Category: Restaurant Review

Where to Eat in Rio de Janeiro, pt 2

Rio de Janeiro is not known for its food, but there are some really tasty and cost effective restaurants in Copacabana. |DineWithDani

When I traveled to Rio de Janeiro for Carnaval 2018, I stayed in Copacabana. I typcially ate in that neighborhood for convenience. Rio de Janeiro is not known for its food, however there are some really tasty and cost effective options in Copacabana.

(1) Temperarte
Temperarte Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Por kilo buffets are a dime a dozen in Rio de Janeiro. Por kilos are restaurants that charge you based on how much your food weighs. The menus of por kilos all overlap in one way or another. Finding one that serves all your favorite things cooked well is the challenge. Temperarte was that place for me. Close to the apartment in Copacabana, well priced, tasty and clean. Every day they had baked fish, roasted chicken, steak, feijao, shredded beets, aipo e aipim, potato salad and so much more. Our Brazilian friends always laughed at how much I would eat. NOTE: If you’re hungry, ask them how much for all-you-can-eat. It costs slightly more, but it will save you money if you think you’ll want to get more than one plate of food.

(2) Cervantes
Cervantes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato The restaurant appears to be Don Quixote themed (I could be wrong), but the menu is not. They are known for their sandwiches, yet I found the other items on the menu to be just as appealing. One of my favorite things about the restaurant is that, despite the casually dressed clientele, the servers are dressed traditionally in white jackets and there are no cell phones allowed. Guests must interact with one another. The other thing that came to endear the place to me is that it is open late– even on Wednesday, when seemingly everything in Copacabana closes early. NOTE: I have a new found respect for beef and pineapple served together on one sandwich.

(3) Galeto Sat’s
Galeto Sat's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Anthony Bourdain put this on my radar. He called it the perfect place to eat after a night of drinking in Rio de Janeiro. My first visit in 2014 was midday and I was underwhelmed. The food wasn’t great, but it wasn’t mindblowing either. I finally got around to visiting in 2018, after an amazing night of pagode, club hopping and dancing in the streets of Lapa. On the way I had to dodge a potential attacker, but with the help of a newsstand worker I made it safely to Galeto Sat’s and saw the huge crowd. I knew that late night must really be the time to go. Surprisingly, the picanha with onions and farofa served with ice cold beer was exactly what I needed. I can’t wait to go back.

(4) Bar do David
Bar do David Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoBe very clear, this place is not exactly in Leme. It is firmly established in a favela at the back of Leme. But many asphalt dwellers (middle class people) gladly make their way up the hill (into the favela) for this hidden gem. International celebrities and politicians have been to Bar do David for the amazing cuisine. Its not just your run of the mill bar or boteco. This place is gourmet. Beautiful seafood, juicy ribs, wildly tantilzing cachacas and more make this place special– along with David’s bright personality. I hope to get a group together next time and make an evening of it. Note: You can walk it, but I advise taking a mototaxi up the hill if one is available.

(5) Crack dos Galetos
Crack dos Galetos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Like any other chicken restaurant, this place has a straight forward menu. You’re going to want to get a whole bird and two or more sides depending on how many people you’re eating with. It is super casual and loud. If you’re in the neighborhood (Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro) and really want to eat something fast, tasty and cheap– stop here. NOTE: The space is not made for groups as it only has counter seating.

For more recommendations, see my earlier post: Where to Eat in Rio de Janeiro pt 1.

Where to Eat in Washington DC

I recently traveled to Washington DC for the Festival Afro-Bahia. Dining out in Washington DC can be pricey, but even if you don’t have that kind of coin you can have a great time if you keep an open mind.

Luke’s Lobster (Penn Quarter)
Luke's Lobster Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato When in the DMV, seafood is par for the course. I googled lobster rolls near my hotel and this came highly recommended on several sites. This spot is casual with a beachy feel. At first, the fact that it wasn’t packed out threw me off, but I quickly realize that its set up to eat and run. I ate outside so that I could people-watch. I was able to unwind a little bit as I watched people I assumed to be government employees buzz by me on cell phones with brown bags. It made me even more grateful for my yummy food!
DineWithDani recommends: The Lobster Roll with chips and slaw is the perfect lunch.

