Thursday, July 29, 2010

Norcross: Fonda San Carlos


I see Chinese buffets all over town, but I noticed a Mexican buffet while I was running an errand in Norcross. Being in the market for a quick and easy lunch I decided to try it.

This is simple, basic food but I had a nice meal. They did have some Chinese food on the buffet---isn't multiculturalism wonderful? My favorites were the pork in green sauce and the plantains. They had a number of other items on the buffet, including fajitas.

Fonda San Carlos Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sandy Springs: Fanoos


Roswell Road near the Perimeter hosts a big string of middle Eastern restaurants. I've sampled a few (that I didn't yet review, in case you're wondering) and I am slowly working my way down the road. The other night it was Fanoos's turn. I enjoy middle Eastern food because it offers interesting flavors in lighter forms.

My appetizer was a tomato concoction served with a flat bread very reminiscent of an Indian naan. It was accompanied by cheese, walnuts, and olives. None of the food at Fanoos is heavily spiced.

My entree was a chicken skewer and rice with cherries (!). I ate the chicken and rice separately. I probably should have deskewered it, cut it up, and mixed it with the rice.

Fanoos Persian Cuisine and Events on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 25, 2010

BBQ1


BBQ1 was featured in Atlanta Magazine's recent BBQ issue and I've also talked to people who know their food. It's on Lower Roswell Road in Marietta. Although there is the usual new construction in this area, BBQ1 is in an older, nondescript strip mall entirely appropriate to a BBQ place.

I ended up at the takeout window because the dining room isn't open for Sunday dinner. I drove my rib plate home; the aroma gave an air of anticipation to the drive. I really enjoyed the ribs. I find them to be more traditional and authentic than some of the rib places inside the perimeter (it seems that I can learn to overcome my ITP snobbery). They were just a little toothy to give a nice texture but still moist. They weren't slathered in sauce as a finishing coat, allowing me to add the amount of sauce that I wanted. The sauce itself was very subtle---flavorful but not trying to be over-the-top on heat or anything else. The beans and cole slaw were both excellent.

Sam's BBQ 1 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Yeah! Burger


Yeah! Burger (don't forget the !) opened a few weeks ago in White Provisions on Howell Mill Road. It's a relatively large place with a great space---very lighton the inside and a large patio.

I tried a beef burger (grass fed) with bleu cheese on whole wheat and a half-and-half (fries and onion rings). The burger itself was a twin-patty rather than one thick patty. Restaurants generally do this to speed cooking but I find one thick patty to be a much more sensual experience. The burger was fine but the taste of the meat didn't really come through as much as I would have expected. The fries and o-rings were also good but not spectacular. The fries had a little bit of skin, which I like, but both had been sitting around for a few minutes before they arrived. I couldn't help but compare the place to Zesto. The menus and quality of food are fairly similar, although Yeah! emphasizes organic ingredients. But Zesto is at least as fresh and tasty and it's a little cheaper. Yeah! is a fun place for lunch with good food made with high quality ingredients, but don't go there expecting that some organic ingredients and a hip location add up to a gourmet burger.

Yeah! Burger West Midtown on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Joey D's

I've been curious about Joey D's since I moved here. It's near Perimeter Mall, so I drive by it regularly, and the thought of an Italian steak house is always tantalizing. This is part of a chain, not family owned, but I came away very satisfied nonetheless. The decor is steak house moderne---more light and air but still with the wood theme that we see in so many steak houses.


My salad was very enjoyable; I think it had some pignoli in it, among other items. I was a little surprised that they didn't have a wedge salad on the menu, though. My ribeye was great. It was a very nice cut, just enough char, and it was perfectly done. For dessert, I had their cheesecake which comes from Carnegie Deli in New York. Too many cheesecakes are gelatin-heavy but a proper cheesecake is very cheesy. This was a proper cheesecake---wonderful and big enough that I couldn't finish it.

Joey D's Oak Room on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 19, 2010

Piola


Glenn introduced me to Piola, a new spot in the upper part of midtown. It is a small chain that started in Italy and then branched out to the U.S. It has a modernist decor and music. The music was loud and not conducive to conversation; this place is for people you want to be seen with, not people you want to talk to.

I ordered a pepperoni pizza. It's a traditional thin-crust pizza (although not as thin as some of the pizzas I've had in Italy). It was a reasonable pizza but not spectacular. Glenn and I both decided to have the chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert, which turned out to be a brownie with ice cream, which was slightly disappointing.

