Friday, September 19, 2008

Perfect Patio Weather For Lunching At South City Kitchen Midtown

Yesterday, fellow MLA team member Meryl and I had a meeting with Fifth Group Restaurants Marketing Director Michael Erickson over lunch at South City Kitchen in Midtown, and it was the perfect day for dining on the patio. I opted for the vegetable plate (pictured left) with roasted corn, cucumber salad, local field peas, green beans and tomato "mac & cheese" ($12.75); Meryl had the salad and sandwich combo with a mixed baby lettuces salad and the BBQ pork sandwich ($10.25; sandwich pictured below on right); and Michael had Dorothy's chicken salad sandwich with melted Swiss cheese, house chips and cole slaw ($8.25; pictured below on left).

South City Kitchen is always packed for lunch, so go grab a seat on the sidewalk patio pronto and enjoy this gorgeous fall weather along with Chef Dean Dupuis' delicious menu. And don't forget to sample the cornbread in the restaurant's bread basket - our sources tell us it's a new recipe from the company's Beverage Director Vajra Stratigos!

South City Kitchen Midtown is located at 1144 Crescent Avenue in Midtown; 404-873-7358;

Downtown for Coffee or a Quick Lunch? Quaint Bistro 191 and The Bean Counter Coffee Bar Satisfy Tall Orders in 191 Peachtree Tower!

Work day lunches can sometimes be boring and bland. You stand in line in a cafeteria (just like grade school) with few options to choose from. Well, its time for all of that to change. Opening Monday, September 22, Bistro 191 and The Bean Counter Coffee Bar are Sterling Spoon's answer to two distinct food and coffee desires among the downtown office set. John C. Metz, Jr. and Tom DiGiorgio, the gents behind Marlow's Tavern and Aqua Blue, are adamant about defying the expected office cafeteria and offering in its stead easy-going elegance in a handsome mahogany-clad café and full service coffee bar. Bistro 191 will offer quality American classics, salads, a market deli, an Asian grill and a full-service catering company. Count on fresh ingredients, timely service and reasonable pricing ($3-$10). The Bean Counter fills cups from a Caribou Coffee menu brimming with delicious roasts and flavors -- hot, iced or frozen ($2-$5).
Bistro 191 and The Bean Counter Coffee Bar: Open 7 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays at

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Put the First Day of Fall on Your Calendar...and Celebrate at Dogwood

Here at MLA, we were all wondering “What happened to summer?” until we took a look at what the first day of autumn is bringing to the tables at Dogwood on's time to welcome the new season and start salivating over this new menu. Beginning Monday, September 22, diners can start at the Grits Bar where Logan Turnpike’s creamy white stone ground grits are well complemented by wild mushrooms, butter-poached lobster or ham and pimento cheese ($4-$6). Southern-fried quail breast with buttermilk spoon biscuit, goat cheese-pepper gravy and red onion marmalade and sweet potato gnocchi in brown butter parmesan cream with toasted pecans are two tempters on the appetizer menu ($9-$15). Try a “soup flight” of three soups or go solo with a bowl of root vegetable puree with grilled wild boar-cranberry sausage and lingonberries, tomato bisque with Split Creek Farm goat cheese or the soup of the day ($6-$11). Main dishes call out to fall: SoCo glazed pork chops with caramelized shallots and sweet corn soufflé; pecan-rubbed tuna with fingerling potatoes, applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onion and bar-b-que drizzle; venison osso bucco with rosemary-parmesan grits and apple-turnip preserve; grilled Atlantic salmon with BLT sauce and grilled cornbread; and the comforting Dogwood burger or off-the-bone short ribs with smashed rutabagas and blackberry demi ($13-$32). Delish desserts ($6) such as blackberry-chocolate cornbread upside down cake with coffee gelato or hazelnut cheesecake with apple-cranberry compote and cheese selections will entice you to stay on until winter!

