Minero, a casual Mexican restaurant from chef Sean Brock, has opened in Ponce City Market, once a huge Sears, Roebuck & Co. building and an iconic Atlanta landmark. Dishes are derived from the flavors and culinary traditions of Mexico, with some offerings reflecting the cuisine of formerly Mexican California. So you'll find the Minero Burrito with queso de Oaxaca, crema, hoppin' john, avocado and poblano peppers, and such tacos as al pastor, fried catfish and pork carnitas. The traditional nixtamalization process is used to make fresh masa twice a day, yielding Minero’s authentic, house-made corn tortillas. Extensive tequila and mezcal selections, a small wine list, beer and cocktails inspired by the flavors of Mexico support the fare. Minero, Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Ste. 136, Atlanta, GA 30308, 404-532-1580.
Cotton Calf Kitchen has opened in historic Braselton. The concept is classic American steakhouse, and heading the team is Javier Viera as executive chef. Menu items include deviled eggs with University of Georgia sturgeon caviar. Brunch begins November 15. Southern touches define the brunch menu, with biscuits, country ham and shrimp and grits among the offerings. Dinner nightly, Brunch Sun. Cotton Calf Kitchen, 9924 Davis St., Braselton, GA 30517, 706-684-0410.
Although he's in his 90s, John C. Portman Jr. remains a driving force in shaping downtown Atlanta. A building he designed in 1965, the 230 Peachtree building in Peachtree Center, had been owned for a long time by other entities, but his firm has reacquired it and is extensively redesigning the interior space. It will now contain a Hotel Indigo and a new fine dining restaurant: JP Atlanta. A half century ago, Portman triggered fine dining downtown with Midnight Sun, and now he returns to the scene with this new endeavor. The Ritz-Carlton veteran Julio Delgado has been tapped to be the executive chef. JP Atlanta, 230 Peachtree, 230 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303, no phone.
The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill, now five years old in Buckhead, has opened a Roswell location. Executive chef is Derek Dollar, who also leads the kitchen at Milton's Cuisine & Cocktails, another of Southern Proper Hospitality Group's venues. Fresh seafood is the order of the day at the restaurant, which has a nautical-themed décor with industrial touches by Marty Mason Design Group. The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill, 1105 Canton St., Roswell, GA 30075, 770-993-5749.
Architect Tal Postelnik Baum has opened Bellina Alimentari, a unique kitchen, bar, market and culinary club, in the Central Food Hall of Ponce City Market. Designed by Smith Hanes Studio, the 4,000-square-foot space is inspired by the cafés and small shops of Northern Italy. Executive chef is David Berry (Horseradish Grill). The operation presents a number of ways to enjoy its provisions: savor freshly prepared food in the collective dining hall; opt for a more intimate meal in the Bar, a 14-seat full-service dining area that also offers a wide selection of Italian wine, beer and craft cocktails. The wine bar is a good spot for a nibble and a glass of wine. The market stocks a diverse assortment of fresh pastas, Italian imported products and locally sourced meats and cheeses. Lunch & Dinner daily. Bellina Alimentari, Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Ste. N-131, Atlanta, GA 30308, 404-330-9933.
Marlow's Tavern continues to grow in metro Atlanta and Florida. With the opening of its Roswell location, Marlow's Tavern numbers 15 in the Atlanta area alone, plus several in scattered Florida cities. The company's reach extends from Midtown to the northern suburban arc, with recent debuts in Woodstock and Avalon. Several outposts are open late; for example, Midtown until midnight every day except Sunday and Monday and until 2 a.m. on weekends. Marlow's Tavern is known for its salads and burgers, and as the chain caters to families, there's a good kids’ menu. Marlow's Tavern, Roswell Crossing, 625 W. Crossville Rd., Ste. 100, Roswell, GA 30075, 770-643-1330.
