Very spur of the moment I found myself at the door of Villa Christina in Dunwoody  (unprepared to review and I am of course, beyond mortified to have iPhone photos of food) , a Hyatt hotel popular wedding venue in Atlanta.  Once inside the complex you could forget where you are!  Atlanta is known to be a green city and traveler's get a real eyeful of that here.

It's a Saturday night and we are the only ones in the restaurant.  I don't quite know what to make of this.  Do they mainly do their business on weeknights to business travelers?  Depend on special events?  It's mid August and the lawns are prime for a wedding but none are going on here today. I am hungry and just care about my empty stomach right now.

The dining room is lovely. Upscale with a tuscan style paint job, yellow and a sky scene painting on the ceiling.  It overlooks the gardens and lots of light is shining in on the tables.

The menu is decidedly Italian as you'd expect. I found the wine list to be a little generic but fine for the masses.   I ordered up some calamari with grilled lemons and peppers and calamari I got!  A very generous portion that two of us couldn't even finish. The bread basket arrived with butter and a scoop of green olive tapenade. That was likely the reason we couldn't finish the calamari. That and the calamari was underseasoned. A little salt remedied that.

Calamari

Calamari

The entrees were a little tough to narrow down because there are so many on the menu that tempt. It's not normally this challenging for me to narrow it down to 2-3. I opted for a creole style pasta. I had the wheat spaghetti swapped out and put pappardelle in its place. A very flavorful cream sauce with creole seasoning, smokey andouille sausage and perfectly cooked large shrimp with tails on.  Perhaps not Italian but it sure is delicious. This is another generous portion of food. My dining companion had a plate of grape leaf wrapped grilled salmon  drizzled with balsamic glaze and a side of creamy polenta. Another perfectly cooked dish!  The polenta gets thick and firm as it sits but it is tasty!


We both opted for a death by chocolate type dessert trio. A scoop of super rich chocolate ice cream with a wedge of minty chip biscuit atop an almond tuille, chocolate creme brulee and molten lava cake.  All delicious but I kept wanting a pile of whipped cream in the middle of the plate for all three items to share.


The service here  was top notice all night. A true example of hospitality. In fact it may be the first time in a very long time I told the server how wonderful he is when he brought the check.



Villa Christina on Urbanspoon
Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

Indian is one cuisine I haven't ventured into for a variety of reasons. One being Atlanta has been lacking in that  cuisine for some time and when visiting England for an extended period of time where Indian is wildly popular, the only thing I wanted in my mouth was glorious fish and chips.

I am open to new foods and love a variety of flavors so very much was looking forward to my Copper Cove experience.  It's on N. Fulton street just off Pharr road and parking is a bit tricky depending on time of day. Rest assured it's worth sorting out because inside this unassuming place is some spectacular food.

The inside could use a bit more settling in and perhaps a woman's touch but otherwise get over it and dive into the menu!  To an inexperience Indian diner such as myself the menu is deliciously overwhelming. My dining companion knows the cuisine very well and guided me a bit but the waiter was more than happy to help as well. I intended to order many things and take home the rest of what I couldn't finish. I did not want one dish to  flavor my perception of the cuisine as a whole.  That would be like marrying your first love and missing out on all the wonderful other loves to come.

Order Naan, don't ask why. You will thank me at the end of your meal after you've enjoyed this bread with each plate of food you order.

Naan, an Indian table staple

Naan, an Indian table staple

 

First up is some paneer filled samosas.  They are served in a standing cone with a squeeze of lemon and two very complimenting sauces. One tamarind based and other a green hypnotic blend of herbs with a bit of heat. I have not even the words to describe the heavenly taste of what is called "shrimp puree" on the menu.  Delicate pillows of dough are generously filled with an impeccable coconut milk and shrimp sauce.  This is the last meal I want on earth all on one small plate. I really was tempted to cancel my entrees and get more of this. My dining companion agreed, this indeed should be their signature.

Shrimp Puree. Heavenly.

Shrimp Puree. Heavenly.


I ordered a tandoori shrimp, Jhinga tandoori.  It came out sizzling on a (sorry to say this) fajita type hot plate and it was sizzling perfumed shrimp with finely julienned mixed bell peppers and sweet onions all cooked to some hypnotic perfection. Where has this food been all my life?!  This is the furthest thing from Americana cuisine ever and I am happy to be on the ride.

Jingha Tandoori

Jingha Tandoori

My second entree to taste was Shahi Korma.  This has zero heat and is a lovely coconut cream concotion that coats a pile of rice beautiful. It has texture from whatever protein you opt for as well as gold raisins and almond.  Very satisfying.

We got a bowl of Byrani for the table, delicious seasoned rice with dried fruit and nuts. 

Copper Cove doesn't have a liquor license quite yet but there is beer and wine. The staff is so warm and excited about the food and it shows. What a pleasure to spend my money at Copper Cove.  Can't wait to go back!  Lunch buffet on weekdays so you can try  a lot and be out in time to get back to work.

