Parish… Grab a Seat at the Big Table

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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

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Foodies Unite…. The Annual Smorgasbord of the City

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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.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH… Custom Italian Meals

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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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So You Think You Can COOK

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FOX and Chef Gordon Ramsey are currently casting for the second season of MasterChef, the popular TV Series that pits everyday home cooks against  one another for the chance to win cash and prizes.

Auditions are being held across the country, however Atlanta is not a stop (Orlando and New Orleans are the closest cities). If you cannot make it to those open calls, you can submit your own video. I’m looking forward to seeing someone from Atlanta in the finals. Good luck!

Visit http://masterchefcasting.com/ for more details.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH… Best Fish Tacos

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from TaqueriadelSol.com

Taqueria del Sol is true to its name. It is a taqueria, which is the Spanish word for a place that serves tacos.

And at Taqueria del Sol you will find only 5 tacos, 3 enchiladas, a handful of sides and endless margaritas. And depending on the location and hour of day, there could be a line out the door.

How does a place with such a limited menu have such a loyal following? They’ve perfected the few items that they offer. The fish taco is simple; lightly breaded, fried, served with jalapeno tartar sauce and pickled jalapeno slices. No slaw, no guacamole, nothing fancy to ruin it. Just a good old fashioned flour tortilla taco! The same description fits everything on the menu. No frills, just good ingredients resulting in good food!

My favorites are the fish taco, the shrimp and corn chowder, the chicken enchilada with pork green chili sauce. What does Dani love MOST? The price. With tacos under $2.25 each, you can get one of each and still come in under budget! It’s a great lunch deal!

There are only three locations in metro-Atlanta and one in Athens, so you may find lunch there a challenge. But it’s worth the stop if you are ever in the area. Don’t be put off by the line, because it moves quickly. And remember, those people aren’t lined up for nothing!
Taqueria Del Sol Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Restaurant Recommendation| JCT Kitchen… Atlanta’s Best Mussels

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JCT cod

JCT Kitchen may be one of my favorite lunch places to eat during the week. Named for its location right near a junction in the railroad tracks, I can’t help but think that this restaurant is metaphorically the juncture between casual low country and upscale Atlanta. The southern chic décor makes it perfect for the neighborhood. Located in West Midtown and part of White Provision, JCT’s hidden location makes a find for those who haven’t walked through this new development.

This week I visited JCT for the millionth time, this time with the finalists for the Steve Harvey Morning Show’s Hillshire Farm Go Meat Mama Cook Off. Our party of six began the meal with cocktails, deviled eggs and truffle oil and parmesan fries.

JCT salmon sandwich

Truthfully, I’ve never met a JCT special that I didn’t like, but I went with my favorite thing on the menu. I ordered the appetizer of angry mussels as a entrée. These mussels are cooked with peppered bacon, serrano chile and onions. Hands down, the best mussels I’ve ever had. I daresay the best mussels in Atlanta.

The cook off finalists—women who pride themselves on their palate and skills in the kitchen—sang the praises of the restaurant throughout the entire meal. Basic items like green beans, spinach and tomatoes revved up their desire to go into their kitchens to put a twist on what they’d just eaten.

JCT mussels- Best in Atlanta

If you are in the area for lunch, do not miss out on the JCT Salad with Chicken. This salad will catch you off guard and change the way you look at restaurant salads. The meat and potatoes is a hearty option that won’t leave you so stuffed that you can’t go on with your day. And the fish and chips is another tasty option if you don’t want anything too healthy or pricey.

Word to the wise: make a reservation for dinner. Walk-ins often find the restaurant not packed but still unable to accommodate their party. Bar seating is available, but the limited menu and exposure to the elements outside make it an uncomfortable setting to eat dinner. Recommendation, wait for a table. It’s totally worth it.

