Saturday, June 19, 2010


He says:
Miller Union is Atlanta’s version of Cakes & Ale. Like that popular Decatur restaurant, Miller Union revitalizes classic dishes with top-notch ingredients, simple preparation, and a singular focus on flavor. While Cakes & Ale’s New American offerings are more worldly (much like Decatur itself), Miller Union stays grounded in tradition. From shrimp & grits to fried okra to low-country grouper, this restaurant has the Deep South infused in its menu.

She says:
Using seasonal ingredients from local farmers seems to be a la mode for new restaurants these days, and, happily, Miller Union is no exception. The real sell, though is the monthly Harvest Dinner. On the third Thursday of each month, the chef serves a three-course family-style supper. What could be homier than enjoying rustic, farm-to-table dishes with a bunch of strangers? It turned out to be one of the most fun dining experiences I’ve had in awhile. By the time the entrée was served, we were cracking jokes about dirty uncles and the eccentricities of rural Georgia.

The chilled potato leek soup was a standard, yet vibrant, rendition of this classic. One of the most outstanding dishes was the arugula salad, with notably fresh greens, cucumber, and crumbles of feta doused in a robust vinaigrette.

The entrée – frogmore stew – was a smorgasbord of potatoes, onions, shrimp, sausage, and corn on the cob. The simplicity of the dish seemed promising, but it was somewhat of a disappointment, mostly because the unpleasantly smoky flavor of the sausage overwhelmed everything else.

He says:
I actually enjoyed the smokiness, but I agree the stew was a one-note dish and a missed opportunity. If you’re going to let the ingredients do the talking in a minimalist stew, then some of the other flavors have gotta sing.

Of the two side items – field peas with heirloom cherry tomatoes and hush puppies – the latter was superior. Fried to a deep golden brown perfection and paired with two dipping sauces, our table couldn’t get enough of them.

However, the night’s true standout dish was the blueberry crisp. The blueberries were bold and the crisp was a buttery, crunchy, brown sugar delight. With a dollop of silky cinnamon ice cream on top, this dessert is reason enough to visit Miller Union.

We say:
Miller Union is a welcome addition to the booming West Side. It’s a tad too expensive, and like Cakes & Ale it doesn’t challenge the palette, but it also might be the best true Southern restaurant in Atlanta. And, damn, that is some awesome blueberry crisp.

Miller Union
999 Brady Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318

Saturday, May 1, 2010


He says:
La Pietra Cucina sure is an ugly restaurant. Located in the middle of Uptown among the strip malls, traffic lights, and exhaust of passing MARTA buses, it is unhappily situated in the lobby of an office tower. Everything from the walls to the booths is a murky, brownish red, as if the restaurant were trapped inside a human liver. The tables are dim and the artwork is dreary. If the décor needs lightening up, the service needs toning down. Our waiter was so enthused about the daily specials I thought he might jump on our table and start doing a jig.

Fortunately, the food is worth dancing about. In a city with a surprisingly weak Italian scene, La Pietra Cucina stands apart for the freshness of its ingredients and the novelty of its entrees.

She says:
The Prosciutto di Parma is a great sharing appetizer. Generous heaps of prosciutto are piled atop flatbread and are accompanied by in-house ricotta and a sweet pineapple mostarda. The combination has it all – sweet, salty, creamy – and I promise that by the time the last fleck of prosciutto is gone you’ll be planning your next visit just to get more of that incredible ricotta.

La Pietra Cucina is also known for its handmade pasta, which is made fresh daily. They really do get it right, with their delicate noodles coming out perfectly al dente. My dish was a mushroom lover’s dream, five different types of mushrooms mixed with a very light cream sauce over tagliatelle. For such rich ingredients it was surprising light, though my umami tastebuds were in hyperdrive.

