What's cooking this week? 

Hunger Walk 2010Atlanta restaurant teams put a heaping helping of dough -- the green kind -- in the HungerWalk 2010 fundraising pot.  To date, the event has raised more than $159,000 toward alleviating hunger in the Atlanta area.  Fifth Group Restaurants led the pack as one of the top money raisers, bringing in more than $20,000!  Other restaurant and foodie groups spicing it up include Marlow's Tavern, $6,695; JCT. Kitchen & Bar, $1,004; The Cook's Warehouse, $1,640; and Aqua blue, $1,157!  In addition to the monetary donations, Marlow's Tavern and Aqua blue donated canned food items to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.  Our own Team mmmmmmmMLA raised $875, and we had an exhilarating afternoon walking through downtown Atlanta.  Donations will be accepted through March 31, so you can still add your green stuff to this appetizing cause!


Maki MadnessRA Sushi recently held the much-anticipated Maki Madness competition this past Sunday, March 21 and named Patrick Dogan as the winner!   After four rounds of sushi face-stuffing, Dogan dominated the competition and took home the first place prize of free sushi for a year.  Second place winner Lubin An received a $100 gift certificate; third place winner Brian Gillard received a $50 gift certificate; and fourth place winner Tyler Preston received a $25 gift certificate.  The fierce competition made for an exciting showdown and helped raise money for Bert's Big Adventure.

RA Sushi:  1080 Peachtree Street at 1010 Midtown; 404-267-0114.

$25 buys $55 at Repast this week on MyDailyThread -- and perhaps a free bottle of wine


RepastQuick!  Grab a hold of MyDailyThread before midnight Tuesday, March 23 and snatch up $55 worth of dining at Repast for only $25!  When 100 people purchase the deal, everyone gets a complimentary bottle of house wine with the purchase of two Japanese fried chicken specials on Japanese fried chicken night held each Monday.  Nothing like double-dipping:  this also is a Flavors of Atlanta deal, so MyDailyThread partakers can donate to the American Liver Foundation when completing their purchase. 


AriaAria raises the bar area to dinner deal status by giving guests 20 percent off their food tab when they dine at the bar -- any day of the week from open 'til close.  Tucked away behind a silver-beaded curtain, Aria's softly lit lounge area is intimate yet friendly, making it an ideal spot to relax with a glass of wine or a well-crafted cocktail and delicious appetizers and entrées.  "Catch a break at the bar" and table the notion that dinner must be savored in a dining room.
Aria:  490 East Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead; 404-233-7673.
cypressEarth Hour starts at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Saturday, March 27 for all of us in Atlanta.  By then, the "wave" of lights going off for an hour will have traveled half way around the world.  Last year, lights went off in Sydney's famed Opera House, Beijing's Bird's Nest, St. Peter's Basilica, the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Eiffel Tower, Beg Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London, the Empire State Building and Broadway theater marquees, the Golden Gate Bridge and Seattle's Space Needle.  Earth Hour is in its third year of shedding light on energy consumption and pollution.  Didn't want to keep you in the dark about it!


Bayou BurgerGood times are always rolling through the six Marlow's Tavern locations around Atlanta.  Bayou 'n Bourbon, Marlow's rollicking Mardi Gras season special menu, however, rolls back to the bayou on Monday, March 29.  Even if you're swamped at work, squeeze in an hour or two to imbibe in a Cajun Cosmo, Ramos Gin Fizz, Abita Jockamo IPA or Marlow's Sazerac -- a New Orleans classic made with Sazerac rye whiskey and Obsello absinthe ($4-9).  When you're hungry as a gator, go for Louisiana fare such as roast chicken and shrimp gumbo; a fiery crawfish fondue with crispy pita chips; "N.O. style" po' boy; the bayou burger on which an andouille sausage and fresh ground beef burger basks under cheddar, craw daddies, house-made Creole mustard, lettuce, tomato and red onion; pecan-crusted trout; deconstructed jambalaya with dirty rice; or the sweet Bourbon Street ribeye, blackened and glazed with Maker's Mark and served with thin asparagus and a crispy sweet potato cake ($6-$25).  Dessert drenches honey and vanilla crème brûlée and ciabatta with Maker's Mark for a tipsy honey bourbon bread pudding ($6).  Roll us in for one more round!


During Bayou 'n Bourbon, Marlow's Tavern guests can add a donation to their check to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB).  With every donation of $1 or more, guests will receive a bounce back card for $5 off their next Marlow's Tavern purchase of $15 or more. 