Piola on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tyler Florence at Macy's


Macy's was kind enough to invite me to a bloggers' reception for Chef Tyler Florence at Lenox Mall today. Our reception was held in Macy's secret blogger den located far below Atlanta. (I'm sworn to secrecy, so I can't tell you where it is, but I can tell you it's very near the Bat Cave.) He answered some questions from us and I was quite impressed by his seriousness and commitment. He first explained that his job is to come up with recipes that we can use to put dinner on the table---interesting and good but also feasible for one person to make in an hour or so. He explained that restaurant chefs work under very different circumstances: they cook in large batches, they can make components like stocks that take days because they will be used continuously, and they have large staffs. His goal is to translate the intent of a restaurant recipe into something that can be made at home. When he spoke about the trend away from complicated food, he said that many chefs had become too focused on their own process and that restaurants should focus on the patron, not necessarily trying to top the other chefs in town.

Chef Florence then went to the Home Store upstairs for a cooking show. About a hundred attendees watched him prepare a meal and sampled the food: sole amandine, lemon zest smashed potatoes, and baked green beans. The smashed potatoes with lemon were my favorite. He said that he stumbled across the idea by accident---some lemon zest went in the wrong direction---and he really liked the result. Some great ideas happen by accident. He is a very warm and charming host and gave an outstanding show in which he shared a little of himself as well as his cooking.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lawrenceville: Dominick's


Dominick's is in old downtown Lawrenceville, which has been very nicely restored. The restaurant is in a restored building with a decor that is modern but fits well with the original intent of the building.

The menu is fairly classic Italian-American. Dominick's is clearly trying to project the style of a family restaurant you might find in New York. By the standards of New York, Dominick's is OK. By Atlanta standards, it is very good. I had the veal saltimbocca; I scraped the plate clean. The tomato sauce on the pasta had a strong note of oregano, which was nice. I also had some spinach cooked with garlic. (All this was a half order, by the way, which was plenty for me.) I noticed that they had regular broccoli, not broccoli rabe, as you would find in an Italian restaurant in the Northeast. They also didn't give me any choice in pasta---it's spaghetti for everyone. For dessert, I had a cannoli, which was just stuffed as it should be and very good. The service was attentive but not overbearing, even on a busy night. Overall verdict---satisfying.

Dominick's on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tucker: Galaxy Diner


I spied the Galaxy Diner a couple of weeks ago and finally got the chance to try it. It's on Chamblee-Tucker Road just north of I-285. The interior is very homey. The big feature is the huge collection of car photos, which were taken during their Saturday night car rallies. (That sounds like a fun activity...)

The food is classic diner; I had the turkey dinner. What I really enjoyed about the Galaxy was the warm and friendly service. Everyone was extremely nice and helpful; the owner even came over to say hello and adjust a fan. As with all real diners, their dessert selection is vast with huge portions. I tried the devil's food cake and was very happy.

Galaxy Diner on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Daily Bread

I just noticed Daily Bread. It's on Marietta Street next to Bottoms Up. They have a variety of sandwiches, but what caught my eye was the bread bowl. I tried one with french onion soup (they were out of tomato, unfortunately). I also had a Caesar. I thought the soup was good and french onion is a relatively difficult soup to do well. The bread was OK but nothing to write home about. It was a little smaller than I expected. If I had to compare to Panera, it would be at best a tie. The salad was fine, though it could use a little more dressing. The service was a little disorganized but very friendly---they are obviously trying hard. The restaurant probably opened very recently and I expect that things will become more regularized. They also have an impressive coffee bar for the caffeinated crowd.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Crazy Cuban


Crazy Cuban opened a few weeks ago on 14th Street, just a block or so from the Silver Skillet. It's a very dedicated shop: all sandwiches and for the moment only lunch. The owner did tell me that they plan to expand hours as the students start to flow in.

A cuban sandwich, in case you haven't had the pleasure of a formal introduction, is a sandwich with ham, pork, and cheese as the main attractions, along with a special type of sandwich roll. The Crazy Cuban's version is pretty good---warm and succulent. As an accompaniment, they serve Zapp's potato chips, which I really like because they actually taste like potatoes, unlike too many of today's extruded chips. This neighborhood has needed more straightforward lunch places and Crazy Cuban fits the bill.

