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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Valenza Italian- Brookhaven

Warning:  The following may be unsuitable for children under 13 and bad waiters
Who said the local Tratorria was a thing of the past?  Last night we went to Valenza in Brookhaven and had a wonderful meal (and even better company).  You can tell they are zeroed in on quality, service and giving you the lost art of the "personal touch. "
It’s nice to have a neighborhood joint where everyone knows your name.  By the way, has there ever been a better sitcom character than Cliff Clavin?
Valenza is owned by the same people that own Haven, another phenomenal restaurant. 
 Shockingly their best appetizer was the brussel sprouts, called the Cavolini.  My wife HATES brussel sprouts and LOVED them baked with Pancetta.  But as the saying goes, bacon makes everything better.
Then there was another “sneak up and hit you” moment with the apps.  Fried Capers.  I’m not a big fried food fan, but this was pure magic.  It was part of the fritto misto appy, which I also have to say the calamari was average.  Nothing this small has packed a punch since mini me was genetically engineered by the one and only Dr. Evil.
The biggest hit at the table, was the simple yet delicious Capellini.  Angel Hair pasta tossed with a light tomato sauce, basil and parmesan.  If you have an unadventurous sort in your group, you have a go to dish. 
Personally, I had the Saltimbocca, heritage pork tenderloin, wrapped in prosciutto with sage and rabe.  Again, meat on top of meat is a big winner.  And the sauce was delicious.  The portion was generous, but the potato’s were a little much (maybe it’s just me getting OD’d by potatoes during the holidays).  The presentation was the best thing I’ve seen since Ted was doing Bong Hits with his harem of hookers.  If you haven’t seen Ted, please do.  It’s some of Seth McFarlane’s best work.

The fish special was a Snapper in a light white wine sauce and was really good.  We also ordered the Gnocchi, which I personally though was decent, but not great. 
We had a unique dessert, the crostata- Blueberry crostata with rosemary balsamic gelato.  Very unique and the rosemary is a delicious touch.
I will mention again the service was great.  Jose (I’m not sure what part of Italy he’s from) was perfect and I would recommend him to be your server.  Jose had great suggestions on food and wine (we would have missed the brussel sprouts without him) and the GM and Executive Chef made appearances at our table as well.  Service has become such a enormous part of how much I like a restaurant these days. 
About every three months I end up at that damn Loco’s in Buckhead and the service is always horrific and even worse ungodly slow.  It could be from the whiffs of the cronic smell emanating from the kitchen.  But they have the worst and consistently worst service I have experienced in Buckhead.  The the Einstein Bagels on Howell Mill is giving them a run for their money these days though.  Do yourself a favor and go to Goldbergs on Northside and Paces Ferry.
I also have to thank my Mentee from the University of Georgia, Maria (last name omitted to protect the innocent, you know, just in case one of my 5 readers is a stalker).  This is her favorite restaurant and she pushed me to come here, so here it is Maria!
I’m sure you’ll email me or tell me your thoughts on the venue and/ or great TV Sitcom Characters.  I dare you to beat Cliff.  Here are a couple of videos to give you today’s moment of Zen.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Heart of Rock n Roll is in Cleveland

