Monday, March 26, 2012

Future Restaurants to visit...

I thought it would be fun to attempt to hit the restaurants in Atlanta that are considered to be the best, and see if I agreed. Some are 5 star quality (with 5 star prices), and others are casual and inexpensive. Below are 2 top restaurant picks - one from ATLANTA magazine and the other is a John Kessler (ATLANTA JOURNAL/CONSTITUTION) top 50 list. I'm not giving myself a time limit, but I'm going to try and go to as many as I can.

Atlanta Magazine:

The Top 10 ranked, plus 40 more

No. 1: Bacchanalia
In the midst of Atlanta’s decimated fine-dining terrain, Bacchanalia, sturdy in its converted Westside meatpacking plant, reigns as monarch. Chefs-owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison safeguarded its survival by connecting to a broader audience than did lofty, defunct sovereigns like Seeger’s and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. Bacchanalia is one of the most tongue-in-cheek spaces in the country for an upscale restaurant: ...
Read more
No. 2: Restaurant Eugene

No. 3: Cakes & Ale

No. 4: Holeman and Finch Public House

No. 5: Tomo

No. 6: Empire State South

No. 7: Bone's

No. 8: Miller Union

No. 9: Aria

No. 10: Sotto Sotto

4th & Swift
Antico Pizza Napoletana
Bistro VG
Busy Bee
Carver's Country Kitchen
Chops/Lobster Bar
Community Q BBQ
Floataway Cafe
The Hil
Holy Taco
Honey Pig
JCT Kitchen & Bar
Kevin Rathbun Steak
La Pietra Cucina
La Tavola Trattoria
Lunacy Black Market
Myung Ga Won
Nam Phuong
Pura Vida
Rumi's Kitchen
Sam's BBQ 1
Saravana Bhavan
The Sound Table
Sushi House Hayakawa
Taqueria Del Sol
Taqueria La Oaxaqueña
Tasty China
Woodfire Grill

John Kessler's top 50 2012
The 2012 Atlanta 50:
(Restaurant capsule reviews listed in alphabetical order.)


> 4th & Swift, Atlanta; Abattoir, Atlanta; Antico Pizza Napoletana, Midtown; Aria, Buckhead; Bacchanalia, Midtown; Barcelona Wine Bar, Atlanta; Bistro VG, Roswell; Bocado, Midtown; Bone’s, Buckhead; Busy Bee Cafe, Atlanta.


> Cafe Restaurant Dominicano, Norcross; Cakes & Ale (restaurant and bakery), Decatur; Canoe, Atlanta; Cardamom Hill, Atlanta; Community Q BBQ, Decatur; Empire State South, Midtown; Desta, Atlanta; Ecco, Atlanta; Golden House, Duluth.


> Heirloom Market BBQ, Atlanta; Honey Pig, Duluth; Holeman and Finch, Atlanta; Kevin Rathbun Steak, Atlanta; Kyma, Buckhead; McKendrick Steak House, Dunwoody; Miller Union, Midtown; Nam Phuong, Norcross; One Eared Stag, Atlanta; Pura Vida Tapas, Atlanta.


> Rathbun’s, Atlanta; Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta; Rumi’s Kitchen, Sandy Springs; Seed Kitchen & Bar, Marietta; Sotto Sotto, Atlanta; Sound Table, Atlanta; Sushi House Hayakawa, Doraville; Table & Main, Roswell; Taqueria del Sol, three metro locations; Taqueria Oaxaquena, Jonesboro; Tasty China, Marietta.


> Three Blind Mice, Lilburn; Tofu Village, Marietta; Tomo Japanese Restaurant, Buckhead; Umaido, Suwanee; Varasano’s, Atlanta; Viande Rouge Steakhouse , Johns Creek; Vingenzo’s, Woodstock; Woodfire Grill, Atlanta; Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl House, Doraville; World Peace Cafe, Sandy Springs.


A Trattoria One41 dinner with friends

We decided to dine out with friends at a local spot that we've enjoyed several times in the past: Trattoria One41 (Located on US 141/Medlock Bridge Rd). It anchors a strip shopping center corner, and therefore the outside isn't so impressive. However, once entering, you totally forget that your in a strip center in the burbs. It has lovely ambiance with lots of artwork, dark hardwood floors and white tablecloths.

9810 Medlock Bridge Rd # A
Duluth, GA 30097-2056
(770) 497-0021

A day picture of the outside.

Photo Credit: One41
Here are a couple of shots of the interior:

The bar area (to the left as you enter)

The main dining area

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Now onto the food!