The team of Nicholas Niespodziani, Peter Olson and chef Nick Melvin have opened Venkman’s in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward. New restaurateurs Niespodziani and Olson are co-front men of the group Yacht Rock Revue and founders of PleaseRock. Local chef Melvin is founder of Doux South Pickles, a line of classic Southern pickled vegetables sold at local farmers markets and in gourmet shops. Dishes such as cast-iron-cooked fried chicken with pickled mustards reflect his interest in the process. The restaurant occupies the former NuGrape Soda Factory overlooking Ponce City Market and Old Fourth Ward Park, and promises to offer eclectic live music and creative comfort food under one roof. Designed by local architecture firm ai3, responsible for designing many of the city's edgier establishments, Venkman’s aesthetic is part “vintage lounges” and features an open kitchen with chef table seating. Venkman's, 740 Ralph McGill Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30312, 470-225-6162.
Little Trouble, a Victory Brands project, opened August 6, 2015, beneath Ford Fry's Restaurant Marcel, which replaced Abattoir in the White Provision Building. Victory Brands includes Victory Sandwich Shop in Decatur and Inman Park as well as Paper Plane (next to the Decatur Victory Sandwich Shop). Little Trouble opens from 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Although closing times Monday through Thursday are not yet defined, Little Trouble will definitely be busy Friday and Saturday when it pours to 2:30 a.m. The menu of bar bites includes such Asian-inspired morsels as meats on skewers, noodle dishes, dumplings and steamed buns. Melissa Allen of Paper Plane is in charge of the kitchen, and has been trialing many of the dishes at Paper Plane. Ari Form and Drew Gillespie, formerly at Bocado and Empire State South, respectively, handle the bar. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Little Trouble, White Provision Building, 1170 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-500-4737.
Dave DeFeo and Tim Ensor (Leon's Full Service, Brick Store Pub) partnered with Lawson Wright to open My Parents’ Basement. The new business occupies the former James Joyce, a handsome Neo-Tudor building that's been empty for about three years, and launches with Tim Hastings as executive chef. The location, around the corner from Pine Street Market, enables the kitchen to dip into the artisanal charcuterie that comes from the staff of Rusty Bowers' operation, noted for its bacon and salumi. In addition to brews --- especially from Avondale Estates' own Wild Heaven brewery --- and tavern fare founded on seasonally available local ingredients, the place is home to classic and antique comics. My Parents’ Basement, 22 N. Avondale Rd., Avondale Estates, GA 30002, 404-292-4607.
Seven Lamps executive chef/owner Drew Van Leuvan and restaurateur Billy Streck (Grain, Cypress Street Pint & Plate) introduce Tavernpointe, a neighborhood restaurant in Atlanta's Midtown. Conor O’Reilly, previously sous chef at Seven Lamps, is chef de cuisine. Located in the space formerly occupied by MidCity Cuisine, La Pietra Cucina and LPC most recently, where Peachtree and Spring Streets meet (known as Pershing Point to longtime Atlantans), Tavernpointe features American cuisine in a casual atmosphere. Joined by Seven Lamps' mixologist Madison Burch, who created the craft cocktail menu, chef Van Leuvan and his team draw inspiration from common 19th-century tavern themes. Designed to be family-friendly, the menu offers items to appeal to children and it invites sharing. Look for Peruvian-style chicken, tacos, bar snacks, and dishes with bold flavors from the chilies favored by chef Van Leuvan. Redesigned to feature steel, repurposed pine from a Georgia warehouse and reclaimed brick from a South Carolina textile mill, Tavernpointe’s interior is layered with industrial influences. Expect honey-colored floors, sanded down to complement the furniture and soften the space, and a custom bar with a floating wood ceiling. Tavernpointe, Peachtree Point, 1545 Peachtree St. NE, Ste. 101, Atlanta, GA 30309, 404-549-3954.
Lacking a Facebook page or a website, J&J Bourbon Bar & Grill has opened in the former Belly General Store space. J&J Bourbon Bar & Grill, 772 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30306, no phone.