Busboys & Poets (Takoma)
Busboys and Poets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato I love the concept. Part coffee shop and bar. Part bookstore and restaurant. Part performance venue and art gallery. While there are several locations, the one in Takoma may be worth the drive. It was the perfect space to relax after a long day of dance classes with my girls. With several cocktails in us, we may have laughed a little too loudly for the other patrons, but it’s not a library. So… oh well. Best food in DC? No. Great atmosphere for friends and artists? Yes!
DineWithDani recommends: The Nachos are enough food for two people! They could actually be an appetizer for four!

Art of Soul (The Liaison Capitol Hill)
crab deviled eggs art of soulArt and Soul At Joie De Vivre Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Yes, there is southern food available just steps away from the U.S. Capitol. It is not soul food and the most soulful thing about the restaurant is the probably the music. But it is definitely inspired by the south. Crab topped deviled eggs, rabbit pot pie and fried chicken thighs are among the offerings. Make sure you get there in time for happy hour. Appetizers are half off and the bar is buzzing. The wait staff is friendly and attentive. So I’d go back even if I wasn’t staying in the hotel.
DineWithDani recommends: The Pork Rinds, they are made in house, huge and delicious with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt!

Sankofa (Shaw/Columbia Heights)
Sankofa Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato This book store, video store and café is always a highlight of my annual trip to DC. It is in walking distance of the festival site. Honestly, the environment is better than the food. Sometimes there is a DJ and vendors outside selling really cool handmade goods. I love that it is a space that celebrates the African diaspora that still welcomes everyone warmly.
DineWithDani recommends: Get a smoothie or some of the baked goods.

Harrar Coffee and Roastery (Columbia Heights)
Harrar Coffee & Roastery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato In a world filled with starbucks (which I love), it is nice to know that spots like this still exist. One-off coffee shops and roasters that take care with every detail of their offerings. This spot has so many different coffees made with beans from different regions of the world at different roasts. I enjoyed reading the descriptions and seeing what notes I could actually identify. They had me buzzing through my dance classes. Happily.
DineWithDani recommends: Try as many different coffees as you can!

Where to Eat in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil… Part 1

I recently traveled to Rio de Janeiro for what turned out to be a glorious vacation. Every day was spent walking along the beach, day drinking and taking in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Of course, I ate some amazing food. Here are just a few of the spots that I recommend for you:

Galitos Grill (Ipanema)
Galitos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  This was intentionally my first stop! We didn’t get to our apartment in Ipanema until roughly 10pm BST. After we dropped our bags, we ran down the block to a closing Galitos, they were wiping things down and putting the chairs away. We told them we just arrived from America and had been dreaming about the food. So, to our delight, they prepared us a large feast to-go. If you are a Brazilian food beginner, someone who has never had Brazilian food or has limited experience with it– this is the perfect place to begin. Solid! Legit! My recommended meal (and what I ate every time i ate there): Galito ao molho picante forte (a whole chicken with spicy sauce– its really not spicy at all), Arroz com Brocolis (rice with broccoli shreds– it looks like green rice), Feijao (black beans- get one per person) and Farofa com Bacon (toasted coarse ground tapioca flour– trust me it is delicious on your beans). There are so many great things on the menu, but this is a great start.

Restaurant e Bistro Aquelas Coisas (Madureira)
Aquelas Coisas is so far off the beaten path that they aren’t even listed on most travel sites. This minority-owned bar is an unofficial hangout for the Portelense of Madureira (the supporters of the Portela Samba School in the neighborhood of Madureira). And they are a very warm and welcoming group. Aquelas Coisas makes this list, not because of the food, but for the atmosphere and events. You’ll find mostly outdoor seating, with live music and fresh churrasco (they actually place the grill in front of the restaurant sometimes). Anyway, if you find yourself all the way in the north zone, this place is worth a visit. Recommendation: Visit their facebook to find out what events are happening. You could happen upon a samba de raiz, pagode or block party.


