Shout Out

Tom Catherall's latest opens, plus dining news around the ATL

Only a few weeks after opening Peri-Peri, Tom Catherall has opened Shout (1197 Peachtree St., 404-846-2000) next door at Colony Square. Atlanta's impresario of fusion cuisine appears to have scored another hit with this dramatic space designed by - who else? - the Johnson Studio.

There is only one word for the decor here: sexy. Red banquettes snake about the main, low-lit dining room. There are oversized red booths big enough for group sex after liquoring-up at a bar that - don't ask me why - reminds me of a toy carousel. There are silver-beaded curtains expansive enough to decorate a bathhouse in Istanbul. The main dining room is separate from a huge sushi bar. There's an upstairs lounge space with a spectacular view of the city. Really, put in a few hot tubs.

Befitting the erotic space, the menu - much like its sister restaurant, Twist - accents grazing food. You know, food to eat with your fingers, to share and smear on the cleavage of your booth companion. Besides the extensive sushi menu, there are starters, sandwiches, wood-fired pizzas and so-called "spice market selections" - entrees that include Indian, North African and Italian selections.

I visited three weeks after the restaurant had opened and was frankly surprised how smoothly the huge operation was already running, even with a good-sized crowd. The young, black-clad staff is all about warning you that portions are small when, in fact, they don't seem small to me at all.

Dinner starts with a basket of crispy papadam and a Vindaloo sauce. It's addictive. "Would you like more?" the server asked us twice, finally heaping the stuff on the plate like tortilla chips. For an appetizer, I chose grilled octopus over a white bean salad. OK, the octopus did not have the deep smoky flavor of Kyma's version, but it was a pleasant combo of textures and spices. Wayne's fried shrimp cakes were piping hot, served with a mustard sauce.

For an entree, I chose pork shoulder cooked in a red-curry sauce and topped with a "crisp pork crackling." I admit I was expecting a bona-fide crackling made from the pork's own fat. Instead, it was an ordinary "pork rind" of the type you buy in the potato chip aisle at the grocery store. But it worked. The spicy curry sauce, tender meat and steamed jasmine rice all blended nicely.

Wayne ordered a fish tagine with Israeli couscous and preserved lemon. It's not a real tagine - I've eaten way too many in Paris - but it's a good version. Mediterranean sea bass, silvery and flaky, was the fish during our visit.

Dessert? We couldn't resist the sloppy "s'mores" - a cookie heaped with marshmallows and chocolate - cooked in the tandoor oven.

In case you're wondering, prices are low.

Here and thereTeaspace in Little Five Points may be my favorite boutique restaurant these days. The restaurant, I'm happy to report, is expanding into the space now occupied by A Capella Books, fronting Euclid Avenue. The owners haven't decided exactly what they are going to do with the space, except possibly install a bar and use it for a waiting space. In warm months the tiny dining room's overflow is accommodated by substantial patio seating, so there are no plans to add seating in the new area.

Last week, we started with a simple plate of three cheeses and olives, along with some arepas - hot corn cakes you fill with a black-bean salsa. My entree was gnocchi with dried grapes and shiitake mushrooms, in a light buttery sauce spiked with white truffle oil. The three textures were amazing together. Wayne ordered fish tacos - not my fave, but they pleased him mightily. ...

Who knew? I don't at all care for most of Whole Foods' prepared dishes, but I recently ordered panini made with prosciutto and was blown away. They even grill them on the premises. ...

The Castleberry Hill district is rumored to be getting two new restaurants this summer, a Japanese and Mexican one. ... Bob Amick, who just opened Two Urban Licks and is planning his third restaurant here, is also opening Luma in Winter Park, Fla. ... Brasserie le Coze is considering a move from Lenox. ... Seeger's is getting a new interior look. ... Fatburger of Los Angeles has opened in Buckhead. ...

What chef of a popular restaurant brags at length about using canned and frozen ingredients because Atlantans are unable to tell when a restaurant uses fresh stuff? ...

Fried RantEvery foodie has his dubious passion. Bill Addison offended several readers a few weeks back with his positive review of the McDonald's-owned Chipotle.

Me? I like Popeye's. I cain't help it! I love that over-breaded, crispy and greasy, spicy chicken and those velvety red beans and rice. I am a regular patron of the restaurant on Ponce de Leon Avenue at Boulevard. But I can't take the service anymore.

Two weeks ago, I placed my order at the call box, drove around, picked it up and found that I'd been given corn and mashed potatoes instead of cole slaw and red beans and rice. When I complained, the creature at the window indignantly barked, "We out of that." I asked her if she shouldn't have told me and she looked at her 12-inch fingernails and rolled her eyes. I left.

The next week, I had to repeat my order five times at the call box and wait in line nearly 10 minutes before I got to the window, where the woman ... asked me what I'd ordered. I said, "I've told you five times what I ordered." She replied, "Well, we ain't got all that stuff." I began to rant. She gave me the talk-to-the-hand sign and walked away. The manager came to the window, begged me to leave, handed me my food and said it was free.

Honestly, I am comporting myself at Popeye's somewhat better than a crack addict denied his rock. But never in my life - not even when I spent a high-school summer at Six Flags dispensing hot dogs to people I hated - have I seen such unapologetically awful service.

Leave Cliff Bostock a voicemail at 404-688-5623, ext. 1010, or e-mail him at cliff.bostock@creativeloafing.com.??

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