80 years after the iconic movie, imagine having dinner with Scarlett & Rhett
If you know your Gone with the Wind, you'll know that Aunt Pittypat was the aunt Scarlett O'Hara stayed with in Atlanta. And the restaurant named after her fully commits to this theme; at Pittypat’s you'll find life-size cut-outs of Scarlett and Rhett, wooden rocking chairs on the verandah and generous helpings of authentic Southern food. So when my friend Steve visited from the UK, I knew this was just the place for him to sample a taste of Atlanta’s most famous cultural legacy.
Pittypat's Porch main dining room
We’d started the day by re-watching the epic movie starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. Based on Atlanta author Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this 1939 film is still the biggest blockbuster of all time. The movie won ten Oscars and has grossed almost $4 billion, securing Gone with the Wind first place in cinema history. After the movie, we wandered downtown to take a tour of Margaret Mitchell’s home, which is now a museum.
at the desk of Margaret Mitchell
Having spent a whole day swotting up on all things GWTW, we felt we’d earned our dinner, and it was time to follow in Scarlett’s footsteps and head “over yonder” (as they say in these parts) to Aunt Pittypat’s. Pittypat’s Porch first opened its doors in 1967, but once inside, it feels like stepping even further back in time to the Old South, almost like visiting a grand antebellum home. In true Southern style, we received a very warm welcome, and were pleasantly surprised to meet a fellow Brit - Garry, originally from Peterborough, now lives in Atlanta and is bar manager at Pittypat’s. After introducing us to “Scarlett” and “Rhett”, Garry led us down the wooden staircase to our table in the main dining room.
While we browsed the menu, aptly presented in the shape of a fan, Garry offered to mix me a cocktail. It was hard to choose between a Mint Julep (of course), Moonshine Punch or an Ankle Breaker (General Jackson broke his after half a dozen of these, apparently), but I was soon sipping Scarlett’s Peach Lemonade - a delightful combination of rum, vodka, tequila and gin, presumably inspired by Ms. O’Hara’s “spirited” personality.
Our server then presented an assortment of warm, homemade muffins, cornbread and biscuits with creamy butter. From black-eyed peas to collard greens, the food here is as Southern as it gets.
Aunt Pittypat’s Southern sideboard is included with every main course. We were invited to help ourselves to delicacies such as pickled okra, Hoppin’ John (peas, pork & rice) and Pittypat’s chicken salad, which, Garry told me, is famous far beyond Atlanta. For the main course, Steve chose Georgia Catfish, nicely blackened (aka “seasoned and smoked” to us Brits), which he said was delicious.
And me? Well seriously, what else could I order but fried chicken? This is the Deep South, after all.
Garry recommended Bourbon Street bread pudding with custard for dessert, adding that the chef drizzles it with a generous splash of Jim Beam. I do declare, there’s no scrimpin' on the liquor at Pittypat’s.
The restaurant decor features movie posters, a portrait of Scarlett, and old photos of Clark Gable, Margaret Mitchell and Olivia de Havilland at the GWTW Atlanta premiere. One wall displays original sketches used during the production of the movie.
Pittypat’s has become an Atlanta institution, and it’s easy to see why. Everyone we met, from our greeter at the door to Garry, our server Alexis, and Beau (who's worked at the restaurant for 23 years) was incredibly friendly. The staff and service epitomize Southern charm and hospitality, so that just like Scarlett visiting her aunt, you’ll feel right at home. At Pittypat’s Porch, frankly, they do give a damn. In fact, I strongly suspect that gracious hostess Aunt Pittypat herself would mightily approve.
Proper fish & chips from award-winning Brit chip shop
worth flying 4000 miles for
What’s the first thing us ex-pat Brits do as soon as we get “home”? Eat proper fish and chips, of course. And so, the minute we arrived back in lovely Luton, hubby and I headed straight to The Wigmore Fish & Chips Restaurant in Stopsley.
We had vague memories of the takeaway chippy here from our days of living in Luton, and first heard about the new restaurant when it was recommended on Facebook (thanks Pauline). We later learned from our friends Paula and Del that it had won several awards for its fish and chips, which made us even more determined to check out the plaice (sorry, place!)
