Experienced Robotic Surgeons, Close To Home

More Precision – Quicker Recovery – Less Pain – Lower Risk of Complications

Above: Scott Miller, M.D., medical director of Robotic Surgery, WellStar North Fulton Hospital, was the first surgeon in Georgia to robotically remove a prostate.

No one wants surgery. But when it’s necessary, it makes sense to choose the least invasive, most highly advanced type, if possible. And for a wide variety of surgeries, it is possible. At WellStar North Fulton Hospital, a team of highly skilled robotic surgeons are using the most advanced technology available to help patients get back to their lives sooner than ever.

 “Our team of robotic physicians has collectively performed more than 6,000 surgeries,” said Scott Miller, M.D., North Fulton Hospital’s medical director of Robotic Surgery. “And our specially trained anesthesia team has also provided care to thousands of patients. At North Fulton, we offer the highest level of robotic surgery expertise.”

Robotic surgery specialties at North Fulton Hospital include colorectal, general, gynecologic (oncologic and benign), thoracic, trauma and urologic. And the surgeries are performed by clinical leaders. Dr. Miller, a urologist, was the first surgeon in Georgia to robotically remove a prostate. Named to Atlanta magazine’s list of Top Doctors for 10 consecutive years, he has also been recognized for the past decade as a “National Top Doctor” by established research firm Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. The list aims to identify the top one percent of specialists and sub-specialists in the U.S.

Dr. Miller explains that with robot-assisted surgery, the surgical system is operated by a physician sitting a few feet away from the patient. Using a high-powered camera, the surgeon guides the arms of the robot that holds surgical tools, which are inserted into the patient through small incisions. With robotic surgery, the surgeon’s movements are more precise, according to Dr. Miller. “Robotics allow greater range of motion, and thanks to the magnified, three-dimensional image of the surgical field, we can see the patient’s anatomy in better detail,” he said. “It’s the difference between looking through a window and actually walking into a room.

“With the smaller incisions we make during robotic surgery, there’s less blood loss, less post-operative pain, less scarring, quicker recovery and a lower risk of complications,” adds Dr. Miller, who emphasizes another benefit unique to North Fulton Hospital: personal, compassionate care. “The surgeon you first meet with will be the physician who performs your surgery, and sees you post operatively. We each personally care for our patients, from start to finish.”

WellStar North Fulton Hospital’s robotic surgeons include:

Gregory Coffman, M.D., general, trauma and colorectal
Shelley Dunson-Allen, M.D., obstetrics/gynecology
Caroline Gibbons, M.D., gynecology
Scott Miller, M.D., urology
Ryan Mullins, M.D., urology
Theolyn Price, M.D., thoracic
Evelyn Reynolds, M.D., gynecologic oncology.

For more information about robotic surgery at North Fulton Hospital, call 770-956-STAR (7827).

The Velvet Note Acoustic Living Room Celebrates Seven Years!

Above: The Velvet Note Owner Tamara Fuller with Special EFX guitarist/leader Chieli Minucci

By Mark Penstone

When The Velvet Note opened in June 2012, the idea of live music—especially jazz—in this area was inconceivable. Owner Tamara Fuller was quoted saying, “We would give people driving directions and they would chuckle and say, Alpharetta has jazz? Are you sure?” During the past seven years, no fewer than twenty-nine Atlanta-based jazz clubs have closed their doors but The Velvet Note is still there which means they’re doing something right.

When you walk into The Velvet Note, it feels like a New York City jazz club. It’s intimate, upscale, and far exceeds the expectations set by their modest
exterior location, in a strip mall, sandwiched between a sub shop and a Brazilian wax salon. “In many ways, we operate like an exclusive private club, but our hospitality is available to everyone.” The acoustics and sound quality are unparalleled—you get the clarity and precision of sitting in a recording studio, with the ambiance of a fine dining establishment.

The Velvet Note has won consecutive awards from DownBeat magazine for being one of the top jazz clubs in the world. The food and service level ratings and reviews continue to be high, featuring the area’s best jumbo lump crab cakes, a full bar, and a team of committed, caring individuals who ensure your stay is memorable.

The “acoustic living room” continues to attract the biggest and best names in jazz, including Robert Glasper, Diane Schuur, Larry Carlton, Dave Weckl, Pat Martino, Jazmeia Horne, and many more. They now offer a Blues/Southern Songwriter night on most Wednesday evenings, and it’s a great time for new guests to check them out, along with their Thursday jazz jam session.

I love The Velvet Note, not just because Tamara and I have become good friends but because I’ve never experienced a more intimate place to view some of the country’s best Jazz Musicians. The food is excellent as well. If you’ve never been then give them a call, it’s a great time to ask questions about any artists you may not be familiar with. The Velvet Note is truly an Alpharetta Gem! ❍

Milkshakes at the Lake

By Ethan Craig

We had a beautiful spring this year. It was cool, sunny and pleasant and when the rain finally came, it was a bit of a surprise. I am a huge fan of cooler temperatures, so I really appreciated the longer than usual transition from winter to summer. But in Atlanta, we know that like death and taxes, the summer heat and humidity are inevitable. And this year, the sweltering days seem even more intense than usual.

I’ve made it out to the lake and on the Chattahoochee several times over the past few weeks to get some sun and relax with friends. And for me, a day at the lake includes beer to share with the gang. This summer, there are several new beers that have been brewed to help make trips to the lake a little more enjoyable.

One new trendy beer style is a milkshake IPA. It’s an IPA with lactose sugar added in. This results in a slightly creamier flavor that cuts out most of the bitterness of a traditional IPA. Some of them really taste like they were blended at an ice cream shop. Wild Leap, the brewers of the popular Alpha Abstraction series, recently came out with a milkshake IPA called Bomb Pop. Bomb Pop was created with Rocket Popsicles and Firecracker Popsicles in mind. The flavors include Cherry, Lime and Blue Raspberry. I can’t think of anything better to get you in the mood for some fireworks. You can buy a four-pack or mix and match the flavors.

