Celebrated food writer Alan Richman, winner of 14 James Beard Awards, named his picks for America's 25 outstanding restaurants in the March issue of GQ Magazine, and two local newcomers made the cut. Lusca and Spice to Table are on Richman's list.
Lusca, which opened in Brookwood Hills last April and is a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant, comes from local late-night kings Angus Brown and Nhan Le. With its seafood and pastas, Richman said the restaurant offers "stunningly sophisticated" cooking:
Try the massive tortellini en brodo, and consider that this might be the year of tortellini. (See Alimento, above.) Stuffed with finely ground charcuterie trimmings and served in a reduced chicken broth, they're so rich you might wonder if you can handle more than one. Then order the pumpkin swordfish and the hand-torn potatoes-spuds are baked in a salt crust, cooled, dried, shredded, deep-fried, and topped with Parmesan and parsley. They deserve a wall painting of their own.
As for Spice to Table, former Cardamom Hill chef/owner Asha Gomez opened the small "Indian patisserie" in Old Fourth Ward's Studioplex in August. Richman praised Gomez's ability to elevate simple, self-service food:
Chef Asha Gomez is highly respected. Self-service food is not. Here they meet in an informal, expansive, serene Indian dining spot. Gomez's accents are brilliant: fruit salad with coriander vinaigrette, vegetable stew in coconut-milk broth. But the star of the self-service line is the Kerala Beef Cutlet: It looks like a burger, tastes like meat loaf, acts like a barbecue sandwich, and proves that ready-to-eat is now easy to admire.
In addition to serving at Spice to Table, Gomez is working on her first cookbook and will soon open Spice Road Chicken inside Krog Street Market.