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April 19, 2011

ATL Eats Beat

Haute dogs, gourmet fried chicken shacks, and a sommelier hyping Reisling?!

By Nancy Staab

Recent Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais’ PR machine may be keeping mum about the details of his coming venture, supposedly opening in a matter or weeks, but we’ve heard inklings that it will be a pig/pork-centric Atlanta spot.

Word has it that Top Chef Masters winner  Richard Blais will be doing for hot dogs what he did for the burger at Flip with a new high-concept resto called Haute Doggery or HD for short.  Blais recently spoke to and said "We are going to have some fun with the American hot dog, sausage and charcuterie." No menu yet but the imagined possibilities are endless... sous vide-cooked, cold smoked liquid nitrogen dog with a side of Korean ketchup anyone? Whatever the final menu, we are so IN.  Blais also hinted to that the space would have a dark, slightly "Goth" ambiance and a rooftop bar and he mentioned that it was in the Virginia Highlands nabe and will open in a matter of weeks. Also on Blais' plate: an American restaurant concept in Midtown in the former Globe space at 75 5th Street to open late 2011 or early 2012 with design by The Johnson Studio and the open kitchen at the center. Blais will serve as a partner and executive chef and will be joining forces with his old One. Midtown Kitchen employer Concentrics. An upcoming Flip is also planned for the Penn Quarter of DC and perhaps a Miami locale after that.

Click below for Blais’s recipes for Artichokes with Smoked-Herb Mayo, Ginger Ale Barbecue Pork Ribs, and Malta and Agave Braised Pork Shoulder, the latter offered by Blais as a member of the National Pork Board

Julia LeRoy, the Seeger’s vet and talented young chef who made her name at Bookhouse Pub, has a fun new project up her sleeve and it taps into a niche rather under-populated in the local food eco-system. Julia has bravely taken on that iconic Southern dish, fried chicken, and has opened up her own take-out-only chicken shack in the booming Westside at 1021 Howell Mill Road. Called LeRoy’s Chicken. The joint, in partnership with Fellini’s Pizza’s Clay Harper and Mike Nelson, features local, hormone-free, free-range birdies from Springer Mountain Farms (fried in old-fashioned lard!), as well as more edgy eats like fried chicken  livers, and traditional sides (mac’n’ cheese, biscuits, collard greens). Expect lines out the door.

In Musical Chefs this month:  Pastry chef Cynthia Wong (she of the famous phatty cakes) has decamped from Cakes & Ale for Empire State South, where she confided to Atlanta magazine's "Covered Dish" that she is planning to focus on "very seasonal and fruit-based" desserts. She also said she hoped to explore the use of Asian ingredients in Southern sweets and hopes to soon roll up her sleeves to bake various breads >>> Chef Gary Mennie of Table 1280 (and formerly LIvingston) has departed the  restaurant. Stay tuned for future updates on where he lands and who might replace him at the sleek Woodruff Arts Center eatery. >>> Chef Ian Winslade (Bluepoints, Buckhead Bottle Bar) is now top toque at Murphy's >>>  French chef Cyrille Holota (Jöel and FAB) is now helming BLT Steak, where he is offering summer cooking classes. 


Decatur and Athens fave, Farm Burger, has obtained a space at Tower Walk in Buckhead for a second in-town burger boutique, to open by Labor Day. The restaurant will offer the same local, sustainable menu as the Decatur outpost with the 100% grass-fed beef and most of the seasonal produce coming from the company’s own Full Moon Farms. Don’t miss the classic Farm Burger slathered with grafton smoked white cheddar, carmelized onions and the house sauce or go daring and order the  smoked paprika mayo or roasted bone marrow topping.

Empire State South sommelier Steven Grubbs got a recent nod from Food & Wine as one of the top sommeliers for 2011. He was cited for his “smart, quirky” and “conversational,” rather than intimidating wine list. In the article Grubbs dares to champion Reisling, which he pairs with the pork belly and kimichi grits dish and recommends cutting the “wet gray flannel” effect of a rich soup with champagne.

We may have lured Hugh Acheson to our city, but New Orleans favorite son Jonathan Besh is still uncommitted. We dined at his beyond-fabulous N.O. restaurant palace August recently and a gabby server mentioned that Besh had considered Atlanta for a future Besh resto “at a well-known hotel”…but so far no bites. St. Regis and The Mansion are you listening?

Cheers to Jonathan Jerusalmy, executive chef at Paces 88 at the St. Regis, who was designated a Master Chef of France from the Maîtres Cuisiner de France this spring. Jersalmy returned to his native country to accept the prestigious award, making him the only master chef of France in the state of Georgia.

Several Atlanta watering holes, ranging from bespoke to divey, made Esquire magazine’s 2011 America’s Best Bars List: Holeman and Finch, One Flew South at the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, politico post Manuel’s Tavern and seedy-chic  hipster fave, The Clermont Lounge.

Chef Drew Van Leuvan will share his One. Midtown Kitchen cooking quarters with several seasoned local chef's this summer for special five-course meals with beverage parings. The Chef Summer Series kicked off with Hugh Acheson (Empire State South) on June 1st., Shaun Doty (Yeah! Burger) June 15, Bruce Logue (La Pietra Cucina) June 29, Ford Fry (JCT. Kitchen) July 20,  Hector Santiago (Pura Vida) Aug. 3 and Drew Belline (No. 246) Aug.17, Richard Blais (Flip) Aug. 28, Carvel Gould (Canoe) Aug. 31, Joshua Hopkins (Abattoir) Sept. 14 and Ron Eyester (Rosebud) Sept. 28. Dinners are $75 per person. For Tickets: 404.892.4111 and see for the menus.

