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June/July 2009

A Culinary Tour For the Taste Buds
by Katie Kelly Bell

Cakes and Ale’s rustic and intimate communal dining space beckons conversation.

What better way to get to know Georgia than through its locally produced and raised foods? Known for peaches and pecans, the state is a plethora of tastes that will tantalize the taste buds. Here’s just a sampling of the newest restaurants serving up organic and farm-fresh fare.

Dynamic Dish

This slightly unorthodox urban dining experience is funky, cool and just plain delicious. Expect vegetables like you’ve never seen them before with Chef David Sweeny working from a line-up of natural, organic local goodies. Plates such as steamed asparagus with Meyer lemon, roasted red Yukon creamer potatoes, herbed quark, watermelon radish & cucumbers in Persimmon vinegar with chopped chives are commonplace. Devotion to purity and taste is foremost: there is no set menu and guests should expect an adventure in every visit. Soups such as a Georgia Muscadine with California Chardonnay are a delight. Visit on Saturday nights for the organic, thin-crust pizza, or for a killer Sunday brunch featuring a number of vegetarian dishes. The food is the star in a barebones décor featuring communal tables, skylights and a washed concrete floor.

Open for lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays, and dinner Thursdays through Saturdays, BYOB. 427 Edgewood Avenue, 404.688.4344,

4th & Swift

Specializing in modern comfort food with seasonal influences, Chef and owner Jay Swift crafts exquisite meals from beginning to end. Situated in a restored industrial space in the up-and-coming Old Fourth Ward, the atmosphere is a blend of modernist-edgy with lush touches. Wood, steel, exposed brick and concrete marry with rich fabrics, leather and glass. The open kitchen affords a view of Swift and his team assembling dishes such as Riverview farms Berkshire pork sugo with herbed gnocchi or a panko-crusted Florida red grouper with spinach and lemon risotto. Because Swift is the boss, he changes the menu frequently to keep things fresh and interesting. One of the best bites has to be the Three Little Pigs with pork loin, pork belly and house made sausage and a side of Southern comfort (mac ‘n cheese). The lovely wine selection keeps up with the cuisine, and don’t miss the freshly prepared ice creams (buttermilk and basil) and sorbets (we like the lemon).

 An ever-changing menu at 4th & Swift, with dishes like this scallop salad, makes it worthy of frequent visits.
Open nightly, 5:30 through 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 5:30 through 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. 4th & Swift, 621 North Avenue, Building B, 678-904-0160,

Leon’s Full Service

This new restaurant is brought to us from the same folks who operate Decatur’s wildly popular Brick Store Pub, a long-standing icon to beer and fine pub food. The angle at Leon’s is a self-described “community-driven restaurant.” That means we get loads of fresh, local, and at times just plain fun stuff. Consider the bacon in a glass with peanut butter or a side of pub fries with a staggering 15 options for dipping (we like the madras curry and goat cheese fondue). The menu doesn’t get bogged down in one single theme, if pig smörgås (Benton’s country ham, melted gruyere grand cru, cherry jam, and pineapple on toast) isn’t your thing, redemption can be found in the mesclun green salad with chèvre, pumpkin seeds and orange Tabasco vinaigrette. No matter how you roll, the endings are perfect: kiosk waffle with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, seasonal fruit cobbler with brown sugar and best of all the chocolate course: three melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffles.

Leon’s is open nightly at 5 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays until 1 a.m., and Fridays and Saturdays until 2 a.m. 131 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, 404-687-0500,

Cakes and Ale

This intimate destination gets points for casual elegance with a simple twist, which is at the very heart of any farm-to-table experience. Your host is the Chef Billy Allin and his wife Kristin. Together they’ve created a menu that celebrates simple but tasteful food. The menu changes daily but we’ve come to expect soulful dishes such as potato gnocchi with spicy Italian sausage, olives & tomato sauce or a baby Vidalia onion and parmesan pudding-soufflé. The menu and atmosphere is so approachable, expect to see foodies with kids in tow in the early hours of dinner. Sometimes the best bite is an order of the soon-to-be legendary Arancini: deep fried rice balls with notes of fennel pollen and citrus and phatty cakes for dessert—a swath of buttercream frosting stuffed between two aromatic soft gingerbread cookies. (Order these first, as they tend to disappear as the evening wears on!)

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5:30 through 10:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 5:30 through 11 p.m. 254 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, 404- 377-7994,


Known for his legendary seasonal southern fare—not to mention Indigo Girls connection— Chef Scott Peacock has been behind the stove at Watershed since its inception. Peacock and his partners source as many local ingredients as possible. A wine list packed with boutique, hard-to-find gems pairs nicely with the experience. Housed in a restored service station, the relaxed and casual atmosphere sets the tone for satisfying dishes such as butter bean hummus, fried catfish or chicken, roast duck breast with sweet potatoes and local greens or a hot vegetable plate with black-eye peas, creamed corn and green beans. In a hurry? Just pop in for a glass of Alsatian Riesling and a slice of Very Good Chocolate Cake.

Watershed is open for lunch and dinners, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays for brunch 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. 406 West Ponce De Leon Ave., 404-378-4900,

The lavish experience at Quinones at Bacchanalia begins at the door.
Quinones at Bacchanalia

Quinones is undoubtedly one of the city’s most upscale multi-course dining experiences. Located below the fabled Bacchanalia, this restaurant (owned and operated by Bacchanalia’s chefs) is a lavish expression of the farm-to-table experience. Expect at minimum a two-hour extravaganza of food and wine. Executive Chef Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison along with Chef de Cuisine, Andy Carson weave culinary magic with local bounty from the restaurant farm (Summerland) into plates of joy. Consider the cured north Georgia rainbow trout or seared diver scallop with Georgia caviar and black truffle or a palmetto squab with Anson Mills grits and chanterelles. Even more decadent is the truffle tasting menu featuring everything imaginable infused with truffle oil.

Dinner only Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. 1198 Howell Mill Rd., 404-365-0410,


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