Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tucker: Greater Good BBQ

Greater Good is on Hugh Howell Road just past old downtown Tucker. It's in a very spacious building. The atmosphere is very open and light but also down to earth; this isn't a yuppie BBQ palace. The music is mostly '60s pop with a little country thrown in. The delivery sign for my table had Gen. Grant on it, an interesting choice given the commotion during his last visit to the Tucker area.

My brisket was excellent. It was very tender but with a nice, firm texture. The smoke was just right. I concentrated on the hot sauce. It sneaks up on you---most of the heat is in the back end giving you a nice long, medium-heat burn. The cole slaw was of the creamy variety and excellent, with a nice variety of ingredients. I also had a chance to try the beans, which had a wonderful soft, creamy texture.

The Greater Good Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 27, 2012

Eating Around Georgia Tech: Cypress Street Pint and Plate

Cypress Street Pint and Plate is tucked away around the corner of West Peachtree, in the corner of the Biltmore. It's actually right under the garden area. The restaurant itself is modern pub and very spacious. Although I'm not the right person to ask about beer, they are very clearly serious about beers and craft brewing.

Their burgers are a half pound! I couldn't quite bring myself to eat quite that much, so I ended up with the veggie burger. As you can see, the chef has a sense of humor. This is not a fair test of their beef burgers but I found the veggie pattie to be soft. Texture is an important part of any vegetarian dish and definitely so for the veggie burger. A crispy outside helps make the veggie pattie feel, let's face it, more like a burger. But I will have to come back with a bigger appetite to try the beef.

The slaw was great. It was creamy but with just a touch of heat. The spice was just enough to make itself known without an afterburn.

Cypress Street Pint & Plate on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Seattle: Shari's

I first discovered Shari's on a trip to Portland. The pies were what attracted me to the place originally---pie is the All-American breakfast. Berries are one of the great pleasures of Pacific Northwest food and their menu makes very good use of them throughout. So when Keith, Kim took me back to the airport, I suggested Shari's as a good place for a meal before I hit the airport food wall.

Keith is very fast with his fork, so I couldn't get a photo of my pie without a nick taken out of it by Keith's fork. The pie was my breakfast treat, complemented by a steak salad. The steak was very meaty, which was exactly what I was looking for. The salad also featured blue cheese, nuts, and a raspberry vinaigrette sauce, all of them very good. I must say that the raspberry vinaigrette was a nice change of pace from the typical balsamic. The strawberry rhubarb pie is something that you don't see every day. As Keith pointed out, rhubarb isn't the most obvious thing to put in a pie but it makes a great complement to the strawberries. Shari's crusts tend toward the small crumb but are very rich and flaky.

Shari's on Urbanspoon

Seattle: Athenian Inn

One of the many ways one can enjoy the Pike Place Market is at its many restaurants. Keith wanted to eat somewhere we could sit down, so we chose the Athenian. It's clearly very old and well established. It's also quite large. We ended up at the counter but they also have quite a few tables. The service was very prompt and courteous.

I ordered the salmon sauté while Keith had the flounder. My saute was wonderful. The fish was sauteed along with green and red peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions. The salmon was rich with salmon flavor and perfectly cooked. Keith's flounder came with a light apricot sauce that set off the fish very well. The gal next to us chatted for a few minutes; she said that she really enjoyed her seafood sauté with clams, prawns, salmon, and several other fish as well as the vegetables.

Athenian Inn on Urbanspoon

Seattle: Pike Place Market

Keith, Amy, and I visited the Pike Place Market. For some reason, I'd never visited during my previous visits to Seattle. We went on a Sunday and I was a little concerned that some stores would be closed. I needn't have worried. A small number of stores were closed but the place was jammed packed with both people and food. The market is very large with many vendors in pretty much every category. I saw the majority of it but not all by a long shot. If you do go, plan to spend some time there.

The fish at the various markets are huge. I thought about bringing one back with me, but I decided that a better plan would be to cook one for my friends on my next visit. It can be frustrating to travel to cities like Seattle and Vancouver. All that food with no way for me to cook with it...

I visited the Mt Townsend Creamery booth there. They specialize in cow cheeses. The gal there was extremely helpful and informative. I ended up with two bries plus a French roll; the roll was made by a Seattle outpost of a French bakery.

I next went to the nearby dried fruit stand and bought a large bag of dried apples. They were still a little moist, so they gave a pleasant chew without being too dry.