For a more tropical twist, try out Coco Flamingo. It’s another beer just released by Wild Leap in collaboration with Trim Tab Brewing. It’s a Double IPA with coconut, tangerine and lime added for a taste that will have you thinking about putting a pink umbrella in your glass. It is incredibly easy to drink, but be careful, it’s also 8% ABV.

I also have two easy drinking beers you might want to try. Einstock Icelandic Pale Ale is brewed with pure Icelandic water. The water goes from the ground directly into the beer, and the taste is clean and fresh. Reformation’s Oren pale ale is a new recipe which is more of a hazy pale ale that is very smooth with a slight fruit flavor and comes in at 5% ABV.

Finally, for all of you Hogwarts fans, we will be celebrating Harry Potter’s birthday on July 31st. Come in and join us for a Monday Night Brewing’s Mischief Managed sour beer.

As you make your way through the dog days of summer, please remember what a friend of mine used to say, “It’s not the heat, it’s the stupidity.” Cheers!❍

Ethan Craig is Craft Beer Curator at Tap & Six Craft Beer House, a craft beer market and bar in Historic Roswell at 23 Oak Street.

Annual Flowers Deliver Landscape Color

By Geri Laufer

For a long season of brilliant color, add annuals to your home landscape

Want head-turning curb appeal? Use color! Bedding plants (aka annuals) are plants that flower more or less continuously for a single season then die. Half-hardy or tender perennials (like begonias, impatiens, or geraniums) are also used to add color and are considered annual because they are killed by frost if left outdoors when winter arrives.

  • Flowering annuals have many uses in the landscape, since few other plants supply as much diversity. Annuals are . . .
  • most commonly used in color beds
  • added to mixed borders
  • good for providing backgrounds and quick screens when tall
  • vines that can be used to cover trellises, screen neighbors, provide shade, and soften harsh fencing
  • used as temporary ground covers
  • cut for flowers in vases or sales
  • dried for arrangements or potpourri
  • great for containers (especially trailing annuals) like large mixed pots, window boxes, or hanging baskets
  • available to provide temporary color and mass before the installation of permanent shrubs or ground
There’s plenty of time to plant annuals in July, and then stand back for the colorful display in August, September, on into October. Sunflower (top of page) and zinnia photos by Geri Laufer

10 Easy-Care Annuals

Easy to grow, annuals thrive in prepared beds with improved soil. Before planting, mix in a bag of soil conditioner or planting topsoil with your Georgia red clay! Many annuals are greedy feeders and appreciate some liquid (houseplant) fertilizer every month. Deadheading (pinching off dead blooms) stimulates more flowers to form, continuing the color. If you planted annuals in May, they are now ready to be cut back—by half; then water, feed, and watch them come roaring back with more color through fall.

  • Summer Annuals
  • Coleus – colorful leaves all summer until frost, flowers are irrelevant
  • Marigold – you probably planted these when you were in the first grade and they still look great in sun
  • Pentas – five-petaled blooms cover smaller sized plants
  • Sunflower – a plethora of varieties gives lots of choice, whether 12-foot mammoth or short and bushy for cut flowers
  • Vinca – so tough it even grows in Florida sand
  • Zinnia – colorful favorites, the butterflies are drawn to them and they often reseed next year
  • Cool Season Annuals
  • Pansy/Viola – most popular winter-flowering annual
  • Flowering cabbage – leaves provide the color thus eliminating the need for flowers
  • Snapdragon – blooms fall and spring, with a little time off in mid-winter
  • Dianthus – be sure to scissor off spent flowers so pinks will rebloom
  • Dusty miller – silver foliage makes exceptional contrast and interest winter or summer

There’s plenty of time to plant some annuals in July, and then stand back for the colorful display in August, September, on into October.

Digging Deeper
You may want to investigate some UGA publications for further reading:
Flowering Annuals for Georgia Gardens You can download the publication as a pdf, or peruse the links, including “Annuals for Specific Uses.”

Do you have photos from your home landscape? Share them by posting at The Current Hub facebook page.

Geri Laufer lives in Atlanta, where she, graphic designer husband David, and English Coonhound Lily are working on designing and installing a never-finished landscape. You can reach her at Geri Laufer

Still a Dancing Queen Let’s Go!

By Di Chapman

I gotta tell ya. I’ve had such fun planning this column. Every girlfriend and group of girlfriends, has giggled with enthusiasm when I’ve run this idea past them. Even my husband has gotten into it, helping me brainstorm the memories.

And everyone agrees: ladies and gentlemen, we’re a generation who loved (and if you’re like me, still love) to dance. It didn’t matter if we were single, married, dating, engaged, or girl dancing. As ABBA said in “Dancing Queen,” we had the time of our lives. Sure, since then it’s been around the house as we clean and busting moves as best we can at stoplights. But I’m ready to do the real thing again. What have all these years of exercise been for? Yes – I know, I know. There is that vanity factor and that ability to eat mostly guilt-free. But at the top of the list for me is dreaming of dancing with abandon once again.

Come on, let’s hit the floor and get down.

We all knew where the clubs were in the 70s and 80s, and you could find us there every Friday and Saturday night. With the disco of the 70s we ladies wore braless tube tops and halters, spandex tops and pants, and platform shoes. We did our best to recreate Farrah Fawcett’s hairdo. In the 80s, we girls wore dresses with ultra-padded shoulders, Dynasty big hair, and spike heels – of a dancing size. If we wore the 6” spikes of today, we’d be severely limited in movement, and we all loved to move – a lot. And I don’t mean standing in one spot bouncing up and down with one fist in the air. Seriously? When did that become moving to music? Where’s the bootie action? Where’s the seductive eye contact?

By the way, all ye progeny, we brought you the birth of the DJ. There was nothing like a great DJ spinning tunes. Just add flashing lights, a disco ball, Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls,” and Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling.” I remember the heavy beat of The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno” and Heart’s Wilson sisters belting out red, hot voices, guitar, and techno vibes. “He’s a magic man, Mama…Oooohhhhh…he got the magic hands.” And who could forget the dance floor favorite “Stayin’ Alive?”

