Dining Atlanta: Week of February 27, 2012

By Eric Harvison

Dining Atlanta spotlights what is opening and closing around the city. Check in at the beginning of each week to find out what is changing in your neighborhood.

Click here to read earlier columns

Atlantic Station

DOC GREEN’S on 19th Street will be replaced this June by BGR: THE BURGER JOINT. Offering “prime, dry aged, all natural, hormone free, grain-fed beef.”

Buckhead

The former JOHNNY ROCKETS space on Roswell at West Paces has reopened as LIME FRESH MEXICAN GRILL.

And a bit further south along Peachtree, the former GENGHIS GRILL at 2140 Peachtree will also be converted into a LIME FRESH.

The usually reliable Jennifer Zyman is tweeting rumors that the Kinjo family is getting ready to open a new sushi parlor on Pharr Road but it won’t be under the MF SUSHI name.

Chamblee

Now open, BROWN’S BBQ. 2148 Johnson Ferry Road. This is a brick and mortar (well, aluminum siding and glass) version of Marvin Brown’s BBQ that has been available at the adjacent “Drive Through Farmers’ Market” for the past six months or so.

Decatur

FEAST closed last weekend. According to a posting on their web page, the decision to close the popular 7 year old restaurant was driven by a combination of the difficult economy and owner Teri Rogers’ continuing battle with breast cancer.

Downtown

HOOTERS on Peachtree is celebrating renovations to the restaurant today (insert augmentation joke here).

Inman Park

The property that houses Richard Blais’ HD1 is on the market for $1.25 MM.

Midtown

Folks from STK on Peachtree at 12th have opened CUCINA ASELLINA next door, serving up pizza and pasta.

REPICCI’S ITALIAN ICE on Piedmont at 10th Street has closed.

Oakhurst

Former NECTAR space will reopen as SUGAR MOON BAKERY, specializing in cupcakes.

Ormewood

LITTLE CEASARS is coming to Moreland at Custer Avenue.

——————————————————————–

Eric Harvison’s Dining Notes began a few years ago as a sporadic e-mail exchange with a friend, sharing restaurant openings and trying to satisfy that vague urge to dine “somewhere new.” That friend started forwarding Eric’s messages to some of her friends, several of them food industry professionals. They in turn began passing along bits of restaurant news and gossip that they would come across. These exchanges became more frequent and took on a viral life of their own that has evolved into what you read today.

Aside from the occasional editorial comment, Eric won’t attempt to review these restaurants. There’s plenty of others better qualified, with much more refined palates — probably you. Rather, this is an attempt to help you keep up with the constantly changing Atlanta dining scene, for better or worse.

Dining Atlanta: Week of February 20, 2012

By Eric Harvison

Dining Atlanta spotlights what is opening and closing around the city. Check in at the beginning of each week to find out what is changing in your neighborhood.

Click here to read earlier columns

Atlantic Station

Originally reported to be closing on January 1st, FOX SPORTS GRILL now indicates that March 31st will be their last day at Atlantic Station. The Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that they plan to reopen elsewhere but no location has been disclosed.

Decatur

Recently closed KYOTO JOE’S on North Druid Hills at Clairmont has been replaced by PITA HOUSE, a fast/casual Middle Eastern café run by the former Avondale Estates’ MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE owner. 2050 North Decatur Road.

East Atlanta

Former VILLAGE ICE CREAM on Flat Shoals Avenue has reopened as a banh mi parlor, WE SUKI SUKI. Also serving bubble tea and (soon) soy drinks. 11am – 7pm daily.

Midtown

Tickets are on sale for this year’s Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, May 10th – 13th at the Loews Hotel.

Former DUNKIN DONUTS / BASKIN ROBBINS across from the Sears Building (ahem, Ponce City Market) will reopen as another STARBUCKS location.

According to their website, JR CRICKETS will open a new franchise in Colony Square next month.

——————————————————————–

Eric Harvison’s Dining Notes began a few years ago as a sporadic e-mail exchange with a friend, sharing restaurant openings and trying to satisfy that vague urge to dine “somewhere new.” That friend started forwarding Eric’s messages to some of her friends, several of them food industry professionals. They in turn began passing along bits of restaurant news and gossip that they would come across. These exchanges became more frequent and took on a viral life of their own that has evolved into what you read today.