 

JCT Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Restaurant Recommendation| Holeman and Finch Public House

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Holeman & Finch Public House has not only garnered the attention of Atlanta Foodies, but the culinary industry at-large has recognized it’s genius. Atlanta Magazine and Esquire Magazine (among others) laud the burgers, but this spot brings so much more to the table.

H&F Lamb Shoulder

After the L5P Halloween Parade, fast food simply would not do. A second trip to Atlanta’s hottest restaurant was necessary. That week alone, I had heard three coworkers name this place as their favorite during a leadership workshop and I was anxious to see what the buzz was about. So I wasn’t that surprised when there was a two-hour wait on a Tuesday night. Unfortunately, I was so hungry then that I settled for tacos at my favorite work-week lunch spot.

On Saturday, following the parade, I checked the website and saw that the restaurant was opening for dinner as the parade ended. So we floored it from Little 5 Points to Buckhead. No valet line, no wait, no crowds. We were seated at a corner nook near the back of this small establishment. Perfect for date night. The server, dressed in plaid shirt, fitted denim and cool sneakers with colors matching the plaid came over to drop off the menus.

Truthfully, I was a little overwhelmed at first. The menu is not set up into appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts. Parts, plates, farm, and “ground, stuffed, cured, fermented and tied” are the headers. Lamb champagne, cured south carolina tripletail collar, finocchiona. What? I had to put on my food-network-thinking-cap to figure exactly what these items were based on their vague descriptions.  Of course, I’m not afraid to ask a server to describe a dish and make recommendations.

H&F after dinner

Holeman and Finch is not quite a tapas restaurant, but “small plates” is actually appropriate. We ultimately settled on the deviled eggs, beef tartare, mussels, pork belly and lamb shoulder. Of course I always order a drink—a “belle star” in this case. And if I can swing it, I order a dessert as well. This time two. The toffee pudding and the fried apple pie…

If I described every dish we ate, this blog would be more than 1,000 words, but I will use only one for the actual review: PHENOMENAL.

Every piece of food was full of unexpected flavor and character! So many restaurants put emphasis on the design and décor, but at Holeman and Finch the food speaks for itself. It is amazing. It’s the kind of experience I want to have at every restaurant.
I debated ways to write this blog post, which explains the delay. I’ve been asked about the restaurant since dining there. I didn’t want to say too much because I love how surprised I was. I know that another visit is in order because I was too early for the renowned burgers. Only available after 10pm, these burgers are also hailed among the best in Atlanta. Holeman & Finch might get another blog post if they are as good as their word of mouth.

Note: I had no idea what “chow chow” was until I asked. Pickled vegetable. Delish! The drinks? Don’t even get me started!

Holeman and Finch Public House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Food Insecurity in Atlanta

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS- USDA) releases an annual study that in 2008 showed that 1 in 6 Americans are food insecure. And what’s more alarming is that 1 in 4 children live in a food insecure household.

The leading hunger relief charity.

What is food insecurity?  It is a state of not having enough to eat or not knowing where your next meal will come from.

Who is food insecure? With numbers that high, food insecurity is not confined to the homeless or unemployed. These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days.

The report also shows that nearly 34% of food insecure households are African-American and nearly 20% are Hispanic. An estimated 35% of those households are headed by a single parent with children under the age of 18.

Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger relief charity, works with food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens across the country to supply them with the tools they need to combat hunger in their community. Here, the Atlanta Community Food Bank distributes more than 2 million pounds of groceries a month to families in need through more than 700 charitable organizations.

local food pantry

In addition to taking food and cash donations, the ACFB hosts several events a month from which proceeds go to supplies. With cooking demonstrations, celebrity charity dinners, concerts and more, it’s very easy to end hunger in your community.

In the state of Georgia alone, 14% of households and 23% of children are food insecure. America is supposed to be the “land of plenty”. What will you do to help?