Oh, and my goodness, that amazingly great 80s scene. By now, y’all know I was pretty much into driving all over the place and loved crossing the Mexican border at Tijuana to cruise south on an exceptionally manicured highway to Rosarito on into Ensenada. Ladies – surprise, surprise! This highway had clean as a whistle rest stops. It was a beautiful ride alongside the Pacific Ocean in Baja California. Ensenada was an awesome dancing town. Marines with time off drove down from Camp Pendleton in Southern California to hit the clubs, and we California women were happy to be their dancing partners. We’d dance all night to American tunes, with DJs spinning hot material. I was always the designated driver, and I toted home girlfriends in front and back seats at one or two in the morning, all of us swapping stories about the men. We became regulars at the Tijuana border crossing, an hour or so from home at the time.

Those dance rides were followed by, mostly on a whim, my solo trips to Mexico City and San Luis, Mexico. Why not? I discovered that Hispanic men seriously loved to dance. The dance floors overflowed, and DJs played one hot tune after another. I never sat down in either town. Those guys rocked it.

Naturally, I have my favorite dance artists. I can’t lie. I was a huge Billy Idol fan. To this day when I hear “White Wedding,” it doesn’t matter where I am, I’m in motion. I’ll cop to something else. I dig Boston. “More Than a Feeling” gets me moving. As does Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom.” Patti LaBelle’s set of pipes still reign to this day, with no current female artist coming close to her vocal power. Remember doing a come hither sashay to “Lady Marmalade?” We girls did some serious strutting along with Patti.

And remember those, shall we say, party-inspired tunes like Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” and Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug?” Huey Lewis and the News’ retro sound specialized in good, old-fashioned get up and dance beats. Loved it. Jefferson Airplane’s tune “White Rabbit,” while from the 60s, still had us singing along. Whoa, and the Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” and Glenn Frey’s “Smuggler’s Blues” both bring me to my feet. Boys and girls, your moms and dads were party animals. Most of us partied for the music, not substances. I liked moving and grooving to my favorite songs with a clear head. Oh, and by the way, you kids ain’t got nothin’ on us in the partying department. We invented it!!

I went to YouTube the other day to find a skit from Saturday Night Live from the 80s. It featured a song with the words “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…” It was a great dance tune with a skit by the SNL cast featuring three young men out cruising, one of whom was Jim Carrey. They’re blasting this song while they drive and bob their heads to the beat, sideways and in unison. It’s right up there for laughs with “More Cowbell” with Christopher Walken. I typed “Saturday Night Live Head Bob” online. There it was, and I danced and laughed again and again.

So, somebody, help me! Help me here. Where have all the good clubs gone? Who’s spinning “Billy Jean” and “Flashdance?” Who’s featuring Madonna? Where’s Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You?” I wanna know, and I wanna go.

Ladies! Girls’ dance, anyone? I’ll drive!

Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it! Contact Di at diychapman@icloud.com

A Marvel-ous Summer

Spider-Man: Far From Home —Opens July 2

By Britt Argo

Spider-Man: Far From Home is one of summer’s most anticipated movies! Beware a few spoilers ahead from previous Marvel movies if you have not yet watched.

What it’s about The Avengers action continues with Spider-Man: Far From Home opening July 2. It chronicles Peter Parker’s personal journey, how he returns to high school life and his friends after missing five years. And it shows how his superhero journey must go on after the loss of beloved mentor Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Peter may be wearing the new high-tech, armored “Iron Man-Spidey Suit” (from Avengers: Endgame), but he is still reluctant to let go and step up to take Tony Stark’s place. Seeking Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) to console him, he decides to go back to school and try to return to his friends and a normal life. His school friends decide to take a European vacation, with Peter joining them, while ignoring a call from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). He and classmates visit beautiful locales (Venice/London). But his blissful vacation doesn’t last long, when Nick Fury tracks him down and enlists Spider-Man to help battle new threats to save a changed world.

In this adventure, Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) appears from another dimension — a multiverse. The Snap tore a hole in our dimension, and Beck was transplanted here along with other baddies that followed him, doing destruction. Beck and Fury enlist Spidey to help conquer them and return them back to their Earth in order to save ours.

Why you will love it — If you saw Spider-Man: Homecoming, it has that same lighthearted take. Peter (Tom Holland) is still a young, goofy high school kid now in love with friend MJ (Zendaya), hoping she will like him. His best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) is great comic relief as the sidekick. And he still gets no love from student rivals who roast him. We get more character development with a conflicted Peter still trying to balance his life with his secret Spidey identity. Unlike a Thor or Captain America, we are still seeing Spider-Man trying to fit in, find his way, discover his powers, and what he can do. He’s just a guy who wants to save his friends first — then the world.

Fans of Jon Favreau — get more Happy Hogan on-screen. From his early acting days with buddy Vince Vaughn (Swingers, Couples Retreat, The Break-Up) to his recent starring role in Chef, Favreau is super in everything he does. He has perfected the everyman, the sarcastic sidekick, the “I don’t want to be here, but I’ll do it anyway” guy. In the Iron Man films, Happy is the silent driver/assistant who would pop up only on occasion to help Tony Stark. But in Spider-Man: Far From Home — we get more. Happy finally gets a bigger role. Happy is broken too, suffering the loss of his friend Stark, but we see him step up as a mentor more than a sidekick for Peter.

Fans of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) get more too. We missed Fury and Hill in Avengers: Endgame (only reappearing at the end). Now they come out from behind the scenes to get their chance to assist and save the world.

Do you need to see Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Avengers: Endgame before seeing this one? Well — yes. Understanding what happened in the last two films will set you up for this new saga.

Britt Argo, an avid movie fan for 30 years, sees an average of 150 movies a year in movie theaters. She is the marketing coordinator at Area 51: Aurora Cineplex and The Fringe Miniature Golf5100 Commerce Parkway in Roswell. 770-518-0977.

Summertime Eatin’

I don’t know about you, but once the hot, southern days of summer roll in, my appetite during the daytime diminishes to nearly nothing. I make up for it in the evening! By dinnertime I am famished and looking forward to something delicious and maybe a little lighter. Conveniently, I have Joe Duffy’s contact in my phone. This is one of the many perks of my job. Joe is by far the most knowledgeable when it comes to local food and fare. I asked him to assist me this month, knowing he would both cut my research time down and introduce me to some great food. Good call! Now hearsay is not something I like to depend on, so I had to visit these locales personally and form my own opinion. Yet another great perk.