Grub Hubs

Atlanta’s new eats beat revealed: from sublime sushi palaces to house-made Cheetohs and local sausage stands


Fifth Group (Ecco, South City Kitchen) plans to open a “serious Mexican restaurant,” with two bar areas, in the old Il Mulino space downtown >>> Riccardo Ullio (Sotto Sotto and Fritti) set his sights on the former Eno space for a rather lethal-sounding, authentic Mexican cantina/ tequila bar called Escorpion which opened last month. Think Day of the Dead skeletons tattooed on the wall courtesy of local artist Tommy Taylor and "bandito-meets-brasserie" decor by interior designer Patty Krohngold, potent tequila/mescal cocktails, homemade tamales and an authentic chicken mole spiced with cinnamon. Meanwhile, Darren Carr from Sound Table and Patrick La Bouff from Dinner Party just signed a lease for Ullio’s late Lupe space on Juniper for a TBD resto in Midtown, which they tantalizingly hint will contain much of the same vibe and unique spirit as their creative pop-up dinner parties with chef Shane Devereux >>> Tomo Sushi will plant a flag in Buckhead at The Ritz-Carlton Residences this summer.  They plan to keep their Vinings location and the new spot will supposedly take form as an upscale sushi bar.>>> Rosebud’s chef/owner Ron Eyester snatched up a space right across the street from his popular Va-Hi eatery for a new neighborhood pub. The recently opened The Family Dog features craft beers, creative cocktails, sinful snacks like “5 spice duck fat potato chips,” “Housemade Cheetohs”  (more like pork rinds) and high/low fare like a divine pork belly BLT with tomato marmalade or a Benton country ham bahn mie. Just don’t call it a gastropub, says Eyester. The space is proudly plebian with its old-timey Jukebox and Grateful Dead mural. >>> Cult fave Grindhouse Killer Burgers brings its patties, including the kicky Apache slathered with pepper jack , green chiles and onions,  to Piedmont Road, Midtown, in the former Detail Car Wash space  (you know, next to that waving Gorilla car wash). >>>    And if that’s not enough of a meat-wave, welcome to Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand, a modest new joint-venture from Flying Biscuit founder Delia Champion and The Porter owner Molly Gunn  (a Gunther Seeger protégé!)in East AtlantaVillage. The main attraction: hand-crafted, locally-sourced, small-batch chicken sausage rolls, called slingers, served in 10 tasty variations on Holeman and Finch rolls. Open until 4AM on weekend nights, we are betting the breakfast-all-day chicken sausage patty slider wedged between Krispy Kremes (yep, that’s right) is a hot seller post bar-hopping.  >>> Speaking of breakfast, cult fave Highland Bakery has opened a new outpost in Buckhead at the Atlanta Financial Center so the suits can chow down on legendary lunch and brunch dishes, including sweet potato pancakes and sinful white cheddar pimento cheese sandwiches on grilled sourdough.

Best Bites:  July

Food raves from a month of random dining-about-town

Sweet corn with house-cured bacon and blue cheese and the summer tomatoes on JCT. Kitchen’s Sunday Supper menu

Strawberry and champagne sorbet from the Westside Creamery truck

Braised Riverview Farms Pork belly BLT with tomato marmalade and local arugula at Family Dog Pub 

The melt-in-your-mouth cheese pies (a gooey blend of four Greek cheeses enfolded in delicate country phyllo pastry) at Kyma 

Livingston’s Caramel Barvarian: banana tuile, walnut cake, white chocolate glaze  

The Mieng-Khum spinach wraps (lime, ginger, onions, roasted peanuts, and coconut in carmelized palm sugar) so satisfying as snacks that you will swear there’s chicken in them and the crunchy, spicy, papaya salad at Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft

Blueberry rosewater ice cream from Morelli's

ATL In The House!

Top Atlanta toques strut their culinary stuff at James Beard House this spring

Exec. Chef Steven Hartman of the Monteluce Vineyard and Le Vigne restaurant (formerly of the five-star Hermitage Hotel in Nashville) hosted a “Southern Wine Dinner” at the James Beard House, NYC, April 14. We are sure the Benton’s bacon pound cake appetizer served with sweet-sour huckleberries and maple crème fraiche was a hit with the Yanks, as well as the Riverview Farms slow-cooked pork shoulder with spring onions, young mustard greens and rhubarb.

Chef Pano Karatassos,of the refined Greek food temple Kyma, had the honor of cooking for guests and nominees at this year’s James Beard Gala (the Oscars of Food), May 9thOn the menu: his tastings of Octopus Carpacio, Fava Santorini, Bulgar Stuffed Grape-Vine Leaves and Greek Red Caviar Mousse.  While there, Chef Pano also had the chance to catch up with some of his “old sous chefs turned 'kings,” Wylie Dufresne of wd~50and Grant Achatz of Alinea. Chef Pano also worked alongside such famed culinary giants as Michel Richard and Guy Savoy.


Pricci Executive Chef Piero Premoli recently hosted a dinner at the exclusive James Beard House in New York City and one of Piero's rave-worthy spring dishes even landed on the James Beard Foundation blog: Pan-seared scallops with spring peas and grana padano pureé.

Click here for the recipe

Lastly, Miller Union chef Steven Satterfield shared the kitchen with the famed apostles of Southern food, the Lee Brothers, at James Beard House in early June. Menu highlights include, rabbit and dumplings, quail with dirty rice and arugula and strawberries with crème fraiche ice cream, shortbread and rhubarb as the homey-sweet finish.