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Food & Reviews

The restaurants below are recommended, some for the specific reasons named below. Remember that restaurants sometimes close without warning – always call before going. Questions, comments, suggestions? Please contact us. Check back often for updates.

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119 Chops

Macon/Middle Georgia

June 2008

In pretty, tourist-friendly Milledgeville, it can be hard to find a grown-up dinner spot downtown when the college crowd is in residence. Chops fits the bill – the cool, quiet brick environment, good service and friendly bar are its strong points; the menu centers on simple, unsophisticated steaks and chops. But sometimes a well-charred steak and well-shaken martini are all you need.119 South Wayne St., Milledgeville. 478-452-8119.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

4th & Swift

Atlanta

December 2008

Chef Jay Swift (formerly of South City Kitchen) serves up New South specialties in this cool, cavernous space (once the Southern Dairies’ engine room) in the Old Fourth Ward. Service and and some dishes can be uneven, but the small plates, “Three Little Pigs” plate of pork belly, loin and housemade sausages, as well as inventive cocktails and affordable, largely American wine list, make it a must-try. 621 North Ave. (just east of Glen Iris), 678-904-0160.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

5 Seasons Brewing

Atlanta Suburbs/Athens

October 2006

All grown up and nowhere to have a beer? 5 Seasons offers house-made brews and a champagne-taste menu (from grilled pizzas and pork chop with cheddar grits to filet au poivre). Economical as it is ecological, 5 Seasons offers seasonal, fresh and often organic local ingredients in a low-key, casual environment where you can actually hear your dining companions when they speak in normal tones. 5600 Roswell Road (in the Prado), Sandy Springs. 404-255-5911.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Abattoir

Atlanta

February 2010

At this newest, meat-centric spot from celebrated power chefs Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison, I convinced a reluctant colleague to try the potted chicken liver and foie gras, and soon we were fighting to clean out the small jar with the last crusts of Abattoir’s excellent baguettes. A crisp salad of bitter lettuce laden with shredded duck confit and ribbons of al dente butternut squash was the perfect foil. We drained the last drops of our wines – a memorably smoky Powers cab, and a fruit-forward La Linda Malbec – while dipping spoons in the dense chocolate pot de crème. (On another visit, a neighboring table insisted we try their bacon beignets – a diabolical invention that trapped crusty, salty, piggy bits inside inflated, sugar-dusted fried dough.) Clearly, Abattoir won’t charm vegetarians or picky eaters of any age. After two visits with slightly squeamish companions, I want to go back and venture deeper into the meaty mysteries of Abattoir’s rabbit galantine; the house-ground beef and pork burger with fries; the fried chicken livers’ the charcuterie and the always-impressive cheese list. (The boisterous bar looks like an inviting spot for a solo flight.) With prices for most small plates in the single digits, and entrees topping out at around $20, it’s a budget-friendly way to go whole hog. 1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. (404) 892-3335.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Blue Bicycle, The

Atlanta Suburbs/Athens

July 2008

This family enterprise behind the North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall, by chef/owner Guy Owens and wife Kati, may skimp a bit on atmosphere and creature comforts, but puts the petal to the mettle with the food. Fresh, local ingredients in French/Continental fare (duck breast with brandied cherries, penne in porcini-sage cream sauce) with Southern accents (sautéed Gulf shrimp on a scallion grits cake), at good values (most entrees range from $12-$17). Even better is the long list of Georgia wines, many offered by the bottle, glass and half-glass. 671 Lumpkin Campground Road, Dawsonville. 706-265-2153.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Bone's

Atlanta

September 2005

If a city’s best steakhouse is its leading economic indicator, Atlanta is still thriving. This smoothly professional wait staff, the clubby masculine environment and steaks as thick as Schwarzeneggar’s bicep add up to a classic, signature city dining experience. The place to go if you wanted to be counted among Atlanta’s movers and shakers – or if you need a shoeshine during lunch. 3130 Piedmont Road (near Peachtree), 404-237-2663.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Canoe

