Some people obsess about what they wear, some people obsess about the newest gadgets, and some people obsess about the latest celebrity gossip. Me … I obsess about food (and a few other things mind you). Under that all encompassing umbrella of thought, certain types of food have the potential to goad my inner child into something most people call “a craving.” One of those is the Buffalo wing, perhaps the single best culinary concoction this country has given the world.
While hot dogs, hamburgers, and apple pie may get all the credit, those fakers aren’t really “American.” After all, they were invented somewhere else. But the Buffalo wing – that’s all us baby! So I make it my business to pound a few dozen of these genetically modified suckers on a monthly basis (yeah … I’ve long since realized that Buffalo wings come from chickens who probably don’t live a happy life). While my doctor may not approve of this frequent assault on my body, and my conscious if often ignored, a chicken wing diet is something I speak quite highly off.
Enter Wing Factory, a longstanding Buckhead sports bar meets kids coral. It’s a beat up business with with plenty of TVs that serves up the very definition of bar food, and for what it is … I dig it. Sure, its often overrun with several dozen pre-pubescent bastards all hopped up on sugar packets and Kool-Aid, and the food is anything but gourmet, but Wing Factory offers me enough illicit delight that I’ll weather the ruckus every few months for some wings and poppers.
The tiny little building at 4441 Roswell Rd on the edge of Sandy Springs and Buckhead has gone through a few changes in the past year+. What was first a Wolf Camera and then a little yogurt shop is now Ringside Franks & Shakes. With a simple personality and a linear menu of traditional hot dogs and classic milkshake flavors, Ringside Franks seems settled in its own skin as a neighborhood restaurant.
Conceptually, Ringside is a mashup of the old reliable wiener stand meets modern American sensibilities. In the case of the latter, those sensibilities translate into a de rigueur menu full of au naturel products. Using both buns and links harnessed from nearby purveyors, Ringside is attempting to give people a “feel good” hot dog experience without getting caught up in the trend to reinvent the wheel.
The restaurant is headed by executive chef Linda Harrell and comes branded by the Benton’s bacon of design studios, one Ai3. For Harrell’s part, things seem a little rough around the edges at the start. But with promises of grandeur and a few other factors going for it, Cibo seems worthy of at least a mention. As most of what’s out there on this place is regurgitated “wannabe media” dinner PR information attached to pictures of food, we may as well talk about what’s what.
Let me lay the groundwork for a shinning example of a faux pas. Restaurant provides you with an abridgement of pizza history, aromatic fluff words and descriptors worthy of a James Cameron romance flick. In accordance with strict guidelines for Napoletana pizza, said restaurant will not serve sliced pizza or pizza in to-go boxes. A quick glance at the to-go menu results in a head scratcher. Right smack dab in the middle is a section dedicated to pizzas that recounts what I just mentioned.
[A subsequent chat with their PR maven confirms that there is no to-go option for the pizza]
This type of slip up is a perfect example of the experience I had at Double Zero Napoletana. A cursory glance might leave me feeling okay about the meal. However, in the moments after, I found myself somewhat frustrated by the details … namely the price point, a few culinary mishaps, and some general oversights in the attention to detail.
Q: According to the Jewish calendar, the year is 5771. According to the Chinese calendar, the year is 4707. What do Jews call the 1,064 years without Chinese food? A: The Dark Ages
As that joke is an undeniable fact, it does beg the question: Do Chinese people love latkas??? While we all ponder who in this world does not love those little fried potato pancakes, I find myself riverside in Sandy Springs. Peter Chang, the mercurial wokman, is back with his crack. As a consequence, I’m eating my traditional Christmas Day meal of Chinese food while in the capable hands of Sir Chang.
But before we get to the end, let’s start at the beginning. Any commentary on Peter Chang MUST mention his time at Tasty China and a few other places. Now that that’s out of the way … let’s get to the good stuff!
When most people in Atlanta hear the name Clay Harper, they think of the Mexi-Za restaurant duet of La Fonda and Fellini’s. As chance would have it, we fine folk now have a whole other reason to get to know Harper.