Bibi Sucos (Copacabana 2)
Bibi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Bibi Sucos is a chain of juice bars in Rio de Janeiro. They serve items you can get pretty much anywhere, BUT the atmosphere is super cool. My love described the decor as “so-cal”– southern California surfer style. I recommend this location because they are one of the few locations with indoor seating. The other locations have bistro tables on the street and their menus are very limited to only juices and acai, while this Copacabana location has sandwiches and more. Recommendation: Acai (ah-sah-EE) or a Suco Verde (SUE-coh VEH-jee).


Bar 48 (Rua Teixeira de Melo, Ipanema)
48 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato This bar was just over a block from my airbnb in Ipanema, but I only discovered it in my last week. I missed out on so many cool events. To start: this bar is woman-owned, LGBTQ friendly and multicultural. The space stands out with graffiti’d walls, oil drums for tables, loud, live music and strong drinks! In the grand scheme of upscale and exclusive Ipanema, Bar 48 is a laid back and inclusive environment with patrons of all backgrounds– from the favelas to the luxury high rises. I enjoyed getting to know the staff, the owner and dancing with its regulars. And I definitely plan to return! Recommendation: Get to the “Happy Hour” early and get your check before the happy hour time ends.


Lapamaki (Ipanema)
Lapamaki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato For me, the best review a restaurant can have is being packed out every night. I never saw this restaurant on any lists. I just walked by it EVERY day and saw it full of people– inside and out. So on one drunken evening, we decided to check out our local sushi joint. They did not disappoint. The food was visually appealing, fresh and delicious. I really can’t say more. If you are in Ipanema, it is worth the wait for a table. Recommendation: Get one of the “combinados”, which are varietal platters appropriate for groups.


Pop Sucos
My airbnb was less than a block away from this burger joint. Yes, I know its called “sucos”, which is juices, but they also served burgers! So after reading the menu a few times, we decided to check it out. My experience with hamburgers in Rio was not stellar, but in watching the food go out to other tables, I realized that these weren’t your average Rio hamburgers. They were actually delicious. Pretty much US/ American quality! While on vacation in Rio, I didn’t really have any cravings for American foods, BUT this was a nice departure from the Brazlian fare that I’d been eating every day. I probably wouldn’t return only because legit hamburger places are popping up all over the city and I’ll want to try them too. But this one is pretty dayum good!  And I dig the pop-art decor. PS– they deliver!


Zaza Bistro
Zazá Bistrô Tropical Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato At the time of my visit, Zaza Bistro had the best reviews of any restaurant in my neighborhood. As I learned that night, it was for good reason. Zaza is located on a corner in what looks like an old house. It reminded me of restaurants in the Poncey-Highland area of Atlanta with bright color paint, wrought iron fence/art and fresh vegetation. The low lighting and middle eastern music actually made the vibe extremely sexy. The drinks, featuring niche ingredients, were delicious. The entrees were small but extremely flavorful and surprisingly filling. Recommendation: Order anything with octopus. You will NOT be disappointed. Its tender, juicy and well seasoned.


Casa de Feijoada
Casa da Feijoada Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato This had to be the most decadent and indulgent meal of my life to date. For some reason my love and I had the entire restaurant to ourselves– so the service seemed almost over the top. Here, there is no need for a menu. You came for the feijoada (fay-jo-AH-dah) completa: black beans, meat, rice, couve (collards), aipim (fried yuca), torresmo fritas (cracklin or chicharrones) and laranjas (oranges). This is basically an all-you-can-eat restaurant. The server replenishes everything as you go. Ours also kept our glasses full of my favorite brazilian drink: batida de maracuja (ba-CHEE-dah jee mah-dah-coo-JAH). This is a mixture of sweet passion fruit nectar and cachaca. I nearly had to be ROLLED out of this restaurant. And I fell asleep as soon as I got back to the apartment. Recommendation: Go early. Pace yourself. Walk home if you can– you’ll need the workout. LOL.


Look out for a second post with more recommendations. Let me know on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook what you think. Much love. Remember, life is good. Eat it up!