I started in Johns Creek at Hen Mother Cookhouse which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. The menu offers healthy, as well as traditional, breakfast and lunch options. Soraya Khoury, the chef and owner, referred to the restaurant as “in between green juice and a greasy spoon.” Joe had referred to Soraya as a “cool and great chef.” Well Joe, you are correct, as usual. She’s not only cool and great, but she is also extremely knowledgeable about food. I met her on the restaurant’s lovely patio to discuss the inspiration behind the food and see for myself why Joe would suggest the Harvest Winter Salad. Really? The winter salad in July? And vegetarian too? I figured my carnivore friend was teasing, but it only took one bite to realize his suggestion was a great one—lacinato kale, green cabbage, toasted farro, house-made raisins, toasted sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds with goddess dressing, topped with pecorino cheese.

You may be wondering, as I did, what is goddess dressing? It’s aioli-based with egg, basil, tarragon, chives, and chervil (a delicate herb related to parsley). Soraya mentioned if a customer orders the salad with “the dressing on the side,” she will come out of the kitchen and explain to them that the dressing needs to be in the salad. For the salad to retain the right consistency, the kale must be massaged with the dressing. Fruits and veggies are added and change seasonally. Currently, roasted Georgia corn, Pearson Farm peaches, carrots, and pickled beets complete the salad to make it burst with flavor. The perfect choice for a summertime lunch dish.

Dominique, my delightful server, had a great suggestion: add chicken. Dominique travels from Stone Mountain to Johns Creek for work. Why would he drive so far to work in a restaurant? He explained to me that the work environment at Hen Mother Cookhouse makes him feel like he’s part of the family, and he appreciates how well he is treated there. Having worked in the restaurant environment for quite some time, I know the importance of happy employees—who in turn make customers happy. When you visit, I suggest sitting in the quaint outdoor area which is modified to the weather by an optional enclosure. It’s quite lovely. Please note the Harvest Winter Salad is available in summer, but just Tuesday – Friday.

The lobster roll at bite is a staple on the menu. Owner/Chef Leif Johnson said he can’t take it off the menu because his customers would retaliate

At bite BISTRO & BAR in Alpharetta, Joe suggested I try the Lobster Roll, which he referred to as “definitely awesome for sure.” I was obligated, “twist my arm,” to form my own opinion. Wow! This girl loves lobster, and this isn’t just any lobster roll. Nestled in a Holeman & Finch (H&F) roll, the lime aioli, tarragon, parsley, and pickled onions enhance the lobster’s flavor and leave your mouth tingling with excitement. The house chips are the perfect sidekick. I enjoyed a nice, cold draft beer to make this meal a perfect and memorable experience, not only for the food but also the atmosphere. Once you enter the doors of bite BISTRO & BAR, you realize there’s nothing ordinary about it. The décor is exceptionally unique. So well-thought-out. And there are a variety of intimate settings to choose from inside this playful, yet sexy establishment.

PEI Mussels Barleygarden
Barleygarden’s beer-steamed PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels swimming in a succulent pool of saison-garlic butter accompanied by crisp baguette is a heavenly combination in a very cool environment.

The next summertime dish, in my opinion, is a winner all year long. I can’t think of anything more refreshing on a hot, summer day than an ice-cold, craft beer on tap. Barleygarden in Avalon has one of the best beer menus around. Fantastic, in fact. Nothing goes better with beer than a brat, specifically The Trotter Sausages & Kraut which is knock-braut and kielbasa with seasoned, roasted new potatoes, savory sauerkraut, beer mustard, and a fried egg. I also sampled the Beer-Steamed Mussels—PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels swimming in a succulent pool of saison-garlic butter accompanied by crisp baguettes. A heavenly combination in a very cool environment. Barleygarden has one of the best patios and rooftops to enjoy your summertime treats.

“The Club” at Peach & The Porkchop is loaded with uncured honey ham, turkey, crispy uncured bacon, garden fresh lettuce from Circle A Farms in Cumming, tomatoes from Gazaway Farms also in Cumming, savory Tillamook cheddar cheese & mayo served on a traditional sourdough bread.

Peach & The Porkchop in Roswell is one of my favorite places to congregate with my friends. It has the perfect-sized bar to keep it interesting, but not overwhelming, and is intimate enough to get to know everyone sitting around you. Alyssa and Chuck Staley, owners and operators, combine Chuck’s Pittsburgh heritage with Alyssa’s truly southern heritage to form a menu which reflects the best of both. Kudos to the combination! The north meets the south on friendly and flavorful terms this time around. I’ve tried many different menu items and loved them all, but Joe suggested I try The Club sandwich. It sounded like a great idea, so I grabbed one of my girlfriends, Kara, and we headed (as we often do) to the bar to share The Club.

Loaded with uncured honey ham, turkey, crispy uncured bacon, garden fresh lettuce from Circle A Farms in Cumming, tomatoes from Gazaway Farms also in Cumming, savory Tillamook cheddar cheese, and mayo—served on traditional, full-flavored sourdough bread from H&F Bread Co. in Atlanta, with Amy’s House Chips on the side accompanied by a crunchy pickle places this classic sandwich at the top of my list of summertime sandwiches. It was plenty to satisfy Kara and I, who had left poolside with ravenous thoughts. Chuck told me Amy’s House Chips are made from 250 – 350 pounds, per week, of hand-cut potatoes. Jokingly, I asked about the number of pounds of potatoes cut for French fries, and it’s 800 pounds per week! That’s a lot of work, but that’s why they are so delicious. Chuck commented, “everything is made with lots of love.” I must mention our favorite bartenders Josh and Ali who are vigilant to keep your glass full and appetite satisfied.

Tara ordered the Bluetick Hound at Lucky’s Burger & Brew and managed to keep it off her shirt.

