Archive - August, 2014

Restaurant news interim report

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

My restaurant news article usually runs the first or second Friday of the month but there’s a few little stories can’t wait for September. Let’s run an interim article this week to catch the latest.

oh boy logoOh Boy Rotisserie & Tacos in Johns Creek appears to have closed. While I’ve not been by to confirm, several readers have emailed and tweeted about it. Opening in June, Oh Boy offered a unique twist on a product that’s rather ubiquitous. Perhaps that’s what did them in.

And the rumors unfortunately are true. Ice cream purveyor Scoops will close their Crabapple location in late September. The store was one of the last full-service ice cream parlors around. I was particularly fond of their banana pudding ice cream. Delicious. Their concept also included gourmet and retro candy similar to what you’d might see at Fuzziwigs. There’s no word yet on what will become of the other Scoops franchise locations. However every other location is well east of metro Atlanta, a little outside our coverage area.

Chicken Salad Chick opened last week in the Stonewalk at Northpoint Commons Shopping Center across from Best Buy. Expect women to outnumber men 3 to 1 when you visit. My first impression was that it was decent chicken salad but not good enough to make a special trip.

The downtown Alpharetta restaurant renaissance continues with the opening of South Main Kitchen. Their first official day was this past Monday. Former F&H alum Louis Soon is part of the team which will make competition with nearby Salt Factory interesting to watch.

Next to open in downtown will be Made Kitchen and Cocktails from the Sedgwicks but they’re likely a few months away. And we’re hearing rumors of another possible restaurant conversion along Main Street in downtown. It should be noted that the explosion of Canton Street-like restaurants is happening organically. We like that. It didn’t take a gaudy mixed-use apartment highrise to bring these guys to town.

And finally on the retail side… the Cumming location of Costco Wholesale opens today. Why am I mentioning something that’s way up on exit 15? Because I really hope this new location cannibalizes from the Alpharetta location!

First Watch – Alpharetta

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday. Today we feature an article from Mike Christensen. Follow Mike on Twitter @SCSA31274.

first watch logoI rarely go out for breakfast.  I’m either too busy in the morning, or sleeping too late on the weekend.  Probably the best reason why I don’t eat out for breakfast is that I make terrible choices.  I’m drawn to the bacon, the sausage, syrupy pancakes and French toast.  Pretty much anything that makes me go “Ooo” on the menu at a breakfast joint is sure to alert my cardiologist.

I was intrigued to hear about First Watch, a national chain started in 1983 for breakfast and lunch that advertises fresh, premium, finest ingredients made from scratch with no use of heat lamps or deep fryers.  Looked like to me that this was one place that I could eat a meal that is yummy as well as healthy.  I’ve been to the Johns Creek location and had the bacon and onion hash, a mix of bacon, potatoes, onions, and cheese.  Ok, not too healthy, but man it was good.  The portions weren’t huge and yet I was more than satisfied.

But this isn’t Roots in Johns Creek, so what am I talking about?

Well, Alpharetta can now claim it’s own location of First Watch.  Located on the corner of Old Milton Parkway and North Point Parkway, the Alpharetta First Watch still has that new strip mall smell.

It’s a little difficult to get in and out of the parking lot due to the divided nature of North Point Parkway, but once you’ve been there once, you will have no problems navigating it.  The space is open, light and inviting with tons of windows and extremely comfortable seating.  Bright colors blast out of the decor to wake even the sleepiest of heads.  Every employee I’ve encountered has been very pleasant, sometimes to a fault.  I have felt a little rushed a couple of times with both ordering and “here’s the check”.  Not a lot of time to relax and enjoy the food.

First Watch french toastAnd what food it is.  I’ve eaten both breakfast and lunch and have been completely satisfied each time.  First Watch offers nutritional info on the web site, so if you are watching calories, check that before you go.  Some items that seem healthy are pretty high in calories and fat.  Who would have thought a pancake could be so bad for you?

For lunch, I opted for the grilled turkey sandwich with a side of Italian wedding soup.  The sandwich came on toasted sourdough bread with tomato, bacon and cheese.  There was a little too much ranch dressing for me, but overall, the sandwich had the right amount of turkey and bacon to be juicy to counter the toasted bread.  Everything was in balance.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Italian wedding soup.  It didn’t have a lot of veggies but plenty of herbs with little meatballs.  Delightful.