Chef Jamie Adams (Veni Vidi Vici) and general manager Leonardo Moura plan to open il Giallo Osteria & Bar in Sandy Springs this fall. Adams tells us the new venture will offer pasta made to order, an element that may indeed be novel among Atlanta's Italian restaurants.
Atlanta native, restaurateur, “Top Chef” finalist and cookbook author Kevin Gillespie has opened Revival in Decatur. The dining experience recalls Gillespie’s own family’s traditions, and executive chef Andreas Müller reinterprets the food from Gillespie’s childhood to create a menu that ranges from classic fried green tomatoes to rarely seen Savannah red rice. Müller, who previously worked at Gillespie's Gunshow, shares Gillespie’s enthusiasm for preparing traditional meals with farm-fresh ingredients and will use his own Swedish background to inject both rural and refined culinary influences into the Revival menu. Guests may order dishes à la carte or choose the family-style option ($49 per person), which includes the choice of one entrée for the table and is served with hors d’oeuvre, relishes, trimmings, Gillespie family iron skillet cornbread, the choice of dessert, tea and coffee. Revival, 129 Church St., Decatur, GA 30030, 470-225-6770.
Taking over the space once occupied by Abattoir, Ford Fry continues his restaurant empire's rapid expansion with Restaurant Marcel. Tapping as executive chef Brian Horn, Fry has opened an establishment in the grand tradition of historic steakhouses, with cocktails and French and American classics on the menu. The menu offers lobster chowder, oysters Bienville, garlicky escargots and Caesar salad made tableside. Chrysta Poulos is pastry chef, and desserts include crème brûlée with fruit at the bottom. The wine list supports all the red meat offerings with bold selections ranging from old-world choices, such as Barolos and Bordeaux, to California Cabernets. Restaurant Marcel, White Provision Building, 1170 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-665-4555.
Atlanta restaurateur Riccardo Ullio developed and operates popular Inman Park establishments Fritti and Sotto Sotto. The former is one of the most authentic pizzerias in the city, while the latter purveys Italian cuisine. Ullio has drawn from their dishes and created a menu for north Atlanta patrons at Novo Cucina that offers the best of his best. But here they pair with wines held at perfect temperature at the restaurant’s Enomatic wine bar. The pizza list is lengthy and consists of artisanal selections that are well priced. Ullio has devised a kids’ menu, too. Guests may explore the gelato counter and place their order after sitting in the spacious, open-air dining area, finishing their meals with Atlanta’s only gelato “artigianale,” spun in-house daily. Novo Cucina, Dunwoody Village Shopping Center, 5592 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd., Atlanta, GA 30338, 470-275-3000.
In collaboration with Concentrics Restaurants, which also owns or manages such Atlanta establishments as The Spence and ONE. midtown kitchen, Mason Tavern has opened in North Decatur in the spot formerly occupied by the short-lived Scoreboards Bar & Grill. Executive chef is Jason Hall (Max's Wine Dive, Midtown). Mason Tavern, 1371 Clairmont Rd., Decatur, GA 30033, 404-963-2322.
Helmed by former King + Duke executive chef Joe Schafer, Little Bacch opened May 20, 2015. Schafer also served as executive chef of now-closed Abattoir (that space will soon house one of Ford Fry's many new restaurants). Seating just 52 guests and not taking reservations, Little Bacch features a simple menu of seasonal fine dining classics, such as a cheese soufflé, oysters Rockefeller, a shrimp cocktail of Georgia red shrimp, and whole roasted chicken for two. Much of the produce comes from the company's Summerland Farm near Cartersville, north of Atlanta. Cocktails are another feature of the service program. Little Bacch, Star Provisions, 1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-365-0410.
