Sunday, December 31, 2017

BIRTHDAY DINNER AT A MANO!

My birthday was December 14th, and this year my "kids" decided they wanted to treat me and my husband to dinner at a restaurant none of us had been to before.  They chose A Mano (and I'm SO glad they did!).

My husband and I spent the day shopping at Ponce City Market, then checked into a hotel downtown that was about a mile from the restaurant in the Old Fourth Ward area of Atlanta.


587 RALPH MCGILL BOULEVARD
ATLANTA, GA  30312

We ended up arriving before the rest, so we sat down at the bar and ordered drinks - well-prepared and satisfying.

Once the other 4 arrived we were quickly seated.  The restaurant is small and intimate and has a cozy warm vibe that invites you in immediately.  The service was attentive and friendly.

We decided to begin with their burrata.  Unfortunately we plowed into it before remembering to take a picture!  But as you can see, we loved this starter!  The burrata was delicious but the real star of the show was that sourdough!  So yummy!

BURRATA with aged balsamic, tomato jam, basil oil, smoked sea salt and grilled sourdough



 We paired the food with a wonderful Italian Valpolicello:
 Our second starter was the octopus! It too was outstanding and we devoured it in no time!

CHARRED OCTOPUS with potato, carmelized fennel, citrus salad:
 A pic of our pre-dinner cocktail (my favorite drink: Tito's, grapefruit, St Germain and lime)


 We sampled the Cacio e Pepe:

Expertly prepared pasta al dente with just the right amount of richness and nutty parmesan! DELICIOUS!
 The Bucatini ala Bolognese was the stuff of dreams:
 My chicken saltimbocca was the best I've ever tasted!  I fix this dish on occasion and have paled in comparison.  All agreed it was fabulous!
 Truly amazing cauliflower we ordered as a side that we were fighting over:
 Another lovely side dish we sampled: the fried potatoes with salsa verde and parmesan were so so good!

 And I didn't sample this dish but my son in law said it was amazing:
Braised pork cheeks




 It was a fabulous birthday and the icing on the cake was spending time with my precious family at a great restaurant.  We'll be back to A Mano!

Our view from our downtown hotel:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

WEEKNIGHT DINNER AT 1KEPT

My daughter and her husband visited 1 Kept last week, and she wrote a "guest post" for this blog.  Here's her take on the restaurant:



Atlanta Restaurant Review: 1Kept

Guest Restaurant Entry: Caroline Ellison

Date/Time: Thursday, November 9th at 6:30pm EST


Address: 2293 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30309


Recently, my husband, Brian, and I moved back to Atlanta (from Boston), bought a townhome, got a new puppy, and I started a new job Monday! Needless to say, we were eager to get out of the house for a much-needed date night, and experience some great eats that Atlanta has to offer! We ultimately decided on 1Kept because we have heard good things from some friends of ours and it overall had good reviews online - I am big on what viewers and fellow restaurateurs have to say! Brian made a reservation for 6:30pm. We got there around 6:15pm and went down the winding road to get to the parking area of 1Kept. You then have to go up a set of stairs in order to get into the resetaurant. There were only two others in the restaurant when we arrived. The hostess sat us right next to them which seemed a bit odd as the entire restaurant was empty. Overall, the atmosphere of 1Kept has a laid back easy going feel with eclectic tones and interesting music (it seemed to Brian and I, however, that they were just playing the same track on repeat). It was a bit dark in the place but it went along with the feel of the place.



Our waiter, Linden, was extremely attentive and gave good advice and tips. We started with some cocktails to begin our evening. I had a the ‘Wheels Up’, a vodka drink, that was too sweet for my liking. Luckily, the waiter understood and presented me with a delicious glass of Pinot Grigio (at no charge). Brian had a ‘Sazarec’ with Bulleit Rye Bourbon that he said was satisfying.



