mame11

Atlanta, GA

169 posts in this topic

I have been reluctant to post about Atlanta because it is a hard foodie city. There are lots of good restaurants but the city is pretty spread out, like Los Angeles. There are some places I'd like to highlight:

1) Chik-fil-A: I swear that there is no chicken sandwich (fried of course) better than a Chik-fil-A in Atlanta. I think the consistency is greatest in Atlanta because the home office is up the road. (all over)

2) The Varsity: The world's largest drive-in is really a must do at least once. If you have kids it is a hoot to see their reaction to the place. They are known for their orange drink and hot dogs. I like their fries and onion rings. However, for the record, I go once every 5 years which is all my heart can take! (downtown)

3) Souper Jenny: This little shop is amazing for many reasons. Every day they offer a variety of soups and salads in a quaint Buckhead setting. It is only open for lunch, but you can get the soups and salads to go. (Buckhead Souper Jenny Info)

4) Eclipse di Luna: Chef Paul Luna brought tapas to Atlanta. Great space, fun environment. Eclipse di Luna (Brookhaven Circle, technically in Buckhead)

5) Fontaines Oyster House: My mom is a big fan of this seafood place in Virginia Highlands. I think it is good too... but it reminds her of New Orleans which says a lot! Think of it as a dive bar with seafood. (Virgina Highlands)

6) Taqueria del Sol: What was novel seven years ago, has become a go to spot for tacos with unique fillings. There are two locations, one near Georgia Tech and the other in Decatur.

7) Watershed: Again a place that has become a mainstay in Decatur. The menu is comprised of modern takes on Southern classics. A very nice space by the way and I understand they have a really good wine selection. (Decatur)

8) Flying Biscuit: Okay this place has been a favorite of mine for over a decade. The original location is in Candler Park near Little Five Points. They opened an outpost near Piedmont Park a couple of years ago. They have a great breakfast menu as well as good Southern influenced lunch and dinner fare. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the owners recently sold the business to the company that has created a variety of franchises including Moes. I am not sure how the Flying Biscuit translates as a franchised operation but if you get to Atlanta before they spring up like weeds (there are Moes on every corner in Atlanta) the place is a treat.

9) Bacchanilia: I'd be lying if I said I had eaten at what is considered the best restaurant in Atlanta. I left Atlanta right after it opened and haven't had a chance to eat there (yet) but it is supposed to be the bomb. For many on this list I know the restaurant would be especially appealing because the chef grows much of her own produce. Also, I love the retail and to go operation attached called Star Provisions. Bacchanilia

10) Float Away Cafe: The more accesible restaurant owned by the Bacchanilia team

11) Mellow Mushroom Pizza: Really good local pizza chain. I prefer it to Fellinis, another local chain. (all over)

12) Food Studio: Really cool space and unique food at the King Plow Arts Center. It is a dark space so don't go there for a business dinner. The Food Studio

You might notice that the Food Studio is one of a group of restaurants. The Buckhead Life Groupset the stage for restaurenters to own multiple different concept restaurants in Atlanta starting in the 1970s. Of the Buckhead Life Group restaurants, I have been to, and like the following places:

13) Buckhead Diner: Yummy diner food done extremely well and upscale.

14) Corner Cafe and Bakery: Great lunch place, never been to brunch but I hear it rocks AND the bakery is really good.

Now, back to regularly scheduled programming...

When I lived in Atlanta, Thai and Japanese were the two big Asian cuisines. However, since leaving Atlanta I have had much better Thai food. As to Japanese, I used to like

15) Soto: The chef at Soto was brought to the US to be the chef at the Hotel Nikko in Atlanta. When he left, he set up shop in a strip mall right across from the hotel. The hotel is now an Intercontinental but Soto remains...

And finally, a word about dining in strip malls... I don't know why but many of the good and great restaurants in Atlanta are in strip malls! Seriously odd...

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John, Atlanta is an exciting restaurant city which is on the move. You need to try Bacchanalia, Rathbun's and the Watershed. Especially the Watershed which is in a converted gas station and ONLY on Tuesday night has the best fried chicken on earth. Serious. Not an exaggeration. It's also the best "southern" restaurant in the Atlanta area. I'd liken Bacchanalia/Quinones to Citronelle. Rathbun's may be the "hottest" restaurant in the South right now-it's in a former pot belly stove factory!