All this made for a perfect meal on the plane back. By the time I ate, the brie had come to room temperature. The cheese spread on the French roll was creamy in texture and very rich. The apple slices were the perfect complement. Immeasurably better than the little cheese and fruit tray on the airplane...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Seattle: Caffe Umbria

Keith, Amy and I started our walking day in Pioneer Square under the mistaken impression that Elliot Bay Books was down there. (Boy, were we wrong.) When we found out that we had a hike ahead of us, we decided to fortify ourselves for the journey and stopped at Caffe Umbria. It's a huge, elegant space with both indoor and outdoor seating. It is newer and bigger than what one would find in Italy but does give a bit of a European vibe.
This is my croissant and Keith's coffee. My croissant was an outstanding specimen of the species: flaky, tender, and rich. I ordered a latte, which I loved. I found the roast to be rich but not too dark (I am not a big fan of very dark roasts). The foam was very artistic and had a nice, dense texture. Caffé Umbria on Urbanspoon

Seattle; Duke's Chowder House

Keith and Amy took me directly from the airport to Southcenter Mall. Since I had to eat my quota of salmon during my trip, we went to Duke's. The atmosphere is upscale casual with enough TVs to provide entertainment but not so many as to overwhelm the dinner.
This is my wild salmon with sweet, slightly tangy sauce. One of the joys of traveling to the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of wild salmon, which has a much richer flavor than the cultivated variety. My natural tendency would be to a less sweet sauce, but I enjoyed this one. It gave just enough sweetness to complement the salmon without overpowering it. Keith loved his halibut, which he let me sample. Duke's Chowder House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Washington DC: Amsterdam Falafelshop

It's great to have a restaurant connection in a town. My Maryland friends scored again with Amsterdam Falafelshop in Adams Morgan. It's in an old brownstone. The shop has an Amsterdam vibe---youthful, not pretentious.

Ordering is easy---they only sell falafel and fries. ( The choices come in the huge condiments bar. This picture shows my falafel in front of a small part of the condiments. Pros know to smash their falafel at the start to make more room for condiments. You then load up as much as you want. Being the efficiency maven, I tried to cram things into the crevices of my meal, but I didn't succeed. The restaurant actually encourages you to go back for seconds and thirds on the fillings, providing you with little tiny cups that really hold quite enough.

The falafel was excellent and the condiments were outstanding. I can't remember all that I had, but they range all over the map in heat, taste, and texture. It really is fun to try little tastes of so many different dishes. The green stuff (yes, I'm an idiot) was surprisingly good.

Ankur couldn't resist fries which were outstanding: hot, crispy, fresh.

Amsterdam Falafelshop on Urbanspoon

Washington DC: Noodles & Co.

I go to the Ballston area occasionally and Ballston Commons is a convenient food stop. On this trip I decided to try Noodles & Co., one of the several chains going after the fast Asian food market. It's a pick-your-categories type of place, with a list of choices for each type of ingredient.

My lunch was the Indonesian peanut sauce noodles with tofu. I wish that the noodles had been a little firmer; I'm sure that the constraints of fast noodles makes al dente difficult to achieve. But overall it was a perfectly satisfactory lunch. The sauce had a nice hot kick to it and rich peanut taste.

Noodles & Company on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Decatur: Raging Burrito

Raging Burrito is in the Decatur MARTA outdoor mall. It's quite big with a courtyard in back. Inside, the vibe is old Decatur turns sports bar, with exposed brick walls adorned with TVs. The atmosphere and service casual and friendly.

On my first visit, I had a salad, which was quite frankly much bettter than I had expected. It was full of fresh, flavorful greens and vegetables and had a good tangy taste to accentuate. This time I tried the three taco plate, all of which were quite good. The veggie taco featured portobello mushrooms (you can also get tofu as an alternative) and was quite flavorful. Because I'm in a constant state of craving umami, the brisket taco was clearly my favorite. It was both very flavorful and extremely tender. The pork taco was also very moist, tender, and flavorful.

Raging Burrito & Taco on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 6, 2012

Eating Around Georgia Tech: The Spence

The Spence is the latest restaurant to provide a high-end restaurant in Tech Square, using the same space as several of its predecessors. The space itself is very well appointed; a large bar occupies the front part of the restaurant. The atmosphere is definitely upscale hip---soup is served, for example, by pouring it at the table from a tin can labeled "soup"---but I found the service to be a bit erratic and not quite up to the restaurant's concept.

I tried the pork belly sandwich. It shows a definite Korean influence, including ginger and hot pepper. Other elements such as the lettuce and carrots, plus an excellent roll, contributed to a very complex taste. Unfortunately, the sandwich was structurally unsound. I'm sure that the ingredients looked elegant when the kitchen piled them up but they wouldn't stay where they were while I ate. I finally gave up and tried a fork and knife, but it was even too unstable to allow me to cut it reliably on the plate. I ended up eating it component by component. You really shouldn't come to Georgia Tech with poor structural engineering...