The menu:
Antipasti for the table
Baked Eggplant Involtini, sheep ricotta, mozzarella, one•41 pomodoro
Homemade Italian Sausage, roasted peppers, cipollini onions
Baked Sweet Corn Polenta, roasted mushrooms, melted fontina cheese
Sautéed Calamari & Shrimp ‘Arrabbiata’, garlic, chilies, lemon
Steamed Mussels, garlic, pinot grigio, spicy tomatoe pomodoro
Crispy Aged Provolone, vine ripe tomato, oregano, cracked pepper, evoo
Grilled Long Stem Artichokes, pancetta, garlic, lemon
Assorted Italian Meats, cheeses, grapes, olives, etc. (serves 2)
Baby Arugula, shaved parmigiano reggiano, sweet corn polenta crouton
Mixed Lettuces, herbs, veggies, chick peas, ricotta salata, balsamic vin.
Chef Marc’s Caesar, romaine hearts, focaccia crouton crumbs, parmigiano with imported Italian white anchovies
Filet Mignon Carpaccio, arugula, capers, mustard aioli, parmigiano
Grilled Octopus, calabrian chilies, cucumber, red onion, preserved lemon
Thin Spaghetti, veal meatballs, one•41 pomodoro, basil, evoo, pecorino
Pasta ‘Ears’, italian sausage, broccoli rabe, garlic, chilies, evoo
Twisted Pasta, aglio e olio, chicken, asparagus, ricotta salata
Pasta Quills, homemade italian sausage, tomato cream ‘alla vodka
Thin Linguine and Clams, garlic, chiles, pinot grigio, italian parsley
Handmade Potato Dumplings, tomato cream, basil, mozzarella
Baked Porcini 'Quatro Formaggio', homemade Italian sausage ragu
‘Crazy’ Veal Bolognese Lasagna, béchamel, mozzarella, parmigiano
Braised Beef Short Rib Cannelloni, gorgonzola, béchamel, braising jus
Carne e Pesce
Parmigiano Crusted Lemon Sole, melted tomatoes, olives, capers
Tuscan Style Seafood Stew, today's fish, lobster, shrimp, scallop, mussels
Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass, creamy corn risotto, asparagus, salmoriglio
Flordia Gulf Black Grouper ‘Francese’, sautéed garlicky spinach
Cape Sante
Pan Seared Sea Scallops, roasted mushrooms risotto, balsamic glaze
Grilled Lamb Chops, cannellini bean ragu, wild arugula, salmoriglio
Slow Braised Veal Shank, carnarolli risotto milanese, lemon gremolata
The Famous Pounded Veal Chop Parmigiana Or Ashland Farms Chicken ‘Parmigiana’
Grilled Veal Chop 'Valdostana', melted fontina, crispy prosciutto, artichokes
Pan Roasted Ashley Farms Chicken ‘Picatta’, sautéed garlicky spinach

To start the meal we chose a bottle of Malbec. I know, I know, it's not Italian. But I love Malbec and this particular choice I had had before and enjoyed.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

One41 brings out a great starter - freshly baked bread with a warm marinara sauce topped with warm (and melting) fresh ricotta.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We decided to go with several appetizers. I HAD to have the beef carpaccio, as I'd had it in the past there and loved it.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Others went with Eggplant Involtini and an arugula salad. The eggplant was amazing. It was thin slices of eggplant rolled with fresh ricotta and not fried. We were fighting over the last drop, and the picture shows one bite remaining.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Arugula Salad with polenta cake:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The beef carpaccio did not disappoint - crisp arugula centers the dish and sauteed capers make it really special. The arugula salad was a light and delicious palate cleanser before the main course. And on a side note - their caprese salad is very good. We've had it before and loved it.

Again, craving this dish from a previous visit, I HAD to have the Grouper Francese. It's delicious, and if you're a fan of capers (I am) and lemon, you'll be in love. It's also served on a bed of expertly sauteed spinach.

Here are a few pics:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

And this one is a better shot off their website:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

And we had not tried before, but we'll be getting this dish again - the beef short rib canneloni. Wow. What a wonderful combination of flavors salty, cheesy and GORGONZOLA.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

And I've included a better photograph from an AJC review:

Photo Credit: AJC

We also sampled the veal lasagna bolognese and the butternut squash ravioli but my pictures did not turn out well. We had had both dishes before and recommended them. The lasagna isn't served like typical lasagna you're used to seeing. It comes out spread over the plate and isn't slathered in mozzarella. It's very tasty. The ravioli also was very good. My only complaint is that it IS very rich. It's served in a brown butter sauce (which I love with skate wing) that ends up feeling too heavy for me after a few bites.