Copper Cove Indian Bistro on Urbanspoon


Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

If you haven't been attending these special limited seating dinners you are missing out. This night Chef Val Domingo flexed his creative muscles and modernized 1960's foods. He cited first thing he couldn't go down the jello mold route, for which we were all thankful. 

The beloved wedge salad that was a mainstay on trendy menus in the 60's, and still is good today, got a modern twist by grilling the romaine enough to give it a smokey finish, mini heirlooms and crumbled crisp bacon garnished it along with a blue cheese vinagrette.

 Remember oysters Rockafeller? Val does and he put a southern twist on it with some deliciously tender braised collard greens.  Meaty briney oyster with collards and hollandaise browned til bubbly makes my tummy happy.


Surf and turf was right on trend in those Mad Men years. This play on it was positively delicious!  Pork tenderloin stuffed roulade style with a crab cake type filling served alongside some lobster mashed potatoes.  I had come into the meal famished but this quelled the stomach growling. A broiled tomato half on the dish reminded me of my childhood. Mom used to make them all the time.

Pound cake was the rage and Val modernized it by grilling it and serving it with strawberry sauce. He loves to make speciality ice creams and prepared a basil one to give this one a real summertime flair.


Word on the street is the next dinner will be themed around The Walking Dead.  Watch out for zombies stealing your food.

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

This location seems to be the black hole of death for restaurants past.   Egg Harbor Cafe currently holds the lease in this space on Roswell Road. After eating here I say confidently and very hopefully that it will be a long time occupant.

The cafe is quite large and for a breakfast and lunch only spot I was a little surprised but even on a weekday close to lunchtime the joint is PACKED.  Lots of shiny happy staff, which of course is what you want at breakfast. Who needs a grump to start your day? You may already be waking up with one as it is. Whether it is yourself or your bed partner.

I ordered up Fried Green Tomato eggs benedict. This is one of many benedict options.  Nicely poached egg with no milky slimy whites. crispy chopped bacon was scattered around.  This is a dish that is a play of textures and it's a real hit assembling it this way.  The side of cheese grits are without question, the best cheese grits I have ever had. They are served in individual crocks, seasoned and topped with additional cheese that gets a little brown on top. 

Harbor potatoes are a dream come true for a pepper hater like myself. Just clean crisp potato pieces topped with fresh scallion.  I am so happy right now.  But wait, there is more joy!  The crispy waffle I cannot resist so that gets delivered to my table too. Mind, you I know I won't finish all this food but I find myself always so overwhelmed to the point of indecision at breakfast so I order everything. 

Intelligestia drip coffee is a bottomless cup and it's yummy.  I can't wait for my next breakfast at Egg Harbor cafe. There are some savory crepes with my name all over them!

Egg Harbor Cafe on Urbanspoon


Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

This is my first time being in the very charming Emory Point complex.  Points alone are given for atmosphere and location of this La Tagliatella.

Tonight I only had vegetarian options and I can confidently say any vegetarian would feel satisfied with this menu instead of the sometimes default option at restraurants where vegetarian feels like a collection of side dishes or worse, an afterthought.

Longtime readers know of my tomato hate.  That said I was beyond delighted with the version of caprese salad served!  Never ever would I order this dish but this twist was incredibly delicious and unique to me. The raw tomatoes are peeled and ground then mixed with a touch of olive tapenade. The bed of this tomato mixture has fresh mozzarella laid over it with anchovy fillets in between.  The saltiness of the anchovy is heaven with the mild cheese and acid tomatoes. I could not get enough of this!!!!

The bread basket is filled with petite pizza dough rolls and boy are they tasty!!! I love that they are small not sending me into panics over the commitment a large roll requires.


tomato basil filled pasta-delicious!!

tomato basil filled pasta-delicious!!




The signature dish is a paper thin pizza, and I mean paper thin. It's topped with paper thin eggplant slices, mozz and a bit of tomato sauce then drizzled with honey and balsamic. It's unique and addictive. I really didn't want to share any of it but alas, one must be polite or be banned from socializing forever.

Hey, there is eggplant on this pizza and I like it!

The tomato basil filled tortelloni is really delicious. The tomatoes are so sweet they taste candied and paried up with a quatro fromaggi cheese sauce it's a winning combo. 

The pear and gorgonzola  is a tasty filled pasta too but it must be paried with the right sauce or it can be a trainwreck. Avoid pairing it with pesto. Two great tastes that don't taste great together.

Butternut squash pasta is heavenly on a fall or winter day. Bonus, the darling heart shape pasta it is encased in.  The filling itself is silky smooth and spiced perfectly to ehance that butternut flavor.

Do not miss the Bocconcinno dessert.  This is 3 in one. A thin layer of sponge topped with a layer of cheesecake and then a layer of silky smooth custard that tastes like flan. I haven't had anything like it and want it everyday of my life from now on!

La Tagliatella on Urbanspoon


spectacular tasting caprese salad with anchovy

spectacular tasting caprese salad with anchovy

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

I am a longtime fan of this family of deli's.  In fact I was in NYC recently and didn't find bagels there to be any more superior than what is in offered in Goldberg's.  You have to figure any place making 56,000 bagels per week knows what they are doing.

mini bagels make me smile!


