Thursday, December 23, 2010

South City Kitchen

In the mood for something other than the usual lunch, Xiaoli and I decided to try South City Kitchen for lunch.  It's one of those restaurants tucked in between the skyscrapers of midtown. These places attract a very different crowd from the Georgia Tech experience.

We started with the fried green tomatoes, which were my favorite part of the meal. The crust was very crispy and the tomatoes inside were tender; combining those two can be a delicate balance.  They were garnished with some goat cheese and tomato sauce. The tomato sauce had a nice collection of herbs.

I tried the BBQ pork sandwich and salad for my main course. The BBQ wasn't bad but the sauce was a little sweet. I read an article on BBQ the other day that pointed out that the Kansas City sweet sauce is the style of BBQ most tolerant to lapses; I wish this sauce had been a little less sweet so that I could enjoy the pork more. The salad was very fresh and the potato chips were fresh and crispy.

South City Kitchen Midtown on Urbanspoon

South City Kitchen Midtown

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holeman & Finch

Holeman & Finch is the gastropub creation of superchef Linton Hopkins, who also created Restaurant Eugene next door.  (And who, by the way is Eugene?)  It's on Peachtree (where else?) in the lower Buckhead restaurant corridor.  This place has been on my agenda for awhile; last night the place was thick with 30-somethings having a good time.
The menu consists mostly of small plates, which suited me fine because I wanted just a little pickup.  My first choice was a cheese plate which was served with a dollop of apple sauce/butter and a squiggle of honey.  Two out of three cheeses really caught my fancy, which is a pretty good ratio for blind choices.  I particularly liked the blue cheese with a little bit of honey and apple.

I finished up with the apple pie. No, it isn't a warmed-over Hostess pie. You also can't see the ice cream underneath.  It was exquisite.  First, the pie has a very clear note of fried---not greasy but something more like lard, an ingredient near and dear to all Southerners. The ice cream was also very rich with a clear, refreshing taste of vanilla.

At some point I'll make it back here for their signature dish, the special burger.  It is served in limited quantities as a late night experience, so I will have to plan my evening around it.  But the burger is supposed to be worth it.
Holeman & Finch Public House on Urbanspoon

Holeman & Finch Public House

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sandy Springs: Bishoku

Category: Drive-worthy for people who enjoy Japanese food and culture.
Verdict: Excellent food and wonderful, attentive service.

I learned about Bishoku from a Georgia Tech student who lived in Japan for many years.  He told me that Bishoku is his favorite Japanese restaurant in Atlanta.  That was good enough for me. It's on Roswell Road near the perimeter. The interior has the spaciousness that Americans like but the decorations have a distinct Japanese touch. It also has a large sushi bar complete with a staff of sushi chefs.
I've been there twice now.  On my first visit, I concentrated on sushi and sasimi. This is the sushi and sasimi omakase (chef's choice). The selections weren't particularly exotic but all the fish was of very high quality. I'm always a sucker for fatty tuna.

For balance, I went for cooked food on my second visit. My favorite was the grilled eggplant in miso sauce. The eggplant was beautifully tender. The sauce was sweet, almost like a candied sweet potato but more subtle. The resulting combination of taste and texture was something totally unexpected by me and very enjoyable.

Bishoku on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tasty China

Category: Atlanta Chinese favorite
Verdict: Worth a drive.

Tasty China, and more particularly its chef, have received a great deal of attention from both the Atlanta foodie world and the local Chinese community.  I've eaten there a couple of times myself.  More recently, Yu, Fumin and I had dinner there together.  That allowed us to try more dishes and me to avail myself of their expertise.

On my solo visits, I was drawn to the "Hot and numbing" dishes, such as hot and numbing beef.  This is clearly not a name bestowed by a restaurant marketing consultant.  These dishes were fascinating and something I hadn't tried before.  The beef had a crunchy crust and was served with whole red chiles.  The complete dish looks like this:
http://www.tastychina.net/wordpress/
I really enjoyed it.

