We attended the American Indian Festival at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds---a wonderful family experience by the way. This turned out to be our chance to not only indulge ourselves in fried dough but to compare two different types. Fried dough is a staple of world cuisine and it's always interesting to see what different peoples do with it.
Funnel cake is a carnival staple. In case you don't know, the dough is put in a funnel and dribbled in swirls into the grease. The result is a cake with a lot of texture and crunch. Our fried dough was a class example.
The next booth had Indian fry bread. This is a large pat of dough, about the size of a small pie tin, that is fried in dough for several minutes. Unlike funnel cake, fry bread is tender all the way through. You can get it with all sorts of toppings, both sweet and savory, but I chose honey. I thought that fry bread was a superb accompaniment to the honey---the cake is simple enough to allow the floweriness of the honey to come through. To me, the fry bread won the faceoff hands down, but it's hard to beat fried dough in any form.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
I finally made it to Chinese Dhaba in the Global Mall on Jimmy Carter Boulevard. I spied it a few months ago. It's in the food court in a largely Indian shopping center. Chinese Dhaba purveys Chinese food with an Indian twist. I discovered Chinese/Indian food about 10 years ago in Schaumburg, Illinois. It's a very old fusion cuisine that comes from ethnic Chinese who settled in India. I've talked to people who know about it but it is hard to find, so when I stumbled across this place I knew that I had to make a special trip to try it.
I had the vegetarian spring samosas and ginger chicken in brown sauce. The samosas are samosa shape but made with the thinner wrapper of a spring roll, not the thick roll of a samosa. I ate them with just a touch of Chinese hot sauce---very fresh and delicious. The brown sauce was a little heavy for my taste, but I really enjoyed the ginger note in the chicken. The sauce was thicker than the average Chinese sauce, and I think that was part of the Indian influence.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
I drove south last weekend in search of peaches. I did find some, although I concluded that it's still a little early for really good peaches. But I did stumble across a treat---boiled spicy peanuts. The gentleman from whom I got my peaches also had boiled peanuts. I've had them before, but never quite so fresh. He pulled them directly out of the pot, so they were hot and wet. They had just enough red pepper on them to make a nice contrast. Boiled peanuts are so soft. They're easy to get out of the shell and to eat. They made a wonderful little snack.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
My friend Yu said that Chef Liu had a wonderful Chinese noodles. I'm a nut for noodles so I put it high on my list of places to try.
I asked the waiter for his choices, and this is what he recommended. My favorite was the dumplings on the bottom right. The pastry is fairly thin and delicate, which gives a wonderful combination with the pork filling. The upper dumplings were also pork but with heavier bread. The other is a leek tart, which was a very nice change of pace.
This is the entrance to Kevin Rathbun Steak. It's incredibly hush-hush, almost CIA-level. There aren't any big signs, just a couple of small parking signs The interior has elements of a traditional steak house---brick and wood---but with a postmodern touch. The music is straight ahead jazz.
The photos of most the food weren't good enough to show you, which is too bad, but every course met my expectations for a place that is considered one of the top steak houses in the country. I started off with a wedge salad (they will make half sizes of all the salads). The bacon was perfect and the dressing was very rich It had a lot of bleu cheese but also several other flavors that were really wonderful.
I ordered a ribeye, onion rings, and the jalapeno corn. The jalapeno corn was really excellent---just enough heat complemented with a light cream. The onion rings were excellent; I couldn't finish them. The steak was done perfectly. The combination of the three dishes couldn't have been better.
My dessert was a chocolate hazelnut cake. I'm crazy for hazelnuts and the cake was very subtly done.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Buckhead Bread Company is on Piedmont, across from Buckhead Diner. It's both a bakery and a restaurant. The atmosphere is very much Buckhead ladles lunch. I've had the bakery goods on many occasions---their bread excellent. I've had whole grain loaves artisnal loaves and really enjoyed them.
I had a soup and Caesar salad. The soup was cheese with meat and potatoes. The waitress billed it as a Philly cheesesteak in a bowl, which quite frankly didn't impress me. The soup was good, although I think it would have been better as a straight cheese soup minus the meat. I've had soup there on other occasions and it's always been very good. I've had the Caesar several times and it is always reliable.
Stats is in that new development of restaurants near the convention center. It's a large sports bar with the usual acoutrements, plus an outpost of one of the local radio stations.
I ordered a salad with a vinaigrette dressing. What came out was an egg-based mustard dressing. Somehow I thought that a vinaigrette had a vinegar base...
The disappointment continued with the burger. The cheese on top looked a little sad. The meat itself was workmanlike but didn't have any zing. The bacon, sad to say, had no character. It was a little too machine-perfect: perfectly flat, totally dry.
The service was tone-deaf. I was left alone at first, then the staff was more interested in giving their speeches than giving me what I asked for.
If you're looking for a place to hang out and watch big screens, this may be for you, but your dining experience may not live up to the decorations.
