Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Himalayan Spice

Himalayan Spice recently opened at what I like to think of as Ethiopian Corner, Clairmont and Briarcliff. The cuisine, however, is Nepalese and Indian. I'm not sure that I've had Himalayan food before, so this was a welcome find. The restaurant itself is very large and nicely appointed; the bar appeared to be quite large. The service was very friendly.

I ordered the chicken thali (that's Indian for blue plate special). This is the multi-bean soup, which was similar in my mind to a dal but somewhat thinner and with lighter beans. I have been in a soup mood lately and this was a good way to start off.

The thali itself was similar in general form to an Indian thali but with some variations. Those are a naan and a papadum on the plate. The naan was a little thicker and and not puffy compared to the Indian version. The mixed vegetables and the tomato concoction were both served cold, which I enjoyed. The cool temperature was particuarly welcome in the tomato dish, since I had ordered spicy. The chicken dish itself was somewhat less spicy and served in a sauce that was thickened but not really rich. I finished off the meal with the rice pudding, which had just the right sweetness. Overall, I think this place makes a good addition to the neighborhood.

Himalayan Spice on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Duluth: Mega Mart Food Court

I needed a quick snack after a trip to Fry's, so I headed to the food court at Mega Mart. The court is an interesting mix of produce/meat and eatable food, all mixed together without strict boundaries. But they do have plenty of ready-to-eat food. I couldn't find any seating, so most of the food probably goes home with people.

I was drawn to the steamed buns. These are the vegetable buns. Aren't they beautiful with their braided tops? And they are big---one more than filled my palm. The filling was stir-fried vegetables with a moderate amount of sauce. This was a simple, hearty, and relatively healthy treat.

Mega Mart Food Court on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 18, 2013

Eating around Georgia Tech: Satto

Satto is the latest entry in the thai+sushi format. It's just down the street from the Engineer's Bookstore.

The sushi combination lunch comes in several variations. I had the shrimp tempura edition. The dish was surprisingly large and quite good. The sushi and sashimi were of very high quality; I had all the good flavor of the fish without any trace of stale fishiness. The tempura was very fresh and refreshingly crunch. You can see why tempura and sushi are such a popular combo.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gio's Chicken Amalfitano

Gina and I had dinner at Gio's, the new location of the Pizzeria Antico crowd. It's located just next door to Antico.

This is my salad. The basic salad was good but unremarkable. The shavings of Parmesan cheese were great, though.

I had the scarpiello. It's a half chicken, sausage, red peppers and onions, roasted potatoes, and focaccia. This is a single order but I thought it was pretty big; they also serve a double portion for families. Everything was very good. The juices mix together in the bowl, creating some great flavor combinations. The chicken itself had relatively simple herbs and I wish they had a few more. Gina had a baked ziti dish that she said was very good.

Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano on Urbanspoon

Au Rendez Vous

Au Rendez Vous is in a small house on Clairmont across from the library. The restaurant is run by a Vietnamese family. It's their real house with the front rooms converted to dining rooms. The food is superb and the atmosphere is what I remember of France. I've never been in a restaurant in France that was so obviously in someone's home, but that is the feel one gets in all the small, neighborhood restaurants. The staff is very small, service is efficient but unhurried, and no one rushes you out the door.

I was intrigued by idea of apple soup. As soon as it was brought to my table, I could smell the apples. (You will see that smell is a key theme in this review.) It tasted very much like apples. The thickening agents were very unobtrusive. A few pieces of red pepper on top formed the garnish. I loved this soup and I am tempted to try to make it myself.

My main course was beef with a sauce made of various fruits and a little chocolate. That is somewhat similar to Mexican mole sauces, but this is much more subtle. You can taste and smell all the notes, but the sauce doesn't overwhelm the beef. Mashed potatoes make a perfect complement.

I love the street crepe vendors in France. I carefully limit myself to one Nutella crepe per day. So, of course, I ordered a Nutella crepe for dessert. It instantly banshed the thought of all those tawdry street crepes from my head. The nutty smell of melted butter was my first sensation. The crepes had been coated with melted butter, something you don't get on the street. The butter was very rich but there was just enough to be a great introduction to the crepe itself. The crepes were tender, just thick enough to hold together.

In case you haven't noticed, I love this place. They moved to their new location a few months ago, the owner informed me. I had been afraid for awhile that I had been driving past this place for years without noticing. Now that I have found them, I intend to go back.