Atlanta Suburbs/Athens

December 2006

Chef Carvel Grant Gould charts a new course in familiar waters at this Vinings staple. Despite the exotic ingredients (quail, pheasant, diver scallops, African squash), the deeply earthy, familiar flavors will thrill even the most hidebound meat-and-potato eater. From the bartenders to the table runners, Canoe sports some of the most professional staff in town. Perfect for a special dinner that won’t sink you. 4199 Paces Ferry Road NW, 770-432-2663.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Carver's Country Kitchen

Atlanta

May 2009

The old-fashioned meat-and-three (now more often a meat-and-two) is going the way of the pay phone. The few good ones left include Matthew’s Cafeteria, in Tucker (don’t miss Thursdays’ turkey and dressing), and my favorite, Carver’s Country Kitchen in Atlanta’s old blue-collar neighborhood of Howell Station. Husband-and-wife team Sharon and Robert Carver once had a small lunch operation inside their store; the hearty food has been so popular that tables now crowd out the eccentric selection of goods. You won’t go wrong with anything here, but my favorites include the caramelized fried corn, baked ham and Coca-Cola cake. Get it while you can! 1118 W. Marietta St., NW, Atlanta. (404) 794-4410.
 

Chef Jerome's Old-School Diner

Coastal Georgia

February 2008

The biggest, best and most eccentric of all the quirky fried-seafood palaces in the little-known coastal villages around Shellman Bluff, the Old School Diner serves fantastic Georgia fried shrimp, handmade deviled crab and smoky barbecued ribs in a huge Melamine chip-n-dip platter called The Wheelchair Special. (You'll need one to get to your car.) The ramshackle warren of rooms also attracts movie star Ben Affleck, part-time resident of nearby Hampton Island, who often likes to join the chef in the kitchen. Jessie Grant Road off Harris Neck Road (near Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge), Townsend. 912-832-2136.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Chef Lee's Peking Restaurant II

Macon/Middle Georgia

May 2009

This tile-roofed, Technicolor pagoda fully outfitted with gardens, carved dogs and dragons, tasseled lanterns – even a wooden bridge over a koi pond inside the restaurant -- features my favorite Chinese-food criteria: Table service, umbrella drinks and handmade noodles. No indifferent buffet food here; Chef Lee himself makes the noodles, and may stop by your table to see how you like them. 6100 Bradley Park Drive, Columbus. (706) 653-8888.
 

Full review on Georgia Trend website

D. Morgan's

Atlanta Suburbs/Athens

October 2005

Confit comes to Cartersville. This sophisticated restaurant, carved from a former furniture store downtown, seems out of place only until you go there. Midway between the burbs and the northwest Georgia mountains, sharply dressed patrons revel in chef Derek Morgan’s original, uncomplicated pairings and triplings of fresh, familiar flavors: lobster bisque with porcini; seared ahi tuna with scallion hummus; cardomom doughnuts with coffee ice cream. Wines are moderately priced, and the list is full of discoveries. 28 West Main St., Cartersville. 770-383-3535.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Edgar's Bistro

Macon/Middle Georgia

June 2009

When the going gets tough, the tough go dining. This full-service restaurant is an arm of Goodwill's next-door culinary school -- and one of Macon's best places to eat. Your server might be young and inexperienced, but he is also learning a valuable job skill with plenty of oversight. Though the décor appears handmade and inexpensive, it’s a clever use of the concrete-floored space, with contemporary fabrics and light fixtures lending an urban-loft feel. The bar area has interesting framed photos and comfortable seating -- and even a pleasant patio.The menu mixes familiar and uptempo bistro classics, with lunches offering paninis, lobster bisque, asparagus soup, salads and pastas in addition to a few entrees. At dinner, it’s more consciously Continental, but never too serious: New York strip with red wine demi; Florida prawns in risotto; pork tenderloin with fennel gratin and eggplant. The highest-priced dinner entrée is $24, with sides like pea tendrils and Gruyere cheese potato croquettes. Even the drink list is amusing, with the “Miami Beach” (scotch, dry vermouth and grapefruit juice) a good bet for snowbirds staying over before hitting I-75 again the next day. Says one Goodwill administrator: "It's 30 great menu items for one great cause." Edgar’s Bistro, 5171 Eisenhower Parkwy, Macon. 478-471-4250.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Farm 255

