Category: Restaurant Review

My New Go-To Thai Spot

I often get cravings for pineapple fried rice with chicken, but the closest Thai restaurant to my home doesn’t offer it. So I find myself waiting until I have an excuse to visit certain neighborhoods. Recently, while in the Druid Hills- Lavista area I had the opportunity to visit a Thai restaurant hidden the Toco Hills shopping plaza.

I was at the Starbucks doing some work and did an “Around Me” search for restaurants. Top Spice was a mere 500 yards away. I checked my UrbanSpoon App for ratings. BINGO. My friend and I made the less than five minute drive. Immediately I was impressed with the atmosphere, aromatic scents and sanitation rating (99).

Seated promptly, we ordered appetizers. I started with mini samosas and my friend started with the spicy seafood soup. She doesn’t eat any form of squid so I had the luxury of tasting the soup when I scooped out the huge rings. It was so good! My samosas were perfect to pop into your mouth after dipping them into the spicy coconut sauce. We both ordered watermelon martinis, which were as refreshing as having an actual slice on a summer day.

For an entrée, I decided to go with the chicken lettuce wraps appetizer. My friend had never heard of these before and of course she was very confused when she saw me wrap what she described as “chickpea looking stuff” in a piece of lettuce. I convinced her that I was eating ground chicken so she tried a bit and of course she asked why I didn’t tell her to order that instead.

But she was content with her pad-see-u with shrimp. It was her first time ordering this. I described it as a salty sweet spice. When it arrived she was happy. I tasted it to let her know whether or not it was comparable with my other favorite Thai restaurants: it was. Actually, I may have been better. I kinda wished I had ordered her meal too.

With three locations, a full bar, extensive menu of Thai favorites, friendly staff and upscale atmosphere– Top Spice may be one of my go-to restaurants. And yes they do have pineapple fried rice.

Top Spice on Urbanspoon

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH… Where Everyone Knows Your Name

My absolute favorite lunch spot is of course in West Midtown, near my day job. It’s a restaurant and market all in one. And I can’t tell you how good I feel every time I go! Let me start by saying that this place is NOT cheap. It’s “Whats For Lunch”, but I’d hardly call it a deal. My average meal is $15, but I never regret a DIME.

What is this place? Star Provisions To-Go.

If a busy day forced me to eat at my desk, Star Provisions was top pick!

TRUE STORY: Last week, I called in a pot pie for the first time. I was so excited. I’ve been surprised by every dish there and I knew the pot pie wouldn’t disappoint. On the way there, my coworker asked me to call in a sandwich for her. The guy taking our order asked for a credit card number to hold the order. I stammered in confusion because I’ve never been asked for that. My friend went boiling mad and screamed “For a sandwich? NO!” I recollected myself and said we would be there in five. The voice on the other end sounded more familiar and answered okay.

When I walked in, the regular cashier greeted me and pulled my order without even asking what I’d come in for. I introduced my coworker. She of course proceeded to ask if it was S.O.P. to take a credit card number for a sandwich to which he responded, “all you had to say was that you were with Dani.” LOL!

I was so flattered. It always feels good when the places you love- love you back. And I truly feel that way when I dine at Star Provision To-Go. They love the food, they love their customers and we love them!

If you’re ever in the area, I recommend that you order your food in person so that you have time to wander around the marketplace. The coffee stand, the cheese shop, the butcher, the bakery and the home décor are all perfect. The indoor/outdoor feel is bright and energizing—even in the winter.

My favorite sandwich is the Prosciutto. And don’t overlook the fruit salad, it’ll surprise you.

Star Provisions on Urbanspoon

Brick Store Pub… the #2 Beer Bar in the WORLD

My first time at Brick Store Pub was in my senior year of college. That was during my phase of high heels every day, cosmopolitans at every meal and trying to find my own version of “Sex and the City” in Atlanta. I was dating a guy who loved dive bars, but true to form I did my best to go with the flow.

His cousin and I formed an easy friendship due to our love of film, books and mocking him. And once after a day of shopping second hand books in the Decatur Square, we decided to get some lunch. When you’re out with a vegetarian you have to be very flexible because there are only so many places that will accommodate their dietary needs. She mentioned Brick Store Pub because of their veggie burger and I went with it. I walked in and saw the brick walls, the strange art, the wooden staircase and the leather bound menus—and I thought “oh great”. I won’t go into detail about that experience as it was MANY years ago. But I will tell you that I’m writing this post (and several others) from that very pub with a beer in hand.

Brick Store is one of my favorite spots in the City of Decatur. The food is pretty tasty, but my favorite thing is everyone’s favorite thing: The Drink Menu! It’s the #2 beer bar in the world according to Beer Advocate Magazine. With more than ten pages of options for the connoisseur of Belgians, ciders, dark ales, craft beers, etc.—Brick Store Pub will have something for everyone—even those who don’t drink beer.

PS- if you get a burger (which I always do) make sure you try the red pepper mayonnaise on the side. I put a thin layer on sandwiches and dunk my fries in the rest!

