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Bits and bites: The Mill Kitchen & Bar to get new chef
by Joan Durbin
May 15, 2013 10:14 AM | 5792 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I should have expected it. Whenever I find something I really like, I can be pretty sure something about it will change soon after. When The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Roswell first opened, Marc Taft, owner and executive chef of a successful Cobb County farm-to-table restaurant, was on board as the new eatery’s executive chef and general manager. I loved his food at The Mill and had no problems with service, although I did hear from one or two people who had some issues with it. Well, Taft voluntarily exited stage right more than three weeks ago.

“After helping with the opening of The Mill Kitchen & Bar, I have completed my work with the restaurant and am no longer involved in the daily operations,” Taft wrote to me in an email. “Since I am not there, I can not speak to the recipes being used or the sourcing of the product.”

Randy McCray, who with brother Scott owns The Mill, told me last week that very little has changed since Taft left, although sources say the entire culinary management team that was in place when Taft was there is also gone.

Anecdotally, the food apparently is still pretty good, but the execution can falter. A trusted foodie friend who was there over the weekend told me change was noticeable, and not in a good way.

But there is hope on the horizon. Randy McCray said new executive chef Ben Castro should be in place this week. Castro’s resume includes stints with Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, sous chef at Seed in east Cobb County and chef de cuisine at Bistro VG in Roswell. Taft has left some big shoes to fill, but let’s hope Castro take a firm hand in the kitchen and get The Mill moving in the right direction once again.

BBQ Champion

On another front, according to a respected local food writer, Crabapple is home to the second best barbecue in the entire state.Atlanta Magazine’s Bill Addison spent four months sampling barbecue in the Atlanta area and concluded that Grand Champion BBQ’s meats were very nearly the best he’d had.

Actually, this really isn’t a surprise. Back when owners Robert Owens and Gregory Vivier opened flagship location in Cobb County within shouting distance of Roswell’s western boundary in midsummer 2011, we were the first to sing their praises.

Their ribs and brisket have been consistent winners at food festivals and in newspaper opinion polls ever since.

Last November, the guys took over a space in the same Crabapple strip center as Sip Wine and Tapas and across the street from Olde Blind Dog. It was this location Addison visited.

Roswell gets an oyster bar

Seafood lovers are going to have plenty to cheer about in the coming months. The folks who brought the esteemed C&S Seafood & Oysters to Vinings are in the process of renovating a space at 10360 Alpharetta Street in Roswell for a new sister restaurant, Hugo’s Oyster Bar. If this place is anything at all like C&S, get ready for a tantalizing variety of fresh oysters from around the nation as well as an emphasis on fresh fish dishes. They self-describe as “casual fine dining.” In the Credit Where It’s Due department, thanks to my gastronomical guru Deep Stomach for the Hugo’s tip.

More fish

Not too far away from Hugo’s, the owners of the mega-popular Lucky’s Burgers and Brews plan to build a new free-standing eatery next door. The new restaurant will be called Lucky’s Dockside.

Lucky’s executive chef and GM Ted Lescher tells us preliminary menu plans include a range of mid-priced seafood.

A burger and a wake-up call

BurgerFi, a national franchise, opened a location on Windward Parkway last week. They specialize in “natural, farm-raised beef, specialty hot dogs, fresh-cut French fries, desserts and craft beer and wine,” according to the press release. Haven’t tried it yet, but the early word on the foodie street is good. A quick perusal of the web site,, does reveal some tasty-sounding choices.

But something else really caught my eye. The 2010 health care law tasked the Food and Drug Administration with requiring chain restaurants to put calorie counts on their menus. Final rules on this have yet to be adopted, but some forward-thinking eateries have already started calorie labeling, and BurgerFi is such a one.

Now, no matter how good their burgers are, some of us are going to be thinking twice before ordering. Suffice to say, a double all-natural, grass fed burger with BurgerFi sauce and a regular order of fries accounts for the lion’s share of the recommended calorie allowance for women “of a certain age” (me). I’m sure BurgerFi is not any more caloric than other burger joints. It’s just that we all have been living in blissful ignorance.

Can’t wait to see the calorie counts out in the open at other chains. A dose of reality is good now and then.

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