FOOD FOR THOUGHT | January-February 2019

Avocado toast at the new Coalition Food and Beverage in downtown Alpharetta. Its focus is modernized 1950s diner food. (All food photos by David Danzig.)

Avocado toast at the new Coalition Food and Beverage in downtown Alpharetta. Its focus is modernized 1950s diner food. (All food photos by David Danzig.)

New year brings new eats, from a Japanese invasion

and OTP migration to a pancake proliferation,

falafel infiltration and seafood termination. Whew!

NEW TASTES are promised near and far, from downtown, Midtown and all along Ponce, to Alpharetta, Fayetteville and Winder. It’s all Food for Thought.

Shrimp sando and lotus chips from Monomoki, near Georgia Tech.

Shrimp sando and lotus chips from Monomoki, near Georgia Tech.

Well done

At the base of a new steel-and-glass tower overlooking the Downtown Connector near Georgia Tech comes MOMONOKI, a new concept from chef JASON LIANG, one of the creative forces behind Decatur’s popular Brush Sushi Izakaya.

Order at the counter and get some of the slurpiest ramen soups in town along with tsukemen (dipping ramen), Donburi(raw or cooked rice bowls), Katsu Sando(Japanese cutlet sandwiches served on perfect milk toast), salads and other small plates.

A full bar is stocked with cocktails, sake, wine, and local and Japanese beers but be sure to save room for desserts from pastry chef CHING YAO WANG, Liang’s wife. Many are made with matcha, a Japanese green tea that refreshes the palate in a soothing, semi-sweet way. …

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The housemade pretzels at Alpharetta’s Coalition.

The housemade pretzels at Alpharetta’s Coalition.

Brothers DAN PERNICE and RYAN PERNICE turned heads a few years back when they opened both Table and Main and Osteria Mattone.

They’re back with a third effort, COALITION FOOD AND BEVERAGE, a handsome spot off the square in downtown Alpharetta.

Chef WOLLERY BACK (formerly of Craft, Restaurant Eugene, and Holeman and Finch) hand-cranks a food fire contraption and churns out modern versions of 1950s diner fare: house-made pretzels, St. Louis-style barbecue ribs, crispy crabcakes, classic club sandwiches and blackened tuna burgers on Alon’s Bakery bread. These are cheffed-up, approachable and skillfully prepared. …

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Krog Street Market welcomes Watchman’s.

Krog Street Market welcomes Watchman’s.

The team behind Decatur’s James Beard-nominated KIMBALL HOUSE has christened WATCHMAN’S SEAFOOD AND SPIRITS in Krog Street Market, just off the Atlanta BeltLine in what was once The Luminary.

No fishing nets or stuffed marlins on the walls here, no Jimmy Buffet on the sound system. This is a hip spot in a hip neighborhood. Sustainably farmed oysters from Alabama to North Carolina go with dishes like a shrimp roll sandwich, steamed clams, ceviche verde and a fisherman’s stew made with grouper, shrimp, crabs and oysters.

The bar program comes from legendary mixologist MILES MACQUARRIE, a compact list of masterful ocean-inspired libations with roots that run from Havana to Key West and anywhere along the Southeast coast of the United States. …

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Farm-fresh produce at Winder’s Bistro Off Broad.

Farm-fresh produce at Winder’s Bistro Off Broad.

In historic downtown Winder, chef ALEX FRIEDMAN (formerly of Inman Park’s Pcheen) has set up shop in a brick building that dates to the 1890s. BISTRO OFF BROAD brings a sophisticated approach to comfort food.

Everything that grows in soil or dwells on land comes from a nearby farm: baked brie with honeycomb and figs, Ossabaw Island barbecue (Friedman does all his own butchering), crispy duck with pumpkin and sage risotto, venison with roasted okra, and pork chops with sweet corn pudding.

If you need a nautical nosh, try the cold-water oysters, sea scallops, Carolina trout or a tempura-fried shrimp po’boy with tomato jam. It’s a gem that would be at home in the hippest intown neighborhood.


Simmering

Kevin Rathbun

Kevin Rathbun

In a matter of weeks, Super Bowl LIII (53 for non-Romans) will kick its way into Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Atlanta celebrity chef KEVIN RATHBUN will headline the TASTE OF THE NFL: PARTY WITH A PURPOSE at Cobb Galleria Centre.

The game is Feb. 3; Taste is Feb. 2. Each NFL team city will fly in its own celebrity chef to cook a signature dish at one of 35-plus food stations.

This is your chance to eat, drink and mingle with NFL greats and other celebrities. 

Tickets are $700 each, but that’s cheaper than a seat to the game. …

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Anne Quatrano

Anne Quatrano

Big brunch news comes from James Beard Award-winning chef ANNE QUATRANO (Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, Floataway Café, W.H. Stiles Fish Camp) plans two locations of her latest concept, PANCAKE SOCIAL. Expect eight kinds of pancakes, from savory to sweet, along with other all-day breakfast noshes. A Ponce City Market location will open in the first part of the year. Look for the second late next fall in Fayetteville’s forthcoming Pinewood Forest development. …

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Ponce de Leon Avenue continues its gentrification with two new offerings — SOUTHERN BELLE and GEORGIA BOY — from former Gunshow executive chef JOEY WARD. The two will co-exist at the same address. Belle will offer small plates; Boy will be a 16-seat communal counter with a multicourse tasting menu. Expect a spring bloom. …

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MAMOUN’S FALAFEL dates to 1970s Greenwich Village and calls itself the “oldest falafel restaurant in New York City.” It plans six Atlanta locations, with the first opening in the West Midtown Center development on Northside Drive. Expect house-baked pitas, shawarma, hummus and, of course, falafel.

