August 15, 2012
ATL Eats Beat: August 2012
Secret Speakeasies, A New Chocolate Source, and Bone-Lickin’ Good BBQ
By Nancy Staab
Adios Nava, Hello Ford Fry; Cue the Fun at Bone Lick; Bon Appetit gives nods to Cardamon Hill and Cakes & Ale; and Westside gets a sweet chocolate boutique
Ford Fry To Take Over Nava Space for New Concept
Fresh off the heels of his successful Optimist launch, chef/restaurateur Ford Fry has set his sights on the Nava space in Buckhead. Buchead Life Restaurant Group is closing their Southewestern-themed eatery to focus on national expansions and in its place, Fry envisions a cozy spot with a tavern atmosphere that focused on wood-fire grilled, locally-sourced meat, fish and fowl dishes. We are scratching our heads at the rumored “Colonial American” theme being bandied about but Fry has said that that’s a loose theme for open-hearth cookery. Heck if Fry wanted to open a Polynesian Tikki spot we wouldn’t question it, this guy has the Midas touch when it comes to delicious and perennially popular eateries beginning with his flagship JCT. Kitchen. The spot is slated to open late January 2013. Stay tuned for future details.
Chef Todd Richards Gets Sent to The Shed
Chef Todd Richards, formerly of The Café at The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, has slided into the vacant chef slot at The Shed at Glenwood (prior chefLance Gummere will overseeShaun Doty’s new rotisserie ventureBantam & Biddy). And speaking of sliding, Richards has absolutely no intention of putting a halt to the immensely popular Wednesday sliders night at this Glenwood eatery. In fact, he’s already been busy adding his iterations to that theme—try the ham and fried quail egg slider. His new menu is not out yet but he’s tweeted photos of some early dishes and lets just say our mouths are watering: scallops with cauliflower gratin, pecans; pork belly with pickled blackberries, turnips, hoisin; bourbon roasted banana pudding! There’s a reason Esquire food critic John Mariani recently rated Richard’s as one of America’s best new chefs with his comforting and soulful food just this side of decadent. www.theshedatglenwood.com
Cardamon Hill and Cakes & Ale Make Bon Appetit’s “50 Best New Restaurants in America” List
Atlanta native and Bon Appetit editor Andrew Knowlton has published his Bon Appetit List of “Best New Restaurant in America 2012” and two lucky ATL eateries have made the cut: Asha Gomez’s Kerala, India, restaurant Cardamon Hill and Billy Allin’s farm-to-table Cakes & Ale. OK Cakes and Ale isn’t entirely new, but Knowlton thinks its new space, more ambitious menu and added bakery make it award-worthy. Knowlton gives props to David Sweeny’s largely vegetarian lunch menu in Cakes & Ale’s adjoining bakery and calls out the wood oven-roasted squash and onion with scrambled eggs and trmpet mushrooms and from the bakery: Mississippi mud cake and lemon bars. At Cardamon Hill, Knowlton raves about the “bright flavors” and “modern takes [on traditional dishes] full of spice, coconut, and seafood.” His must-have dishes: banana leaf-roasted kingfish and Gomez’ famed Kerala-style fried (aka “crack”) chicken. The ten finalists and top restaurant of the year will be announced Aug. 14. cardamonhill.net and cakesandalerestaurant.com
This Just In: Congrats to Cakes & Ale who made the final top ten cute alongside another of our LuxeCrush food raves: The Catbird Seat in Nashville.
Any Day Now: Awaiting Rathbun’s KR Steakbar
In a season of noteworthy restaurant openings like The Optimist and The Spence, there’s still plenty of enthusiastic fervor left for a Kevin Rathbun project. And it’s about time that the chef with several Inman Park establishments should give Peachtree Hills a little love. The small plates Italian joint, KR Steakbar, focusing on small portions of roasted prime meats, pastas, etc is slated to open late summer. With a décor by The Johnson Studio, Rathbun manning the kitchen and a festive patio with open fire pit, plus flowing bottles of Italian vino, this place is sure to be a culinary and conviviality hotspot. www.kevinrathbun.com
Open Pantry: The Spence Now Does Lunch
Forget the dinner crush and head to Richard Blais’ super-hyped eatery The Spence for a slightly less manic lunch hour. Yep, the place is no open for the lunch hour on weekdays from 11:30 to 2PM. Highlights from the rotating menu might include lobster knuckle sandwich with togarshi chips; beet salad with soft boiled egg, blue cheese and wasabi; summer melon gazpacho with watermelon and Campari; tuna tartare crispy tacos; pork belly bahn mi with daikon kimchee; and grilled skirt steak with watermelon and corn.