Aside from the occasional editorial comment, Eric won’t attempt to review these restaurants. There’s plenty of others better qualified, with much more refined palates — probably you. Rather, this is an attempt to help you keep up with the constantly changing Atlanta dining scene, for better or worse.

Dining Atlanta: Week of February 13, 2012

By Eric Harvison

Dining Atlanta spotlights what is opening and closing around the city. Check in at the beginning of each week to find out what is changing in your neighborhood.

Click here to read earlier columns

Around Town

Get ‘em while you can. Creative Loafing reports that after 40 years on the menu, WAFFLE HOUSE will cease serving T-bone steaks at the end of 2012. They are currently the #1 T-bone server in the country.

Ansley

PLANET LIVING, upscale cousin to PLANET SMOOTHIE at Ansley Mall has closed.

Brookhaven

SLACKS HOAGIE SHACK is the first casualty in the Town Brookhaven development. The restaurant closed its doors last week.

Downtown

Cali-Mex styled BIG KAHUNA restaurant will open later this spring in the Sun Trust Plaza at 303 Peachtree Road.

Midtown

Former MARBLE SLAB CREAMERY site at Technology Square will reopen as the fourth metro location of Alpharetta based GYRO KING.

Sharpen your knives celebrity chef wannabes — casting call for next season’s Top Chef will be conducted at EMPIRE STATE SOUTH on February 25th from 10am – 1pm. Click here for more details.

ROYAL ORCHID Thai restaurant in the Midtown Promenade shopping center has closed.

North Druid Hills

Now open, CUPZ & CAKE, a coffee/dessert bar. Also offering full cakes and pies via their website. 1170 LaVista Road.

——————————————————————–

Eric Harvison’s Dining Notes began a few years ago as a sporadic e-mail exchange with a friend, sharing restaurant openings and trying to satisfy that vague urge to dine “somewhere new.” That friend started forwarding Eric’s messages to some of her friends, several of them food industry professionals. They in turn began passing along bits of restaurant news and gossip that they would come across. These exchanges became more frequent and took on a viral life of their own that has evolved into what you read today.

Aside from the occasional editorial comment, Eric won’t attempt to review these restaurants. There’s plenty of others better qualified, with much more refined palates — probably you. Rather, this is an attempt to help you keep up with the constantly changing Atlanta dining scene, for better or worse.

It’s Time for Wine: Sonoma Valley Appellations

By Monty and Sara Preiser

Most oenophiles are aware of the Russian River, Chalk Hill and Carneros districts of Sonoma, but few others. As Sonoma county winemakers continue to refine their decisions as to what varieties grow best in what locations, the designation of the wine’s appellation will become more and more important.

In Sonoma County, as in other wine producing areas of this country, there are grape growing/producing regions that each possess characteristics approved as unique by the government, and, thus, are granted status as an American Viticultural Area (commonly referred to as “AVA” or “Appellation”). While memorizing these AVAs is not necessary, it will enhance your understanding and fun to have at least a general working knowledge of each one, and what you can expect from a wine that bears an Appellation name on its label.

Modern oenology allows the luxury of matching grape varieties with the locations that are best suited to grow them. Individual regions feature distinct meso or microclimates (functions of wind, rain, temperature, and time-in-the-sun) as well as terrain – hill, valley, foothills, type of soil, etc. When all of these factors, which obviously affect the grapes, are put together, they can be said to create a specific “terroir,” or, for lack of a better definition, “sense of place.”

Why is it important to know a wine’s AVA? For many reasons, most of which have to do with predicting how a wine should taste or be paired, before you actually taste or purchase it. Being cognizant of what an AVA brings to the bottle can help you select a wine to go with a particular dish, or decide whether a price is fair. For example, the Russian River AVA is well known for producing cooler climate varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. If you saw a Zinfandel with a Russian River Appellation, you might have some doubts about ordering it before having the opportunity somewhere to taste it.

But the good thing about drinking wine is that once a bottle is opened and you actually taste the wine yourself, all bets are off. You can then make the call as to whether you like it and what foods you want to accompany it. If you are satisfied, that is all that matters. Let’s discuss the various Appellations below.

Sonoma County

Placing this first since all the other thirteen smaller appellations are a part of it, a winery might use this appellation if a bottle of its wine contained grapes from more than two viticultural areas other than those in the Northern Sonoma (see below) region. If it sounds like “Sonoma County” is a catch-all, it is. There is no unifying description of its characteristics.

