Friday, April 18, 2008

Pick and Grin at Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery's Bluegrass Brunch on April 20

Would you use an alarm clock to wake up the vines for fine wines? At Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery, they'll be strumming blue grass music at the 6th Annual Awakening of the Vines on Sunday, April 20. The afternoon grins with fresh picks of live blue grass music, a buffet luncheon spread and a tasting of the current release of Wolf Mountain's Family of Estate Wines to awaken the palate. Settle back and revel in the mountain vineyard's beauty while sipping hand-crafted, European-style wines at this beautiful winery just north of Dahlonega, Georgia. $30 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Seatings are at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Advance reservations are required; call 706-867-9862. 180 Wolf Mountain Trail in Dahlonega.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

That’s a heap of fried green tomatoes…South City Kitchen Midtown Celebrates 15 Years As A Midtown Dining Destination; Vinings Location Joins In!

When South City Kitchen® Midtown opened in Midtown 15 years ago this month, Midtown Atlanta was not the cultural and dining hub it is today. Trendsetter that it is, the much-loved restaurant’s unique blend of big city energy, Old South, front-porch hospitality and a New South culinary flair spread down the blocks to help make Midtown a dining destination for lunch, brunch and dinner. Now, join South City Kitchen Midtown and its younger sibling, South City Kitchen Vinings, in celebrating 15 mouthwatering years that have flown by like buttermilk fried chicken off a platter. From Thursday, April 17 through Saturday, April 26, both of the Fifth Group Restaurants’® restaurant locations will mark the occasion with a special three-course menu created in South City Kitchen style – using fresh, local ingredients. Come celebrate and experience the specialties that are not on the menu: the superior service that has earned the restaurant the Distinguished Restaurant of North America (DiRoNA) award and a beverage program noted with the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence!

Enjoy the special three-course menu for $32.95 per person, excluding tax and gratuity, or order your favorites à la carte:

Appetizers and salads ($6.50 - $10) such as fried green tomatoes with goat cheese, crisp dandelion greens, red pepper coulis; rock shrimp and scallion beignets with warm pepper jelly; cornmeal-fried oysters with grapefruit-shaved fennel salad and sweet mustard sauce; steamed mussels in tomato-fennel broth with garlic, leeks and preserved lemons; warm asparagus and country ham salad with golden tomatoes; and Vidalia onion tart with local goat cheese, watercress and spiced Georgia honey.

Entrees ($15.75 - $24) include sautéed Georgia trout with grilled spring vegetables, truffle creamed corn and smoked tomato vinaigrette; penne pasta with crawfish and tasso ham with bourbon cream and crisped leeks; pan-seared pork chop with macaroni and cheese, portobella fries and red pepper coulis; grilled barbecue swordfish with Monterrey Jack cheese grits; crisp fried chicken with buttermilk mashed potatoes, green beans and bourbon gravy; grilled flatiron steak with watercress, shoestring fries and balsamic-shallot butter; and sautéed shrimp and scallops with creamy stone-ground grits and garlic gravy.

Desserts ($6.75) come in slices of Southern life: black bottom or lemon chess pie.

Reservations are recommended. South City Kitchen Midtown is open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch at 1144 Crescent Avenue in Midtown; 404-873-7358. South City Kitchen Vinings serves dinner and Sunday brunch at 1675 Cumberland Parkway; 770-435-0700.

Spring + Italian Food = New Treats at La Tavola

Virginia-Highlands' Italian darling, La Tavola Trattoria, has just introduced its new spring menu, and it looks so good I'm considering banning the other three seasons from my calendar!

New antipasti delights include beet salad with shaved fennel, Bartlett pears, ricotta salata and pistachios; mozzarella burrata with tomato conserva and crostini; beef tagliata of charred rare filet, lemon, shaved baby artichokes, parsley and Grana Padano cheese; seared sea scallops with polenta, sautéed spinach and tomato-onion compote; and grilled calamari with garlic-roasted cauliflower, organic cannellini beans and Agrumato oil.

What I'm ordering: the beef tagliata
Primi pasta dishes include fregola and clams with Calabrian chilies, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes; agnolotti ravioli of braised beef and veal, thyme butter sauce and a red wine reduction; spinach and smoked ricotta ravioli with lemon zest, sage, pine nuts and butter; and orecchiette with house-made sausage and broccoli rabe, garlic, chili flakes and Pecorino Romano cheese.
What I'm ordering: orecchiette with house-made sausage
Secondi covers land and sea: Cacciucco fish stew of mussels, clams, prawns, calamari, fish, spicy tomato-herb brodetto served over grilled bread; seared trout with roasted fennel, fingerling potatoes, grilled red onion and lemon-oregano vinaigrette; grilled tuna with smashed organic cannellini beans, escarole, taggiasca olives and orange-olive oil; roasted monkfish with Castelluccio lentils, carrots, celery, salsa verde and toasted almonds; roasted chicken, rubbed with myrtle and bay leaf, broccoli rabe and lemon; grilled lamb Scottaditi with braised spring vegetables, prosciutto, mint and lemon; pork saltimbocca scallopine with prosciutto, sage, white wine, roasted fingerling potatoes and braised Swiss chard; grilled, dry-rubbed Meyer beef rib-eye steak with fingerling potatoes, broccoli rabe and Chianti Classico olive oil; and veal scallopine with capers, sage, lemon, roasted fingerling potatoes and spinach.