I love a nice, juicy burger at the end of a lake- or pool-day, and the best burger in town for me is at Lucky’s Burger & Brew. I’ll belly up to the bar, sip on an ice-cold brew, and sink my teeth into a Bluetick Hound, a super thick and juicy beef patty, topped with applewood-smoked bacon, and blue cheese crumbles. I like to add pickles and ketchup with a side of sweet potato fries and blue cheese sauce for dipping. Absolutely delicious! I am always careful of what I wear, inevitably I will spill something on my shirt and enjoy every bite of the burger as I’m doing it. Now I prefer to drink a local beer on draft, but some of my comrades love that Lucky’s serves PBR on tap. That’s something you don’t see every day.

Ed Arnold is dad to The Freakin Incan owner, Mikiel. He enjoys tending the bar from time to time, sharing his thoughts on the cuisine, and pouring the perfect draft.

No need to fly to Peru for Peruvian comfort food, just follow Joe’s suggestion and visit The Freakin Incan for a unique and flavorful experience. I met Joe there, and he introduced me to his favorite dinner item Causa de Camaron. The presentation of this dish is exquisite. It was almost too perfect to cut into. It’s comprised of flavored mashed potatoes, shrimp, avocado, red peppers, and green aji. It was delicious and what made it even better was the Variant Moon Cloud beer I ordered from the impressive list of draft beers.

Chef and owner, Mikiel Arnold was born in Peru. He moved to the U.S. as a child, and then did his culinary externship in Peru. He now has two locations of The Freakin Incan, one in Roswell and the other in Tucker.

His father, Ed, enjoys tending the bar from time to time—sharing his thoughts on the cuisine while pouring the perfect draft. After we enjoyed our dinner, we couldn’t resist ordering dessert from Julianna’s Crepes, served in-house. The Almighty (an appropriate name for a crepe filled with melted Nutella, fresh organic bananas and strawberries, and topped with a dollop of whipped cream) was devoured within seconds.

Julianna’s sweet crepes (Inman Park in Atlanta) are served in-house at The Freakin Incan. “The Almighty” crepe is filled with melted Nutella, fresh bananas and strawberries, with a dollop of whip cream. It was devoured in seconds.

All in all, I love my job. Who wouldn’t? Jumping on the coattails of the infallible restaurant whisperer and relishing every morsel of his suggestions—certainly my kind of assignment. ❍

When not writing, Roswell resident Tara Gary is busy making industrial furniture, charcuterie boards, and local art. Most nights she can be found with her friends at local breweries and pubs drinking craft beer.

Storytelling With Strings Attached

By Brandy Rixey

The Roswell Cultural Arts Center has announced its lineup of shows for the 2019 Roswell Summer Puppet Series. The series includes three Roswell premieres and one world premiere show—Rucker, Go Home!. Set in Roswell and based on the children’s book Rucker The Lost Country Dog by Elaine DeNiro and the Roswell Historical Society, this show follows the adventures of a real dog who lived in Roswell at the turn of the twentieth century. The Roswell Cultural Arts Center received a $7,000 grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts and $7,000 in matching funds from the City of Roswell to create the Roswell-specific show. “We were fortunate to assemble an outstanding team of talented artists to collaborate on Rucker,” said center coordinator Donna Clayton. “The show features an original script and musical score and a set that includes animation and projection of scenes from Historic Roswell. We hope kids and families will be inspired to learn more about the historical treasures found in our city after seeing the show.”

With the CAC being less than a mile away, it’s nice to just hop in the car and be able to see live theater shows without worrying about traffic! There are always familiar show titles on the list and sometimes they have twists from the original stories. In many of the shows the puppeteers talk to the audience, and the kids love that interaction. It really gets their imaginations going. My oldest daughter said she liked the shows because “they were funny and they were great stories.” When I asked my youngest about the puppet shows, she got all excited and with a big smile on her face started telling me about how fun they are and a funny part she remembered from one of the shows. As an added bonus, adults can enjoy the talent too. After the performances, some of the puppeteers talk about the puppets. They hold them up, show how they work, and enjoy answering questions.

Two of the puppeteers are local, both with over 20 years experience. From Atlanta, Lee Bryan “That Puppet Guy” combines live vocal characterizations and songs with innovative puppet designs for an enjoyable show. He will be putting on two shows this summer—Rucker, Go Home! and The Giant, The Beanstalk & Jack. David Stephens, founder of All Hands Productions in Decatur, is another one-man show you don’t want to miss! He puts on an entertaining presentation for all with his handmade puppets, incorporating his talents as a songwriter and banjo musician. Be sure to see his Roswell premiere, The Pied Picker, the first week in July.

New for 2019, King of Pops will sell popsicles at the CAC bridge from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays from June 5 through July 19. Also, the CAC will offer puppet-making workshops on Tuesdays and Thursdays immediately following select performances. Workshops will take place on June 18, 20, 25, and 27, and July 18 and 20, and each week will feature a different style of puppet. Workshop tickets cost $5 per participant and can be purchased online at RoswellCAC.com or by calling 770-594-6232. Accompanying adults do not need a ticket but must stay for the workshop. For young people ages 6 to 8 who want an even more in-depth exploration of the many styles of puppetry, the CAC is offering a week-long puppetry camp July 8-12. Call 770-594-6232 for more information, and visit roswellgov.com to register.

Each week the puppet shows will take place Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. with matinee performances Wednesday and Friday at 1:30 p.m. They will be closed on July 4. The box office and theater open a half hour prior to show time, and shows run approximately 45 minutes. General admission tickets are on sale now for $5 per person. A ticket is required for everyone ages 2 and up. Summer passes are also available for $30 and include 7 admissions for the price of 6. Tickets and summer passes may be purchased online at RoswellCAC.com, by calling 770-594-6232, or in person at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center located at 950 Forrest Street, Roswell.

So come out and enjoy a variety of professional, live puppet shows in a nice, cool theater with a laid back atmosphere for only $5 a ticket all summer long. These live theater shows are sure to spark imaginations! Wish the Roswell library renovations were finished so we could go after the show but King of Pops will do!

Patio Days and Nights

Above, Toccoa is ready to serve up a Milltown Local on the patio at Table & Main. Photo by Rich Anderson.

