Dining reviews


Review: Tyler Williams colors outside the lines at Tap in Midtown

Review: Tyler Williams colors outside the lines at Tap in Midtown

Chef Tyler Williams could have been a painter. No matter what he’s cooking, his plates tend to get splashed with pools of color — brushstrokes and drips.
Review: 5Church does not distinguish itself among Midtown restaurants

Review: 5Church does not distinguish itself among Midtown restaurants

I confess: I am scared of the dark. So, when I descended the stairs at 5Church in Midtown, I was perhaps not ready — or maybe I’m not hipster enough — to appreciate the dining atmosphere that the restaurant offers: a cavernous space with a wiry iron tree sculpture in the center, a ceiling painted with verbiage from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” (like the original 5Church location in Charlotte) and a whole lot of black — walls, banquettes and all.
Noble Fin aspires to bring culinary finesse to Peachtree Corners

Noble Fin aspires to bring culinary finesse to Peachtree Corners

Ah, the Great Perimeter Debate. With restaurant reviews, I’ve tried to avoid skirmishes that pit intown Atlantans against those who live outside I-285 by pointing out elements that make an establishment appealing to diners, no matter their zip code or that of the restaurant.
Review: Homespun charm at Rising Son in Avondale Estates

Review: Homespun charm at Rising Son in Avondale Estates

Before I could take a bite of the open-faced tomato sandwich at Rising Son in Avondale Estates, Kathryn Rouse looked over from the cash register and mentioned, “You know, those tomatoes came from our yard.
Gorgeous space, lackluster food at JP Atlanta

Gorgeous space, lackluster food at JP Atlanta

John C. Portman Jr. holds a place in Atlanta history for his architectural contributions. His latest high-profile project — redesigning 230 Peachtree from a 1960s office building into a mixed-use development that includes the Hotel Indigo, upscale restaurant JP Atlanta and 17 floors of office space — is beautiful.
Searching for the right bowl at Hajime

Searching for the right bowl at Hajime

Tucked into a plaza at the corner of Cheshire Bridge and LaVista Roads, between an art house cinema and a grocery store, behind a pancake house and camera store, is Hajime, the new restaurant from the owners of Umaido in Doraville.
In and out of love at Smyrna?셲 Mezza Luna

In and out of love at Smyrna?셲 Mezza Luna

My first night at Mezza Luna, I fell a little bit in love. I’d found an open seat at the bar. Over in the corner, an accordion player filled the air with a charming tune.
Familiar comforts, challenging tastes at La Mei Zi on Buford Highway

Familiar comforts, challenging tastes at La Mei Zi on Buford Highway

The offerings at Asian Square on Buford Highway tend to overwhelm me. There are so many options: a crispy banh mi at Quoc Huong, the rich soup floating with fish heads at Mamak, the sweet pineapple buns at Hong Kong Bakery, the savory char siu at Ming’s BBQ.
Emidio?셲 in Sandy Springs: Portuguese cuisine, old-school service

Emidio?셲 in Sandy Springs: Portuguese cuisine, old-school service

Never was I more intimidated by a waiter than while vacationing in Portugal 15 years ago. After trekking up one of Lisbon’s steep hills, my husband, carrying our then 3-year-old toddler piggyback, and I, holding a desperate-to-nurse 9-month-old baby on my hip (the stroller had broken down a few hours earlier), grabbed a table at the first restaurant we could find.
West African flavors rule at FAD in Marietta

West African flavors rule at FAD in Marietta

Some restaurants are so well hidden that you must explain how you found them. FAD Fine Dining, a Nigerian restaurant tucked away on the far side of the Cobb Marketfair shopping center, behind a Waffle House, is one of them.
Step back in time at Ponce City Market?셲 the Mercury

Step back in time at Ponce City Market?셲 the Mercury

In Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel “Casino Royale,” a suave agent of international espionage named James Bond orders a very specific martini: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.
New Decatur location hasn?셳 changed spirit of Las Brasas