For appetizers, we started with the ‘most popular’ item on the entire menu (according to our waiter), the Pimento Cheese Board. I completely understand why it would gain the title of most popular! Brian and I both could have had two of those and made it our meal and would have left extremely happy! The pimento was delicious, and it was paired with grain mustard, delicious buttered pickles, bacon jam (I personally do not like bacon but Brian loved it) and most importantly, the best bread we have both had in a really long time! I have always enjoyed a good charcuterie board, and the Pimento Cheese Board hit the spot! It makes a big difference if the bread is too hard/tough to bite down or it might be too crispy and crunchy and it may fall a part if you put anything on top of it! Believe me when I say, I have tried many different breads, and this tops them all! 1Kept chefs have provided the most decadent, buttery, lightly toasted, melt in your mouth bread that is out of this world! It went great with the pimento cheese and other toppers and my only complaint was they did not provide us enough!! We ordered more, don’t worry. :)



After feeling very satisfied after our appetizer round, we decided on entrees. I went with the Salmon dish ( usually always go for Salmon at restaurants) and Brian chose the Pork Chop (recommended by our Waiter). For the first few bites, I could hardly taste the Salmon flavor because of how SALTY the fish was. On top of that, they put the salmon on sort of a variety of different tomato broth and fregola that was okay but nothing to get excited about an ultimately way too salty. I would not order this again. Brian’s Pork Chop was alright, but he too mentioned that the dish was quite salty. There was also some sort of baked bean lentil component that threw him a bit with the dish.




In conclusion, if you are thinking about going to 1Kept, I would recommend going to the trendy front bar and getting a glass of wine or a fun cocktail and definitely try the Pimento Cheese Board! We were also told that the flatbreads are popular, and based on our experience with the bread, would be inclined to agree! I wouldn’t recommend staying for a full intimate dinner with your plus one only because I felt it was too loud with sitting us right next to another twosome and the music and it was not worth it to take the time there to order entrees.



For the 1Kept management, I would recommend turning up the lighting slightly, adding a couple more entree options, and taking a look at your music playlists. Overall, though, great staff, great appetizers, and good alcohol selections!




Cheers and Happy Eating!

Pics from our evening:







Wednesday, October 11, 2017

DOUBLE ZERO: 10/17

After getting rave reviews from my daughter and son-in-law, I HAD to go sample Double Zero!

The restaurant is located in the Emory area of Atlanta and is part of the Castellucci Hospitality Group (Iberian Pig, Cooks & Soldiers, Sugo....).

DOUBLE ZERO

EMORY VILLAGE
1577 North Decatur Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30307
404 991 3666

When you arrive at the location there is street parking and also free valet parking.  We valeted and quickly entered the restaurant.

We were greeted by a hostess who promptly seated us and gave us our menus.  We were there at 6:30pm on a Tuesday, and there were only 2 other patrons at that time.  However, before we left an hour plus later it was roughly 3/4 full.




Our waiter arrived and gave us a bit of background on the restaurant (telling us there are a number of small plates that are ideal for sharing) and took our drink orders.

Our server was knowledgeable and friendly (although there were several times where it seemed to take a while to get things - like a drink that had been ordered. Not sure if it was the bar that was slow that evening or not, but it happened a few times). He was unobtrusive, but knew the menu items and was helpful.

We went with wines and they were delicious.  I ordered a Rioja and they were out, but our server suggested another French wine and it was a very good substitute.  They do have a nice selection and tout that on their website.

The menu is "inspired by the regional cuisine of southern Italy and features traditional Neapolitan Pizza, fresh handmade pasta, and a number of Italian classics reinterpreted and served in a small plate format." There were so many choices that looked and sounded amazing that it was a bit hard to decide.

Since 2 of us had already been once to the restaurant we decided to sample things that they had not already tried.

Here's what we sampled:

We shared the Grilled Kale Salad - absolutely fabulous!

GRILLED KALE
arugula, radish, fennel, ricotta salata, roasted garlic vinaigrette, gremolata

Then they brought out the brisket arancini - decadent little fried balls of deliciousness with a ridiculously wonderful honey truffle aioli.
SMOKED BRISKET ARANCINI
smoked brisket, cheddar, mushroom, honey truffle aioli

In an attempt to be healthy, we ordered the cauliflower small plate.  The cauliflower was great, but that spiced yogurt sauce!!! I could've eaten a bowl of it!
CAULIFLOWER
spiced yogurt, bagna cauda, Marcona almonds
On to the main courses - I shared the pork bolognese with my daughter, and I was glad I did.  It was just enough (after enjoying the small plates).  It was as outstanding as any pasta I ate in Italy a few years back.  Perfectly cooked tagliatelle and out of this world bolognese!