Goldberg's is looking to feed us at dinnertime now and has some enticing options to get us to choose them over other eateries you may be opting for when the sun goes down.

Mushroom barley soup will be sounding very good when October rolls around. Beefy broth full of hearty barley and earthy mushrooms along with some house baked bread offered by Goldberg's seems like a no brainer comfort food.

gold1.jpg


Their standard comfort food, matzo ball soup, is pretty spectacular. The stock is rich and not salty with great chicken flavor and the matzo ball itself is lighter than any other I've had.  Both soups are available frozen to keep in your freezer for the flu that sneaks up on you or a quick lunch/dinner at home.

For summer only they are offering traditional gazpacho and it is darn good. Me the tomato hater gobbled up every bit. The cucumber makes is crazy refreshing and sour cream brings it all together. I licked the bowl clean!

The chicken salad here is divine. It's not overly fussy or full of nuts and grapes (Not that there is anything wrong with that) but a salad that pairs so nicely with the breads available.  Bagel chips if you want texture, rye slices if you want classic and bagel if you want a full on deli experience. 

See how juicy?

See how juicy?

In my opinion outside of the matzo ball soup, Goldberg's has two other real show stoppers:  The lox and bagel combo that is as good as anywhere you will find and of all their reubens offered (Brooklyn, California and Georgia style) the corned beef (Brooklyn) is phenomenal. I am not a reuben lover by birth but this sandwich has made me one.


If lox is still a bit too fishy for you they offer smoked whitefish and a sinfully rich smoked sablefish. 

In the past I have 70% of the time opted for their brisket sandwiches and will continue to do so.  It's the only consistently prepared juicy brisket I've had, including all the barbecue joints in the Atlanta area.  It is cooked and cooled correctly every single time so I never get one disappointing bite.

Potato latkes are on the menu. This version has more egg and flour in it than I typically see giving it more of a knish feel. More yum comfort food.

Hot sandwiches are available too. How about fried chicken and waffle sandwich? Skip the honey mustard and get maple on the side.  Salmon filet sandwich with a cucumber dill sauce and spinach will keep your waistline in check and the belt buster Geogia burger will kill the most hungriest of appetites. 

To add to the take home dinner options Goldberg's offers frozen casseroles to take and bake.Me, I like to keep one in the freezer for unexpected company. I can Macguyver up something usually but sometimes I like more options, especially when I'd rather be with my drop in guests and not in the kitchen.


Chose from:

  1. shrimp and grits
  2. chicken pot pie
  3. chicken tetrazzini
  4. lasagne


Goldberg's Bagel Company & Deli on Urbanspoon


Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

Glasslock has answered our food storage and health prayers all in one fell swoop with the Glasslock food storage containers!   They really don't cost much more than their all plastic counterparts and you get the pleasure of a 4 sided locking lid.  This comes in handy when you have smelly or staining food items like tomato and curry sauces.

The lidded mixing bowls I find handy for when making meatball mixtures that need to rest and develop for 8-24 hours as well as crepe batter so the flour saturates fully with the liquid.

http://www.glasslockusa.com/mixing-bowls/     



This 18 pc oven safe set comes in at just over $2 per piece.  

http://www.glasslockusa.com/18pc-glasslock-oven-safe.html



Lock & lock has added glass bottoms to their locking lineup too.

http://shop.locknlock-usa.com/26-glass

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

When Michael Pollan was doing his media tour of "cooked"  he explained a very simplistic way of creating one's own sourdough starter from mere water and flour. Additionally added each culture would vary by region you occupy due the different strains of  organisms in the air.

I have flour, I have filtered water, heck I even have a glass jar with a lid. Let's give it a go!  A life thrives on some nuturing, love and attention. The variable here is a bit of temperature control. Summer of 2013 I started this concoction. 1 cup of white flour, 1 cup of water. Whipping it vigorously several times a day to incorporate all the magical organisms in my home in hopes to turn this basic mixture into something transformational.  Mind you despite living in the southeast for decades I have not grown at all fond of the warm weather and in fact, keep my home so cold in summer months absolutely nothing transformational was happening to this mixture but perhaps has delayed my signs of aging another few years.  It  had been well past the 5-7 day window this mixture was supposed to transform in.  My brilliant idea?  Put my heating pad to good use and put this open screen covered container on top of a gentle heat. Two days later sure enough just that few degree increase set the transformation in motion.

Day after day I add three tablespoons now of wholegrain flour and a bit of room temp water.  By day 10 I come home to a home tha smells of fresh yeast bread. Alas the starter is ready!

I realize this starter has become a pet. I am now putting my pet to work. There was little fighting the fact the King Arthur flour is the website that will come up in the forefront of results when you try to figure out how to use your sourdough starter. From the sourdough options I found on there, pretzels were the most appealing so off I went down the soft preztel road.  Be ready body, you're about the have some carb bloat. 

What this recipe is missing is the all important step of boiling your pretzels prebake in simmering water treated with baking soda and sugar. That gives it the chewey bagel crust that really puts them over the edge of delicious to DIVINE.  Otherwise the recipe is flawless. 

