for the surf and turf combo, with rice vermicelli, fragrant herbs, and a spicy Vietnamese-style sauce. Not exactly authentic but delightful nonetheless.

We debated between ordering two entrees or a second small plate from the menu’s smoked section and sharing an entree, finally swayed to do the latter by the rainbow trout pate’s rave reviews I’d read and the fact that this move would save us about twenty bucks. Smoked in house, the ramekin of creamy trout pate’ was served with finely diced pickled beets spiked with horseradish. Despite my distaste for beets, I even enjoyed the spicy relish, all on rustic toast. The reviews were right.

Of the eleven entrees, it was the seared George’s Bank sea scallops that won out. Anchored by a mound of toothsome fregola, a tiny pasta of Sardinian origin, the succulent scallops were paired with roasted mushrooms, almonds, and agrodolce, worth every cent of it $28 pricetag.

Had we stopped then, the gift card would have taken care of the bill, but unfortunately, LC has a sweet tooth, so we ordered another micha caliente to share and checked out the dessert options. Blueberry crumb cake with pistachio ice cream and aged gouda seemed the best choice, although I was curious about the Earl Grey and chocolate pot de creme. Our wonderful server delivered both.

True to its name, the crumb cake was a bit dry, remedied by the accompanying ice cream. Chocolate overwhelmed the sublime tea flavor in the pot de creme, but its velvety texture and toasted marshmallow topping made it my favorite of the two.

Having ordered our cocktails from the specialty drink list, I completely neglected to look at the wine list on the back of the menu until I was writing this review and noticed they serve shochu, a type of Japanese liquor that I first discovered at Miso Izakaya. And even more impressive, Lure serves prosecco on tap!

There were so many great things about this meal, and so much more to explore, I find myself already thinking about a return visit. And I’d like a six-pack of micha caliente to go!

1106 Crescent Avenue NE 404-817-3650

Lure on Urbanspoon

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:


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

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