TAGLIATELLE BOLOGNESE
Heritage pork bolognese, gremolata, Grana Padano
Another pic of the tagliatelle with a flash:
My husband sampled the orecchiette - there wasn't a crumb left....
It tasted so fresh with the broccolini and tomatoes, but that grant padano foam (and a touch of fresh parmesan) = OH MY GOD!

ORECCHIETTE E SALSICCIA
spicy sausage, broccolini, Grana Padano foam, tomato, Marcona almond


And my son-in-law tried the lamb cannelloni.  He said it was amazing and that the fennel jam was over the top great!

LAMB CANNELLONI
red pepper, nduja, bechamel, gremolata, fennel jam
Normally I am not a dessert person, but our server described a few specials, and we were sold.  I HAD to try the Butterscotch parfait though, and it did not disappoint:


It's topped with a granola bar crust:
Then ooey gooey butterscotch is inside.  SO GOOD:
But the Mac Daddy dessert special was a chocolate truffle creation with dark chocolate:
As you can see, we were scraping the bowl:

A few pics of our evening:

Entering the restaurant:

The view of the kitchen from our table:

The hostess stand with the bar and wine tasting area in the background:

Walking away from the restaurant in the Emory Hills area:



We were celebrating the closing of our daughter and new son-in-law's new home nearby.  Cheers to new beginnings!  AND - now they know they have a FABULOUS restaurant to head to that's close!

We had a wonderful evening with some delicious food.  The atmosphere is fun and casual, and the service was good - we felt welcomed.  Can't wait to come back for a wine tasting and to sample more of their menu items.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

ECCO! (September 2017)

On a rare Friday that my husband and I were free, we decided to go to Ecco!  We have been to their satellite restaurant in the International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport (and loved it), but we hadn't been to their main location in Midtown.

Ecco is part of the Fifth Group of restaurants which includes well-known Atlanta staple restaurants South City Kitchen and El Taco.

It's a very eclectic vibe as you enter the restaurant from the street.
yelp

Photo Credit: Yelp

We got their early, as we had a very early commitment the next day, so there were very few patrons dining. We had a view of the open kitchen.

catebogue

The menu changes often, but there are some dishes that remain regulars, and they have a fun cocktail list and great wine menu as well.


 My Tito's, St Germaine and grapefruit:
 Fabulous bread and butter were served quickly:

And the bread was a great accompaniment to our charcuterie platter:

 We shared their mixed green salad (which also was delicious):

And then we decided to go with an Italian red wine to go with our next courses:

 Piquillo Peppers stuffed with braised beef were out of this world:
 And we split a wood fired flatbread with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella - SO GOOD!


The meats and cheeses ready for charcuterie platters:

 Shaved meats were outstanding:

 It was a fabulous dinner!  Our server was great - attentive but not obtrusive, and the atmosphere and food were memorable.  We basically shared everything, but you can opt to go with larger meals and not share.  It was a very fun night out, and we hope to return!

SAMPLE MENU FROM THEIR WEBSITE:


Cured Meats
Prosciutto di San Daniele: aged ham
Speck: smoked prosciutto
Coppa: cured pork shoulder
Finocchiona: pork salami with fennel seed
Mortadella: fine-ground pork and pistachio
Toscano: house cured, beef & pork salami with black pepper
Bresaola: house cured beef eye round
Soppresatta: spicy pork salami

Cheese in descending order from mild to pungent
Garrotxa: Spain; raw goat’s milk; soft
Caña de Oveja: Spain; sheep’s milk; soft
Pecorino Toscano: Italy; sheep’s milk; firm
Idiazabal: Spain; raw sheep’s milk; firm
Gouda: Netherlands; cow’s milk; hard
Tomme: France; raw cow’s milk; semi-firm
Fontina val d’aosta: Italy; cow’s milk; soft
Gorgonzola dolce: Italy; cow’s milk; soft
Mitibleu: Spain; sheep’s milk; soft