He says:
The black spaghetti is a striking dish, not only for its squid ink-colored pasta, but also for the intensity of its flavors. Chunks of hot Italian sausage provide a rich, satisfying burn with every bite while the plentiful rock shrimp offers a chewy, textural contrast. This is an excellent dish, but it’s not for the weak of heart – if you can’t handle spice, you might want to avoid this entrée.

The lemon custard is terrific. Citrus desserts are often too acidic – think key lime pie with too much lime – but this custard softens its edges perfectly, extracting the full flavor of the fruit while cutting out the tangy finish. It’s a marvelous trick and I couldn’t get enough of it.

We say:

Ugly restaurant, but beautiful food.

La Pietra Cucina
1545 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30309

Thursday, March 18, 2010


She says:
Oh Kevin Gillespie, how do we love thee? Let me count the ways…

  • We love you for solidifying Atlanta’s place on America’s gastronomic map through your amazing performance on Top Chef.
  • We love you for centering your restaurant’s fare on local, sustainable, organic food and humanly-treated animals.
  • We love you for being insanely sweet and humble even though you are totally famous.
  • We love you for putting bacon in everything, even your desserts.
  • We love you for indulging our doe-eyed admiration, for taking a picture with us, and even signing our menu!

But mostly, we love you for your cooking. After months of anticipation, we finally ate at Woodfire Grill this past weekend. Our expectations were high. We weren’t disappointed.

He says:
After much hemming and hawing and deliberating with our excellent waiter, who assured Uptown Girl the red meat dishes could be substituted for vegetarian ones, we opted for the five course chef’s tasting menu. Apparently it changes every night, and even from hour to hour, depending on the ingredients available, so we were completely at Kevin’s mercy.

A bite-size pimento cheese profiterole started things off. The pastry crust was flaky and buttery, but the cheese filling of this amuse bouche lacked nuance.

Fortunately the sliced raw scallops that followed were excellent. They were incredibly silky, and the lemon oil and pink pepper added just the right amount of zing. A stellar peekytoe crab salad completed the dish.

The second course of sautéed California morels was even better. Fungi of this caliber can change the way you think about mushrooms. They were remarkably earthy and smoky, and further enriched by a roasted chicken glace. A huge dollop of duck foie gras mousse threw off the balance of this dish, but after I spooned half of it aside, the resulting union of fat and mushrooms was splendid.

She says:
I was impressed to learn that the artisanal foie gras was “cruelty-free” (rather than force-feeding the animals, they are kept in an environment of constantly available food to fatten them up). Even so, I opted out. Kevin supplied me with a perfectly cooked risotto with morel mushrooms and broccoli. Although rich in all the right ways, the most noticeable characteristic of this dish was the freshness and intensity of the veggies.

He says:
Every great meal has a standout dish, one that you will recall years later because it redefines that what a chef can achieve. For me, Kevin’s slow-roasted pork belly was that dish. Glistening with fat, it melted on the tongue in all its buttery perfection.

The spiced lamb wasn’t quite as marvelous but it was much more inventive. Accompanied by tandoori yogurt, lentil sauce, and a tomato-ginger-cauliflower and potato mash, it’s Indian home cooking masquerading as a fine dining entrée. And plenty fine it was, with spicy and cool notes mingling with the gamy lamb.

She says:
My vegetarian entrée just happened to be the same one that Kevin used to win the vegetarian challenge on Top Chef! A mix of potatoes, Hen of the Woods, and morel mushrooms were prepared on the woodfire grill. Each head of the Hen of the Woods clusters were grilled to a slight crisp, and they paired beautifully with the smokiness of the sautéed greens. A smear of a tangy cream sauce cut the saltiness and rounded it all out.

Dessert consisted of a dense tres leches banana cake topped with three wallops of chocolate mousse and a thin bar of milk chocolate. Next to the cake was a banana sorbet. The sorbet, only mildly sweetened and sprinkled with marcona almonds and sea salt, provided a needed contrast to the sweet cake. Overall, it was a very well balanced dessert.

