December 14, 2012
ATL Dining Chatter: Week of Dec. 17, 2012
The latest news bites from the dining scene and ATL’s newest eats beats
By James Oxendine
It’s a busy week of food news with Ford Fry snatching up a second Buckhead space; Tomo getting a nod in The New York Times; hello Viilliains sandwich shop in Midtown, goodbye Dante’s Down the Hatch, 7 Lamps opens with a killer mixologist, and James Oxendine interview’s chef Jeremy Miller, who bounces between prime cuts at STK and his own artisanal soda line.
Q&A WITH JEREMY MILLER, STK CHEF-TURNED-ARTISANAL SODA-MAKER
Atlanta’s recent history has been shaped in large measure by the global popularity of a local soda pop, and now a local star chef’s soda recipe to help ease his pregnant wife’s morning sickness may turn into a new sparkling opportunity for him and Atlanta.
Hoping to soothe his wife’s discomfort, STK ‘s Executive Chef Jeremy Miller concocted a collection of all-natural, organic sodas with some unique flavor profiles that he hopes will soon turn his family project into profit. Miller plans to apply the same attention he gives to prime steaks at STK to his new line of specialty sodas.
The 30-year-old, Augusta-born chef graduated with a degree in the culinary arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta and has cooked his way around the world-- working at renowned restaurants in New York City, Napa Valley, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. His resumé includes stints at Seeger’s; Jean-Georges’ Per Se; and Atlanta’s Bluepointe, before taking the helm at STK, the sexy, Midtown steakhouse.
Miller’s lifelong passion for local and natural products brought about an a-ha moment when his wife’s morning sickness required an innovative solution. Rather than pour mass-produced ginger ale, he developed his own soda, using local and natural products, which not only alleviated her symptoms but tasted delicious. Miller experimented with additional flavors based on his Southern roots, and with the help of some local investors, now has a unique product line, appropriately named Miller’s Artisan Sodas. The sodas are currently available at the recently opened Buttermilk Kitchen with roll-outs slated for other local restos and retail spots in the coming months.
The talented toque recently sat down to chat about his Atlanta-based soft drink project and how it all came together.
Q:Considering your vast and high level dining experience, what inspired you to also pursue a business built around soda pop?
JM:I have always been extremely passionate and excited about all natural and local products. I have been creating natural sodas for years, starting in New York. When my wife Cara became pregnant with our first born, Caroline, she was plagued with morning sickness. Ginger ale helped her significantly. Looking at the labels on mass-produced ginger ale, I noticed syrups and preservatives. Wanting my wife and unborn child to be exposed to the best ingredients, I was influenced to make my own, all-natural Ginger ale. This lead to other flavors and me asking, "What is in Coke?" and "What is in Root Beer"? I encountered ingredients that I had never seen or tasted before in my eleven years in the industry. I believe sodas are nostalgic, but can also be health gratifying, as they were initially in history, showing up in local pharmacies in the early 1900's. Most importantly, they are fun to make!
Q:What was your model; did you seek the advice and counsel of others or did you proceed on a trial-and-error basis in developing the concept?
JM:I really had no model. I saw a void waiting to be filled here in Atlanta. I simply want to change the thought of soda as something completely unhealthy. I want to tap into childhood memory and use great herbs and roots that are foraged and raised locally.
Q:Have you settled on a particular set of flavors for the initial marketing campaign and what do you see as your initial market?
JM:My first flavors will be Root beer, with local sassafras from north Georgia; Cream Soda with all natural vanilla; Ginger ale made with fresh organic ginger; and Hibiscus with a hint of elderberry.
I will be making seasonal sodas-- i.e. concord grape, pumpkin, watermelon, apple, when the great ingredients are available. I really want to focus on Georgia- grown ingredients to cater to the Georgians and to promote local farmers. My initial market will be local food trucks, small delicatessens, Buttermilk Kitchen and any other establishments that love and appreciate my concept! There are so many sodas indigenous to cities: I want Miller’s Artisan Soda to be a local staple in Atlanta.
Q:When will we be able to purchase Miller's Artisan Sodas at a local stores and restaurants?