I want every pub I visit to be this awesome!

Brick Store Pub on Urbanspoon

My French Immersion… Atmosphere Bistro

One day a few weeks ago, I got a random email from my high school bff Harvey about “French Restaurant Week.” How could I not know about this? I did some research and realized that it wasn’t a real thing, but that France-Atlanta, an organization designated to be the liaison between (duh!) France and Atlanta, was offering a promotion: special prix fixe menus at select French restaurants in Atlanta as a way to introduce us southerners to the cuisine. Harvey and I decided to try Atmosphere Bistro. And I made up my mind that I would finally try escargot! That’s right, the snails!!

Atmosphere is located on Piedmont just north of Ansley mall; a small house with simple signage that’s easy to pass. We walked into the teeny restaurant and were seated immediately at a table with a view of piedmont. We asked about the France-Atlanta menu, but the server seemed confused. He brought back a special menu only valid on Wednesday and Thursday that didn’t match what we saw online. Instead of inquiring further, we decided to start with drinks and just order from the regular menu.

Champagne! How festive and fun. I knew it was going to be a good meal.

I ordered an endive salad to start and the Coquilles St. Jacques for an entrée. My friend ordered the split pea soup and the veal liver entrée. Don’t ask for the French name. So, how was the food? Lets just say that he and I spent half the meal debating who had ordered the best. The split pea soup was delicious. It almost had the consistency of mashed potatoes with great pea flavor. The endive salad wasn’t the best salad I’d ever had, but when my entrée came- I knew I had won! The sauce and mushrooms were so perfect with the scallops that I starting laughing when I put it in my mouth! When I tried the veal liver I swayed from side to side in my chair with a long sigh—making my friend laugh too. It was great…

So who won! Of course I did. Harvey’s veal liver was perfect, but it was served with mashed potatoes. How original.  My Coquille St. Jacques wasn’t just scallops with mushrooms, but scallops with mushroom ravioli! The tender pasta, the white wine sauce, the garnishes… I cleaned my plate!

Oh but that wasn’t the end. We also ordered dessert: profiteroles and chocolate lava cake. The profiteroles were more like mini ice cream sandwiches than anything. And as I’m not a big chocolate eater, Harvey had the entire chocolate lava cake to himself. It looked… chocolaty. And he never complained, so I assume it was good.

Would I recommend Atmosphere Bistro? Absolutely. I’m not an expert in French cuisine, but I enjoyed it. Will I go back? Hecks yeah! I forgot to order the escargot!!!

Atmosphere Bistro on Urbanspoon

Oysters and Beer at Fontaine’s– a VaHi bar

My first Guinness! LOVE.

Light Fixture at Fontaine's
Fontaine’s Oyster House in the Virginia-Highlands neighborhood of Atlanta is easy to overlook—as it’s nestled between several bars, restaurants and shops right in the square. But what makes Fontaine’s cool to me is its approach. It’s less like a seafood restaurant and more like a bar that serves seafood. That’s largely due to it’s dimly lit, hole in the wall atmosphere with casual friendly service.

 

I love oysters, so I knew that I would order that. I was very curious about the popular lobster bisque and the chalk board specials. On Wednesday, you’ll find $3 Guinness and half-price crab legs. So I ordered it all. The lobster bisque was buttery and tasty, but not the best I’ve ever had. The crab legs were crab legs. The oysters were oysters. And my first Guinness was the greatest thing ever…

Final verdict: Fontaine’s is cool, but not amazing. I’ll definitely go back because I love how casual and well priced it is, but not because the food is great.

Fontaine's Oyster House on Urbanspoon

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH… Strip, the restaurant

Atlantic Station has some of the most high traffic restaurants in Midtown. And this gentrified, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood has another one of my favorite lunch spots: Strip (part of Here To Serve Restaurants) is located directly between the movie theater and Rosa Mexicano.

I recommend Strip because they offer 3 daily $10 specials. (1)  Miso soup, crunchee roll, cheesecake, (2) Small salad, cheeseburger, cheesecake, (3) Small salad, chef’s special, cheesecake. I vote for the chef’s special. My last visit was steelhead served over southwest chipotle linguine with black beans and corn. DEELISH. Lunch-date Jonesy was completely jealous, even though she devoured her juicy cheeseburger.

from H2S.com

One of the things I love about Strip is the variety of seating options. Downstairs has the long bar, the dining room, the patio and a private room. Upstairs you’ll find the sushi bar, the lounge, the deck and a small dance floor (depending on the night). And further upstairs you’ll find another rooftop bar.

Strip may not be my favorite restaurant, but it’s cool. It is consistent and the food is pretty good. Try the lobster sliders. And when enjoying their fabulous drinks, try to remember that the underground parking is only free for the first two hours.