The Spence on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chattanooga TN: City Cafe

The last thing I expected to find in downtown Chattanooga was a New York diner, particularly ensconsed in the corner of a motel. But the moment I walked in I knew that's what City Cafe is: the bright marble and mirrored walls, the impossibly tall cakes displayed in glass cases. The owner is, in fact, from New York. The only clue that you are south of the Mason-Dixon line is the lilt in the way your waitress calls you honey.

The place was packed for breakfast. I jumped at the chance to have potato pancakes. They didn't disappoint: cruncy on the outside, soft on the inside, served with applesauce (my favorite) and sour cream. All served with the courteous, bustling efficiency of the New Yorker.

City Cafe Diner on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chattanooga TN: Tony's Pasta Shop and Trattoria

Tony's is in the Bluff View Arts District. It lives up to its billing as a trattoria with an open feel and warm, friendly service. (I will say that the service fell apart a little when I tried to order pasta to take home, but no one's perfect.) The dress varied from nice casual to very casual.

I started with a caprese salad, something that I don't get every day. The mozzarella was excellent. I don't think that this is a stellar year for tomatoes but these were quite good.

The bread deserves a photo of its own. It was wonderfully chewy The portion was huge. They were very happy to have me take the rest home, supplying a bag and a container of olive oil.

My main course was the roasted vegetable lasagne. The first thing I noticed was the sauce, which was bright and flavorful. The pasta was just right. The filling, including a variety of Italian vegetables and mushrooms, was outstanding. After a bite or two I noticed a distinct anchovy taste that made a nice complement to the vegetables.

Tony's Pasta Shop & Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Chattanooga TN: Julie Darling Donuts

Julie Darling Donuts is on Chattanooga's north side, a pretty hip neighborhood. I freely admit that their "Home of the Donut Sundae" sign caught my eye. The shop is very spacious and inviting. I sat in a faux 50's living room with a view of the kitchen.

This is a classic American donut. The coating is very sweet. The donut itself is an excellent example of the cake donut. The temptation in donut making is to add flour to the dough, which makes it easier to handle but also tougher. These donuts were extremely tender. The coffee was typical strong donut coffee.

Julie Darling Donuts on Urbanspoon

Chattanooga TN: Rembrandt's Coffee House

Rembrandt's has fans as far away as Atlanta so I had to stop by during my visit to Chattanooga. It's in the Bluff View Arts District. The shop is very well camouflaged; I had to walk around awhile to find it. Inside, the shop is large and modern. They serve pastries and chocolates as well as coffee.

The service was slightly ragged but the coffee was excellent. As you can see, it is beautifully prepared. Their roast is what I would call medium dark. I'm not a huge fan of Peet's-style dark roasts. Rembrandt's is dark enough to be rich but not so dark to be bitter. The foam was as much fun to eat as it was to look at.

Rembrandt's Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Chattanooga TN: Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe

Based on the on-line comments, I wasn't sure what the physical location of the Purple Daisy would be like: rough and ready or cute? The road from the highway furthered my confusion; the neighborhood wasn't bad but clearly old industrial. The Purple Daisy's neighborhood, a few miles from the highway, is actually next to the inclined railway and a brighly-renovated tourist district. It's also conveniently near the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum (you can't make up this stuff, folks). The interior of the Purple Daisy is decorated in Southern wacky style.

The food was great. The BBQ pork sandwich was juicy and tender. The sauce is slightly thin but not a North Carolina style vinegar sauce, either. The corn was just right, not overcooked. I tried the spicy cole slaw which was excellent. Don't be fooled by the mayonnaise---this slaw is plenty hot and leaves a long, deep afterburn. The combination of creamy cole slaw and pepper sauce is a great idea.

Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe on Urbanspoon

Publik Draft House

Georgia Tech graduation gave me the opportunity to visit Publik, which is in the corner of the Fabulous Fox. When I explained that I needed to be done soon, they gave me excellent service. I had my burger in just over 10 minutes from when I walked in the restaurant. I'm clearly not the first person they've seen running late to an event at the Fox.

Good Marilyn won the ordering war and I ordered the falafel burger. I certainly didn't suffer---it was one of the best falafel sandwiches I've had. The outside of the patty was crispy and the inside very flavorful. The ciabatta roll had great texture to complement the burger and tasted great. The toppings were wonderful, too.

Publik Draft House on Urbanspoon