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Grazing: Who's your Daddy?

Grant Park barbecue revisited, and some news around town

I'm not one for fetishizing barbecue. Indeed, I've theorized before that were it not a passion of ordinary Southern men, barbecue would not be the subject of so many weepy, nostalgic stories.

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So I thought it was cool that PBA/Channel 30, Atlanta's PBS station, aired a special on Atlanta barbecue last week, "Kissed by Fire," that was narrated and written by women. I didn't catch the special, so I don't know if the women took up the subject of Southern patriarchy and 'cue. But, dammit, they should have. I'm sure you agree that a feminist critique of barbecue culture is long overdue.

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Among "Kissed by Fire's" featured restaurants was Daddy D'z (264 Memorial Drive, 404-222-0206), which is in my Grant Park neighborhood and one of my default dining choices on those nights I'm not up for reviewing. It was, naturally, my choice for July 4 dinner. Well, thanks to the TV special, the place was slammed, and was out of the big, messy ribs I love. In fact, when I returned the next day, they had once again run out!

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If you haven't visited Daddy D'z, it is absolutely one of the most eccentric joints in our city. There's politically incorrect sign "art" atop the ramshackle building: A pig declares that it's "Dyin' for Daddy D'z." Inside, the black walls are covered with deserved rave reviews and sundry retro signs. A huge wide-screen TV hypnotizes some of the clientele. Blues bands of varying quality play there on weekends. If you ever need to find a cop, go to Daddy D'z. There's usually a gaggle of them.

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Owner Ron Newman's menu is superior to the average barbecue joint in part because the sides are so good — something I don't find true elsewhere. The collards are filled with big chunks of smoked pork. Candied yams could be dessert. The corn bread is amazing — butter-soaked and sweet, yet crumbly. The browned potatoes are cut thick and served crisp. Lately, I've been addicted to the Brunswick stew — one of the best versions intown.

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Chopped pork is my recent favorite after ribs, but I've often ordered the chicken, too. There's also smoked turkey and chopped beef. The red velvet cake, made by a home cook, is just plain amazingly good.

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The staff — led by Will Robbins, who does much of the cooking, and Suzanne Alexander — are part of what makes the restaurant so congenial. Except for only supplying flimsy plastic forks and knives, Newman is the perfect host. Hey, when I backed into a car and knocked out its taillight in the parking lot, he loaned me $50 to get the panic-stricken man out of my life.

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Here and there

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Here's a don't-miss dinner: To celebrate his 20th year in Atlanta, chef Michael Tuohy will prepare a five-course prix-fixe tasting menu featuring tomatoes Wed.-Thurs., July 19-20, at Woodfire Grill. Your $75 includes wine pairings and a nice charitable feeling because a portion of your meal's cost will be donated to Slow Food Atlanta. Call 404-347-9055. ...

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If tomatoes aren't your thing, climb into BED with the Big Gay Supper Club on July 25 at 7 p.m. "BED boasts a different approach to dining by offering their guests — as you might guess — beds where you can eat, drink, and be Mary," writes host Matt Rupert with a straight face. Oy. Consult BigGaySupperClub.com to make a reservation. ...

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The award for understated regrets of the year goes to Bob Amick, owner of One Midtown Kitchen. On announcing the departure of chef Richard Blais to South Beach Miami to work as creative director for the culinary department of Barton G., a design company that also operates Barton G. the Restaurant, Amick said: "We are sad to see Richard leave Atlanta but know that he will make a creative impression on the dining industry in South Beach."

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Well, I'd like to see a little more wrist-slashing. Blais, by far the most creative chef in our city, has gotten better and better at his mind-boggling take on so-called molecular cuisine. I predicted a few years ago that he wouldn't last long in Atlanta and I'm sorry I was right, though he lasted longer than I expected. ...

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Speaking of sucky staff changes, Drew Van Leuvan, who left Toast for Spice, has quit the latter, which was recently sold and is undergoing remodeling. Some are speculating Leuvan will replace Blais at One. Meanwhile, Marvin Woods is scheduled to take over the Spice kitchen. ...

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Attention, Shirley Franklin! The city of Chicago has outlawed the sale of foie gras, as has the state of California (although its law does not become effective for six years). Please, Mayor Franklin, jump on this bandwagon before Atlanta, where you can't go to a bar on Sunday, looks backward. (And, by the way, why is Chicago, a city long known as the nation's hog butcher, gone sentimental about geese but not piggies?) ...

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Speaking of foie gras: If you can't get to Cyprus or On the Verandah in Highlands, try Paoletti's and order the foie gras appetizer — a huge portion compared to the usual serving. Of course, you should also plan to spend a zillion dollars at the New York Italian-style restaurant. ...

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More on barbecue: Get out your grass skirt, ukulele and Spam T-shirt and head to the new Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ (2160 Briarcliff Road, 404-638-1115). This is apparently the first location of the operation outside California. Among the variety of meats is Spam, as in "Spam-fried rice" and "Spam ramen." I'll let you know. ...

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As it happens, I recently stopped at Fat Matt's and ordered ribs. They were lean and bone-lickable. I don't get it. The last time I stopped there, the ribs were huge, fatty things. By the way, the restaurant declined being featured in the "Kissed by Fire" special, according to rumor, because it didn't want its already huge business to double-up over the July 4 holiday.

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cliff.bostock@creativeloafing.com



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