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Ghouls and Geeks… The L5P Halloween Parade

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I’m really excited about this weekend. I have a lot of things to do. First and foremost, write my second blog post J. Second, the Little Five Points Halloween Parade this Saturday. Third is the AIDS Walk on Sunday. And fourth is another blog post. Must do better.

from L5Phalloween.com

Anyway, I haven’t attended the L5P Halloween Parade in a few years, but I’m looking forward to grabbing a few drinks before and dinner after. Little 5 Points has some of the coolest shops and dive bars in Atlanta. The Euclid Avenue Yacht Club is basically a neighborhood institution. Hippies, bikers, artists and yuppies alike stop by for a drink at this bar located right in the middle of the frenzy that is Little 5 Points. And of course my [relatively] normal friends and I will likely be among them.

I expect the crowd will be insane since the parade starts on Euclid. But if we’re in the mood to brave the mob, we may stop by Front Page News, The Vortex or The Corner Tavern. All low key spots to grab a beer and a burger.

I’ve never participated in the AIDS Walk. I’m happy to support the cause, but truthfully the meeting spot of my team makes me even more excited for brunch at either Blake’s or Flying Biscuit. Brunch is actually my favorite meal of the day. Eggs and alcohol are an awesome combination that make for a happy Sunday. The “Brunch” issue of Dine With Dani is coming soon.

If I don’t see you, have a great weekend. And let me know where you ate! I love to try new restaurants. WARNING: If you’ve never been to Little 5 Points, remember that it’s an alternative-artsy-hippie-rock haven. Tattoos, piercings, bright hair, heavy eyeliner, dr. martens, American apparel, rag-o-rama and incense abound. Enjoy.

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Booze, billiards and bocce… a night at Ormsby’s

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After a marathon day of meetings, a coworker asked me if I had set up my blog yet. I covered my face in shame because I had told her I would do it over the weekend prior. Knowing that I had no real excuse for not doing it, I immediately buckled down and purchased a domain name, web hosting and a theme. After about two hours of fumbling around- Dine with Dani went live.

from OrmsbysAtlanta.com

I looked at the clock and realized that I was late for a friend’s birthday celebration. A perfect way to start my blog!

I hopped in my car and headed to west midtown, specifically the understated-cool White Provisions District, a collection of repurposed warehouses and offices now boasting several restaurants, home décor stores and art galleries. Ormsby’s, hidden among them, is located beside Knoll and beneath Room and Board, which are across from Yeah Burger (more on that to come).

Upon entering, the low lighting on the wood paneled walls gave the spot the feel of an urban chalet. I’d been there before without much exploration, so this was the first time that I was actually going downstairs. The space opened up into what felt like the modern basement of a sophisticated frat house at a college in the mountains. A full bar, pool tables, dart boards and (surprisingly) bocce ball were all available under the surface of this simple establishment. I admit I immediately had a whole new respect for Ormsby’s.

After hellos and introductions, a toast with Jack and Ginger commenced and the party seemed to begin in the midst of it all. The staff at Ormsby’s was pleasant. The drinks were strong, but moderately priced. And then came a selection of hot dogs. Yes, hot dogs.

The Chicago Style Dog and the Chili Dog, both angus beef and served with fries, were lauded and hailed by all in the party. The former, topped with with mustard, onions, relish, tomatoes and peppers, seemed like a lot, but the flavor was amazing. The latter, topped in homemade chili, “house-made cheese whiz” and onions made everyone stop talking and point at what they had just put in their mouths; a clear sign that there are no words for what is going on in there.

The calamari was decent. It didn’t get the reception that the hot dogs received, but I think it’s because I forgot to tell them what I’m about to tell you: watch out for the fried lemons! Everything used to season calamari at other restaurants is battered and deep fried alongside the squid. A fried lemon may sound like an interesting idea, but trust me- you do not want to be caught off guard by this zingy-yet-bitter snack.

Anyway, the hot dogs are all I have to speak to in the way of food at Ormsby’s, but I thoroughly enjoyed the laid back atmosphere. All-in-all, I give Ormsby’s a thumbs up!

Ormsby's on Urbanspoon

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