dressing on the side

an exploration of food and fashion

a trip down transmet lane

Last Sunday I took a mini trip to Athens, Georgia to interview Brian Colantuno, friend and owner of local pizza joint, Transmetropolitan.  Having worked at Transmet during my time in Athens, I was excited to get a little dose of nostalgia, Transmet’s killer pizza, as well as new facts about old friends.  Here’s what I dug up:

Brian smiled as he told me that he has worked in pizza for over twenty years.  He got his start at the end of ‘92 as a dishwasher at Fellini’s here in Atlanta.  Things were just starting to emerge in Atlanta and Fellini’s was a place of community, punk rock, and good pizza.  In ‘99 he and Wes Russo decided to make a pizza joint of their own.  When he told me that their original idea was a pizza and burrito place I couldn’t help but giggle.  He believed that there was not enough good pizza or burrito joints around and they were confident that people would flock.  But as ideas move and change so did he and Russo.

They moved into a boarded up building on East Clayton Street in Athens, Georgia where they lived for 2 1/2 years.  But these years didn’t just consist of late nights and rock shows but of gutting the entire building and rebuilding it from the ground up.  I took a sip of my beer and became more and more intrigued.  On September 1st, Transmetropolitan Downtown opened it’s doors and was very successful.  They had scratched out burritos and added sandwiches to their menu.  They kept the community feel that they had grown to love at Fellini’s with counter service and added a full bar upstairs.  There were even photos of Shane Macgowan tucked around the bar that would get you a free drink if you spot one.  It was then in our conversation that I remembered Transmet’s name was inspired by The Pogues.  Going transmetropolitan, yip-ay-aye indeed.

And after trials, errors, and awesome success, the duo opened Transmetropilitan Westside - a more proper version of the Transmet locals had grown to know and love.  The Westside came complete with table service, an open kitchen, and a quiet patio.  The Westside was actually were I worked and it’s when I started to really get to know the food.  Brian is confident in what Transmet serves as well he should be.  They make dough from scratch, cut the veggies, and make everything fresh to order.  The options are impressive and dishes range from a good ol’ slice of traditional pizza to Sicilian pie to pasta plates and sammies.  One amazing thing about the food there is no matter how many shifts I worked I was pleased and excited to sit down to some Transmet food.  And I was thrilled to have Brian order a slice as we talked.

And while he smirked at the end of our conversation that he’d never do it again, I’m sure glad he did.  But Brian adores what he does and it shows.  It was then his daughter Sophia (one of my favorite humans) walked over.  I got a few words in with her as well:

Me - So Soph, how cool is your dad?

Soph - Good.

Me - I think it’s so neat that your face is on the pizza box?

Soph - I wish it was me and dad.

Me - What’s your favorite thing to eat here?

Soph - Pizza and bread.

Brian - We sneak some spinach and garlic on her slices to get in her veggies.

And as Soph kissed us both on the cheek and continued her shenanigans around the restaurant the surge of nostalgia I mentioned earlier came.  Transmet’s just an all around good place.

And to bring this Athens installment to a close I asked Brian about a few of his favorite restaurants in the ATL to which he responded Harry and Sons, Soul Vegetarian, El Myr, and Ria’s two restaurants, Bluebird and Sauced (Ria and his brother used to run the town).

So endless thanks to Brian and I highly suggest you make a trip to Athens soon.  See you next week.

B

the branded butcher by way of greg collins

So this week I handed the fork over to my good friend, Greg Collins, guru of all things pen and fork.  In particular, he has written regularly for Athens Food & Culture and is now a manager at new pizza hot-spot, Ted’s Most Best.  Ready?

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There couldn’t possibly be a better way to kick-off the Athens installment of this here blog than to recount for you good people this journalist’s experiences at the college-town’s newest and most highly anticipated fine-dining establishment, The Branded Butcher.

The ‘Butcher is a joint venture of the young and already quite successful turks who opened Pauley’s, a crepe restaurant on Clayton Avenue that quickly became a popular hang for the greek crowd. This time the focus was on creating an organic, sustainable, farm-to-table affair in the heart of Athens bustling downtown, next to the legendary, newly refurbished and reopened Georgia Theatre.

Chef Matt Palmerlee sat down with me on a sunny afternoon to let me try out a few of the Butcher’s offerings and to discuss the new place. The building had most recently housed a failed attempt at some sort of tapas and wine place. When it became apparent that it was on its way out, the owners at Pauley’s approached then-Farm 255 Head Chef, Palmerlee with the news that they’d been given first option on the property. Looking for a change, Matt began discussing things and formulating his plans for the restaurant. The result was that the semi-ancient building was entirely gutted and overhauled to be his “home-court” so to speak.