Alexander Valley

Located in the northern part of the county, Alexander Valley includes both the flatlands and the hills to the east and west (22 miles long and from 2 to 7 miles wide). The diverse micro-climates support the growing of a number of grape types, though Cabernet Sauvignnon is the star.

Best Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, some Chardonnay.

Bennett Valley

This is a small AVA, but rising in stature all the time. It benefits tremendously by being bordered by three mountains which permit the cool early fog and winds to blow from the Pacific down the gap which is Bennett Valley. The extra hang time needed to obtain ripeness allows for very balanced wines.

Best Varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel.

Carneros (formally “Los Carneros”)

Don’t be confused as this Appellation is partly in Napa as well (one of only 2 places in the U.S. of which we are aware where an Appellation crosses county lines). As Carneros is just off the San Pablo Bay in the county’s southernmost area, it is quite cool.

Best Varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and recently some excellent Merlot.

Chalk Hill

This name comes from the soil of white, chalky, volcanic ash found in the mountains (actually there is no chalk – it is a mixture of quartzite, sand, and loam). The region, north of Santa Rosa, experiences plenty of sun and heat from a thermal belt that influences the temperatures.

Best Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc.

Dry Creek Valley

Named for Dry Creek, a tributary to the Russian River and irrigated by Lake Sonoma, this region is about 16 miles long and 2 miles wide and experiences warm late mornings and afternoons following morning fog from the Pacific. Wines are grown on the valley floor and hillsides above.

Best Varietals: Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, some Chardonnay.

Fort Ross – Seaview

The county’s newest appellation, approved by the TTB in late 2011, its 27,500 acres were carved out of the 480,000 acre Sonoma Coast, the latter of which actually extends somewhat inland. Truly located on the shoreline, this AVA was granted its distinct status because much of it is mountainous and thus above the fog line that often affects the rest of the older, larger appellation.

Best Varietals: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Green Valley (formally Green Valley of Russian River)

This small, beautiful area near Sebastopol is worth exploring on many levels (redwood forests, llama farms), but from a wine standpoint is is significant that it may be the coolest, foggiest region in Sonoma County – even cooler than the rest of the Russian River Valley.

Best Varietals: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Knights Valley

Located next to Napa Valley and protected from the cool Pacific Ocean influences due to its geography, this region is the warmest in all of Sonoma County. Its warm days and cool nights provide the ideal weather for producing Bordeaux grapes of all kinds.

Best Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Verdot.

Northern Sonoma

This region encompasses a half dozen other appellations (Chalk Hill and the Alexander, Dry Creek, Green, Knights, and Russian River Valleys) and was primarily championed by giant Gallo, which wanted a definitive umbrella appellation so it could make an “estate wine” at its winery in Dry Creek using grapes from the other aforementioned areas. Gallo is the only winery using this AVA designation, which is cooled by the Pacific rather than the San Pablo Bay, and has sedimentary rather than volcanic soils.

Pine Mountain – Cloverdale Peak

This is an interesting new (Fall of 2011) AVA, in that it includes part of northeastern Sonoma County and portions of Mendocino County. Only about 5% of its 4,600 acres are planted with just a bit more under development. The area is relatively fog free, so it has ample sunlight, and is cooler than the Alexander Valley, much of which stretches below.

Best Varietals: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, some Chardonnay.

Rockpile

This appellation’s name is quite descriptive of the hardscrabble soils and actual rocks in and around which the vines here must struggle to grow (survival of the fittest, as they say). Rockpile is also above the fog line, so, while ocean cooled, the evening mist is not a factor and sun is plentiful.

Best Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel.

Russian River Valley

Not really including the entire Russian River Valley, this region follows the river from Healdsburg south to Santa Rosa and then west to Occidental. It is remarkable for the fog that rolls down the river banks from the ocean and lasts until late morning, creating the perfect cool climate for world class wines.

Best Varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, some Syrah.

Sonoma Coast

A huge geographical area abutting the Pacific coast (San Pablo Bay in the south all the way to the Mendocino border) belies the fact that it is sparsely planted. Cooler and wetter than most of Sonoma, the vineyards benefit from being above the fog line, and ultimately achieve great balance due to a long growing season.

Best Varietals: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Sonoma Mountain

East of the Sonoma Valley near the town of Glen Ellen, this region allows a number of varietals to be successfully grown because of its diverse micro climates created by mountain crevices and some rolling slopes. Primarily eastern facing and above the fog line, sunshine is abundant.

