As is usually the case with Top Chef finalists, Kevin Gillespie’s restaurant The Woodfire Grill experienced a massive surge in traffic. Although I’ve been meaning to go for a while, this outpouring of love and/or curiosity by the fans made is very difficult to get a decent set of reservations. Searching for a decent two-top on Open Table was an exercise in frustration.
Alas, my day has come. Although I had to make the reservations a month ago, tonight I dine at The Woodfire Grill. I loved watching Kevin on Top Chef and being a total fanboy, I have to admit that my expectations are sky-high. But who could blame me? It’s a Tuesday, generally the night likeliest to yield the kitchen’s best efforts. The menu is short enough to inspire confidence according to The Menu Theorem (The quality of the meal is inversely proportional to the amount of choice given to the diner.) The menu is built around seasonal and local sensibilities. The product is supposed to be superb.
I’m not expecting the meal of a lifetime. I’m not even expecting the best meal in Atlanta. I am expecting greatness though.
Posted in events | Tagged buckhead, Kevin Gillespie, Top Chef, Woodfire Grill | 2 Comments »
I suspected for a long time that Canoe was another one of those “safe” fine dining establishments. You know the type: take grandmother on her 80th birthday to have something that is exquisitely prepared yet thoroughly boring. I also know that it’s not the cheapest of establishments, so enter lunch.
Although a restaurant shouldn’t be reviewed solely on the merits (or lack thereof) of its lunch service, it does tell a lot about the establishment. If there is true passion behind the food, then at the lunch service will be accessible and slightly muted, but a willingness to please its core audience and a menu that is still representative of the character of the dinner service should shine through.
Canoe, I believe, does this with aplomb.
Posted in restaurant review | Tagged lunch, vinings | Leave a Comment »
I always call cooking “The Hardest Craft” and truly mean it. Cooking tends to be incredibly unforgiving to the novice and madness-inducing to the emotionally involved. The more I learn about cooking, the more I feel compelled to revisit the simple, everyday comfort foods and look at them through the lens of proper technique.
Posted in cooking | Tagged burger, presentation | Leave a Comment »
So it turns out that Alton Brown’s call for 1 cup of buttermilk is not out of whack at all for 2 cups of flour; it’s simply the most reasonable amount without having a scale. That being said, the increased amount of butter made a BIG difference in my biscuits once I used a scale and Ruhlman’s 3:1:2 (flour:fat:liquid) ratio to make my biscuits.
Next up: we’re going to add cheese and a dash of rosemary.
Obsessive? Perhaps, but no recipe is mastered by making it every once in a great while. The only way to get good at anything is simple: practice.
Posted in cooking | Tagged baking, biscuit, ratio | Leave a Comment »
Biscuits are relatively easy to make. Well, relatively as compared to a traditional leavened bread. I’ve found this out the hard way since after years of working on “regular” cooking, I decided to try my hand at some baking.
I was not prepared for how tremendously difficult it was to make simple white bread. Two-rise recipes, kneading, steaming… my goodness. I frequently fail at my first, second and third attempts at recipes. However, by the fourth try I’m pretty good and can put out a totally edible and convincing rendition of whatever I was trying to make. With baking, this is not the case. I’ve tried to make bread now a total of 6 or 7 times, and the resutls range from mediocre to appalling to a downright fiasco. Sure, some of them might be described as “edible”, but if forced to identify what came out of my oven in a lineup, my creation would surely not be picked out as a viable bread.
Enter biscuits. No kneading, no yeast. Perfect, no?
For the most part it takes a great deal more incompetence to screw up a biscuit than it does to mess up a bread. I’ve made biscuits about a dozen times now and every iteration has been edible. Some could be described as downright good. However, like just about any other recipe, it’s infinitely nuanced.
I understand nuanced, but when it comes to baking, everything is measured carefully. This provides a great deal of comfort to someone just starting out. Things happen slowly in baking. The pace is decidedly unhurried, and the measurements are rigorous. If you read Michael Ruhlman’s awesome Ratio, you take even more comfort in the fact that no matter how many variations, the fundamentals are immutable. Or so I thought.
Posted in cooking | Tagged baking, biscuit | 1 Comment »
I have to admit it, Abattoir is my favorite place to have dinner in Atlanta. You’ve been warned that the rest of this review will be the meandering gushing of a fanboy. It’s hard not to get worked up over Anne Quatrano’s and Cliff Harrison’s latest pean to farm-to-table, nose-to-tail cooking. In a sea of restaurants having to make brutal compromises, sneaking in the occasional interesting appetizer in between bland renditions of fried calamari and something cheesy, Abattoir impresses with bold offerings in almost every section of the menu.
It’s also an unwritten rule that a restaurant’s quality is inversely proportional to the amount of choice given to the diner (or sometimes, menu length.) Abattoir is then the exception that proves the rule: they have an expansive menu filled with interesting, many times unique, occasionally ballsy, choices.
Posted in restaurant review | Tagged farm to table, restaurant review, west midtown | Leave a Comment »
Rib chop, baby portabella and baby vidalia onion rice
The title of this post is misleading, but it does bring up one of the major quandaries of home cooking: what to do with the stuff you opened up and should really use? It’s not necessarily that you have leftovers, it’s that you opened that quart of beef stock to use a cup and now you’re committing to using it somehow.
Posted in cooking | Tagged pork chop, rice | Leave a Comment »
Boiled Egg Muffin, Fresh Hash Brown
Even I’ll admit that there’s no way for a working person to do this in the morning without waking up really early. Still, I had a little time this morning so I made my own version of the venerable Egg McMuffin…
The only messy part here is the hashbrown patty which requires using a mandolin, skillet and oil. Other than that, my egg muffin simply has a hard-boiled egg, some salt, butter and a slice of cheese.
Posted in cooking | Tagged breakfast, hashbrown, muffin | Leave a Comment »
Roast chicken, green onion and pumpkin seed cous cous
The weekday dinner: the contemporary American challenge. With busy schedules and the devilish temptations of Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee to take the easy way out and use Cheez Whiz and supermarket pre-marinated monstrosities, consistently eating good food and not going broke is a difficult proposition.
At our house the challenge is getting it done in a reasonable amount of time, while taking care of other chores so that we don’t eat at 9:30pm. So for the most part the key lies somewhere in preparing something that doesn’t enslave you to the stove. Things that can tolerate a few minutes without careful observation. A roast bird is usually a good choice, but for the casual weekday dinner, split breasts are even simpler.
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East Cobb is surprisingly bereft of good dining options. There are miles and miles of affluent neighborhoods, rolling golf courses and perfectly manicured lawns; but if you feel like eating, there’s an hour wait at the local Longhorn.
So it’s not surprising that not far from the nexus of all things East Cobb, the intersection between Roswell Road and Johnson Ferry, there is a cancerous restaurant location. Previously it was Basil’s, before that… who knows? So for the last few years, it’s been Red Sky Tapas & Bar, promising a break from the sea of sports bars, me-too italian restaurants and other Sysco partners. Sadly, the promise falls short. Even though my expectations were very low given the history of the locale and mediocre word-of-mouth, it still managed to disappoint me.
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Posted in restaurant review | Tagged East Cobb, restaurant, review, tapas | Leave a Comment »