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for children under the age of 13 or Cleveland Browns Fans
As a Redskins fan, I try to make a road game every year to see them play and to check out a different city.  This year it was Cleveland.  Not my first time there, but my first time as a “food blogger.” 
I found out Cleveland is more than just the “Heart of Rock n’ Roll” and Michael Symon.  Though, if you can make it to Lola’s, do it (which I didn’t do this trip). 
Huey Lewis “Sports” came out during the greatest year in Music, 1984.  But I’ll lay out that irrefutable evidence later.
After we landed, we went up to Cleveland’s relatively new bar/ restaurant district on East 4thStreet.  We started with a “few” pints at Flanery’s and then made our way down to La Strada, not to be confused with my old friend Al Strada.
It’s not Italian, but “Mediterranean” and we split a couple of flatbreads.  The Americana was ironically just like a pizza you would get in Italy with delicious Pancetta and the Braised Lamb flatbread with lamb, hummus, tamarind, cumin and cilantro.  But the Rack of Lamb was fall off the bone delicious.  I would highly recommend La Strada (though Café Agora’s hummus is still the best).
Sunday Morning Tailgating in Cleveland consists of Bar Hopping up and down West 6th Street.  We started at the Barley House and unbelievably they were out of Bloody Mary mix at 10am.  Or they lied to me because I was wearing an RGIII jersey.  Whatever.  So Red Bulls and Vodka’s it is.
Eat your heart out NFC East for the next 12 years!
Then we went to Panini’s, the famous Sandwich Shop/ Bar on West Sixth.  And of course we split a large sandwich with our newfound Canadian friends!  It was delicious and surprisingly fat free.  Okay, maybe not.
Then of course we went to the game and watched the Redskins whoop some Brown ass!
 This just in, the Browns suck.
For dinner we went to the Cleveland Chop House.  This is the only bar I’ve ever been to where they have a frozen section of the bar to put your beer on and it will never get warm.  It’s one of the most brilliant ideas I’ve ever seen and for some reason, I haven’t seen it anywhere else.  And I’ve been to a bar or two. Then the heartbreaking news came, they are closing the Chophouse on 12/31.  They make a solid steak and a mean drink.  And they will be missed.
Bottom line, the Cleveland Culinary scene is not to be overlooked.
Now back to 1984.  There were only FIVE #1 albums the entire year.  Michael Jackson’s (pre-complete freak MJ) “Thriller,” the Footloose Soundtrack, Huey Lewis and the News “Sports,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” and Prince’s “Purple Rain.”  4 out of 5 are Iconic Albums and still hold up.
I would argue nobody in modern history under 5 feet tall has had as much game as Prince.
The argument could end there, BUT obviously Van Halen’s “1984” came out as well as Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.”
Then you had a third tier of great music.  The Scorpions “Love at First Sting,” Ratt's “Our of the Cellar,” Run DMC’s “Run DMC,” Tina Turner's “Private Dancer,” Metallica's “Ride the Lightening,” The Red Hot Chili Peppers Debut, U2’s “The Unforgettable Fire” and Wham's “Make it Big."  No way another year competes with 1984.  And it was an unrivaled year for mullets.
And I was suprised when George Michael came out?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fox Bros BBQ