Marlow's Tavern:  Alpharetta at 3719 Old Alabama Road, 770-475-1800; Kennesaw at 745 Chastain Road, NW, 770-425-8777; Midtown at 950 West Peachtree Street, 404-815-0323; Vinings at 2355 Cumberland Parkway, 770-432-2526; Northlake at 4156 LaVista Road, 678-987-1197; and Duluth at 1950 Satellite Boulevard, 770-622-2033.


Easter is April 4.  Follow our yummy hints and ease your hunt for gourmet chocolates to fill Easter baskets and sumptuous brunches to mark this special springtime holiday.
Aqua blue  is planning an incredible brunch spread this Easter that's a short hop for Roswell residents and those outside the perimeter.  From traditional items like eggs Benedict and French toast to smoked salmon and sushi, this savory selection covers it all.  $29.95 for adults; $9.95 for children ages four to 12; free for children under the age of four.  Easter brunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (1564 Holcomb Bridge Road; 770-643-8886)

The doors at La Tavola Trattoria in the heart of Virginia Highland will open an hour early at 10 a.m. for an Easter feast that lasts until 3 p.m.  Refreshing starters include an array of salads, bruschetta and an antipasti platter of meats and cheeses ($5.95-$13.95).  Easter entrées go from sweet to savory with dishes such as house-made challah French toast, chicken sausage, ricotta and lemon ravioli and a smoked salmon crostini ($7.95-$14.95).  (992 Virginia Avenue, NE; 404-873-5430) 

LW ChocolatierLook to LW Chocolatier for the sweetest Easter gifts -- luxurious chocolates hand decorated by master chocolatiers.  Lucky for us, the first U.S. location is easy to find in the heart of Buckhead so you can find high-quality chocolate bunnies, chicks and eggs filled with dulce de leche, strawberry, lemon, orange and other fillings ($4 to $50). Open Monday from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.  (One Buckhead Plaza at 3060 Peachtree Road, NW, Suite 40; 404-467-8503) 

In Midtown, Pacci Ristorante and AltoRex Rooftop Lounge are offering delectables and delightful fun.  Executive Chef Keira Moritz is whipping up a spring brunch buffet menu with dishes like deviled eggs, crab fondue, cheese grits, pesto squash casserole and an assortment of pastries.  The buffet is available from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $22 for adults, $12 for kids ages six to 12 and free for children under the age of six.  Upstairs, AltoRex Rooftop Lounge is busily hiding eggs for both a family and an adult egg hunt.  Families can find fun prizes for kids during the 5 - 7 p.m. hunt.  Later that night from 9 - 11 p.m., adults will find prizes like gift certificates, AltoRex cocktail party packages, drink tickets and appetizer tickets.  (866 West Peachtree Street, NW, adjacent to the Hotel Palomar; 678-412-2402)

South City KitchenSouthern favorites top the Easter menu at both South City Kitchen locations.  Start off with tantalizing first flavors including chocolate muffins, fried green tomatoes and sautéed chicken livers.  Hearty brunch specialties such as country frittata, peach "French toast" pudding, Southern-style eggs Benedict and crab hash come next ($10.75-$17.75).  Gotta-have-it regulars will find some of their favorites on the menu, including the famous buttermilk fried chicken and pan-fried mountain trout ($14.50-$19.95).  South City Kitchen Vinings will serve the Easter menu from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. (1675 Cumberland Parkway; 770-435-0700); South City Kitchen Midtown will serve the special brunch menu from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  (1144 Crescent Avenue; 404-873-7358)


Ray's Restaurants will have two locations open on Easter.  From 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Ray's on the River will offer a holiday brunch; $35 for adults and $17 for children 10 and under (6700 Powers Ferry Road, NW; 770-955-1187).  Ray's Killer Creek will serve a special Easter brunch from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; $30 for adults and $15 for children 10 and under.  (1700 Mansell Road; 770-649-0064)

Uncle Julio's
Easter also is celebrated in Mexico, giving Uncle Julio's Fine Mexican Food a double reason to honor the day with brunch on Saturday and Sunday.  The good uncle's brunch menu is loaded with border favorites of breakfast tacos, brunch quesadillas, classic huevos rancheros and chilaquiles.  Add savory sides of applewood smoked bacon, brunch potatoes, seasonal fruit and beans (frijoles a la charra, refried or black beans).  Kids love their menu featuring egg tacos and quesadillas served with a cup of fruit.  Adults can add Uncle Julio's cool cocktails to their day, including a Bloody Mary, Salty Juanita, Chispas and Gran Mimosa.  Brunch and regular menus available during weekend brunch, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.  (Buckhead:  1860 Peachtree Road, NW; 404-350-6767.  Sandy Springs:  1140 Hammond Drive, NE, Building K, Suite 100; 678-736-8260.)