A warm welcome at The Wigmore
The restaurant is located in the former Wigmore library building, and the decor tastefully reflects this history with old leather-bound books neatly stacked on tall shelves. The bar is well stocked and the modern kitchen is open, with a traditional chip shop style counter, so you can even watch your fish being fried if you wish.
The kitchen - Thank cod it's fryday!
Oh my cod!
We ordered our food and drinks at the bar, then grabbed a table while everything was being freshly cooked. We'd looked forward to this moment for so long, having been bitterly disappointed by "British-style fish & chips" in the States - no, they're really not! Luckily, the wait wasn’t long and definitely worth it, as we were soon served two plates loaded with proper cod and chips, hot from the fryer. The portions, even my “small” serving, were very generous, almost American size. Our cod was coated in the most amazing batter - so light, not hard but still crunchy. Wow - these were the best fish and chips we’d ever tasted!
I indulged myself even further by making a chip butty (sandwich to our American readers) with thickly sliced bread, and enjoyed a lovely cup of tea poured from a rather cute Denby-style stoneware teapot.
How cute is this teapot?
Just then, the owner Barbara stopped by our table to say hello. She explained that The Wigmore is a family affair; her husband still runs the takeaway chippy, just a few doors away, while Barbara and her sons manage the restaurant, which opened last year. “We are here 7 days a week," she told us, “It’s hard work but we enjoy doing it.” The fabulous fish and chips filled me up quite nicely, but hubby still had room for dessert. Barbara presented her homemade cherry cheesecake with ice cream. I sampled a spoonful before hubby polished it off, and agreed it was absolutely delicious.
Barbara's homemade cheesecake
Apart from their award-winning fish and chips, The Wigmore also serves Sunday roasts, afternoon tea and all-day brunch. The menu features gluten-free items, as well as a selection of traditional Greek dishes. With such a variety of choices, this is not your typical chippy at all. The owners are environmentally responsible too, ensuring all their fish comes from sustainable sources, composting their packaging, and using LED bulbs to reduce the carbon footprint. The whole space is modern, light and airy, with chic finishes, and a very nice ladies’ loo (I firmly believe you can tell a lot about a restaurant by the quality of the toilets!).
With friendly staff, great service and fantastic food, it’s easy to see (and taste) why this fish restaurant has been voted one of the best in Britain. And yes, I’d certainly fly 4000 miles for another chip butty here.
We’re really excited about SEATED, a no-hassle booking app that pays decent rewards in return for restaurant reservations
photo courtesy of Seated, used with permission
Me and hubby love going out for dinner, and for many years we’ve been using Opentable.com to make quick and easy online reservations. But Opentable rewards are pretty stingy - usually 100 points per booking which can be cashed-in only when you reach 2000 points for a $10 Amazon gift card (so basically 50¢ per booking). If it wasn’t for the convenience factor, it hardly seems worth it. And when I first heard about Seated, another free reservation app about a year ago, I was a bit skeptical. At that time, users were required to divulge credit card details to verify that they’d actually paid the bill (as opposed to doing a runner). Always cautious about security, I declined to hand over any top-secret financial info. However, I recently received a new invitation which persuaded me to sign up - Seated has removed the credit card requirement, allowing you to simply snap a pic of your restaurant receipt instead.
Seated has partnered with select, upscale restaurants in NYC, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco … and Atlanta. We were very excited to spot some of our local favourites (Emidio’s, Anis Bistro and Eclipse Di Luna) on Seated, and it’s even encouraged us to try some new places too. Admittedly, the app itself is a little glitchy, and navigating the map feature to find restaurants in your area is a bit tricky. To help you out, we have listed some of our Atlanta recommendations below.
Seated helps restaurants attract new business, fill tables and create a loyal fan base by motivating diners to book in advance and remember to show up (don’t worry - the app won’t let you forget). In return for keeping your reservation and meeting a minimum spend you’ll be rewarded up to 30% of your check, which can be cashed-in as Amazon, Apple, Sephora or Target gift cards or Uber credits, and "experiences" such as wine tastings, celebrity dinners and other special events. I’m finding it amazingly quick and easy to upload a photo of my receipt, and I receive my reward within a couple of hours of leaving the restaurant. And all this done so simply on my phone. Splitting the check with friends? Just snap a shot their receipts too, and Seated will reward you on the joint total. If you dine out with a business account, you can even double-dip by claiming rewards along with your expenses. Sweet!