But I wanted to try more.  We tried several things, including a bean curd soup (very good), beef with chile (good), and my absolute favorite, tea smoked duck.  The duck was succulent and the smokiness came through perfectly---an excellent counterpoint to the duck without being overpowering.  Overall, Yu made an interesting point: Mexican hot food has a long burn while Sichuan hot food has a burn that goes away in a few minutes.  Yu and Fumin agreed that the menu tries to please both Chinese and American palates, which is a good thing in my book.  The choices are unusual even for a jaded Chinese food-addicted programmer.

Tasty China on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's Wrong With This Picture?

I can't help but comment on this.  I passed by Eclipse di Luna, near Perimeter Mall, which bills itself as a tapas restaurant.  Their special tonight?  Chicken fried steak.  Hmmm...I didn't realize that was a Spanish delicacy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Impromptu Thanksgiving Dinner

At the last minute, my plans changed and I did not have time to cook Thanksgiving dinner as I had planned. I decided that this was my chance to try the fried Cajun turkey at Copeland's. I had heard good things about it from a friend.




I ordered a complete meal: turkey, dressing (as my mom calls it), mashed potatoes, green beans with ham, gravy, and biscuits.  I also ordered some corn maque choux, which mixes the corn with red pepper and puts both in a rich sauce.  The online reviews don't seem to think much of Copeland's food, and I haven't eaten a sit-down meal there, but this meal was excellent.  Fried turkey is one of those devilishly good ideas.   The grease doesn't penetrate very far, so the turkey is moist because it cooks so quickly.  The drumstick is a special treat. The base of the drumstick is moist and meaty while the handle end becomes crunchy, giving a wonderful contrast in textures.  The side dishes were also good.  I'm glad that I tried the corn maque choux---it had just enough kick from the peppers to get my attention, which was  nice addition to the traditional Thanksgiving flavors.

For dessert, I picked up a hazelnut cake from Maison Robert.  It was exquisite.  The cake was a moist sponge with hazelnut cream icing and a crushed hazelnut coating on top.  The chocolate petals on top were a nice visual touch and gave just enough chocolate to offset the hazelnuts.


Copeland's of New Orleans on Urbanspoon
Maison Robert Fine Chocolates on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sandy Springs: Mirage Persian Cuisine

Category: Local evening out place.
Verdict: Enjoyable evening, great for sharing.

Yu and I decided to try Mirage, one of the restaurants on Sandy Springs' Middle Eastern Row. It's a standard strip mall location but the interior is fairly nice.

We started with an eggplant appetizer. The eggplant was pureed with a few onion crisp-style springs on top, presumably of eggplant. It was served with a flat bread plus the dish of accompaniments that seems to be common in the Middle East: walnuts, mint, etc. (I particularly love the fresh mint.) A lot of the dishes combine sweet and savory and we both went in that direction for our main dishes. Yu ordered a lamb skewer with a rice flavored with fruit and nuts. I went for a chicken stew with a sweet sauce. My dish had a rich, thick gravy that was filled with sweet fruits and ground nuts. The result was very, very sweet. Although I enjoyed it, eating the whole thing myself was a big much. Dishes this sweet are best shared. Yu was very satisfied with her skewer.

Mirage Persian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sandy Springs: Sushi Mio


Category: Local Evening Spot
Verdict: Safe, Simple Sushi

Sushi Mio is in one of the strip malls on Roswell Road just north of the perimeter. The decor has some upscale touches, more Western than Japanese. They do have a sushi bar. I probably should have sat there to talk to the chef but I chose a table.

I ordered the sushi (with rice) and sashimi (without rice) platter. All the fish was prime flesh---no eggs or other parts that might scare the uninitiated. Of course, some of those strange things are wonderful, but this restaurant is clearly going for the mainstream American audience. The fish itself was good, though I would say nothing popped out at me. Being a realtively borign sushi person, I often judge by the salmon, which I found pleasantly buttery. It wasn't a shazam item, though.