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/PrintRecipe?RID=2025&radio=1

The older your stater gets the less sour it will taste but it will be extremely active if you take care of it. I leave it covered in my fridge for weeks or even months forgetting it's even there. It is easily brought back to life with a couple of days out of the fridge, pouring off and refeeding then using it.  It's hybernating in the chill chest, not dead by any means.   It's ready to make foccacia, pizza crust, loaf bread, yeast buns and of course, more exquisitely delicious pretzels. 

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

With Jordan Wakefield moving his culinary talents over to Smoke Ring, Val Domingo has taken over the corporate chef role in the Meehan's family.  PS Next location is opening in Buckhead.  Meanwhile Val is accomodating the new American style of eating and dietary trends. The 2014 Spring and Summer menu reflects some of those changes while still featuring some of your Irish Pub favorites.  You will find Paleo and gluten free options all over the menu.

Light bites including gluten free options, are ground tuna tartare atop cucumber slices with cilantro and a sriracha garnish. Heck isn't that Paleo too? 

There are some nice crisp salads for the warmer weather including a strawberry avocado salad with almonds  and vegan chopped salad with shaved brussel sprouts, kale, golden raisins, radicchio and more tossed in a chile lime vinagrette.  I couldn't get enough of the latter. I really like how the Meehan's chefs all seem to have  a way with brussel sprouts. The vegetable is finally getting the props is deserves after our childhoods gave them a bad name.

vegan chopped salad

vegan chopped salad

strawberry, avocado and goat cheese salad

strawberry, avocado and goat cheese salad

Val has switched up the recipe for my very favorite lobster bisque to make it gluten free while still maintaining all the flavor the original version had.

There is an edamame goat cheese dip served with super crispy lavosh wedges, carrots and celery. It has a bright clean taste and lends itself nicely to the sweltering heat of Atlanta.  I can munch on this all night long with a glass of white wine in hand.

The trout with a fricasee of wild mushrooms and crab is Paleo and gluten free. It's served with a lemon caper butter sauce and green veg.  Trout can be hit or miss with no in between but this is definately one of the better trout dishes I've had.  In fact it is the first time I've had trout with mushrooms and crab. Two of my favorite culinary accessories.

Trout with mushroom and crab fricasee

Trout with mushroom and crab fricasee

On another fish note, without question the salmon with a coconut lime buerre blanc is spectacular. Why did I never think to do this with my own salmon? The fish is set atop a brown butter cauliflower mash with ratatouille.  This dish is guilt free, flavorful and satisfying.  Tough to pull off but it does. You may even have to take the leftovers home

 

Those of you that love the lamb burger will now find a venison patty in its place. Lamb sourcing became an issue but I think you'll find this a nice replacement. Cooked rare to keep it moist it gives you that beef alternative goodness off the beaten path. I LOVE the brioche rolls Meehan's gets from a local bakery. 

Beef burger lovers there is one for you, the Mason Dixie. Beef with fried pickles and pimento cheese is a sloppy southern mess that had me impolitely but didn't give a care licking my fingers. 

These Meehan's chef all have a love for pork belly and it is featured here as a surf and turf. Candy sweet candied pork belly with brown butter scallops.  What a refreshing and all around delicious take on this pairing. I licked the plate clean!

If four legged proteins aren't your bag there is a tuna burger that will satisfy.  It's got asian slaw, shaved pickled ginger, secret sauce and that silky sweet brioche bun that brings it all together like a song.

ahi burger

ahi burger

The most ooh's and ahh's came from the vegetarian grilled feta sandwich. My readers you know my vehement dislike for tomatoes and it's half the filling of this sandwich but I do not doubt you tomato lovers will adore this sandwich.  Vegetarians will find plenty of options on this Spring Summer menu and this apparently is the star.

A heart pub style steak fritte complete with sirloin and cheese covered steak fries will keep a classic pub diner happy, or a red meat lover like me. Tasty homey and satisfying nothing does it like beef.

steak fritte

steak fritte

How many sad, bad, soggy, overly dense waste of space bread puddings have you had? I lost count at 15.  Somehow this kitchen has managed to renew my faith in bread puddings.  a slight crisp top and creamy flavorful light yet dense?! interior.  Yes of course there is a hard sauce to  drizzle over the ice cream topped warm deliciousness. If only my dad were around to munch on this he'd be one happy man. I was one happy woman with this in my mouth.

Meehan's Public House on Urbanspoon

Right next to Ten is Campagnollo. In fact they share a valet.  Nice outdoor eating area and modern clean tables inside. 

I went right for the cocktail menu and selected the La Palmona. A very refreshing tequila citrus drink like a margarita but isn't. I couldn't help myself I had two. I suggest you do the same.

It's a rare thing to find arancini on a menu, being the fan that I am of rice over pasta I instantly ordered them. These are such a pain in the neck to make I'd rather have them out than make them at home. These balls of creamy friend risotto make me happy. This version is drizzled with balsamic and all around satisfying.

