Author Archives: Christiane Lauterbach

The Christiane Chronicles: Stop swirling your Champagne, you idiot

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rant Buzz Killers Swirling a glass of wine with a flick of the wrist can tell you a lot about what you’re drinking. The movement oxygenates the wine, releasing some volatile compounds that interfere with its true aroma. Raising the wine to eye level to look at its “legs” (the tears descending inside the glass) gives you an idea of its viscosity and alcohol strength. But the sight of anyone performing these acts with a glass of bubbly makes me hysterical. So you like to smash bubbles? You want to kill something that is alive?!?!? Champagnes and other sparkling wines ...

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Fresh on the Scene: Donetto, ARI Korean Steakhouse, Muchacho

Source: Atlanta Magazine

The frittelle antipasti at DonettoPhotograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Donetto West Midtown needs more destination restaurants, and Donetto—part of Steve Palmer’s Indigo Road Hospitality Group (Oak Steakhouse, Colletta, O-Ku Sushi)—brings Tuscan food to a glam dining room directly across from Miller Union. Giant cuts of meat, a strength for a company known for solid if not particularly innovative food and great service, combine with accomplished mixology in a huge former industrial space with an open kitchen and a sexy bar. Partner and executive chef Michael Perez’s appetizers are lively; try the grilled aged Provolone or the squiggly frittelle mixed with ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: Cheese later, not now

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rant Don’t Say Cheese I cannot contain my disdain for the appetizer cheese course. Cheese is rich and, depending on the kind, funky. It satiates your appetite. It induces sleepiness, even. Why would anyone eat it at the beginning of the meal? Cheese is best offered as a transition from the main course to dessert. The creaminess of what is essentially aged milk coats the palate for a slow goodbye to your steak or fish or what have you. It keeps the sweetness and sometimes the acidity of dessert from coming as too much of a shock. Two chefs whom ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: Want the best restaurant meal ever? Go. Early.

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rant Beware the Late-Night Lag Early evening dining has an image problem. When I make a reservation for 6 p.m., often the only time I can get in at a hot new restaurant, my friends whine that they don’t want to eat at “old people time.” But this is just the hour when most places are at the top of their game. After more than 40 years of professional dining experience, I can safely say this: The later you eat, the worse you are likely to eat. (Exceptions are late-night restaurants like Octopus Bar, which doesn’t even open until 10:30 ...

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Fresh on the Scene: Kaiser’s Chophouse, Kula Revolving Sushi Bar, Cuba Mia

Source: Atlanta Magazine

A classic iceberg wedge salad with blue cheese, bacon, and tomatoes at Kaiser’s.Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Kaiser’s Chophouse After more than 30 years of working in some of Atlanta’s finest kitchens (including Pano’s and Paul’s, which closed in 1993), Liechtenstein-born chef Peter Kaiser finally gets to see his name above the door of a restaurant. His friend Kevin Rathbun, who came on board as an investor and a consultant, convinced Kaiser to divide his list of steaks into two sections: Uptown Meats, expensive prime cuts such as New York strip and an extraordinarily tender spinalis, also known as ribeye ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: Can we please use our inside voices at restaurants?

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rant Hush Hush Quiet dining rooms are pretty much out of vogue. For years now, architects have been building more and more industrial-style restaurants with hard surfaces that, when mixed with human voices, become cacophonous sound chambers. How many times have you crossed the threshold of a restaurant only to be assaulted by a racket resembling that of a colony of monkeys at the zoo? Design, though, is only partly to blame. Restaurants are not inherently loud. People are loud. Especially Americans, who tend to squawk as if everyone around them is hard of hearing. I could pack 85 Frenchies ...