I don't think that Peter Chang is going to have the impact on Atlanta that he may have had here.

By the way, Seasons 52 is OPEN near Perimeter Mall and their Buckhead location opens in late November. I have lobbied like Hell to have Darden open a Seasons 52 in Fairfax County. We'll see.

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John, Atlanta is an exciting restaurant city which is on the move. You need to try Bacchanalia, Rathbun's and the Watershed. Especially the Watershed which is in a converted gas station and ONLY on Tuesday night has the best fried chicken on earth. Serious. Not an exaggeration. It's also the best "southern" restaurant in the Atlanta area. I'd liken Bacchanalia/Quinones to Citronelle. Rathbun's may be the "hottest" restaurant in the South right now-it's in a former pot belly stove factory!

I don't think that Peter Chang is going to have the impact on Atlanta that he may have had here.

By the way, Seasons 52 is OPEN near Perimeter Mall and their Buckhead location opens in late November. I have lobbied like Hell to have Darden open a Seasons 52 in Fairfax County. We'll see.

Joe

I suspect you're right about not having the same impact. The problem is there isn't the sheer quantity of decent/good Chinese alternatives there compared to the DC area, so when word gets out they may be overrun anyway. We'll see--it's only a matter of time.

Meanwhile I'm looking forward to trying out lots of other spots too, including those you recommended, consistent with a retiree's income of course! There is certainly a large number of worthwhile places, at all levels and of all types, more than I'll ever be able to get to.

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I have been reluctant to post about Atlanta because it is a hard foodie city. There are lots of good restaurants but the city is pretty spread out, like Los Angeles. There are some places I'd like to highlight:

1) Chik-fil-A: I swear that there is no chicken sandwich (fried of course) better than a Chik-fil-A in Atlanta. I think the consistency is greatest in Atlanta because the home office is up the road. (all over)

2) The Varsity: The world's largest drive-in is really a must do at least once. If you have kids it is a hoot to see their reaction to the place. They are known for their orange drink and hot dogs. I like their fries and onion rings. However, for the record, I go once every 5 years which is all my heart can take! (downtown)

3) Souper Jenny: This little shop is amazing for many reasons. Every day they offer a variety of soups and salads in a quaint Buckhead setting. It is only open for lunch, but you can get the soups and salads to go. (Buckhead Souper Jenny Info)

4) Eclipse di Luna: Chef Paul Luna brought tapas to Atlanta. Great space, fun environment. Eclipse di Luna (Brookhaven Circle, technically in Buckhead)

5) Fontaines Oyster House: My mom is a big fan of this seafood place in Virginia Highlands. I think it is good too... but it reminds her of New Orleans which says a lot! Think of it as a dive bar with seafood. (Virgina Highlands)

6) Taqueria del Sol: What was novel seven years ago, has become a go to spot for tacos with unique fillings. There are two locations, one near Georgia Tech and the other in Decatur.

7) Watershed: Again a place that has become a mainstay in Decatur. The menu is comprised of modern takes on Southern classics. A very nice space by the way and I understand they have a really good wine selection. (Decatur)

8) Flying Biscuit: Okay this place has been a favorite of mine for over a decade. The original location is in Candler Park near Little Five Points. They opened an outpost near Piedmont Park a couple of years ago. They have a great breakfast menu as well as good Southern influenced lunch and dinner fare. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the owners recently sold the business to the company that has created a variety of franchises including Moes. I am not sure how the Flying Biscuit translates as a franchised operation but if you get to Atlanta before they spring up like weeds (there are Moes on every corner in Atlanta) the place is a treat.

9) Bacchanilia: I'd be lying if I said I had eaten at what is considered the best restaurant in Atlanta. I left Atlanta right after it opened and haven't had a chance to eat there (yet) but it is supposed to be the bomb. For many on this list I know the restaurant would be especially appealing because the chef grows much of her own produce. Also, I love the retail and to go operation attached called Star Provisions. Bacchanilia

10) Float Away Cafe: The more accesible restaurant owned by the Bacchanilia team

11) Mellow Mushroom Pizza: Really good local pizza chain. I prefer it to Fellinis, another local chain. (all over)

12) Food Studio: Really cool space and unique food at the King Plow Arts Center. It is a dark space so don't go there for a business dinner. The Food Studio

You might notice that the Food Studio is one of a group of restaurants. The Buckhead Life Groupset the stage for restaurenters to own multiple different concept restaurants in Atlanta starting in the 1970s. Of the Buckhead Life Group restaurants, I have been to, and like the following places:

13) Buckhead Diner: Yummy diner food done extremely well and upscale.

