by David Danzig

Spring 2015

David takes us on an adventure to Le Bilbouquet, Atlas, Real Fix Pizzeria, Southern Gentleman, Cooks and Soldiers, Nikolai's Roof and Trader Vic's, Twin Smokers BBQ and El Felix.

Pictured left: La Croque Madame from Le Bilbouquet

Read more here: Season Eatings Spring 2015


David visits Gunshow, Salt Yard, Buttermilk Kitchen, King + Duke and more! Read the entire article in the Fall 2013 here.

Pictured left: Wood fired farm carrots and beets with sheep's milk feta from King+Duke.





Season Eatings continues into its second year of chewing up the
most delicious, decadent and delightful epicurean happenings — past, present and future. From highbrow delicacies in the swankiest of palaces to low brow chow in the dingiest dives, as long as it’s tasty we’re all about it.

Del Frisco’s Grille
Winning dining concepts from outside the area continue to expand into the ATL, and so far the results have delighted the scene. Dallas-based Del Frisco’s Grille jumps into the fray with a lively outpost located in the former Craft space at the base of the Mandarin Oriental on Peachtree Street in Buckhead. With $5 million in upgrades to the space that includes a doubledecker all-weather patio, the Del Frisco’s brand of refined energy hits a sweet spot that Buckhead has lacked for years. The concept is simple: super fresh, locally inspired grub like ahi tuna tacos, beefy steaks (they are Texas-based, after all) and wicked-good “two fisted eats” (aka sandwiches and burgers). It channels a naturally laid-back happy hour vibe all throughout the day and night. Upscale digs, service and food without an ounce of pretension. Hallelujah!

A refreshing breeze has blown into the Buckhead dining scene and landed between Twist and The Tavern at Phipps. The brain trust that created the successful South African-themed 10 Degrees South brings us its plucky new sibling, Yebo (Yeah-boh). Yebo’s sultry African aesthetic, a rustic/safari chic, sets the table for some of the heartiest and most flavorful dishes I’ve had in some time. Small plates, including
shrimp with chakalaka sauce, ostrich sliders, salads and fantastic Bunny Chow, traditional South African bread bowls (exceptional bread by H&F bakery) stuffed with goodies like chicken curry, roast pork and roasted vegetables with spicy goat cheese, all stand out at very un-Buckhead-like (read: reasonable) prices. Great drinks, cool vibe and a sexy patio make this a destination way beyond just the typical shopping respite. Should you go? Yebo! (That’s Zulu for “yes!”)

The Pinewood
Setting up shop in the former Cakes and Ale space in downtown Decatur, The Pinewood aims, in their own words, for “the high class and the home spun.” Mission accomplished. Into the small space, besides lots of warm pinewood furniture, the owners mix in a large helping of intimate Southern neighborhood attitude with clever (and tasty) libations. The menu riffs on comfort food classics hailing from the bayou to the low country — gumbo and quail, fried green omatoes, oyster rolls — even a fried bologna sandwich struts itself on the dinner menu seven days a week. Monday nights pay homage to an age-old New Orleans tradition of “Laundry Night” where red beans and rice are served — the perfect hands-off dish to cook while one does the laundry. Yet another top-notch one-of-a-kind personality joint in the swelling Decatur ranks.

Cocina Muy Bueno!
At the new Alama Cocina on Peachtree Street in the heart of downtown Atlanta , we find a fusion of "modern" Mexican and Latin cuisine which effectively declares its own independence from traditional connect-the-dots Mexican fare. Chef Chad Clevenger has masterfully taken south-of-the-border comfort food and womped it into new gourmet territory starting with the guacamole enhanced with butternut squash, chipotle and queso fresco. Chips and salsa? Beside the good ole-fashioned corn chips, get your dipping hand ready for a basket which also contains plantains, yucca chips and chicarrones (or as we gringos call them, pork rinds) and three distinct salsas.   The creativity extends to a variety of ceviches made with sea bass, scallops, yellowtail tuna and red snapper. Stand-out entrees include the Roasted Chicken Mole Oaxaca, Grilled Pork Tenderloin and the Red Snapper with Swiss chard and roasted hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. For a little dolce you must confront the coconut tres leches cake. And if you are looking for your Cinco de Mayo watering hole, prepare your taste buds for something light years beyond the old salt/shot/lime sequence:   Alma's own infused ice.   Pour premium tequilas over a small Rubik's Cube-sized flavored ice cube and wait for the glorious slushy that emerges. Flavors include coconut, pineapple , prickly pear and dragon fruit.   Happy Cinco!