My breakfast choices were a little more narrowed.  A little searching on the menu brought me to a unique discovery, raisin bread French toast.  With nearly a third the calories and fat of regular French toast, the order was placed.  It was some of the best French toast I’ve had.  Sometimes with French toast the bread can be too creamy and falls apart.  The raisin bread had more substance while still being able to be cut with a fork.  The sweetness was offset by the raisins and that, in addition to the slightly chewy bread, really woke up my taste buds.

My one complaint was the syrup.  It came out in a glass bottle with a little metal pouring top that resembled the spout on liquor bottles in bars.  All that is just fine. But First Watch must keep these things in the oven to make the syrup warm because this bottle was nearly unholdable, it was so hot.  Even after ten minutes I couldn’t hold it to pour it.  I had to use a napkin.  Hot syrup is great, but maybe a complimentary oven mitt would be nice.

I have really enjoyed my experiences with First Watch.  The food is satisfying and delicious, the prices reasonable, staff (overly) friendly and the environment welcoming.  All of the other breakfast places in Alpharetta should pay attention to what First Watch is bringing to the party.

Miss Mary’s Ice Cream Crankin’ – Sunday, August 24

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

Crankin-logo1-300x225I write about the Drake House each year and their ice cream festival. We don’t often promote events here on Roots but this is one that’s unique and supports a cause worthy of getting behind.

The Drake House is a Roswell-based charity that provides transitional housing to homeless women and their families. I wrote about them in more detail in this space two years ago. If you’re not familiar with their work and mission then I encourage you to take a few minutes and read their website at thedrakehouse.org.

Miss Mary’s Ice Cream Crankin’ is the Drake House’s premier fundraising event. Volunteers from the business and faith communities make some amazing homemade ice cream and offer samples. For only $6 you’ll get as much as you care to eat. They’ve also got a handful of other contests for the kids.

The event starts at 2:00 but I always suggest folks get there early. The samples go fast. It also melts quickly in the hot August sun.

Here are the details:

What: 10th Annual Miss Mary’s Ice Cream Crankin’. A fundraiser to benefit The Drake House.
Where: The Roswell Square
When: Sunday August 24 from 2:00 to 4:00
Cost: $6 per person, $20 per family

Advice to a future Alpharetta relo

Alpharetta signMy blog’s name was inspired by a New York Times article, and later a book, about  corporate relos who migrated to Alpharetta by the thousands. So I really enjoy getting emails like the one below as they bring Roots back to its roots, my original theme. And with Joe’s permission, I’ve posted his email below.

Joe writes…

Hi Lee.

My family will be moving from Colorado to the Atlanta area in a few months due to a corporate relo. My job will be in Buckhead right next to the Lindbergh Center MARTA station.

My question is where should we buy a house?

Our budget is $500K and we are used to living in the affluent burbs. Is the commute from Alpharetta to Buckhead too far/difficult to consider? I’ve done a lot of research on the Atlanta metro but still feel lost/confused regarding where to live. We have a four year old son who will be starting Kindergarten next year.
Any advice you give will be greatly appreciated.
What advice do you have for Joe and other future relos to Alpharetta? Leave us a comment.

Alpharetta Restaurant News – August 2014

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

It’s been a quiet month of restaurant news. There’s nothing earth shattering here but let’s report on what we know.

Village Burger logoVillage Burger has opened in Johns Creek on Old Alabama near The Fresh Market. This is the second location for these burger flippers out of Dunwoody Village.

The Revue & News reported this week that local chef Boyd Rose has moved to Roswell’s Ertis Kitchen and Bar. Rose’s resume includes gigs at the former Rainwater, Milton’s and Sip Wine and Tapas.

In south Forsyth look for Pueblos Mexican Cuisine to open in the former Chepe’s location on Mathis Airport Road. Not far away is Senor Quintin Mex-Grill which is now open on Peachtree Parkway just north of Johns Creek. And just a little piece up the road was TPS Pizza. They closed a few weeks ago. I regret not reviewing this eclectic joint.

Back in Alpharetta, First Watch opened Monday. The breakfast/brunch restaurant anchors the small new Twin Oaks shopping center on the corner of Old Milton and North Point. The story here isn’t a new restaurant but rather that someone built a new stripmall, something that hasn’t happened in a very, very long time in this area.