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for children under the age of 13 and definitely vegans
Fox Bros is without question the Barbeque King of Atlanta.  It’s such an easy and obvious write, so why do it?  I’ll tell you, I still have many friends that haven’t been there.  And if they don’t go soon they may no longer be friends. 
You have to start with the wings.  They are flat down, the best damn wings in Atlanta.  They are Hickory smoked and sauced to perfection.  And they’re messy, very messy.  This is not the place to bring a first date.  Probably not a second or third date either.  But if she like Fox Bros, you probably have a keeper.
The rest of their appetizers deserve their own blog.  The Tomminator and Lopez are Tator Tots smothered in Brunswick Stew and Brisket Chili, in that order.  They are unbelievable and unfortunately don’t leave room for much else.  Fox Bros is meant for large groups , sharing and definitely not for the smoothie/ salad crowd.  And if the groups large enough (and you don’t have anything to do later because you will later be “occupied”) get the Sutffed Jalapeno Poppers, they are deep fried with BBQ pork and cream cheese.  The Poppers are a virtual party in your mouth.
Did I mention don’t bring a first date here?  Unless you are looking to come across as a slovenly pig (no pun intended).
Fox Bros is comfort food at its best.  It’s like that Movie, TV Show or Album (yes I use the term “Album”) that comes on and almost no matter what, you keep it on.
Personally my comfort movies are (in no particular order):  The Naked Gun, any Rocky (outside of 5, with all due respect to the deceased Tommy Gunn, wait is he dead?), Old School (the first 2/3’s), Kingpin, Wall Street and Anchorman.  I said “comfort movies,” not best movies.  And I’m sure I’m leaving some out.  But what the hell. 
Comfort TV Shows?  The Wire, Cheers, Seinfeld and Miami Vice.  Comfort Albums?  Led Zep IV, Beatles Rubber Soul, Van Halen 1984, The Joshua Tree/ Achtung Baby, Arcade Fires The Suburbs, Foo’s Wasting Light and lately The Nationals High Violet.  Again, not saying they are the best, but I gravitate to these when I’m not looking to be highly engaged. 
"That's Diamond to you!"
Like all BBQ joints, they have the pulled pork plates and blah, blah, blah.  But for the love of god try the Fox Bros “Burger.”  It’s chopped brisket with tomato, red onion, pickles, pimento cheese, jalapeno mayonnaise, but the greatest thing is the caramelized bacon that is literally out of this world.  If they sold this bacon a la carte, it would be worth the bi monthly angioplasty I would require. 
They often have a Short Rib Special.  If they do, get it.  It’s delicious and may be the best brisket I’ve had outside of Austin, Texas. 
And the sides are delicious.  They have a Frito Pie that is Frito’s in the bag, baked with chili, onion and cheese.  It’s not going to be the top choice in Men’s Health, but you’re at goddamn Fox Bros, so order it.  The Jalapeño Cornbread is great, the Okra and Mac & Cheese are worth it too. 
I was driving near there the other day and just stopped in to get wings to go.  It’s day three and I’m still eating them. 
So get a large group of good friends together and go.  Prepare to be pleased.  Just don’t prepare to do anything else that night.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Alfredo's on Cheshire Bridge

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for children under the age of 13 or people who are offended by veal as an entrée
Alfredo’s is another Atlanta Culinary institution that for some reason, I have never been too.  So the “Dry Rub 4,” made this our destination this week!
The purpose of this blog is not just to find the new cutting edge “hip” restaurants, but to rediscover some of the gems that have been local cornerstones for multiple generations. 
It is suprsingly an Italian Restaurant owned and run by Cubans.  And I have to say it’s the best Italian Cuban collaboration since Al Pacino starred as Tony Montana.
 "Say hello to my Veal Padrino!"
The only thing that was older than the restaurant was the Wait Staff.  But they were knowledgeable and very personable.  Though our waiter Oscar could have been the Cuban Wayne Newton.

Their “signature” dish is Veal Padrino.  It’s Veal  Medallions prepared as Francese, Marsala and Parmigian and it’s just downright delicious.   I am partial to the Francese with a glass of Syrah.  Thanks to Jeff for bringing the great Falcone wine as usual.
We started out with the Fresh Roast Peppers, Anchovies in Olive Oil and the Fried Mozzarella all Marinara.  The Anchovies were fresh and delicious, almost like they just came out of the Mediterranean in Cinque Terre (quite possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been).

For Salads, we had the Caesar and Caprese.  Both solid, but not spectacular.   The other main dishes we split were the Penne Salmon, which was in a cream sauce with generous pieces of salmon. Very, very good. 
But my favorite dish was the Scallops Al Pesto.  Large Scallops cooked in a cream sauce, with basil, pine nuts, butter and garlic, served over angel hair pasta. The pine nuts were the surprise ingredient and were a great touch. 
The desserts we had, a Cannoli and Tiramisu were good, but not outstanding.  Will I be back?  Definitely.  It was really good and priced reasonably and it's tough to get good Anchioves in this town!

As an Atlanta institution, it’s been open for 35 years.  And just like the Colonnade, there hasn’t been a lot of aesthetic improvements made over that period of time (which is part of the charm).  And also like the Colonnade, we were by far the youngest bunch in the place.  And to maneuver in the bathroom, you either have to be a midget or a contortionist.  Preferably both.  I also found out you should never google image “midget bathroom” either.  Please just trust me on this one.