Sushi Mio Japanese on Urbanspoon

Dunwoody: Village Burger


Category: Local Hangout
Verdict: Satisfies the burger craving

Village Burger is a cozy little place on the edge of Dunwoody town center (to the extent that Dunwoody town center is big enough to have an edge). The decor is burger stand with a family-friendly upscale twist. The menu has, of course, burgers plus hot dogs. They also serve beer and wine for the adults.


I went for a classic burger with bacon. The burger came in two patties but was hearty and juicy. The bun was of above average quality. I also went for the cajun fries. They smelled great as they sat on my table. Given the fresh-from-the-grease smell, I expected them to be a little crispier, but that's OK. The fries satisfied the starch side of my burger palate.

Village Burger on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Farm Burger

Farm Burger is in downtown Decatur next to Watershed. (Luckily, parking was pretty easy when I visited.) The format of the restaurant is similar to Yeah! Burger (I don't know which came first), but Farm Burger goes with the natural, farm look and definitely goes upscale in its ingredients. They offer a gluten-free bun, for example, and offer toppings like bone marrow (interesting...) and arugula.



I got the #3, which has creamy bacon/blue cheese, lettuce, and tomato. I also had to try the fries. The bacon/blue cheese sauce was great. Everything was high quality, but I wish the patty would have been thicker. Their patty is of moderate thickness, which is probably better for my diet but doesn't have quite the beefy attraction of a really thick patty. I can't figure out from their menu if you can get a double burger. I was, quite frankly, a little disappointed in the fries. They were probably great when they came out of the fryer, but they had sat around for just a few minutes and weren't quite as zippy as I would have expected.

Farm Burger on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Taka


Taka is on Pharr Road in Buckhead. I found the atmosphere to be a nice Americanized version of a Japanese sushi bar. By Japanese standards, the place is huge (it has tables!), but for this country it is intimate and friendly. I didn't sit at the sushi bar, which is of course the best way to enjoy sushi, so I can't comment on the sushi chefs directly, but they did appear to be friendly. Unfortunately, the chef said that he couldn't do an omakase (chef's choice), so I ordered a selection of sasimi and sushi. One of my rolls was a yellow tail roll that had been fried. The crispy part of the coating was thin and added an interesting texture. That sort of thing could be a nighmare if mishandled but this roll was expertly done. I do not claim to be a sushi expert by any means but I think that the quality of the fish is the ultimate test. The fish here was excellent. The menu lists where each item comes from, which is interesting in itself and a show of quality.

Taka Sushi Cafe on Urbanspoon

Pete's Polar Den and Hot Dogs

The combination ice cream/hot dog seems to be the new trend in food emporiums. Pete's is at the intersection of Shallowford and I-85. It's a neighborhood place. It's very cute---bright and cheery with great video screen menus. I stopped by for a hot dog and was happy to see that they offer Chicago dogs. Their version is authentic and not bad. I don't think that they use Vienna Beef dogs, which is heresy to the true believer, but hey, if you're that intense about hot dogs, move back to Chicago.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Decatur: Mediterranean Grill


I've eaten at Mediterranean Grill quite a few times. It's reliable fast Middle Eastern food, very popular with students. My go-to dish is the gyro plate, which includes rice and salad, but I've had their large salads several times as well.

Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

Cleveland: Glenda's Place


Cleveland is the home of Cabbage Patch Kids(TM), but they also make a mean breakfast. I went into Glenda's Place because it looked like the right kind of place for biscuits and gravy. Boy, was I right. Unfortunately my camera malfunctioned, so you will have to take my word for what happened. A huge plate came out, covered with biscuits and gravy spilling off the edge. The gravy was excellent---rich and meaty. And talk about rib-sticking...a good breakfast should coat your innards and keep you going all day long. Glenda's on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Parker's on Ponce


The Decatur Book Festival was a a very enjoyable experience but I passed on the urge to review the fast food there. Instead, I decided to try Parker's on Ponce.