Toast

thumbs-up-diner-768x432.jpg

The restaurant graveyard has been busy the past few months. Virginia-Highland’s GOIN’ COASTAL closed after eight years, and downtown’s LEGAL SEAFOOD pulled up anchor after more than a decade, citing expiration of its Hilton Garden Inn lease. … THUMBS UP DINER, the breakfast-all-day icon, has closed its Decatur location, citing untenable rent increases. Thumbs Up’s popular “Skillet Heap” and multigrain biscuits are still available at locations in Douglasville, East Point, Edgewood Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward, Marietta Street in West Midtown and Roswell. … After 30 years of meat-and-three, OUR WAY CAFÉ closed its Avondale Estates location. Owner EVA-MARIE ROSWALL decided to retire. …

 

The most notable closing is ACHIE’S, The Battery Atlanta spot from decorated chef HUGH ACHESON, which lasted less than 10 months. Acheson, who reached celebrity status on the TV reality show “Top Chef Masters,” still runs EMPIRE STATE SOUTH and two SPILLER PARK COFFEE locations, plus a pair of eateries in Athens.

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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.). Suggestions: Email kathy@encoreatlanta.com.

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5 VERY MERRY DESTINATIONS

Photo: Courtesy of Callaway Resort & Gardens

Photo: Courtesy of Callaway Resort & Gardens

 Over the rivers and throughout the Southeast,

to Christmastime delights we go.

FROM SIMPLE PLEASURES of the season to time-honored traditions and radiant elegance, we suggest five splendid road trips — in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee — that promise to warm your heart and put some bounce in your holiday step. We start with the spots closest to metro Atlanta and venture farther afoot from there.

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1. Christmas at Callaway Gardens | 75 minutes south of Atlanta

At CALLAWAY RESORT & GARDENS in Pine Mountain, Ga., you’ll find 2,500 pristine acres that deliver a graceful, tranquil escape with natural beauty.

You needn’t go thirsty at Callaway. Photo: Callaway Resort & Gardens

You needn’t go thirsty at Callaway. Photo: Callaway Resort & Gardens

Callaway decorates with 8 million lights in scenes and color schemes that conjure a five-mile Christmas fairyland. Buzz down for the day or spend the night. Choose from a standard hotel room, a two-bedroom cottage or a villa (up to four bedrooms). If you do go day-tripping, let it spill into the night or you’ll miss the beauty of Fantasy in Lights, now in its 27th year. Enchantment is the aim of the game.

There are various holiday options and packages, but there’s no fee to enter Christmas Village, a heated 22,000-sq. ft. circus-like tent. Shop at dozens of booths (don’t miss Toy Land). Check out the entertainment and a life-size Nativity, try festival funnel cakes and fudge, or face-painting, ornament-making and Santa visits for the kids. The Village is open 4-9 p.m. (sometimes 10 p.m.) daily, including holidays from Nov. 16 through Jan. 5, 2019.

Just outside the tent, grown-ups can find Jacob Marley’s Christmas Spirits, which serves such alcoholic concoctions as Ebenezer’s Eggnog. No “bah, humbug” there.

To experience Fantasy in Lights directly from Christmas Village, you’ll need to pay for Callaway admission. Visitors are encouraged to bundle up and hop aboard the hour-long musical Jolly Trolley tour. You can drive your own car, but the cost per person is the same. Expect to spend $11-$35 each. Admission and Fantasy in Lights packages differ for overnight guests.

2. Christmas in Helen | 2 hours north of Atlanta

With the “lighting of the village,” the most wonderful time of the year begins Nov. 23 in Helen, Ga., on the southern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Live entertainment begins in the town center at 2 p.m. that day and the Bavarian-themed village lights up at 6 p.m.

Photo: Alpine Helen/White County Georgia CVB

Photo: Alpine Helen/White County Georgia CVB

The year-round population of this decidedly quirky community is about 550, but Helen is billed as the third-most visited place in Georgia, following only Atlanta and Savannah, and attracting 1.5 million travelers each year.

Many thousands venture to this “small town big on excitement” for its holiday ambience. They’re lured by the appeal of strolling on cobblestone alleys and poking into gingerbread-trimmed shops like HANSEL & GRETEL CANDY KITCHEN, prized for its gourmet confections like the top-selling chocolate-caramel-pecan turtles; TIM’S WOODEN TOYS; and ZUZU’S PETALS ROCK SHOP for gems, crystals and jewelry. WILDEWOOD and LAVENDER COTTAGE & GARDEN (in Sautee Nacoochee outside Helen) offer unexpected gift items. Plenty of places also sell pretty doodads and ornaments from around the world.