Richards Southern Fried

by Christopher A. Daniel

WP_20160713_16_51_07_ProWhen I initially sat to conduct my exclusive interview with the renowned Chef Todd Richards to develop a feature story for The Burton Wire, I was immediately impressed by his extraordinary use and understanding of food as a community connector. “I really want to do something that represents the neighborhood that I live in,” he told me during this year’s Atlanta Food and Wine Festival immediately following a weekend class he was instructing on grilling vegetables.

“Fried chicken is the most community-driven food in the world,” the former partner in Atlanta eateries The Shed at Glenwood and The Pig & the Pearl continues. “You cannot communicate if you don’t have something in common, and fried chicken is that thing that brings people together.”

WP_20160713_16_07_36_ProFast forward about a month-and- a-week after that conversation. Chef Richards, a multiple James Beard Foundation “Best Chef” Southeast semifinalist, former culinary master at numerous Ritz-Carlton Hotels and reigning executive chef at downtown Atlanta’s White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails, debuted his own concept restaurant after a year of planning and erection based around fried chicken, Richards’ Southern Fried, in the refurbished Krog Street Market in the Inman Park area. I was able to sit and enjoy my own intimate menu tasting the Wednesday following its Monday, July 11 grand opening along with my colleague, The Burton Wire’s founder/Editor-in- Chief Nsenga Burton.

WP_20160713_17_24_43_ProUpon Chef Richards offering us seats at his 400-square- foot brick-and- mortar eatery, I immediately noticed how Richards’ Southern Fried possesses its own classic, diner-influenced-meets- theatrical ambiance: angelic marble countertops, platinum-colored steel parts and its sibling refined stools. The restaurant’s marquee, bolted parallel to the left of the kitchen and dining area, Chef Richards shares, is inspired by the Fox Theatre’s signage. “I wanted to show things in the best light and detail,” says the former contestant on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America. “I wanted a counter so that people could sit together.”

I insisted that Chef Richards, wearing a light gray chef jacket, and company select all of the menu items for us to sample (I’d been exchanging texts via Facebook Messenger and emails with various members of his staff forewarning me to be prepared to get my grub on). And boy, did we end up with a nice a la carte in front of us.

WP_20160713_17_24_57_ProIn the meantime, I quenched my thirst on a few rounds of strawberry rhubarb lemonade, a refreshing beverage with a quite satiating sour aftertaste. Four beverages in, I decided to turn that lemonade into a “Todd Richards,” Chef Richards’ equivalent to an Arnold Palmer, adding sweet tea into the mix. It was dope having various members of his diverse, 11-member team offer to refill the beverage consistently once the ice eclipsed the pink-toned liquid.

A man with immense knowledge, Chef Richards, a Chicago native and Five Diamond Restaurant Award recipient, dialogued and fellowshipped with us about a variety of subjects. We discussed our favorite works (cinema and literature) by legendary photographer Gordon Parks, his fascination with writers and (good) journalists’ abilities to articulate moments in time, his relationship with his father (who left right before we dined), his obsession with singer Phoebe Snow’s 1976 LP Second Childhood and several historic moments in the culinary industry. Bypassing us were a slew of customers of all ages and ethnicities, mirroring Richards’ Southern Fried’s team, stopping to get that helping of mouth-watering fried chicken.

WP_20160713_17_26_29_ProThen, out came our family-styled meal. The container closest to me contained a classic leg and thigh (Nsenga and her soror in town for Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Boule festivities feasted on that because I’m not really a fan of dark meat). Further down was a four- piece classic wings (not them scrawny pieces of chicken but the well-fed pieces you can pull apart with multiple napkins on deck because it’s THAT good). I, on the other hand, planted my teeth firmly into that Richards’ hot (Chef Richards likes his cold) breast and wing, swimming in not even a small puddle of orange-tinted sauce zested up with garlic and paprika, giving the chicken a very clean (almost exotic) spicy aftertaste. That hit of high octane ghost pepper hot sauce mixed with that bourbon hot sauce though….is for the big boys! Throwing in a few cornbread muffins and pickle slices in each chicken box was a nice touch, too.