By Tara Gary

Jekyll Brewing is adding a second location moving into the Exchange Building in Alpharetta City Center. It will feature a restaurant, tasting room, and a 2,500 square foot rooftop deck making it destined to be one of my favorite rooftop patios. A good patio combined with a great beer or beverage and good companions make summertime sippin’ that much sweeter. I love a beautiful summer day ending on a patio of a local watering hole amongst friends. It’s just synonymous with southern nights. Luckily, we are surrounded by these outdoor oases. The area surrounding the new location of Jekyll is abundant with outdoor dining options. Driving north starting at the intersection of Old Milton Parkway and South Main Street you pass Crust, Salt, Citizen Soul, Restaurant Holmes, Chiringa, Smokejack BBQ, South Main Kitchen, Butcher & Brew, and Currahee Brewing Company, all of which have amazing outdoor seating available, not to mention incredible menus. I must give kudos to Citizen Soul and Restaurant Holmes for having what I believe to be two of the best upscale, outdoor spaces to dine on Main Street.

Once you’ve had a chance to discover them all, turn onto Milton Avenue to discover Ceviche, Truck & Tap, and Coalition Food and Beverage which all offer fantastic spots for relaxing in an outdoor space while sipping your favorite beverage. Truck & Tap’s rooftop bar is a favorite of mine. It’s the perfect casual atmosphere to enjoy one of their amazing drafts. Even Kale me Crazy and The Nest Café offer inviting outdoor seating. I stopped by Kale me Crazy the other day and owner Phil Wahl was working on his gorgeous planters and informed me he plans to add a tranquil water feature soon. One of my favorite spots just a short distance away is PURE taqueria on Roswell Street. Their location in Roswell, on Alpharetta Street, is also a fantastic outdoor option, especially the upstairs bar. Their margaritas are phenomenal, and I suggest ordering them by the pitcher because it’s impossible to drink just one. And by the way, PURE is participating in Roswell Inc’s Summer Sippin’. In its fourth year, Summer Sippin’ is an event where various Roswell establishments create a completely new specialty drink and patrons vote to decide which one is the best. The cocktail they have created is called Little Sweet & Tangy. Sounds intriguing and delicious. Once you’re finished with your meal in downtown Alpharetta, a short and for me much needed walk to Kilwins, the chocolatier, is a must, and yes, even Kilwins has outdoor seating.

Although downtown Alpharetta is one of my favorite places to dine outdoors because I find the atmosphere to be unique in the sense that the buildings are more nostalgic and pleasing to the eye, another great place to unwind outdoors in Alpharetta is Avalon. Once you find a parking spot, which can often be a daunting task but well worth it, stroll through the many shops and businesses to some of the best restaurants with fantastic outdoor seating, perfect for socializing and people-watching.

Barleygarden Kitchen & Craft Bar is definitely one of those places. Thoughtfully located in the center of Avalon Boulevard, this two-story open-air beer lovers delight serves exciting beers from both close to home and around the world. They serve handheld, delicious food that pairs perfectly with the handcrafted brews. Relax on the patio or at the rooftop bar. If you’re not into beer, no worries. They have an extensive menu of flavorful cocktails and wine. Bocado Burger, also located in Avalon, has a clever outdoor space that makes you forget it’s located next to a busy road and bustling parking lot. It is actually quite serene. Bocado Burger is also not your typical burger joint. A rotating, seasonal menu, intense, ever-changing cocktail program, and seasonally minded craft beer and wine make this a top choice on my list. Avalon has many outdoor dining options available and these are two good reasons to check it out if you haven’t already.

Alpharetta is also home to a serious gem in the patio and outdoor dining category. Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails has an absolutely lovely tiered patio. They also have a garden for larger groups and parties.

Twisted Taco in Johns Creek has a super large rooftop patio. What a great way to take a reprieve from the ever-congested intersection of Medlock Bridge and State Bridge Roads! Live music and the rooftop bar are the perfect combination for a relaxing evening enjoying the savory menu items. I have a difficult time keeping myself from overindulging in the chips, salsa, and queso, and let’s not forget the margaritas.

The Breezeway at Adele’s.

I love exploring options outside of my “pebble’s throw away” area, but one reason I live where I do is because of the incredible, close proximity of my front door and downtown Roswell. Where to begin with the outdoor dining recommendations is really too easy. Start on one side of Canton Street and just work your way up, but don’t forget the places on Alpharetta Street. Too vague? Well, there’s Adele’s on Canton which has a quaint patio and a lovely breezeway dining area. If you like Cajun, you’ll love Adele’s. I’ve been dining here for years, and it’s still one of my favorite places to dine especially with my 18- and 20-year-old children who are always in the mood for crawfish and anything special co-owner Chef Marc is willing to spoil and appease them with. My favorite beverage is what co-owner Ruth refers to as a Barney. It’s a mixture of Abita beers, Andygator and Purple Haze. I pair a Barney, a bowl of the crawfish etouffee, and the patio, and I’m in heaven!

Drop by the grub gastro pub and enjoy It’s a Southern Thing on the front patio or back deck.

Another one of my favorite patios is found at the grub gastro pub. They have live music several nights a week, some of the best nachos I’ve ever eaten, and a great selection of beer, wine, and delicious cocktails. It’s a Southern Thing is the name of the drink they created for Summer Sippin’, and I know it includes Southern Comfort. It’s super yummy! Grub is the perfect place to gather with friends. My friends and I usually start here before Alive in Roswell, and well, we usually end up here afterwards too.

If you enjoy the action of watching the hustle and bustle of Alpharetta Street while listening to live music on a patio, where dogs and children are encouraged and welcome, Standard at Roswell and Lucky’s Burger & Brew are the perfect places. The atmosphere for both is completely casual and laid-back. Lucky’s burgers are fantastic. I never knew there could be so many varieties of toppings! Their drink for this year’s Summer Sippin’ is Lucky’s Botanical Breeze. Sounds refreshing. Standard has delightful cocktails and an extensive variety of local craft beers. My favorite item on the menu is the meat-lovers pizza. It’s hand-tossed with homemade marinara sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, capicola, and prosciutto. The owner is creative in the kitchen and often shares his noteworthy creations with his patrons. I love the fried meatballs which I haven’t seen on the menu, yet.