It’s sure to come as a surprise to most readers outside of Athens that the small town has developed, over the past decade, an increasingly lauded food culture. Matt Palmerlee had worked his way up through the ranks of this environment and had always excelled. Before opening the Butcher, Palmerlee had spent the better part of his off-time from Farm 255 working with a group of friends whose once-casual dinner parties had evolved into a big deal, eventually leading to a TV deal. Pilots were shot and aired. Close friends began to get ready to see their friends become famous food stars. Ahh, but what happens? In the high-ego world of fine-dining, somehow there was a breakdown. Factions arose, shady dealings had light cast upon them, it’s not something Palmerlee feels comfortable talking about even off the record.

Point being: the opportunity the Butcher provided was the perfect thing at the perfect time for Matt, and he was visibly excited when we ate and talked.

Although it is quite possible to “blow-it-out” at the ‘Butcher, the menu offers many tastes that groups can share and sample for a reasonable price. There’s a whole ‘Charcuterie’ section of the menu and we sample some items from that list. 

I highly recommend the Porchetta de Testa, a refreshingly light dish that features meat from the neck and head of the pig, rolled and roasted whole, thinly sliced with arugula, radish, lemon zest, olives and parmesan. Delightfully light yet complex, this dish is “on the one.”

For sure, the Pig figures prominently at the Butcher. I got to try the white cheddar / jalapeno Bratwursts that has just been prepared for the weekend’s special. Served over fingerling potatoes and topped with house-made sauerkraut, these brats were also Winners.

Later on in the weekend, a few of us ended up back at the Branded Butcher for supper and I got to try more of the menu. Originally thinking I’d only be meeting two or three folks, after convening at the restaurant’s hip yet traditional, craft-cocktail-type bar, I found myself at a table with eight other folks, and we used the opportunity to try as many things as possible.

Without a doubt a must-have is the Branded Butcher’s Scotch Egg, which was a crowd favorite. The Butcher also offers fresh Oysters and Mussels for those who feel like something lighter than the Steak Frites served with whipped Marrow. You heard me right.

In the end, the Branded Butcher isn’t really doing anything new. What they are doing is reintroducing a level of craft and care, and using good product to create a highly complex and delicious, very satisfying food experience.

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And look folks - he knows how to dress too.

brittany joyce

So a big thanks to Matt and Greg!  Friday, we’ll continue the Athens installment with an interview with Sir Brian Colantuno, owner of Athens’ beloved pizza joint, Transmetropolitan.

B

hello from the corner of highland and sampson (again) - highland bakery

It seems like this is my favorite corner in Atlanta lately but there’s nothing wrong with that - especially when it houses Highland Bakery too.  I’d heard about Highland Bakery long before my move to Atlanta but the two of us took it pretty slow.  I’d stop in for a muffin here and there but I didn’t sit down to enjoy a meal until about a month ago.  This was my second trip and I can officially say that I am addicted.  Be sure to start your meal with a cinnamon roll.

We moved from the cinnamon roll to a breakfast sammie (egg and cheese on jalapeno focaccia).  Their jalapeno focaccia is amazing and really makes the sandwich.  All of the breads are made in house, whole grain, and chemical free after all.  To add to our starchy morning, we paired the sandwich with a side of perfectly seasoned breakfast potatoes.

We also ordered the Cowboy Benedict which consisted of two quesadillas, seasoned black beans, poached eggs, and Hollandaise with a spicy corn relish.  I love different veggie takes on the benedict and this one was creative and delicious (not to mention the eggs were poached to perfection).

And despite the heavy food, Highland Bakery has a light and cheerful atmosphere.  From the exposed brick to the teal accents to the rotating cast of whimsical paintings, it’s an uplifting environment to enjoy your morning, breakfast, lunch, or bread.  They also have a to-go bakery located in the front and though I was almost dragging my sandals due to how full I was, it was difficult to walk by the cases of cupcakes and pretty pastries without stopping.

I wore a floral top with a high-waisted navy skirt and a pair of simple sandals.  It was perfect for a Friday brunch on a warm spring day.  There was actually a lot of floral at the bakery this morning.  I saw some graduation hats too (hey, congrats grads!).

I’m excited to share with you that on Tuesday my dear foodie friend, Greg Collins, will be guest blogging so stay hungry!

