ATLANTA REMAINS BULLISH ON ITALIAN; FORSYTH COUNTY’S HALCYON ADDS 4 MORE EATERIES; AND FORD FRY TRADES TATTOOS FOR TEX-MEX.
WITH THIS COLUMN, we salute brilliant brisket and new brews news, take a look at former strip-club/dive-bar the Clermont Lounge and its plans to go upscale (!!!), and report the brick-and-mortar demise of corn dogs and boozy milkshakes in Avondale Estates. Grab a snack, and read on.
That waft of smoldering hickory you smell near downtown’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium comes from 4 RIVERS SMOKEHOUSE, a Florida export from pit master JOHN RIVERS. Rivers retired as president of a multibillion-dollar health-care company to perfect his love of Texas-style brisket.
With 13 locations now running in Florida, Atlanta now gets its own version, in a refurbished 1915 firehouse on the West Side. The smoker produces brisket, chicken, St. Louis ribs, burnt ends and even brontosaurus-size beef ribs. The sides — sweet potato casserole, fried okra, baked cheese grits and Brunswick stew — are bona-fide barbecue stuff. Sandwiches like the Texas Destroyer (made with brisket), barbecue brisket tacos and a smokehouse Cuban sandwich show that 4 Rivers can crank out the meats and put them together in amazing ways. For dessert: banana pudding made with Nilla wafers.
Suburbanites continue to demand restaurant excellence and get it. The latest example: FROM THE EARTH BREWING CO., a smart new brewpub in Roswell. It pairs house-brewed craft beers with a menu of sophisticated yet approachable comfort food and pulls it all together in a cozy but hip environment.
You’ll probably want to start with a flight of house drafts from brewmaster JAMIE PARKER. Golden ale, hefeweizen, IPA and double IPA, imperial stout and Belgian tripel are among his creations. The brews also are available to go.
From the Earth’s one-page menu changes often but generally includes a house-made pretzel, crispy Brussels sprouts, a double-stack cheeseburger, barbecue brisket tacos, fried chicken, seared salmon and an iron-skillet pork chop. All are simple plates served beautifully with locally sourced ingredients. Owner TIM STEPHENS has an impressive intown restaurant pedigree and is now on his own on Holcomb Bridge Road.
A bull named DONETTO has charged into West Midtown. The gorgeous Italian restaurant is named for the heaviest Italian Chianina bull ever weighed (3,800 pounds). Chef MICHAEL PEREZ makes fresh melt-in-your-mouth pasta like tagliatelle with clams, fusilli with smoked fish, or ripiena stuffed with quail.
A 45-day dry-aged bone-in ribeye, a half-smoked chicken and octopus plated with white beans pair nicely with inventive cocktails. The “Netspritz and Chill” is made with house limonata, rosemary, aperol, prosecco and lemon; the “Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder” is made with 229 gin, honey and absinthe.
Donetto, on Brady Avenue, holds its own nicely in a neighborhood chock-full of heavy-hitters and award winners and a city brimming with standout Italian cuisine.
Big names keep bubbling onto Atlanta’s culinary stage. Now comes international Japanese superstar NOBU MATSUHISA, who’s building on the rubble of what was the Belk store at Phipps Plaza. The project includes a Nobu Hotel and a restaurant called NOBU ATLANTA RESTAURANT. Look also for MICHAEL’S GENUINE FOOD & DRINK by well-known Miami-based chef MICHAEL SCHWARTZ.
A new steakhouse named ARNETTE’S CHOP SHOP joins Apple Valley Brookhaven, a 70,000-sq. ft. mixed-use complex a bit farther north on Peachtree Road. Arnette’s comes from MICHEL ARNETTE, who runs HAVEN RESTAURANT AND BAR (New American), VALENZA (Southern Italian) and VERO PIZZERIA, all on Dresden Drive. Look for an opening by Valentine’s Day.
Four more eateries have signed on to HALCYON, the 135-acre mixed-use development in Forsyth County: MidiCi NEAPOLITAN PIZZA, COCINA & TAQUERIA, PITA MEDITERRANEAN STREET FOOD and poke restaurant SWEET TUNA, as reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. They join GU’S DUMPLINGS, TACAYO, BUTCHER & BREW and CO-OP COMMUNITY KITCHEN & TABLE. Expect openings throughout 2018.
Restaurant mogul FORD FRY has commandeered an old tattoo parlor at Piedmont and Cheshire Bridge roads and is working on a new Tex-Mex concept (not an El Felix or Superica). Fry says it will be a “super-casual joint with wood-roasted ‘chicken al carbon’ at its core.” Plan on breakfast tacos, a Texas staple, to be prominent as well. The 3,500-sq. ft. space should open in the summer.
And finally, if only the walls could talk. The hotel at the CLERMONT LOUNGE, one of Atlanta’s more infamous landmarks, is being reborn. The 1920s building, the longtime home of a strip club/dive bar, re-emerges in the spring as HOTEL CLERMONT, a boutique hotel with an all-new restaurant called TINY LOU’S. The lounge, a separate entity with different owners, continues.
The hotel restaurant is named for a 1950s stripper who pranced in the Gypsy Room, as it was called then. Legend has it that Lou was notorious as “the girl who refused to dance with Hitler.” The in-house restaurant will be an American-French brasserie led by executive chef JEB ALDRICH, who plans a French-American menu with Southern accents.
It survived the Great Recession, but Buckhead’s BrickTop’s did not survive 2017. The steak-seafood-sandwich spot shuttered on New Year’s Eve. It opened in late 2007 in the Terminus 100 development on Peachtree Road, along with several other high-profile pre-recession openings, and outlasted most of them. It’s moving to Birmingham. Other BrickTop’s remain in North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Missouri. … Midtown’s GORDEN BIERSCH said danke schoen and auf Wiedersehen and closed in mid-November. The 18-year-old restaurant opened before development in the neighborhood spiked. The Buckhead location is still serving. … The deep-fried and delightfully kitschy PALOOKAVILLE FINE FOODS has battered its last corn dog and poured its last boozy milkshake in Avondale Estates. Happily, the food truck edition of the carnival food emporium lives on.
Food for Thought, Encore Atlanta’s bimonthly dining column, keeps you up to date on openings, closings and what chefs are up to in one of three categories — well done (reasons for praise), simmering (what’s in the works) and toast (what’s closed, etc.). Email email@example.com.