Tara and crew enjoying a Frosé outside Roswell Provisions.

About a block away from Standard and centrally located in downtown Roswell is Roswell Provisions, designed to transport you into another place and time. Comfortable and rustic, the charming atmosphere has a French provincial feel. A few seats, tables, and benches right outside of the market provide the perfect outdoor experience for friendly gatherings and people watching on lovely Canton Street. Select from over 100 wines and 125 cheeses from around the world and pair them with the fresh breads, crackers, crostini, and jams available in the market. On nearly any given evening I know I can stumble upon a group of my friends who enjoy congregating on the benches in front of the market. I recently asked co-owner Kelly Smith-Blacha for a favorite summertime beverage and she immediately suggested the Frosé, a frozen Rosé. We bought a round for our table and after one sip we all agreed it is definitely a delightful and refreshing beverage for the summer, and it complimented the charcuterie board we shared perfectly. For another lovely outdoor dining experience, head upstairs to the Le Bistro balcony. The view is the best on Canton Street, and the food is outstanding. Bouchée à la reine is my favorite dish. A puff pastry filled with chicken, mushrooms, onion, and béchamel sauce. While dining on the balcony, explore your options for more outdoor dining experiences across the street at 1920 Tavern and Roux on Canton. The drink 1920 Tavern is featuring for Summer Sippin’ is Effen Blossom. Both restaurants have cozy, outdoor seating perfect for a date. I may have had a first date at Roux that apparently went very well considering two years later we celebrated by dining at the same table. Both have delicious beverages and delectable dishes.

It would be a disgrace not to mention the absolutely gorgeous outdoor dining space at Table & Main, the sophisticated cottage serving farm-to-table southern fare. Offering over 50 varieties of bourbon and rye to sip while you relax outdoors on the patio that was nominated as one of the “Best Patios in Atlanta 2019” by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, makes this a not-to-be-missed experience. With accolades from Conde’ Nast Traveler to Cooking with Paula Deen, to name a few, Table & Main is a seasonal, southern gem of a dining experience. They are also participating in Summer Sippin’ with their cocktail Milltown Local.

Osteria Mattone sits as if nestled in a Maxfield Parrish painting in this photo by Haigwood Studios.

More options on Canton for outdoor dining are the fabulous Osteria Mattone, whose Summer Sippin’ drink is Ciao Bella, The Big Ketch who created Barely Peach Tea, NOCA with It’s Peachy Keen, Zest whose beverage is Spiked Blueberry Lemonade, Ceviche, Little Alley Steak, Carlisle’s Pizza Tavern, Plum Café who created a Strawberry Mojito Mocktail, and Local on North whose cocktail is Blackberry Bonnet. Another of my personal outdoor favorites is Vin25. Their outdoor space is inviting and invokes a sense of calm and relaxation. Nestled between Green and Canton Streets on Plum Tree Street, this bistro and wine bar is a hidden gem. An approachable menu, craft cocktails and brews, and separated spaces intentionally created to provide its guests with an intimate experience make this a destination where I can kick my feet up after a long day and enjoy the ambiance. Their specialty drink for Summer Sippin’ is Vin Paloma.

A few blocks away down on Atlanta Street is Chipper’s Club with a large, outdoor deck and live music every weekend. They want every patron to feel like family and you definitely do. I love the shrimp & grits and fried green tomatoes with habanero apricot jelly. I’m eager to try the cocktail they created for Summer Sippin’ called The “Impeachment”. Another great thing about Chipper’s is their large parking lot!

Three of the best places to drink beer, in my opinion, are Variant Brewing Company, Gate City Brewing Company, and Tap & Six. Gate City has such a large area to congregate, listen to live music, enjoy food trucks, and drink beer. Their Summer Sippin’ beer is Lavender Ale. A few blocks away, Variant has a nice patio and some great beer as well. Mai-Tai Gose is their Summer Sippin’ brew selection. That’s one I definitely want to try. Well, I want to try them all. Tap & Six has created Double Tap as their entry for Summer Sippin’ and you can enjoy this blended brew beneath the trees in their outdoor seating area.

It’s a good thing we live in an area that has for the most part good weather. Great outdoor drinking and dining are all around us. Skip the dishes and dine outside. You have plenty of choices! ❍

Get started with Summer Sippin’

When not writing, Roswell resident Tara Gary is busy making industrial furniture, charcuterie boards, and local art. Most nights she can be found with her friends at local breweries and pubs drinking craft beer.

There’s No Place Like Holmes

Above, search long and far to find a better mussels dish than the one with bacon broth at Restaurant Holmes

By Joe Duffy

My veneration for Alpharetta’s City Center is not exactly a closely guarded secret. With more restaurants scheduled to premiere before long, three obvious standouts have emerged: the previously reviewed Citizen Soul, the newly-launched Lapeer Seafood Market, and Restaurant Holmes.

Let’s talk about the latter. One-time St. Cecilia Chef Taylor Neary is the chef/owner of the upscale newcomer located inside the century-old Jones House. Though small plates oriented, Restaurant Holmes has shifted focus a bit more toward large plates. With a hat tip to the bacon broth, the icy-blue mussels instill delectation as few analogous dishes could. Our waiter supplied my eldest son and me two soup spoons, a must for the bouillon infused with bacon, poblano, and lemon. Do not waste one drop of this transformative sofrito.

The gourmet grilled cheese craze needs to live on forever, at least at Holmes.

Cookie-cutter poke shops are the craze of the last two years in Alpharetta environs, but it’s tough to settle for the clones after sampling RH’s slightly spicy tuna version, replete with jasmine rice, avocado, and ponzu sauce. My son raved over his upscale grilled cheese, with provolone, cheddar, bacon, and apple butter. You’ve read this from me before—tons of burger options, but at some point, I am going to give the burger a venture at a high-caliber restaurant. In my several years of pretending to be a food critic, I’ve found restaurants are always enthusiastic to get back to me with answers to basic questions. Holmes is the outlier, so I was ineffective in confirming, but the unique taste appears to be from woodfire or possibly charcoal on the grill. It is better than most I’ve had, and this growing boy has sampled countless.