What I'm ordering: cacciucco fish stew

By the way, as at all Fifth Group Restaurants, the kitchen and menu are 100% trans-fat free, but I think I'll skip dessert all the same! Three courses is more than enough for this girl!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All Dressed Up And No Where To Go For Dinner? Prom Menu Specials Start The Evening In Style!

In town and in the ‘burbs, high school juniors and seniors have visions of prom night in their heads, dresses and tuxes in their closets, and quizzical looks as they decide where to dine out beforehand. Morton’s The Steakhouse in Buckhead and Downtown, Canoe, Aqua Blue, South City Kitchen® Midtown and Vinings and Woodfire Grill all know that enjoying a fine dinner at a restaurant that doesn’t have a drive-thru is part of the prom mystique – and they’re doing something about it by offering prom night specials to make dreams come true!

Aqua Blue is ready to start your sophisticated evening off right in Roswell. The three-course prom menu starts with a choice of an Aqua Blue house salad or Charleston she-crab soup. Entrée choices include sliced beef tenderloin medallions, baked French chicken or grilled salmon Oscar. Choose your dessert: warm chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream or classic crème brûlée. $60 per couple, all inclusive. Reservations required; 770-643-8886. 1564 Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell.

Canoe provides a beautiful riverside setting in Vinings with a garden that looks as good in photos as the food tastes on the plate! Prom menu options include: simple salad of young mixed lettuces with crispy potatoes and fresh herbs; a choice of grilled Atlantic salmon with lemon vinaigrette, boneless chicken breast or grilled Black Angus New York strip, all served with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and French beans. For dessert, choose peanut butter crunch bar with chocolate ganache and banana crème anglaise or one of Canoe’s three favorite ice cream flavors. $55 per person, includes all soft drinks, tax and gratuity. 4199 Paces Ferry Road, NW; 770-432-2663.

Morton’s The Steakhouse locations in Buckhead and Downtown go all out for your formal evening with one of the best four-course steak and seafood menu deals around. For just $99 for two, each person enjoys a single-cut filet; choice of seafood options including Morton’s jumbo lump crab cake, Shrimp Alexander or broiled sea scallops wrapped in bacon with apricot chutney; choice of Caesar or Morton’s salad; and a choice of Morton’s legendary hot chocolate cake or Key lime pie for dessert. Reservations required. Buckhead: Peachtree Lenox Building at 3379 Peachtree Road, NE; 404-816-6535. Downtown: In the SunTrust Plaza Building at 303 Peachtree Center Avenue; 404-577-4366.

South City Kitchen Midtown and Vinings offer two prix fixe prom menu options – choose the location that best suits your prom! The price is the same at both locations -- $35 per person including soft drink, tax and gratuity. At South City Kitchen Midtown choose a first course of mixed baby lettuces with toasted pecans; Old Charleston she-crab soup; fried green tomatoes with goat cheese, sweet red pepper coulis and crisp dandelion greens; or South City pimiento cheese with house pickles, fresh celery and corn crackers. Second course choices include crab hash with a poached egg and Idaho potatoes; buttermilk fried chicken with whipped potatoes and green beans; sautéed shrimp and scallops over stone-ground grits; or South City grilled chicken Caesar salad. South City Kitchen Vinings’ menu is as above, with butterbean hummus taking the place of pimiento cheese in first course offerings. In Midtown at 1144 Crescent Avenue, 404-873-7358; in Vinings at 1675 Cumberland Parkway, 770-435-0700.

Woodfire Grill, conveniently located to I-85 in Midtown, plans a three-course, $39 prix fixe prom menu that includes salad, steak and veggies and dessert. Locavores will love the seasonal ingredients fresh from local farms! 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road; 404-347-9055.

Ecco Taste of Spain Dinner Last Night

Wow. I had a taste of Spain and a lot of sips of Spain at Ecco last night! As usual the Fifth Group team did a fab job putting on a party. We started out in the bar with apps and champagne. Gotta love that to get you in the mood.

Then we moved to the back room where we were seated at small tables with others. My friend and I lucked out with four great guys who are Ecco fans and have traveled a ton. I am now planning a trip to Croatia based on their recommendation!

But, back to the food .... The ham croquette app was to die for. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of it, but it was there and then it was gone! For dinner we had a tasty chorizo dish and some nice big prawns. Then we had a scrumptious paella - chicken and mushroom. Then we had suckling pig and this apple/onion side dish that I'm not describing well but went perfectly with the pork. For dessert they served these crazy fritters that had a vanilla tasting filling inside. We scarfed them down.