Side dishes are on point! The hot chicken macaroni & cheese includes nice chunks of the Richards’ hot decorated (and well-proportioned) with scallions and a creamy cheese sauce throughout the congealed concoction (have some water on deck though). The full-bodied jalapeno cream corn is loaded with fresh garden peppers. Thank goodness the consistency isn’t too watery and running like Jackie Joyner-Kersee!

WP_20160713_18_12_33_ProThose hearty potato wedges (oh my goodness!) came out piping hot, made to order with a side of remoulade (damn!). Of course, I can never go wrong with cucumber, tomato and onion salad by itself (one of my favorite side dishes since childhood). The golden orange vegetable slaw, fermented in salt water, was served freshly drizzled with a light vinaigrette. Think of the vegetable medley as springtime in a cup. Between three people, we went home a nice helping of leftovers and full bellies…considering we were told to make some room for dessert.

Richards’ Southern Fried’s rice pudding is full of sliced peaches, peach puree and cream topped with pecans. Yet, it’s surprisingly not overwhelmingly sweet. Its distant relative, the strawberry rhubarb cobbler, is also not overpowered with sugar but does come with one hell of a crust. I highly suggest a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Pleasant as always, Chef Richards even ran to grab some coffee to pair with the desserts.

WP_20160713_17_26_40_ProClocking in close to two hours, the dining experience at Richards’ Southern Fried, at least for me, was a very savory, thought-provoking and welcoming time. It’s the type of establishment that could easy become something like Cheers (well, minus the booze). On the next visit, I intend on sinking my teeth into one of those fried chicken sandwiches smothered in pimento cheese and chow chow on the bun (rubs stomach and licks lips). Daily specials like the red beans & rice, fried catfish sandwich and the weekend chicken & waffles are on my to-do list as well (keep in mind my visit was on a Wednesday evening just before the dinner rush).

Richards’ Southern Fried, to quote Chef Richards, isn’t just another fried chicken joint. It’s an intimate space that invites everyone in for a good vibe and a spice of life. Give it a try; you’ll never look at fried chicken the same indeed.

Where To Eat in Miami

I recently traveled to Florida to celebrate my birthday. I checked out a few spots based on recommendations of TV personalities, friends and locals. Here is my round up of faves. Check them out when you’re there.

IMG_2365[1]Legit, the most Carioca place I’ve ever been in the U.S. I’ve been to Brazilian spots in Atlanta, DC, Los Angeles and New York. This was very special. I only wish I had my samba sisters with me. The DJ played all of my faves from Timbalada to Zeca Pagodinho. And the live band played all the latest and greatest in pagode. We went on Saturday (my actual birthday) which is their weekly feijoada (a dinner centered around black bean stew). The caipirinhas were on point, the food was delicious, the atmosphere was lively and colorful. It was a great time.
DineWithDani recommends: The caipirinhas are perfect.
Boteco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Camoronera Seafood Joint & Fish Market
This spot is tucked in Little Havana, which is not exactly a neighborhood that most tourists venture to. I didn’t feel unsafe when I got there, but we did drive through some areas that looked bombed out, abandoned and forgotten. The restaurant is small, but the service is fast and pleasant. Locals know and respect this place with good reason.
DineWithDani recommends: Anything involving shrimp is the reason you go. Period. 
La Camaronera Seafood Joint & Fish Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Rusty Pelican
IMG_2364[1]This is a classic upscale seafood restaurant. Every Floridian knows, has been or recommends this place. Located on Key Biscayne, it offers a stellar waterfront view of Downtown Miami. The menu hits all the marks: oyster, lobsters, fresh fish and delicious sides. This was a surprise dinner for me and it didn’t disappoint. Tip: Sit outside at night and enjoy the view. Its very romantic. The couple across from us couldn’t stop making out. They felt it! You will too.
DineWithDani recommends: The oysters and lobsters are actually not over priced.