Best Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel.

Sonoma Valley

Running north/south between the town of Sonoma and Santa Rosa, this is also called “The Valley of the Moon.” The mountains on both sides protect the area from Pacific weather and so the southern part is cooled from the San Pablo Bay while the northern areas can become quite hot.

Best Varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Semillon, Merlot.

——————————————————————–

It’s Time for Wine is a column published by wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser that is featured on the Amateur Gastronomer.

Monty and Sara Preiser reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers visiting wineries and studying wines on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. For many years they were the wine columnists for The Boca Raton News, have served as contributors to the South Florida Business Journal, and are now the principal wine writers for Sallys-Place.com.  Monty and Sara also publish The Preiser Key to Napa Valley, the most comprehensive guide to wineries and restaurants in the Napa Valley, published every March, July, and November. In fall 2011 the Preisers released the first issue of The Preiser Key to Sonoma. Click here to read more columns by the Preisers.

Dining Atlanta: Week of February 6, 2012

By Eric Harvison

Dining Atlanta spotlights what is opening and closing around the city. Check in at the beginning of each week to find out what is changing in your neighborhood.

Click here to read earlier columns

Avondale Estates

MOBETA WINGS on East College Avenue reopened yesterday, just in time for the Super Bowl. The restaurant had been closed for repairs since October after a hungry Lexus apparently mistook their front door for a drive-through window.

Buckhead

MORTON’S THE STEAKHOUSE on Peachtree Road closed last Wednesday. Their downtown location remains open.

U.S. bankruptcy court ordered MF BUCKHEAD into liquidation last Thursday after being unable to renegotiate lease terms with their landlord at the Terminus development. Open since 2007, the sushi bar had been operating under Chapter 11 since mid November. According to reports in the AJC, the Kinjo family is seeking to open a new, smaller sushi bar somewhere nearby.

LOCAL THREE is debuting a new brunch menu.

Decatur

Rumored for a while, but a newly filed application for liquor license appears to confirm that ZUCCA will soon be replaced by COLBEH PERSIAN KITCHEN on the Decatur Square.

East Atlanta

Former BLUE FROG CANTINA space on Flat Shoals Avenue will reopen as a new pub serving up English and Scottish cuisine, ELDER TREE PUBLIC HOUSE. Former FADO chef Sean Culpepper will be the executive chef. Just in case the prospect of haggis isn’t enough to lure you in, they will also feature soccer and rugby.

Inman Park

PARK’S EDGE has introduced a new menu to celebrate (?) being featured in an episode of FOX’s Kitchen Nightmares, which aired last Friday.

Midtown

EVOS, the ‘healthy’ burger joint at 855 Peachtree has closed (again).

Last call, reminder that TIERRA closes for good on February 17th.

Morningside

Though he is not providing any details regarding venue or concept, chef de cuisine Nick Melvin has left ROSEBUD after 18 months in order to open his own restaurant.

Old 4th Ward

Talk about a conservative growth plan — as the original North Highland location marks 20 years in business, AMERICAN ROADHOUSE will open their second Atlanta roadhouse in the Pencil Factory Lofts later this spring.

Peachtree Hills

Lots of buzz around Kevin Rathbun’s announcement last week that he and his partners will open a new restaurant in the ADAC West building complex at 349 Peachtree Hills Road. According to his website, KR STEAKBAR and will have a menu featuring “small plate steaks meets Italian fare.”

Westside

Perrine’s Wine Shop in the Westside Provision District has relocated a few steps closer to YEAH! BURGER. The move was apparently necessary to make room for the Lululemon yoga clothing store opening there later this year. As of yesterday, Perrine’s is now open on Sundays as well.

——————————————————————–

Eric Harvison’s Dining Notes began a few years ago as a sporadic e-mail exchange with a friend, sharing restaurant openings and trying to satisfy that vague urge to dine “somewhere new.” That friend started forwarding Eric’s messages to some of her friends, several of them food industry professionals. They in turn began passing along bits of restaurant news and gossip that they would come across. These exchanges became more frequent and took on a viral life of their own that has evolved into what you read today.

Aside from the occasional editorial comment, Eric won’t attempt to review these restaurants. There’s plenty of others better qualified, with much more refined palates — probably you. Rather, this is an attempt to help you keep up with the constantly changing Atlanta dining scene, for better or worse.