JM:All the cards are in line for Millers Artisan Sodas to be ready for purchase on or before the first of the year. Hopefully, by December
JAMES OXENDINE’S NEWS BITES FROM THE LOCAL DINING SCENE
Food and Wine magazine has named Atlanta’s intrepid gastro-entrepreneur, Ford Fry, one of ten extraordinary, prolific chef-restaurateurs in the U.S. As if to prove that reputation, it was also recently reported by Creative Loafing that in addition to Ford’s plans for an American restaurant with a focus on wood-grilled dishes in the former Nava space, Ford has also signed a lease for a second Buckhead restaurant in the space once occupied by swanky sushi spot Bluepointe. No word yet on the concept for the Bluepointe space, located in the Pinnacle Building
Ria Pell, chef/owner of Ria’s Bluebird and Sauced, was a competitor this fall on the Food Network show “Chopped.” After three courses of transforming unusual ingredients into dishes (like hot dog buns into shortbread cookies), Pell claimed the title of “Chopped Champion” and took home the $10,000 prize. This Just In: Pell is selling her Sauced space to Chef Bruce Logue, formerly of La Pietra Cucina, who made her an offer she couldn't refuse, and will open up an Italian pasta bar Bocca Luppo in the venue. Pell's other establishment Bluebird is going strong.
For the 18th consecutive year, Bacchanalia was named Atlanta's top restaurant by the Zagat Survey, scoring a 29 out of 30 on the Zagat food rating system.
Travel and Leisuremagazine has named Tomo as one of the “Best Sushi Restaurants in the U.S.,” noting Tomohiro Naito’s training under Nobu; the fact that fresh fish is flown in twice a week from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market; and the signature Lobster a La Musso dish, featuring live lobster with uni and white truffle oil. FYI, former Atlanta sushi master Sotohiro Kosugi also made the list for his NYC sushi restaurant Soto.
Classic Buckhead restaurant Aria has been named a winner of OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards for the top 100 restaurants in the United States that specialize in American food. The list of winners is derived from more than 5 million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 15,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Former Southern Art mixologist Arianne Felder will be taking the helm as beverage manager and head “mixtress” at Seven Lamps, slated to open December 14 in the upscale Around Lenox shopping center. Fielder is designing an inspired beverage program that includes craft cocktails made with innovative ingredients and techniques, house-made sodas, artisan coffees, craft beers and eclectic wines. Look for her special libation featuring Cap’n Crunch infused whiskey!
The legendary Atlanta restaurateur, Dante Stephensen, is closing the iconic Dante’s Down the Hatch, ending its 40-plus-years run in the ATL. A sad goodbye to live alligators, live jazz, and fondue in a pirate-ship style galleon. The closing of Dante’s will make way for a luxe highrise development that is slated to break ground in the spring of 2013.
The gastro pub Cook Hall, which replaces Market restaurant inside the W Buckhead, is now open. Goodbye Karim Rashid’s dazzling contemporary interior ( sigh), and hello a warmer, more accesible gastro-pub vibe. Cook Hall is aimed at industry folk in addition to hotel guests and local diners. The eclectic menu includes items such as Welsh rarebit with fried quail egg, crispy duck tacos, and pork belly sliders, as well as specialty cocktails, sodas, shrubs, and bitters. My fave is the cocktail kit that allows guests to play mixologist and make their own drinks tableside. Each kit includes bitters, syrups, and shrubs that are made in house in addition to a spirit of choice, fresh herbs, and more cocktail centric goodies.
The popular tapas/late-night spot, Barcelona Wine Bar, is now offering week-day lunch service in addition to weekend brunch. The tightly-edited, new lunch menu includes several tapas, soups and salads.
The long-awaited, slick sandwich shop Villains, from Alex Brounstein of Grindhouse Burgers and Jared Lee Pyles and Jason McClure, formerly of HD1 and Flip Burger, is slated to open in the Little Azio’s space at 903 Peachtree Street (across from The Vortex) early next year, according to Eater Atlanta. Villains will be open for lunch and dinner and will offer a variety of “wicked heroes,” as well as salads, soups, and sides. With this team at the helm the sandwiches are sure to be creative. Think: Odd Job with KFC (ie Korean Fried Chicken), pear slaw, Samjang chili suace, black garlic aioli; Kingpig of Crime: sliced porchetta with garlic aioli and pan roasting jus; or El Guapo: pulled chicken, chorizo, avocado, black bean, radish, Cojita cheese. Expect equally unusual sides such as vegetarian chicarrones. The Villains team plans to eventually host a supper club-style dinner service on the weekends.
Congrats to Shaun Doty, whose new Bantam + Biddy eatery in Morningside not only made the January issue of Food & Wine magazine (out now), but his spice-rubbed roast chicken made the cover. The magazine labels rotisserie chicken as the trendy protein for 2013 and reprints his recipe for his lemon, fennel seed, rosemary rub with two dipping sauces. Better yet, head to the eatery to sample it first hand.
Old Fourth Ward:
Jay Swift, owner of the renowned 4th & Swift, was named 2012 Restaurateur of the Year at the sixth annual Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards Gala.
On a related note, 4th & Swift’s General Manager Seth Roskind’s four-year run ends in December as he departs our fair shores and becomes the Director of Restaurants at José Andres' ThinkFoodGroup in Washington, DC, beginning in January.
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