A Food Lover's Guide to Atlanta

In his latest food advice column, our critic offers tips on fried oysters, baked trout, food trucks, and the city's not-too-shabby group of nationally acclaimed chefs

Q. A reader in Connecticut asks: I'm going to Atlanta for the weekend. Where should I eat?

A. I dream of returning to Atlanta to go to Decatur—"the love child of Berkeley and Mayberry," as the wonderful food writer and now distinguished Atlanta bureau chief for The New York Times, Kim Severson, called it in a recent review of three Atlanta restaurants—to visit Watershed, one of my favorite restaurants in the country. Or so it was under Scott Peacock, whose rustic yet delicate Southern cuisine was closely modeled on that of his mentor and for a time housemate Edna Lewis, who wrote the classic (as in, truly classic, for the ages) Taste of Country Cooking. He left at the end of February, as Severson reported, and although the owner, Emily Saliers (famous as being one half of the Indigo Girls), told Severson she would be serving the same food, I'll have to go back to try the fried oysters, crawfish pies, fried okra, and baked North Georgia trout with lump crabmeat I still see on the menu. In fact, could you try them all and report, please? And maybe bring back some biscuits?

Meanwhile, the Decatur restaurant Severson recommends and that I really want to try is Cakes & Ale, which has an elegantly simple but distinctly Mediterranean cast to its menu. Downtown, in the trendy Westside neighborhood where you'll doubtless hang out, she flags the very well-publicized Miller Union, whose Southern-themed menu is clearly influenced by Lewis and Peacock—Steven Satterfield, the Georgia-born chef, cooked at Watershed—and looks mighty good, too.

I also applied for advice from my colleague Christiane Lauterbach, maybe the hippest person I know and certainly among the most culinarily adventurous. She's restaurant critic for Atlanta magazine and has also begun a blog you'll want to check out on Atlanta food carts (the first picture shows a figure in sunglasses I thought was a ringer for my mayor, Thomas M. Menino of Boston; as I was about to take a screen shot and email it to Boston friends, I realized—it is my mayor). She shot this succinct but informative reply back, which I offer in its entirety. She led with desserts, knowing of my fondness/passion/pathology for them.

The weekend would be a good time to catch new pastry chef and James Beard Award nominee Cynthia Wong at Empire State South, where refreshing wines, especially Rieslings, and the fun Southern dishes are a tribute to Athens Chef Hugh Acheson and a very young crew.

Restaurant Eugene has a new five-course dessert menu courtesy of Beard nominee Aaron Russell.

No. 246 , a new restaurant just opened in Decatur (the Berkeley of Atlanta) [she and Severson think alike!], showcases the work of two Atlanta chefs, Ford Fry and Drew Belline, and the wonderful bartender Lara Creasy. I haven't been yet. But there is definite starpower there. Here's their Facebook info for your perusing pleasure.

And then there's Julia Leroy's fun new chicken stand (Leroy's Fried Chicken) on the Westside.

I'm pretty weak for fried chicken, too, but only in the South, even if Severson says Atlanta is "only vaguely a fried chicken town." Write back with findings, please!

To submit a food, drink, or restaurant advice question for Corby's next column, email askcorby@gmail.com.

Image: texascooking/flickr

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

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