While hubby and I don’t usually need any incentive to dine out, it is lovely to be rewarded just for going to dinner. Since signing up for Seated, I’ve achieved “Elite” status within my first month, earned tons of gift cards and received several $20 bonus rewards too. For our latest dinner date, we enjoyed a free Uber ride there and back, thanks to Seated.
As if getting paid to eat out is not rewarding enough, Seated will donate one meal to a child in need via the UN World Food charity in return for every reservation. How great is that?
Update: my end of 2019 Seated statement shows I earned $330 in rewards this year!
Special offer: click this link to join Seated and get a $5 bonus on your first reservation
There’s nothing quite like a “full English” first thing in the morning, and since moving Stateside, hubby and I have been hard pushed to find anything that remotely resembles a traditional British breakfast from back home. Living in Georgia, we’ve never quite understood the Southern passion for fried chicken or biscuits and gravy as a morning meal, and we’ll happily concede that grits are an acquired taste. We can’t get used to US-style sausages and bacon, and merely suggesting that mushrooms and beans belong on the breakfast plate equally amuses and horrifies our American friends. We daren’t even mention black pudding, for fear of revealing its main ingredient and causing untold distress to the faint-hearted. So you can imagine how excited we were to recently discover an award-winning Atlanta pub where you can get a good old “fry up” all day long - no questions asked.
Ok, so before I go any further, technically it's a Celtic pub and the all-day feast is officially titled “Irish breakfast” - what our good friends Colin and Chris would call an “Ulster fry”. But basically, a big brekkie from anywhere in the British Isles is pretty much the same thing. So, without getting too distracted by the name or regional variations, let’s get our teeth into the juicy details.
Craving a taste of home, hungry hubby and I headed to the Olde Blind Dog in Milton early one Wednesday morning. We were greeted by director of operations Geoff Kokoszka, and as we settled into one of the cosy “snugs” (ornately decorated enclosed booths) Geoff filled us in on the history of the pub. It all started in 2009 when a Scottish collector of all things Celtic was seeking a spot to open a bar in Atlanta. He discovered that the suburb of Milton had the largest cluster of Scots-Irish in the state of Georgia. An artisan carpentry company, working out of a local barn, was commissioned to design and recreate the rustic Irish decor.
Snug at the Old Blind Dog
William Wallace, or is it Mel Gibson?
Today, the pub interior includes exquisite carvings, beautiful woodwork, stained glass and 200-year-old doors. It certainly looks and feels authentic. The owner is also a descendent of William Wallace, which explains the life-size, slightly spooky replica of Braveheart permanently encaged at the pub.
There’s even an interesting story behind the name of the Olde Blind Dog. The owner’s beloved bulldog, Peaches, was rescued from a shelter and had only one eye. Sadly, she passed away two months before the pub opened, but Peaches is fondly immortalized in her picture which adorns the brand logo and the sign above the door.
Photo credit: Olde Blind Dog pub
Geoff told us that his regulars consist of many expats as well as long-term locals, who all love the traditional Irish food, and of course the famous Irish stout. He was keen to point out that Guinness gets special treatment at the Olde Blind Dog; it is stored separately and kept at a constant temperature to ensure it pours warmer than less prolific beers, while staff are carefully trained how to pull a perfect pint of the precious black stuff. Naturally, hubby insisted on sampling a glass, purely to confirm all this is true.
And just then our breakfast arrived. Two large plates loaded with real back bacon rashers (all the way from Ireland), bangers made specially by a local butcher, proper Heinz baked beans, fried mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, three eggs and optional black or white pudding. All this was accompanied by a thick wedge of freshly baked Irish soda bread, warm and crumbly, with creamy Kerrygold butter of course. Decent soda bread in the US is almost as rare as a crock of gold or even a genuine shamrock (the three-leaf variety, not those four-leaf imposters that crop up every Paddy’s Day), and this was among the best I've ever tasted.
Breakfast for two
Irish soda bread and a cuppa
We cleared our plates and washed everything down with a lovely cup of Twinings English breakfast tea. That our young server instinctively knew our tea should be hot (not iced) with milk (not cream) was a refreshing change which made us feel like we were briefly back across the pond.
The final verdict: this hearty pub breakfast ticked all the right boxes and was the perfect way to start our day.
As we were leaving, Geoff reminded us about the Olde Blind Dog’s twin pub in Brookhaven, actually a bit closer to home for us. We can’t wait to visit that one too. Based on our experience at the Milton location, hubby and I are happy to testify that the Olde Blind Dog serves up the best big British (Irish) breakfast in Atlanta.
As the traffic zooms along Highway 9 in Sandy Springs, most drivers have no idea that an extraordinary little restaurant is quietly tucked away from the busy road. Hubby and I discovered Emidio’s purely by chance when we moved to the area. Since we got in on the secret, this fabulous hidden gem has become a firm favorite with us.
Located off the beaten track in an unassuming strip mall (that’s what Americans call a row of shops, not some dodgy dive - for the benefit of my Brit friends!), Emidio’s is nextdoor to a dance studio and a furniture store, where the driving licence (Georgia DDS) office used to be. Not quite where you’d expect to find exceptional Mediterranean cuisine, but that all adds to the quirkiness of this unique little restaurant.
Enjoying dessert with Barbara & Paula
The atmosphere is so laid back, old school and charming that, in these hectic days, it’s verging on quaint. Visiting Emidio’s feels like stepping back in time while taking a mini-trip to the Med. The mood is distinctly Euro-style too; as Maria always reminds us when we arrive, “There is no rush. Sit, relax, and enjoy your evening.” It has been known for us to leisurely linger for three hours over dinner and drinks, much to the surprise of our American friends!
Owners Joe & Maria
Family is a big deal at Emidio’s. The restaurant is owned and operated by the aforementioned Maria and her husband Joe, with son Danny waiting tables or helping out in the kitchen. And the atmosphere is so warm, welcoming and friendly, you instantly feel at home - almost part of the family too.
Joe and Maria hail from the Portuguese island of Madeira, before living in Britain for ten years. From Jersey, UK they moved to New Jersey, USA and finally to metro Atlanta, where they opened Emidio’s six and a half years ago. Joe is also executive chef, and when he’s not conjuring up new creations in the kitchen, is often out mingling with diners or chatting about football (soccer) over a drink at the bar. Dining room decor features a framed (and famed) number 7 shirt signed by Madeira’s very own Cristiano Ronaldo, which was a gift to the restaurant.
Football fans - cheering on Portugal
And the food? Well, everything is freshly prepared from scratch, and cooked just how you like it. The menu features authentic Portuguese, Spanish and Italian dishes. Some of our favorites include Caldo Verde soup, Cataplana - the traditional seafood stew of Portugal served in a classic copper pan, sizzling Lapus mussels, and salmon in Joe’s fab champagne sauce. Oh, and the Portuguese dessert cake "Bacon from Heaven" is to die for (excuse the pun). There’s an impressive wine list too, although my first choice is Maria’s homemade sangria, which is loaded with fresh fruit so it must be healthy, right?
Cataplana - Portuguese stew
Linguica portuguesa sausage
Sizzling Lapus mussels
Toucinho do Ceu (aka Bacon from Heaven)
Chef Joe busy in the kitchen
And on the first Sunday of every month, Emidio’s offers a wonderfully relaxed and casual buffet lunch to celebrate Portugal’s culture and cuisine.
monthly buffet lunch
Unlike some of the trendy eateries downtown, you won’t encounter a waiting list to get a table or a line halfway down the street, and that’s the beauty of being beyond big city limits, in the suburbs of Sandy Springs. Emidio’s is off-radar for many Atlanta restaurant-goers, but like other lucky locals, hubby and I struck gold when we discovered this little treasure in our own neighborhood. So shhh, don’t tell anyone. Although, on second thoughts, some secrets are too good not to share.