Au Rendez Vous on Urbanspoon

Scottsdale AZ: The Cafe at Heard Museum

The Cafe at the Heard Museum is in a beautiful spot in the museum's inner courtyard. (The coffee house, next to the bookstore, also has sandwiches, by the way.) I found the service to be a little scattered---I still didn't have utensils after my meal arrived---but everyone was very friendly.

This is the hummus wrap. Tahini is the key to good hummus and this dish had a good amount, giving it a great nutty flavor. It also had a spicy zing to it, which I always apreciate in hummus. The salad was very fresh. Overall, a very good meal.

The Cafe at Heard Museum on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Scottsdale AZ: Los Olivos

Los Olivos in Old Town Scottsdale is my kind of place: family-run, great food, relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

The meal started out with chips and two salsas. The mild one had just a little zing while the hotter one wasn't over-the-top. For lunch, I tried the sour cream enchilada and blue corn tamale. The deep red sauce on the enchilada was full of flavor, as was the rest of the enchilada. I love tamales and I love blue corn. The tamale had great texture thanks to the corn. And I can only describe the flavor of blue corn as, well, blue. George Carlin asked "Where's the blue food, man?" Here it is...

Los Olivos Mexican Patio on Urbanspoon

Scottsdale AZ: US Egg

My friend Steve and I met for breakfast at US Egg in Old Town Scottsdale. The overall atmosphere is upscale casual.

I tried the protein pancakes with a side of fruit. I tasted nuts, whole wheat and oats, and raisins; I probably missed some things. They were very flavorful. Perhaps the most interesting thing was the texture, which was much more interesting than the typical pancake. Overall, very satisfying.

U.S. Egg All American Cookery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scottsdale AZ: Pita House

Pita House is smack in the middle of Old Town Scottsdale. I had lunch in the take-out section, which featured a HUGE screen for the menu. They also have a larger room in the back that showcases musicians on some evenints.

This is the kabob platter. My favorite was the beef---juicy, tender, and beefy. The chicken was also very good. It comes with a salad, quite good rice, a little hummus, and a pita. Old Town restaurants tend to be on the expensive side, and this was no exception, but my lunch was very enjoyable.

Pita House on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 11, 2013

Scottsdale AZ: Brat Haus

Brat Haus is a tiny place but the kitchen must be a busy place. They make almost everything they serve, ranging from sausages to pickles. You can run up the bill quickly, but the food is really, really good.

My main course was a spicy sausage with apricot chutney. The sausage, chutney, and pickles are all made in-house. The sausage wasn't too hot, just a touch of heat. The sweet and sour chutney made a good contrast. The pickles were probably refrigerator pickles given their crunchiness. I loved their sour crispiness.

The handmade pretzel was large, soft, and salty. It comes with cheese but I concentrated on the mustard. I am a sucker for coarse, rustic mustards. Brat Haus's version delivers a big, wonderful jolt to the nose, a great way to clean out your nose.

And that's a homemade lemonade on the side. It had just the right amount of sourness, a great complement to the sausage.

Brat Haus on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Scottsdale AZ: Grimaldi's Pizza

Grimaldi's in Old Town Scottsdale is an outpost of the New York pizzeria. As you might expect, the pizza is thin crust. They use a coal-fired brick oven, really the best way to cook a thin crust pizza. You have a great view of the piazzolas and ovens from all the tables in the main dining room.

I started with a house salad. All the ingredients were very fresh. They used the same mushrooms that are on the pizza. The oil and vinegar dressing had a very good complement of seasonings.

My pizza was topped with Italian sausage, mushrooms, and red peppers. Grimaldi's is one of the proponents of sauce on the top pizza construction. All the toppings and the Mozarella were of high quality. I wouldn't put this among the very best pizzas I've had. Grimaldi's crust didn't taste as much of wheat as some of the best crusts. The toppings were very good but not over the top with flavor. But overall this is a very good pizza and worth a stop.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tucker: Blue Ribbon Grill

I've eaten at Blue Ribbon Grill several times, but I hadn't been there lately. It's across the street from Northlake Mall. I went back recently on the way to the movies. In the past, I've had their ribeye, which I've always enjoyed. This is a classic bar restaurant but with steaks as well as the more traditional burgers and wings.

This time I tried the Cincinnati chili. The chili is served on penne pasta that was just-right al dente. The chili itself was rich and hearty. The fresh chopped onions on top were a nice touch. This was just what I was looking for---a taste of meat and protein without being too heavy. My waitress was very nice and helpful, an example of the consistently good service I've had there.

Blue Ribbon Grill on Urbanspoon