TONGUE SAUSAGE


Beer Dinner at The Porter
May 2, 2009, 11:15 am
Filed under: Drink, Events, Restaurant Reviews | Tags: ,

In a previous post I mentioned the Terrapin/Dogfish Head beer dinner at The Porter Beer Bar in Little 5 Points.  I had never been to a beer dinner, love both of those beer companies, and had heard great things about The Porter – of course I had to go.

In case you are wondering, a beer dinner is where courses of food are paired with beers that will match their flavors.  At this particular dinner, we enjoyed 6 beers and 4 courses as follows:

Apertif: Terrapin’s 90 Shelling Firkin
A special preview of their next “side project” – a delicious Scotch Ale aged in oak.

First Course: Chilled Corn Soup-lump crab-pickled ramps & Terrapin’s Sunray Wheat

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The soup itself was good.  It proved to be the best thing we would eat all night, but still wasn’t anything I would go back for.  It was smoooth and creamy, and the crab and ramps (like an onion or leek) added great flavor and texture.  It was just a little too sweet for my taste, I didn’t really want to finish the whole bowl.  The flavor profiles of the beer and soup went very well together.

The main problem with this course was in its service.  They had a great idea to first give the crab and ramps with some parsley in the bowl.  Then, they brought out the soup in large beer glasses and poured it over the crab and ramps.  I great idea in theory… I’m down with the tableside presentations, but not when you’re trying to serve 30-40 people at the same time.  Many patrons were almost finished with their beer before their soup finally arrived.

Second Course: Roasted Berkshire Pork Loin-plum jam-braised swiss chard & Terrapin’s Monk’s Revenge. 

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Naturally, this is the dish I was most looking forward to, and it was a huge disappointment.  It had great potential – the swiss chard and plum jam were good – but the pork was horrible.  This was something I would expect more from a national chain like Applebee’s or Friday’s on their 2 for $20 menu.  They tried to mask the poor quality of the pork by wrapping it in bacon and topping it with the plum jam.  Once again, I found myself leaving a significant portion on the plate.  It still went well with the beer though, a Belgian style IPA.

Third Course: Asparagus Salad-shaved gruyere-hazelnuts & Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch

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Hmmm… cold asparagus with cheese and hazelnuts.  Unappealing, unexciting, unimaginative, BORING.  At this point I’ve given up hope.  I don’t know how it was supposed to pair with the beer either.  You should try this beer if you get the chance, its recipe is based on one found on ancient Egyptian tablets.

**I need to mention that at this point in my meal, someone was passing around a basket of Porter’s garlic fries.  This is something they’ve become known for, and they were AWESOME. 

Fourth Course: Local Rhubarb Tart-jasmine cream-ginger & Dogfish Head’s Black and Blue

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…  Another boring dish that could have been easily improved.  The crust was thick and dry, and the cream was pretty boring.  Also, it’s hard to cut rhubarb with a fork – if you are going to put it in a tart you should chop it up a little more so you can get that flavor with each bite!  Once again a decent pairing with the beer.

Digestif: Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
An American Brown Ale aged in Palo Santo wood.  Very nice!

The beer dinner experience itself was very nice, mostly thanks to Terrapin and Dogfish Head.  Throughout the dinner they had pre-arranged toasts where people would stand up and express their love of beer in a little poem.  The main theme was support of the craft beer movement, something I really enjoy.  I’ll go back to The Porter for a review of items from their regular menu, but they better impress after the food I had tonight.

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Six Feet Under
April 20, 2009, 6:08 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , ,

On Saturday night, some friends and I visited the Six Feet Under on 11th Street (they have another location in Grant Park).  I had heard a lot about them and was really looking forward to this trip. 

Arriving around 8:30, the restaurant was still packed.  We had about a 40 minute wait, but it was no problem cause the weather was nice and they have a patio with access to the bar.  While enjoying some delicious Terrapin Rye, I got to enjoy the seafood house atmosphere.  It really reminded me of a seafood restaurant I would visit on vacation in Florida, and really made me wish I was on vacation!  The rooftop patio might become my favorite place once the weather decides to stay nice.  