Strip on Urbanspoon

Parish… Grab a Seat at the Big Table

After the Halloween extravaganza that Boyfriend and I hosted—the only course of action was to grab some breakfast and go back to sleep. But true to self, waffle house, ihop, and even Ria’s Bluebird just would not do. I turned to my handy dandy UrbanSpoon tool to help me pick a restaurant for Sunday Brunch.

Parish!! I didn’t know they served my favorite meal of the day and now I had an excellent excuse to go!

Located on North Highland Ave in Inman Park, Parish is a bit of Louisiana in Atlanta. The rustic French décor and authentic New Orleans jazz made me smile. And after taking  our drink orders, our server brought over their version of dinner rolls—beignets. I think I reached a state of love at that moment, but the love didn’t last through the meal.

The menu looked delicious with dishes ranging from basic American Breakfast of eggs, bacon and potatoes to Brandy Milk Pain Perdu a house brioche, brandy custard, whipped creole cream cheese, candied pecans and local preserves. But I have to say that brunch was only so-so. The “Egg Boudreaux” (crab cakes and poached eggs with a spicy creole sauce) was delicious, but the potatoes, though well seasoned, were completely overcooked.

I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that it wasn’t a regular thing. We were among the first guests that morning, but toward the end of our meal the crowd started to trickle in. I noticed a lot of people going downstairs to the market, so of course I decided to tour that on the way out.

THAT’S WHERE ALL THE PEOPLE WERE! The Market was packed. To the left of the stairs, the to-go counter had a long check out line, as did the coffee bar to the right. And the aromas coming from the open kitchen behind the to-go counter made me hungry all over again! The chalkboards named items that I weren’t on the regular menu upstairs and it made me want to give Parish another try.

In front of the coffee bar, there is a big picnic table where everyone ate cafeteria style. Around that were random items for purchase like tea, olive oil, chocolate, fruit and cookbooks. I loved it! And I saw why other people did too. I know now that next time I visit Parish, I’ll head straight to the market and claim a seat at the big table.

Parish Foods & Goods on Urbanspoon

Foodies Unite…. The Annual Smorgasbord of the City



from tasteofatlanta.com

The 9th Annual Taste of Atlanta was October 23 and 24 at Tech Square in Midtown Atlanta. More than seventy of Atlanta’s best restaurants presented their best and most popular dishes to Atlanta-area foodies.

Most prominently sponsored by Caddilac, Whole Foods Market and Bailey’s Coffee Creamers, the outdoor festival of food offered the best street food.

I stopped by as many booths as my tummy would allow, but I still don’t think I ate as much as I would have liked. A few highlights:

  • Il Mulino brought a porcini mushroom ravioli that kept a line at the booth.
  • Mediterranean Grill reminded me how much I love them with their Gyro (yeero) with rice and pita bread.
  • California Dreaming’s very meaty she crab soup changed the game… seriously.
  • The shellfish bisque from New York Prime was so buttery and rich that we scraped our bowls.
  • Homemade grapefruit sorbet and homemade vanilla ice cream from Lakeside Grill made me want to visit their booth again and again.
  • Der Biergarten offered a roasted suckling pig served with homemade barbeque sauce and mango salsa.
  • Roasted Chicken with Brussel Kim Choi from Top Flr was spicy goodness in my mouth.

Spots who didn’t bring their A-game on Sunday:

  • Holeman & Finch (generally gets a RAVE from me)
  • Noon (fried pickles?)
  • Sambucca (Ceviche was NOT on point)

The best part of Taste for me was the Robert Mondavi Discover Wine booth. After showing ID, filling out a CRM card, guests were treated to 6 different wines from the Robert Mondavi Vineyard. While we walked around the shaded booth, signage demonstrated regional influences, the history of the vineyard and other reason to love the wine.

I cannot wait until next year. I suppose I’ll take pictures of my experience there. Forgive me. But please check out the website for the list of participants. I intend to use it as a guide for what restaurants to visit.

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH… Custom Italian Meals

FIGOpasta.com

Figo is another one of my favorite spots to grab lunch. Its fast, tasty and cost effective. This osteria allows you to customize your Italian meal. Pick you pasta. Pick your sauce. And maybe add some meat. The options are endless! Whole wheat penne, pesto sauce, with chicken! Crab ravioli with mushroom sauce! Linguine, arrabiatta sauce, with shrimp!

Now Figo offers lunch specials. My favorite is the salad and short pasta combo. I usually get the Caesar salad served with spinach penne with pecorino and lemon sauce. The soup/salad and sandwich combo is also a good bet. The portions are decent for $6-8, you can’t really beat it!

I love going in to order at the counter and being given a customized pepper grinder as the marker for whatever table I choose. Like any Italian restaurant, olive oil and bread with parmesan comes to your table as a starter. The atmosphere is light and casual. And I always feel more than welcome by the friendly staff and even the cooks in the open kitchen!

I don’t eat at Figo every day, but whenever I dine there- I feel that urge to go back for my next meal. And with locations across Atlanta, it’s very easy to do!

PS- ask for additional sauce if you order the Bolognese.

Osteria Del Figo on Urbanspoon

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