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The early word on A Mano and Greens & Gravy

Source: Atlanta Magazine

From top: cacio e pepe, charred octopus, sparkling rosé, and Georgia trout at A ManoPhotograph by Iain Bagwell A Mano Handmade pasta is part of the focus of this Italian restaurant, which opened in July, and the must-order dish is cacio e pepe: fresh spaghetti tossed with black pepper and pecorino cheese. A modest free-standing brick and stucco building, A Mano is surprisingly cozy on the inside, with a snug bar and a separate rustic but contemporary dining area. Nothing else quite equals that elegantly simple pasta, but the slightly effervescent Italian rosé on tap goes a long way in ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: Here’s how you ruin ribs

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rant Bad to the Bone I recently tasted 19 plates of ribs smoked by some of our best local chefs for the Smoke and Glory charity event in Oakhurst. One version blew me away, two or three were pretty good, and the rest ended up in the “no” pile. Smoked ribs must be tender but not mushy, and deep pink on the inside with a dark burnish on the outside. Contrary to popular opinion, the meat should not be falling off the bone. On the other hand, my fellow judges and I should not have had to forcefully wrench the ...

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Fresh on the Scene: Upbeet, Monsoon Masala Kitchen and Sweets, The Canteen

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Upbeet’s Aloha Bowl (top) and kale salad with purple cabbage, mango, avocado, and chickenPhotograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Upbeet Yeah! Burger founder Erik Maier researched fast-casual health food restaurants across the country before settling on a grain bowl + salad + juice formula for his new Upbeet on the Westside. You may be familiar with the pick-your-own-base, add-your-own-toppings format, but you’ll be surprised by how clean everything tastes here. The cold prep room is partly to thank for that: Upbeet’s kitchen crew, wrapped in snow suits and gloves, works in a refrigerated room to keep ingredients as fresh as possible. ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: Servers, at least apologize for bad food

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rant Deal With It! Few things make me crazier than giving an honest answer to a waiter’s routine question only to be met by a blank facial expression. “How is everything?” shouldn’t be a pro forma question followed by a quick exit. Imagine the following dialogue: “How was the shrimp burger?” “Horrible.” It was perhaps the toughest, most overcooked thing I had eaten in recent memory. “Uhhhh. Sorry you didn’t like it!” Then my server ran off to the other end of the bar. Sending something back to the kitchen isn’t always easy. Maybe I’m eating with someone who has ...

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Fresh on the Scene: Varuni Napoli, Dish, Mix’d Up Burgers, Whiskey Bird

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Varuni Napoli sells the best cannoli in town.Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Varuni Napoli From the counter seats at Luca Varuni’s new spot in Krog Street Market, it’s impossible to miss the robin’s egg blue wood-burning oven, emblazoned with red letters spelling out the restaurant’s name like a soccer team jersey. Unlike the flagship in Morningside, this newcomer doesn’t offer pasta, the list of pizzas is smaller, and the pies themselves are smaller, too (12 inches versus 14). The best thing on the menu is a specialty only served at this location: the fried pizza stuffed with spicy spreadable pork ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: Pops have nothing on paletas

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rant Paletas, Not Pops Well before the King of Pops elevated the ice pop to an unprecedented (and expensive) gourmet status, modest shops were making frozen treats by hand all over Atlanta’s Hispanic neighborhoods. The tradition of paletas started in the Mexican state of Michoacán, and many Mexican ice parlors here—the cute Paleteria Michoacana in Marietta, La Mejor de Michoacan in Norcross, and Michoacana Loca in Lilburn, to name a few—use some version of the name. And the pops are so much more interesting than their gringo counterparts! There’s creamy kiwi and strawberry as well as more modern flavors (hooray ...

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Fresh on the Scene: Magnolia Room Cafeteria, Iron Guys, Petit Chou, and Star Provisions

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Trout almondine with mac and cheese, steamed broccoli, and other sidesPhotograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Magnolia Room Cafeteria Decorated in the periwinkle-blue and apple-green hues of the 1950s, this Southern cafeteria is like a snapshot from the past. It was started by a former patron and several former cooks at the beloved but defunct S & S Cafeteria in Embry Hills. Pick the Magnolia Plate (one of five select entrees, plus two vegetables, bread, and a beverage)—a feast at $8.50—or go free-range among the trays of trout almondine, chicken potpie, and fried chicken livers with onions and gravy. Travel back ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: Meal delivery services turn haste into waste