A quick note on the "special."  Leslie told me on our way in, the special will be Sea Bass.  So when we got the rundown, guess what the special was?  Sea Bass.  Leslie said that's ALWAYS their special.  A little suspect, right?
So the “Dry Rub 4” is going to move on from Cheshire Bridge and move onto a new Indian Restaurant on the “Westside” called Cardamom Hill.  There will hopefully be a Fox Bros post in between as well.  And I still want to do my "best burgers" blog.  Fortunatley, some research still needs to be done.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Breakfast is for Champions

Warning:  the following may not be suitable for children under the age of 13 or people that never knew Bruce Jenner was more than Kim Kardashians father

Breakfast may be the Gene Hackman of meals.  Gene Hackman played so many great parts from “Popeye Doyle” in The French Connection to “Captain Frank Ramsey” in Crimson Tide yet he doesn’t get mentioned along with the all time greats.  It’s a tremendous oversight, the man played LEX LUTHOR (not the wrestler) for god’s sake!

Breakfast is the same as Mr Hackman.  When idiots like myself do these food blogs breakfast is the odd man out.
Atlanta Top 4 Breakfast Rankings:
1.       The Ritz Carlton Buckhead.  The Buffet is the Edward Norton of buffets, it has EVERYTHING.  Great Omelet Station, all the breads, fruit and fixin’s you need (trying to be southern there, sorry).  But  I was there this week and one of my dear companions ordered a side of bacon and they basically backed the pig up to the table.  THAT is special
2.       J Christophers on Sunday because they have the Shrimp and Grits, not quite Hominy Grill in Charleston, but very good.  The Blueberry Crunchcakes are also to die for as well.
3.       West Egg- LOVE the Salmon Benedict, the Pimento Cheese and Bacon Omelet and the Banana Bread French Toast is delicious too.
4.       Goldbergs- Lox and Bagels, w/ Olive Cream Cheese.  The ONLY place I have found south of the Mason Dixon line with Olive Cream Cheese.  If you know of another, PLEASE let me know.
BUT there is one breakfast sandwich that is the greatest thing to get you going since this movie scene:
The Taylor Ham Egg and Cheese Sandwich at the Jack’s New Yorker Deli (in both Smyrna and Buckhead).  It really is “Magic in a Kaiser Roll.”  If you don’t know, now you know.

It’s truly the most underrated breakfast dish in Atlanta.  Or the “Gaslight Anthem” of breakfast sandwiches, unbelievable, but not yet truly discovered.  So grab one this weekend and then check out the Gaslight Anthem, you can thank me later.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Enat Ethiopia Cafe

Warning:  The following material may be inappropriate for children under 13 and people that haven't smoked a Hookah Pipe
So you walk into a bar that’s so dark you can’t see 5 feet in front of you and the only clientele are Ethiopian Cab Drivers smoking Hookah like the worlds ending tomorrow.  What would you do?
Naturally we go into the back and enjoy an unbelievable meal even though appearances tell me we just walked into an Episode of Miami Vice circa 1986.  Only without Calderon (if you are under 35, my apologies).  If you've never seen Miami Vice, I don't know who you are.
We started out with “Kik Alicha” that I can only describe as stuffing without the breading that makes you want to immediately loosen your belt.
Then came the main dish.  I’m not a big cabbage guy, but this was the best, melt in your damn mouth cabbage I had ever had in my life.  The chicken dish was called “Doro Wott,” which was similar to Tandori Chicken but with eggs (you have to see it to believe it).

The beef dishes “Kitfo,” gournd steak with herb butter sauce and something called mitmita was delicious and packed a punch.  The “Lega Tibs” was delicious as well.
If you haven’t had Ethiopian cuisine, I HIGHLY recommend Enat.
And the company was great.  We celebrated our friends Leslie’s and Beth’s Birthdays.  Both just turned 30- ish.  Along with our friend Jeff, we are becoming the Dry Rub Quartet.  Though our frequenting of Cheshire Bridge establishments, that could be slightly inappropriate.  But who cares!