New Decatur location hasn?셳 changed spirit of Las Brasas

I’ve got to admit it: I miss the old Las Brasas shack. The Peruvian chicken joint’s former Decatur location on East Howard Avenue was tiny; a cinderblock hut whose cheery red paint job just barely masked its shabbiness, not to mention its burglar bars.
Casual Parisian charm at Atlanta?셲 Bread & Butterfly

Casual Parisian charm at Atlanta?셲 Bread & Butterfly

There’s an old video of Jacques Pépin that begins with the iconic French chef looking directly into the camera and saying, “If I had to judge how good technically a chef is, I probably would ask him to do an omelet.
More than the routine sushi at O-Ku

More than the routine sushi at O-Ku

O-Ku Atlanta 1085 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta Most people I know have a sushi routine. Some tend toward thick rolls packed with fish and crab and drizzled with spicy sauce.
Atlanta restaurant review: Herban Fix

Atlanta restaurant review: Herban Fix

It looks like 2016 is going to be another year of the vegetable. Heirloom or baby, organic or obscure, chefs can’t get enough of prime produce.
Petite Auberge is a step back in time in Atlanta

Petite Auberge is a step back in time in Atlanta

Once upon a time, there was this guy named Escoffier. He updated French cooking methods. He brought order and discipline to professional kitchens.
Il Giallo: Simple Italian pleasure in Sandy Springs

Il Giallo: Simple Italian pleasure in Sandy Springs

The dining room at Il Giallo Osteria and Bar is a particularly pleasant one. The ceiling is high and the room is filled with light from a curious collection of fixtures — some round, some cylindrical, none too bright or too dim.
Ticonderoga Club: Quirky fun, but randomness doesn?셳 always work

Ticonderoga Club: Quirky fun, but randomness doesn?셳 always work

The Friday night that a winter storm hit Atlanta, there was a power outage at Krog Street Market. The place went dark just as I was paying the bill at Ticonderoga Club, a restaurant and bar tucked into the back corner of the popular food hall that’s attracting the young and beautiful to Inman Park.
Travel to Cape Dutch for South African braai, hold the sides

Travel to Cape Dutch for South African braai, hold the sides

Southerners are well acquainted with barbecue and its many regional styles. Atlanta has its own favorites among local names serving up ’cue, including an international go-to like the South African barbecue known as braai at Justin Anthony’s 10 Degrees South.
Long menu, big pleasures at Ginya Izakaya

Long menu, big pleasures at Ginya Izakaya

Restaurant menus tend to be talked about in terms of size. On one end of the spectrum are those tiny, odd-shaped pieces of paper featuring all lower case letters and mysterious descriptions like, “chicken, lettuce, oil.
Pop-up at Gato offers stunning food, culinary wit

Pop-up at Gato offers stunning food, culinary wit

Eat Me Speak Me1660 McLendon Ave., Atlanta.I have a good friend who hates all things twee. She eschews Wes Anderson movies and will never call a sandwich ??even the cutest, tiniest sandwich in the world ??a ?쐓ammie.
To Staplehouse, with gratitude

To Staplehouse, with gratitude

It’s hard not to root for a restaurant closely affiliated with the Giving Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides economic relief to restaurant employees during times of trouble.
Come for the show at Venkman?셲

Come for the show at Venkman?셲

Dinner and a show. It’s the stuff that date nights are made of. Smart are the businesspeople who cook up a plan to get customers in the door with quality food and keep them in their seats with good live music.
Eat your vegetables at Farm to Ladle

Eat your vegetables at Farm to Ladle

Farm to Ladle675 Ponce de Leon Ave., AtlantaJust the other night, as I was walking through the food court at Ponce City Market toward Farm to Ladle, I was reminded of that old psalm: ?쏛s I walk through the valley of the shadow of fried chicken and cheeseburgers, I fear no burrito or hot and numbing pork belly.
Bigger isn?셳 better at Oy in Vinings

