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Flash Eats:

November 18, 2012

ATL Dining Chatter:  Week of Nov. 19, 2012

The latest news bites from the dining scene and ATL’s newest eat beats.

By James Oxendine

LPC’s new chef dares to mix pasta and uni; The Spence snags a Per Se alum as sous chef; Old Fourth Ward to get a new festival food market; Miles McQuarrie has a new mixology haven; and Sprinkles Cupcakes is coming to Atlanta…because the trend clearly hasn’t tipped yet?

Day Boat Scallops, celery root puree, cauliflower agrodolce at La Pietra Cucina (LPC) Day Boat Scallops, celery root puree, cauliflower agrodolce at La Pietra Cucina (LPC)

Q&A with La PIetra Cucina’s Award-Winning Chef Russell Kook of Chicago

There is a new cook in town and he is bringing some Chicago-style Italian to La Pietra Cucina, widely regarded as Atlanta’s best Italian restaurant.

Russel Kook( pronounced “cook”) replaces chef Bruce Logue, who will soon open his own pasta spot Bocca di Lupo. Kook is bringing his passion for quality food, adaptive creativity and careful leadership to Concentric Restaurant’s La Pietra Cucinca, rebranded as LPC. Chef Kook, who has earned plaudits at acclaimed restaurants, such as David Burke (Las Vegas), Cibo Matto (Chicago), and The Florentine (Chicago), has updated the menu at LPC with the goal to make the restaurant and the food more approachable. To that end, there are now wood-fired pizzas and more wallet-friendly prices on the menu

The ATL newbie took some time from his hectic schedule to briefly chat about his plans for LPC; the new menu and where he has dined in Atlanta.


Q:  The former La Pietra Cucina was regarded by many as Atlanta's finest Italian restaurant, how do you plan to maintain that status and yet bring your personal style to LPC?

RK:  The quality of the food will remain. We are still making everything in-house…down to the bread. Even though we are trying to make the food more approachable, we are not sacrificing the quality of the ingredients or food. We, as a team, still have the same philosophy, just a new dining room. We try and order as much from local sustainable vendors as possible. It’s all about having your hand touch everything as a chef.

My personal style is more contemporary Italian. I like to use new ingredients and introduce them into Italian cooking. For example, last week we ran a sea urchin special which is not your typical Italian ingredient.


Chef Russell Kook of LPC Chef Russell Kook of LPC

Q:  Although your culinary career has taken you around the country from Minneapolis, where you attended culinary school, to Florida and then Las Vegas, Chicago seems to be where your career really took off. What did you learn in that culinary hotspot that you are going to bring to LPC?

RK:  From Chicago, I bring a hardworking attitude. I feel like I was successful in Chicago because of all the hard work I put in. As far as the culinary side of things, I hope to bring a different approach to the kitchen. In Atlanta the structure of the kitchen is a little more blue jeans, where as in Chicago it’s black pants. I am learning to adjust my style in the kitchen a little, and I am liking the blue jean approach. In general, I am just trying to create some great new food in an approachable atmosphere. The main idea I brought with me to Atlanta is just a fresh different approach to Italian food. My plan is to just keep it simple and make it taste great without using to many ingredients.


Q:  What are some of the new menu items that we will see at LPC?

RK:  Oh the Octopus is one of my favorite new dishes. The octopus is cooked in red wine and mirepoix, and then marinated. What sets this dish apart from other octopus is the tenderness. It is almost spoon tender.

Another new menu item is the linguini carbanara, a very rich dish served with house made pancetta, duck egg yolk and pecorino grand cru. People love mixing in the egg yolk, which makes the sauce for the dish.


Q:  What brought you to Atlanta ?

RK:  I worked for Concentrics in Chicago, so I was familiar with Bob and Todd. I just reached out to Todd Rushing one day to see what they were up to and he asked me if I would be interested in a change of scenery. I was actually looking to do something new, so we just talked for about a week or two. I eventually came down to check it out and look around the city. I loved Atlanta! From that point it was just getting me and my girlfriend down here as fast as possible.


Q:  Where have you had a chance to eat here and where are you planning to dine?

RK:  I love going out to eat. Abbey Rose, my girlfriend, and I have been lots of places to eat. A couple favorite spots are Star Provisions, JCT. Kitchen, The Spence, Holeman & Finch…all the heavy hitters.

North Georgia Trout, Umbrian lentisl, pancetta, Sicilian pesto at LPC. North Georgia Trout, Umbrian lentisl, pancetta, Sicilian pesto at LPC.





The Spence's all-star culinary team has added former Per Se chef, Anthony Wells, as sous chef. According to Richard Blais, Wells will be responsible for The Spence's pasta offerings.



Mixologist Miles McQuarrie Mixologist Miles McQuarrie

Decatur Metrois reporting that the team behind the popular Brick Store Pub is opening a new resto this spring in the former Decatur Depot called Kimball House. Named after a historic hotel that was torn down in the late 1960’s, the owners say that Kimball House will be ”an homage to the barmen who kept the beautiful hotel lounge." Rumor has it that the famed mixologist behind Leon’s Full Service, Miles McQuarrie is also part of the team as chief barman.

According to the ownership team, their goal with the new project is to add to Atlanta’s drink scene and culinary landscape, and cook food that pays homage to the seasons and Southern bounty.


Old Fourth Ward:

The Atlanta Business Chronicleis reporting that brothers Jeff Moore and Craig Moore plan to open Atlanta’s first distillery since 1920 at 487 Edgewood Avenue by next fall. The spirited siblings hope to create a craft distillery that will capture the current movement in the food and beverage that places a premium on locally produced goods, starting with vodka and gin produced from scratch.


In other O4W news, The Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that a $70 million development for an epicurean market, similar to the Oxbow Public Market in Napa Valley of the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco, is in the works. The project, located at 99 Krog street and next to two of star chef Kevin Rathbun’s award-winning restaurants,is slated to include a 225-unit mid-rise apartment, new shops, restaurants and a 30,000-square-foot covered marketplace. The space was once the former studio of Tyler Perry. The project could start construction this winter.



Sprinkles cupcakes Sprinkles cupcakes

Tomorrow’s News Todayreports that two luxe cupcake chains, Georgetown Cupcakes and Sprinkles, are slated to bring their creamy confections to our fair state in 2013. Washington D.C.--based Georgetown Cupcakes is rumored to be moving into Lenox Square Mall and Beverly Hills-based Sprinkles has listed Buckhead as its 2013 location.


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