Although they are officially a steakhouse, I was in the mood for salmon. I'm not sure what happened to the photo of the dish, but the presentation was wonderful. The salmon was on a bed of very fluffy mashed potatoes and a few baby vegetables. The salmon was a bit disappointing. It had a bit of a fishy smell---not that much but more than I would expect.

Parkers on Ponce on Urbanspoon

Food Trucks and Football

Coming out of the Georgia Tech game, I spied a food truck that promised fried pies. I don't see food trucks around Atlanta very often, so the very concept was intriguing, but quite frankly they had me at fried pie. The truck was from Mercier Orchards, an apple orchard in northern Georgia, so naturally the theme was apple. I ended up with a fried apple pie and an apple slush. The pie was good but my favorite was the slush. It was very rich with apple taste. The slush captured the tart/sweet combination that is the essence of an apple in some ways better than the average apple does. Who says football food has to be boring? Mercier's Orchard on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chocolate Pink


Chocolate Pink is a small midtown hideaway. They're open very late and they attract a big date crowd.

They have a variety of desserts: chocolates, cupcakes, etc. When I saw that they had a fleur de sel tart I had to try it. The basic tart is a pecan pie on steroids: pecans, chocolate, caramel, pastry shell. The kicker is the sprinking of sea salt on top. Salt on chocolate may sound counterintuitive, but salt enhances the taste of almost anything. The tart was a very impressive product that was beautiful to look at and tasted delicious.

Chocolate Pink on Urbanspoon

Roswell: Spiced Right Ribhouse


I've passed by this place on Roswell Road several times and decided to stop by.

I wasn't ravenously hungry so I went for a brisket sandwich. The sandwich isn't the ideal form for evaluating meat since the bun can hide some of the meat's subtleties, but hey, that's all I could eat. I must say that the brisket was tender and juicy. My favorite part of the meal was the corn souffle. I'd classify this as a good local BBQ outfit.

Spiced Right Ribhouse BBQ on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 27, 2010

Majestic


The Majestic, on Ponce de Leon, dates to the 1920s. I've eaten breakfast there before. I think this was my first dinner.

My pork chop was fine, more or less what you would expect from a nice diner. The salad, which I didn't show here, was great, with a wide variety of ingredients and a flavorful vinaigrette. The menu is generally heavy on sandwiches and lighter on blue plate specials (I had been looking forward to a turkey dinner, but alas). Their breakfast menu is very strong---I suspect that they serve breakfasts to all sorts of people at all hours of the day.

Majestic Diner on Urbanspoon

Java Jive


Java Jive is, in my opinion one of the classic Atlanta breakfast places. I've been there a few times before for breakfast. It's on Ponce de Leon. They have a truly impressive collection of vintage/antique kitchen appliances and dinette sets so the '40s coffee shop vibe is well earned.

I had a pecan waffle and bacon, both of which were very good. They brag about their biscuits so I had to try one. It was truly excellent---moist, flaky, buttery. They don't seem to have any gravy dish to go with it. At the time I was disappointed but upon reflection the lack of gravy helped me enjoy the biscuit more.

Java Jive on Urbanspoon

Decatur: Bhojan Market


Bhojan Market is next to Bhojanic; I assume they are related. The market carries a variety of take-home Indian dishes: curries, chutneys, breads, etc. I bought a container of tamarind chutney and methi roti. I'm a nut for tamarind. I don't think I've had this type of bread before; it has almonds in it, among other things.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bobby G's Chicago Eatery


Bobby G's Chicago Eatery is in the restaurant complex at the Lindberg MARTA complex. Let me warn you that the parking situation there is confusing and you may have to pay to park.

I had a Chicago-style hot dog and a tamale. They also have Italian beef and deep-dish pizza. The dog had all the basics but it lacked zing, in my opinion. In particular, I didn't get the hit of celery salt that I associate with the classic Chicago dog. The other flavors lacked impact as well.

Bobby G's Chicago Eatery on Urbanspoon