Friday, May 18, 2012

Our Appetizing Aperture of the Week: Smashburger's Wedge Club Burger

National Salad Month AND National Burger Month share the merry month of May. No prob. Smashburger's new Wedge Club burger puts both between the buttered bun: 100 percent Certified Angus Beef topped with applewood smoked bacon, blue cheese crumbles, iceberg lettuce wedge, tomato, red onion and blue cheese dressing. The big and beefy burger is $5.99 while the chicken sandwich take is $6.99. Pull out the napkins, you're gonna need them.

Kevin Gillespie's First Cookbook is at the Printer

I always say I'm going to start my Christmas shopping early and then, mysteriously, it's December 24th. But this year will be different!! Everyone is getting Kevin Gillespie's new cookbook, Fire in My Belly. Having had the pleasure of reading the draft version I can promise you that it is awesome. It's like sitting down to a chat with Kevin. Oh, and there are recipes! He's very descriptive about how to choose the right ingredients and uses a lot of humor to entice you to try something you thought you hated or get creative with an old favorite. The book is at the printer and a small amount of copies will make it to Atlanta for an October 9 party at Woodfire Grill. Everyone else will have to wait another week! So mark your calendar and cross off your holiday list.

It's Follow Friday; Meet our Tweep of the Week @ronnilundy

This Kentucky wonder will be easily digested by Southerners, and she opens a Southern exposure window for those trying to figure out our bluegrass and Southern-comfortable heritage. Follow Ronni Lundy's hilarious tweets (@ronnilundy) or go long with her blog. You know there's no short version for true Southerners anyway, bless their hearts.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Optimist Opens May 21, Bringing Sustainable Seafood To West Midtown

Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

Fishermen embrace each day on the water as an opportunity to catch the next big one. As owner of The Optimist, West Midtown's soon-to-open sustainable seafood restaurant, Ford Fry finds the positive word appealing. The name "Optimist" was actually suggested by Fry's father, referring to a small sailing dinghy for children. Look for The Optimist and Oyster Bar at The Optimist to open Monday, May 21 at 914 Howell Mill Road. 

The restaurant will offer high-quality seafood, classically prepared in a wood-burning grill and oven and served in environs that evoke a vintage Savannah fishery feel. Weekdays, The Optimist lunch menu offers a selection of fish entrées, salads and sandwiches ($12-$19). Lunch might be crispy day-boat flounder with ricotta gnocchi, ale-battered haddock fish and chips or a chopped salad with wood-roasted organic chicken and local feta. 

Open nightly, the restaurant divvies up its dinner menu ($2.50-$26) into categories of On Ice, Start, Fish, Farm, Sides and Such, and Pies, Cakes and Frozen Stuff. Start salivating for East Coast oysters with fresh horseradish mignonette; Florida grouper with smoked Vidalia onion and horseradish broth; roasted Heritage pork with farm spinach and sherry onions; duck fat-poached swordfish with pickled sweet peppers and crispy pancetta; and buttermilk doughnuts, sweet corn ice cream and red pepper jam. 

For liquid refreshment, look for seafood-friendly wines from global coastal regions, American port-city microbrews and creative cocktails with a seaside twist ("The Truth As We Know It" martini has a smoked salmon garnish). Lunch is served Monday - Friday 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; dinner Sunday - Thursday 5 - 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5 - 11 p.m.

Oyster Bar at The Optimist, is a casual "fish camp" style place with an outdoor patio and of course, an oyster bar. Venice Beach in the 1970s? You're there now. Raw bar and small plate prices run $2.50-$14 for tempters such as peel-and-eat Georgia shrimp, smoked haddock chowder and Maine lobster roll with shoestring fries. An ice-display station features a daily punch and "oyster backs," mini-cocktails that pair with the day's raw bar specials. 

Doors open at 5 p.m. weekdays and 3 p.m. weekends. Closing? When the fish stop running for the night. Add the phone number to your contacts now to get ready: 404-477-6260. 

The Results are In: Zagat Announces Atlanta Award Winners

Aria by George Sanchez
The latest update of the little red restaurant bible of Atlanta restaurants, based on the 2012/13 Zagat Survey, is now available. Aria fans will not be surprised. The longtime favorite and chic dining spot came in third in food rankings, third for décor and ninth most popular -- meaning most-often mentioned. Top newcomers included No. 246 in Decatur (number 4) and Chicken and the Egg in Marietta (number 3). Alma Cocina gets a nod as a key newcomer, and Woodfire Grill is mentioned among the top rated. FYI, the Zagat Atlanta Restaurants guide comes in print and e-reader versions, although it might be rude to read at the dinner table.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Atlanta Streets Alive - Where The Journey And Transportation Make The Destination