Yo Quiero Chuy's

Elvis has entered the market! Typically Season Eatings thoroughly eschews chain restaurants but the arrival of the Austin-based Chuy's brings a proven Tex-Mex powerhouse into a town that hasn't had anything this good since the glory days of Rio Bravo (before Applebee's destroyed it). Within the pastel colored and tackily decorated walls await gargantuan portions of barbarically delicious Mexican classics. Nothing fancy, no reinventions. Just hyper-fresh ingredients exploding within perfected recipes and served with an attitude that will make you feel like you are partying with Elvis in Tijuana.   Signature dishes include "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" Chicken Enchiladas, Stuffed Chile Rellenos and the 12" diameter "Big As Yo Face Burritos." But perhaps most emblematic of Chuy's dedication to both food and fun lies in the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo. The comically enormous assembly of a hulking beef Tex-Mex enchilada, a cheese Ranchero enchilada and a chicken Tomatillo enchilada along with a crispy taco on its own plate (they couldn't all fit onto one) was more than enough food for an entire barrio. Our server informed us that once a year on The King's birthday they even throw in a deep-fried Twinkie just in case the other 8000 calories weren't enough. Chuy's is a much-needed breath of fresh air to the scene and indications are that more will join the new Perimeter Mall outpost.

Sizzling STK

Part steak house, part chic lounge and part of The One Group family, STK ( shorthand for Steak) beings a sexy energy that M idtown had been sorely missing in its aspiration to become a global cosmopolitan Mecca. Enter through a side door at the Lowes Hotel and into a massive exposed white brick room lined with dozens of white acrylic horns jutting from the wall like frosted eye lashes. Lit dramatically like a club, a live DJ keeps the tempo just right -- poppy ' 80's music early and then transitioning to danceable lounge grooves later in the evening. But the party motif does not distract the kitchen from holding up its end of the steakhouse promise.   Start off with the Lil' BRGRs (short for Burgers), the apotheosis of a slider, made with Wagyu and special sauce on a sesame seed bun.   Up the ante with shaved truffles or even foie gras. All cuts of steak are available from skirt steak to the 34 oz. Cowboy Rib Steak but I was particularly delighted to see the bone-in filet which is unusual in these parts. Top any steak with everything from truffle butter to foie gras to a lobster. For sides the truffle fries and the mushroom pot pie almost steal the show all by themselves. And there's plenty of amazing "surf" if you are not a straight-up carnivore. Right now STK is the undisputed heavyweight alpha dog of M idtown. It's hard to decide if you should go for the scene but stay for the food or vice versa. They nail it on both counts.

Top Chef Happenings
Congratulations to flip Burger Boutique’s indefatigable mastermind, Richard Blais, who finaly brought a coveted Top Chef championship to Atlanta after failing to capture the title in his original season. Blais showed his culinary dexterity throughout the season and out-classed al of the other “All Stars” (other contestants who lost their previous seasons’ shows). Fans gathered at the Buckhead Theater to watch the finale and celebrated a local boy done good. With his $200,000 in prize money, we look forward to seeing more Blais enterprises in the near future.

Rumors of a hot dog restaurant have begun to swirl … While on the subject, brava to Tracy Bloom, a former Top Chef contestant herself, now Executive Chef of ray’s killer Creek in Alpharetta. Bloom assembled five of her former Top Chef alums (Andrea Curto-Randazzo, Tiffany Derry, Kenny Gilbert, Arnold Myint and Top Chef Just Desserts contestant Heather Hurlbert) and hosted a special Top Chef Dinner for nearly 200 guests, raising $15,000 for the AFLAC Cancer Center in the process. Dish after dish, the bar continued to rise throughout the night, but the unanimous winner at my table was Bloom’s decadent Sous-Vide Kurobuta Pork Bely with Smoked Blueberry C
ompote. And, of course, the kids at Children’s Healthcare.

Take Me Out to the Burger
With all due respect to the aforemen- tioned Blais, the best burger in Atlanta is not at Flip Burger Boutique this summer. It’s at Turner Field in center field. Finaly one of the worst balparks for food in baseball has something that can play at the Major League level. Atlanta Braves Al-Star catcher Brian McCann has lent his name to the new burger joint aptly named mcCann’s Burgers and they are nothing short of a home run. They’re heaping. They’re messy. They’re knee- buckling good. Rumor has it that the players themselves are sending runners up from the dugout to get their hands on them. For $15 get the single cheeseburger, fries with sea salt and a milkshake. Or for an inning or two of pure gluttony, order the triple cheeseburger — a $9 colossus of All-American glory. You might not be able to stand for the seventh inning stretch, but I promise it will be worth it.

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of Season Eatings in the latest issue of Atlanta Social Season.


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