Photo: Alpine Helen/White County Georgia CVB

Photo: Alpine Helen/White County Georgia CVB

The annual Christmas parade (2 p.m. Dec. 8) includes live bands, Tennessee walking horses, Bernese mountain dogs and floats like a “sleigh” carrying Santa and Mrs. Claus. A children’s lantern parade steps off later that day. Kids can decorate paper lanterns starting at 4 p.m. and parade through Helen at 5 p.m. to the Festhalle for a bonfire and s’mores.

To see Helen’s lights, book a ride with Pegasus Horse-Drawn Carriages (arrange via text message at 706.499.1159).

Visit a traditional CHRISTKINDLMARKT the weekends of Dec. 1-2 and 8-9. Vendors try to give Southerners the sense of a European holiday market. You’ll find stalls offering handmade gifts, ornaments and edible treats from savory to sweet.

If you’re in the mood to eat, Wiener schnitzel, Bavarian apple strudel and such are plentiful here. Tried-and-true eateries include MULLER’S FAMOUS FRIED CHEESE CAFÉBODENSEE RESTAURANTHOFBRAUHAUS and HOFER’S OF HELEN (also a bakery). Details: 800.858.8027.

3. Christmas at the Biltmore | almost 4 hours north of Atlanta

For a splurge, we suggest the Biltmore in Asheville, N.C. The 250-room French Renaissance mansion was built as a country home for George Vanderbilt III (grandson of industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt) in the 1890s.

The 175-sq. ft. chateau has 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and took 100 workers six years to complete, a feat accomplished just in time for Christmas 1895. The holiday hoopla here in the Blue Ridge Mountains has become so popular that CHRISTMAS AT BILTMORE begins in Nov. 3 and continues through Jan. 6.

Photo: The Biltmore Co.

Photo: The Biltmore Co.

This year’s theme is “The Art of Christmas,” so you can bet the estate’s design team has gone all out. At BILTMORE ESTATE WINERY, some 7,000 globe-shaped ornaments drip from the ceiling. The goal is to make visitors feel like they’re inside an enormous bottle of bubbly.

The gothic “house,” showcasing the Vanderbilt family’s original art and furnishings, features more than 100 Christmas trees, including a 35-foot-tall Fraser fir. The front lawn shimmers with a 55-foot Norway spruce and 35 glistening evergreens.

The estate, a National Historic Landmark, includes gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. The INN ON BILTMORE ESTATE offers four-star lodging. The more casual VILLAGE HOTEL in Antler Hill Village is steps from shops, restaurants, the winery (free tastings), a creamery and more. The village glows 5:30 p.m.-midnight daily.

Live entertainment (choral groups, instrumental duos, etc.), perform throughout the house during day and night tours. The biggest draw is the CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS EVENINGS ($85-$90; $42-$45 for kids; age 9 and younger free). Reservations for specific time slots are a must.

ANTLER HILL VILLAGE hosts more entertainment on weekends as well as occasional bonfires. Sleigh bells ring on horse-drawn carriage rides ($65 per person for an hour; group rates available). Call 800.225.6398. Tours of 30 minutes in an eight-passenger “wagonette” are $35 per person. Call 800.411.3812.

Weekday holiday rates at the Biltmore start at $299, weekend nights at $449. Village Hotel stays starting at $249 and $379. Get general Biltmore information at 800.411.3812.

 4. Victorian Christmas in Thomasville | 4 hours south of Atlanta

Again and again, Thomasville residents and shopkeepers hear visitors cry, “Why haven’t I known about this place?”

Thomasville, about 30 minutes north of Tallahassee, Fla., has embraced the yuletide season like no other town its size (population: 19,000) in the state. Southern Living magazine did a 12-page spread on all things holiday in Thomasville last year.

Photo: Thomasville Visitors Center

Photo: Thomasville Visitors Center

Know that you can bask in the holiday spirit here throughout December even though Thomasville’s 34th annual Victorian Christmas is just 6-9 p.m. Dec. 13-14.

Victorian Christmas is a throwback to Thomasville’s heyday, “when warm cheer was spread to all, and evening strolls to hear carols sung made the holiday complete,” says Bonnie Hays of the Thomasville Visitors Center. “I can’t tell you how many out-of-towners keep coming back because our Christmas town warms their hearts and souls.”

A living Nativity is staged by the First Baptist Church. Horse-drawn carriage rides pass by the town’s storied 337-year-old oak, which glows with luminaries. Musicians, storytellers, stilt walkers and Victorian fire performers travel brick-paved streets. Choral groups perform, chestnuts are roasted and marshmallows toasted. This year, festivalgoers can get a keepsake photo of themselves posing with a Victorian-era hot-air balloon.

Shopping and dining possibilities include the FUZZY GOAT, a yarn and knitting boutique; SOUTHLIFE SUPPLY CO., known nationally for its leather goods, including belts and purses; THE BOOKSHELF for books, toys and cool gifts; LIAM’S for upscale New American food; and the fun, laid-back SWEET GRASS DAIRY RESTAURANT & CHEESE SHOP for first-rate artisan cheeses, platters and craft beer. Details on all at 229.228.7977.