No room for dessert tonight after another fabulous meal at One41.

***A final note - the staff is just fabulous. Most are family, and they go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. Looking forward to my next visit already....

Next up: 4th and Swift Trattoria One.41 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


MARCH 2012

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
So...after having to spend time in traffic court (no, not my fault, but Fulton County, GA requires that ALL involved in an accident HAVE to appear in court - ugh!), my husband and I decided we needed a reward. Antico Pizza Napoletana fit the bill! We had heard that table space is hard to come by - especially on the weekend, so we headed there on a Wednesday night.

Heard from a blog - "They import San Marzano tomatoes from Italy for the sauce, use bufala mozzarella from Campania, and their ovens are built from refractory Sorrento stone. The dough is made each day and, when they run out of dough, they close down for the night. "

Also heard - "best pizza in town"

And "The crusts were thick yet light, crispy, and pulled apart like the best french bread. The creamy, full-flavored mozzarella highlighted the simple toppings of basil and meats."

Great link to what's good - ccccc

It's in a totally non-descript building that's very easy to miss - on Hemphill Ave. just off the Georgia Tech campus and Northside Drive.

And once you're inside it's more of the same - bare bones decor with sturdy communal style tables and bench seating. But there's an ambiance that's unmistakable. We were greeted immediately upon entering the restaurant with a, "Bueno Sera!" And we were in an instant transported back to Italy.

The menu is on a board behind the cashier and is listed in Euros and Dollars. There are few choices, but each item is amazing. Be forewarned - no pizza by the slice here. You buy the whole pie, and the only choice is a large. But I promise you - you won't complain. We were thrilled to have a to-go box to take home the delicacies for later...

Here's the menu:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We opted to eat in the main dining area so that we could enjoy watching the pizza being made from dough tossing to layering on ingredients (including roughly breaking up buffalo mozzarella - yum!). You literally are sitting in the kitchen feet away from the giant pizza ovens.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

They only recently began serving beer and wine - Italian only of course. It used to be strictly BYOB. We felt the need to be transported completely so our choices were:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Now for the good stuff! We ordered a San Gennaro (sweet Italian sausage, buffalo mozzarella and sweet red pepper) and a Margharita (we added pepperoni).

The San Gennaro:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The Margharita:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Both were (almost) indescribably good. The dough was as good as any we had while in Italy (or elsewhere for that matter!) - crisp on the bottom but chewy crust with fresh wonderful flavor. And the tomato sauce - ahhhhhhhh! So so good. All other ingredients were fresh and flavorful. Each bite was a flavor explosion in my mouth. Definitely a moan worthy meal. I was sad that I got full and couldn't eat more - they were THAT good. Looking forward to going again with friends so that we can all try more dishes. Hands down THE best pizza in Atlanta!

Next up possibilities:
4th & Swift

Till next time - - - Happy Eating! Antico Pizza Napoletana on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 19, 2012

JCT Kitchen (visit #3)

Excited to be going back to JCT Kitchen. We ended up going there before a Georgia Tech basketball game several months ago and loved it. The ambiance is fun (albeit loud on a weekend evening); the servers are outstanding; and the food is really good-sort of Gourmet Southern. The oysters are TO DIE FOR!

Here are a few pics from their website of the exterior, interior:

