October 25, 2012
ATL Dining Chatter: Week of Oct. 22
The latest news bites from the dining scene and ATL’s newest eat beats
By James Oxendine
It’s a Fry-centric edition with 3 Ford Fry restos in the news: Former Craft chef Kevin Maxey to do a future Ford Fry project; The Optimist’s Adam Evans talks fame and fish; and Fry’s Buckhead eatery gets a name. Plus: Martha Stewart blogs about Bacchanalia, Cherokee Club lands a chef from Inn at Little Washington, and General Muir gets a sweet staff addition.
Sea-Worthy: Q&A with Optimist’s Exec. Chef Adam Evans
Just call Adam Evans “the Codfather of Atlanta” with The Optimist’s recent designation by Esquire magazine as the “Best New Restaurant of 2012.” LuxeCrush’s correspondent James Oxendine got an exclusive interview with the star chef of Atlanta’s shore thing resto, who talked fame and fish, and drops some major chef news.
Being named the number one new restaurant of 2012 by Esquire magazine has catapulted owner Ford Fry’s newest restaurant entry The Optimist to a very lofty status, both locally as well as nationally, within its first five months of existence. The last time an Atlanta resto received this prestigious accolade was Seeger’s in 1998.
Esquire’s Food and Travel Correspondent John Mariani, who has eaten his way across the country for nearly three decades, selected the 20 best new restaurants in America, and “Restaurant of the Year” in the October issue of the magazine.
Mariani described The Optimist as a “soaring, convivial spot” with “seafood cooked with old-school expertise.” He also declared, “far more than a resounding local success; [The Optimist] is an overnight totem of all that is wonderful about American food today.”
The Optimist’s Executive Chef Adam Evans, a native of Huntsville, Alabama, who worked under Top Chef Tom Colicchio as sous chef at the renowned Craft Atlanta and as the chef de cuisine at Craftbar, has created a menu that is evocative of boyhood, fish camp days with a touch of modern flare to match today’s palates. Evans recently took some time out from his whirlwind schedule to briefly chat about the accolades that have been coming his way; what has surprised him the most so far, and a new addition to the Ford Fry team.
Oxendine: Now that national accolades are rolling in; did you ever think that you would garner this type of recognition and so soon?
Evans: I guess it was something that I never really paid too much attention to in the beginning. I did know that we had a really nice space that was carefully designed and we had a great menu. I remember one night when we were hanging out in the space before we opened, the music and lights were on for the first time and it felt pretty special. Certainly all of the accolades that we have received have gotten us off to a good start!
Oxendine: Other than the recognition, what has surprised you the most in the first five months of The Optimist?
Evans: I would say that the amount of oysters that Atlanta has eaten here has been mind boggling for me!
Oxendine: Where do you go here in Atlanta when you want to have a great meal outside of The Optimist?
Evans: I love my neighborhood restaurant, Octopus Bar! I also love Shoya Izakaya and Buford Highway, of course.
Oxendine: Now that you have established The Optimist as a brand, what is next on your list?
Evans: We aren't even close to solidifying this restaurant and the brand associated with it, but there are more things that we have our eye on down the road.
Oxendine: I heard that one of your former colleagues at Craft Atlanta, Kevin Maxey, may be returning to the ATL soon and working with Ford’s team. Is this true?
Evans: This is not only true, it is happening sooner rather than later! I could not be more excited!
For more info on The Optimist restaurant visit: http://theoptimistrestaurant.com/
JAMES OXENDINE’S NEWS BITES FROM THE LOCAL DINING SCENE
Nominations are now open to the public for the first time for the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards. With all of the culinary style and skill here in the ATL, there should be a plethora of worthy candidates in our fair city.
Martha Stewart, the iconic business magnate, author, magazine publisher, and television personality, dined at Bacchanalia recently, describing it as “exquisite” and enthusiastically blogging about her meal. Click the link below to see all the lovely dishes she ate and photographed.
Stewart also shopped and dined at Star Provisions on Saturday, according to Anne Quatrano, owner of both Atlanta hotspots. Quatrano said that “she was lovely and complimentary – a pleasure to serve.”
Jekyll Island Seafood, from the One Flew South folks, has flown into the Maynard Jackson International Terminal at Hartsfield Jackson, featuring fresh Jekyll Island shrimp, gumbo, seared sesame tuna, coastal tacos, grilled fish entrees and Georgia-themed cocktails.
Let the countdown begin. King + Duke, the latest project from burgeoning food impresario Ford Fry [JCT Kitchen, The Optimist, No. 246], is slated to open in the former Nava space by March 2013. The classic American resto will feature a 24-foot wood-burning hearth with ducks spinning and potatoes and other ingredients beneath, catching the savory juices of the proteins roasting above. According to the press release, King + Duke is named after two flim-flam characters who pass themselves off as royalty in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the classic American novel by Mark Twain. Joseph Schafer, currently chef de cuisine at JCT. Kitchen & Bar, has been tapped as executive chef at King + Duke. Fry is also bringing in big-gun chef Kevin Maxey (formerly Executive Chef at Craft Atlanta) to oversee this project and future Ford Fry restaurants. Maxey's culinary CV includes stints at Craft Atlanta, Tom Collicchio's Gramercy Tavern in NYC, Craft Dallas, and The Little Nell in Aspen.
The ultra-exclusive Cherokee Town and Country Club has named Robert Fasce as its new Executive Chef. Fasce, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has served as executive sous chef under chef Patrick O’Connell at The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia, a Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant.
The dynamic owners of West Egg Café and the team behind upcoming deli The General Muir, recently added pastry chef extraordinaire, Lauren Raymond to a growing roster of culinary talents, including chef Todd Ginsberg of Bocado. Raymond, most recently a bread baker at Bacchanalia, has a vitae that includes stints as the opening pastry chef at Miller Union (where she created their famed ice cream sandwich desserts) and working under Cynthia Wong at Empire State South. For the uninitiated, The General Muir is, according to their press materials, “a loving tribute to the New York Jewish deli, returning it to its hand-crafted roots. Traditional favorites are honored-- pastrami is cured and smoked in house, bagels are kettle boiled and hand rolled--and joined by dishes going beyond tradition, focusing on fresh ingredients and simple preparations.” General Muir is slated to open this winter in the upscale Emory Point development on Clifton Road and will showcase a design by Square Feet Studio (Abbatoir, Barcelona).
The Shed at Glenwood will serve star chef Todd Richards’ award-winning fried chicken for its inaugural, monthly themed lunch on Friday, November 2nd. The chicken comes with a buttery biscuit, honey and special pepper sauce. Or: try the brisket mac n' cheese. Each entree comes with a relish tray of deviled eggs with smoked salt, three-bean salad, celery with pimento cheese and of course, cornbread. Sides like collard greens with bacon or sweet potatoes with pecans and desserts (apple cobbler or chocolate mousse pie) also available.
Look out Atlanta, according to several media reports, two Asheville, North Carolina, dining faves are planning on opening restos in Decatur. First up: Chai Pani, which serves street-style Indian fare, will open early next year in the former Watershed space at 406 West Ponce de Leon Ave. And Tupelo Honey Café, featuring award-winning Southern traditional foods with a healthy twist (think: fried green tomatoes dished over goat-cheese grits and basil), is rumored to be looking at a Decatur location.
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