F&B Makes a Bid for the Buckhead Lunch (and Dinner) Crowd at The Ritz-Carlton Residences
The proprietors behind the recently closed FAB brasserie have moved back to Buckhead with their latest bistro F&B, lodged in The Ritz-Carlton Residence Tower on the edge of Buckhead (and neighbors with the swanky new Tomo). The rustic bistro features French and Mediterranean classics for lunch and dinner such as Moules Mariniere; Duck Confit sandwich with Manchego, fig, mustard; the now-legendary white bean soup with white truffle oil; grilled octopus, roast skate wing; and classic steak frites. They owned the Buckhead ladies-who-lunch crowd in their former space at Phipps Plaza and we think they’re poised to woo them back with their newest space. www.fandbatl.com
Bone Lick BBQ Open in West Midtown from the Creative P’cheen Team
Bone Lick BBQopened this August with loads of bbq and a 50’s diner atmosphere, complete with a juke box, antique skee ball machine and vintage refrigerators, plus an open patio in good weather. For lunch saddle up to the counter seating for quick service. For dinner it’s a slightly, but only slightly, more sit-down affair. The restaurant is a spin-off of P’cheen’s wildly popular Monday Night Bone Lick BBQ series by Chef Mike LaSage. Feast on house-cured Redneck Charcuterie (jerky, bacon, deviled ham, Coca-Cola jelly, pimento cheese and crackers); smoked wings; The Autin-tacious chopped brisket sandwich; pulled pork, pecan smoked chicken, spare ribs or Yucatan style barbecued Red Snapper. Sides include: braised collards, jalapeno mac, and cider slaw with meat and three-plus plates available. Round out your cue with craft beers, local brew (some cheekily stored in a bathtub behind the bar) or small batch whiskeys and bourbons. Save room for fun, unpretentious desserts like homemade funnel cakes. Bone Lick is open daily for lunch and dinner at 1133 Huff Road at the Apex West Midtown. www.bonelickbarbecue.com
Vesuvius Pizzeria (Cum Speakeasy) Gets A New Lease on Life
Speaking of the P’cheen team, they have also resurrected the flailing Old Fourth Ward Vesuvius pizzeria on Edgewood Avenue with its wood-fired, NYC-style pies and new, thinner, crisper Neapolitan style pizzas on the menu (fig jam prosciutto anyone?). Still intact, the retro speakeasy lodged behind the bookshelf with the bar playing silent gangster films and the mixologist proffering a Trick Pony (American Harvest Vodka, lime, Elederflower, orange bitters, ginger beer) or Only in Atlanta (bourbon, drambuie, Salty Peach puree, Sweetwater 420). Want even more secluded digs: search out the clandestine Music Room, approached via a fireplace entry, with tunes supplied by live bands and DJ’s. In the speakeasy you can nosh on a select menu of salumi and formaggi, oysters on the half shell with champagne shallot or brie artichoke spinach souffle with parmesan brulee. pizzeriavesuvius.com
Chocolate South Hits West Midtown
What happens when an architect abandons her profession to pursue her chocolate passion? The result: artisanal, even architectural, chocolate delights like the camouflage Camo Bars, Lavendar Vanilla chocolates or addictive New Orleans bon bons, featuring dark roasted coffee beans, top-shelf Cognanc, organic cream and Valrhona dark chocolate. With stints as a personal chef added to her serious chocolate apprenticeship, owner Amy Stankus opened her petite chocolate boutique this summer at 1050 Marietta Street. In addition to her hand-crafted, small-batch, mostly locally sourced truffles, chocolate bars, bonbons and caramels with sea salt, Stankus serves up quintessentially Southern treats like pimento cheese sandwiches, vegan muffins and cheese straws at her Chocolate South shop. Up next : chocolate-making classes and private chocolate tastings. The Chocolate South boutique is open Monday through Saturday, www.chocolatesouth.com