Most, not all, of the pasta is made in house. one of which is featured in the lasagne.  Once I saw bechamel in the description I was sold.  It's one of their signature dishes and I see why. It is made to order. The noodle sheets are layered with bolognese, topped with bechamel then the mozzarella and broiled til bubbly and brown.  It is fantastic. The bolognese has good depth and the balance of sauce and cheese to pasta is lovely. The pork shank over polenta left something to be desired. No depth of flavor and underseasoned. The meat was tender enough and polenta creamy smooth but flavor was missing for sure. 

At some point I am going to give up hope of having a spectacular ceasar salad out in a restaurant because again I was left disappointed with this plate of greens.  This one has actual anchovies laced on the top but that didn't save it. 

Dessert was pretty damn good all around. Cheesecake with a peach sauce, light yet substantial.  Good flavor and texture. Gluten free chocolate torte tastes more like a fluffy flourless chocolate cake sprinkled generously with salted chopped pistachios. Delicious flavor and heavenly texture. I licked the plate clean and I was full before it even landed on my table. I didn't dare waste a bit of that. 

Wonderful attentive service and capable staff overall.  I feel like based on this experience the menu is a bit hit or miss but if you hit the right items you will have a great taste experience at Campagnolo.  

 

arancini
Lasagne bolognese
Braised pork shank with polenta
Chocolate torte


Campagnolo on Urbanspoon
Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

Still coming off a bad steakhouse experience from  Bones I was cautiously hopeful heading into Capital Grille (Buckhead location).  Inside, up 8 floors, is the classic dark handsome decor of a steakhouse. My caution turning into excitement.  I sidled up to the bar and had my custom cocktail made (not one of their delicious selections though).  Now I am ready.  Bring on the food!

Once seated my team of servers introduced themselves. I haven't ever worked front of house, only in back, so this concept of multiple servers perplexed me a bit and the service, while well intended, came off like there was a communication problem among the team.  

Just a very few wines are served by the glass. I counted 4 reds to pick from to accompany my steak.  I suppose it's not an issue when the wines are well selected by the sommolier.  Much more extensive is the bottle list. You may in fact need the sommolier to guide you through those waters of wine.

Lobster bisque is on the menu tonight! My beloved soup, half the time I order it out it is sorely disappointing but this one is not! It is impossibly thick and creamy, no actual lobster meat but the stock is very well flavored, served with sherry if you please.  I would have licked the bowl had my parents not taught my how to eat in a fine dining restaurant by age 7. Still, I was tempted. 

Ceasar salad is a bit forgettable but aren't most of them? Everything else I ate was memorable.  Sides are served family style but the portions aren't really family style. Barely enough for two yet likely too much for one depending on how much volume your tummy is used to eating in one sitting. Very tasty and satisfying mashed potatoes, hericot vert perfectly tender crisp with tomatoes.  My steak was cooked absolutely perfect with even heat applied surrounding my pink center. Nicely seasoned. I added fried lobster tail which I can't recommend enough. I ate that up and took most of my steak home as I had dessert on the brain and steak reheats the best the next day.

Flourless chocolate cake, this version is without question the best tasting chocolate I've had in years. Maybe the best dessert. I tasted a bit of coffee to enhance the flavor of the chocolate, excellent choice by the pastry chef.  What a spectacular way to end an already delcious meal. 

Capital Grill now rivals my other favorite steak joint, Hal's. 

Love,

One happy eater.

The Capital Grille on Urbanspoon
Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

I learned about Flot Spa from a friend that went in and had the Flot experience a few months ago.  "What? You float in some water and don't sink or have to furiously move around to keep your head above water?"   Not exactly.

The spa itself is located on 12th street, a lovely area of midtown.  It's a cozy size. Two pod rooms, a men's and women's locker room, an esthetics room and a massage room. Aveda products are abundantly available for use and purchase. You will smell good at every step here as a result. 

The staff gives detailed and thorough instructions during your entire visit. I found the service and professionalism to be exceptional. Both by the front desk (also what I would consider a spa host) as well as the massage therapist.

Mr. R and I went with a hope of having a couples experience but the spa isn't set up for that. Don't let that stop you from going with someone. I went in for my massage first and Mr. R went in for his flot first.  Then we switched (the water is filtered for several minutes between floters).  I was escorted to the ladies locker room and instructed to disrobe and remove any makeup prior to my flot session.  Additionally there is a beautiful open but private shower in the pod room itself to clean off any massage oil or lotion residue you may have on your body, then rinse off again post flot. Why?

You see, the pod is only 12-14" of water deep. It is hypersaturated with magnesium salts thus why your body, including your head will effortlessly flot. The word pod may have you thinking smalll but it is not. I'd estimate it larger than a queen mattress.  The session is 50 minutes. I found that some of my exposed skin had a thin layer of salt that dried within about 30 minutes and made me just a tad itchy. Mr. R did not have this same experience so it appears to be a matter of skin sensitivity.  Both of us are rather tall, me 5'11 and he 6'3 but both found we were able to move around in the flot pod with arms over head (more crossed above the head) and legs able to move and cross ankles, bend knees, etc with no issue.  You will have on goggles and ear plugs during your flot. Do not open your mouth or lift your googles while in the water or it will interrupt your relaxation. Salt water in the mouth or eye isn't one of the more pleasant things in life.