5. Dickens of a Christmas | 4 hours northwest of Atlanta

If you’d like to dust off great-grandpa’s top hat, you’ve got a dandy chance to show it off at the 34th annual Dickens of a Christmas in the postcard-pretty town of Franklin, Tenn., just this side of Nashville. This year’s event runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 8 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 9).

Street performers in Franklin, Tenn. Photo: Heritage Foundation of Williamson County

Street performers in Franklin, Tenn. Photo: Heritage Foundation of Williamson County

The city’s Victorian architecture is an ideal backdrop for the days when local shops were where you found holiday gifts. Wander the Main Street area, and you might bump into Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and other costumed Dickensian players. They’ll interact with you, delight the kids with treats and won’t break character.

Dozens of specialty shops step up their game for what some call the largest outdoor Christmas festival in middle Tennessee. Enticements include live music and dance performances plus pockets of entertainment here and there, artisan demonstrations, 100 vendors selling their wares and plenty of food trucks. Kids can take pony and train rides and play Victorian-era games. At day’s end, everyone is invited to the town square to sing carols.

Festgoers are encouraged to wear Victorian clothes or just accessorize in some way. Along with that top hat, you may want to pull out your ugliest Christmas sweater. There’s a contest at the First Citizens National Bank’s booth.

The Dickens fest is free, but a few attractions ask a small fee. Details at 615.591.8500.

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OUT ON FILM Sep. 24, 2018

WhentheBeatDrops

ABOVE: A scene from “When the Beat Drops,” the festival’s opening-night film, screening Sept. 27.

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Atlanta’s 31st LGBT film festival screens 128 features,

documentaries, shorts and more at 3 venues

over 11 days

 

IN WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILYMolly Shannon delivers a surprisingly upbeat take on 19th-century New England poet Emily Dickinson.

In The Happy Prince, Rupert Everett plays Irish poet-playwright Oscar Wilde in his twilight years, a role for which he’s received early raves.

Out-on-Film

Matt Smith, best known as the BBC’s 11th “Dr. Who” and “The Crown’s” Prince Philip, has the title role in Mapplethorpe, embodying the famous — some would say infamous — New York City photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989 at age 42 of AIDS-related complications.

The biopics are among the highlights of the 31st annual Out on Film, Atlanta’s LGBT film festival, running Sept. 27-Oct. 7.

The event screens 128 films in 11 days at one of three locations — Midtown Art CinemaOut Front Theatre Company in West Midtown and the Plaza Theatre in Poncey-Highland. About 50 films are full-length narrative features or documentaries. The rest are short films and Web series (grouped into 16 programs).

The event expanded from eight to 11 days last year and attracted 10,000 moviegoers, according to fest director Jim Farmer. The year’s films speak to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience in 25 countries, including Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Tunisia, the U.K. and, of course, the United States.

The lineup includes a starry staged reading of The Laramie Project, about the 1998 gay-bashing death of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard (7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company). It features Atlanta-based TV, stage and film actors Amy Acker, Steve Coulter, Randy Havens, Jessica Meisel, Rosemary Newcott and Tara Ochs. All proceeds benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation, in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of his murder. Details, tickets HERE.

The festival’s opening film, When the Beat Drops, has a strong Atlanta connection, Farmer says. The 87-minute documentary details “bucking,” a term for athletic dancing created in the American South by gay African-American men who were banned from cheerleading or being major/majorettes because of homophobia.

Atlanta native Anthony Davis, who’s in the documentary, helped grow the dance into a nationwide program that now includes an annual competition in Atlanta. Davis, actor-choreographer-director Jamal Sims, producer Jordan Finnegan, and other cast and crew members will attend the screening.

Paul Rudd (left) and Steve Coogan in “Ideal Home.”

Paul Rudd (left) and Steve Coogan in “Ideal Home.”

Also worth checking out:

  • Lez Bomb, with Cloris Leachman, Bruce Dern and Steve Guttenberg, about a closeted young woman played by Jenna Laurenzo, who wrote and directed (Sept. 28, Landmark).

  • 1985, with Cory Michael Smith as a closeted gay man coming home for Christmas.  Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis play the parents (Sept. 29, Landmark).

  • Studio 54, a 90-minute documentary about the legendary New York City disco, a hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (Sept. 29, Landmark).

  • Ideal Home, with Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan as a bickering gay couple shaken by the 10-year-old on their doorstep (Oct. 6, Plaza).

In the festival’s first two decades, Farmer says, the lineup was dominated by coming-out stories. “And while those are still here and always relevant, we’re dealing with so many other things.”

A scene from the documentary “TransMilitary.”

A scene from the documentary “TransMilitary.”

Several films address transgender issues: The 93-minute documentary TransMilitary (winner of the 2018 audience award at the SXSW film festival) looks at 15,500 transgender individuals in the U.S. military (Oct. 6, Out Front); Man Made follows four men in a bodybuilding competition (Oct. 3, Landmark).