Bonus Coverage:  Today I had lunch at Nan, the best Thai in Atlanta.  The app tree is incredible and the Sea Bass or whole Red Snapper are must haves.  But today, we had the Green Tea Crème Brule.  The taste explosion and presentation were outstanding. 

Thanks for enjoying The Rub and sorry for the hiatus.  I have some good ones in the pipeline!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Canton Cooks Journey

Warning:  The following may be unsuitable for children under the age of 13 and people that eat at the Panda Express

Some people go on spiritual journeys to find themselves.  Myself, I am on a more lofty journey.  One that is about more than just finding myself.  I am going to find quality Chinese in Atlanta after D-Day, when Chopstix closed down. 

Here’s a little self righteous Bono background music for the story:
Today, my friend Dan and I discovered Canton Cooks.  It couldn’t be anymore different, but it’s a worthy replacement.  When you walk inside, you could be in a restaurant on Mott Street in 1975.  It’s got that horrible bad Chinese décor that screams “we don’t give a shit, but we can cook.”  But it had two things going for it right away before sitting:
1.       The Lobster Tank
2.    Jews, lots of Jews

And the food did not disappoint, in fact it was delicious.  Another large mark was how HUGE the shrimp were.  For $8, I got Egg Drop Soup, Egg Roll, a Chicken Wing and Shrimp in Lobster Sauce.  We also had the Kung Po Chicken as well.  Great Kung Po Sauce, great flavor, but not overpowering.  I’m going back next week.
There are very few things live up to it’s billing:  Mardi Gras, the Eiffel Tower, meeting Shaq (the dude is a giant) and of course Gary Danko’s.
This journey has taken me to Chin Chin (consistent Chinese, but do you always have to play the “Best of ABBA?”), Grand China (weird décor and the lady with the elbow length gloves kind of freaks me out) and MoMo Ya (which I really do like and is convenient to work).  Even though a piece of me died in March when Chopsitx closed, I now know I can pick myself back up.  The resurrection will continue with their Shrimp Lo Mein next week. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Taqueria del Sol/ Sundown Cafe

Warning:  The following may be unsuitable for children under 13 and Philadelphia Eagles Fans

As I get older, I find I like certain changes less and less.  Particularly restaurant names.  Sundown Cafe is now TDS and yes I have a hard time letting go.  Let’s admire this song and the accompanying flat top.  Not quite Chris Mullin-esque, but close.

Atlanta has spawned off some good Taquerias, but Sundown is the first and still most consistent.  The menu hasn’t changed at all and if you’ve been reading my blog, you know I treasure places that do what they do best and stick to it.  They deliver a great product in a casual but efficient setting. 
I have had everything on this menu except for the Veggie taco.  And if you ever find me eating a veggie taco, feel free to punch me on the spot.  I won’t sue, promise.
My standard order:  Start out with the delicious Guac then follow it up with a Memphis and Fish taco, and then the very, very good Shrimp Corn Chowder.  BUT they have weekly specials that are very hit or miss.  “The Bob” is their Shrimp Special that is my #2 favorite.  But they have one special that they run MAYBE twice a year and may be the real reason I am writing this blog…..
The Philly Taco Special.  Quality Carnita Steak, Grilled Onions, Mushrooms and Melted Queso.  It is pure magic in a flour tortilla.  So WHY THE HELL DO YOU ONLY RUN IT OUT TWICE A YEAR!?!?!?!  For the love of god, get it together and throw us a friggin’ bone here.  I don’t ask for much people, but if we could get this maybe 6 weeks a year?  There are only 2 things of relevance that are from that horrendous town of Philadelphia since Ben Franklin passed.  And the second gave inspiration to my favorite taco.


There is a reason they have a jail in their football stadium and they friggin' BOOED Santa Claus.  They also had the 2nd greatest Third Baseman of all time and THEY HATED HIM (Brooks Robinson is obviously the greatest 3rd Baseman ever).  Obviously, I like Philly fans about as much as I like the Cheesecake Factory.  Except of course for my Philly buddy that just sent me a Jim Palmer statue and of course my Brother in Law. 

