Atlanta so far...(really long)
In Atlanta for the summer, here's where I've been and where I want to go.
Food Studio - Located in the King Plow Arts Center around Marietta St. and Howell Mill area. Really cool space, nice bar downstairs with a view of the kitchen. We sat upstairs on the "balcony."
They have a new menu with a lot of smaller plates so we decided to mix and match and just order enough for a dinner.
Started with the Shellfish tasting - the Blue crab salad was terrific, as was the smoked mussel.
Then came the cheese plate - "Essentials." Standard stuff - Brie, Gouda, Blue and something else. The accompaniments were interesting - cherries for the brie, can't remeber what else. I liked the shellfish tasting better, but the GF thought the cheeses were great.
Eggplant and portabella tart with goat cheese and arugula - exactly what the name states. Solid though.
Roasted corn soup with blue crab and cilantro oil - I thought this was really good. Tasted fresh and there was a good amount of blue crab and just enough oil.
Ricotta Agnolotti - amazing. The brown butter sauce was phenomenal.
Dessert - Lemon Basil Bombe. Simply fantastic. It was a creamy basil concoction with a refreshing lemon flavor. A light but really flavorful way to end dinner. Not too sweet.
Even with two bottles of wine, the bill was pretty reasonable because we ordered small plates. We left full, but not stuffed.
Two Urban Licks
Really loud inside, but cool ambience. I wish I sat outside, but the wait for it was a little long. After they openened up the garage door style windows I spent the rest of the dinner looking outside wistfully.
Ordered salmon chips - salmon and cream cheese on top of fresh potato chips. Really really good. 4 of them on a rack, perfect for sharing. Also for app - a fried green tomato and crabmeat stack with a sauce. Heavy, but good stuff.
For dinner, the GF had the shrimp with sweet potato puree. I'm not a huge shrimp fan, but this was really done well. The puree was a knockout and really made the dish. I had a duck breast with some sort of sweet sauce. It was pretty good, and came with a nice goat cheese tart. No dessert, too full. Good service, although the waiter forgot to bring bread, which I hate because...well, if everyone else is getting something for free, I want it too dammit!
No Mas Cantina
We were thinking about going to Nuevo Laredo, but someone recommended this new place located in Castleberry. The place looks like a Mexican resort, with a lawn and some tables set up.
Up a few steps, the outside patio was jumping with a live band and some big groups. Too loud for me, so I opted for in side seating which was a lot more subdued.
Started off with one regular margarita and huge margarita. The big one will run you $15 and was really too big for me to finish. Not really that strong either. Free chips and salsa, chips were pretty freshly made and warm, salsa was different than regular stuff, but in a good way. Maybe more authentic?
Got the queso dip with jalapenos. Big bowl of it for 6 bucks. It was thick (which I liked), and initially almost reminded me of standard american white cheese. It was pretty good with the jalepenos and hot chips though, and I'm not too picky about cheese dip anyway. We were getting full after that so only ordered nachos with steak. The nacho chips are different than the table chips. They use the thicker cut tostadas which were really crispy and light, yet held up to the weight of the toppings. The steak on the nachos was great, cooked medium with nice grill flavor. And they didn't skimp either. They did skimp a bit on the guacamole and sour cream though, with only two small scoops on either side of the big plate.
Bill was $40 bucks because of the aforementioned big ass margarita. Not a bad place, good service. The dinner options were not the 40 item 20 combo plates at some other typical mex joints. They had fish tacos, and couple other standard stuff, but then mid-level priced entrees like steak and pork rounded out the small menu. If I go back I'll check that stuff out to see if its worth it, otherwise, I'll stick to La Fonda and Jalisco's.
I plan to hit up the classics - Joel, Eugene. There seems to be a lot more places since I left three years ago, any new restaurants I should check out? Bacchanalia is my favorite, so I was thinking about Quinones, but I could at two restuarants for that much.
I've only been to Atlanta a couple times but one of my best meals of the last couple years was at Table 1280 (http://www.table1280.com/content/home...) which is at the Woodruff Arts Center. We happened to be there on a VERY slow Sunday night, so our incredibly excellent service may not exactly be the norm. But still I thought the food was excellent and the room was pretty with its simple art and huge windows facing the courtyard. We ate in the restaurant, though I understand they also have a tapas lounge.
Woodfire Grill is excellent and Floataway Cafe, both should not be missed.
For Mexican, El Rey de Taco on Buford Hwy has great tacos but get the tortillas hecho a mano, they will blow you away. Then my favorite mexican restaurant in Atlanta (actually in Tucker) is Taqueria los Hermanos. The fish tacos are the best. I can honestly say though, everything I have ordered here has been great.
Taqueria Sundown is a yummy spot too, I love their charros beans and collard greens.
Keepin' with the new w/in last 3 years theme, which is about when I moved to town, I would recommend:
Tasy China in Marietta for great Sichuan food
C'om for simple Vietnamese grilled meats and
Fox Bros. BBQ on Dekalb if they ever open their new space (rumored to be end of June.) Otherwise try Sam N Dave's for more great bbq.
New places I have yet to try that are high on my list:
Element (use to be Cherry in midtown) for my first taste of Richard Blais' (formerly of One Midtown Kitchen) molecular gastronomy or whatever his technique is called
and Shaun's in Inman Park which is Shaun Doty's (formerly of the aforementioned Table 1280) new bistro
Thanks for the great report. Keep 'em coming.