Taste & Share
Mixed olives 6
Fried goat cheese, honey, black pepper 7
Piquillo peppers stuffed with braised beef 7
Wood roasted clams, spring onions, lemon, grana broth 13
Beef carpaccio, artichoke chips, green garlic aioli 12
Mussels, smoked paprika, basil, crème fraiche 10

Appetizers
Mixed lettuces, radish, almonds, tarragon-mustard vinaigrette 9
Grilled red romaine, smoked trout, buttermilk, pickled beets 14
Smoked haddock chowder, English peas 9
Bay scallop pintxo, tangerine, pink peppercorns, frisee 7

Wood-Fired Pizzas
San Marzano tomatoes, housemade mozzarella, basil 13
Grilled treviso, spring onions, house fromage blanc, aged balsamic 14
Spicy soppresatta, sweet peppers, mozzarella 14
Guanciale, ricotta, grana padano, mint 15

Pastas 
Pappardelle with braised pork, peppadew peppers, garlic 16
Spaghetti, preserved tomatoes, calamari, chilies, mint, bottarga 21
Tagliatelle, rutabagas, escarole, capers 19

Mains
Butcher steak, heirloom carrots, Fresno chili-sherry reduction, arugula 26
Roasted speckled trout, braised spring vegetables, smoked hock, tomato-almond sauce 26
Rabbit leg braised in cider, loin wrapped in speck, pea puree and tendrils 28
Arctic char, celery root, watercress, house tangerine oil, salmon roe 25

Sides
Roasted potatoes, rosemary, roof top salsa verde 5
Corona beans, preserved lemon, mint, argula 6
Pommes frites, mayonnaise 4
Grilled spring onion, bravas sauce 6
Grilled asparagus, black truffle aioli 6

Dessert
Champagne truffles 5
Crema catalan with almond cookies 8
Chocolate torte, spiced cherries in red wine, almond crisp, cream 8
Sticky toffee pudding, doppelbock ice cream 8
Ricotta fritters, seasonal fruit conserva 7
Ice cream and sorbet please ask for today's selection 6
SIGNATURE COCKTAILS
La Bella Amante A sophisticated fling, a sweet passing moment, all without consequence….maybe.  Strega, Aperol and hopped grapefruit bitters blending into a twisty fresh little secret. 10
Jack Lalanne = Mr. Organic Juiced is not even the word. Carrot cubes swimming in organic coconut water and Crusoe Organic Rum.  Drinking with a clear conscience and sense of accomplishment . 11
Pachamama The Peruvian goddess of plenty delivers us fruit and we have thanked her  by fermenting it. Delicate Pisco Porton, spicy habanero, juicy papaya and fresh  citrus. Mom would be proud. 12
Refreshed & Sustained Sweet pink peppercorns, thyme, lemon and vodka color your chakra. Keep nimble and level with this uber-fresh concoction. 9
Zion vs. Babylon Teach I and I Love and loyalty on earth as it is in Zion. Endow us with Thy wisemind. Fight the ginnygog as Jamdown does. 151 Lemon Hart rum, house made sarsaparilla and emalaluke bitters. 9
Long Live the Queen Bombay Sapphire gin with hints of elderflowers, lemon, peach and mint—served up. It’s like a walk in the garden with Elizabeth. 12
GiGi Says “OK, OK, I’m listening. Tell me again.” Alright, it’s Hangar One vodka, fresh ginger and a squeeze of lime—served short on the rocks. 12
Castro Monk Enjoy crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with a purpose. A happy, but unlikely, marriage of sweet High West Rye whiskey blended with ecclesiastical Bénédictine. 12
Sticky Sweet Backstage/Rockstar lifestyle for the everyday human being, sparkling wine, blackberry whiskey and velvet falernum. For those times when your hot...sticky (and) sweet.  12