The fest holds its first horror night (Oct. 5, Out Front), with a late-night program of shorts preceded by the feature films What Keeps You Alive, about a lesbian couple’s not-so-cheery anniversary getaway, and Devil’s Path, in which two men meet on a gay-cruising park trail.

Pick up the free 78-page Out on Film guidebook at the screening venues and throughout Midtown. It includes the full schedule and information on every film. Details and festival passes ($175 + $200); three-packs ($30); and single tickets ($11 per screening) available HEREDaily updates also on Out on Film’s Facebook page HERE.

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GEORGIA’S WAR STORIES

ABOVE: The Battle of Savannah fought in miniature at the  Savannah History Museum .

ABOVE: The Battle of Savannah fought in miniature at the Savannah History Museum.

Follow a trail of ‘Hamilton’-inspired independence-seekers

and unearth history’s mysteries at these Revolutionary and

Civil War sites.

THE ECHOES OF WAR in Georgia aren’t hard to hear if you know where to listen. The state was pivotal in the two most intense wars fought inside the United States — the American Revolution and the Civil War. Although almost 100 years apart, the footsteps of battalions from both conflicts crisscross everything from Georgia’s forested foothills to the streets of Savannah.

[Read more: How Hamilton became a theatrical revolution]

Georgia, named for King George II and founded in 1733, was one of 13 original Colonies. In 1788, it became the fourth state admitted to the newly minted Union. Some 73 years later, it became a major player in the Civil War, seceding from the Union with 10 like-minded states.

More than a century has passed, but the hopes and hostilities of Georgia’s war history have not gone with the wind. Arm yourself with knowledge at these sites. 

Kettle Creek Battlefield | Less than 2 hours by car

Depending on who you ask, the 1779 Battle of Kettle Creek was either a minor backwoods skirmish or a big Revolutionary War win. Not under debate: That it was the only conflict in Georgia where the home team — the patriots — triumphed.

REVOLUTIONARY WAR: The white crosses designate graves from the Battle of Kettle Creek near modern-day Washington, Ga.

REVOLUTIONARY WAR: The white crosses designate graves from the Battle of Kettle Creek near modern-day Washington, Ga.

Savannah had fallen two months earlier. In this clash between 600 British loyalists and 340 patriots, the Americans trounced all the king’s men, much to the dismay of the British, who thought they’d handily roll over the region.

FUN FACT: This battle took place near what became Washington, Ga., the first town in the country named for the first president, George Washington.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: A picnic area atop War Hill, hiking trails and historical markers. Eight miles east, on the square in Washington, stands a monument dedicated to African-Americans who fought for the Colonies.

CIVIL WAR CONNECTION: There’s a legend of Confederate gold buried near Washington, worth $100,000 when stolen and hidden in 1865 (about $2 million today). Tales persist of people finding old coins near Chennault Plantation in neighboring Lincoln County, but the bulk of the booty (according to a deathbed confession from a lighthouse keeper in the 1890s) was sent north by rail and for a time lay concealed on the bottom of Lake Michigan. The History Channel recently aired a documentary series titled “The Curse of the Civil War Gold” about a nationwide hunt for this lost Georgia treasure.

 Savannah | 3-4 hours by car

Georgia’s oldest city was the Colonial capital during the Revolution and an area of almost constant conflict. It was taken by the British in 1779 and remained in its control until the end of the war.

REVOLUTIONARY WAR: Artifacts at the Savannah History Museum.

REVOLUTIONARY WAR: Artifacts at the Savannah History Museum.

The Savannah History Museum (912.651.6825) highlights the American Revolution, partly due to Battlefield Memorial Park next door and nearby Old Fort Jackson     (912.232.3945), Georgia’s longest-standing brick fort.

The Battle of Savannah’s armies included soldiers from modern-day Haiti and five European countries. African-Americans and Native Americans also fought in the conflict, one of the costliest for those bent on independence. The Coastal Heritage Society has unearthed evidence of this battle, including trenches and fortifications.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: Weapons and military uniforms among 10,000 artifacts that stretch from Savannah’s start as a city through the Revolutionary War and beyond. All are housed in an 1800s railroad building. 

Loyalists and Liberty programs happen Thursday-Sunday with re-enactments (participate if you wish) and musket-firing demonstrations (stand back and watch). Costumed interpreters fire cannons at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily at Old Fort Jackson using vintage artillery. 

Fort Morris | About 4 hours by car

REVOLUTIONARY WAR: A historical marker at Fort Morris in Midway, Ga., 40 miles from Savannah.

REVOLUTIONARY WAR: A historical marker at Fort Morris in Midway, Ga., 40 miles from Savannah.

At Fort Morris (912.884.5999) in the city of Midway, 40 miles south of Savannah, 200 patriots defended a growing Revolutionary War seaport. British forces demanded the fort’s surrender in 1778, but Georgia-born Col. John McIntosh refused, famously issuing the challenge, “Come and take it!” The British withdrew but regrouped, returned and captured the fort a few months later.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: A campground, picnic area, visitor center and earthwork on 67 acres with a tranquil view of St. Catherines Sound at St. Catherines Island, one of Georgia’s Golden Isles.

FUN FACT: A population of free-ranging lemurs lives on St. Catherines Island, the only such group outside Madagascar.