Tutto Kitchen & Bar, located in the heart of downtown Roswell, opened at the end of November 2014. The Italian eatery uses only locally sourced and Italian-imported ingredients to craft a menu of shared plates and appetizers such as grilled octopus and veal meatballs; pasta and risotto dishes; and entrées like braised Colorado lamb shank and other weekly chef-chosen specials. Besides several signature cocktails and draft and crafts brews, Tutto's full bar offers a wine list with more than 70 wines by the glass and bottle. Lunch & Dinner daily. Tutto Kitchen & Bar, 942 Alpharetta St., Roswell, GA 30075, 678-878-2525.
OK Cafe Reopens After Fire
OK Cafe closed in 2014 after a fire in the take-out area nearly demolished the building. After finally getting permits and other needed clearances, the reconstruction was finalized and the restaurant reopened, returning to serving its mammoth breakfasts, sandwiches and blue plate specials at dinner. Classic home-style desserts and milkshakes are the sweet meal-enders we've been missing. OK Cafe, 1284 W. Paces Ferry Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30327, 404-233-2888.
Portofino Brunch Launch
Portofino in Buckhead stopped offering lunch to allow staff time to work on a fall launch of brunch service. Brunch now is served the second Sunday of the month, with a view toward developing it further in the spring of 2016 after seeing how patrons embrace the experience. Portofino, 3199 Paces Ferry Pl., Atlanta, GA 30305, 404-231-1136.
Parker's on Ponce announced the appointment of new executive chef Andre Brookins, the restaurant's former sous chef. He will be introduced with a "Meet the Chef" special dinner on Thursday, November 12, at 6:30 p.m. Cost of the dinner is $55 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and advance reservations, which are required, may be made by calling the restaurant at 404-924-2230. Parker's on Ponce, Watkins Building, 116 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, GA 30030, 404-924-2230.
Louisiana native Dean Berthelot will take the position of executive chef at Ray's in the City, a spot he occupied when the restaurant first opened in downtown Atlanta 12 years ago. Berthelot began his life as a chef in 1991 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans, where he interned, and then held a permanent position at the hotel's fine dining restaurant, Begue’s. In 1995, Berthelot accepted his first executive chef position at New Orleans’ House of Blues, opening six restaurants for the company. Moving to Atlanta in 2001, he has worked at The Cheesecake Factory, Ray's on the River, and opened Ray's in the City in 2003. Since 2010, he's been executive chef at Google's four facilities in Atlanta, and now returns to Ray's in the City with a mission to elevate that restaurant's dining experience. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner nightly. Ray's in the City, AmericasMart, Bldg. 2, 240 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303, 404-524-9224.
Brian Maloof, owner of Manuel's Tavern that his father Manuel Maloof founded more than 50 years ago, tells us that the last day of business for the vaunted spot will be December 27, 2015. He states he has all permits in place and will be ready to start the long-awaited renovation project that will keep the more than century-old building in business as systems and infrastructure are upgraded to contemporary standards. An archivist has photographed the interior and, in accordance with his late father's specific wishes, all the many artefacts and images will be preserved and restored to their original places once the tavern reopens. That event, says Maloof, will be three to four months after its closing. Maloof has sold the land his father owned but not the tavern, he says, to Green Street Properties, which has granted the tavern a long-term lease and will become its landlord. Lunch & Dinner daily, Brunch Sat.-Sun.. Manuel's Tavern, 602 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, 404-525-3447.
Brothers Pete and Mike Kontoes continued operating the restaurant that their immigrant Greek father, Spyros Kontoes, and his cousin, Pete Costarides, had purchased from the founders --- John, Tom and Herb Evans --- in 1982. Evans Fine Foods dates to 1946, and November 21, 2015, will be its last day, leaving a legacy and a nostalgic hole in the hearts of many fans. Clientele had become a steady stream of retirees, many of whom ate there at least several times a week, and some daily. But the landlord had increased the rent, and the brothers didn't see any way to make the bottom line work. Its closing leaves Matthews Cafeteria as the oldest still standing restaurant in DeKalb County. Evans Fine Foods, Emory Commons, 2125 N. Decatur Rd., Decatur, GA 30033, 404-634-6294.
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