Here's a sampling of their menu (which changes with what's available seasonally):
Deviled Eggs (5)
benton's country ham, evoo.
Truffle-Parmesan Fries
A Jar of House Smoked Trout
bacon-herb salad, kennebec potato chips.
Chicken Oyster & Okra "Small Fry"
ooo-eee! sauce & lemon.
Grilled Bacon Wrapped Local Figs
tiny herb salad, bleu cheese yogurt, spiced almonds.
Chicken Liver Terrine
country toast,"tiny" pickles, apple cider jelly.
"Angry" Mussels
peppered bacon, serrano chile & onion.
Crispy Pork Belly Sliders
watermelon pickles, "rooster sauce".
3 Cold Water Oysters
cucumber mignonette, cocktail & mon. (1/2 doz).
Sweet Corn & Vidalia Onion Chowder
pickled ga white shrimp, summer herbs.
JCT. Salad
green beans, romaine, spiced pecans, apples, buttermilk dressing.
Local Lettuces & Herbs
marinated celery, vinaigrette.
Little Gems
wood grilled bacon, local radish, bleu cheese vinaigrette.
"Cracker Jack" Salad
arugula, country ham, apple vinaigrette, caramel corn, spiced peanuts, bleu.
Local Pole Bean Salad
bacon-sherry dressing, feta, pickled vidalia onions.
JCT. Fried Chicken
(limited... come early), benton's bacon macaroni & cheese, local farmstand vegetable of the moment.
Shrimp & Grits "Summer Version"
red mule grits, deep fried soft poached egg, crispy country ham, candied lemon.
Wood Grilled Lamb Burger
sweet grass dairy's goat cheese, pepper jelly, soft bun, fries.
North Georgia Trout
wood grilled, creme fraiche potato salad, smoked ham hoc vinaigrette.
Wood Grilled 1/2 Chicken
"almost boneless," potatoes, mushrooms, smoked tomato brown butter-chicken jus.
Wood Grilled Salmon
roasted near-by squashes, summer herb pesto.
House Made, Wood Roasted Sausage "Rope"
crispy pork belly, farmstand onion mashed potatoes, lady pea relish, pork jus.
Day Boat Fish Of The Moment
georgia field pea succotash, marinated local tomatoes & whole herbs.
Crispy Duck Leg
house-made duck sausage, confit duck leg, bacon lardon, frisee lettuce, duck jus.
Chicken & Dumplings
slow cooked chicken leg, sheep's milk ricotta dumplings, local vegetables.
House Smoked Berkshire Pork Chop
potato puree, vidalia onion, grilled peaches.
"Meat & Potatoes"
wood grilled hangar steak, heirloom potatoes, onion "jam," roasted beets.
Wood Grilled Rib Eye
spicy local arugula & preserved lemon, red onion & parmesan, natural jus.
Sweet Corn & Johnson's Farm Mil;k Ricotta Agnolotti
broccoli rabe & preserved tomatoes, local smoked sausage, buttery "corn-milk".
Vegetable Plate
georgia farm stand vegetables, buttered potato dumplings.
Garlicky Green Beans
buttered field peas, local squash - butter & thmye.
Red Mule Grits
crispy egg & pork jus, butter whipped potatoes.
Collard greens
bruce's pepper vinegar, & thyme, sweet corn succotash.

Iced Tea
hand squeezed
Dessert Menu
Brioche Doughnuts
dipping sauces, maple ice cream.
Banana Pudding
house-made vanilla wafers.
Ice Cream Sandwich
peanut butter cookie, chocolate ice cream.
Rum "Sopped" Coconut Cake
Chocolate Tart
salted caramel sauce, whipped cream.
Georgia Peach Fried Pies
bourbon-vanilla ice cream.
Assorted Ice Creams & Sorbets
Oysters On The Half-Shell
mignonette, cocktail & lemon. (each).
House-Cured Salmon
local goat cheese, crispy potato cake, evoo.
prime beef tenderloin, bourbon barrel aged worcestershire, preserved tomato, parmesan mayo, toast.
Pot Of Duck
rillettes, house made spicy mustard, tiny pickles, country toast.
Fried Chicken "Oysters"
crispy green tomato pickles, oo-eee! sauce.
Angry Mussels
house cured bacon, serrano chile, wood grilled bread for soppin'.
Marinated Beets
deep fried almonds, local goat cheese, grey salt, orange evoo.
Deviled Eggs
bentons country ham, evoo.
"Fancy" Wiener
Three different flavors to choose from.
Truffle Parmesan Fries
Devils On Horseback
stuffed dates, local bacon, bleu, almonds.
Chicken Liver Terrine
vanilla bean apple butter, country toast.
Crab n' Artichoke Pot
roasted peppers, olive oil toast and mayo.
Cracker Jack Salad
arugula, caramel corn, spiced peanuts, blue cheese, red onion caramel apple vinaigrette, country ham.
Lamb Burger
local goat cheese, pickled cucumber, house fries.
Sweet Onion & Fontina Filled Pasta
brown buttered mushrooms, humboldt fog goat cheese, veal jus.
Chicken & Dumplings
slow cooked chicken leg, sheep's milk ricotta dumplings, local vegetables.
JCT. Bar Steak
wood grilled hanger steak, local onion butter, fries.
Shrimp & Grits
crispy poached farm egg, benton's country ham.
Fish & Chips
sweet and sour apple slaw, sunchoke tartar, fries.