Monday, May 17, 2010
The Super H Market in Chamblee is next to BrandSmart, at the intersection of the Perimeter and Chamblee Industrial. I believe it's a Korean chain; it has the overall bright, colorful appearance of a nice supermarket. I've been there several times but yesterday was my first full shopping trip. Their selection of vegetables is very strong, although probably not as big as the Buford Farmers' Market. I didn't spend as much time looking at the meat department but it did seem very thorough, with an emphasis on pre-packaged meats. They have supplies for a variety of ethnic groups; it's going to take me a little while to figure out their organization but they have a very strong selection for spices, sauces, etc.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
This will be a short report since I didn't actually eat at Murphy's, but I did enjoy my experience there. It's located right behind the Virginia Highlands sign---pretty much the definition of centrally located in Virginia Highlands. The atmosphere is wood-oriented but very sunny, unlike the typical bar experience. They get baked goods from Bakeshop, which is a good sign. (I hope to be able to review Bakeshop soon.) Leslie, of course, suggested this place, and I'll make it back some time to try out the food and give a fuller report.
Taco Mac has outposts all over town; this visit was to the Midtown location on Peachtree (where else?). I've been there a few times. It's a reliable bar food/sports bar experience. On this visit I had a salad and a burger. The salads are quite satisfying, something that you can't say for every bar. I wouldn't call the burgers superb, but they definitely hit the spot. I've had nachos and other things in the past, all of them good.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Bhojanic is on Clairmont Road in Decatur next to Community BBQ. It has a pretty good reputation among my Indian friends---we've had it delivered to Georgia Tech several times. I've eaten at the restaurant a few times myself.
On my last visit I ordered a mixed thali (that's Indian for cafeteria-style combination plate). All of Bhojanic's food is fairly hot but not blistering. They have mastered the balance between heat and taste. My chicken curry was pretty good but I particularly enjoyed the vegetable dishes.
They do have some interesting ideas---the sign on the street says "Homestyle Indian Fusion Tapas", whatever that means. But the food is very good.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Movie Tavern is across from Northlake Mall near Lavista and the perimeter. I've thought for years that restaurant/theater combinations were the wave of the future, but they have caught on only fairly lately as theaters try to compete with home video. Movie Tavern concentrates on bar food: pizza, burgers, wings. I ordered my meal at the snack bar, took my number to the theater, and sat down to enjoy Iron Man 2. After a few minutes, my burger special came. It was extremely fresh---hot and steamy, which was a nice treat. The fries were pretty good. The soda that came with it was huge; I probably took six months of my life by drinking it, but I rebelled at the thought of paying $3.50 for a bottled water. Overall, a good way to enjoy a movie. They do Flapjacks and a Flick on Saturday morning for kids, which sounds like fun.
Despite the name of the restaurant, this review will concentrate on burgers. (I do like the pizza, though.) Moe's is a neighborhood place at the intersection of Clairmont and Briarcliff. It's a local bar with the usual sports programs playing from multiple screens. The outside deck is particularly nice---that's where Leslie and I sat on this trip. The pizza is OK by Atlanta standards but my favorite there is the burgers. I've become a particular fan of burgers with bleu cheese. Leslie ordered the nachos, which unfortunately were an uninspiring dish of chili on top of chips.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Wow---this is a great place. Community Q BBQ just landed on a list of 10 best new restaurants in the country. It's on Clairmont in the same strip mall as Capozzi's. The decor and atmosphere pay homage to BBQ's modest roots but are clearly aimed at the middle-class. They serve organic food (I'm not sure how much is organic) and homegrown. They sell some organic vegetables in line, which is arguably a stunt but still sets a nice atmosphere.
I tried a sampler plate with brisket and pork ribs (sorry for the lousy photo). The meat was excellent---tender but still with a little tooth. The beans were the real hit of the main course. They were rich with meat and came in a very rich sauce.
Nancy and I both enjoyed our strawberry shortcake, which was divine. The strawberries were local and their flavor really popped. The cake was a lemon buttermilk and it was all topped with real whipped cream (so easy to do and so nice).
Friday, May 7, 2010
Smoke Jack is in old Alpharetta (I bet you didn't even know there was such a thing as an old Alpharetta). This is a modern, upscale BBQ place. The decor is very pleasant and woody without being rustic.
I started off with a wedge salad. It was smothered in a very good bleu cheese dressing---why bother with a wedge if it isn't gooey? It was also loaded with bacon, which is especially appropriate for a BBQ venue.
I tried a sampler plate with chicken, pork, and burnt ends (beef). All were excellent, with the burnt ends being my favorite due to the texture. The pork had a very good mustard sauce; they also serve a North Carolina style vinegar sauce. The ribs are St. Louis style, so they go for a variety of BBQ styles.
Cantina El Tesoro is on a side street on the south side of Decatur. It's in an old house on a leafy street. It's a great setting, particularly this time of year. They even have a kids play area---not every bar has that.
I tried a taco and a tamale for lunch. (I didn't plan to come here on Cinco de Mayo, but it was a nice bonus.) I definitely prefered this place to Verde The taco was brisket and the sauce added a little punch. The tamale was a big hit. I had a green pork tamale. The sauce gave just enough heat to make a point without masking the other flavors. The pork was succulent and the corn meal was very corny.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Verde is in the new development just north of the Brookhaven MARTA station. It's a upscale taqueria that stresses new combinations of ingredients.
I tried my usual, a pork and a brisket taco. They were good---I definitely liked the tortillas---but I didn't feel that the flavors popped.