Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bolo's Kitchen

I've seen a variety of BBQ spots in gas station parking lots around town. Some are very ad hoc with just a BBQ rig and an umbrella for shade. Some are more permanent. I saw Bolo's Kitchen when I returned from Patak Meats. It's on Donald Lee Holowell Parkway right at the I-285 exit. A few weeks later, a visit to Sweetwater Creek State Park took me along the same route and I decided to stop. I was hungry so my BBQ beef sandwich didn't survive long enough for a photo. My verdict: not bad. The sauce was a little tangy. The proprietor told me that he was originally from the islands and spent several years in New York.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hovan Gourmet

Hovan Gourmet is one of the stands in the Perimeter Mall food court. I walked past it for years without paying any real attention. I finally wandered over to take a look to find multiple reviews they posted extolling their falafel. I've been there several times now, which should tell you that I like it.
This is the falafel combo. The falafel is prepared as a sandwich wrapped in pita; you can also get it straight. I'm relatively untrained in such matters but I've eaten quite a bit of falafel at various places lately and I do think theirs is very good. You can taste the richness of the peas very clearly. The patties are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. And I think the crown of chips around the hummus is just plain cute. Hovan Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 13, 2012

La Grotta

My friends and I enjoyed a wonderful night out at La Grotta. I wrote about the restaurant a year ago and my verdict stands: elegant, relaxed service that perfectly complements outstanding food. As you can see, our garden table was one of the nicest parts of the evening. We started off with smoked salmon and duck risotto. Risotto is a little tricky to make and La Grotta's is flawless so far as my non-Italian taste buds can tell. The risotto was almost infused with the duck in a remarkably subtle way; the risotto was the perfect balance to the strong taste of duck.
For our main courses, Giselle and I tried the two versions of veal scallopini, mine with lemon butter sauce and hers with cream sauce. Hyesoon and Yu had quail stuffed with pork; Hyesoon gave me a sample and the combination was outstanding. Catherine went with chicken in a caper sauce that truly amazed me. The capers were combined with something else I can't quite identify, perhaps rosemary, to give an almost pine-like flavor. We of course sampled the dessert options, all of which were delicious. Catherine once again chose spectacularly with her chocolate cake. Hyesoon's panna cotta was topped with pistachios, one of those flavors you don't often find outside of Italian food. The result was delicate and exquisite. La Grotta on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Brookhaven: Cinebistro

The Avengers gave me the impetus I needed to visit Cinebistro. It's one of those movie-and-a-meal places and definitely going for the upscale market. The lobby is well-decorated and has an extensive bar. They will also serve bar items to you with your meal in the theater. Their system is a little different from the one used by Movie Tavern. At Cinebisto all the table service happens before the movie starts. After the lights go down, you can still go to the bar and order food and drinks. (And don't worry, they have popcorn and candy, too.) Overall the service was very good. My only very minor complaint was with the table, which was a little small for my taste. It made me feel like I was flying coach.
In a fit of healthiness, I went for the veggie burger. I do think that a veggie burger is a pretty good test for a kitchen---an unimaginative one doesn't taste like much of anything. This one was a very good specimen with several different flavors. The cheese, beans, and spices all worked together while still remaining distinct. The fries were pretty good, too. The first three movie trailers I saw all featured Bruce Willis. It promises to be a long summer... CinéBistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Austell: Patak Meat Products

Leslie of The Food and Me told me that I had to visit Patak Meats in Austell. As soon as she mentioned it, Grant and Marie of Marie Let's Eat nodded vigorously. Austell isn't anywhere near my usual haunts, but I decided that today was the day to try it. Luckily, they are open on the first Saturday of each month.
As soon as I saw the place I knew why Leslie had been so adamant. That's smoke coming out of the chimney in back from their smoker. Given the amount of meat inside the store and the volume of people coming through, that smoker must be running full tilt all the time. Inside, the store is very modern and immaculate. The family is from Hungary, I believe, and so they specialize in middle European style meats. The cases are full of sausages, smoked ham, bacon, plus fresh meat and pork. They also have a huge complement of pickled vegetables, desserts, and all manner of accompaniments. As one would expect in the melting pot of Atlanta food, they also carry sesame oil.
Hyesoon and I made a meal out of some kielbasa, Italian sausage, and a brace of fresh vegetables. We grilled the kielbasa and cooked the Italian sausage in some tomato sauce that I improvised. My first taste of the kielbasa was one of those times when I realize that I've never really had a particular type of food before, just a pale imitation. The kielbasa was rich with pork and seasonsings, but it wans't at all greasy or heavy. The Italian sausage was similarly heavenly. I had some very good Italian sausage in my 20+ years in New Jersey and this was right up there with the best. In short, this is a must-visit place. Bring your cooler and break out your recipe book. Patak Meat Products, Inc. on Urbanspoon

Chamblee: Chinatown Food Court

I must have driven past Chinatown Food Court a hundred times without stopping in. As you can see, the front is pretty nondescript. My friends Ellen and Andy from Atlanta Healthy Adventures finally enticed me there. I've been there several times since and not always for the excellent vegetarian food.
I am a sucker for dan dan noodles (noodles with cold peanut sauce) from Chong Qing Hot Pot. But this time I tried Hong Kong BBQ. I've had my eye on the ducks hanging in their window for quite some time. The duck was succulent; I loved its saltiness. The big surprise was the eggplant. It came with shrimp in a fish sauce, a preparation I've never seen before. The eggplant wasn't quite as greasy as some preparations. The fish sauce was an excellent accompaniment to the eggplant. Hong Kong BBQ on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Brookhaven:Bua

I finally made it to one of the restaurants in the relatively new Brookhaven Town Center. It's one of those live/shop/dine complexes with a nouveau main street. Bua's interior is nature-themed upscale.
I was in the mood for sushi. Given my relative lack of creativity in ordering sushi and sashimi, I generally order chef's choice. The service was a little slow, as seemed to be the case for everyone else in the restaurant as well. Once the plate arrived, I was certainly impressed with its presentation. The spectacular red/green roll is flying fish roe. All the sushi was high quality. I often use fatty tuna as a gauge of sushi quality and I definitely enjoyed my sample here. I wouldn't put this as the highest levels of sushi, but it certainly satisfied my sushi craving. BUA Thai and Sushi on Urbanspoon