14) Corner Cafe and Bakery: Great lunch place, never been to brunch but I hear it rocks AND the bakery is really good.

Now, back to regularly scheduled programming...

When I lived in Atlanta, Thai and Japanese were the two big Asian cuisines. However, since leaving Atlanta I have had much better Thai food. As to Japanese, I used to like

15) Soto: The chef at Soto was brought to the US to be the chef at the Hotel Nikko in Atlanta. When he left, he set up shop in a strip mall right across from the hotel. The hotel is now an Intercontinental but Soto remains...

And finally, a word about dining in strip malls... I don't know why but many of the good and great restaurants in Atlanta are in strip malls! Seriously odd...

Atlanta is an excellent restaurant town which does not receive the national press it deserves. I've been to Bacchanalia three times and it's adjacent Quinelles (sp?) is close to Citronelle if not as good. Rathbun's is outstanding as is Seeger's. His replacement at the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead has returned the room to its former lofty position when Gunter Seeger was there. Pano and Paul's is the Prime Rib of Atlanta. Fat Matt's Rib Shack is the best Q. Seasons 52 is in Perimeter Mall (and opening in mid to late November in Buckhead) with Pappasito's in the suburbs also. I like Floataway, the Food Studio (most romantic restaurant in the city), Chops (Atlanta's best steak house), the original Dalt House (Chick Fil A), Watershed (best fried chicken I've ever had but only on Tuesday nights and they run out early; great chocolate cake, too), Buckhead Diner (excellent for what it is), Mary Mac's (meat and threes), Thelma's (definitive meat and threes) and the Flying Biscuit Cafe was great on a visit a year ago. Emeril's (yes, THE Emeril's) still has the best gumbo (seafood and andouille) I've had in a restaurant although everything else is a pale imitation of what he once had on Tschoupolitas street in New Orleans in the early '90's-when he was in the kitchen every night.

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from NCPinDC

>>>9) Bacchanilia: I'd be lying if I said I had eaten at what is considered the best restaurant in Atlanta. I left Atlanta right after it opened and haven't had a chance to eat there (yet) but it is supposed to be the bomb. For many on this list I know the restaurant would be especially appealing because the chef grows much of her own produce. Also, I love the retail and to go operation attached called Star Provisions. Bacchanilia<<<

I have eaten (lunch only, I think) at Bachannalia a handful of times over the past five years and have only fantastic meals there with excellent service. They're (justifiably) well known for their crab cake appetizer. I loved it the two times I had it. On the second time, I recognized the flavor of vanilla in it somewhere (almost ephemeral, perfect). I asked the waitress about it and she said that yes, they use vanilla salt in making (I think) the broth. It was wonderful. My relatives who lived there have moved away and it really saddens me to think I may never eat there again.

My other recommendation in that part of the world is the Grit in Athens. It's a vegetarian restaurant, dirt cheap in a bar like setting. Great food. The golden tofu is amazing.

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Fat Matt's Rib Shack is the best Q.

Fat Matt's has the best BBQ sauce I've ever tasted (the ribs themselves were just ok). A look at the label (it's bottled for sale too) indicated that anchovies were one of the secret ingredients.

The banana cream pie at the Buckhead Diner is a must.

A place I enjoyed that hasn't been mentioned is Dish, which is in a converted filling station in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood.

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from NCPinDC

>>>9) Bacchanilia: I'd be lying if I said I had eaten at what is considered the best restaurant in Atlanta. I left Atlanta right after it opened and haven't had a chance to eat there (yet) but it is supposed to be the bomb. For many on this list I know the restaurant would be especially appealing because the chef grows much of her own produce. Also, I love the retail and to go operation attached called Star Provisions. Bacchanilia<<<

I have eaten (lunch only, I think) at Bachannalia a handful of times over the past five years and have only fantastic meals there with excellent service. They're (justifiably) well known for their crab cake appetizer. I loved it the two times I had it. On the second time, I recognized the flavor of vanilla in it somewhere (almost ephemeral, perfect). I asked the waitress about it and she said that yes, they use vanilla salt in making (I think) the broth. It was wonderful. My relatives who lived there have moved away and it really saddens me to think I may never eat there again.