Also now open in Alpharetta is Humble Pie Pizza Company. They took over the Johnny’s location near Taco Mac at Main Street and Windward.

tower burger signRestaurants Coming Soon

South Main Kitchen – Likely the next restaurant to open on this list. Downtown Alpharetta.
Chicken Salad Chick – Also very close to opening on North Point near Guitar Center.
Tower Burger – Officially two years in the making.
Costa Vida - Southwest grill very close to opening near The Collection Forsyth.
The Farmhouse – Coffee and crepe shop opening in Johns Creek.
Dancing Mouth Indian Restaurant - Small little Indian concept coming to Jordan Court near Costco.
Boneheads – Opening on Windward near Sri Krishna Vilas.
Anabelle’s Table – Promising new restaurant on Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth.
Mavrick’s CantinaComing soon to Johns Creek Walk.
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse - Interior demolition has started. Expect an opening near the first of the year.
Made Kitchen and Cocktails – New concept from the Sedgwicks coming to Roswell Street in downtown Alpharetta.
2b Whole European Gluten-Free Bakery - New bakery to open on Milton Avenue in downtown Alpharetta.
Tom and Chee – Near the chicken salad joint on North Point, but a good bit behind them in buildout.

Avalon Restaurant Lineup

Antico / Caffe Gio
Bantam + Biddy
Bantu
Bocado Burgers
Cru Food and Wine Bar
Goldberg’s Bagel Company
Kona Grill
Marlow’s Tavern
Oak Steakhouse
Ted’s Montana Grill

What to eat on opening day at Avalon

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

I stopped following the Avalon restaurant lineup a few years ago. It became tough to keep up as the lineup changed. Their PR machine would often blur the lines between a new restaurant announcement with rumor and hype. And I’ll admit, at times the back story of how Avalon itself came to fruition turned me off.

Nevertheless the lineup is complete for phase one and praise is most certainly due to this fine collection of eateries. And with an opening date of October 30th, these restaurants will open sooner than some on my restaurant news coming soon list.

Before I get into my first choices, let’s say a little about the October 30th opening date. I’ve seen how hard it is for a single restaurant to hit a promised opening date. There’s a lot to get right, from the construction to permits, inspections, etc. Then there’s the liquor licenses, something I’ve yet to see for many Avalon restaurants. It’s crazy ambitious to schedule a single opening date for this many restaurants and shops, a logistical challenge many don’t comprehend. Serious props are due to Avalon if they can pull it off!

Bocado logoHere are the joints I’d like to try first. We’ll also comment on their location within the project, something very important to the success of a restaurant in a mixed-use development.

Bocado Burger – We spend a lot of time talking burgers here. Bocado’s restaurant in the Westside area of Atlanta isn’t a burger joint, yet their burger is often mentioned as one of the best in all of Atlanta. So they want to open a burger-only joint in Alpharetta? Count me in. I’ll probably make a beeline here on opening day. And their outparcel location makes it easier for car lovers like me to get to as well.

I’m surprised no one has tried a ramen noodle concept in the burbs. Bantu at Avalon will be the first and I can’t wait to try. This is a fast-casual Asian concept that’ll be a bit tucked away in the site plan. But you should seek it out.

If the kids are with me I’m likely to try Bantam+Biddy. Their menu features a meat and two veggie style as well as having rotisserie chicken. And I see duck fat fries on the menu. Oh my.

Restaurants located near the movie theater will always be successful. That formula has proven to be true at The Collection Forsyth as even mediocre joints thrive when movie goers can walk there. I love Antico’s location and the idea that I can get a fast, delicious pizza and not miss the opening trailers. Kona Grill, the chain’s first location in Georgia, will also benefit from this proximity. Marlow’s Tavern is also in a great location as well but we in Alpharetta are certainly used to this joint. And we expect Goldberg’s to benefit from overflow restaurant crowds by the theater.

Frozen yogurt seller Pinkberry will be in a street median. I’m not a fan of fro-yo but their offerings are usually considered a notch above the competition. It’s worth a try. Also in the median will be Cru Wine Bar.

My first date night visit might include dinner at The El Felix, a Tex-Mex concept from Ford Fry. It’s around the corner from just about everything else. I might consider Oak Steakhouse even though their location seems almost like an afterthought. They’ll be practically in the townhomes on the west side of Avalon.

And finally, how will a mass opening of several very good restaurants effect Alpharetta’s current restaurant scene? I won’t say who but several restauranteurs have quietly expressed to me their concern for the increased competition Avalon will create. There’s no doubt that in the short term, say three months, business will suffer for these guys. Yet in the long run, rising tides will lift all boats. Between Avalon and a budding new downtown restaurant scene, Alpharetta is finally becoming a restaurant destination. Everyone will benefit.

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