Tag Archives: lamb

STK Atlanta

New Menu at STK

Need an excuse to check out STK? Midtown’s swanky steakhouse has a new menu.

The seasonally influenced additions come from newly appointed Executive Chef Mark Alba, who has won numerous awards and accolades in his 25 years of experience. He is joined by the new General Manager Geno Dew, who most recently was restaurant operations manager at Area 31 in Miami.

Whether you prefer surf or turf, you’ll have a hard time choosing among the new dishes.

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A New Era for the Old Vinings Inn

Old is new at the Old Vinings Inn. A longtime landmark on Paces Mill Road, the restaurant is beginning a new era, with new management and a new executive chef.

Old Vinings InnIt’s an evolution, not a revolution, according to new owner Lee Schulman. Since the transition in mid April the Old Vinings Inn hasn’t missed a beat, offering simple yet satisfying upscale southern cuisine.

Though Executive Chef Don Diem has added his touch to the menu, longtime diners will still recognize the Old Vinings Inn. At the same time, it gives new diners a reason to choose it for a special night out.

The Old Vinings Inn is the total package — a charming setting in a historic building, friendly and attentive staff, and delicious southern food. Even the yeast rolls are tasty. Topped with melted honey butter, you’ll have a tough time eating just one.

charcuterie plateIn addition to wines offered by the glass and bottle, Old Vinings Inn has a tempting selection of cocktails. Try the Old Vinings Inn Plantation Punch, made with St. Germain, Campari, champagne and fresh grapefruit juice. Or try the Chattahoochee, made with Jim Beam, St. Germain, ginger beer, lemon juice and bitters.

To start, try the Charcuterie Plate. It comes with a selection of house pickled vegetables, salumi, cheese, flatbread and a generous serving of Chef Diem’s pimento cheese, a real guilty pleasure.

gulf coast oystersNot to be missed are the Blue Corn Crusted Gulf Coast Oysters. Big and juicy, they’re perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor.

For the main course, try the Pecan Mountain Trout. The pecans add a wonderful flavor and texture to the fish. The Pan Seared Lamb Lollipops offer a touch of sweet with savory. They’re served with a wild mushroom and leek farmhouse bread pudding.

If you want to stay more traditional, go for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken or the Shrimp & Grits.

peach pieYou’ll have a hard time choosing among the side dishes, but make sure the Pot Likker Collards are one of them. They just may be some of the best collard greens you’ll find in Atlanta.

If you have room for dessert try the Farmhouse Peach Pie, which comes with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

The night doesn’t have to end when you get the check. Head upstairs to the cozy Attic Bar for a digestif. There’s live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night starting at 9pm.

Old Vinings Inn, 3011 Paces Mill Road, Atlanta, 30339. (770) 438-2282
Dinner Monday through Thursday from 5pm to 9pm; Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 10pm. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am to 3pm.
The Attic Bar is open beginning at 5pm.

Surf & Turf Done Right at Aqua Blue

When restaurants try to do it all, the results can be unpredictable. Rather than focusing on a theme or cuisine, too many different ideas may spread a chef — or the customers — thin.

Aqua blue is one of those restaurants that wants to do it all. Luckily for local diners, the results are excellent. There’s sushi, seafood, steak and more, in a spot that’s both a casual neighborhood restaurant and a place to celebrate a special occasion. It’s an ambitious feat and Aqua blue gets it right.

The Roswell restaurant celebrated its 10th anniversary in August and is welcoming its 11th year with new items on the menu and cocktail list. Now is a great time to discover or rediscover Aqua blue.

Bring a big appetite. One look at the menu and you’ll want to taste it all. Owner and Executive Chef John Metz (who also owns Marlow’s Tavern, Sterling Spoon Catering and the new Market Street Café in Buckhead), and Chef de Cuisine Kien Sam have so many mouthwatering options you’ll need some time to make your decision.

Aqua blue offers a variety of sushi rolls and platters, all made with the freshest fish.

If you like crab cakes you should try Aqua blue’s version that, with large chunks of crab, is more crab than cake. It is served on a bed of avocado and mango.

For a seafood entrée, you can’t go wrong with the Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass. This dish has been a hit since it first appeared on the menu. Just a touch crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, the fish is served with a light shitake mushroom broth and baby bok choy.

Another delicious option is the Shrimp & Scallop Grits. The scallops are cooked with a light hand to maintain a tender texture. The stone ground jalapeño corn grits are so good you’ll want to lick your plate.

For those craving something on the turf side, the Australian Lamb Chop is one of the highlights. It’s perfectly cooked and well seasoned; you’ll find yourself forgoing your fork and knife so you can get every piece of meat from the bone. It is served with a crispy potato cake that has the flavor and texture of mashed potatoes covered with crushed potato chips. The slight saltiness of the potato cake goes well with the savory lamb.

Whether its lamb or steak that you order, the meat comes out at just the right temperature.

If you have room for dessert, try the rich and creamy crème brulee. The recipe comes from John Metz’s mother.

To accompany the meal, Aqua blue has a nice selection of wines by the glass and bottle, as well as what it calls “soon to be classic” cocktails. Servers are great at helping you choose a drink, offering advice on food pairings or the sweetness-to-alcohol taste ratio of cocktails.

New drinks include the Ginger Sidecar (Germaine Robin Craft Method Brandy, ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice and candied ginger), Bees Knees (Leopold Brother’s Gin, thyme honey syrup and fresh lemon), and the Vesper (DH Krahn Gin, Kettle One Vodka, Cocchi Americano and peach bitters).

Additionally, Aqua blue’s large bar area provides an inviting spot for a drink or casual meal.