Rusty Pelican Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Flanigans Seafood Bar
This spot may be the opposite of the Rusty Pelican– a local chain of hole-in-the wall bars serving up seafood classics. One thing I noticed: almost nothing on the menu is fried. But you can get a whole fish with two sides for a nominal price. You’ll find lots of beers to choose from, a full bar and loads of TVs tuned to sports. This is paradise for my man. Beer, sports, seafood, flip-flops-level casual attire and loud music. No wonder he was excited to show me this spot.
DineWithDani recommends: The clam chowder surprised me, as did the shrimp alfredo and smoked fish dip!
Flanigan's Seafood Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
IMG_2363[1]This southern restaurant in South Beach rivals some of the top spots in Atlanta. The server (who was from Atlanta) said they were known for their Chicken & Waffles & Watermelon. Girl, what? I mentally moved past the addition of watermelon and ordered the entree which is meant to be shared. It was perfection. The music is retro. The cocktails are hand crafted and strong. And the guests are a hodgepodge of locals, tourists, celebrities and notables. I sat next to someone from the cast of Empire (who was on a date). That’s all I’m going to say. LOL. The tables are so tight together, however, that I could have eaten off their plates. But instead I talked to the couples on the other side of me about all kinds of shenanigans and we shut the restaurant down with raucous laughter. All in all one of my favorite nights in Miami. I can’t wait to go back.
DineWithDani recommends: Obviously the Chicken & Waffles and & Watermelon are worth ordering, but also the charred okra is a great addition.
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Touch of Cuba
On our last day, we went on an adventure looking for something obscure I’d heard about. This worked up an appetite and we thought back to the Cuban spot that looked packed out at 9am. Around 11am we stopped there for an early lunch. This teeny spot in Hallandale serves Cuban classics with a smile. And much like the rest of Hallendale: no muss, no fuss. And it’s all good in the hood.
DineWithDani recommends: The coffee. I’d never go to starbucks again if I lived near this place.
A Touch of Cuba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kevin Rathbun Steak… Surprisingly Vegetarian Friendly

My “vegetablerian” friend got a group of her favorite foodies together, myself included, for an indulgent girls night out. We decided to visit Kevin Rathbun Steak located in the Atlanta neighborhood Inman Park near the Krog Street Market– right on the belt line.

The restaurant was packed on this Saturday night. We added one person to our reservation at the last minute, which resulted in a bit of a wait. So we grabbed seats outside by the fireplace, ordered a few appetizers and a round of cocktails. Literally EVERYTHING was delicious– including the server J/K. The Grilled “Thick-Cut” Bacon is the perfect blend of sweet and salty and savory thanks to the sriracha-molasses glaze. And for me this appetizer is just one example of what sets Kevin Rathbun Steak apart from other steakhouses in the city.

Kevin Rathbun Steak is obviously known for meat, specifically the aged steaks. I had no doubt that this portion of the meal would be amazing. I was however concerned about the sides. That is typically where steakhouses fall off for me. As is common, the sides are ala cart– meaning the meat doesn’t come with a side. You order them separately and they are generally large enough to share. This group had already agreed to share the sides so that we could try everything.

With a vegetarian in the group, I assumed that we’d have to be judicious with what we ordered. I was shocked to see that the vast majority of the sides were actually vegetarian. I was also surprised to see that it didn’t just consist of generic options like asparagus and potatoes. There are 15 side dishes to choose from. The stand outs for me where the Kale laced with agave, the macaroni with truffle crumbles and the butternut squash risotto.

Final Word: Two thumbs up. Great atmosphere, great service, great drinks, great food. Kevin Rathbun’s Steak is not a boring steakhouse. You won’t find food like this at your neighborhood chain restaurants.

TIPS: (1) Make a reservation– especially on the weekends. I returned on a Tuesday and it was still packed. (2) Follow the crowds. Apple maps will send you to a house on the next street over and announce “arrived!” (3) Feel free to bring your favorite wine; the corking fee is only $20.


Kevin Rathbun Steak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Portico Global Cuisine– Basic Menu, but Good Food

I recently dined at Portico Global Cuisine, which is located at the Le Meriden Hotel Perimeter Atlanta, near Perimeter Mall. Over the years, this particular hotel location has been the Westin, the W Perimeter and a few years ago it got a complete overhaul as the Le Meridien.

The Le Meridien present itself as design centric, contemporary hotel with a focus on the customer experience. Entering the lobby, you immediately get that sense with the clean lines of the design esthetic, the contemporary earthy textures, warm fabrics and of course the friendly staff. I hoped that Portico would deliver in the same vein.