B

it’s taco night @ across the street

I’m sure you’re feeling the vacation bug like I am but take comfort in knowing that you can just walk across the street to Across the Street - a fabulous little Mexican joint in the Old Fourth Ward.  Here you can grab one of the best margaritas in town (I recommend the Seabreezarita as silly as it may sound), take a seat on the breezy patio, and well, kick back.

One thing that impresses me about Across the Street is their wide range of veggie options.  Almost everything on the colorful menu can be made veggie with options such as tempeh, tofu, and TVP.  We ordered the Chipotle Shrimp (sub tempeh) Tacos as well as the The Best Fish (sub fried tofu) Tacos.  The chipotle tacos were topped with creamy queso blanco, american cheese, mango salsa, shredded lettuce and queso fresco.

The Best Fish Tacos (they aren’t exaggerating) is topped with jalapeno tartar sauce, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and queso fresco.  Another thing I like about Across the street is their attention to detail.  The ingrediants are fresh the menu rotates seasonally.  Drooling yet?

The interior of Across the Street is another example of their attention to detail.  The place is super breezy, clean, and easy going.  The crisp white table clothes, soft candles, and teal napkins help to create an environment where it’s hard to not take a deep breath and smile.

We usually pick a spot on the patio (rather the little bar area that opens up to the patio).  It’s the perfect mix of casual and swanky.

I broke out my Nanette Lepore corset dress which fit in with it’s structured but whimsical feel.  I recommend dressing like you’re on vacation (as well as daydreaming it).

So pack your suitcase and happy eating - I’ll see you Friday.

B

mediterranean grill (falafel please)

I’ve been hearing yummy things about Mediterranean Grill since my move to Atlanta.  I’ve also been on a search for the best falafel (an on-going life search really).  But every time I crave falafel I wander over to Ali Baba in Little Five, find a quiet corner, and chow down.  This time I finally tried Med Grill.

It was a Friday night and it was super quiet besides a few yoga mums picking up dinner.  At the same time that it was quiet, you could also feel that the place was loved.  We started with a Greek Salad and a side of falafel.  The Greek Salad was fresh all the way to the feta and their Greek vinaigrette was delicious.

And speaking of dressings, Med Grill’s Tzasiki was the best I’ve had in a while.  As for the falafel, we may have a winner folks.  It was spiced perfectly as well as clear that it was made in house and with love.

We also ordered the falafel wrap.  It’s one of those things I can’t resist if it’s on the menu.  Theirs was excellent - stuffed but not too messy.  My favorite.  

For dessert we ordered pistachio baklava, rice pudding, and a cup of Turkish coffee.  The baklava was excellent, the rice pudding filled my daily craving (I often consider moving back to NY purely for Rice To Riches), and the coffee was a wonderful compliment to both.

The interior was simple.  It’s definitely a food before aesthetic kind of place and I loved that about Med Grill.  The place was real - from the yoga mum’s to winning falafel.  It’s another come one, come all, casual kind of joint.

I wore an oversized black sweater, black dress, and my very loved boots.  The evening seemed to be about simplicity.

But I’m hoping to get a little wacky Tuesday - stay tuned.

B

the book house pub

So I’m a bit of a Twin Peaks fanatic.  I mean, I’ve even read Laura Palmer’s Secret Diary.  But this love of all things Lynch and Twin Peaks makes makes me ridiculously excited to share The Book House Pub with you.  It’s a Twin Peaks themed bar that lives right here in Atlanta.  And while that don’t serve up cherry pie, they do serve up some damn fine food.

Book House has a fantastic drink menu from craft beers to (drum roll please) Twin Peaks themed mixed drinks.  As I said in an earlier post - fancy mixed drinks aren’t really my cup of tea but the Audrey Horne (yerba mate tea and mint infused gin, lemon juice and simple syrup) is irresistible.  It may have something to do with the fact that if I was anyone but myself, I would want to be Audrey Horne… but just a little… 

Food wise, the roasted beets at The Book House are something I crave on a weekly basis.  And paired with a simple grilled cheese, it was the perfect comfort meal.

We also ordered the grilled portabella sandwich which was topped with caramelized onions, roasted  tomatoes, arugula, havarti, ciabatta bun.  This guy was paired with a side salad.  The homemade balsamic was great and I loved the touch of the pickled onion.  Though Book House has a theme behind them, they don’t rely on it.  Their food is fresh and well made.