 

Andersonville | Less than 2.5 hours by car

CIVIL WAR: This memorial at Andersonville Cemetery commemorates those who suffered and those who died.

CIVIL WAR: This memorial at Andersonville Cemetery commemorates those who suffered and those who died.

Camp Sumter, under the command of Capt. Henry Wirz, is best known as the infamous Andersonville Prison. It held Union soldiers in squalid conditions during the final year of the Civil War.

The POW camp, built to house 10,000 men, held more than 33,000, many of them wounded. With little food and inadequate shelter, almost 13,000 died, often 100 men a day.

Wirz was later tried and executed for war crimes. Graphic photos of starving survivors, published in newspapers after the war, shocked the American public.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The prison, a cemetery and the National Prisoner of War Museum, all on a 514-acre site in Andersonville in modern-day Sumter County. 

 

National Civil War Naval Museum | 2 hours by car

Follow the battle at sea at this Columbus site. Military vessels (some brought up from the ocean floor) are housed in a 40,000-sq. ft. facility along with what’s described as the nation’s largest collection of Civil War-era naval flags from ships and forts, including signal flags and admiral’s pennants.

CIVIL WAR: The CSS Jackson, one of the biggest ironclads built in the South, now docks at the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus.

CIVIL WAR: The CSS Jackson, one of the biggest ironclads built in the South, now docks at the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus.

The National Civil War Naval Museum (706.327.9798) recently obtained an artifact known as a passbox, for a IX-inch Dahlgren gun, a muzzle-loading cannon. A sailor dubbed the “powder monkey” would carry the passbox from the ship’s hold, where gunpowder was stored, to the artillery crew, thus minimizing the risk of fires and unintended explosions.

 Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield | Metro Atlanta

CIVIL WAR: Artifacts and memories at Kennesaw Mountain Museum.

CIVIL WAR: Artifacts and memories at Kennesaw Mountain Museum.

This 2,965-acre park preserves a Civil War battlefield from the Atlanta Campaign. The first shot was fired near Chattanooga in May 1864. By June, Gen. William T. Sherman launched his frontal assault on Confederate troops at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. At stake was Atlanta, with its railroad hub and supply centers.

In a classic case of winning the battle but losing the war, Southern soldiers were victorious at Kennesaw but failed to halt Sherman’s advance. The Confederacy’s worst fears were realized when the general followed his troops to Atlanta and, on Nov. 15, 1864, ordered the city burned to the ground.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND: A museum, cannons, historical markers and nature trails. Hike to the top of the mountain (1,800-ft. elevation) or, on weekends, take the shuttle bus that runs every 30 minutes. Details: 770.427.4686.

 

 Cyclorama | Atlanta

Come inside for the view. The Cyclorama, a massive 6-ton cylindrical painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta, was finished in 1886 and, in 2017, moved from its longtime Grant Park location to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead (404.814.4031).

The 374-ft. diorama is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar restoration and expected to reopen to the public in the fall. Private, pre-opening tours are available Saturdays. 

crop-Multi-million-Cyclorama-restoration-at-ATL-Hist-Center-Credit-Hales-Photo.jpg

CIVIL WAR: The 374-ft. Cyclorama, depicting the storied Battle of Atlanta, undergoes restoration before its fall unveiling at the Atlanta History Center.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT | March-April 2018

food for thought pizza

TOP PHOTO: The mushroom pizza at Genuine Pizza, new to Phipps Plaza. It comes with porcini and cremini mushrooms and Taleggio and fontina cheeses. Photo by David Danzig. 

We bring word of biscuits in the ’burbs, a taste of Spain in Inman Park, a new South City Kitchen in Alpharetta and much more.

THIS EDITION of our bimonthly Food for Thought catches you up on projects linked (or unlinked) to chefs Linton Hopkins, Bill Greenwood, Richard Blais and Floridian Michael Schwartz, along with hot chicken news and a Garden & Gun club.

Well done

One choice of many at Maple Street Biscuit Co., open now in Woodstock and coming soon to Alpharetta. Photo: David Danzig

One choice of many at Maple Street Biscuit Co., open now in Woodstock and coming soon to Alpharetta. Photo: David Danzig

Brunch-crazed suburbanites will rejoice at the arrival of Maple Street Biscuit Co. in Woodstock (now open) and Alpharetta (coming soon).

The fast-casual recipe is simple: Make fresh, cathead-size biscuits and fill them with pecan-smoked bacon, fried chicken, sausage gravy, goat cheese (any or all); serve with sides; brew strong, delicious Red Leaf coffee; and serve from early morning through mid-afternoon.

Already a phenomenon in parts of Florida, look for a Maple Street Biscuit on a street near you soon. …

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Star chef Linton Hopkins has finally opened C. Ellet’s Steak House at The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park. It’s named for his great-grandfather, Charles Ellet Jr., a Union solider during the Civil War and a bridge-building engineer. As Food for Thought reported last year, C. Ellet’s had been slotted for a May 2017 opening.

