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Aug/Sept 2005

Dining Out
Musical Chairs
by Katie Kelly Bell

People always talk about pairing food with wine (or beer), but what about pairing a meal with live music? Cajun cuisine simply begs for the blues; fine filet mignon tastes so much richer set to live jazz. And a big juicy burger goes best with rock n' roll. No matter what your musical preference may be, Atlanta has numerous dining destinations that offer a side of live music.

The Swallow at the Hollow
In keeping with their original homemade menu, the Swallow imports made-from-scratch music from up-and-coming artists and experienced professionals. Talented singer/songwriters grace the Swallow's stage every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, including "In the Round" on Friday and Saturday nights with performers from Nashville's famed Bluebird Cafe. The food is just as enticing as the music-the restaurant's pit-smoked barbecue sandwiches served on homemade bread are a "can't miss," and the fresh chocolate chip banana pudding is a fine finish to the meal as you settle in for some foot-stompin' country and bluegrass music. Shows are typically $15 and start at 10 p.m. with dinner seating at 8:30. 1072 Green St., Roswell, 678-352-1975.

Buckhead's legendary Irish pub features the best in music and food, and that's no blarney. Bring your favorite Celtic instrument and feel free to join in the Irish traditional music session that takes place every Monday night. Thursday nights offer up acoustic artists, and Friday and Saturday nights rock out with cover bands. Fado's velvety smooth Shepherd's pie conjures the Emerald Isle, and other favorites include smoked salmon, corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash (pork sausages and potatoes) and fish 'n' chips. Of course, locals know the Guinness alone is worth the trip. 3035 Peachtree Rd., 404-841-0066.

Sleek, sexy and sophisticated, this des tination is a marvelous setting for a romantic night of dinner and drinks set to the sounds of jazz. The sweeping interior curves, high ceilings, plush suede booths and elevated stage create a true jazz-club atmosphere. The artists in the impressive nightly line-up perform an eclectic range of styles, including retro, world, blues, modern and straight-ahead jazz. Expect to savor the sounds of Nick Longo, James Cobb Project, Cooper Tisdale, The Organizers and the Lee Griffin Band. A sophisticated menu complements the classic vibe with items such as the New York strip, filet mignon, and miso-glazed sea bass. 3102 Piedmont Rd., 404-237-5299.

Aqua blue
A variety of musicians help create atmosphere at Aqua blue on Thursday and Friday nights, including the popular three-member band Taylor Wayne Michaels, who play covers of current and classic soul and rock 'n' roll. Aqua blue's global menu is famous for its incredibly fresh sushi and seafood, with crowd pleasers such as the seared sea scallops and shrimp, pan-roasted sea bass with a parsley clam broth, yummy yummy rolls, crab cakes and pasta. The restaurant's décor, accented in blues and yards of gauzy curtains, creates a celestial atmosphere ideal for savoring delicious food and soul-satisfying music. 1564 Holcomb Bridge Rd., 770-643-8886.

Apache Cafe
Diners love the eclectic range of music performed while they devour delicious Southwestern fare such as tacos, quesadillas and burritos. Performances include the pure funk of Crop Circle and the soul-driven beats of Mausiki Scales & Common Ground Collective. Open mic nights and hip hop and rock artists round out the musical offerings. Wednesday night jam sessions are wildly popular, so arrive early for the fun. Reserve a table in advance for $25-all the better for prime viewing, comfy seating and great eating when the house gets full. 64 3rd Street, 404-876-5436.

Front Page News
Boasting a mixed crowd of suits, socialites and hippies, Front Page News serves up savory New Orleans-style fare and lots of free, live music. Thursday through Saturday nights at the Midtown location, or Friday and Saturday nights at Little 5 Points often features top-40 cover bands and artists such as The Squirrel Heads, Blind Slim and Wes Yoakum. Occasionally, a zydeco group will perform-the perfect complement to the Cajun-style shrimp wrapped in bacon with hot mustard sauce, jambalaya or a po' boy. For those who can't take the spice, a New York Strip salad, buttermilk fried chicken and fall-off-the-bone ribs are some of the crowd favorites on Front Page's extensive menu. 1104 Crescent Ave., Midtown, 404-897-3500 or 351 Moreland Ave., Little 5 Points, 404-475-7777.

Maddy's Ribs & Blues Joint
Don't expect fancy tablecloths, booths or crystal stemware at Maddy's. Rather, the focus is on really good Southern 'cue and the really loud sounds of the nightly blues bands. Regulars love sampling the 15 frosty drafts on tap, and the cheerful counter service dishes up just about every combination of B, B and Q: barbeque chicken, pork ribs, barbeque sandwiches and more. Superb sides include rum baked beans and a hearty Brunswick stew. But be warned-having a conversation is secondary to dining to the bluesy beat. 1479 Scott Blvd., 404-377-0301.

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