Holmes has an evolving menu so the most venturesome among us can enjoy the replenished possibilities. Desserts are in the highly capable hand of Jasmin Willis of Gracious Plenty. She knows Neary from their days of employ with Ford Fry’s restaurants described above.

The fast, casual poke clones may be good in a pinch, but Restaurant Holmes takes tuna poke to a new level.

Among the growing number of enthusiasts is Alpharetta resident Kevin Phelan, who celebrates no longer having to transport with his wife intown for excellent cuisine. “Now, a pleasant walk to downtown Alpharetta is all it takes to experience an ever-changing seasonal menu that keeps us coming back for more.” Initiated by Avalon, City Center has gravy-trained the walkability craze with Holmes playing a leading role. Though expressing admiration for other nearby options, Phelan emphasized that Neary’s sensation “is leading the pack with fresh, inventive dishes.” The house-made Cacio e Pepe, a modern Roman pasta dish, is his most beloved thus far.

It was only a few years ago that Alpharetta’s top-shelf dining options were scarce. Fast forward to today, where the barely-getting-started City Center has more strong date night options than the city combined flaunted a half-dozen years ago. The best so far? One could contend there’s no place like Holmes.

Sound Bites

Soraya Khoury, the extraordinary culinary artist and proprietor at Hen Mother Cookhouse, who was entrained here as the head chef at Rumi’s Kitchen Avalon, agreed with me that Noosh Kitchen is at least among the best if not the most excellent Persian restaurant in metro. Of Jordanian-Iranian descent, highly qualified, she declared the “A-word”—said it’s the most “authentic” Persian in town…

Though Noosh sets a high bar, I need to get back to this super casual joint, Taaj Kabob & Grill. Ensconced within Taaj Persian market at Spalding and Holcomb Bridge, it is terrific hole-in-the-wall Persian.

Speaking of that excellent foodie junction, I was enthralled by the fact Four Seasons Asian Cuisine, not I reiterate, not to be muddled with the unrelated Four Seasons Wings two miles down the road, had some real Chinese on the menu. Mei fun, ho fun, and a small offering of Sichuan dishes leapt from the otherwise Americanized menu. Boiled fish was excellent. Not the best I’ve ever had but easier travel for me than the Johns Creek gems. Warning: no-frills, mostly takeout, counter service type place. Definitely good enough to try more of the above, and if I sanction those alternatives, I’ll seek my American-Chinese yardstick item of pepper steak. Again, it’s at Spalding and Holcomb Bridge Road in the Publix shopping center…

When BB’s Bagels on the Alpharetta/Cumming boundary opened a pizza parlor right across the street, the family and I rushed to try it. I mean BB’s is widely and accurately accepted as the best bagels for many miles. Vincenza’s Pizzeria (not to be confused with the excellent Vingenzo’s in Woodstock) was endorsed with one accord, though short of mine or my family’s top dog. Verra-Zanno (not to be confused with Varasano’s) and Joe’s New York Pizzeria (not to be confused with Brooklyn Joe’s) remain the big cheese (pun intended) purveyor of NY style. No longer under the BB’s ownership, Vincenza opened a second spot on Jones Bridge. I mean, did you really suppose I wouldn’t try it?

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Indisputably superior to most; however, Joe’s on Mansell Road will remain our chief go-to place for NY style pizza. Ditto on Vincenza’s stromboli. Alpine Bakery & Trattoria gets top billing, Joe’s second, but V’s a solid third among pizzerias. However, Plantation Italia Market makes the best of them all…

Good Americanized Asian at Vuu Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar in West Roswell. Thai pho, tuna tartare, and avocado fries were all virtuous. I sampled wife’s pepper steak, which was also proper though with broccoli and mushrooms a divergence from most of the other Americanized places with hackneyed menus of varying quality. Kids enjoyed their sushi rolls. It surpasses most Asian-for-Americans restaurants in class…

I had the delight of dining with a long-time comrade and fellow chowhound Milton Hill at Nahm Thai Cuisine. It’s the first time in years I’ve been. We partitioned pork massaman curry and pad Thai. Grant owner Chef Nahm Thongyoung acclimation. Twelve years ago, as Alpharetta was shedding the Bloomin’ Onion Acres typecasting, she was well ahead of just about everyone else showing faith this area would sustain quality restaurants. With Thai Emerald, M Thai Street Food, and Royal Thai, there are various good alternatives in AlphaRoz. But this higher-end place is as right as any. Glad to see most of the dining room occupied…

A-Pollo & Taqueria specializes in pollo a la brasa. That’s charcoal-broiled chicken for those of you not bilingual (well at least when it comes to food) like your intrepid Hub correspondent.

The newcomer serves Peruvian/Mexican food in a no-frills atmosphere. The pollo is substantially superior to the supermarket rotisserie stuff you pick up on the way home from work. They have an extensive Mexican menu, in fact: menudo, pozole, and even fajitas for the irresolute Tex-Mex crowd. Get you some pleasing, cheap eats at 10479 Alpharetta Street #1, Roswell, GA 30075 in the old Leito’s, for those in the know…

Dominated by regional ones, my index of “gold chains” is scanty. Georgia’s own Chick-fil-A is the only sizeable national example. Chicken Salad Chick is a good case provincially. South Jersey/Philly-based PrimoHoagies is indubitably on the checklist. The first GA franchise in Sandy Springs, is not far from the King and Queen buildings. It’s the first location I’ve been to with cheesesteaks. Meh, skip that item. But the sharp Italian hoagie was pleasing. The roll wasn’t as fresh as I’ve had in NJ or even Florida, but even with growing pains, it’s still much better than any “sub” at a Florida-based supermarket chain. It’s reasonable proximity to GA 400 and Hammond Drive: 6115 Peachtree Dunwoody Road Suite 125, Sandy Springs, GA 30328. ❍
Disagree (how dare you!) or give kudos to Joe at OffshoreInsiders.com

When he’s not eating, which is rare, the author is CEO of Sports Handicapping website Offshore Insiders. His bride’s gift site, Duffy Gifts is the place to go for gifts for all occasions from My Thirty One Gifts.