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April 15, 2013

Preview of 6 New Spring Dining Spots To Watch in the ATL

Or…What Will Be Hot in the City Besides the Weather!

By James Oxendine

From Southern-style dim-sum to re-invented hero sandwiches, here’s a preview with menu scoops and more, of soon-to-open ATL eateries from Ford Fry, Guy Wong, Kevin Gillespie, the La Grotta team, an MF Buckhead veteran, and three upstarts from Flip, HD1 and Grindhouse Burgers.

Clockwise form top: Kevin Gillespie, a dish from Saltyard and owners of Saltyard, Octopus Bar, images from King + Duke. Clockwise form top: Kevin Gillespie, a dish from Saltyard and owners of Saltyard, Octopus Bar, images from King + Duke.

Yes! Now that the Vernal Equinox has arrived and brought with it some prime patio dining weather, it’s time to take a look at some of the most anticipated restaurant openings for spring. This “listicle” represents a small but significant sample of the new restaurants that will elevate Atlanta’s dining scene over the next few months with a mixture of cutting edge design, talented chefs and creative menus. The select newbies range from chic neighborhood spots to upscale destination dining and will serve everything from sushi to Southern-style dishes with dim sum service. Here are my six spring picks, presented in the order of their projected opening dates:


UMI SUSHI: MF Buckhead 2.0.

Featuring former MF Buckhead executive chef, Fuyuhiko Ito and his wife Lisa Ito, Umi (the Japanese word for “sea”)  is slated to soft open May 17 [Update: Now Open] at 3050 Peachtree Road, next to Chops and the St. Regis Atlanta. With menu offerings such as black miso cod, beef tenderloin kushi-yaji (beef skewers with teriyaki sauce), rock shrimp tempura with  ponzu or a creamy-spicy sauce, and aburi nigiri (slightly cooked sushi-grade fish with sea salt), Umi’s owners “hope to bring the same style and sushi as the MF restaurants.”Chef Ito will also offer a special omakase (chef's choice) dinner, similar to what Chris Kinjo offered at MF Buckhead. Noted artist Todd Murphy was part of Umi’s design team as well as design and aesthetic identity firm Goodrowe/ Hobby. We hear Elton John made an appearance at the restaurant's preview party!



YUM BUNZ: Westside dim sum and more.

The highly anticipated quick-serve dim sum restaurant from Chef Chris Lee, restaurateur Mike Blum (Real Chow Baby), and star chef Guy Wong ( Miso Izakaya) is slated to open in May at 935 Marietta Street across the street from Toscano and Sons. The menu will feature Bao (steamed buns), ssam (Korean wraps) as well as stir fry dishes, pot stickers, soups and dumplings.  Yum Bunz’s design will be a mixture of modern and traditional with an Asian pop-art feel, featuring light woods, charcoal paints, black and white tiles, and stained polished floors.



VILLAINS: A wickedly delicious hero sandwich shop in Midtown.

Villains is slated to open sometime in April [UPDATE: now open]  at 903 Peachtree Street, in the former Little Azio space and across from The Vortex in Midtown. The owners, chef Jared Lee Pyles and Jason McClure (both formerly of HD1 and Flip Burger) and Alex Brounstein of Grindhouse Burgers will serve counter-style lunch items based on the re-invention of the hero sandwich and special dinner plates. Lunch menu items include the cutely-named Kingpig of Crime (porchetta, kale, and garlic aioli), the Bugsy Siegel (short rib pastrami, braised cabbage, Swiss cheese, and Russian "caviar" dressing on dark rye), and the Zartan (vegetarian "meatballs," marinara, kale, ricotta, and provolone). The space was designed by Kim Fong of the local firm, Studio Song, who used "evil lair meets underground command center" for inspiration.