Bigger isn?셳 better at Oy in Vinings

When reviewing a place called Oy, it seems appropriate to start with a little borscht-belt humor, courtesy of Woody Allen: “There’s an old joke: Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, ‘Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.
Restaurateur Van Leuvan expands empire with Tavernpointe

Restaurateur Van Leuvan expands empire with Tavernpointe

Drew van Leuvan is quietly building an empire along Peachtree. After jumping ship from Concentrics to open the quirky Seven Lamps outside Lenox Square, van Leuvan has since gained a Midtown foothold with the lovely but little cocktail bar Grain, and now Tavernpointe, a large, casual restaurant in between the two.
Decadent omakase returns at MF Sushi

Decadent omakase returns at MF Sushi

The Kinjo brothers are back. Maybe you remember MF Buckhead, the glamorous, 8,000-square-foot restaurant that Chris and Alex Kinjo opened in Buckhead’s Terminus Atlanta tower?
My Parents??Basement not just for nerds

My Parents??Basement not just for nerds

I can’t believe it. I forgot to go to DragonCon. Like, ever. This is to say that My Parents’ Basement, a restaurant that champions comic book geekery, video game obsession and rec room-issue snackage, is not aimed at me, even if I am capable of the odd Roy Lichtenstein reference.
Marcel excels as a brasserie and a steakhouse

Marcel excels as a brasserie and a steakhouse

Marcel1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta3 of 4 stars (very good)Imagine a rainy day in Paris. You duck inside a brasserie to escape the drizzle, sitting down to a glass of wine, a fine cut of meat resting in its jus and perfectly salted, crisped frites.
Meat is what you should eat at Saltwood

Meat is what you should eat at Saltwood

Let?셲 start with the name: Saltwood. I?셫 a little obsessed with it. It?셲 not an actual thing, Saltwood, yet the word is instantly evocative.

?쁃on?셳 tell anyone about El Mexicano!??

If the best taco of your life came off a truck in L.A. or you’ve never forgotten the tamale you had in that west Chicago hole-in-the-wall, you know what I know: The most memorable Mexican food you’re ever going to eat comes out of a dive.
Dunwoody Italian eatery takes high-tech approach

Dunwoody Italian eatery takes high-tech approach

What happens when Riccardo Ullio storms the suburbs? Apparently, some bells and whistles. At Novo Cucina, the new Italian joint Ullio has opened in Dunwoody to the cheers of chain-weary residents, diners use computer-chipped cards to rack up their charges at a wall of self-serve, automated wine spigots.
A clubby feel at T.I.?셲 Scales 925

A clubby feel at T.I.?셲 Scales 925

Scales 92530 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., Atlanta0 of 4 starsThere?셲 a speakeasy vibe at Scales 925, which is a funny thing to say about a restaurant that looms so large over Ivan Allen Jr.

A Korean barbecue place with a difference

Breakers Korean BBQ3505 Gwinnett Place Drive, Duluth2 of 4 stars (very good)As we stepped inside Breakers Korean BBQ, I could tell that something was different here, only I wasn?셳 sure what.
The main problem at Oddbird is the bird

The main problem at Oddbird is the bird

There ought to be a word for the phenomenon in which a restaurant is so adorable that diners fail to realize, or willfully ignore, an inconvenient truth — the food just isn’t that great.
Pea Ridge Kitchen brings the farm back

Pea Ridge Kitchen brings the farm back

Decades ago, the stretch of Lawrenceville Highway between Decatur and Tucker was so ripe with small farms growing peas and other vegetables that the area became known as Pea Ridge.
Proof is in the baked goods

Proof is in the baked goods

I’ve got a soft spot for scrappy little sisters. And how else can you think of Proof Bakeshop?
Mild Szechuan at Gu?셲 Dumplings