Back in 2008 this was also the home of the Great Media Taco Eat off between two friends of mine.  The winner ate 13 tacos AND a chowder.  He could have gone another three without blinking.  It was like watching Picasso paint in his prime.  Ah, the good ole' days before you had to worry about LDL cholesterol levels.
As usual, I went way off the rails on this one.  If you are ever on Cheshire Bridge for morally responsible reasons, stop by and have a taco.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Steamhouse

Warning:  The following may be unsuitable for children under 13 and people that don’t eat food due to “texture”

The worst thing about Atlanta isn’t the traffic, it’s the fact that we are landlocked.  Even worse than that, there is a shortage of casual and affordable seafood.  The Steamhouse in Midtown does the best job of filling that void.  Others have come and gone, but the Steamhouse has survived the demise of Buckhead (thank you Ray Lewis) and rose from the ashes to an even better “lived in” venue in Midtown.
The cold Papa John’s “Famous” Crab Dip is a must. And the “We Shuck’em, You Suck’em” Oysters are of course Oysters, but here they are at the very least, consistent  in a city where you can’t get oysters.
My staples are the Lobster Roll and the Blackened Grouper Sandwich with Tater Tots.  And then the magic secret is Old Bay on the Tater Tots.  Why don’t more places do this?
And on Monday’s they have 1 lb of Crab Legs for $12.  I almost feel guilty putting this in writing because I don’t want the secret to get out!
It does make you miss the time when we would head to the Steamhouse after work, have some drinks with friends and Kitty the Bartender (who still tends bar in Midtown) and then head to Rose n’ Crown for a few pints and then hit Tin Roof for a little Francisco Vidal. 

Then a little East Village Grille for a late night meal.  Oh a little memory lane.

So if you want some good seafood and a great venue with some of the best deck seating in Atlanta go to the Steamhouse.  They also throw the Oysterfest in February, which is truly one of the most underrated Atlanta events. 
The Chargrilled Oysters won’t remind you of Drago’s in New Orleans, nor are the Crab Legs like Phillips Seafood in Ocean City, MD, but being 4-6 hours from a good beach, this will do. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Colonnade

Warning:  The following may be unsuitable for children under 13 and people who avoid Cheshire Bridge Road

I’m embarrassed to tell you that I’ve been in Atlanta 16 years and just went to the Colonnade for the first time.  We had our wonderful guide Leslie to guide us through the subtleties of the 80+ year old restaurant.  I now feel like I had a Picasso in my basement only to discover it years later.  But with a lot of cornmeal and butter.  And I mean a lot of butter.
When you first get there, grab a drink at the bar and sit in the lounge.  Leather couches adorn the 70’s style living room and it’s a great place to hold a conversation.

You may soon see this picture on or Saturday Night Live, circa '82
Cheshire Bridge is such an eclectic area, the clientele on a Thursday is an unbelievable mix of people from all walks of life and the Colonnade is a perfect place to launch a great night.  The age range is from 2 to 80, leaning more towards 80.
The dining room is straight out of 1975, but spotless.  I was expecting Lee Majors to jump out to serve us collard greens.   We made sure we had their top server, Eric.  Eric even has a dessert named after him!  Only at the Colonnade.

The Fried Chicken is what they are famous for and that’s what we had of course!  And it was some of the best homemade Fried Chicken I have ever had.  If you listen closely, you may hear my arteries closing.  Let’s just hope I make it through the rest of the article.  I would add a picture, but the Chicken was more delicious than photogenic.
I also had Tomato Aspic for the first time.  Basically a Gelatinous Bloody Mary Mix with Mayonnaise.  It may sound disgusting, but it’s a must try!  My favorites though were the Crowder Peas.  My Grandfather used to grow Crowder Peas and I had them for the first time since he died in 2000.  And they were delicious.
And the dessert was great. The homemade Coconut Iced Box Pie with Hot Fudge may be illegal in some states.   The Peach Cobbler was perfect as well.