My other recommendation in that part of the world is the Grit in Athens. It's a vegetarian restaurant, dirt cheap in a bar like setting. Great food. The golden tofu is amazing.

I wrote this about Bacchanalia a year ago in a trade publication for my industry:

Among the world's best flavor favoring caloric indulgences is one whose recipe includes almost equal parts Valrhona chocolate and country butter. Bacchanalia's signature dessert is a warm chocolate cake oozing a puddle of molten chocolate from its core with vanilla bean and malted milk chocolate ice creams nestled alongside. The is the finale to dinner at what many consider to be not only Atlanta's best restaurant but also one of America's best. The James Beard Society acknowledged this in 2003 when it named Bacchanalia the best restaurant in the Southeastern United States. The chef owners outsource the freshest natural and organic ingredients possible, many from their own sixty acre farm.

Their signature first course is a panko crusted blue crab fritter with avocado, citrus and Thai pepper essence. A foie gras terrine with brioche and onion jam is also popular along with potato gnocchi with Perigord black truffles and pancetta among other choices. Wood grilled breast of squab with potato gratin joins braised red snapper with caramelized turnips and three others for the second course. The salad course may include D'anjou pears with endive, wlanuts and artisan blue cheese or Granny Smith apples with four year old farmer's gouda. For dessert a blood orange souffle as well as "fresh capriole cheesecake with candied kumquats" stands out.

The four course dinner is $68 prix fixe. Bacchanalia is among Atlanta's most difficult reservations generally booked up a month or more in advance for weekends. However the 70 seat restaurant often has openings on weekdays.

Alternatively, a more intimate and personal restaurant-similar to an earlier incarnation of the original Bacchanalia-Quinones was opened this year on another floor of the same building with a set menu of nine courses for $95 prix fixe. With the same fresh indigenous ingredients flavors with real depth emerge: fresh picked roasted figs and foie gras with a Port reduction, sturgeon wrapped with proscuitto and garnished with squash, Diver scallop in sweet onion milk, Tallegio with toasted hazelnuts and "Tupelo honeycomb" and a poached Quail egg in tomato cosomme with black truffle among other small courses.

Edited by Joe H

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I wrote this about Bacchanalia a year ago in a trade publication for my industry:

Among the world's best flavor favoring caloric indulgences is one whose recipe includes almost equal parts Valrhona chocolate and country butter. Bacchanalia's signature dessert is a warm chocolate cake oozing a puddle of molten chocolate from its core with vanialla bean and malted milk chocolate ice creams nestled alongside. The is the finale to dinner at what many consider to be not only Atlanta's best restaurant but also one of America's best. The James Beard Society acknowledged this in 2003 when it named Bacchanalia the best restaurant in the Southeastern United States. The chef owners outsource the freshest natural and organic ingredients possible, many from their own sixty acre farm.

<snip>

For dessert a blood orange souffle as well as "fresh capriole cheesecake with candied kumquats" stands out.

You know, I know a lot of folks who love that warm chocolate cake. Although I dearly love chocolate, I find that sort of lava cake to be completely overrated. It's not just theirs, I've never had one that really wowed me. However, I did have a variation on the capriole cheesecake (different topping, dried fruits that had been soaked in a simple syrup made of white wine and sugar--I tried to get the recipe and that was about as close as I got--but delicious all the same).

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I just returned from seven days of entertaining during my annual tradeshow which, this year, was in Atlanta. Confirmation that Bacchanalia is still Atlanta's best restaurant, based on two meals there. Still, I believe it is a big notch below both Citronelle and Maestro, perhaps CityZen. Rathbun's IS the hottest restaurant in Atlanta right now, well worth a visit. Overall, I believe that Washington has now outdistanced itself from most cities in America, with only San Francisco, Chicago and New York offering a greater volume of excellence. I am still not sold on Vegas having had excellent dinners in several high profile restaurants-but nothing equal to Maestro or Citronelle noted above. I have not been to Robuchon's $350 prix fixe place in the MGM preferring to use that to buy a ticket to Paris instead. This also means that I believe that DC's best is the equal of any in America.