GUNSHOW. A Southern eatery with dim sum-style service

Top Chef Kevin Gillespie’s highly anticipated new restaurant is slated to open May, 8 [UPDATE: NOW OPEN} at 924 Garrett St. in Glenwood Park. Gunshow will be the fulfillment of Gillespie’s vision of what Southern food is in terms of its menu and service. The menu will be a mash-up of Gillespie’s celebrated Southern style and that of the two sous chefs he has brought with him from Woodfire Grill-- Joseph Ward, who Gillespie said has “a beautiful touch for sophisticated modern food,” and Andreas Muller, who is originally from Sweden and brings a modern Scandinavian sensibility to the mix. The dim sum-style service will allow diners to choose from moving stations and to receive the exact dishes and amounts that they want. Prices will range from $6 to $18 per item, with three items making a meal. Gillespie said he estimated an average check of around $55. The intimate ai3-designed space will have 60 seats, including Kevin’s Table, an exclusive, reservations-only, six-person chef’s table, where guests can have a traditional degustation tailored just for them.



KING + DUKE: Ford Fry’s first (but not last) Buckhead resto.

The sophisticated, open-hearth cooking restaurant, led by Chef Joseph Schafer, formerly chef de cuisine at JCT. Kitchen & Bar, plans to open in late May 13 [Updated] at 3060 Peachtree Road NW in the former Nava space. Owner Ford Fry (The Optimist, JCT Kitchen & No. 246)  says that King + Duke will have "a 24-foot wood-burning hearth, an actual fireplace, that will have tons of coal; we may have ducks spinning or hanging from the hearth, and beneath it we'll have potatoes or other ingredients catching the juices of the proteins roasting above.” At press time, there were only two defined menu items: the King, a 1-kilogram bone-in rib eye, slow-roasted with marrow bones and salad that serves two; and the Duke, a custom-ground burger with dry-aged meat on a brioche bun. The design by New York-based Meyer Davis “will be warmer than some of our other restaurants. We’ll have floor lamps in one room, hanging lighting in another—industrial lights made by a guy in Brookwood-- and the private dining room, called the Drawing Room, seats fourteen to sixteen with a concealed door, lined leather walls, an antiqued mirrored ceiling.”



SALTYARD: A South Buckhead social house.

Saltyard, owned by Christian Favalli, the son of long time Atlanta icon La Grotta's co-owner, and his wife Kristy Jones-Favalli, is scheduled to open by mid-to-late May next to Watershed on Peachtree in the Brookwood Condominiums. Saltyard will invite Atlanta residents to loosen up with a glass of wine after a hard day or settle into a cozy banquette for an unpretentious evening of good food and relaxation with friends and family. The menu from top toque, Nick Leahy( TWO Urban Licks), will feature American cuisine "with international influences in a mostly small-plate format" along with craft beer, cocktails, and wine. The design from Square Foot Studio ( Barcelona Wine Bar) includes elements like exposed rafters, sun-bleached reclaimed wood, and an open kitchen.

According to their facebook page, sample menu items might include: Georgia sweet corn and crawfish bisque with crawfish beignets; roasted beet carpaccio, with sherry gastrique; pan-seared diver scallops with tomato and smoked bacon puree; orecchiette pasta with 8-hour duck ragu, parmesan, sage, farm egg; tempura fried sardines with spinach and arugula; grilled baby octopus with barlotti beans; and ricotta gnocchi with wild mushrooms, shaved parmeggiano.





Hugh Acheson To Open Italian Eatery in Savannah

As first reported here, James Beard award winner Hugh Acheson’s latest project will be south of Atlanta:  Acheson is opening an Italian restaurant in Savannah, tentatively titled Vittoria (“victory” in Italian), that is slated  to open in March 2014.Kyle Jacovino, currently at Five & Ten in Athens and previously sous chef at Empire State South, will helm the kitchen. Eater reports that the restaurant will serve local seafood, pastas, pizzas using Double Zero flour, and vegetable courses. Acheson tells Eater: "It'll be about the same price point as the National and Five and Ten. If you want a tasting menu, I'll give it to you, but you can also just get a cappuccino.” 


