Atlanta Restaurant Scene with John Kessler 

Atlanta restaurant reviews and food news with John and the AJC's dining team
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Zesto Drive-In on Ponce de Leon Avenue Closes

  • 1:40 pm Monday, September 15th, 2014 by Alexa Lampasona

The owners of Zesto Drive-In announced that the restaurant located at 544 Ponce de Leon Avenue will close permanently on September 20, 2014. The property was sold to an undisclosed owner.

This Ponce de Leon location has been open for 60 years, where it started selling ice cream in 1954. The small walk-up was renovated in 1991, where it mirrored a classic diner with neon, porcelain, chrome and tile floors. The iconic building has been featured in several movies and photos and even earned the Atlanta Urban Design Commission’s Award for Architectural Excellence in 1991.

According to the website, “The other five [More]

Move Over Hot Chocolate, Peanut Hottie is Here!

  • 9:57 am Monday, September 15th, 2014 by Alexa Lampasona
peanut hottie

So maybe you aren’t thinking about hot chocolate yet, (seriously with the humidity we are still in short-sleeve season), but hot beverages have a bit of competition. Peanut butter lovers, brace yourself for

The big question- why has no one thought of this before? That was the first thought Lisa Gawthorne, co-creator of Peanut Hottie, had when she thought of the idea and went on to create it with business partner Karl Morris.

Gawthorne, who is also the joint managing director Wales-based Bravura Foods, came up with the product after a late-night gym session. “I wanted a protein-rich snack, so I [More]

Art of Cooking at Atlanta Arts Festival

  • 4:52 pm Friday, September 12th, 2014 by Bob Townsend

This weekend in Piedmont Park, the Atlanta Arts Festival returns with the Art of Cooking stage.

Along with musicians on the main music stage, including headliner MudCat, the cooking stage presents a strong lineup of Atlanta chefs, mixologists and bakers.

Among the talent at the daily demos presented by Krog Street Market, look for chef Todd Ginsberg of Fred’s Meat & Bread and Yalla, beverage Director Ian Cox of the Luminary, and baker Amy Kiefer of ​Sugar Moon Bakeshop.

Here’s the complete lineup:

Saturday Sept. 13*

11:30 — ​Fred’s Meat & Bread/Yalla: Chef Todd Ginsberg
12:45​ — The Luminary: Beverage Director Ian Cox
2:00​​ — The Lawrence: Executive Chef Mark Nanna
3:15 — ​​Bad Dog Taqueria: Chef/Owner Tracy Mitchell
4:30​​ — Terrapin Beer Co.: Leigh Germy​​​

Sunday Sept. 14* [More]

Pick 6: Vegetarian Dishes that Satisfy

  • 9:20 am Friday, September 12th, 2014 by Alexa Lampasona
Radial Cafe's grain bowl (photo credit Chris Octa)

For some, seeing the word “vegetarian” on a menu is an instant turn-off. They imagine a miniscule plate of limp salad greens or spongy, tasteless tofu. But we’ve come a long way in the vegetable revolution, and vegetarian is mainstream. Although we live in the South, where fried chicken and shrimp and grits will hold their hierarchy, there are still plenty of vegetarian options around town. We’ve picked out a few spotlights and hope that vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will dig into these satisfying meals. 

Chai Pani
The dish: Chatpatta paneer sandwich
What’s in it: paneer, cucumbers, onions, chaat masala, griddled buns [More]

Marbar Beachside Cantina restaurant review, Decatur

  • 10:00 am Thursday, September 11th, 2014 by Jenny Turknett

In tomorrow’s AJC I have a review of Marbar Beachside Cantina in Decatur. I’ve given it zero stars and a rating of fair at this time.

Marbar’s casual “beachside cantina” flair could be a home run with families in Decatur. Seafood-heavy Mexican fare with good pricing on great drinks could carve a successful niche in most any neighborhood. With its beautifully relaxed decor and expansive selection of tequilas and mezcals, Marbar should be a place customers want to linger over margaritas and platters of carne asada tacos. Unfortunately the “shoulds” and “coulds” here don’t translate into “dos”. Mediocre cocktails [More]

Beer Town: Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

  • 5:04 pm Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 by Bob Townsend

Like Linus in the Charlie Brown television special, some beer geeks are waiting for the Great Pumpkin that may never materialize.

Starting as early as August and running through October, pumpkin beers are among the top-selling seasonal offerings craft breweries bring to market.

Right now, the online beer rating site, Beer Advocate, has reviews for more than 650 pumpkin beers. And this year, the Great American Beer Festival will give pumpkin beers a separate judging category.

Here in Georgia, Terrapin Pumpkinfest, a hybrid pumpkin and Oktoberfest beer, has been a perennial favorite. But the Athens brewery has created quite a stir with the [More]

Q & A: Tsamma Watermelon Juice

  • 11:19 am Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 by Alexa Lampasona
Tsamma Watermelon Juice - high res

Watermelon juice is often skipped over for kale-powered or beet concoctions, but the benefits and taste should not be missed. It provides an anti-inflammatory effect on muscles, reduces risk of dehydration, combats indigestion and lowers risk of cardiovascular disease. Tsamma has hit shelves in Atlanta, vouching itself as the first bottled watermelon juice that is produced in America.

One pound of fresh watermelon goes into each bottle of Tsamma juice, packing a delicious flavor that is reminiscent of a watermelon Jolly Rancher. Each sip has the slightest hint of tartness, but with 95 percent watermelon juice, the overwhelming flavor is sweet, [More]

Free Cooking Demos at Sur La Table for JBF “Taste of America”

  • 8:21 pm Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 by Alexa Lampasona
photo credit: James Beard Foundation

This weekend, the James Beard Foundation visits Atlanta for the “Taste of America” tour. The tour is part of a five week culinary tour through ten U.S. cities. On Saturday, September 13, the Sur La Table North Point location features a day of culinary events. Two free chef demos take place at the store, followed by book signings.

 10:30 a.m. Boston restauranteur and chef Barbara Lynch

“Stir: Mixing it Up in the Italian Tradition”  book signing

1 p.m. Atlanta restauranteur and chef Anne Quatrano

Summerland: Recipes for Celebration Southern Hospitality book signing

Additional events throughout the day include:

11 a.m.  High Road [More]

THRIVE Farmers: coffee you should care about

  • 9:22 am Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 by Alexa Lampasona
Branding Image

You don’t need to talk to Vinicio Gonzalez to see his passion in harvesting coffee. It radiates through the weathered appearance on his face. You can feel it when you shake his calloused hands, and it shows in his eyes that glisten with prideful tears whenever he talks about his role as a coffee producer for THRIVE Farmers ™.

“Before THRIVE, we had intermediaries who would negotiate between us farmers and the buyers. We worked without passion because there was no stable line. Prices would go up one year then they would drop the next year. We were just working [More]

The Real Fix, Ladybird Grove and more news bits

  • 3:39 pm Monday, September 8th, 2014 by Bob Townsend
The Real Fix

The Real Fix Pizzeria open in Roswell

After a few delays, Hicham Azhari and Fikret Kovac of F&H Food Trading Group have opened their fifth restaurant together, The Real Fix Pizzeria, in downtown Roswell. Piazzolo Giacomo Lazzano recently moved from Palermo, Italy to oversee the creation of pizzas made with “locally sourced, high-quality ingredients.” Look for a casual atmosphere, with beer and wine, and both fried and Neapolitan-style pies fired in a pair of handmade wood-burning ovens. Open for lunch, dinner and carryout daily. 14 Elizabeth Way, Roswell, 770-299-1657.

Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall opening

Described by owner Michael Lennox [More]

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