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The hubby, Peanut (aka Butter Cup) and I are travelling to Hot'Lanta in April. I'm from there and am familiar with the established eateries but would like to know which of the newer places we must try. My parents LUV Eugene's. Has anyone been recently? Apart from the usual suspects already mentioned in other posts, any other gems folks would recommend?

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Confirmation that Bacchanalia is still Atlanta's best restaurant, based on two meals there. Still, I believe it is a big notch below both Citronelle and Maestro, perhaps CityZen.
Mrs JPW and I had a wonderful dinner at the bar at Bacchanalia this past weekend. I would agree in general with Joe's analysis above. I'd give CityZen the edge over Bacchanalia by a nose. We started with the shrimp and a charcuterie plate. The shrimp were perfectly done and their briny essence was contrasted nicely with the creamy garlic sauce. The charcuterie platter was five different meats cured in house (and displayed AND on sale from their new curing room in the store up front) and a pork rillette. All were very nicely done. For a main, we split a grouper over mixed vegetables. The grouper fillet was perfectly broiled with a nice crust. It went well with the stronger vegetables especially the artichoke hearts. A pre-dessert of a shot glass of orange foam with tiny dollops of fennel ice cream at the bottom was an amusing take on bubble tea.

A nice selection of wines by the glass and really excellent service. I'm not generally a fan of open kitchens, but I really like that the bar overlooks the open kitchen. So often as a solo diner at the bar, I have nothing really to look at but a wall of bottles. Here, the bar diner gets the show. A nice interior that makes you forget that you are in what is for all intents and purposes a strip mall. A thoroughly enjoyable meal and a place to which I look forward to returning.

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To deal with my farmers market envy, I drove to Thomasville, GA today. They have the state farmers market there. Unfortunately, the web site I got my info from neglected to say that this was the series of wholesale warehouses and not stalls open to the public. Bummed and hungry, I went into Market Diner for some lunch. This is an $8.50 buffet set up that features the goods of the market. I filled my plate with crispy but not greasy fried chicken, corn souffle, dressing, stewed okra and tomatos, and some of the best collards I've ever tasted, well seasoned with generous chunks of local ham. The staff was really pushing the cobbler because they were so excited to have it back in season. My very kind server kept my tea glass filled and told me to come back in summer (!) if I want the open fruit stands. It was 94 degrees in the shade - I wonder what they call summer?

This place is an easy 30 minute detour off I-10 if you happening to be cruising across the south.

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Had a really enjoyable quick trip to Atlanta this weekend. For some reason, I'd thought it was farther then it is and haven't included it in any of my weekend road trips. But, at only 4 hours and a really enjoyable drive, I'll be back (unless I move first).

Had a work meeting Friday morning which spilled over into lunch. Went to Brio in Buckhead and was really disappointed - both at the actual lunch and at having to give up my lunch to work. My dining companion raved about the lasagna so I caved and got it. It was drowning in bechamel and was just too heavy for summer.

Set free in the afternoon I headed to the aquarium -- truly wonderful place. Made it back to my hotel around 8 and had to figure out what to do about dinner. I was too tired to go back downtown as originally planned and decided to go around the corner to the Buckhead Diner at the recommendation of the concierge at my hotel. He said instead of eating at the bar, sit at the chef's counter. They have an open kitchen with a counter and a few bar stools. You sit in the middle of the action and share the heat of the ovens. I had the tempura softshell crabs at the recommendation of the chef who chatted with me from time to time. The crab was light without a trace of grease. It was served over a disappointing risotto that just had too much going on and was a poor match for the crab so most of my risotto was left on the plate. The chef noticed and had them bring me a cherry cobbler, the dessert special. This was a thing of beauty. The cherries were both tart and sweet. Rather then a biscuit topping it had something akin to French toast and it just worked wonderfully. I also enjoyed the show. The chef was fed up with several of the servers and it was an interesting FOH/BOH dynamic.

