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Showing posts from January, 2009

Eating around Georgia Tech: The Silver Skillet

The Silver Skillet, a Southern restaurant, has received a steady stream of media attention, most recently on Tuesday's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives."  I missed that episode but I made sure that I went back this morning for their biscuits and gravy.  I cut back on coffee just so I could keep the rich taste of gravy in my mouth a little longer.  But one aspect of their menu doesn't receive enough attention---their icebox lemon pie.  It's cold and creamy with the right balance of sweet and sour.  It's good for either breakfast or lunch.  Pie is, after all, the All-American breakfast.

Meers OK: Meers Store and Restaurant

Subject: Meers Store and Restaurant
Location: Meers OK
Last visit: July 2008

The Meers store is known for growing its own hormone-free beef. I had seen it on TV several times, but when I saw them just a few days before a trip to Oklahoma City, I took it as a sign from God and made it my top priority. The family could wait. My cousin, it turned out, had been there, so we regaled my uncle with stories of hamburgers that fill pie pans.

I had to drive an hour and a half from Oklahoma City to get to the restaurant; that’s only slightly less time than I spent on the airplane flying from Atlanta to OKC. Meers is north of Fort Sill, roughly in the middle of nowhere. It’s close to 30 minutes off the Interstate; in the 21st century, anything not within 100 yards of an exit ramp is considered to be dragon territory.

Meers is even smaller than it appears on television, really just one building. But that building is quite capacious and they are set up to accommodate not …

Tokyo: Ginza Kyubey

Subject: Ginza Kyubey
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Last visit: January 21, 2009

Just before my visit to Japan, the Wall Street Journal ran an article on the record prices paid for tuna by sushi restaurants in Tokyo. I took this as a sign and decided to visit one of them. Since Kyubey was the only restaurant mentioned that has an English Web site, it became my objective. The thought of an expensive meal in Tokyo didn’t phase me. I’ve paid good money from some very bad meals in Tokyo; while there is a lot of good food in Japan, it is also easy to find bad food and pay for the privilege. And sushi is one cuisine in which price is more reasonably correlated with quality. Barbeque, for example, is the art of making good food out of mediocre cuts of meat, but money often buys noticeable quality in raw fish.

Kyubey is located on the Ginza, which is a very expensive district but also one of the older sections of Tokyo. Our chef told us that the restaurant had been …

Tokyo: Doughnut Plant
Location: All over Tokyo and environs
Last visit: January 20, 2009
The Doughnut Plant (note that the spelling is not “Donut Plant,” which would clearly be too lowbrow for such a culinary endeavor) is a gourmet donut establishment on the Lower East Side of New York City that has received a lot of press attention over the past several years. But despite several attempts, I had been unable to locate it in Manhattan. Little did I know that all I had to do was to get on an airplane and sit for 14 hours. Tokyo is riddled with Doughnut Plant locations. While on a train ride through Tokyo, I switched trains at Shinjuku station, the world’s busiest train station, and found a Doughnut Plant booth right in front of me. All thoughts of dieting immediately vanished from my head and I rushed over, consumed by thoughts of round fried dough.

Keep in mind that not all Japanese licensees of U. S. food concepts are worth walking across the street. Our visit to the Kyoto outp…

Des Moines: Chocolaterie Stam

There's no better way to celebrate a Tokyo->Des Moines flight than chocolate...
Stam's sign says "Amsterdam Des Moines".  I've never visited their Amsterdam location, but their stores' ambiance, particularly the Ingersoll Avenue location, show a European influence.  The Ingersoll store is decorated and furnished with heavy wood furniture and rich fabrics that recall old world Europe; their style stands in stark contrast to See's new world tile efficiency.
I just returned from the store and am enjoying their hot chocolate. The milk is well-balanced with the chocolate. A more exclusively chocolate drink has its charms but I appreciate the milk after spending the past day stowed in an airplane hold. Their chocolates are excellent---I'm looking forward to the hazelnut pieces---and they have a large selection of sugar-free chocolate.

Nashvile: Monell's Restaurant

Last visit: December 2008 Web site:
We first visited Monell's about 10 years ago on the basis of a tiny ad in a newspaper for passengers at the Nashville airport: all-you-could-eat for $11. This proposition sounds attractive to a hungry traveler independent of the quality of the food. But Monell's turned out to be an outstanding experience. The restaurant is located in a restored 1880s house in the old German section of town. Guests are served at communal tables and served family style. The food is excellent; the family-style service helps them serve extremely fresh portions. I would never say that a restaurant is as good as my mom's cooking because it wouldn't be true and such a statement would endanger my safety, but Monell's has mastered Southern home cooking. Their fried chicken is outstanding; they always serve a selection of meats at every meal. Their dressing is more corn-based than the typical dressing, which suits my taste.  The co…