The James Beard Award-winning Hopkins and wife Gina previously teamed on Restaurant Eugene, Holeman and Finch, Longleaf and H&F Burger. Their C. Ellet’s  is a 6,500-sq. ft. room that seats up to 200. The dining room feels like it was plucked from New Orleans’ Garden District, with an elegant design that evokes a genteel but informal Southern atmosphere, a spot for an intimate bite or a rousing party. Steaks are the stars here, and Hopkins did his research, sourcing bovines from farms in eight states, and offering a premier seafood program with cold and hot options.

At C. Ellet’s: White Oak Pastures steak tartar with fried capers and bone marrow. Photo: David Danzig

At C. Ellet’s: White Oak Pastures steak tartar with fried capers and bone marrow. Photo: David Danzig

Baseball season opens March 29, so you still have a few non-baseball days — and those out-of-town-game days — to get your steak on. Plus, the Battery is open 365 days a year. …

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After a misfire with the Cockentrice, Krog Street Market has welcomed Bar Mercado, a concept that that fits the Inman Park neighborhood the way a fancy hat fits a matador. The space, inspired by Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel, gets a handsome reboot with a menu of cured meats, cheeses and tapas from multiple regions of Spain. Hipster craft cocktails and Spanish wines keep the casual fiesta going beyond the comida. …

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Florida-based celebrity chef Michael Schwartz — a restaurateur, James Beard award-winner and author — expands his empire to Phipps Plaza with Genuine Pizza, a super-approachable Italian joint with gourmet Neapolitan-style pies and toppings like short ribs and gruyere, meatballs with peppers and onions, slow-roasted pork and fig, and rock shrimp with fresh manchego cheese. With the most expensive item on the menu only  $21, it’s very un-Buckhead, price-wise.

[SEE: 13 IN GEORGIA MAKE SEMIFINALS FOR 2018 JAMES BEARD AWARDS]

Simmering

Look for Hattie B’s Hot Chicken to set up shop soon near Little Five Points. Photo: David Danzig

Look for Hattie B’s Hot Chicken to set up shop soon near Little Five Points. Photo: David Danzig

Opening day appears imminent for the long-awaited Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, the Nashville phenom that teased Atlantans last year with brief, impact-making appearances at summer and fall festivals.

Hattie’s will take over an old laundromat near Little Five Points, serving hot chicken in six spice levels, ranging from “Southern” (no heat) to “shut the cluck up” (burn notice). …

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The legendary Woody’s CheeseSteaks adds a second location near the East Andrews Entertainment district in Buckhead. The chopped steak/onion/Cheez Whiz creations are a 40-plus-year tradition at the original intown location on Monroe Drive. The Buckhead spot will feature an expanded menu, says owner Steven Renner, who took over Woody’s in 2010. …

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Fans of Southern style magazine Garden & Gun likely will enjoy a brick-and-mortar experience due in spring. The Charleston-based operation plans to open Garden & Gun Club at The Battery Atlanta. Despite the “club” in its name, no membership will be required. Garden & Gun will pour cocktails and serve lunch and dinner. …

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Fifth Group Restaurant’s footprint grows with South City Kitchen Avalon in the Alpharetta dining/retail development. The fourth South City Kitchen serves its sophisticated, seasonal, Southern food at breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, and at weekend brunch. Fifth Group also plans to take over the former BrickTop’s space at Peachtree Street and Piedmont Avenue in Buckhead.

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Toast

Bill Greenwood and his wife, Rita, in an undated photo.

Bill Greenwood and his wife, Rita, in an undated photo.

Roswell lost Greenwoods on Green Street and Swallow at the Hollow at year’s end, leaving a comfort-food void in the neighborhood. Greenwoods had served stick-to-the-ribs Southern classics since 1986; Swallow at the Hollow had smoked ’que since 1999. Bill Greenwood, the man behind both spots, decided to retire. …

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Flip Burger Boutique in Buckhead, originally one of three Flip gourmet burger locations in the city, has shut down its fryers. Only the Howell Mill Road restaurant remains. The buzz about the boutique eateries, the brainchild of “Top Chef” master Richard Blais, had been eroding since Blais left Atlanta to pursue projects elsewhere. …

***

Finally, the last cow has left Cowtippers, the iconic Midtown spot that had served steaks near Piedmont Park for more than 20 years. News of a January closing prompted a community outcry and a stay of execution. That lasted only until mid-February.

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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.). Tips? Please email kathy@encoreatlanta.com.

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AJFF 2018 arrives Jan. 24, with 192 films screening in 23 days

by Encore Atlanta

The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival opens in less than two weeks, promising 192 screenings in 23 days and a slew of special events. The ambitious festival begins Jan. 24 and ends Feb. 15, and comprises narratives and documentaries representing 27 countries. For the full lineup, schedule, tickets and program guide, go HERE.

AJFF atlanta jewish film festival

The fest will be all around town. Opening and closing screenings are at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. All other screenings take place at one or multiple venues: Atlantic Station Stadium 18 IMAX & RPX, Hollywood Stadium 24, Perimeter Point 10, Springs Cinema & Taphouse, Tara Cinemas 4 and the Woodruff Arts Center.