I wanted to hit the big State Farmers Market on the way home but they were only open until noon on Saturday and I didn't want to leave that early. I went to the DeKalb Farmers Market, more southern style Super H then farmers market. In fact, they were selling peaches from California which just seemed wrong. But they were next to durian and plantains which somehow balanced everything out. Had lunch at the buffet restaurant which was a good reflection of the eclectic international products, produce, and meats in the store. Want greens to go with your fried chicken? Sure, but they were bak choy, not collards. I stocked up on some spices, tea, and other staple-ish things that I can't get locally. I'd brought a cooler with me and got some wonderful looking lamb and some Texas grass fed steaks. I skipped the enticing storemade sausages. I could be very happy living near this place.

On the way home I stopped at a number of roadside stands and picked up a few varieties of peaches, tomatoes and corn. Had some great peach ice cream at Ellis nut farm in Vienna, GA where they had 4 different pecans on offer. Then to the Salt-lick Sausage Company where I looked but didn't buy anything because I'd been told to go to Stripling's General Store across the street but I couldn't resist stopping in to both places in Cordele, GA. Stripling's had a great assortment of sausage, bacon, ham steaks, and pickled veggies of all types. I picked up the medium smoked sausage based on the advice of the guy behind the counter. They must have a number of drivers stop in on a whim because they had an assortment of cooler bags on display by the meat counter. I also picked up some wonderful butter from Sparkman's Cream Valley in Moultrie, GA. It is dark yellow and very flavorful. They had non-homogenized milk, but sadly, no cream because I would have loved to make some carmels with the same magic cow stuff that went into this butter.

A great couple of days on the road. Many promising bbq places along the way but those will have to wait until next time.

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After a long absence, I am relocating in May to my childhood home--Atlanta. My parents live in Lawrenceville, so they don't get into the city much--so is there anyone on this board who can fill me in on what's hot in the ATL dining scene these days? My initial impulse, based on past experiences, is that it's not as exciting or varied as DC, but that it doesn't get nearly the respect it deserves.

Thoughts? Thanks!

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The local high-end booze distributor recommended Pearson's, in Buckhead, as the most likely place in the area to find a selection of their items. It turns out that the Atlanta Pearson's was started in the early 1970s by the son of the owner of DC's own Pearson's. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the hardest-to-find items I was looking for, but I did at least pick up some Aviation gin, some more Neisson rhum, and a few other things.

Ask for Annie; she's clearly the resident spirits fiend. I'm going to have to try this Modmix citrus margarita mixer with the Hangar One Chipotle when I get home.

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Alright, kids, I know I previously asked for general sentiments about the Atlanta-area dining scene, but now I have a specific trip planned and would like some thoughts--if you've got 'em.

After Presidents' Day, I'll be spending three days (and two nights) in Atlanta for job-hunting purposes. I'll be staying with my folks in Lawrenceville, so dinners will likely consist of Chick-fil-a (drool...) or goodies from the surprisingly fresh and tasty local sushi joint. My question is--what about lunch? Two of my interview days will be spent in Decatur (1700 Clairmont Road, to be exact), and the other will be in the Peachtree Center area (right near the MARTA station). Are there any spots close-by that shouldn't be missed?

After three days of smiling and tooting my own horn, I'm fortunate enough to be going to Athens for the weekend to visit my alma mater and many friends I made there. Other than 5 and 10 (where I've dined once before and will be going if I can convince someone to accompany me), are there any new and noteworthy spots in the Classic City? When I was a poor college student there, I ate at The Grill and The Grit, and date nights/parental visits usually called for trips to East/West Bistro or DePalma's.

Any recent experiences would be much appreciated--thanks!

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Alright, so apparently I'm the only one who writes in this topic! rolleyes.gif

During my jaunt to Athens, Georgia, last week, I decided to treat myself to one nice solo dinner. Being a college town, the Classic City isn't exactly chock-full of haute cuisine options. However, 5 & 10 garnered the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's "Restaurant of the Year" title in 2007. What better reason to give it a taste?

I had a hard time deciding how to proceed food-wise. Nearly all of the entrees looked delicious, but I wanted to try as many varied things as possible. So, in the end, I had three appetizers and a dessert. First, I chose the cauliflower soup with butter poached Maine lobster and chive cream ($9). It was creamier and a little thinner than the version I recently had at Proof (which I loved), but the flavor was really good. The lobster didn't really add or subtract from the dish, which causes me to conclude that chefs should just leave their cauliflower soups alone and stop adding seafood (Proof's version had cornmeal-crusted fried oysters, and I thought they were superfluous as well).

