In the heart of Atlanta’s ritzy Buckhead neighborhood sits a bright white house with a light grey roof and red trim. It’s just off the beaten path and a stones throw from the area’s Whole Foods Market. If not for the droves of cars in the parking lot, one might think this a residence. But a closer inspection reveals a painted on tree and a friendly little sign pronouncing the name of the business within: Café Jonah & The Magical Attic.
In a lot of ways, Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand is an all out surprise. You’ll find Delia’s on a somewhat downtrodden strip of Moreland Ave just south of I20 and roughly a half mile from East Atlanta Village. Not exactly the epicenter of Atlanta’s food scene, you’ll know it by the sharp orange and green accented sign serving as an immediate call to arms amongst the nearby row of fast food chains and gas stations. It’s almost too pretty for the neighborhood.
Yes, when one considers an East Atlanta food stand powered by chicken sausage, it would follow that said establishment was probably just a dive. The Sausage Stand is anything but. With alpha-branding, a color scheme that screams “ad agency,” and a cutesy-adult menu that reads like something out of Go The **** To Sleep, it’s apparent that owners Molly Gunn and Delia Champion have their sites set on a larger game. That assumption aside, several internet sites have quotes from the duo attesting to such intentions. After one such encounter with Delia’s … it seems that it might be best if they put the horse before the cart.
Bobby and June’s Kountry Kitchen is a place of romanticism and idealized memories. Every city has a place (or two) like this, a breakfast joint that serves as a tribute to times gone by from era’s long past. It’s here we find this simple little shack, nestled in the bosom of high-rises and traffic jams. Sitting proudly on 14th street in the cleavage between Midtown and Westside, Bobby and June’s bright yellow sign and weather tested wood planks immediately call attention to this Atlanta institution.
It’s a popular eatery amongst those that attend Georgia Tech, as it serves as a comfortable mixture of Waffle House meets Fox Bros. With its very own barbecue pit, Bobby and June’s moves seamlessly between the world’s of Meat & 3’s and diners. It was this history that coaxed me out of bed one recent morning, inviting me in for a meal where calories aren’t to be trifled with and organic is a term that applies to the Streak-O-Lean on your plate and not a food movement. Though I’m much more likely to see a sunrise on my way to bed than on my way out of it, the opportunity to rejuvenate the Ambiguously Foodie Duo was just too much to pass up.
Georgia has long been unofficially known as the Empire State of the South. Now, it looks like we’re finally ready to make that official (at least in the restaurant world). Empire State South is set to be the first foray into the Atlanta dining scene for the accomplished Hugh Acheson. Sporting a progressive take on Southern cuisine, Empire State is destined to add a whole new class level to the meat and three concept. Meanwhile, it will serve as the anchor restaurant for the 999 Peachtree Street office and retail building in Midtown, Atlanta.
For the better part of a year, we’ve known of Acheson’s intentions to open Empire State South. Initially, the opening date was identified as Spring 2010. Now, according to the restaurant’s website, that season has been narrowed down to April of this year. More details after the jump!
Few Atlanta institutions are as unheralded as the White House Restaurant. While it may not have the following of the Colonnade or the name recognition of the Varsity, the White House holds up just fine in a comparative analysis. Part Greek diner and part meat and three Southern eatery, this Buckhead breakfast/lunch spot has been around in one form or another since 1948. Walk in on any given day, at any given time, and you’ll find a number of devout followers getting their fix.
Demosthenes Galaktiadis took ownership in 1970 and relocated the restaurant some four years later. Ever since, the restaurant has sat comfortably in a cookie cutter strip center on Peachtree marked by a truly bland facade. To put it another way, there is nothing about the place that will remind you of its presidential namesake, save for a handful of pictures of past Commander in Chiefs and some knock off presidential seals.
Tiny Bistro is a new café just off the beaten path in the midtown/westside part of town. It’s pretty well hidden given that it faces the intersection of 8th and Marietta St. In fact, it’s so easy to miss that Adam, a FB guest blogger , and I were pretty sure we were going to be the first people to mention this place. Well … we missed the ball on that one. Oh well, we quickly got over our bruised egos, grabbed @holtlyda .. and headed over for lunch.
Truth be told, given Tiny Bistro’s proximity to Adam and Holt’s office, they are already regulars here. For me, this was my first go round. As first impressions go, this ended up being a pretty positive experience.
Tiny B is a simple little joint. The dedicated dining room is simple yet eye popping. A pink “mural” of sorts adorns the wall. Meanwhile, a table or two in the main area plus two patio tables provide ample supplemental seating. A little baker’s corner is all that is needed to pump out the ten or so sandwiches, handful of sides, and few salad options. This corner is partitioned from the main area, at least in part, by a refrigerated case. This case holds a handful of alternative options … but more on that later. For now, let’s talk about the food we had a chance to try.