Already relaxed from a superb massage I was escorted into the pod room and given detail intructrions how to flot, what to expect, options for music, light and a panic button should I need it.  Once alone I took off my robe and got under the beautiful shower and washed all the product out of my hair, conditioned  at the suggestion of the host, then stepped into the blue light pod of water. Ear plugs in, goggles on I laid back and sure enough every inch of me was suspended atop these few inches of water. It could have been 6 feet deep for all I knew once relaxed and weightless. I imagine if you're on the heavy side it would be heaven to feel so weightless. If you're on your feet often or just have an all around hectic life this will transport you to a different world for a time. Don't think, just flot.

I was more appreciative than ever of the cozy dimly lit spa post treatments. I was entirely relaxed and any superfluous noise or light would have killed my chill buzz. 

Bonus, that salt water relaxes your muscles so it's great after you had a rough workout or sports session. I slept 10 hours the night I floted. 

See you again soon, flot.

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

I have been eager to try the smoke ring for months now, being a longtime fan of Executive chef, Jordan Wakefield formerly at Meehan's downtown. A southern guy through and through surely he can make some barbecue to stand up against any here in town.

Modern warehouse with rustic barbecue flair decor. Really comfortable, spacious and fresh as far as 'cue places go. Nice start so far.

Pork belly sliders instantly caught my eye and got ordered along with fried green tomatoes. Those sliders are just heaven on a soft bun. Delicious side of crispy fries go nicely with the fatty tender pork with guiness mustard and bacon bourbon marmalade.  I felt a foodie coma coming on already. The tomatoes have some magic in that they have a perfectly thick crust that holds it shape and crispness. Dotted with goat cheese cream and chow chow it is everything you want in a fried green tomato.

pork belly sliders and fried green tomatoes


The smoked chicken wings are impressively tender. Every other time I've had them in my life the smoke flavor is there but they are bone dry. On the side is white bbq sauce. Usually some loose concoction of mayo and vinegar. It's nice with these wings. There is a bottle on your table in case you run low.

The tempura fried smoked ribs we couldn't quite figure out but they are impossibly tender and after just a few bites I appreciated the light crunch against the silky smoked meat.  Wakefield can be playfully creative with his menu and this shows that.

Smoked trout dip is comfort food to me! delicate in flavor but very very rich and creamy. Served up with toasty pita wedges I love it with a glass of wine. Plenty big portion to share for a table of 4.


smoked trout dip

The sliced brisket is thick cut and very tender. The cumin and smoke are in-your-face bold. Delicious. Triple cream corn screams fresh corn cut, even scraped off of a cob and creamed in its own corn milk along with dare I say some dairy too. Just natural sweet corn flavor is all you taste and all it needs to taste like. You can't beat fresh corn goodness.

Another win for Wakefield.  


The Smoke Ring on Urbanspoon


Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

In intermittent fasting news, yes it's still the most effective part of my lifestyle to keep my blood pressure under control.  I've found a way to make those 500 calorie days a bit more of a breeze.  While I don't mind laying low twice a week it's not always practical when you are at the helm of multiple businesses.  What is this sorcery that staves off hunger for these 36 hours of self imposed calorie restriction? GG crispbread.  At no point will I claim them delicious but I am an adult and am not a slave to my palate like I am to my health. If I can tolerate vile tomatoes and red peppers I sure can deal with all bran crispbreads. especially when I can load them up with things like:

  • Whipped cream cheese and lox
  • nut butters
  • ricotta and parmesan
  • mayo and ham or turkey
  • nutella and bananas

Eat 4 of these with whatever on top gets it down the hatch with a whole lot of no calore liquids and there will be no growls coming from your belly.

I've gotten to enjoy them enough to eat them on non fasting days as well. Being regular is a wonderful thing.

I've been an interval running fool for quite a while now.  In addition to it keeping the blood pressure down it's also got me feeling fantastic day in day out AND no question the best outcome: ZERO BACK PROBLEMS since I began.  I've been plagued with a crooked spine that gets so out of whack at times I am immobile for up to two weeks unable to sleep, walk or work.  For me this has been priceless and gets me motivated most everyday to get moving at a higher level of intensity. 

On a corner of 30th avenue in Astoria you will find Ovelia. Plenty of outdoor sidewalk seating but it's so pretty inside you may want to just stay in. 

After waiting a full 15 minutes (yes we watched our clocks) we did finally get to see a waiter to take a drink order from a beautiful selection of craft cocktails. It's Thursday night and this place is BUSY.  Shorthanded may be more appropriate but all night the service just left a bad taste in our mouth.

Sadly,  fried feta was sold out. Really no surprise as nothing sounds quite as good on the appetizer menu but we replaced that with fried something else: calamari.  Nice light crispness and thick 1" cuts of the tubes. Zucchini fritters while tasty, look very amateur. Zero for presentation but a 9 for flavor. A little more polish on this and they could be a real signature dish.