The wines were awesome. We loved the opening Albarino. And the reds were all outstanding with everyone at the table favoring a different one. I liked the Rioja best.

Definitely a fun evening.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

During Tax Week and Beyond, Restaurants Help You Count Pennies After the Bean Counter Counts Your Dough

Hopefully, you’ve already e-filed or mailed in your tax forms (deadline is midnight tonight!). Windfall refund blowing your way? Celebrate! If your dirge is “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go,” take heart with these bar and dining strategies that stretch your post-tax dollars.

Fogo de Chão carves the same 15 cuts of savory meats at lunch for nearly half the price of the evening meal! All-you-can-eat lunch costs $29.50 versus $46.50 for dinner. The big-as-Brazil salad bar has plenty of greens and more! 3101 Piedmont Road; 404-266-9988.

The GLOBE plays a tempting four-on-four deal during Wine Down Wednesdays so you can spend a night out without spending a fortune. Four appetizer “bites” and four wine tastings cost a mere $15 from 6 – 8 p.m. 75 Fifth Street, NW in Midtown; 404-541-1487.

Marlow's Tavern passes savings on to the gals at Wednesdays’ “Girls’ Night Out” events. During April, Marlow’s showers the gals with light and luscious food and drink specials. $5 “Ladies Choice” appetizers wow, whether it’s the tequila-lime shrimp martini, lime-marinated chicken satay with fresh guac or a tomato and basil bruschetta. A glass full of excitement is just $5 as well! Try the signature “Tropical Elixir” and “Orange Marmalade.” Adding an element of surprise, each Marlow’s location will feature its own special cocktail of choice on Wednesdays – and even we don’t know what it will be where! April deals continue as each Marlow’s location lines up a $5 white wine flight and a $5 red wine flight for the gals! At all Marlow’s Tavern locations: Alpharetta - 3719 Old Alabama Road, 770-475-1800; Kennesaw - 745 Chastain Road, NW, 770-425-8777; Midtown - 950 West Peachtree Street, 404-815-0323; Vinings - 2355 Cumberland Parkway, 770-432-2526.

Morton’s The Steakhouse “Power Hour” in Buckhead and Downtown provides timely ways to save dough, offering a half-priced Bar Bites menu ($4/plate) from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and from 9 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. Technically, Power Hour runs longer than an hour, but that’s in your favor so who’s watching the clock! Start salivating over $4 selections such as the mini cheeseburger trio with more than half a pound of USDA prime beef with cheddar cheese, tomato slices, iceberg lettuce and onion, served on silver dollar rolls; four petite filet mignon sandwiches served on seeded ciabatta dinner rolls; crispy fried chicken goujonettes; and crab, spinach and artichoke dip with toasted bread croutons. Oysters on the half shell are just $1.50 each, and colossal shrimp are $2.50 a piece. Buckhead: Peachtree Lenox Building at 3379 Peachtree Road, NE; 404-816-6535. Downtown in the SunTrust Plaza Building at 303 Peachtree Center Avenue; 404-577-4366.

Trilogy spreads the wealth of savings throughout the week! Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Trilogy pours half-price martinis and wine-by-the-glass, and Coors Light beer is $2.Monday fills the bill with bottomless pasta bowls for $8.95. Top linguini, orchetti or penne pasta with your choice of marinara, meat sauce, Alfredo or tomato basil sauce; Trilogy rounds out the meal with tossed salad and warm crusty bread.Tuesdays are Shrimp Steamer Nights. Plunk down $10.95 and dig into a full pound of steamed shrimp with warm garlic butter, red skin potatoes and corn on the cob.Wednesday’s all-you-care-to-eat helpings of Mama Martin's Meatloaf are a Southern-style comfort that’s decked out with green beans, mashed potatoes and pan gravy for $9.95. 4930 Davidson Road off Johnson Ferry behind the Parkaire shopping center in East Cobb; 770-971-4770.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery provides a wine-country thrill without airport hassles, fuel surcharges or taxing time-zone changes. Wine tastings are $10 per person, including a souvenir glass, on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon until 5 p.m., and on Sunday from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Call 706-867-9862 for reservations then head north to Dahlonega, Georgia. 180 Wolf Mountain Trail.

Woodfire Grill keeps your budget in mind with Executive Chef/Owner Michael Tuohy’s expanded small plates menu. Many of Woodfire Grill's previous entrée options have been made into smaller portions so diners can share and enjoy numerous flavors and textures. Recent examples (the menu changes daily) include wood-grilled Sonoma artisan duck breast with Anson Mills polenta and truffle sauce; handmade tagliatelle with Georgia white shrimp, guanciale, chiles, garlic and San Marzano tomato sauce; and carnaroli risotto with porcini mushrooms, butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano. So if you don’t want to blow your dining budget on a big meal, take Woodfire Grill’s small plates menu for a spin. 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road; 404-347-9055.