If you’ve never been, please go.  And if you know Leslie at WSB (The Dry Rub doesn’t give full names), take her with you.  She’s basically Merrill Stubbing giving you a personal tour of the Love Boat. 

And if anyone wants to grab a drink and have some good conversation, call me I found a great place.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dining With Children (or Avoiding it)

Warning:  The following may be unsuitable for children under 13 and Pandas
As a father of three (ages 4 and under), dining out is not an easy option.  So I must ask the logic of my timing to start my blog.
Living on the Westside of the ATL, I will give you the best options for dining with children or the places to avoid children all together.

Snoop:  “Westside is the Best Side”
Rule #1 is to avoid all fine dining establishments with small children.  People are paying good money to go  out for a nice dinner and to not have calamari tossed at them by a young Tim Hudson belly laughing about it.  Of course, I have broken this rule I’ve taken my daughter to the Palm and Miller Union.  So if you feel the urge, you better know the Owner/ GM and go early, like 75 year old dinner time early.  I also at some point will have a Miller Union review.   It’s the best “farm to table” restaurant in the city.  I love the term “farm to table.”  I feel “organic” is played out and is more a marketing tool for people to feel better about buying a product.  Am I supposed to feel better about eating a cow that eats better than most children in Africa?  I don’t see the logic.  I grew up eating “non organically” and I don’t have a third eye or nipple.  I do have a second chin, but that has more to do with barley and hops than with injected hormones.
Back to the theme!  My daughters favorite restaurant is La Parilla, decent Mexican, cheap and they embrace children with balloons and treats.  I would also recommend Salsa on Howell Mill.  Really good food, neighborhood feel and they have white paper as tablecloths for the kids to write on.  The Paella and Tacos are great.  The Howell Mill Food Park is also ideal.  How can you make a mess outside?  Go with the whole family and sh*t the place up.  The NY Deli is also great.  Great service, real deli sandwiches and a very underestimated breakfast.  If you are willing to roll the dice, get the Heart Attack Breakfast Sandwich.  Taylor Ham is the most underused of all deli meats.  If you don’t know, now you know.
Then of course is Chik Fil A.  All kids love CFA, the service is great, the product is great and you have a playground in some of them for them to play in after lunch.  Of course as of late they have decided to enter the arena of expressing their moral opinions.  Listen, I like you better when the fat cow was telling me to “eat more chikin.”  You’re a fast food joint, give me a chicken biscuit (preferably spicy) and keep the opinions to yourself.
Later this week (hopefully) we’ll have Fox Bros and the Colonnade.   Could be a big week for me and my 2 followers.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Why the Cheesecake Factory Sucks

Warning:  the following may be unsuitable for children under 13 and people who like to wait over an hour for mediocre food.  Everybody else, join in.
Good friends don’t let good friends go the Cheesecake Factory.  A good restaurant doesn’t do 150 completely different dishes well.  Think about it, it makes ZERO sense.  Bruce Jenner won the decathlon because he was decent at multiple events, but he couldn’t hold any individual Olympians jock if he wanted to.  Now look at him, he’s a botoxed puppet in a family known for not having jobs.  A sports car is a sports car because it hauls ass, not because it hauls a family of five.  You can’t be everything to everybody.  If you try, you’ll fail (my first fortune cookie moment).
Take the Havana Sandwich Shop, they make the best Cuban sandwich in Atlanta.  They don’t offer you Filet Mignon on page 8 of the menu.  The Vortex makes burgers, if you order something else you deserve food poisoning.  But if you want to try a burger, try Muss and Turners, trust me (more to come on that during “Burger Week”). 
Know what you are, nobody epitomizes this more than Johnny’s Hideaway.  They pour the heaviest drinks and you better be ready to dance (with somebody 55+ of course).  As my friend Jeff says “Johnny’s is like a 401k plan if you find the right sugar moma.”