Noon Midtown: Restaurant Review Brought To You By The Letter K – Midtown, Atlanta, GA [First Impressions] 2
So I guess this is my first ever “live review.” I just sat down here at the newly opened Noon Midtown, the Katie Birmingham experiment over in the newly built 1010 Peachtree Building. The space is “airy” and open … clean lines and very slick decor. Me likee. It sort of reminds me of One Flew South in a lot of ways. However, I think Noon has done a slightly better job of matching their cuisine to their decor.
A couple of really nice touches have put me in a good mood. First, I’m sitting against the wall at one of those long booths [my toochis is comfortably at home on a soft cushion. My back leans comfortably against some wood backing]. At my feet is a plug for my laptop. It’s nice to see a place supplement their free WiFi with an outlet. As I sit here and look at the ten seat breakfast bar that faces the open kitchen, I’m chillin’. Second, I love the little “order markers.” I’ve seen restaurants hand out numbers, signs, and picture cards before … but never letters. While I’m sure there is a better descriptor, the point here is that something about these little pieces of metal brought a smile to my face. A nice twist. I’m more of a X kinda guy, but K served it’s platoon leader well.
Ah, but we don’t do what we do because we love table accoutrements (well … at least I don’t). All indicators are pointing north so far, will the meal hold water?
Food is like a religion in many respects. Foodies worship at the table of various high priests, inspired by their personalities as much as the cuisine which they promote. The examples are numerous— the locavore inclinations of an Alice Waters, the authentic Italian flavors of a Mario Batali, or the balanced French & Japanese fusion of a Soto Soto. These people are not just chefs. They’re prophets who espouse a viewpoint that colors the way you view the world. You’re either with them, or against them. The hype they generate rarely lives up to the food they serve.
The high priest of Varasano’s Pizzeria is a man by the name of Jeff Varasano. He is the leader of a movement expounding a scientific approach to pizza. Equal parts Alton Brown & Cooks Illustrated—Jeff Varasano believes that perfection of a seemingly simple dish such as pizza is not only possible, but just around the corner. In his eyes—the perfect pizza is easily recognizable. Crisp yet fluffy. Thin yet substantial. It’s a pizza that brings forth child hood memories, but is sophisticated enough that it inspires the respect of the culinary elite.
His wants everyone to understand that his pizza is the process of years of experimentation. The fruit of numerous travels to the best pizza restaurants in the world. It’s the product of a single minded determination towards improvement of a single item. Anyone that reaches the top in any field (even a Rubik’s Cube competition) possesses the ability to focus intently on their craft. It is this dedication that is most apparent when you first meet him.
Once he realizes where you’re from, conversations will revolve around pizza joints in your home town. The next topic will be the pizza resting on your plate. The bubbles in the crust and black markings signify that the oven is at the proper temperature. Thank god he says. They were having trouble with maintaining a proper temperature just last week. The basil leaves are from a new supplier, but he’s still not happy with the quality. He’s contacted a new farmer to grow his herbs. An important items like basil can’t be left to chance. The conversations are a bit forced and awkward. Almost like he’s trying to prove his expertise to a skeptical audience.
The stresses of opening a restaurant for the first time are clearly visible in his eyes. And the insecurity that comes from being presented with direct criticism is noticeable. In what occupation other than the restaurant world is the judgment so sudden and so harsh. The hype this little pizza place has generated may be great for business, but it also means that expectations are set so high; disappointment will often be the result.
Asked about the response he’s gotten from some of the local community, he seems baffled by the vitriol that he’s inspired. Why would someone be angry that they couldn’t place a to go order by phone—after all, that’s what the Tavern at Phipps does? What right does someone have to judge me after just a single meal? These question arise from the part of the mind that helps rationalize failure. They help to plaster over the doubt that starts to seep in the mind of one who is criticized suddenly, and harshly for something that everyone else has praised him for throughout his life.
But, enough about the man. Even though this restaurant currently seems to be more about Jeff and his story, than the food he serves. The focus will eventually shift—and the food will have to stand on it’s own. Luckily for Jeff, it does. The reality is that Varasano’s Pizza serves a damn good pizza. Whether or not he deserves the hype associated with him shouldn’t be the question of the day. The question should be, does he serve food that is worthy of being noticed, discussed and enjoyed. And on this question, the most important question, the answer is clearly yes. And for that—he deserves our respect.
While Jeff may think he needs the confirmation he currently craves, his insecurity will soon pass. Before long he will gather enough true believers in his approach that his beliefs will be validated. The life of a prophet is never easy. Some people will always view you as a heretic. Even if all you’re preaching is a different approach to pizza.
About The Author
This guest post was written by Adam Harrell, a local foodie and interactive marketer. You can find him at www.neboweb.com/blog/
What else needs to be said? Now you can get your fix in starting at 11:30!
I’ve prepared the April Dirty List for everyone. I’m still playing with the format for each of these posts; I think this one may be the answer! As always, this is based entirely on publicly available information. I would assume that all of these dates are subject to change. If you are aware of an addition or correction, please let me know! Details after the jump!