Those looking for breathtaking views and picture-perfect backgrounds can jaunt up to Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery for Easter Sunday brunch.  On the menu:  seafood gumbo, seared Scarlett snapper, Southern fried chicken, maple-glazed ham, leg of lamb with mint Dijon sauce and much more.  Seatings are at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.; $30 for adults, $15 for kids ages six to 12; free for kids five and under (plus tax and gratuity).  (180 Wolf Mountain Trail in Dahlonega.  Meal reservations are a must: 706-867-9862.)



Ray's RestaurantsThe chefs at Ray's Restaurants (Ray's on the River, Ray's in the City and Ray's Killer Creek) are so thrilled that spring is finally here that they've created a $35 three-course menu that shows off spring's freshest ingredients such as grilled Vidalia onions, fresh oysters from the Gulf of Mexico and succulent south Louisiana crawfish tails.  Choose a first course of lobster spring rolls, fried oyster Caesar salad and Cajun-spiced beef tataki.  Enticing entrée options include potato gnocchi with crawfish tails, chanterelle mushrooms and grilled spring Vidalia onions; grilled organic chicken breast with red onion vinaigrette, toasted Israeli couscous and grilled asparagus; and blackened shrimp fettuccini with spring vegetables and basil-mascarpone cream.  At Ray's Killer Creek, beef lovers also will find a 6 oz. filet or 12 oz. New York strip on the menu.  Come to a sweet conclusion with Key lime pie, crème brûlée or chocolate cake.  Wine is not included in the menu price, but glass and bottle wine pairing suggestions are given on the menu for your sipping pleasure. 


Ray's on the River:  6700 Powers Ferry Road; 770-955-1187. 
Ray's Killer Creek:  1700 Mansell Road, Alpharetta; 770-649-0064.

Ray's in the City:  240 Peachtree Street, NW; 404-524-9224.



High Museum

Honk if you love fine wine and classy cars.  One of Atlanta's most popular springtime events, the 18th Annual High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction, pulls into Atlantic Station this weekend.  The nationally ranked wine auction is surrounded by a fleet of exciting food and wine events -- and happens to coincide with the March opening of The Allure of the Automobile exhibition at the High Museum of Art!  Wine Auction activities rev up March 25 - 27 and include events at The Cook's Warehouse - Midtown and The St. Regis Atlanta, winemaker dinners, wine seminars, the Beep Beep, Beep Beep, Yeah!:  Vintners' Cup Golf Tournament at Eastlake Golf Club and the blow-out Vintners' Reception and Wine Auction.  Pacci Ristorante, Spice Market and Toulouse are Dine Around Dinner destinations on March 25.  Aqua blue, Aria, JCT. Kitchen & Bar and Woodfire Grill also are participating in the weekend's big plans. 
Yelper Yelper Lauren S. took a look at Young Augustine's now that it has recently reopened with a fresh new name in Grant Park.  It looks like her recent visit uncovered improvements that will encourage her to make this gastropub her home away from home!

Better than the Standard? You bet.

(1) No more smoking. This makes my lungs happy.
(2) Better food. I ordered the hanger steak with fries. Sounds dicey, ordering a steak at a bar. But my steak was well cooked, a perfect medium. The fries were delightful. Crispy on the outside and hot on the inside, cooked in duck fat for that extra "oomph". The accompanying arugula salad had a light olive oil & parmesan dressing.
(3) The service. It's slightly more attentive. Not that it wasn't good before, but well...it's great now. We sat at the bar and never had to flag the bartender down, despite finding out later they were two people short that night.

I'll be making the trip over here more often, thanks to these improvements.

Young Augustine's: 327 Memorial Drive; 404-681-3344.

Tweep of the Week
Skirt! ATL - that big, beautiful freebie news-zine devoted to women- is now on the web, on Facebook, blogs on Skirt!setter and Tweets to boot.  Sixteen years ago, way back in 1994, this monthly magazine hit stands in Charleston and Columbia, S.C.  Gals can now scoop up Skirt! in those Southern charmers as well as in Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte and all the way to San Francisco.  Sites and tweets are city specific, which streamlines your day if you're in town and works as a go-to if you're traveling to a Skirt! city.
Sample Tweet:
A BIG bridal bar event this weekend. Kind of a cool concept. You go on a luxury wknd to help plan the wedding. http://bit.ly/91l2VO
Looking for the latest restaurant opening, weekly wine tastings and drink specials, or other culinary happenings? Whatever makes your mouth water, Melissa Libby & Associates will point you in the right direction. Our monthly calendar, blog, flickr, Facebook page and Twitter feed will keep you up-to-date on new and ongoing restaurant events around Atlanta.
Melissa Libby & Associates is an Atlanta-based public relations firm specializing in the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries.
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