Source: Atlanta Magazine

There are ready-to-cook meals in Atlanta that cut down from the waste of New York-based companies such as Blue Apron.Illustration by Zohar Lazar Rant Haste Makes Waste I shiver every time I hear an ad for Blue Apron. The New York–based company ships ready-to-cook meals all over the country, with recipes and premeasured ingredients packed in tiny plastic pouches and containers, all tightly surrounded by ice packs. Think of the waste! I understand why meal kits exist: People are interested in cooking again, but they need some hand-holding. If you’re going to use one, I recommend a local outfit like ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: Meal delivery services turn haste into waste

Source: Atlanta Magazine

There are ready-to-cook meals in Atlanta that cut down from the waste of New York-based companies such as Blue Apron.Illustration by Zohar Lazar Rant Haste Makes Waste I shiver every time I hear an ad for Blue Apron. The New York–based company ships ready-to-cook meals all over the country, with recipes and premeasured ingredients packed in tiny plastic pouches and containers, all tightly surrounded by ice packs. Think of the waste! I understand why meal kits exist: People are interested in cooking again, but they need some hand-holding. If you’re going to use one, I recommend a local outfit like ...

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Fresh on the Scene: Hopstix, Jai Ho, Muss & Turner’s, One Rooster Mongolian Bar

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Jai Ho chef Vijeesh Parayil masters both traditional Indian breads and “street eats” like ragada and chaat.Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Hopstix Andy Tan plans to capitalize on Chamblee’s growth with Hopstix, his brewpub serving pan-Asian bar food. The former home brewer, who came to Georgia in 1997 from his native Indonesia, opened Hopstix in February. A variety of drinks are on offer, but the spotlight is on beer: a mix of local brews from Wrecking Bar and Scofflaw as well as Tan’s own Gold Line blonde ale and Trackside, a citrusy pale ale. In an effort to gauge Chamblee’s ...

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Fresh on the Scene: Hopstix, Jai Ho, Muss & Turner’s, One Rooster Mongolian Bar

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Jai Ho chef Vijeesh Parayil masters both traditional Indian breads and “street eats” like ragada and chaat.Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Hopstix Andy Tan plans to capitalize on Chamblee’s growth with Hopstix, his brewpub serving pan-Asian bar food. The former home brewer, who came to Georgia in 1997 from his native Indonesia, opened Hopstix in February. A variety of drinks are on offer, but the spotlight is on beer: a mix of local brews from Wrecking Bar and Scofflaw as well as Tan’s own Gold Line blonde ale and Trackside, a citrusy pale ale. In an effort to gauge Chamblee’s ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: Thin-crust pizza makers, you’re doing it wrong

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rant Vanishing of the Thin Crust Something is happening to pizza. Lately, all I can find are pies with flabby, uncooked centers and swollen crusts that have all the textural charm of cardboard. The kind of pie I like—one with a fully baked, thin but supportive crust—hardly gets any respect anymore. Why is this? One man doing the thin crust justice is Jeff Varasano. The pie dough at his eponymous pizzeria, Varasano’s, in south Buckhead, is uniformly cooked with just a bit of char on the edges, and its toppings, trapped in an enamel of cheese, stand their ground. No ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: Thin-crust pizza makers, you’re doing it wrong

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rant Vanishing of the Thin Crust Something is happening to pizza. Lately, all I can find are pies with flabby, uncooked centers and swollen crusts that have all the textural charm of cardboard. The kind of pie I like—one with a fully baked, thin but supportive crust—hardly gets any respect anymore. Why is this? One man doing the thin crust justice is Jeff Varasano. The pie dough at his eponymous pizzeria, Varasano’s, in south Buckhead, is uniformly cooked with just a bit of char on the edges, and its toppings, trapped in an enamel of cheese, stand their ground. No ...