As it was Valentine’s Day, there was a prix fixe menu that featured a few clichés but I can’t complain because I totally took the bait and ordered the Surf N Turf. I needed a lobster tail in my life that night. It was served with truffle cream, asparagus and mashed potatoes.

My love ordered from the regular menu which disappointingly featured a host of generic staples like a salmon dish, a pork chop, a burger and a market fish. He ordered the ribeye, which was served with asparagus and a mushroom risotto. The menu options didn’t thrill me, but again, I hoped that they would deliver in execution.

As the food goes, nothing was amiss. I have to say, for all my disappointment at the uninspiring options on the menu—my steak was nothing short of fantastic. It was cooked perfectly. The lobster tail was huge and tender. The potatoes were clearly prepared with heavy cream. And the truffle cream sauce for my steak was to die for–I nearly cried.

It’s noon somewhere… J/k these were our drinks from Valentine’s dinner. Super delish! @eddie_shoryuken loved his Manhattan. #drinks #bar #love #foodie #datenight #dinner #drink #vodka #instagood #happyhour #drinks #alcohol #drinkup #cocktails #cocktailhour #classiccocktails #atlanta #atl

“It’s noon somewhere… J/k these were our drinks from Valentine’s dinner. Super delish! @eddie_shoryuken loved his Manhattan. #drinks #bar #love #foodie…”

Let’s talk about the drinks. After flipping the wine menu over a few times I realized there were no cocktails. When I asked about that, the server presented me with a separate menu that no other table seemed to have.

The conversation of ordering cocktails brings me to the bar service. Portico has a small dining room. There is also an outdoor space which I hope to experience this summer, but it too is very small. The bar for the restaurant is technically the lobby bar called, Longitude 84. So if you ever have to wait for a table, you’ll be hanging out at the lobby bar until they call you.

For Valentine’s Day, the restaurant was prepared for the high volume with many servers and I imagine a full kitchen. So seating went quickly, food came in a timely fashion, but the drinks did not—as Longitude 84 serves not only the lobby, but the restaurant and the guest rooms. So on high volume nights, be prepared for a wait on drinks unless you order at the bar before checking in with the restaurant hostess.

My final thoughts: Having tried a few salads, a soup, a few steaks and a few cocktails at Portico– I have to give it a thumbs up. I say if you live in the area and haven’t tried it—stop in on your next date night or girls’ night. Portico doesn’t cater to a jeans and t-shirt crowd. I remember one couple coming in dressed that way and everyone in the dining room looked at them sideways. You don’t have to be in a suit, but I believe in matching the restaurant’s aesthetic.

My only critique is the menu. The food is prepared well, but the name of the restaurant is Portico GLOBAL Cuisine and I was completely underwhelmed with the options. I hope that they will revisit the menu before I return in the summer to hang out in the outdoor space.

Portico Global Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Buttermilk Kitchen… The Best Ingredients for a Basic Breakfast

Buttermilk Kitchen fried egg BLT  from IG @DineWithDani
Buttermilk Kitchen fried egg BLT from IG @DineWithDani

After roadtripping to a samba gig at a latin festival, my fellow passista and favorite vegetablearian (more on that to come) joined me for brunch at a place I drive by almost daily. Buttermilk Kitchen is nestled in Buckhead just south of Chastain Park and next to a few other restaurants I’ve been meaning to try (10 degrees south and Mirko). This farm-to-table, local foods restaurant is known for its fried chicken served on a buttermilk biscuit. And as is my luck when I go in search of certain dishes, they were sold out when I got there.

Buttermilk Kitchen has a pleasant atmosphere. Parking on site is very limited and a bit disjointed, but it is clearly marked. When you finally enter the restaurant, the hostesses are smiling and helpful. And since the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, be sure to allow for about a wait during peak times. On a sunny day the breakfast bar/waiting area is bright and airy. You won’t be able to sip a mimosa or bloody mary while you wait, since this place has no bar. Major downer.