We ended with a funnel cake.  Yes, funnel cake.  I’m not sure of the relation but it’s a step up from the ones at theme parksand topped with vanilla ice-cream.

The interior of The Book House is warm and cozy.  There’s lots of wood (hopefully from Packard Saw Mill), books, and Tiki themed stained glass (shout out to Dr. Jacoby!).  It’s definitely a trendy joint dress wise.  I saw a lot of Maddy Ferguson glasses.

I had never noticed the statement at the end of the receipt until last night but I’m so glad I finally did.  With subtle details guiding Twin Peaks itself, this little touch was excellent of The Book House. 

I wore a little Saloni dress, combat boots, and a black cardigan which was perfect for a nice but cozy pub like Book House.

See you Friday and remember - The Owls are not what they seem.

B

punk dives continued - jack’s pizza

So maybe it’s that I, myself, wear thick black bangs and combat boots but there is something about Jack’s Pizza that makes me want to stay for hours - maybe even days.  Jack’s calls the Old Fourth Ward home and sits on the corner of Highland Avenue and Sampson Street (an alive Atlanta corner).  And it may look rough from the outside (and inside) but hey, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover after all.

Jack’s serves up $4 pitchers of High Life.  Well, some locals call it “mystery beer”.  I agree that $4 pitchers (all the time) is a little strange but it’s another thing that makes Jack’s… Jack’s.  We took our spot on the patio.  Just a few steps off of PATH, Jack’s patio makes for a perfect summer stop.  We started out with a garden salad and well, they are unconcerned with presentation with their packaged dressings and crackers but I have to admit - I find it somewhat charming. 

As for the pizza, I recommend you go for a slice with mac and cheese.  I did.  It’s a monstrous thing and comes with enough carbs to last you for a couple days but it’s pretty amazing.  

Since the mac and cheese slice is hard to compete with we also opted for a simple slice topped with red onions and feta.  Yum.

The atmosphere at Jack’s is relaxing.  I like to go in the late afternoon but I hear nights at Jack’s get a little wacky with things like adult trivia and drunk bingo.  I think I even spotted some strobe lights.  But late afternoons are opposite of.  With The Ramones and King Diamond coming through the speakers, it’s hard not to enjoy the sunshine, food, and $4 pitchers.

And though Jack’s makes you feel like you’ll never be able to put anything in your stomach ever again - realize you must stop next door at Market Across The Street for some dessert.  I adore the mini cupcakes.  This time we went with rosemary and browned butter, strawberry, and lemon-blueberry.

I went with a simple white t-shirt, a black maxi skirt, and some black sandals.  Jack’s is really come one, come all.  Their website even reads, “Let’s be blunt, our customer base is like a melting pot. A melting pot on steroids”.  A melting pot on steroids it is then.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about what I consider to be Atlanta’s finest punk rock dives.  I hope you’re even reading this stuffed with burritos and pizza.  I can’t wait to see where we explore next week - maybe we’ll dress up a bit.

B

atlanta’s finest punk rock dives - el myr (stop one)

This week we’re visiting two local eateries I love for their cheap, loud, and smokey vibes.  So grab your beard, thick black bangs, combat boots, and half smile - we’re getting grunge.

Stop one - El Myr.  Nested beside The Variety Playhouse in Little 5 Points, El Myr caters to the good ol’ punk rock crowd.  Specializing in a sort of Tex-Mex they place a mean burrito on the (ashy) table.  El Myr visits usually begin with the thought, “it’s late and I’m hungry” but that’s okay there.      

All hail Pabst?  I highly recommend you start with a cheap beer and some chips and salsa.  We did and as I settled back into my chair I felt a sense of relaxation (something that doesn’t come much during a quarter).  The room was loud but cozy and created a nice sense of community.

And though it’s cheap, simple, and more than enough to split a burrito at El Myr, we started out with a broccoli and rice quesadilla.  It was my first quesadilla there and I was pleasantly surprised.  It was fresh and delicious (and only $5.50).

We also got the tofu and bell-peppers burrito which rings at a tiny $5.75 - much smaller than the burrito itself.  I’ve heard that you know a burrito is good when it can stand up on it’s own.  I’ve never seen a burrito fall over at El Myr nor have I had a bad burrito.  Perhaps they are words of wisdom.  Though I didn’t indulge in it on this trip I recommend the Pad Thai burrito sometime.  Stuffed with onions, bell peppers, broccoli, rice, eggs, bean sprouts, cilantro, lime, Thai peanut sauce, and chicken or tofu, it’s a fun take on the traditional burrito.