When I’m ordering food, I don’t want to have to refer to page 10 across from the DUI Lawyer's ad to order Fish and Chips which is right above Pad Thai.  If you want Fish and Chips, go to Fado.  If you want Pad Thai go to Nan (though I would recommend the Red Snapper or the Pad Prik Sea Bass).  In fact, any decent Thai restaurant makes a decent Pad Thai.  Annie’s Thai Castle is probably the best lunch value for Thai.  Sorry for the tangent, I like Thai Food.
You know what they are probably good at?  Cheesecake.  Stick to what you know.  Don’t embarrass yourself.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cafe Agora

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for Children under the age of 13 and anyone that does not like baba ganoush.  Everybody else, welcome aboard

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There are two restaurants that I would implicitly allow to order for me.  Mr. Chows in Beverly Hills and Café Agora in Buckhead. 

“Big” Al Ozelci is the owner, host, waiter, cook, philosopher and apparently dabbles in used weaponry.  I tried not to get into the specifics of that, nor would I want too.  Let’s also not ask what’s in those big barrels in the back.
Al will always start you off with a Maza Platter that has the best baba ganoush and hummus that I have ever had.  It’s homemade and has a unique smoky flavor.  Whether or not that flavor derives from Marlboro, I don’t know and never want to know.

Most people order the lamb gyro which is delicious and his homemade tzatziki sauce is delicious.  But his strength lies in the traditional dishes such as Iskender and his Lamb Shish Kababs with the meet on the skewers ready to go.  If you want to try it, the Iskender is great, but you may need angioplasty within the hour since the butter is a big ingredient in this  piece of heaven. 
The décor is “different” as well.  You do feel you have been imported to a gritty place in Istanbul or a bad music video.

So make a trip, listen to Al’s stories and let him order for you.  You will not be disappointed.  Even my picky daughter loves this place.  We had it to go last night and she wouldn’t let me touch the Maza Platter (except for the eggplant)! 

And for the love of god, have the Baklava afterwards too!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Gary Danko in San Francisco

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for Children under the age of 13 and anyone with a righteous mullet.  Everyone else, join the party
Every year I go on a guys trip centered around a sporting event.  This year it was the US Open in San Francisco at the Olympic Club.  A vast improvement over being INSIDE of an F4 tornado during last years trip.

Then this happened.  Gary Danko on Saturday night.  One of the best meals I have ever had. Then, in a coincidental twist, my favorite travel website, (not a paid sponsor) decided to get into the restaurant review business and ranked GD’s the #2 restaurant in the country last week.  I love tripadvisor, but do we need another food critic?  Oh yea, that’s awkward, carry on. 
Anyways Gary Danko.  If you name a restaurant after yourself you are either a GREAT restaurant or you are a supreme douchebag.  Well the food was truly great, but I guess he could still be a douche, didn’t meet him.   Best appetizer I ever had was the Oysters covered in Caviar, just decadent.  The Soft Shell Crab, Lobster Risotto, Duck, Scallops, it was all unbelievable.  If you ever go to San Fran, you have to go here.  I thought the décor was a little strange.  I thought the top restaurant in San Fran might have a little more edge since this place was conservative.  The service was impeccable, though our waitress was a little over the top in a “this is going to be the best meal you will have or I’m lacing your cappuccino with LSD “ type of way.  Of course, I thought Joe’s Crab Shack in South Beach has the décor of a nice Cafeteria, but who gives a shit when the Stone Crabs hit your lips.
The Embarcadero was a Culinary Mall of Goodness.  From the Slanted Door down the hall I may have gained 10 pounds.    

We also ate at Tommy’s Joynt, right across the street from where we stayed.  It was on Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives and had mouth watering homemade Pastrami and an unbelievable beer selection.  And it was very reasonable.

Since we spent a good amount of time at the Olympic Club, we didn’t eat at too many other places.  I did meet Tiger’s Mom at the 7th Green and it took everything not to drop a tasteless “Did Tiger really come up with Gatorades slogan “Is it in you?” 
Anyways, loved the City by the Bay and can’t wait to get back.