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October 17, 2012

ATL Eats Beat: Oct. 2012

Is Michelin about to drop stars in A-Town? La Pietra lands a new chef, & Anne Quatrano is cooking up a cookbook

By Nancy Staab

Other timely food news: Del Frisco’s Grille celebrates its grand opening, The Optimist is named Esquire’s Best New Restaurant, eat in the kitchen with Park 75’s chef, and Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand expands to Westside.

Clockwise from top: Chef Quatrano, The Optimist, Steak from Del Frisco's; Chef Richards; Dessert from Del Frisco's. Clockwise from top: Chef Quatrano, The Optimist, Steak from Del Frisco's; Chef Richards; Dessert from Del Frisco's.


Michelin Guide to Move South?

Local chefs are shaking in their boots at the prospects of the august Michelin Guide expanding to Atlanta. The rumor mill started when Michelin’s international director Michael Ellis hinted in a recent interview to that he was considering expanding the empire to Atlanta, as well as DC and Miami. Many decry the star institution as outdated, unfair, and weighted towards fancy haute French establishments but we think our local chefs would be showered with Michelin stars!


The Optimist Lands Esquire Mag’s “Best New Restaurant”

Chef Adam Evans of The Optimist Chef Adam Evans of The Optimist

Restaurant critic John Mariani’s Best New Restaurants feature for Esquire magazine is out, and The Optimist, helmed by Chef Adam Evans, tops the national list! Mariani praises it for its “hopping oyster bar shaped like a surfboard, a first-rate cocktail program, and seafood cooked with old-school expertise over a wood fire.” He later calls out the “frothy she-crab soup with shrimp toast; spicy glazed Spanish octopus with watermelon and coriander; and hearth-roasted red snapper in lime broth with herb salad that is somehow rich and bracing at once.” It’s a banner fall for Optimist chef/owner Ford Fry, who is cooking up a wood-hearth concept for Buckhead in the former Nava space and a brand new concept for Avalon shopping center in Alpharetta to open this spring. Can a Ford Fry cookbook (please) be far behind?


Anne Quatrano to “Feed” Home Cooks

First Hugh Acheson released his cookbook A New Turn in the South and snagged a James Beard Award for it. ( A second cookbook by Acheson is already in the works for Fall 2014). Next, Kevin Gillespie’s own cooking tome, Fire in My Belly, was released this month, brimming with Southern-inspired goodness. Now Anne Quatrano (chef/owner of Bacchanalia, Quinones at Bacchanalia, Abattoir, Floataway Café and Star Provisions) is crafting her own cookbook, Feed, out next fall by Rizzoli. Expect gorgeous mouthwatering images in addition to the equally gorgeous and mouthwatering recipes, with Rizzoli as publisher.



Dallas Eatery Del Frisco’s Grille Now Open in Buckhead

Warm chocolate cake with raspberry sauce at Del Frisco's Grille Warm chocolate cake with raspberry sauce at Del Frisco's Grille

It’s been a long wait since Craft left the building in front of  the Mandarin Oriental in Buckhead,  but now Del Frisco’s Grille has inhabited the space, handsomely re-designed by The Johnson Studio with warm woods, cool industrial touches, and a cascading chandelier. The joint has just opened and its double-decker heated patio is already popular. On the lunch/brunch/dinner menu: Del Frisco Grille standards like wood oven flatbreads, ahi tuna tacos, and signature steaks, as well as local dishes like Savannah blue crab toast, Anson Mills grit cakes,  and of course a Georgia Peach cocktail (Jack Daniels, fresh peaches, local honey, peach bitters).



La Pietra Cucina Gets a New Chef , Menu, and Moniker, “LPC”

With the exit of chef Bruce Logue (soon to open his own casual Italian concept Bocca Lupa), La Pietra Cucina has not only undergone a name makeover, to “LPC,” but has also landed a new chef, décor and menu. Let’s start with the promising new Executive Chef Russell Kook who lists David Burke (Las Vegas) and Cibo Matto (Chicago) on his resumé. While at Cibo Matto, the resto was even named a James Beard semi-finalist for “Best New Restaurant.” Chef Kook has also done TV stints at Iron Chef America and Fox’s Hell Kitchen Season 8. We have yet to sample Kook’s cooking (that alliteration was too much to resist!) but we do have the new menu and it looks like  a version of the cult-like, black squid ink spaghetti with rock shrimp, popularized by Logue, is still on the menu. Other dishes on the heavily seafood-inflected menu include: a saffron risotto with calamari; skate wing with charred rapini; butternut squash agnolotti; braised short rib with polenta; pan-fried octopus with giant white beans; and of course, wood-fired pizzas.