We say:
Woodfire Grill ranks among the top restaurants in Atlanta. Most dishes were very good, and several were spectacular. In Atlanta’s fine dining scene it is second only to Bacchanalia. And did we mention that we love Kevin Gillespie?

Woodfire Grill
1782 Cheshire Bridge Road
Atlanta, GA 30324


He says:
Atlanta has some pretty awesome barbecue. Daddy D’z. Fox Brothers. DBA Barbecue. Joining this list is Rolling Bones. This isn’t a new BBQ joint, but it is under a new management team that has been getting positive press from local papers and food blogs. The buzz is warranted.

The pork ribs are incredibly smoky, chewy, and huge. With the $12 half-slab you could easily feed yourself for two meals. Meanwhile the barbecue sauce might be the best in town – it negotiates a fine balance between sweetness and acidity better than any other ‘que sauce I’ve tried.

If you prefer your BBQ pork fatty and tender as I do, then skip the half-slab and order the rib tips. Carved off the end of the bone, these shanks of tendon and meat are softer and more flavorful than the rib meat. At $9 it’s a terrific bargain.

She says:

Their smoked chicken also finds that equilibrium between moistness and dry smokiness.

The “maple butter sweet potato” is a disappointment, however. Rather than a mash oozing with butter and syrup, it’s a whole sweet potato, barely cooked through. I had to go back to ask for the maple butter, and received a frozen scoop of butter on top of my potato. Cold lard … yuck.

He says:
Rolling Bones has its flaws. As Uptown Girl hinted at, the few side items offered are terrible. A bland potato salad comes in a plastic tub straight out of the refrigerator. The dining area also leaves much to be desired. While DBA has gone the upscale route and Daddy D’z has ghetto fabulousness to spare, Rolling Bone’s spartan white interior, four rickety tables, and uncomfortable chairs don’t do the barbecue justice. This is not the kind of place you want to linger with friends. Plus, everything the restaurant serves comes in a Styrofoam container. You could kill several manatees with all this junk.

We say:
Great barbecue but the eating experience is lacking.

Rolling Bones
377 Edgewood, Atlanta, GA30312

Saturday, February 27, 2010


He says:
What is it about Grant Park and awesome brunch spots? Chances are if you threw a rock from Oakland Cemetery you’d probably hit one. Just three blocks from my favorite brunch spot in Atlanta – Ria’s Bluebird – is another darn good one, Stone Soup Kitchen. Its breakfast dishes aren’t quite as innovative or delicious, but it’s also more relaxed and its outdoor patio is as good as any place in Atlanta to enjoy a beautiful Sunday morning.

She says:
Stone Soup Kitchen is a very welcoming place. Its brightly-painted interior literally glows with yellows and oranges and greens. Sunlight streams through the windows of the greenhouse-like patio. This past Sunday it never got too crowded and the background noise was perfectly muted. After all the rain and snow of the past winter, it was the perfect place to spend the first truly beautiful morning of the spring. The menu is dominated by savory dishes, leaving those with a morning sweet tooth unfulfilled, but the variety of egg dishes will appease most. I went with one of the special egg scrambles of the day – the Gringo – and thoroughly enjoyed the mix of salsa fresca, chicken, cheddar, and avocado.

He says:
I went for the special of the day, the arugula and prosciutto frittata. The prosciutto was rubbery and bland, almost like cheap ham, and the clear notes of arugula I was expecting were lost among the tomatoes and eggs. Overall, I wasn’t impressed. Fortunately the dish was saved by its sides, a dense, chewy biscuit and a cup of cheese grits, that, while not as fluffy as the ones found at Flying Biscuit, were almost as tasty.

We say:
The food at Stone Soup Kitchen isn’t as good as Atlanta’s other best brunch spots, but thanks to its patio and slow pace, it’s just as pleasant … if not more so.

Stone Soup Kitchen

584 Woodward Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30312