Doug Turbush, chef/owner of Seed Kitchen & Bar and Stem Wine Bar in Marietta's Merchants Walk, will open Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar in February 2016 at The Avenue East Cobb. Drift will focus on wild-caught and sustainable seafood, according to Turbush. Atlanta-based firm ai3 designed the 5,260-square-foot space. Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar, The Avenue East Cobb, 4475 Roswell Rd., Marietta, GA 30062, No phone.
The Spotted Trotter owners Kevin Ouzts and his wife and business partner Megan launched Frankly in fall 2015 with a view toward selling themselves as well as sundry hot dog vendors in Atlanta the hot dogs they purvey. Attention to detail is everywhere, as this operation is a cut above the crowd. So the ketchup is Sir Kensington's and the chili is made in-house. Sausages also are on the menu, and none of the offerings break ten bucks. Frankly, Krog Street Market, 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, 470-428-2509.
Justin Anthony of 10 Degrees South, Yebo and Cape Dutch has opened his long-awaited Biltong Bar. The menu offers South African pies filled with chicken curry, bobotie and vegetable curry, organic house-cured biltong (somewhat like beef jerky) and chicken potpie that we hope reminds us of Malaysian chicken pie. South African wines will be a focus, too. Lunch & Dinner daily. Biltong Bar, Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30308, 678-515-0620.
Positioned as a little brother (or sister) to Ford Fry's The Optimist, BeetleCat has debuted in Inman Quarter in Inman Park. Executive chef Andrew Isabella is a Florida native and longtime fishing enthusiast, and has worked under Fry's mentorship for a while. Named for a 12-foot wooden gaff-rigged sailboat made since 1920 in New England by the Beetle family, the establishment offers small plates designed for sharing and anticipates a minimum of 12 varieties of oysters available daily. Fry's corporate executive pastry chef Chrysta Poulos is in charge of desserts. BeetleCat stays open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Fry, who now owns 10 restaurants in Atlanta and one, State of Grace, in Houston, Texas, has been opening eateries at a dizzying pace since launching his JCT. Kitchen & Bar. BeetleCat, Inman Quarter, 299 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, 678-732-0360.
Executive chef Stephen McGuffin has opened Café Highlands in the space that formerly housed Café 640, where he served as executive chef until taking that position at Decatur's Parker's on Ponce steakhouse. The restaurant is located in The Highland Inn, in Atlanta's Poncey-Highland neighborhood. McGuffin’s résumé going back two decades ranges from French fine dining to down-home Southern fare, but his vision for Café Highlands combines progressive American cuisine with the atmosphere of a neighborhood bar and grill. Serving lunch and dinner daily and brunch Saturday and Sunday, the restaurant will offer such dishes as duck confit on sweet potato masa with salsa negra, and huckleberry pancakes at brunch. Nick Moody's beverage program showcases classic cocktails, other cask-aged libations on tap and specialty beers. Lunch & Dinner daily, Brunch Sat.-Sun. Café Highlands, The Highland Inn, 640 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30308, 404-698-3509.
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. 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, 230 Peachtree 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 contains 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 St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303, 404-523-4004.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bacchanalia Drops Fixed-Price Menu for À la Carte
With the new year, Bacchanalia announced the dropping of its fixed-price menu format in favor of a return to à la carte-style dining. The menu's design will still allow a patron to assemble a tasting menu, but without the rigidity of the fixed-price lockdown. Dishes are arranged in columns, as before, under headings, so to go from one column to the next is easy visually. Little Bacch's chef Joe Schafer takes over the kitchen here, as well. Brian Wolfe assumes responsibilities for the kitchen at Little Bacch. Bacchanalia, Westside Provisions District, 1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-365-0410.
New Regulations Allow Dogs on Restaurant Patios in Georgia
Effective November 1, 2015, the Georgia Department of Public Health modified its rules and regulations to allow the presence of pet dogs on restaurant patios under certain conditions. For example, the dogs must be on leash and must have access to the patio without going through the restaurant's interior, and wait staff cannot come into contact with them. Many restaurants had already permitted the presence of dogs on leash, but some required that they be kept outside the perimeter of the patio with the leash controlled by the dog's owner and connected to the owner through the patio fencing. Now Fido can sit right next to his owner if the restaurant permits it. The new regulation ends the confusion, but individual establishments may still opt out of permitting pets on the patio, so don't assume but instead check in advance of arriving. Of course, service dogs are already accepted as required by law per the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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.
Parker's on Ponce announced the appointment of new executive chef Andre Brookins, the restaurant's former sous chef. Parker's on Ponce, Watkins Building, 116 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, GA 30030, 404-924-2230.
On February 1, 2016, The Varsity management team closed the iconic restaurant's Alpharetta location. The Varsity continues to operate in its North Avenue spot, complete with service at parked vehicles. Other outposts still operating include Kennesaw, Gwinnett, Dawsonville and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In addition, there's a longtime The Varsity in Athens, Ga. The Varsity, 11556 Rainwater Dr., Alpharetta, GA 30004, no phone.
A sign on Mezza’s door tells the whole story: After 15 years in business at the same location, the lease was up for renewal, and family issues (no details given) compelled the Bitars to close their longstanding popular restaurant. One could hope that it might restart in another location, but it didn't sound like that plan was in the offing. We've enjoyed many fine meals there, and lament its closing. Mezza, Oak Grove Center, 2751 LaVista Rd., Decatur, GA 30033, no phone.
Brian Maloof, owner of Manuel's Tavern that his father Manuel Maloof founded more than 50 years ago, has closed the vaunted spot 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 in Spring 2016. 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. 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 dated to 1946, and November 21, 2015, was 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, no phone.
Palomilla's Grill House (6470 Spalding Dr.) in Norcross's Peachtree Corners has closed. But the location in Johns Creek at Johns Creek Walk (11030 Medlock Bridge Rd., Ste. 210) remains open serving contemporary Cuban fare. The menu offers all the traditional dishes, from milanesas to roast pork, and mango pie for dessert. Palomilla's Grill House
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