Back in July, word broke that he was adding a third endeavor to his little restaurant empire. Enter Three on the Tree, a gourmet yogurt shop that seems to borrow a bit from East Atlanta’s über popular Morelli’s Ice Cream. In the vein of Morelli’s, Three on the Tree’s angle rests in the “funky-hip.” Like Kevin Gillespie at M’s, 3onT also has its own guest “confectioner.” [I’m not really sure what you call a yogurt maker] In this instance, the guest is one Julia LeRoy, a local chef who garnered a good bit of attention during her stint at the Bookhouse Pub. There’s no doubt that LeRoy’s presence has created most of the pre-season buzz.
Right now, there are a bevy of national food media peeps cavorting around our city. In the midst of this, news of Peter Chang’s return to Atlanta has turned food enthusiasts from here to New England inside out and upside down. It seems that there’s a bit of a “Where’s Waldo?” game going on. Luckily, I had the chance to get my hands dirty and see what was what. As dumb luck would have it, today I made a quasi-planned lunch trip over to Tasty China, the epicenter of all this bru-ha-ha.
Peter Chang was absolutely there and in the flesh. However, reports of Chang’s permanent return to Atlanta seem a bit premature at this juncture. In fact, I’m not entirely sure he is even in the kitchen at TC. While the food today was freakin’ delish, I didn’t actually see The Sichuan Don until after I had consumed a good bit of the food in front of me. He didn’t appear to be in cooking mode … so who knows? It’s possible he had just arrived when we showed up right around noon. According to the elusive man himself, he’s just in town for a few days on a little vacation and his return to Virginia is imminent. [UPDATE: PC did cook our meal today, however, there is no guarantee that he will be in the kitchen more than one or more days].
What all this essentially equates to is a hodgepodge of unconformable rumors. In the world of print media – nothing merits a mention in print because it’s apparent that nobody is 100%. A couple of members of Atlanta’s food media made a trip over to TC just a few hours after me, so we’ll have to wait with bated breath to see if any of this actually adds up to anything. So again … here’s what we know:
Peter Chang is in town
Peter Chang is spending time at Tasty China
Peter Chang may or may not be is cooking at Tasty China, but only for a short while (possibly just a day)
Peter Chang is not back for good … but may be shortly.
And with that – here’s some lame excuse for food porn:
The pork meatball in clay pot was a kick ass adventure in glass noodles, flavorful broth, and juicy pork. Meanwhile, the Dan Dan noodles remain the best in the city!
Peter Chang is easily the most talked about Chinese chef over the past few years to plant a flag in Atlanta. His work is a thing of legend and is the single biggest reason Tasty China caught the attention of so many Chinese food fanatics (myself included). According to Tom Maicon of Atlanta Cuisine, Chang is back with a vengeance.
After departing our fare city for Nashville, and after a short stay in West [Note To Self: Richmond is not in West Virginia] Virginia (from what I hear), Maicon has confirmed that Chang is back in the Dirty South. In the short term, PC is setting up shop at TC. However, Tasty China owner Dahe Yang plans to open a new restaurant with Chang somewhere in Sandy Springs.
Some meals are so transcendent, so illuminating, and so invigorating that you are left speechless. Some meals are just that good, incapable of being captured in text or image, and ethereally delicious. This my friends, was not one of those meals. No, the recent torture session of a meal that took place that fateful night left me feeling a bit like Tyson (post Buster). No, actually … take that back, this meal made me feel like Ernie looks after an ass whooping at the hands of Peter (Ernie’s died several times over).
Café Antalya failed so epically on so many fronts that I fear nothing short of a tactical strike could save it. Blow this blight of an establishment straight to heck and back. Start over … get rid of the chef, get rid of the *cough* designer, and shoot whomever is in charge of sourcing. Then, they might have a chance … maybe. If I lived in the Dunwoody area, I’d be calling the fire department just to make sure they had enough water in the tanks. I want my tax dollars back… who hands out the business licenses?