Atlanta Suburbs/Athens

June 2007

There’s a lot of revisionist history going down in this western corner of downtown Athens, with a new/old diner (Clocked), a new/old film arthouse (Ciné), and new/old Farm 255, in the rescued Quality Food Machinery building. Its newfangled organic cuisine is really nothing more than great meats and vegetables, like your farming Southern ancestors once enjoyed – even if this is not your grandmother’s Calabash shrimp, and the Toad in a Hole is a farm-fresh egg on duck confit in buttered whole-wheat toast. Cheery service; short, interesting wine list. 255 West Washington St. (between Hull and Pulaski), Athens. 706-549-4660.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Flip Burger Boutique

Atlanta

April 2009

Former Top Chef finalist Richard Blais turns the American classic on its, um, bun. This “gourmet burger boutique” somersaulted onto Atlanta's daunting scene with the panache of a 5-year-old’s “Ta-da!” Right now, everybody is looking for good food at the right price, but also something that doesn’t feel like you’re skimping. We want some kind of communal life-raft to cling to – preferably one with a party on board. Flip delivers on all counts, with house-ground, wildly ambitious burgers, fries and shakes, in single-digit prices. Try the bacon cheeseburger (butter-griddled brioche buns from Alon’s Bakery, Benton’s bacon, American cheese, housemade pickles, with onion, tomato, ketchup and Flip’s own secret sauce), the lamb burger with “raisin ketchup”; the rBQ (brisket, coleslaw and barbecue sauce); the pate melt (veal, pork, Swiss cheese, cornichons) or... we haven't even gotten to the shakes or sides! Just go. 1587 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-352-FLIP (3547).

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Grits Cafe

Macon/Middle Georgia

April 2010

True to its name, the Grits Café serves grits. Really good grits – stone-ground and creamy, with bacon and shiitake mushrooms, in a martini glass; blended with asiago cheese and fried into fritters; and in compact, grilled cakes, topped with cornmeal-dusted shrimp and a roasted corn and green tomato salsa. Chef-owner Wayne Wetendorf’s culinary degree is from Canada, but like almost everything I tried, the shrimp and grits are as fanciful as a garden party dress, while true to authentic Southern flavors – gritty grits, Georgia wild shrimp, fresh corn. 17 West Johnston St., Forsyth. (478) 994-8325.

 

Holeman & Finch

Atlanta

October 2008

This bookend to chef/owner Linton Hopkins’ Restaurant Eugene is one of the smartest, most fun entries to the Atlanta dining scene we’ve seen in a long time. The “public house” tavern concept really works, with inventive cocktails that match the classics for sweet-tart balance. The Southern-hunt food is as elemental and revelatory as a late afternoon thunderstorm, from the fried Tybee shrimp to the hen of the woods mushrooms and marrow gratin. Go early to snag one of the few tables. 2277 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-948-1175.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Leon's Full Service

Atlanta

March 2010

Ah, Decatur -- once the “nice girl” little sister to prom queen Atlanta; now the sophisticated graduate student appalled at her sibling’s suburban sprawl. (“You’ve just really let yourself go,” she tut-tuts, speed-walking to the farmer’s market in scuffed Birkenstocks.) 131 East Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404.687.0500.
 