Most screenings feature post-film Q&A conversations with filmmakers, actors, community leaders and academics. That lineup includes director Neil Berkeley (Gilbert); comedian Gilbert Gottfried; director Ofir Raul Graizer (The Cakemaker); director Amichai Greenberg (The Testament); director Astrid Schult (Winter Hunt); and director Ferenc Torok (1945).

General admission tickets are $15; $13 for senior citizens, students and children; and $12 for matinees. Ticket details HERE.

Special events include:

A still from the documentary “Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me.”

A still from the documentary “Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me.”

OPENING NIGHT. 

The documentary Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me (U.S., 100 mins) screens at 7:30 p.m. The 2017 film includes interviews with Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis and Kim Novak, among others.

A post-screening conversation with filmmaker Sam Pollard follows.

$36. Includes admission and parking. It has no other screenings.

 

YOUNG PROFESSIONALS NIGHT. On Feb. 3, The Boy Downstairs (U.S., 91 mins) screens at 8:30 p.m. Director Sophie Brooks’ 2017 feature, her first, is described as a “fresh take on the girl-meets-boy story, with a lightly comic and deeply touching contemplation of modern relationships, life choices and independence.” The night begins with a 7 p.m. party. $36, includes the party and the screening. Young Professionals Night is at the Woodruff Arts Center. The movie also screens at 1:40 p.m. Feb. 4 at Regal Atlantic Station and 12:20 p.m. Feb. 9 at Springs Cinema & Taphouse.

 

A scene from “The Last Suit.”

A scene from “The Last Suit.”

CLOSING NIGHT. 

The Last Suit (Argen-tina/Spain, 86 mins) screens at 7 p.m. Feb. 15.

This 2017 feature follows an 88-year-old Jewish tailor who leaves his home in Argentina for Poland, hoping to find the man who saved him from certain death during the Holocaust. A discussion with writer/director Pablo Solarz and a dessert reception follow. $36. Includes parking, the screening and the reception. It has no other screenings.

AJFF films are generally for adults, but several selections are family-friendly, including the Israeli teen dramedy Almost Famous (three screenings, two locations) and an adventure about family titled A Bag of Marbles (five screenings, four locations).

Topical movies include The Cakemaker (five screenings, five locations), which documents unconventional relationships; An Act of Defiance, which explores race relations; and The CousinShelter and Remember Baghdad, which looks at political-religious extremism. The Cousin screens four times at four locations; Shelter screens five times at three locations; and Remember Baghdadscreens twice at two locations.

[RELATED: ATLANTA JEWISH FILM FEST RELEASES FIRST 8 TITLES]

 

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT | Jan-Feb 2018

The barbecue is bountiful at 4 Rivers Smokehouse near Mercedes-Benz Stadium downtown. Photo: David Danzig

The barbecue is bountiful at 4 Rivers Smokehouse near Mercedes-Benz Stadium downtown. Photo: David Danzig

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.

Well done

The banana pudding at 4 Rivers comes with a graham-cracker crust, fresh banana slices and Heath Bar crumbles. Photo: David Danzig

The banana pudding at 4 Rivers comes with a graham-cracker crust, fresh banana slices and Heath Bar crumbles. Photo: David Danzig

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.

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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.

Earth Brewing Company

 

Take a flight at From the Earth Brewing Co. on Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell. Photo: David Danzig

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.

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At Donetto, the Fritelle Donetto is made with fresh Pecorina Romana and cured prosciutto. Photo: David Danzig

At Donetto, the Fritelle Donetto is made with fresh Pecorina Romana and cured prosciutto. Photo: David Danzig

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, award winners and a city brimming with standout Italian cuisine.

Simmering

Nobu Matsuhisa

Nobu Matsuhisa

Big names keep bubbling onto Atlanta’s culinary stage.

Now comes international Japanese superstar NOBU MATSUSHISA, 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.

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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.

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Four more eateries have signed on to HALCYON, the 135-acre mixed-use development in Forsyth County: MidiCi NEAPOLITAN PIZZACOCINA & TAQUERIAPITA MEDITERRANEAN STREET FOOD and poke restaurant SWEET TUNA, as reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. They join GU’S DUMPLINGSTACAYOBUTCHER & BREW and CO-OP COMMUNITY KITCHEN & TABLE. Expect openings throughout 2018.

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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.

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The Hotel Clermont and Tiny Lou’s team (from left): Alan Rae, chef Jeb Aldrich and Nick Hassiotis. Photo: Heidi Geldhauser

The Hotel Clermont and Tiny Lou’s team (from left): Alan Rae, chef Jeb Aldrich and Nick Hassiotis. Photo: Heidi Geldhauser

And finally, if only the walls could talk.

The CLERMONT LOUNGE, one of Atlanta’s more infamous landmarks, is being reborn. The 1920s building, longtime home of a strip club/dive bar, will re-emerge in the spring as HOTEL CLERMONT, a boutique hotel with an all-new restaurant called TINY LOU’S.

It’s 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.

 

Toast

gordon biersch

It survived the Great Recession, but Buckhead’s BrickTop’sdid not survive 2017. The steak-seafood-sandwich spot planned to shutter 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 shoen 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.

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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 kathy@encoreatlanta.com.

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