Behind a paywall, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jenny Turknett gives two stars to VirginiaHighland's Bar Meatball. Turknett gives co-owners and cousins Joey Masi and Joe Federici credit for inventiveness: "At Bar Meatball, you are the master of design, inventing your own plate from a list of sauces, meatballs, breads and sides that provide a seemingly limitless number of potential combinations." She praises the chicken and rosemary meatballs with arugula-walnut pesto and the tomato-basil sauce with other heartier meatballs, but notes that with so many options, the right pairing is key to a good experience.
Creative Loafing's Cliff Bostock eats at Sweet Auburn Barbecue in Poncey-Highland and finds that Howard Hsu's restaurant is still experiencing growing pains after two months of business. Good marks for most of the food itself, but confused service and some room-temperature plates lead to an existential question: What is a diner's proper response to a lacking experience?
I felt like the most annoying diner alive at Sweet Auburn. Many thanks to Shawn for not strangling me and maintaining a sense of humor. I'm guessing that adapting to a full-service operation is difficult after a few years of employing counter service only at Hsu's other operations. Still, after two months, things should be worked out and, yes, I've heard similar complaints from other friends.
In the most recent issue of paper-only guide Knife & Fork, Christiane Lauterbach drops the following reviews: two stars for Ration & Dram ("will earn your loyalty and [stay] on your mind"), a demotion to two stars for Empire State South under Josh Hopkins's rule, three stars for "mostly Colombian" restaurant La Carreta ("soulful and delicious"), two stars for Big Sky (skip dinner, go for weekend lunch), and two and a half stars for Bar Meatball (try the meatball sliders for variety; don't miss the baked pappardelle lasagna or zeppoles).
She also chooses this issue — put out in May but titled "January 2014" — to detail her best of 2013. Here's the list, which also features a couple 2014 newcomers: Better Half, BoccaLupo, Chai Pani, Cinco y Diez, Gunshow, Kimball House, King + Duke, Sobban, St. Cecilia, Umi. She also honors Paper Plane, Stem, Argosy, Don Antonio, Jeni's, Ssam Burger, Pallokaville, Al-Amin, Chocolate South, Storico Fresco, Preserving Place, and The Imperial.
THE ELSEWHERE AND THE BLOGS: Zagat takes a first look at Lusca, and Jason Zygmont, executive chef at Five & Ten in Athens, runs through the menu and determines that tattooed hipsters will soon be migrating from East Atlanta to Buckhead. Eat it, Atlanta can't wait to return to Batavia and enjoys the oyster po' boy, muffaletta, and smoked fish dip at AJ's Famous Seafood and PoBoys. Marie, Let's Eat samples much-better-than-expected airport fare from Atlanta Chophouse, Ecco, The Original El Taco, The Pecan Bistro, and The Varsity at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Creative Loafing declares the braised oxtails and lobster shrimp and grits at Negril Village must-trys.
· All Week in Reviews Coverage [-EATL-]