We’re sure you’ve heard the saying, “It’s about the journey, not the destination,” but have you considered the idea – “it’s about the journey and the transportation to get to the destination?” Many years ago, Bogota, Colombia, started a Ciclovía –which translates to “bike path.” Every Sunday in Bogota, 70 miles of streets are opened to people – and closed to automobile traffic. The idea behind this open streets project is to promote healthy lifestyles, active transportation and community space. On May 20, Atlanta creates its very own Ciclovía. So park your car and move with the Atlanta Streets Alive groove along two miles of North Highland Avenue from 2 - 6 p.m. Atlanta Streets Alive begins at North Highland and Virginia avenues and meanders through five Atlanta neighborhoods to end up at Highland Bakery. In order to join in on this fun opportunity you just have to remember a simple rule – no motorized vehicles, please. Participants can walk, bike, skip or even cartwheel along the route. There will be plenty of entertainment along the way; including the Great Atlanta Bicycle Parade, a walking play, aerobics, public art, laughter yoga, salsa, double dutch, boot camp, soccer, martial arts, cornhole, a bicycle rodeo and more. With all of the action attendees are bound to build up a thirst and an appetite. Good thing Atkins Park Tavern will be open and ready to party outdoors! Stop by the front patio to check out Cornhole ATL and try Big Green Egg recipes. 

Get a Taste of the Highlands This Saturday!

Photo via Taste of the Highlands on Facebook 

As someone who's lived in the Virginia-Highlands for four years, I have to say it's my favorite part of town. One of the things I love most is that there are so many great restaurants in the area. If you haven't had a chance to try as many as you'd like, you should definitely make your way to the 10th Annual Taste of the Highlands this Saturday, May 19 from 2 - 5 p.m. in John Howell Park. You'll get to sample some of the best menu items from more than 30 restaurants including Fifth Group Restaurants Alma CocinaEccoLa Tavola TrattoriaThe Original El Taco and South City Kitchen as well as neighborhood favorites Alon's Bakery and Market and Atkins Park Tavern, while listening to live music from bands Sailing to Denver and DejaBlue Grass Band. Proceeds from the event benefit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, so if anyone tries to judge you for going back for seconds and thirds, you can tell them it's for the kids. The weather forecast is calling for sunny skies for this outdoor event, so go ahead and buy your tickets today before they sell out. You can purchase tickets online before Friday at noon and pick them up at the gate the day of the event. Advance tickets prices are $40 per adult, $25 for students with ID and free for children under 5 years. Tickets will be $50 per adult the day of the event.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ray's on the River Hosts Outdoor Benefit Concert on May 19

The combination of great food, a riverside setting, charitable giving and the "King of Strings," Ken Ford, is definitely music to our ears! This Saturday, May 19, Ray's on the River is partnering with The Ken Ford Foundation (KFF) for a concert to benefit Georgia's young musicians. Originally founded by internationally known musician and entertainer Ken Ford, KFF focuses on enhancing academic excellence through generating music programs and classes for Georgia's youth. At Saturday's 12 - 4 p.m. concert and fundraiser, guests can purchase beer, wine and soda to sip as Ken Ford and KFF students perform on the restaurant's lawn. Additionally, Praise 102.5 FM will be conducting a musical instrument drive at the event so your no-longer-used instruments can help school students and children in The Fragile Kids Foundation, a beneficiary of KFF. General admission tickets are $45; VIP tickets are $55 per person and include concert admission, an autographed Ken Ford CD and a VIP meet and greet. We're not sure if our ears or our mouths are more excited!

Go out and play - outdoor festivals are here - plus lots more in this week's Dish!

Tuesday morning means time for a fresh scoop of the week's best culinary news in the Dish! If you're not receiving the Dish every Tuesday morning in your inbox, you can sign up either here on our blog or on our Facebook page.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Promotions Aplenty Mark Alon's Turning Twenty

Silver? Gold? Try green. Alon’s Bakery and Market is marking its 20th anniversary with “20” appreciation savings and gifts for guests. There’s a lot to look forward to given the market’s plentiful array of prepared gourmet items, bakery goods, artisan cheeses, wine, beer and more. Save green when you eat your greens and take 20 percent off the price of Alon’s chef’s choice of salads through May 19 in honor of National Salad Day. Adding to the celebratory list, National Strawberry Month reaps 20 percent off of Alon’s spectacular strawberry marmalade the week of May 27 – June 2. Every Tuesday, guests who spend $20 at Alon’s will receive a complimentary chef’s choice dessert. And, the Dunwoody location slices $5 off the price of pizza on Thursdays (hmm - buy four, save $20). There’s a chance you may take home even more when you throw your name in the free lunch drawing. Alon’s turns 20, and we get the gifts. Lovin’ this yummy idea.