Aqua blue’s location just outside the perimeter and minutes from GA 400 makes it an easy drive from the center of Atlanta. Whether you’re going into or out of the city, or just want a great meal, you’ll find it all at Aqua blue.

Aqua blue, 1564 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell, Georgia (770) 643-8886

Aqua blue is offering food and drink specials now through November 7th as part of its annual Chops event.

image of restaurant exterior from Aqua blue’s Facebook page

The Perfect Marinade for Grilling

Planning on firing up the grill for the 4th of July?  Try my simple and delicious marinade that tastes great on lamb or beef.  It’s always a hit with my family and friends — I guarantee yours will love it too!

Be sure to scroll down for some helpful grilling tips.

Here’s what you’ll need:

• 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
• 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
• 2 heaping tbsp. Dijon mustard
• garlic salt or garlic powder
• black pepper

Mix together Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and mustard and pour over meat.  Grind black pepper on meat.  Sprinkle on garlic salt (substitute with garlic powder if you prefer more garlic flavor).  Place meat in the refrigerator to marinate, taking it out 15 to 20 minutes before you’re ready to grill.

I recommend marinating the meat overnight, though several hours will do if you’re pressed for time.

Save a few spoonfuls of the marinade to drizzle over the meat when it is served.

Here are some additional grilling tips for steak and lamb:

• Take the meat out of the fridge with enough time to warm to room temperature before grilling.  This helps the meat cook more evenly.
• Preheat the grill on high and start grilling with high heat to sear the meat and seal in the juices.
• Use tongs to turn the meat, not a fork.  Piercing the meat allows juices to escape.  Similarly, do not pierce the meat with a meat thermometer.
• Use your face to test the doneness of the meat.  Using your index finger press your cheek, then your chin, then your forehead.  When you’re ready to check the meat, use your fingers.  Rare will feel like your cheek, medium like your chin and well done like your forehead.
• Once the meat is off the grill let it rest for at least 5 minutes before you cut it, otherwise the juices will run out.

Happy Independence Day and happy grilling!

A Family Favorite: Ethiopian Food

It’s one of my family’s most cherished food traditions: sharing a delicious meal at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant in New York City. It started in the early 1990s with my first taste of Ethiopian food in Washington, D.C. and has become a meal my family looks forward to. My sister orders the food, I control the plate of bread, my mom takes the chicken meat off the bone so it’s easier to eat and my dad finishes all the lentil and vegetable dishes. We eat almost everything in front of us and complain how full we are for hours after the meal. Yum.

My sister and I have become vary particular about our Ethiopian food outings. We don’t invite just anyone into our dining group. No fast eaters (they’d finish everything before we got our fill), and no one who would be frightened by our carnivorous, overeating ways.

If you’ve never tried Ethiopian food, you wouldn’t understand my family’s enthusiasm. A meal at an Ethiopian restaurant is something everyone should experience. Even finicky eaters should give it a try – the taste is too good to resist.

If you like the spice and complex flavors of Indian food, you’ll like Ethiopian food – though the two taste nothing alike. It may not look that appetizing but the flavors are intense. Chicken, beef, lamb and vegetables are mixed with peppers, herbs and spices that create a bold and savory taste. You don’t use utensils; you pick up the food with injera, a flat, spongy bread that resembles a crepe and tastes like sourdough. The intense flavors of the food with the tangy taste of the injera is a combination I often find myself craving.

When my family goes out for Ethiopian food we always order the same dishes: doro wat, gomen besega, special tibs and a vegetable dish of green beans and carrots sautéed in a tomato sauce.

Doro wat is chicken stewed in a spicy berbere sauce and is served with a hard-boiled egg. Simply put, berbere sauce is really really good. It’s made with chili pepper, ginger, cloves, cardamom and other spices. If you enjoy wines that have big and complex flavors, you’ll like berbere sauce. The sauce is so big it’s hard to identify all the elements that combine for its taste.

Gomen besega is beef sautéed with collard greens. The collard greens are what make this dish. They have a delicious and slightly tart taste that refreshes your mouth after a bite of the spicy berbere sauce. I’ve tried to recreate the taste in my own kitchen with a mix of lemon juice and spices but haven’t come close.

If it’s your first time at an Ethiopian restaurant and you’re dining with one other person I recommend ordering doro wat and gomen besega to split.

Special tibs is chunks of lamb sautéed with onions, tomatoes and green pepper. It looks simple but the taste is an explosion of flavor. I like to dip it in the berbere sauce when the chicken and egg are gone.

The dishes are served together on one big platter for sharing. On the bottom is injera, which soaks up the sauce and tastes great when you’re getting towards the end of the meal. The food comes with a few side dishes; this past weekend it was two lentil dishes and collard greens flavored differently than the greens in the gomen besega.

It didn’t matter that my family had eaten a huge Thanksgiving dinner two nights before or that we started saying we were getting full halfway through – we finished nearly everything on the platter, including the injera on the bottom (the evidence is to the left). Each time we go out for Ethiopian food it’s the same – I eat way too much and am uncomfortably full for hours. I can’t help myself! The food tastes so good that I keep eating it until it’s gone.

If you don’t live in a city it may be hard to find an Ethiopian restaurant. If there is one in your area you should definitely make dinner plans. My family goes to Meskerem on West 47th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues in New York City. There are a few other Ethiopian restaurants in Manhattan. In Washington, D.C. you’ll find a bunch of Ethiopian restaurants in Adams Morgan. I’ve only found one restaurant in Miami: Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant, located in the Design District. The restaurant is currently closed and it’s not clear if or when it will reopen.

I’ve found recipes for injera and my favorite Ethiopian dishes online. I hope to try them sometime to see if I can recreate the great tastes in my own kitchen.