The Crazy Cuban on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jack's Pizza


After my visit to P'cheen, I went across to the street to Jack's Pizza to pick up a pie for an event. This was also a bar but more my speed---simple, unpretentious, and friendly. The pizza was good neighborhood pizza. The bartender was very nice.

Jack's Pizza & Wings on Urbanspoon

P'cheen


P'cheen is on Highland in the new post-industrial district. It's a bar and on Mondays it replaces its normal food menu with an all BBQ menu.

As is my occasional practice (when I'm not in a rib frenzy) I tried a combination plate. I found the ribs to be disappointing. The taste had too much smoke. The meat was a little firm and dry for my taste. The andouille sausage was good---it had that andouille taste to it. The sides were similarly a mixed bag. I thought the greens should have been cooked longer---in my opinion, texture is critical in greens and they need to be very tender. The beans were good, with a large savory component. Their heat was good but it also distracted somewhat from the meats.

I was disappointed by the service. The staff didn't seem to comprehend that a single person might want to eat dinner at a table. The service was inattentive and slow.

P'Cheen on Urbanspoon

Chamblee: El Rey del Taco


El Rey del Taco is, as you might expect, on Buford Highway. It's a nice family restaurant, although the World Cup pregame was turned up a little loud.

Given that they are the king of tacos, I had to try a mixed beef-pork taco and a chorizo taco. I also tried a pork tortas, something that I usually don't get. Everything was good in a homey sort of way. The chorizo taco was my favorite; the roast pork on the tortas was also very tasty. The beans, which didn't get into the picture, were the real hit of the meal. They were savory and had a nice kick of heat. I did find the meal to be a little more expensive than I expected.

Taqueria El Rey Del Taco on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 9, 2010

Alpharetta: Alpha Soda


Alpha Soda was started in 1920. It's in a new building now, still near the old part of Alpharetta. The interior is a very nice wood with a 1920's feel.

The menu is classic Greek diner---lots of items, plenty of red sauce, desserts that are huge in both selection and portion. I started with some hummus. It was nicely spiced with paprika and the associated pita was warm and fresh. For my main course, I tried the fried chicken. Atlanta is a great place for fried chicken, and I wouldn't put theirs in the same league as the city's top locations, but it was pretty good. It was cooked to order---I had to wait 20 minutes for it. It was very tender and juicy. The crust was of the smooth variety. I did realize after the plate came that ordering a half fried chicken plus fried okra was a little too much fried food for someone of my advanced age. Overall, it left a good impression and I plan to go back.

Alpha Soda on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Schakolad


Schakolad is in the penumbra of Perimeter Mall in one of the smaller malls. It seems to specialize in personalized chocolates for corporate clients, embossed with logos etc. They also have a selection of chocolates, including ganaches with patterns silk screened on them, as is the fashion. The chocolate itself is more sugary in the American style.

Schakolad Chocolate Factory on Urbanspoon

Chamblee: Maison Robert

Maison Robert is an Atlanta institution. They've been around for years and everyone I know seems to have had their chocolate over the course of their Atlanta lives. Last year, the establishment moved to a bright, new location across the street from the Chamblee MARTA station (on the back side). It's a family affair; they added baked goods as part of their move along with tables that are ideal for a morning croissant-and-coffee stop.

Monsieur Robert is a traditional European chocolatier. I am a hazelnut freak, so I always try those, but he makes a number of wonderful items both small and large. The baked goods include both sweet pastries, such as pain de chocolate, and loaves of bread from which they also make sandwiches.

Maison Robert Fine Chocolates on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dawsonville: The Blue Bicycle


I discovered The Blue Bicycle thanks to their billboard on GA 400. The restaurant is a little off the highway. In the great Atlanta tradition, it's in an unassuming row of businesses. Once I stepped inside, I was immediately charmed. The atmosphere is playful without being overdone.

The food is French-inspired, with a great many dishes that are new twists on traditional French fare. (The potato chips and bleu cheese didn't fall into that category unless my French friends have been hiding something from me.) I had the trout, which was in a herb butter sauce. The herbs and garlic gave the trout just enough of a kick. The fish itself was very well prepared.

I had the trout in part to leave room for dessert. I hadn't had creme brulee in a long time and it is a good way to judge a French restaurant. This was the hit of the meal and not just because it was dessert. It was just right in every way, including the crust, which is showy and easy to mess up. The staff and the owner were extremely pleasant. It's a long drive but I plan to go back. Blue Bicycle on Urbanspoon