Inside, I chose a spot on the patio.  It’s covered and filled with giant plastic picnic tables, music, and inventive pieces of art.  Though the patio is loved and loud it’s still a bit more peaceful than the adjacent dining room and bar.  But covered with posters of upcoming shows and stickers from past ones, it keeps the community feel.

Dress wise, El Myr keeps it casual and well, punk.  I wore an a black over-sized tank, black lace skirt, and little lace up booties.  I’d also like to introduce you to my long awaited Rocco bag - which fit right in with it’s industrial studs.

Friday we will visit Jack’s Pizza.  Maybe this will turn into a dirty burrito vs. pizza competition?  See you there!

B

west egg(cellent)

I’ve been listening to people rant and rave about West Egg since I moved to Atlanta last August but despite the countless cups of coffee I’ve had right down the street at Octane, I’ve never made it there - until Thursday morning.  And yes, West Egg lived up to their reputation.

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The place was fairly busy for a Thursday morning and I loved the energy walking in.  I was greeted by an unexpected coffee shop/work area and a peppy waiter.  He sat us at a table and after minutes of pondering their outstanding drink menu (fresh mimosas, Irish coffees, boozy smoothies!) I decided on a cup of joe from local roaster Batdorf & Bronson.  It was Thursday morning after all?  As for food, I went with the Blue Plate (two eggs over medium, biscuit, veggie sausage, and skillet potatoes).  It was simple and everything was seasoned and cooked to perfection.

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We also ordered the tofu scramble and having lived in Athens, Georgia and on The Grit’s tofu scramble for a little over a year, I’m hesitant of all other tofu scrambles.  But again, West Egg lived up to their reputation and paired with creamy roasted garlic grits, it was wonderful.

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I also had my very first fried green tomatoes.  No, I’m not sure how I’ve lived in Georgia for over two years and haven’t had fried green tomatoes either.  I do understand the hype now and I loved how West Egg paired theirs with horseradish sauce.

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I’m not sure what I quite expected from West Egg but it was a lot more relaxed and casual than I had imagined.  The Westside fascinates me with it’s broken yet swanky aesthetic.  West Egg is definitely a good spot and I enjoyed how it made me (and my taste buds) feel.

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I wore a little black dress, combat books, and red lips which was a fine switch from the Thursday morning business casual vibe.

brittany joyce

I can’t wait to revisit West Egg.  And now serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner I can only imagine the yummy posts to come.  See you Tuesday.

B

hd1 - haute dogs + craft cans

I watched HD1 being built up the street from my house.  Every time I walked to Publix or the coffee shop I would pass it and think, “No novelty hot dogs, no”.  Now HD1 is one of my favorite spots.  It’s always a warm, positive experience - for me and my taste buds.

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We started out with the B&B Beet Salad.  HD1 uses fresh ingredients from sourcing from local farms to in-house meat grinding.  The beet salad is made with spicy walnuts, apple, arugula, goat cheese puree, and beets and was a light, healthy start before I ate my weight in waffle fries, hot dogs, and soft serve (yes, soft serve).

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Rule one at HD1 - consume HD Waffle Fries.  They’re topped with maple-oy sauce and absolutely to die for.

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You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m a vegetarian and I have never had a veggie dog like the ones served up at HD1.  They’re made with care and in turn, incredible.  But that’s one of the things I love about HD1.  Whatever your eating preferences are, you have quality options.  Any dog on the list can be made standard or with turkey sausage, veggie frank, or carrot dog (carrot dog!).

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We went with the veggie version of Freemont St (garlic cream cheese, red onion-tomato salad) and the veggie version of Reuben’s (swiss, rusky dressing, sauerkraut).  I highly recommend both.

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And a drum roll please - HD1 always has two imaginative options for soft serve and one for bread pudding.  We had peanut butter soft serve with cinnamon toast.  Today their options are yellow cake or sweet tea - novelty eats at their finest.

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The interior complements the cozy, inventive food with communal tables (an obsession of mine), warm colors, and lots of light.  It’s hip and sleek but not in a snobby way.  I adore that about it.  They even serve all their yummy craft beers in cans.  The place is somewhat casual but special.

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I broke out my little Karta dress and paired it with a pair of cream colored Campers.  I patiently wait around all Winter to break out this dress - perfect for sunshine, hot dogs, and soft serve.

brittany joyce

Bring on the Summer (and see you Friday).

B