Mild Szechuan at Gu?셲 Dumplings

While standing in line to order dry fried eggplant and pork dumplings at Gu’s Dumplings on a recent weekday night, I was drinking a cold, refreshingly tart pint of Anderson Valley Gose and considering a scoop of double toasted coconut ice cream for dessert.
Gordita goodness at La Duranguense

Gordita goodness at La Duranguense

Taqueria La Duranguense does not have a proper menu. For that matter, La Duranguense does not have a website, a Facebook or Twitter account, a phone number that anyone answers, or much of the thing that restaurant critics like to call ambiance.
A big hand for Atlanta's Little Bacch

A big hand for Atlanta's Little Bacch

For more than 20 years, Anne Quatrano, along with her husband, Clifford Harrison, has been giving Atlantans the restaurants they didn’t know they wanted and needed.
What?셲 a starstruck reviewer to do?

What?셲 a starstruck reviewer to do?

How are restaurant reviews like Dr. Seuss’ Sneetches? Some have stars upon thars. Many critics choose to assign star ratings because it is provides a useful shorthand for readers, a goal for chefs to aspire to, and a kind of cachet.
Scrambled and scattered at Diner

Scrambled and scattered at Diner

In my younger and less prudent years, I often found occasion to visit a breakfast diner after being over-served at a drinking establishment.
An uneven menu in beautiful digs

An uneven menu in beautiful digs

If you stand at just the right spot on Peachtree Street, between 11th and 12th streets, all you can see are glittering condo towers and Midtown worker bees in well-studied office-to-evening outfits.
A new era at Watershed

A new era at Watershed

The matchbooks at Watershed on Peachtree are printed with a recipe for fried chicken. The recipe is Zen-like, simple enough to fit on the back of a matchbook and yet requiring three days of prep.
Big flavors from a tiny counter

Big flavors from a tiny counter

You’re not supposed to linger at Caribbean Chicken & Fish. The cinder-block hut is tiny — so small there are only two tables, and even those don’t fit inside.
Ramen in Midtown: Not bad

Ramen in Midtown: Not bad

Raku 810 Marietta St., Atlanta Wagaya 339 14th St., Atlanta The bowl of ramen has experienced a radical transformation of public opinion in America like few dishes ever have.
Dishing up Indian fun in Toco Hill

Dishing up Indian fun in Toco Hill

Atlanta appears to have fallen to the delicious offensive of the Indian snack attack. The decorous but often dreary Indian restaurants many of us grew up with — acres of red velour, dour waiters in knee-length kurtas, curries spooned from bronze pots — have fallen by the wayside.
Decor delights, menu stumbles at Vinings eatery

Decor delights, menu stumbles at Vinings eatery

With its shingled walls and brick walkways, its gabled dormers and its looming brick clock tower, Vinings Jubilee presents a perfect example of the neo-Victorian architecture once built to humanize pre-fab townscapes.
Antico brings its pies to the suburbs

Antico brings its pies to the suburbs

Here is a highly unscientific equation of real estate and restaurants. If a Banana Republic is nearby, the options for pizza are going to range somewhere between Sbarro and California Pizza Kitchen, both of which are good reasons to not eat pizza.
Handsome expansion for an old haunt

Handsome expansion for an old haunt

The venerable Mali recently expanded into the storefront next door.Actually, ?쐍ext up??would be more accurate, given the steep slope of this Thai and sushi joint?셲 Amsterdam Avenue address.
New Spence chef brings taste of the Gulf

New Spence chef brings taste of the Gulf

I ate at True Midtown Kitchen in Mobile once, and the circumstances were more than a little weird. I was driving through en route to New Orleans and made plans to meet my brother, Tom, there for lunch.
Hands-on hummus at Bezoria

Hands-on hummus at Bezoria

It is 12:30 p.m. on a Tuesday and the line at Bezoria in Midtown stretches down the length of the clear glass counter.
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