And if the new menu was not enough, Dogwood is enticing guests with drink specials, too. Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday guests can enjoy half-price Ketel One martinis and cosmos along with half-price bottles of wine up to $100. Fox Theatre patrons can take advantage of half price wines by the glass with the purchase of an entrée any day of the week. Dogwood: 565 Peachtree Street; 404-835-1410.

Tasting Menu at Woodfire Grill

Last night MLAers McCall, Caryn and I had dinner at Woodfire Grill. I’m embarrassed to say that I hadn’t been in since before Michael Tuohy’s departure several weeks ago, and after last night’s dinner I can’t believe I wasted so much time! Kevin Gillespie, executive chef, has added the option of a three or five course tasting menu to the regular dinner menu every night. The tasting menu is mostly dishes that are not on the regular menu, and we loved not knowing what was going to come out of the kitchen. Every plate was a surprise. We choose to do wine pairings with our five course dinner and, although initially unplanned, we ended enjoying a flight of all screw cap wines. It made for a fun evening and one that was so interactive with the kitchen.

Owner Nicolas Quinones started us with a wonderfully acidic, crisp Willakenzie Estate Pinot Gris to go with our amuse-bouche, a petite rice fritter topped with an Indian spiced duxelles. I was so quick to pop it in my mouth that I totally forgot my blogging mission temporarily and missed the photo op. You’ll have to use your imagination…
Our first course was a perfectly cooked piece of wild artic char served on top of Carolina Gold rice with chanterelle mushrooms and a hint of Indian spices. It was a great foil to the crispness of the Pinot Gris we were drinking.

Next, we move on to Artazuri Grenache rosé. It was dry and fresh with no hint of sweetness – perfect! The rosé was paired with our second course of Georgia white shrimp served over a horseradish and pimenton infused broth and tomatoes.

Now we take a small detour because we were lucky enough to get a bonus course from both Kevin and Nick! Nick poured a delicious Viognier from South Australia – Yalumba – and Kevin dished up an incredible roasted African soup with hazelnut mousse and honey glazed apples. Oh my sweet, salty goodness, this was an incredible dish and my personal favorite of the night.

By this point in the night, we noticed that so far all our wines had been screw caps. So, in keeping with the theme of the evening, Nick chose a Vincent Girardin Pinot Noir. It was a fabulous Pinot Noir, much richer and full bodied than what you expect with a pinot noir. Our third course was veal sweetbreads with a sweet potato salad and mustard pan sauce. Is it rude to lick a plate clean when you like it this much?

Now we are on to the big reds of the night. Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz was our screw cap partner for the grilled duck breast served with creamed arugula and some of the best potatoes I’ve ever had. I dare you to find better.

Thank goodness we’ve made it to the last course because I honestly don’t think I could have made it through many more plates. Somehow, I did manage to clean my plate of its dense chocolate cake with caramel ice cream. The dessert managed to find that perfect sweet salty balance that the African soup had.

Overall, the dinner was just incredible. It was such a neat experience to come in on a weeknight and have this unbelievable, and unplanned, dining experience. At the end of the night, they actually printed out a copy of our tasting menu for us to keep. The tasting menu is available every night and is different every night so it will be fun to compare this menu to all the future tasting menus I plan on enjoying at Woodfire Grill.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Taste 15 Cabs at Toulouse on Sunday

I had the pleasure of dining at Toulouse not once but twice last week! It's long been one of my favorite neighborhood places. The MLA team had a blast on Wednesday night and then I went with some friends on Friday. Fun!

Toulouse owner George Tice has a passion: wine. He knows it, loves it, teaches it and sells it. The wine tastings at Toulouse are awesome and luckily, there's one coming up! Sunday night, Sept. 21, they are pouring 15 samples of Cabernet Sauvignon beginning at 6:30 p.m. Nibbles and palate cleansers will keep taste buds sharp. $30 per person includes wine and nibbles; seating is limited, and these wine tastings are usually a sell out, so make plans and make reservations now by calling 404-351-9533.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

DailyCandy Definition

Is she angry at us? Was it something we said? Something we ordered? We haven’t even arrived at tip time yet. If you’ve experienced the unpleasantness of having a haitress serve you, well, you know what we mean…and The DailyCandy Lexicon has a label for it. Haitress – n. angry waitress.

