Friday, June 29, 2012

Eating around Georgia Tech: Food Truck Friday

My Fridays are pretty well booked, but I took advantage of an opportunity today to try Food Truck Fridays. It's at the storage center at 14th and I-85. Saibal and I drove over to check it out.
As you can see, about a half dozen food trucks showed up. The storage center provided plenty of shady seating and live music. The crowd skewed heavily toward tech types.
I loved my lettuce wrap from Village Kitchen. The filling was chicken, mango, onion and some pepper, all served cool. The combination of savory, sweet, and spicy really hit the spot, particularly on a hot day like today. For dessert, I tried the Ricky Bobby taco from Taco Buggy. That was really good too, particularly the sauce. Saibal tried the Cuban sandwich from the Latin food truck. He said he liked it and was too stuffed to try anything else. Taco Buggy (Mobile Truck) on Urbanspoon

Tucker: S & S Cafeteria

I decided to check out S&S in Tucker through the unusual route of a visit to Technique, the Cordon Bleu cooking school. While I was waiting for a table, some of the other couples discussed restaurants and mentioned S & S. Since I hadn't tried it, I thought that this was the perfect excuse to get myself over there.
Cafeteria food can be tricky---it isn't easy to maintain flavor through large batches of cooking and staying out on the steam table. I thought that my meal held up pretty well. My roast beef was very meaty. The cole slaw was very crisp. I also snagged a bite of the cornbread, which was great with their bits of Jalapeño. And the entire meal was amazingly cheap. The service was extremely gracious and courteous. Matthews Cafeteria up the road is still king, but overall, I would rank this as a very successful cafeteria meal. S & S Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eating around Georgia Tech: Silver Skillet

The Silver Skillet was one of the first entries I posted on this blog and, being new to the area, had only been there a few times. I decided that the Skillet deserves a more reflective review. The Skillet is a good 60 years old at this point. It's a Georgia Tech institution. I see colleagues there regularly (sometimes that's good, sometimes not so good). But clearly it has a wide following---the 14th Street bridge construction put a dent in their business, so a lot of people must cross the great I-85 chasm that separates geeks and suits in order to have their breakfast. The Skillet wears its age well. It doesn't play up its quaintness or its fame. It's just one of those places that never changes. The piece de resistance of the Skillet is the biscuits and gravy. The gravy is silky smooth. Luscious is the best term I can think of to describe it. The biscuits hit the perfect balance between flakiness and moistness. I think that lunch at the Skillet isn't quite up to the same level as breakfast. But a hidden gem on their menu is the lemon icebox pie. It is a perfect specimen of a species that one doesn't see every day. Try it some time---remember that pie is the All American breakfast... Silver Skillet on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 22, 2012

Palo Alto CA: Macarthur Park

Macarthur Park has been one of the favorite locations in Palo Alto for several decades now. It is housed in a beautiful building designed by Julia Morgan, the renowned 20th century architect, located next to the Palo Alto train station. My friend Ken Doran and I went there for dinner. Macarthur Park is very well known for its steak and I indulged myself. Ken had the salmon. My steak was quite good, although in my view not up to the level of someplace like Harris Ranch. But the well-executed food complemented the sturdy and beautiful century old building perfectly. The restaurant gave us exactly what we were looking for---a relaxing, convivial experience and chance for us to catch up with each other's lives. MacArthur Park on Urbanspoon

Palo Alto CA: Taqueria El Grullense

For our lunch meeting, Chris took me to his favorite Mexican spot, Taqueria El Grullense on El Camino. It's an efficient and popular place. There's a big set of pictures on the wall for a menu with items ranging the gamut of Mexican-American food. I'm a tamale fanatic and I went with the pork; Chris ordered the carnitas. My tamales were very moist and tasty with a big helping of masa. The refried beans (there doesn't seem to be an option on beans) were quite good. I'm sure that their substantial volume helps them keep the items fresh and full of taste. Taqueria El Grullense J&G on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Palo Alto CA: Joanie's

For our morning meeting, Chris and I convened at Joanie's. It's on California Avenue in Palo Alto, a low-key part of town that hasn't fundamentally changed over the decades. Joanie clearly knows her breakfasts. This is the spot for hearty breakfasts. Ben and I both tried the brioche French toast with fruit. The bread was thick and gooey in the middle, crunchy on the outside. My strawberries were very fresh, firm, and sweet. In a fit of guilt, I also ordered some oatmeal, which was excellent. It seems to have been made with milk because it really didn't need any extra cream. Joanie's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Palo Alto CA: Tamarine

For our lunch meeting, Kimberly, Ben and I retired to Tamarine on University Avenue. It is a Vietnamese restaurant but many of the dishes remind me of Thai. We started with the lychee-orange salad and the Tamarine taste platter. The salad was a little disappointing---the pistachios in the salad didn't really pop out. Overall, the tastes in the platter were pretty subtle. But these sorts of dishes are very refreshing without being heavy. I had the Madras chili tofu. Once again, the flavors were subdued. This time, the dish wasn't as hot as I expected. Everything was very well executed but I do wish the flavors, particularly the more unusual ones, stood out more. Tamarine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Palo Alto CA: Dinah's Poolside