Chef Todd Richards Rocks a New Menu at The Shed

And in other musical chef news, Chef Todd Richards (formerly of The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead Café) is putting his own delicious stamp on the already delicious The Shed. No worries, fans of chef Lance Gummere’s sliders night, Richards is enthusiastically continuing that tradition with some of his own twists on sliders, offered daily. Other hearty dishes on the fall menu: chicken liver-bacon bruschetta; pork belly with turnips and pickled blackberries; hot smoked salmon with grits, bourbon sauce and mushrooms. Corned duck breast with violet mustard, heirloom carrots, duck croquette.  Balance this out with an array of farmer’s market sides. The popular, house-made Ding Dong also remains on the menu or try Richards’ own contribution to dessert: a bourbon roasted banana pudding. And this just in: Reserve a seat at Todd Richards’ Chef’s Counter Thursday-Sunday nights for a four-course prix fixe menu for $40 a person ($60 with wine pairings).


Shane Devereaux Returns as Exec. Chef at Peasant Bistro

A dish from Peasant Bistro A dish from Peasant Bistro

Executive Chef Shane Devereux has come full circle, returning  to Peasant Bistro where his local career started as opening chef of the resto in 2008. He has since helmed kitchens at critically acclaimed eateries like Top Flr and The Lawrence, where he still controls the kitchens as executive chef. With his rentrée at Peasant, Devereux has pared down the menu to focus on classic, approachable, French bistro fare. Think: duck leg confit; mussels au nage; beef short rib Bourguignon, scallops Provencale, steak au poivre and trout almondine. Lunch and brunch are equally French and fabulous.


Cynthia Wong Leave Empire State South for London Town

Farewell Food& Wine nominated pastry chef Cynthia Wong, late of Empire State South and prior to that, Cakes & Ale. It seems Wong’s husband has receive a promotion and relocation to London, so Wong is departing and taking her legendary Phatty Cakes (a proprietary recipe consisting of ginger cookies stuffed with vanilla marscapone) with her. Wong’s long-term assistant Melanie Durant, who has been with her at both restos, has been promoted to Pastry Chef at Empire State South. No word yet on what new twists she will add to the sweets menu.



Hudson North pops up at Atlantic Station

The team behind Cypress Street Pint and Plate have commandeered the former The Grape space at Atlantic Station for a limited-time pop-up eatery called Hudson North, serving lunch and dinner through Dec. 31. The décor was designed by ai3 to evoke Hudson River shipyards. On the menu: chef-driven eats like scallop crudo with arugula, lemon and dill; ricotta parmesan fritters; pork sliders with brown ale ketchup; crab penne with asparagus, lemon and parsley; and pulled pork with creamed corn and snap beans. Wash it all down with a selection of craft beers and end with the brownies with bacon.


Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand Comes to Westside

Meatball grinder from Delia's Meatball grinder from Delia's

Delia’s, the brainchild of Flying Biscuit’s Delia Champion and The Porter Beer Bar’s Molly Gunn, is opening a second location in Westside at the Northside and Marietta Drive intersection. Now you don’t have to head to East Atlanta to sate your slinger craving. What to expect? The same winning menu that worked at their first stand, including a variety of sausage slingers on Holeman and Finch rolls; all-day breakfast items; and the famous cake shakes.


Park 75 Launches Kitchen Table Seating with Chef Gerstenecker

Beginning this fall, the Four Season Hotel Atlanta’s restaurant Park 75 issues the ultimate invite: seats in the kitchen with Chef Robert Gerstenecker. Every Thursday night, up to 14 lucky diners will be allowed to survey the kitchen action up close while enjoying a multi-course, family-style meal with wine at the communal Kitchen Table.  The dinner is $75 per person and reservations are required at 404.253.3840. Pre-dinner bubbly kicks off the evening at 7PM.