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Fresh on the Scene: Bon Ton, Mediterranea, 9292 Korean BBQ, Sankalp

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Broiled oysters, snow crab, and a fried shrimp (and sausage) basket from Bon TonPhotograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Bon Ton Darren Carr, who ran Top Flr out of the same building until it closed in November 2015, has partnered with star bartender Eric Simpkins of the Lawrence and chef Hieu Pham of Crawfish Shack on Buford Highway. Their food is a ton of fun—especially charbroiled oysters with Chinese-style XO sauce—but when it comes to the main dishes, fried seafood tends to be better than its boiled counterparts. (The crawfish taste funky either way.) The best of Bon Ton: the bowl ...

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Fresh on the Scene: Bon Ton, Mediterranea, 9292 Korean BBQ, Sankalp

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Broiled oysters, snow crab, and a fried shrimp (and sausage) basket from Bon TonPhotograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Bon Ton Darren Carr, who ran Top Flr out of the same building until it closed in November 2015, has partnered with star bartender Eric Simpkins of the Lawrence and chef Hieu Pham of Crawfish Shack on Buford Highway. Their food is a ton of fun—especially charbroiled oysters with Chinese-style XO sauce—but when it comes to the main dishes, fried seafood tends to be better than its boiled counterparts. (The crawfish taste funky either way.) The best of Bon Ton: the bowl ...

Read full article >>

Fresh on the Scene: Bon Ton, Mediterranea, 9292 Korean BBQ, Sankalp

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Broiled oysters, snow crab, and a fried shrimp (and sausage) basket from Bon TonPhotograph by Caroline C. Kilgore Bon Ton Darren Carr, who ran Top Flr out of the same building until it closed in November 2015, has partnered with star bartender Eric Simpkins of the Lawrence and chef Hieu Pham of Crawfish Shack on Buford Highway. Their food is a ton of fun—especially charbroiled oysters with Chinese-style XO sauce—but when it comes to the main dishes, fried seafood tends to be better than its boiled counterparts. (The crawfish taste funky either way.) The best of Bon Ton: the bowl ...

Read full article >>

The Christiane Chronicles: When it comes to scissors, Korean restaurants have it right

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rave Getting snippy with it There are perhaps a hundred Korean restaurants in the Atlanta area, and at almost all of them, servers matter-­of-factly use scissors. They may, with a couple of tableside snips, divide a strip of barbecued beef into juicy bites or slice through an impossible tangle of elastic buckwheat noodles. When I’m having trouble finding a manageable piece of pork neck at Yet Tuh off Buford Highway, what emerges from the kitchen? Scissors. Scissors can slice, trim, or neaten up pretty much anything, yet outside of Korean restaurants, you rarely see them in the dining room. Why? ...

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The Christiane Chronicles: When it comes to scissors, Korean restaurants have it right

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Rave Getting snippy with it There are perhaps a hundred Korean restaurants in the Atlanta area, and at almost all of them, servers matter-­of-factly use scissors. They may, with a couple of tableside snips, divide a strip of barbecued beef into juicy bites or slice through an impossible tangle of elastic buckwheat noodles. When I’m having trouble finding a manageable piece of pork neck at Yet Tuh off Buford Highway, what emerges from the kitchen? Scissors. Scissors can slice, trim, or neaten up pretty much anything, yet outside of Korean restaurants, you rarely see them in the dining room. Why? ...

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Fresh on the Scene: The Halal Guys, Makimono, Yumbii, and Revolution Doughnuts

Source: Atlanta Magazine

Halal Guys — Chicken and rice platterPhotograph by Caroline C. Kilgore The Halal Guys There’s a reason that the corner of Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue and 53rd Street is impossible to navigate at lunchtime; that’s where you’ll find the borough’s (the world’s?) most famous food cart and a never-ending line of customers waiting for fast Mediterranean food. The Halal Guys opened a Chamblee location in late January, and already it’s a madhouse, stuffed with people clamoring for gyros suffused with those signature creamy white and red-hot sauces. The best things in the house are the chicken platters, the baba ghanoush, and ...

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