When we finally got seated, everyone was starving and we wasted no time in ordering.  We started off with a dozen raw oysters and their fried green tomatoes.  Both were very satisfying.  The oysters were served very cold, and tasted very fresh.  The fried green tomatoes were good, but they weren’t very green and thus they weren’t very tart.  I did get to introduce two of my friends to fried green tomatoes (both are from the South too… I don’t know how that could happen).  I also got to introduce them to Siracha – the BEST hot sauce in the world.  The flavor is unmatched, and it was perfect on top of the oysters.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

For entrees, we ordered the Combo Basket (fried shrimp, oysters, and fish), the Crab Cake Po’ Boy, a Black and Blue Burger, and the Combo Tacos (calamari, blackened shrimp, and catfish).  My friends have started doing their research before we go, and heard about the Combo Tacos and the burgers in particular.  You always know a meal is going well when everyone is quiet.  I asked for complaints and all I could really get was that the Po’ Boy could have used some more acid or sauce.  Overall, everything was great.  I’m not going to go into a lot of detail cause I’m trying to keep these posts short and sweet.    

Crab Cake Po' Boy

Crab Cake Po' Boy

Combo Tacos

Combo Tacos

Let me end by telling you that Six Feet Under really makes a concerted effort to be green.  They use a windmill to power the location I visited, have energy-efficient kitchen equipment, and use biodegradable takeaway products.  I think this is awesome and you should support this restaurant just for making the effort.  Luckily for you, you’ll get a great dining experience to boot.

The good weather is here (kind of)!  Get out to Six Feet Under and enjoy it!  Six Feet Under has locations at 685 11th St. and 437 Memorial Dr.  Entrees range $8-25.

Website

Six Feet Under - Westside on Urbanspoon



Mary Mac’s Tea Room
April 18, 2009, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews | Tags: ,

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Really without planning to, I ended up visiting 2 longtime Atlanta favorites for comfort food (see OK Cafe).  Mary Mac’s, open since 1945, specializes more in Southern and Soul food.  Yeeee-haw!

Let me set this up by saying that there is a Southern food spot in Athens called Peaches.  This is probably one of my all-time favorite restaurants.  I would go there 2-3 times a week sometimes when I was at UGA (GO DAWGS!).  I can’t name another restaurant I have ever done that with.  There are some I would if I could afford it.

So, when visiting similar restaurants, I always compare them to Peaches.  In this case, I ordered my old standby: fried chicken, macaroni-and-cheese, and green beans.  Peaches, Peaches, and Peaches!  Sorry to all ya’ll Mary Mac lovers; maybe you can point me in the direction of some other dishes.  I love Southern food.  The chicken was moist and crispy, but really had no flavor.  I like a little seasoning!  The green beans and mac-and-cheese were good, but as I said earlier, it’s hard to make a green bean stand out and theirs didn’t.  I don’t think a mac-and-cheese exists that is better than Peaches.  When I was done with Mary’s, there was at least 2 tablespoons of oil/grease left at the cup.

I’d also like to mention that the space is a little rundown and could use some renovating.  I thought it smelled like pee when I walked in, but it wasn’t as bad in the dining area.  Also, there was a woman going around talking to tables and rubbing people’s backs.  I am so glad she didn’t come to mine!

As you can tell, I was not impressed. I’ll probably still go back unless I can find something better, but man I hope this isn’t the best Soul food Atlanta has to offer.  Mary Mac’s is located at 224 Ponce De Leon Ave, Atlanta.  They are open 7 days a week, 11am-9pm.  Most entrees are under $10 and include 2 sides and bread.

Website

Mary Mac's Tea Room on Urbanspoon



OK Cafe
April 18, 2009, 1:32 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews | Tags: ,

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I visited OK Cafe on a lunch outing with my grandmother this past week (really cute, I know).  I had heard about it and driven by it many times, so I was excited to check it out.  We arrived at 1:00 and it was still completely packed from lunch.  They claim to serve more customers than any full-service restaurant in Georgia, so I guess I should have been prepared.

During our wait, I got to check out the atmosphere.  Although they opened in 1987, they’ve done a great job creating the feel of a classic American diner.  The kitchen is open and loaded with flat-top grills and fryers.  The booths and tables are retro.  The servers are dressed in classic diner apparel: blue and white collared dresses with aprons and matching hats (I think 50’s-ish, but I don’t really know since I was born in the 80’s).  Everything in here takes you on a trip back in time.

The menu is large and loaded with classic comfort food for breakfast lunch and dinner.  It was tough to decide, and I hadn’t really done much research about what they might be known for.  I should have asked the waitress, but I decided to just go with the meatloaf.  I’m sort of a meatloaf connoisseur and it was on their “Blue Plate Special” menu, so I figured it must be good.  For my sides, I got the macaroni and cheese and green beans.  We also got the fried green tomatoes, which were a special that day, as our starter… Also one of my favorite things (I’m a born and raised, proud southern boy).

The fried green tomatoes were fantastic: cut really thin and lightly battered.  I would have liked some sort of sauce to go with them, but I think they were meant more to be a side.  Still, some of the best I’ve tried.  My meatloaf was just okay.  The meat had a weird texture.  It almost seemed like it was processed… Could it be that this is a frozen mixture, and not something they make themselves?  The “Creole sauce” on top was a spicy tomato sauce, not bad, but nothing special.  I’ve had much better versions of meatloaf: Greenwood’s in Roswell (probably my favorite), Agnes and Muriel’s, my mom’s, and The Diner at Crabapple are just a few that come to mind.  The sides were great.  It’s hard to make green beans stand out and these didn’t, and the macaroni-and-cheese was better than average.

I would like to visit OK Cafe again.  It wasn’t a horrible meal, it was just OK.  They must be doing something right if they’re drawing such large crowds.  OK Cafe is located at 1284 W Paces Ferry Rd.  They are open from 7am – 11pm or later, 7 days a week.  Entrees range $10-15, including 2 sides.

Website

Ok Cafe on Urbanspoon



Varasano’s Pizzeria
April 14, 2009, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews, What's Hot | Tags: ,

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In keeping with my theme of visiting the hottest new Atlanta restaurants (for the most part), I gathered up a couple of old homies to visit Varsano’s Pizzeria in the new Mezzo building off Peachtree Rd.  All I really knew going into it was that it was new and and that the guy who started it (Jeff Varasano) is the “creator of the Internet’s #1 pizza recipe.”  I figured it was worth a try.

The space is fantastic, featuring high ceilings, large windows overlooking Peachtree, bright red walls and booths, and classic Italian liquor posters.  The coolest feature was the open pizza bar where you could sit to watch the pizzateers in action.  We were given the chance to sit there, but having virtually lived in a particular hippie pizza chain for over two years, I know what goes into makin’ pies.

The menu is very simple: salads, pizzas, and desserts.  We were there for the pizza, and agreed that we would each order something different to share amongst the three of us.  They only offer one size, and it is meant for one person, so we ordered three pizzas:

1. The Nana’s – This is their classic New York pizza.  We added pepperoni and mushrooms.       

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2. The Caramelized Onion – With caramelized onion and a sharp Emmenthaler cheese (a type of swiss).  We added prosciutto.

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3. The Nucci – With garlic, arugala, Emmenthaler, capocollo, olives, and herbs. 

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Let me begin by discussing the dough…  Freaking amazing!  I have read that this is the closest thing to New York style crust that you can find outside New York.  I have nothing to compare to, but it almost reminded me of a grilled pita.  I am still really baffled as to how they can make the bottom look grilled, almost burnt in some parts but maintain the moisture and breadiness of the dough.  Perfect combination of crunchy and soft and I’ll go out and say it’s the best pizza dough I’ve tried (and we had pretty good stuff at the hippie place). 

I really couldn’t come up with any complaints because everything was really good, but I would like to make note of a few things.  First, the Emmenthaler cheese that they claim is “sharp”, really did not stand out at all to me.  You would think its taste would stand out since they called it sharp on the menu.  Second, we added prosciutto to our Caramelized Onion pizza.  I was thinking that the saltiness of the prosciutto would go well with the sweetness of the caramelized onion.  The onions were SO sweet (still delicious) that they overpowered the prosciutto and might also be the reason I couldn’t taste the Emmenthaler.  Before we had even taken a bite, the manager came over and warned us that this would be the case.  That would be great if you told your customers these things BEFORE they decided to add it for $3.00.  After the fact you should just keep your mouth shut.  Lastly, the Nucci was an awesome pizza, but the flavor profiles were very strong (with the ingredients that’s not really a surprise), so just be prepared!

Overall, the pizzas were fantabulous and you can tell this guy really knows his pizza.  I highly recommend you pay them a visit.  Varasano’s is located at 2171 Peachtree Rd, Atlanta.  Pizzas range $11-17.
Website

Varasano's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
  



FLIP Burger Boutique
April 5, 2009, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews, What's Hot

 FLIP was on my hotlist of places to hit up as soon as I started “Tongue Sausage.”  It’s one of the hottest new restaurants in the city right now, and I became a big fan of Richard Blais’ during his run on “Top Chef”.  This seems like the perfect concept for him: taking food everyone knows (the burger), and putting a unique twist on it.  I was pumped, and ready for a great burger experience.

Arriving around 6pm on Sunday night with three friends, we were told there would be a 15 minute wait.  During this time, we got to enjoy the very hip and modern decor.  Lots of white, tables packed in together, open kitchen, long bar, and booths that are “flipped” so they look the same from the ceiling as they do from the floor.  After taking it all in, we noticed four open seats at the bar and a hot bartender, so we decided to sit there.

FLIP’s menu consists of around a dozen different burgers, lots of fried sides, and milkshakes made with liquid nitrogen.  The menu was very fun and I had a tough time choosing what to order.  Since each of my friends ordered regular burgers, I decided to order the Po Boyger to get a little taste of something different.  My Po Boyger consisted of a patty made from ground shrimp, Old Bay mayo, fried lemon, tomato, onion, and lettuce.  Awesome!  The shrimp was finely ground, and the flavor from the old bay mayo and fried lemon were fantastic. 

Po Boyger & Sweet Potato Tots

Po Boyger & Sweet Potato Tots

  Their normal burgers were also delicious – made with a mixture of hanger steak, brisket, and short-rib.  My friends let me try a little bit, and the flavor of the meat was great.  We also split some of the sides: fried okra, hand-cut french fries, and sweet potato tots.  They were all very tasty.  The fries were some of the best hand-cut I’ve ever tried.  My only complaint would be that the sweet potato tots fell apart too easily and were insanely greasy.  I also tried the Krispy Kreme milkshake.  It was also very good, but didn’t really taste like the real thing. 

FLIP Burger & Fried Okra

FLIP Burger & Fried Okra

Overall I would definitely recommend FLIP.  We all left very satisfied.  It is located at 1587 Howell Mill Rd, Atlanta.  They are open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.  Burgers range $6.50 – $35.

Website

FLIP Burger Boutique on Urbanspoon



Taqueria del Sol
March 31, 2009, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

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It seems like Americanized taco stands are all over the place here in Atlanta (Twisted Taco, Tin Lizzy’s, Holy Taco, etc.).  Why not?  Who doesn’t like tacos?  With locations in Buckhead, Midtown, Decatur and Athens, Taqueria del Sol is at the forefront of this taco-mania.

The menu is small, simple and reasonably priced, consisting of just a few specialty tacos ($2.19 ea) and enchiladas ($3.19 ea).  They have all your Mexican staples: cheese dip, guac, salsa, rice and beans, as well as a few soup options.  What! You have to pay for salsa?!  For lunch today I had The Memphis (pork, jalapeno slaw, tequila bbq sauce), The Brisket (beef brisket and pico de gallo), and The Fish (fried tilapia, jalapenos, and poblano tartar sauce).  All three were tasty, but nothing super special.

The biggest draw for Taqueria del Sol is the atmosphere.  All locations have adopted the same motif: pastel purple and white walls, modern looking furnishings, a large enclosed patio area, and a bar fully stocked with all sorts of tequila (ta-kill-ya).

I would recommend checking out Taqueria del Sol, but don’t expect the food to blow you away.  Go for the atmosphere and the margaritas (disclaimer: I did not have the margaritas. I went for lunch and had to abstain in order to continue my daily grind.)     

I visited the Taqueria del Sol at 2165 Cheshire Bridge Rd.  Check out their website to see other locations and hours of operation.

 

Website

Taqueria Del Sol on Urbanspoon