Next, I ordered a half dozen oysters on the half-shell. As an oyster-lover, I pay great attention to the care that is taken in selecting and presenting raw bar items. In this case, the oysters (which were Kumamotos - small, but briny and somewhat sweet, and absolutely fantastic) were served with a homemade cocktail sauce and a mignonette, and it was a wonderful middle course (especially when paired with an insanely reasonably priced $6 glass of cava).

Earlier in the evening, the bartender had raved about the ahi tuna tartare with cornichons, shallots, lemon, parsley, ponzu, citrus salad, and haricots vert ($14). It sounded fabulous, so I decided to end my appetizer tour with the dish, and the presentation was certainly gorgeous (and the quality of the fish was top-notch). However, it seemed to me that the chef was rather heavy-handed with the ponzu, as the sauce often overpowered the flavor of the tuna (especially near the bottom of the mold, where the fish was sitting in a puddle of the liquid). I've had a lot of tuna tartare, and this one was certainly good, but it wasn't mind-blowing by any stretch of the imagination.

For dessert, I noticed a bourbon pecan pie on the specials menu, and I had to go for it. I make a mean bourbon pecan pie myself, and I wanted to see how 5 & 10 would stack up against my baking prowess (intense sarcasm intended). Shockingly enough, I really and truly thought that my pecan pie was the superior dessert, as 5 & 10's version was rather uninspiring. The Coca-Cola ice cream that came with the pie, however, was one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. Amazing. And I don't even like ice cream all that much.

Three appetizers, a dessert, two glasses of wine, a beer, tax, and tip added up to $82. The service was very good, and the atmosphere was energetic and casual (except for the primped up sorority girls who got busted for having fake IDs...ah, college). But I walked out of the restaurant with a furrowed brow. Was that REALLY the best restaurant in Atlanta?

I applaud the AJC's food editors for realizing that there exist great culinary possibilities outside of the perimeter (or OTP, as we ATLiens would say - haha). However, it is hard for me to believe that there isn't a single restaurant in the metro Atlanta area that can beat 5 & 10 in terms of a total dining experience. To say that the best restaurant in Atlanta resides in Athens (which is a good hour and a half outside the city) is, in my mind, to severely denigrate the many great dining options that one can find right downtown.

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Help!

I have one day in Atlanta next week. I am staying downtown and need to be at Emory Law School at 7 pm.

I have an old friend meeting me but she won't get in until 4:30 or 5.

Where can we have a nice early dinner near Emory?

Thanks!

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Help!

I have one day in Atlanta next week. I am staying downtown and need to be at Emory Law School at 7 pm.

I have an old friend meeting me but she won't get in until 4:30 or 5.

Where can we have a nice early dinner near Emory?

Thanks!

My first suggestion would be Watershed, ESPECIALLY if the day you're in Atlanta happens to be a Tuesday (which is when they have fried chicken). If you like Mexican food, Taqueria del Sol is also good. Both restaurants are on Ponce de Leon (they're right across the street from each other, actually), in downtown Decatur, just a short drive from Emory. Hope that helps!

Watershed: http://www.watershedrestaurant.com/

Taqueria del Sol: http://www.taqueriadelsol.com/

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Do we have any Rockwellians currently living in Atlanta? My move is less than 2 weeks away, and I'd love to meet any potential dinner companions as I prepare to eat my way through the city! :-)

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Okay, my first restaurant report from Atlanta--TWO urban licks, which is part of the Concentrics Restaurant Group (they own about 8 places in the Metro area), and which happens to be right across the street from my loft. The ambiance is kind of over the top--very industrial, and trying VERY hard to be hip.

For appetizers, Jason and I shared the oxtail empanadas with roasted garlic aioli ($10) and the sweet and spicy calamari with basil and cilantro ($10). The empanadas had a very healthy helping of queso on top, which, when combined with the aioli, greatly overpowered the dish. However, when I scraped off the excess toppings and got a bite of just oxtail and pastry, the flavors really sang--the meat was insanely tender from braising and incredibly well-seasoned. The calamari was fried perfectly--not chewy, not greasy, just crispy and tender--and the chili glaze delivered the as-promised one-two punch of sweet and spicy. I could have used a little more cilantro to cool things down, but overall, I thought it was a delicious version of the ubiquitous squid starter.