When Kim and I needed a good place for a breakfast meeting, Dinah's Poolside was the first thing that leapt to mind. As you can see, it's next to the pool at Dinah's Hotel. Dinah's is a Palo Alto institution. For all you nerds out there, Bill Shockley took his team to Dinah's Shack on the day his Nobel Prize was announced. I think they serve all day long but I've only been there for breakfast. Kim enjoyed her omelette. The strawberry pancakes were in season so my choice was clear. Eating fresh strawberry pancakes with whipped cream next to an azure pool is to me is the California dream. Dinah's Poolside Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Redwood City CA: Chuck's Donuts

Chuck's Donuts was a venerable late-night stop for students and nerds of all stripes when I was first introduced to it in the 1970's. No true donut shop ever changes and Chuck's holds true to the standard. It is still the slightly dingy, 24-hour sanctuary of sugar and caffeine that we all need at some points in our lives. I headed to Chuck's as soon as I got off the plane. I was able to restrain myself to the extent that I just got a raspberry donut hole. Did I need it? No. Did I enjoy it after five hours in a middle seat? Heck yeah. Sometimes you just need a little nostalgia. Chuck's Donuts on Urbanspoon

ATL: The Pecan Bistro

The Pecan Bistro is one of the restaurants in the food court of the new international terminal at ATL. (It's on the upper level, in case you're looking.) Since you can get to the international terminal on the train, I decided to pop over to sample the new restaurants and Pecan Bistro, given its Southern theme, sounded like a good place to start. The food court also features the Varsity---why did it take them so long to establish a beachhead at ATL? Pecan Bistro provides both paninis and entrees. The dishes lean toward Southern seafood. This is my salmon, served with sweet potatoes and asparagus on a bed of lettuce. The salmon and asparagus were prepared as I watched. (The pans of food at the front are just for show.) The salmon was delicious. The asparagus was cooked to just the right balance of tenderness and toothless. The sweet potatoes are a little sweet for me, but I would probably be outvoted on that by the majority of Southerners. The Pecan Bistro on Urbanspoon

Decatur: Mysore Woodlands

Mysore Woodlands is the latest addition to Patel Plaza in Decatur. The restaurant offers south Indian vegetarian cuisine. It offers table service; it also has a lunch buffet. Here is my chat selection, a cold potato and pea salad served with wispy little puffs. I'm not sure of the official way to eat this, so I dipped the top of the puff into the sauce to soften it, bit off the top, then filled it with potatoes and peas. My main course was a vegetable uppadum. This is, I believe, a lentil pancake, filled with a variety of colorful vegetables. It was tasty and very filling. Mysore Woodlands on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 11, 2012

ATL: Cafe Intermezzo

Cafe Intermezzo is in Terminal B at Hartsfield-Jackson. It took me quite some time for me to connect this place with the wonderful desserts I've had at Cafe Intermezzo in town. The airport location has a bookstore as well as a sit-down restaurant and a takeout service. The restaurant service is always gracious. A good meal in a relaxing environment is a welcome relief to the stress of modern airline travel. I was in a burger mood and this one hit the spot. I am not a huge American cheese fan but overall the burger was very good. The corn chowder that came with it was very good. For dessert I tried this wonderful Italian tart. The fruit at the top was very tart and sweet. It lies over a layer of custard with cake at the bottom. Café Intermezzo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Eating around Georgia Tech: Gyro King

Gyro King opened up in Tech Square a few months ago in the spot formerly occupied by the ice cream store. My student Gina is a gyro partisan, so we decided to give it a try. Here is my falafel special. The falafel was right out of the fryer and very tasty. The pita and the fillings were also very fresh. The salad came with a vinaigrette that could have been a little more acidic for my taste but was pretty good. The prices are very reasonable. Tech Square needs places like this and I'm glad they are here. Gyro King on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Rutherfordton NC: Lavendar Bistro

Where is Rutherfordton, North Carolina, you ask? It's about 20 miles from the closest Interstate. A determined effort to do something different led me down the road that goes through Rutherfordton, and then off the main road to a very surprising and pleasant little shopping center. Lavendar Bistro and a clothing outlet were the only occupants. Brunch seemed like a wonderful way to take a break from the road and enjoy a peaceful Sunday.

My first round of brunch included the salad, asparagus, and French onion soup. It wasn't until I went back that I discovered the star of the show, the cheese grits. The white pepper on the one hand and cheese on the other hand made perfect bookends for the heartiness and texture of the grits. I heard someone at the next table remark on the superb quality of the grits. The service was very gracious as well.

Lavendar Bistro on Urbanspoon

Asheville NC: Green Sage Coffeehouse and Cafe

I was in the market for Sunday breakfast in Asheville and I wanted the full experience, so I headed to its very hip downtown. Surprisingly, downtown Asheville doesn't have many restaurants open for breakfast on Sunday. When I spied this place as I drove, I saw people heading toward it from all directions, so I suspected that it was the go-to place. Even before I walked in the door, I could tell that Green Sage tried very hard to be organic and eco-friendly. When I saw the menu, I realized that they have a creative palate as well.
This is what caught my eye---the biscuit with portobello gravy. They also have the more traditional sausage biscuit, but the portobello gravy struck me as an interesting take. Both the gravy and the biscuit were excellent. Let's face it, portobello mushrooms and what was probably a vegetable stock-based gravy aren't pork, but the gravy was very savory and full of flavor. The biscuit was excellent. The coffee was also outstanding. I am not a fan of very dark roasts, and their coffee hit just the right level of intensity while still being very smooth. The Green Sage on Urbanspoon