Sunday Supper
$24.00 per person
Sunday Supper - Table
Warm Biscuits, Apple Butter
Sunday Supper - Start
"Farm Stand" Salad
Sunday Supper - Meat & Three
(Choose your meat and three sides for the table).
Roast Chicken
natural jus.
Shimley's Local Veal Meatloaf
mushroom – preserved tomato "gravy".
Wood Roasted Riverview Farm's Pork Loin
pork jus.
Low Country Frogmore Stew
georgia white shrimp, sausage, leek, corn and potatoes.
Smoked Brisket "Pot Roast".
benton's bacon, cheddar.
Turnip Gratin
Squash Casserole
Fried Okra
ooee! sauce.
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Corn
house cured bacon, bleu.
Sliced Tomatoes
evoo, grey salt.
Collard Greens
Pole Beans
Sunday Supper - Dessert
Georgia Strawberry Cake

We arrived at JCT Kitchen for our early Sunday Supper at 5PM. Good thing we did make reservations as it was completely filled within 45 minutes. Their "Sunday Supper" is delish (and it takes the place of their regular menu). You get deviled eggs as a starter, along with a basket of amazing biscuits and flavored butter and apple butter. Then along arrives a fresh salad with champagne vinaigrette that was perfect with fingerling potatoes and french green beans. Then you choose which meat dish you'd prefer. This evening's choices were: Flounder over grits, Seafood Gumbo, Pot Roast, Roast Pork, Southern Fried Chicken and Country Fried Steak. Then the table chooses 3 vegies to share from brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, sweet potato puree, macaroni and cheese, green beans, kale. Everything was so good (albeit not the healthiest way to end a week). But it truly felt like a Southern Sunday Supper! Our server was adorable - unintrusive but attentive.

Here are a few pics from our meal:

Delicious biscuits with amazing Apple Butter

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Deviled Eggs with fresh chives and drizzled with olive oil!
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

One of many specialty drinks they offer - "The Boulevard" Elijah Craig 12-year, Campari, Carpano
Antica Formula, orange peel

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The Roasted Pork was wonderful - moist, not dry at all, cooked to order perfectly and very flavorful.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Brisket Pot Roast with gravy was to die for!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The fish was a flounder rubbed in a spicy mixture that is JCT's signature and served on a pool of grits -

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

We chose mac and cheese, kale and brussel sprouts for our 3 sides:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

And the grand finale: a slice of almond cake with whipped cream! Tres magnifique!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Will go back soon on another night, as I'm still craving the oysters and wood fired salmon from my last visit!

Next up: Antico Pizza for a weeknight dinner JCT Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Taqueria del Sol day!

About to do some shopping off Howell Mill with both of my "kids" home from out of town, and we have decided we HAVE to go to Taqueria del Sol for some energy! The restaurant has 4 locations - the one we were going to on Howell Mill, and there's one at 359 W Ponce de Leon in Decatur, another at 2165 Cheshire Bridge Road and one in Athens, located at 334 Prince Ave.

The restaurant is totally casual, and it's located sort of awkwardly atop a hill in a parking lot. Prepare to wait in line - but, the line moves fairly quickly, and it's worth it! Can't find a better bargain when dining out for some really good food.

You move from the front holding pattern area into the main dining area where you order from a cashier. There are no substitutes (as I found out when I asked if I could sub corn tortillas for the flour ones - answer was a curt, "NO." There are menus available to peruse as you wait, and you better be ready when you get to the register!

After ordering your food, you'll find a table you like, and the food is delivered within minutes. It's very good, fast, food. We were there at lunch so weren't interested in alcohol, but I bet the margaritas are good.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

As you can see, the menu is limited, but everything I've ever had there is very good.

Decor is minimalist - exposed ceilings, straight back wood chairs and plain square tables. But the atmosphere is still fun and clean and no frills.

We chose to eat on their patio, as it was a fabulous Atlanta weather day for March.

We started with an order of guacamole and an order of 3 salsas and chips. The chips were light and delish!

All 3 salsas were fantastic!

And we are guac fanatics, and this one didn't let us down.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Our group of 4 were all interested in tacos, so among us we sampled fish tacos, Memphis tacos, Carne Asada tacos and vegie tacos. All were great, but the fish taco was the favorite.

Food is served in plastic baskets with paper liners.

Fish taco and a vegie taco (refried beans mainly):

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Carne Asada taco and fish taco:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Fish taco:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Memphis taco:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Fish and Memphis:

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Happy Eating!

Next up: JCT Kitchen for their Sunday Supper Taqueria Del Sol on Urbanspoon