Suggested usage: When we finally made our way to the restaurant door and the freedom beyond, we were too polite to fill out a hate-mail comment card on the haitress who “served” us dinner.

Low Country Boil Opens Saturday Live Music Series At Marlow’s Tavern Alpharetta

"Hot and spicy" will describe both the food and the music this Saturday afternoon at Marlow’s Tavern in Alpharetta. The hopping, Northside tavern goes Cajun from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, September 20 to kick off its new weekly Saturday night live music series. This week, Andrew Black will entertain while guests push up their sleeves and hunker down to enjoy Low Country boil. Stay on for more musical entertainment and food and drink specials. No cover charge, just come “bayou-self” or bring friends!

Marlow’s Alpharetta: 3719 Old Alabama Road; 770-475-1800.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bordeaux Inspires the World Wine Tasting at Woodfire Grill

The next wine tasting at Woodfire Grill, Bordeaux Inspires the World, will take place this Wednesday, September 17. The wines features are those inspired by the Bordeaux region of France such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from around the globe including France, Italy, California, Washington, Chile and Argentina.

At Woodfire Grill's wine tastings there's no crowded bar or schoolroom set up. You simply sit in the dining room with your friends and the wines are brought to you, at your own pace. But you don't miss the commentary - they bring that to you too! They will begin pouring the eight wines around 7 p.m. The cost is $15 per person excluding tax and gratuity. The menu that night be focused on dishes that pair well with the chosen wines. For reservations, call 404-347-9055.

Stay tuned for the next wine tasting on October 15 where we will be exploring Rhone Valley red wines and their counterparts from around the world.

Guest Post - Southern Cookin' Makes Ya Good Lookin'!

Our friend Sara C. recently attended a cooking class at The Viking Cooking School and shares her experience below...

I'm a chef, y'all!

Okay, so I'm not a real chef, but I am an avid Atlanta Dish reader and southern food eater extraordinaire. Now, after attending the finger lickin' Southern cooking class at Viking Cooking School in honor of my birthday, I'm also a master chicken fryer and collard cooker.

To celebrate entrance into my 24th year, my beau and I considered many options. I asked for a puppy, yacht or European vacation, but he had something more practical in mind. Knowing his love for fried chicken and my love for everything Southern food related, he used the Viking Store's easy online registration and ordered two tickets to the hands on Southern cooking class with Chef Chip. I put on my cooking shoes (closed toes only for the state-of-the-art Viking kitchen) and got ready for a southern fried experience. The evening began by gathering around the table to drink some fresh sweet tea and snack on delish cheese straws, then we started the class by preparing the southern style banana pudding, giving it time to chill while we cooked the rest of the meal. The addition of banana liquor and rum made the pudding mixture decadent and several layers of Whole Foods fresh bananas and organic vanilla wafers were the perfect topping.

Although I could live on dessert alone, we still needed to prepare our main course. The men of the class enjoyed making mashed potatoes using a large construction-like implement called a potato ricer. Although the ricer was manly, it helped make the potatoes some of the creamiest and most delicate I've ever tasted. The addition of fresh sawmill gravy and cracked black pepper make the Viking taters a crowd pleaser. Next, we heated canola oil and got to chicken frying. The art of keeping the oil at the perfect 350 degree temperature is difficult, but well worth the hard work. Our chicken, brined in buttermilk and breaded with organic flour, cayenne pepper and garlic was crispy, yet juicy.

The best dish of the evening was the collard greens. Wilted in bacon grease and cooked in balsamic vinegar and chicken stock with a ham hock made these greens better than any I've tasted. Chef Chip personalized the recipe with fresh pressed garlic and crushed red pepper to add an extra kick. Even my grandmother agreed her time-tested greens recipe may change after hearing about this gourmet version.

After making the meal, we enjoyed our fare with a glass of white wine and a toast to a job well done. My grade for the Viking Cooking School: A+. This food is so good, it'll make ya wanna slap yo' mama!