The James Beard Awards have become the Oscars of the restaurant world in the 30 years the foodie world has doled them out. Atlanta typically fares pretty good — at least in the nominations phase. This year is no exception.
Staplehouse in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward was nominated for Best New Restaurant. I’ve eaten there, although not for a regular review. I was with friends who did all the paying and ordering. It was amazingly well-cooked food, and some of it was healthy if not quite low fat .
For example, a dish of roasted mushrooms, farro piccolo, sunflower and egg was earthy and filling in that way that whole grains are. (A half cup of uncooked farro is 170 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 6 of protein.) But it managed to taste rich and decadent at the same time, thanks to the oozy egg. Our table liked it so much that the host ordered a second. It is still on the constantly changing menu. Most of the rest of what we consumed that night is not, but it was all good.
Among the others mentioned, here’s what I can tell you
- Robert Alexander of The General Muir was nominated for baking. On my one visit, the bread was great — especially on the best corned beef or Reuben sandwich in the city. Diet? Who knows?
- Bacchanalia got a nod for best service, and that certainly was my experience there.
- Among those mentioned for Best Chef: Southeast was Kevin Gillespie of Gunshow. His food is great, but it was hell on the diet because it’s hard to order carefully. Dishes come out of the kitchen and are offered to diners in the style of Chinese dim sum.
- Also mentioned for Best Chef: Southeast was Billy Allin of Cakes & Ale in Decatur. I found the kitchen unhelpful with special requests, but that was 2011. Perhaps things have changed.
The nominees will be narrowed to finalists March 15 with winners announced May 2, according to ajc.com.