Anyway, I found the Buttermilk Kitchen breakfast menu to be full of unpretentious ingredients and techniques, offering familiar dishes with a slight twist. Its not the most comprehensive breakfast menu, but it covers most of the basics.
With her dietary restrictions, my vegetablearian friend did her best with the menu and opted for the market scramble, which changes seasonally. This one included sweet potatoes, poblano peppers, red onions, cilantro and cotija cheese. A strange combination to me, but with the addition of tabasco sauce–  it seemed to work for her. While ordering, she asked if they could add spinach to her scramble. The response was a long-winded explanation about different types of spinach, the local demand and then ultimately the rule that they don’t modify dishes. The latter would have sufficed upfront. My friend ultimately chopped up a side of sauteed kale and mixed it into her dish.

I ordered a fried egg BLT on ciabatta. the green tomatoes and mountain of bacon on the sandwich were perfect, but I wasn’t really a fan of all the bread. My hash browns with rosemary salt were pretty good. They looked like a prettier version of the kind you get at mcdonalds, but they tasted way better. I wish I had more to say about it.

I really love a local foods, farm-to-table scheme in a restaurant. But I have to admit that I was underwhelmed. This cute little rustic blue house with the very nice staff serves good food, but this first impression was not great. Maybe my mind would change if I had the fried chicken biscuit. However, I saw a biscuit on someone else’s plate. Meh.
If someone else invites me to Buttermilk Kitchen, I’ll definitely consider it. And I’ll pray that I can try the fried chicken. But otherwise, this place wouldn’t be added to the list of options. I’m glad i finally checked it out. I have nothing bad to say about Buttermilk Kitchen, but nothing stellar to say either.

Buttermilk Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

AJA…Asian Fusion in Buckhead

I don’t spend a lot of time dining in Buckhead, but AJA is almost always an option when I get hungry while shopping. Located across from Phipps Plaza on Lenox Road, this Asian fusion spot serves all of my favorite Asian dishes and few extras. Part of the Here To Serve restaurant group, I am HAPPY to collect my Friends of Tom points when dining here.

The low lighting, loft-like space, modern Oriental decor, house music blaring through the speakers along with the varied menu secures this spot’s reputation as the go-to for modern Asian cuisine in Atlanta.

Aja has more than one dollar signs to represent the price point, but there are some great bargains on the menu. The $5 noodle bowl is a great way to dine on the cheap. A small order of chicken fried rice to-go may or may not have saved my life when i was in a pinch last year. And the Vietnamese summer roll can hit the spot for a midday nosh as well.

But never forget that you are in Buckhead, so ordering more than one thing can definitely add up. Especially when you throw in cocktails. The drink menu doesn’t excite me, but the bartenders are pretty good. So a cocktail is usually in order when i dine there.

A reservation is likely only needed for dinner during peak hours. But the bar area is much bigger than most places, so you can easily relax there while you wait. I hope to see you there soon. Let me know what you loved.

Aja Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

P’Cheen…. Hit or Miss [CLOSED]

Crab Macaroni and collards

I’ve been here a several times. In each visit, I’ve had something good and something bad. So I guess that’s what has shaped my opinion of P’Cheen: Hit or Miss. There are some AMAZING dishes, but there are some that I was angry for trying.

There are two things that P’Cheen offers that must be tried: (1) The moonshine. I’m a southern girl, so moonshine was a fairly frequent topic amongst certain family members. I tried a homemade batch many moons ago and nearly cried. But today, they are smoother with the same strength and better flavors. The Apple Pie does not disappoint. (2) The crab mac n cheese. Yup, if you read this blog, you already know how serious I am about my macaroni! And here, P’cheen’s Chef Alex Friedman delivers.

Just as a side note: the specials can be a bit sketchy or maybe they are just never my thing. So I stick with what I believe in now: The wings, macaroni, brussel sprouts and moonshine.

The spot is pretty small so make a reservation for Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as for Sunday brunch. I’ve never checked out the lounge evenings with the DJ or live music, but I imagine its pretty cool. I enjoy the atmosphere. So even if you aren’t there for a meal, you can enjoy yourself.
P'cheen International Bistro and Pub on Urbanspoon

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