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Nam

Atlanta

March 2004

Brothers Alex and Chris Kinjo first took the city by storm with their tiny, whip-smart MF Sushibar (the "MF," they said, stood for "magic fingers"). Nam was the logical next step for the half-Japanese, half-Vietnamese brothers, who wanted to showcase their mother's cooking as much as their father's culinary heritage. Bowing to traditional noodle dishes, Nam also pays tribute to the depth and diversity of Vietnamese cooking, with Cornish hen, clay pot shrimp, sweet-spicy caramel sauces and "shaking" filet mignon. The rice flour tamales pull Nam miles ahead of its closest competitor: Banana-leaf envelopes open to reveal a postcard-sized panel of steamed, rice-flour pabulum, topped with minced pork, shrimp and scallion. You top it with more potent, saline sauce, flecked with Thai peppers, eating it with a large spoon. If you like dim sum, you'll like these grown-up baby food textures and flavors.The grilled Japanese eggplant is the best I've ever had anywhere - you scoop the beautifully white, ginger-scented soft flesh from the collapsed purple skin onto your plate. This restaurant reminds me why Atlanta is such an exciting place to live - we get to witness the birth of the next generation's American dream. 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta. 404.541.9997

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Repast

Atlanta

May 2007

Husband-and-wife chef/owners Joe Truex and Mihoko Obunai’s brainchild in the ground floors of Ponce Springs Lofts sweetly, seamlessly combines New World and old school cooking without seeming remotely “fusion.” Instead, it’s an original, all-American creation fired in a convection melting pot. (See, for example, the “foie gras hot dog.”) Both chefs are have worked in some of the best kitchens in New York (including the James Beard House); their touchstone is the quality and freshness of their ingredients. 620 Glen Iris Drive (at North Avenue), Atlanta. 404-870-8707.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Rice House/Barnsley Gardens

Georgia Mountains

January 2009

Resort fare sometimes seems intended for captive audiences rather than discerning diners. However, the ambitious menu at Barnsley Garden's Rice House includes a well-executed trio of soups (butternut squash deepened with “spice dust”; celery-root soup with tiny bits of shrimp, bacon and truffle; cold watercress topped with a perfect bite of crisply fried goat cheese) and seasonal entrees such as seared diver scallops and monkfish in “avgolemono” sauce – a pool of eggy, lemony goodness based on the Greek soup – dotted with tender English peas and fava beans, over salmon potato hash. The grilled bison is a lean champ with a knockout punch, with a “pave” of sliced turnip and carrots, its side of subtle pureed parsnips sharpening the bison’s meaty wallop. Barnsley could use a few improvements – a better wine list; more knowledgeable servers; better signage and lighting in the occasionally eerie “village” of lookalike guest houses. But we applaud the thoughtful direction here. Barnsley Gardens, 597 Barnsley Gardens Road, Adairsville. 770.773.7480 or 877.773.2447

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Rookery, The

Macon/Middle Georgia

April 2010

Once a smoke-filled dive with pretty good eats, the Rookery has new owners. Now it's a clean, well-lighted (and smoke-free) dive with really good eats. Of course, in this case, we mean “dive” as a compliment – where else would you go for a great burger on a buttered, grill-toasted Kaiser bun, with crusty onion rings? The menu salutes Georgia history, with hat tips to Capricorn records (Carousel soup), Wet Willie (chiliburger), the Allman Brothers (Sweet Melissa cocktail) and of course the Ty Cobb salad. The pimento cheese atop the Johnny Jenkins burger is house-made. If you’re brave, you’ll try the Jimmy Carter burger – with bacon and peanut butter. The wait staff insists it’s one of their most popular dishes. 543 Cherry St., Macon. 478-746-8658.

Sushi Hayakawa

Atlanta

December 2009

Atsushi “Art” Hayakawa is not your typical solemn, monklike sushi-chef, bent over his craft in penitent silence. Personable, affable, even a bit of a ham, Hayakawa plopped down next to us first-time customers at the sushi bar, made several menu suggestions, and walked us through the options on the shochu menu. The fish, flown from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, is bracingly fresh. Nigiri (finger-sized pieces of raw fish on rice) are the perfect bite-size; the sashimi (raw sliced fish) as prettily arranged as a peony’s petals. Hayakawa’s creativity comes to the fore with a long list of daily specials, which on our visit included a delicious miso soup with blue crab claw (a Japanese man next to us recommended the littleneck clam miso, which we’ll try next time) and marinated and lightly seared tuna (tuna tatami) with garlic sauce. 5979 Buford Highway, Atlanta. (770) 986-0010.
 

Full review on Georgia Trend website