Before our main courses, we decided to order some vino. In terms of wine, TWO urban licks has special relationships with certain wineries that allow it to buy in large quantities and then store the wine in temperature-controlled stainless steel barrels. While it all sounded nifty, I wasn't thrilled with any of the by-the-glass selections, and we were there to celebrate. So, a bottle it was.

Entree-wise, Jason opted for the bronzed scallops with gouda grits and smoked tomato broth ($20). He said they were quite possibly the best scallops he's ever had--very high praise! I'm not sure I agree that they were superlative, but they were nicely cooked (bordering on underdone, which is how I like them) and subtly seasoned. The accompanying grits and broth were very tasty as well and did a good job of complimenting and highlighting the bivalves. I opted for the braised pork with baked cheddar macaroni and pork jus ($19). Let me just get this out of the way: that macaroni and cheese may have been the best I've ever had. Ever. Served in a mini cast-iron pot, the cheddar cheese on top was perfectly browned and just a tad crunchy, and the macaroni underneath was rich, creamy, tangy deliciousness. The waiter said that the secret was bechamel sauce. Drooooooool. The pork was a HUGE portion, and it was definitely well-braised (it fell off the bone), but it was waaaaaay too heavy on the fennel, which surprised me all the more because the menu didn't mention it as a component of the dish.

For dessert, we ordered port, coffee, and the chocolate mousse rice crispy treat with chocolate malt ice cream ($7). Basically, it was like Atlanta's take on the Michel Richard "Kit Kat Bar." I sometimes found Richard's version to be a little heavy (i.e., not enough air in the mousse), but this version was virtually error-proof. The mousse was light in both flavor and texture, and the "rice crispy treat" bottom was delicately crunchy. I didn't get a lot of malt flavor from the ice cream, but Jason really liked it.

At the end of the meal, in addition to our bill (which came out to $187, without tip, but which would have been a LOT cheaper if we hadn't splurged on an expensive wine), we were presented with a $25 gift certificate to each of two other Concentric restaurants, Trois and STATS. I thought it was a nice gesture, and VERY smart--in this economy, even popular restaurants need to make extra efforts to encourage diners to eat out. Service was very good, and the experience as a whole went much more smoothly than I was expecting (since it's such a "see and be seen" place, I anticipated more waiting and certainly more aloofness).

In sum, though the kitchen could use a lighter hand with certain seasonings, and though the atmosphere is more clubhound than chowhound, I am thrilled to have TWO urban licks right in my backyard.

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There are a lot of places to get "meat and three" plates in Atlanta, but I just went to one of the most beloved--Eats. It's on Ponce de Leon, and it's a pretty busted lookin' place. BUT, there's a reason it just celebrated its 15-year anniversary. A "meat and two" plate with jerk chicken, mac 'n cheese, black beans, and cornbread costs less than $7, but it's enough food to keep you going all day long. The HALF chicken was literally falling off the bone, and it had a great kick--it definitely didn't taste of any commercial, mass-produced jerk seasoning. The mac 'n cheese was a solid rendition, and very cheesy. The beans were wonderful, with a creamy texture and a chili-enhanced flavor. I don't really like cornbread (I know, blasphemy), so I can't comment on that--and I don't think I would have been able to stuff it in anyway.

Eats also has a pasta bar, where you can customize your noodles, sauces, and toppings. I think it will be a long while before I try that, though. I still have to get through the meatloaf, collards, green beans...

Very diverse crowd--old and young, black and white, yuppies and emo hipsters. Cool place all around!

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China Inn, tonight, amazing ma pa tofu. When we entered the restaurant on Peachtree Industrial Blvd. tonight I expected tried and trued Americanized Chinese food. However, I saw a gentleman making a take out order off a Chinese menu. I asked if they had a translation which they didn't. I thought of the Chinese names of the dishes I liked at Joes and elsewhere but to little avail. So, I stuck with dishes on the main menu that I knew had traditional Chinese roots. Since I had tried to order Chinese dishes, the server brought us the traditional versions of the dishes. Wow.

Though we ended up ordering Cashew Chicken for him, my teenage nephew loved watching the open kitchen.

Oh, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Atlanta chapter was having a banquet in the restaurant... always a good sign.

5470 Peachtree Industrial Blvd

Chamblee, GA 30341

(770) 458-6363

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