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Showing posts from May, 2013

Chow Bing

Chow Bing is in the Pencil Factory lofts near the King Memorial MARTA station. I missed it the first time---it's right next to the turn into the retail parking area. Parking is free, by the way. The menu combines two trends: build-your-own lunch and Asian/Mexican fusion. The lunches come in two styles: wrap and bowl. Their standard combinations typically mix traditionally Asian and Latin American ingredients. I started with a standard and modified it to make it lean more toward the Asian side, removing the cheeses but keeping the black beans with my brown rice. The ingredients aren't cooked together in a wok. That's probably good for my diet but doesn't combine the flavors together as much as a quick stir fry would allow. The things on the top are my fried tofu. They not only look like fish sticks but the crust is very reminiscent of them, too. Quite frankly, if I were the CB people, I would shy away from reminding people of fish sticks. Overall, I rank

Decatur: Cafe Alsace

Café Alsace is one of the mainstays of downtown Decatur. Its atmosphere is typically French: small, intimate, a little dark, unobtrusive and gracious service. French meals start with a salad. I chose the fig and honey dressing---one of the recurring themes of the dishes. The dressing was classically French and not extremely figgy but quite good. Given that this is Café Alsace, I had to try the Alsatian spaetzle. Alsace is near Germany and its food has some Germanic elements that are very well exemplified by this dish: heavier composition, German noodles, and a nice dose of pork. Translated into American terms, this is mac-and-cheese with insanely good ingredients. The spaetzle were enrobed in a rich cheese and cream sauce. Small rectangular pieces of pork studded the dish. Amazingly, the parsley sprinkled on top actually served the taste---given all that cream and cheese, even that small amount of greenery stands out in the mouth, and quite nicely I might add. This dish


Villains is a hip/casual sandwich spot and hangout in Midtown. The name refers to the sandwiches, which are named after comic book villains. The décor is metal/industrial but with one wall in the style of a subway. I wasn't impressed by the décor and theme. I guess the metal walls were supposed to suggest a villain's lair, but it just came off a little drab to me. But my sandwich was very good. This is my veggie meatball sandwich. Falafel played the role of the meatballs here. The tomato sauce was very sweet and it was matched with some amazingly sweet fried onions. There was nothing to play the role of cheese, but the sauce and onions at least partially distracted me from that concern. The bread was very good. Service was quick, too.

Lawrenceville: Sweet Rice

I was near Gwinnett Mall and in the mood for a cup of coffee, so I tried Sweet Rice. It's an Asian style dessert restaurant, which often feature coffee as well as tea. They seem to be open pretty late, although I went during the day. As you can see, they have a very large dessert buffet to select from. They have postings highlighting the freshness of their desserts. The buffet wasn't completely full when I was there, but it had a very good selection. The coffee was pretty strong but not quite a Starbucks-style dark roast. I tried two desserts in addition to my coffee. One was a sticky rice bun---satisfyingly gooey. The other had a creamy blueberry-colored filling. The portions are small enough that you can sample several without overdoing it.

Eating around Georgia Tech: Burger Bytes

I hopped into Burger Bytes in the student center for a quick lunch. This space has been remodeled to be brighter and cheerier, a welcome change. The menu and service emphasize convenience---my lunch came in a bag even though I ate it in the restaurant. But that doesn't mean low quality. I was pleased with what they've done with the menu. This is my portobello mushroom burger. It came with a big portobello cap, a healthy dose of cheese, a giant piece of roasted red pepper, and lettuce. My burger was tasty (the roasted pepper) and satisfying (cheese).

Tucker: The Local 7

I wandered into The Local 7 for dinner, not knowing quite what to expect, but I came away pleased. It features traditional burger-oriented bar fare but with some fancier touches. The people at the restaurant were there for a fun, casual evening out. I thought about getting one of their standard burgers but I ended up ordering the custom burger with a black bean patty. The burger itself was satisfying and tasty. I tried the onion rings for my side. They were handmade and very crisp.

Tucker: Sweet Dee's Bake Shop

Sweet Dee's is in old Tucker. The shop is deceptively large. They have a lot of seating in back and a special room for parties. They make cakes but stock a lot of cupcakes, too. A sign said that Thursday was pie day---they sure know how to get my attention. I went for the chocolate chip cookie. Not all bakery chocolate chip cookies taste like the classic recipe, but this one did. I think that respecting a classic shows good taste. The cookie was extremely fresh, with all the notes of butter, brown sugar, and chocolate that you could want.

San Carlos CA: Depot Cafe

Graham introduced me to the Depot Café. It's located in the old San Carlos train station. The walls are covered to the roof in photos of trains. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, with the feel of a place that's been around for awhile. I didn't expect to find banana ginger pancakes at a place like this, but they were good. The portion size was big but not so big that I couldn't finish. And the medium roast coffee kept coming to fuel our conversation.

Sunnyvale CA: Dishdash

Santanu introduced me to Dishdash in old Sunnyvale. It's an extremely popular spot, even with very efficient service. Our food was excellent, making the wait for the table worthwhile. We started with a cold appetizer platter. These six dishes offered an amazing variety in not just taste but also texture. These little plates encompassed an amazingly large band in the middle Eastern food spectrum. My main dish was the lamb. Chunks of lamb came buried in the rice, all surrounded by an extremely flavorful and rich sauce. The lamb was succulent and tender. I had to restrain myself from gobbling it down.

Palo Alto CA: 3Gs Cafe

I was looking for someplace to grab a quick bite around lunch time near California Avenue when I spied 3Gs. It's a tiny little place but it has a very comfortable outside eating area in back. The owners, warn and enthusiastic women, feature Bolivian food. Peanut soup caught my eye, so I ordered a bowl and a veggie empanada. The empanada crust was very well executed---crispy on the outside and very thick. The filling was very hearty given that it had no meat in it---lots of different vegetables and juices. The peanut soup was of medium thickness and definitely tasted of peanuts. It was very tasty and not quite like anything else I've had. Although it was clearly peanuts, it was far removed from the peanut butter sandwich experience.

Campbell CA: Naschmarkt Restaurant

Natha really outdid herself in finding unusual cuisine. Naschmarkt bills itself as new Austrian cuisine. Their menu, as it turns out, isn't an oddity or ironic twist. It's just Austrian foods making use of great ingredients and great preparation. p> I decided on the veal as soon as I heard about it. The meat was very tender. The sauce was rich and complex. The spaetzle had just the right amount of firmness. Natha and Ray pronounced their dishes equally excellent. p> p> For dessert, Natha recommended the soufflé, served with raspberries and frozen yogurt. They arrived piping hot out of the oven. The interior was perfectly tender and rich. The frozen yogurt was just right---creamy and cold but not rich. p>

ATL: Ecco

Ecco, the Midtown mainstay of new Italian, has opened up an homage to itself in Terminal E of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. The restaurant, which is built on a balcony, is a remarkable miniature version of the Midtown restaurant, starting with the sign and ending at the back porch seating. The service was very gracious. My pre-flight meal was the roasted chicken. It was cooked to perfection and the sauce was there not for moisture---the chicken didn't need any---but was a remarkable flavor complement. I chased the peas around the plate they were so good. That meal made five hours in coach bearable.