Broiled salmon filet was perfectly cooked and excellent flavor. A nice yogurt pesto set it off along with a skewer of seared cherry tomatoes.  Shrimp with a romesco turned out to be just as tasty served atop a yogurt hummus. 

I was hopeful about the handcut oregano fries. They were heartbreakingly disappointing to the point they had to be returned.  Flaccid and forgettable. We were given extra cocktails to makeup for the slight of food. Appreciated but damn I wanted those fries to be good! 

The crepe with banana and nutella is as good as can be expected. Which of course is VERY good. After all, this IS nutella. 

I can't recommend Ovelia because of all the misteps in food and service but can recommend it for atmosphere. Use this information wisely.

Ovelia on Urbanspoon


Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

Alas I am eating my way around NYC while here on some business (and some pleasure). Bourdain's Brasserie sounds good. French is always a good idea.

Inside feels decidedly French but not stuffy. The place is packed as expected on a Friday  night. We were quickly seated and the attentive service began, and continued all night.

Country pate I could not resist ordering. It is porky and pork livery, reminiscent of braunschweiger but with much more texture.  I asked for dijon to accompany the cornichons. Beware to go easy with the mustard as it is very HOT but sets off the pate very nicely. Popular truffle deviled eggs made an appearance at our table.  Rustic, elegant and all together addictive.  I see plates of these being dropped on almost every table in eyeshot.  I suspect people fall asleep hoping to dream of them. This is not the last truffle application of the night.

Duck is all over the menu and all over our table as a result. Confit leg with roast potatoes. Flavorful and delicious. Breast rendered and sliced over pomegranate sauce is divine. Properly cooked potato gratin is heavenly and it's on this duck plate too. I could not resist hanger steak with shallot sauce and truffle fries. These fries are nothing short of magical. Perfectly cooked flavorful steak with a mindblowing shallot sauce with red wine is everything I expect from French food. This is turning out to be one fantastic meal.

The cocktails are coming out pretty damn perfectly. You know what you like and I know what I like so I won't tell you what to drink but I will tell you can't go wrong with whatever you order. 

To me the holy grail of French desserts is mousse au chocolat and this one does not disappoint. Rich dark cocoa laced airy creamy goodness with whipped cream garnish. 

One satisfying meal. One satisfying experience. Pretty affordable by semi fine dining NY standards. Thank you Les Halles.

Les Halles Park Avenue on Urbanspoon
Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

When I tell ANYONE in Atlanta that I've never been to Alon's the  gasps of shock are too countless to name at this point.  I do cook most of the food  I consume so why should it be a shock I don't frequent ready to eat bakeries and cafes?  Running 30 miles a week has sucked up some of my cooking time and increased my appetite so it's a perfect storm of needing some ready to eat fresh food.

Enter Alon's. Word on the street is the service is salty but food is consistently good. We're just here for the food, right?   Once you weed through all the outside tables and double entrance I found a deliciously spacious welcoming virtual wonderland of tasty bites. 

Today I have a sandwich in mind. After a long run my body wants some carbs and bread was on my brain. Too hot for cooked food today so I beelined to the sandwich spread. Surely a bakery has delicious bread surrounding equally tasty fillings? It's 2 pm now so they are pretty picked over ( good sign they are getting eaten so fresh batches are made daily). I saw an overstuffed caprese calling my name. Crusty, tender and tasty. My body feels happy now.

Word on the street is Alon's is overpriced. My fresh caprese sandwich wasn't much more than an a la carte big mac and it was more food than a boxed hot hamburger from the golden arches. Let's stop spreading the vicious pricing rumor. 

The baked goods are incredibly inviting. Real croissants! Not flabby no personality imposters.  I will be back for this reason alone. The cheese section is impressive. I know you, reader, likely love cheese. How? Because EVERY SINGLE TIME I mention to a person to give up most dairy at least for a little while to heal an ill the knee jerk response is "I LOVE CHEESE! I CAN'T GIVE IT UP!"  Which makes me wonder just how much cheese you are eating.  I just ate a cheese sandwich here, who am I to judge your dairy habits?

I found the staff helpful and smiling so let's stop spreading that vicious rumor too. 

 

Alon's Bakery and Market on Urbanspoon


Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

Dear Woodfire Grill, 

After many times together I am writing to tell you how grateful I am that you never disappoint me. Your constant change yet consistent creativity satisfies every part of me as a diner.

Woodfire Grill to me does farm to table so right they set the standard in Atlanta. Absolutely an avid meat lover I still can say every vegetable and starch that appears on the menu and your plate is treated with as much respect, love and care as your protein. 

The pastry chef creates new interesting breads for the basket every two weeks. In the meantime makes a mean pot du creme.  Pastry chefs give life more pleasure. That's just me but who can deny the joy of a good piece of bread and butter or a perfect sweet treat at the end of a meal?

