Heads up on new chef at Sala in Atlanta....
Just wanted to give you lucky Atlanta hounds a heads up on a favorite chef of mine, Jeff Smedstad, who is now cooking at a place called Sala...I've never been, and can't vouch for the place, but looking at the menu, and knowing his cooking, I'd say this is well worth checking out...
not sure how long he has been there; I believe it has been about four months since he left Phoenix (?)
anyway, would love to hear any reports from hounds who have been since he started cooking there; it is on my list next time I get down that way.
Nope, not talking about chaat (which I love) . . . I am talking about Indian restaurants actually serving Indian food as tapas. Two Atlanta restaurants, Bhojanic and the new Duluth restaurant, Armaan, both specialize in "Indian tapas." If you check out the ajc.com review on Armaan, they discuss this concept of Indian tapas. I am hoping that this is a passing trend although Bhojanic is fairly popular among the Indian crowd.
As far as food that we tried at Sala, the chips and salsa were free and excellent. The salsa had a smoky red pepper and roasted tomato undertone that worked really well with the quite salty chips. The guacamole was good with fresh ingredients, but a basic guacamole: avocado, lime, tomatoes, onion, and salt. We ordered their queso fundido which had a nice crusty top but the queso was too watery and slightly bland. However, the queso fundido was served with some of the best tortillas I have ever eaten (even in Mexico): small, obviously handmade, and hot from the kitchen. They only brought us three tortillas at a time so we asked for more. We ordered the carnitas tacos and the papas tacos. The papas tacos, a combination of potatoes, anejo cheese, and guacamole, were only okay --- slightly soggy and the flavors did not meld well. My husband said that the carnitas tacos were very good. We also had the platanos with black bean sauce and crema; the spiciness of the black bean sauce counterpointed well with the plaintains and crema. The flan, as I mentioned before, was exceptional --- quite possibly the best flan I have eaten in the United States. Overall, the food was good but we just hated the notion that they are converting Mexican food into small plates; it was unnecessary and made the meal overly expensive. [Note: They do serve some main entrees but the waitress recommended the small plates and tacos over the entrees.]
thanks for more info...all I have to say is, if you do go back, ignore that waitress and get the lamb shank!!!
the small plate phenom in Indian places that you describe hasn't hit here. at least that I know of....glad to get the clarifiction though....I have to admit, I am not a small plates fan either...
We ate at Sala on Monday night and liked it a lot (not having been in a while as we found the food a little, well, boring).
We were delighted to find mostly small plates, and like everything we tried, including:
tacos with carnitas
orange and jicama salad
tamales (my least favorited dish, but I think that's because I've been eating way too many tamales lately)
We shared a cake made with corn. All of it was excellent. We'll be back.
We actually randomly went there last week without realizing that there was a new chef. The margaritas are the same, which is good because we always loved their key lime margaritas. Their new concept is small plates ---- frankly, I am so bored by this concept. I love it in Spanish restaurants and in Spain because that is how people eat there but we don't need to eat in tiny portions to enjoy every type of meal (on a side note rant, why are Indian restaurants now going to small plates/tapas --- so unnecessary). That being said, the food was good --- guacomole was fresh and all of the menu items had a good mix of ingredients and spice. The waitress brought us out a free flan, since it was their first week, and the flan was excellent, silky smooth without having an overwhelming caramel flavor. The flan was the best part of the meal. Final conclusion, food and drinks are good but we probably won't go there too often.
Thanks for the update...would be great to hear more specifics about some of the dishes you tried.
As for Indian small plates or 'tapas', if by that you mean chaat (Indian snacks, typically eaten there as street food), it is indeed a quite common way of eating in India, which is becoming more popular in the US. At least in the bay area where I live, chaat is the only type of small plates I am aware of at Indian restaurants....
Susan, THANK YOU!!! I have been trying to think of a place for my friends and I to have a nice but not horribly expensive dinner in Atlanta when we're there for a meeting next month. Since (as you well know)I'm the birthday girl the last weekend in February, I get to pick the place. I will be sure to report back!!
cool...let us know. I will keep Los Sombreros in PHX on my favorites list for now, but I look forward to the report, as work may take me down to Atlanta this spring or summer...I'd definitely choose it for my birthday if I were down there with you, so make them buy you my extra margarita! :-)