 Linton Hopkins Promises Upcoming Book Entitled “Mayonnaise”

James Beard award winner, Linton Hopkins, announced at his recent Peachtree Farmers Market cooking demonstration that his book, Mayonnaise, would be hitting the bookshelves soon. Hopkins revealed hints of the book in an interview with the national site on Sept. 12, 2012:


“I get approached a lot, like, "Hey, here's a Southern chef and he's got a James Beard Award, and we need a Southern chef with a James Beard Award to do a book for us." That's how publishing houses seem to think. That's not how I think. I joke sometimes that I'm going to have a book and I'm just going to call it Mayonnaise and it's going to be about mayonnaise and how it weaves its way through Southern food and the crab cakes, and the marinades, chicken salad, and it's really a staple of the South.

I want to do something different, so possibly it's not going to just be a restaurant chef book and it's not going to be a Southern book. I see so many of [those] now which are, "Here are stories about my grandfather." It's sort of painful 'cause I've got a lot of great memories. I named my restaurant after my grandfather. I have a lot of great food memories about my grandfather, but I don't want them told in the same way.”





A second outpost of Indian eatery Bhojanic, located in the around Lenox shopping center in Buckhead, is now open.




Eater Atlanta is reporting that star chef Angus Brown will return to helm the Octopus Bar on Thursday, April 18, after his 3-month-long Asian tour to pick up ideas and train for a proposed second eatery Octopus, a planned lunch-to-late night spot in a TBD spot (Inman Park, L5P, West Midtown??) thats he's doing with So Ba owner and Octopus Bar partner Nhan Le. The proposed menu will include a raw bar and yakitori, while the décor will borrow notes from Octopus Bar with graffiti art and subway tile.


For more on Angus’ Travel in Vietnam:




Bocca Lupo, Atlanta pasta master Bruce Logue’s highly anticipated Italian eatery, opened on Monday, April 15, according an interview with Logue in the AJC. Expect a few of his iconic dishes from La Pietra Cucina such as the black spaghetti with Calabrian sausage and rock shrimp and the calamari in Sicilian tomato brod on the menu at this seasonal, neighborhood resto. The opening menu includes anti-pasta, pasta (extruded and fresh), a few "Not Noodles" dishes and a few simple desserts. Menu highlights include:  chicken liver bruschetta and octopus and mortadella spiedino as two of the anti-pasti; pappardelle bolognese, 20-yolk tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and ramps; linguini with Sapelo Island clams, ramps and oven-dried tomato; and whole-roasted Branzino with caponata and lemon-tarragon jam.




Empire State South’s top toque, Ryan Smith, will be leaving his post by the end of the year to join Chef Ryan Hidinger and his wife, Jen, as a partner at Staplehouse. The Hidingers hope to open their restaurant in the Old Fourth Ward/ Inman Park community in late 2013. It’s a family affair with Smith’s fiancée, Abattoir’s Karen Hidinger,also joining the project. It’s an amicable split for Smith and Empire State South’s owner Hugh Acheson and Acheson gave Smith his blessings for the new endeavor. For more deets visit:



South City Kitchen Midtown, the Fifth Group’s inaugural venture, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month with some special events and promotions.

The nationally celebrated spot has contributed to the culinary careers of top toques like Jay Swift (4th & Swift) and Todd Lehay (Table & Main) and birthed a successful sibling in Vinings. Now, the owners are hinting that a third iteration of this Atlanta icon may be on the drawing board. Stay tuned.



Sublime Doughnutshas been named one of the “9 Game Changing Donut Shops” by Zagat. And here is why: “Toppings, shape, glaze and fillings have all been toyed with at the other locations in this list. But Sublime plays with architecture. Sure they have drool-inducing flavors like Nutella, s'mores and salted caramel with reduced balsamic vinegar, but the donut and ice cream burgers are the star.”



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