Do be prepared for a wee bit of smoke in the fine dining area. There is an active grill in there and it's roasting up vegetables, fish, meat, DUCK (as was deliciously served on my plate with hazelnuts and strawberries), pork and beef du jour. Chef Tyler is actively at the helm making sure each plate is perfect.   Honestly don't expect the  big WOW of your meal to be your entree/main. The starters are thoughtfully conceived,  impeccably plated and really impress the tastebuds. This is exactly why I come back here. I very VERY rarely revisit any restaurant but I can't keep away from this one.

Service always matches the food. Don't miss a hand crafted cocktail,  as this is farm to table and the drinks are as unique and delicious as the food.  French press coffee on your table for dessert is always a pleasure too. 

Woodfire Grill on Urbanspoon
Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

I had such a fantastic first time bbq experience at The Greater Good BBQ that I was excited to go back! I don't eat out often (and rarely do I go somewhere twice) so when I do my expectations are high. If you're charging me for food it had better be damn good. Go big or go home , right?

Second time around was a miss to say the least. I will tell you why this shocks me: BBQ competition in this town is epic as it is in my southern cities. If you can't hang you won't be able to pay your rent for long. 

The former beloved juicy fatty brisket was dry and overly trimmed. The greens lacked flavor and personality in general. The mac n cheese was as good as ever though. Creamy, flavorful sauce didn't split or get an oil slick, but the pulled pork was on the tougher side. It really did seem like an entirely different crew made this food. Consistency is key especially when you've got it right.  Staff seemed annoyed to have customers.  

I wanted my money back this time. 

Posted
AuthorStephanie Anderson

Are you still cruising around Sandy Springs looking for REALLY good approachable and affordable food you may have driven right by The Brickery.  Do yourself a favor and stop next time. This place is busy on a weeknight even after over 20 years in business. They are doing something right. It's in the strip at the intersection of Hammond and Roswell road next to Sushi Mio.

Have you had brussel sprouts with pasta ? I haven’t either until now.  An appetizer serving of earthy caramelized sprouts very lightly dressed in a slighty sweet sauce tossed into spaghetti and garnished with sesame seeds is the kind of pasta dish you can feel good about eating. You’re getting your veggies and boy do they taste good!

Barely battered shrimp cooked perfectly. Not rubbery, not oily and not overly crusted. They are hand dipped and made to order. I’d rather not share but just try to keep a tablemates hands out of your basket!

Blue cheese chips is a starter that never gets old. I can’t resist ordering it whenever I see it on a menu and this plate of blue cheese chips at the Brickery does not disappoint! Paper thin house made chips piled high and generously drizzled with cream blue cheese dressing. I forget my manners and lick my fingers with no shame. Just this once. Craveable goodness!!!

These crab cakes make me happy. Why? No gosh darn fillers like bell peppers, too much gloppy doughy binders or anything else that takes the joy out of what should be a highly coveted and delicate cake of pure crabby goodness.  It is pillowy snow white, light fresh taste and a nice pan sear on both sides. You would never expect a crab cake like this at a neighborhood eater but here it is!

Do you want kugel? Do you know what kugel is? If you don’t you do want it. The Luchen Kugel is traditional with cottage cheese and raisins, crispy tipped egg noodles with a creamy soft comfort food mouthfeel. It’s really special paired with the brisket.

Southwest salad is a great flavorful option for vegetarians. Lots of crisp romaine with seasoned black beans, avocado, cheddar and (the bane of my existence but the rest of you like them) tomatoes. Lots of crispy slim strips of corn tortillas keep the texture lively and authentic tasting.

Ceasar burger. This may be the best burger you’ve never had. It is the best burger I have had in Atlanta. Fresh, handformed big patty chargrilled on a ceramic grill that has been at the Brickery for 22 years. Burgers seem so simple but many steps along the way are what makes or breaks them. It’s topped with cheddar, ceasar dressing ad crisp lettuce. I couldn’t stop eating this burger!

Classic preparation of beef brisket has a slightly sweet tomato based sauce. It was just a tad dry likely from not fully cooling submerged in the braising liquid but overall really nice (especially with that delicious kugel!).

Their best seller, for good reason, is the fried chicken. Very classic southern style soaked in buttermilk and simple seasoned floured crust golden fried to perfection. I licked my fingers again, no shame.  Incredibly satisfying dish!

I tried three desserts, all but the chess pie were unremarkable. Peach cobbler had little personality but certainly edible. The chocolate cake for me lacked richness and didn’t really seem like a cake at all but the saving grace, CHESS PIE.  This pie is like crack. Get your own piece you won’t want to share it!

I can hardly wait to stop in for another ceasar burger and maybe some fried chicken and noodle kugel to go!  Wonderful warm staff and great service.  I am glad The Brickery is close to home.

 

Brussel sprouts!

Brussel sprouts!

barely battered shrimp

barely battered shrimp

Behold, the house ceasar burger!

Behold, the house ceasar burger!

Southwestern Salad

Southwestern Salad

fried chx.jpg
classic brisket

classic brisket

onion rings that are more onion than breading! yum!

onion rings that are more onion than breading! yum!

peach cobbler-camera settings sad :( 

peach cobbler-camera settings sad :( 

chocolate cake

chocolate cake

Brickery Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon