Thanks to the large number of Northerners that have settled in Alpharetta, this suburb has become a hotbed for Northern staples, such as New York-style pizza and bagels. Now add lobster rolls. At Bite, Sous-chef Jason Morgan pushed his boss, Leif Johnson, to put his recipe on the menu. The year-round item is a bestseller.
A relative newcomer to the Atlanta culinary scene, Morgan fell in love with the combination of tarragon and lobster when working under chef Chris Hall of The Local Three. According to Morgan, his lobster roll isn’t traditional because of the bun. He uses a denser black pepper and thyme – the same one that Souper Jenny uses. Morgan takes claw and knuckle meat and dresses it in a homemade aioli, adds crunch with chopped celery and shallots, and brightened with lime zest, fresh tarragon, chives, and basil. He adds a little pickled red onion on top to cut the relative heaviness of the sandwich. It’s an inspired touch.
Bite, 15500 Webb Bridge Way @ Medlock Bridge, Alpharetta is 15 minutes from my son’s home in Norcross. We were there on Friday evening and had the most impressive dinner I have had in quite some time. We enjoyed soup, salad, entrees, and desserts along with their homemade cucumber lemonade.
Thanks to Tammy Bester from Alpharetta-MiltonPatch for her review of Bite.
Thanks to Tammy Bester from Alpharetta-MiltonPatch for her review of Bite.
Even though the restaurant name is new to Alpharetta, Bite has been a popular catering company based out of Dunwoody for the last five years.
Owner and chef Leif Johnson attributes his repeat customer base and word of mouth success to always using good products, making interesting and creative food and doing this at fair prices for his customers. Now, the creativity and delight of his dishes can be experienced right here in Alpharetta.
Bite is currently open for lunch Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 11500 Webb Bridge Way, Alpharetta. And beginning Aug. 11, customers will be able to have dinner there as well.
The atmosphere is welcoming as customers are greeted as soon as they enter. The restaurant has 26 seats in the open room as well as 6 at the bar and outdoor tables as well. The bar seats offer guests the opportunity to relate with the chefs as they prepare the customers meals in front of them. The intimate setting and lighting offers diners a happening yet intimate vibe wile eating. It is a very unique atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and a part of the experience.
The menu at Bite consists of selections that guests would expect on a local menu. It is not until reading the descriptions or talking with the chef who is preparing the meal entirely in front of them that a diner realize this is a very different restaurant. Everything that can be made fresh, is made fresh. For example, the turkey in the turkey sandwich was bought by the restaurant as raw meat. It was then brined, smoked, cooled and sliced at Bite. The white cheddar is smoked on site for the Pimento dish. The dressings, condiments and sauces are made from scratch.
Much effort has gone into making sure everything is as fresh as it can be before it is presented to the customer in a manner that one would expect from a fine restaurant. The food is elegantly displayed on each plate with as much care as was used in the preparation of the food itself. All of this is served to the customer at prices that range from $4 to $13 a plate.
Enjoy a glass of Cucumber Lemonade with your meal and finish it off with unique ice cream flavors custom made by local company, High Road Craft.
Before moving to Georgia, Leif was an executive chef at a winery in California. He combines his classical training of culinary school with his hard knocks education to come up with his creative dishes. Growing up, he spent time with his grandmother who taught him the basics of cooking. In college, he studied business.
Combining the experience, the talent and the passion for what he does, Bite offers an eclectic menu that Leif calls “New American.” This gives him the liberty to pull flavors from different profiles including Asian. Latin and East coast dishes that he is able to weave together to come up with unique yet familiar cuisine.
Guests who dine at Bite are sure to get to know Leif as well as his chef, Jason Morgan, as they prepare the meals at the bar.
The most popular sandwich ordered is the Lobster Roll. This is because of its authentic New England taste and the fact that it has no fillers. It is simply lobster lightly dressed and placed on a lobster roll. The Street Corn is also a popular choice. The sweet, salty and smoky combination of ingredients makes an awesome combination of tastes.
When dinner becomes available, guests will be invited to bring their own bottles of wine to perfectly complement their meal and their personal budgets.
Leif Johnson takes familiar foods and reinvents them into cravings. Everything I have tried is on my repeat list.
After a lunch there last week, I was euphoric. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a meal in which I couldn’t find something I wasn’t altogether pleased with.
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But what we’d eaten at Bite had been flawless. Was it a fluke? Could this tiny, newly opened café truly be as exceptional as it seemed?
As a test, we ordered some take-out. Surely when we got around to consuming the food hours later, it would disappoint.
It didn’t. It was almost as good as if it had been fresh from Bite’s kitchen. I began to believe that Bite’s chef and owner, Leif Johnson, and his sous chef Jason Morgan might really have their act together.
Another visit confirmed it. Johnson and Morgan scored points across the board in taste, presentation and creativity. The plated dishes were visually delightful, the flavors bold and enticing and the culinary choices made in composing dishes were intriguing.
Take the red chile pork taco. I’ve had many good pork tacos in my day and thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. There are many, many layers of unexpected flavors to this dish.
First, Johnson rubs a pork shoulder with ingredients like ancho, smoked paprika and cumin. He then smokes it for 12 hours, bathes it in house-made mole sauce and adds a dab of his apple and tomato barbecue sauce.
In assembling the taco, Johnson uses goat cheese rather than a more traditional Mexican variety. The slight sourness of the tangy, creamy cheese and the mild zing of pickled jalapeno slaw complemented the pork perfectly. It is totally delicious.
The creative spin on the traditional “kind of encapsulates what I’m trying to do here,” the 35-year-old chef said. “I want to offer thoughtful food constructed by people who have informed ideas on how they want food to taste, using progressive seasonings and layered flavors.”
His fish tacos are also worth noting. Johnson said he uses only quality fish such as grouper, sea bass or mahi mahi. On the day we ordered them, it was fresh grouper, paired mango salsa and the aforementioned jalapeno slaw. They’re a worthy example of the genre.
My culinary informant, Deep Stomach, had sung the praises of Bite’s lobster roll here, and he was absolutely correct. It’s chock full of chunks of freshly cooked, sweet and tender crustacean, held together with just a kiss of mayo and seasoned with tarragon, celery, chives, parsley and lemon.
The soup of the day was peach gazpacho. The chilled soup was a silky smooth blend of fresh peaches and tomatoes spiked with shallots and tarragon. Texture came from some small bits of peach and a light, crunchy hunk of toasted ciabatta. Drizzled with balsamic syrup, this refreshing soup was packed with flavor.
Menus always make flatbreads sound good to me, but when I get them they are usually lackluster. Not here. We loved the fig and prosciutto with mascarpone cheese, arugula and a dash of balsamic, which mingled for a perfect balance of sweet and savory. The lightly crisp flatbread had a snap but didn’t crumble when bitten, nicely supporting the rich melted cheese.
Johnson has one of the most unique takes on the classic pimiento cheese I’ve come across. He smokes white cheddar cheese for the mixture, which imparts a subtle depth of flavor to the otherwise simple ingredients. Rather than pimientos, he mixes in minced peppadew peppers for a little more pizzazz.
But there’s more. He layers the pimiento cheese in a sandwich with honey glazed ham and house-cured bacon, tomato and lettuce on sourdough bread. This spiffed-up version of a down-home comfort food could quickly become addictive.
Speaking of addiction, don’t try the street corn unless you want to be in total thrall to this insanely delicious item. It’s a section of grilled sweet corn rolled in lime aioli and cotija, which is the Mexican version of Parmesan cheese, then judiciously sprinkled with ancho chile.
Johnson moved to the metro area from California, where he was hospitality director and executive chef for the winery that produces Toasted Head wines.
He has built a very successful catering business, but wanted the challenge of his own restaurant. Open just a month, for lunch only, Bite begins dinner service this weekend.
Though he is still in the process of obtaining a pouring license, Johnson already is talking about expanding into the space next door to install more tables and a full bar.
Let’s hope that enough enthusiastic diners discover him and his kitchen wizardry to make his dream a reality.
The chef owner really knows how to coax intense flavors out of his ingredient combinations. The goat cheese and pickled jalapeno slaw on his red mole pork taco were inspired choices. The pork he uses had a smoky spicy goodness, and I was told it is smoked in house. This untraditional taco is currently my favorite in all of north Fulron.
He also smokes the cheddar for an amazingly tasty pimiento cheese sandwich, which has layers of honey glazed ham and house cured bacon.
This guy really seems to know what he’s doing. I haven’t had such consistently good food in a long time.
Without question one of the best restaurants to hit the metropolitan area in a long time. So you complain that you can’t get a good lobster roll? No good fish taco? Those complaints have ended. Everything I’ve had here has been outstanding.
It’s much more upscale than the previous inhabitants Field Good. I’m a little worried about a fancier-than-expected theme and packing everyone in like sardines, ala the short-lived Blais. I also just don’t like how that shopping center is set up–not being able to exit on Kimball Bridge or whatever it’s called at that point.
Peach and tomato gazpacho with mango salsa high on the list of standouts.
Food great. Location a bit iffy. I sure hope the former wins out.