Thursday, May 8, 2008

Skip the train to Depot

So, tonight we were going to meet up with a friend for dinner and drinks at the newly opened Parish just down the street from where we live. We had take out sandwiches from Parish last Saturday and they were delicious, so we wanted to check out their dinner menu. When we arrived, there was a 45 minute wait. We were hungry, so we decided to punt and check out the relatively new Depot on Memorial Drive on the border between Cabbagetown and Reynoldstown. The restaurant is the product of a restoration of an old railroad depot built in 1900. The owners did an amazing job of restoring the space and it really is unique and inviting.

The positive comments end there. With a few exceptions, the rest of the experience was a huge disappointment. We ordered an appetizer of nachos with chicken, bacon, red peppers and onions and it was unusually bland given a decent mix of ingredients. This appetizer was a case of the whole being less than the sum of the parts. We had mixed luck with the sandwiches we ordered. A shrimp po boy was quite good, but a burger came out raw despite being ordered medium. A salmon sandwich was mediocre at best, and everyone's french fries were older than yesterday's news and as tough as shoe leather.

The service started out friendly and attentive, but half way though our meal our waiter disappeared for 15 minutes. When he came back from his long break, he looked over and saw that we were done eating and proceeded to turn around and wait on three other tables for another 10 minutes. At this point were disappointed enough to not want a second beer and asked for the check to complete our underwhelming experience.

We're looking forward to redeeming our Thursday night dining experience either next week or the following by checking out Parish (we'll make reservations this time). For now, we can just suggest skipping Depot. There are so many other bars with good food in this city that this is one place best admired from your car while speeding down Memorial on your way to a delicious pub meal at Six Feet Under.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kevin (Rathbun) is King

A few Saturday nights ago, my parents were in town, and we went to Rathbun's right around the street from where we live in Inman Park. We had reservations for 7:30 and the place was packed to the gills when we arrived. Perhaps one reason for the huge crowd is Rathbun's recent victory on Iron Chef America over Bobby Flay. Certainly, during dinner, several parties asked for Rathbun to emerge from the kitchen for a photo-op.

Anyway, this dinner was the best in terms of the quality of the food that I've ever had. We ordered a bottle of pinot grigio and each ordered an appetizer. Butternut squash tortellini with candied pecans was amazing. The candied pecans were an innovative southern touch to this dish. The eggplant steak fries with confectioner's sugar was an unusual but perfect take with great flavor. The romaine heart salad also impressed.

The real winners were the main courses. We opted for the "second mortgage plates" for steak, including a special "16 oz "heart of the ribeye" that was amazingly tender and flavorful. The 10 oz beef filet was like butter, melting in you mouth as you ate it with a rich flavor. The other dish we ordered, the egg-battered lemon sole was probably the freshest fish I've eaten in this city.

We had sides of hand cut french fries with blue cheese fondue and elbow macaroni with a tillamook cheddar tart. The fries with the bleu cheese reminded us of the potato chips with "Maytag" blue cheese at Buckhead dinner. This side was a great paring with the steaks. The elbow macaroni with cheese was good, but not as impressive as the other items.

You will spend a good deal of money eating here, but dessert is surprisingly inexpensive. Rathbun probably knows that after eating everything else, most diners will only need a small dessert. For $3.15, we each had a great dessert. We got the Mini Chocolate Cubes, and they were perfectly sized, rich and satisfying.

My only complaint was the noise in the dining area. As I mentioned the restaurant was completely full the entire time we were dining and the large, open dining room did little to lessen sounds. Thus, it was hard, at times, to hear each other in conversation.

The noise was a bit of a distraction, but it was still quite a feat for the restaurant to serve food of this incredible caliber to so many people simultaneously.

I'd highly recommend Rathbun's for any special occasion. You will not be disappointed.

Rathbun's in Atlanta

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Perfect Neighborhood Restaurant - Across the Street

Tonight, we ate at a restaurant right across the street from where we lived, aptly named "Across the Street". It's a fairly casual Mexican place that took the space of the (thankfully, in my opinion) defunct Roman Lily Cafe. It opened back in approximately July 2007, but we avoided it out of lingering concern that it would somehow maintain the bad traits of Roman Lily.

We couldn't have been more wrong.

At this charming and cozy restaurant, the feel is one of a great informal neighborhood hangout. Chips and salsa arrive immediately and are delicious. We started with house margaritas, which were very good...not the best in town, but prepared thankfully with a strong dose of tequila.

An appetizer of goat cheese enchiladas was delicious and unique. Blue corn tortillas are stuffed with goat cheese, mango and herbs and topped with mango salsa. The goat cheese is a bit of an unusual taste paired with Mexican (as compared with oaxaca cheese which is more typically used in this type of dish), but works surprisingly well. We devoured this appetizer.

Our entrees also pleased. A grilled pork tenderloin topped with mango salsa was superb and tender, with a delicious orange BBQ flavor. The pulled pork chimichanga was huge and great tasting. You absolutely won't be hungry after eating it!

We were too stuffed to try dessert, but we can certainly recommend this place if you're in the Old Fourth Ward and feeling hungry. The food is very good...not quite up to par with the best Mexican in town at Sala, but well worth a stop. It's a great addition to a really impressive nexus of urban shopping and dining developing on Highland Avenue on the border between Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward.

Across the Street in Atlanta

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Best Steak in Atlanta?

We've eaten twice now at Room, Nick Oltarsh's newest restaurant in the new Twelve Centennial Park, a condo/hotel by Novare Group at Allen Plaza. The first time we went, we started off with an appetizer of sushi...California rolls and spicy tuna rolls. Both were delicious, fresh and crisp. For out main course, we both got the 7 oz petite filet. Are you kidding me?? This steak was so incredible that I'm not exaggerating when I say it's far and away the best steak we've both ever had...better than Bone's, better than Chops, better than Capital Grille. It was absolutely perfect in texture, taste and freshness. It was so good that I could have eaten a 28 oz filet. That would have put me in the poorhouse, though my tastebuds would have been in paradise. The sides were good as well, particularly the three little pigs macaroni...mac n' cheese with pancetta. Overall, a delicious experience and one that is a can't miss.

...and the dining room looks pretty nice, too. You should make your reservation today.

Room at Twelve Centennial Park in Atlanta

Cuerno's menu is now online!

...and I can't wait to eat there. It looks tremendous, having received great reviews from Creative Loafing. It's Riccardo's newest restaurant and we can't wait to try their paellas. The FIDEUĂ€ DE SETAS Y CIGALAS ALL I OLI sounds delicious, with golden vermicelli, jumbo prawns, forest mushroom, aioli. Yum!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

An Ode to Riccardo

The first post on this blog appropriately gives recognition to a man who has done so much...perhaps as much as anyone else, in our opinion, to raise the standard for southern European dining in Atlanta. Riccardo Ullio, founder and owner of the U Group of restaurants, is an amazing chef and restauranteur. His four restaurants, Sotto Sotto and Fritti (Italian), Beleza (Portuguese/Brazilian), and Cuerno (Spanish) are all spectacular. In the case of each restaurant, the atmosphere is laid-back and very hip, not stuffy as one might expect at restaurants selling this level of cuisine.

Sotto Sotto is the flagship Italian restaurant and is delicious. In the case of each dish, the ingredients he uses are the absolute freshest available. Our favorite dishes include the Cape Sante - Jumbo Sea Scallops with cannelini beans and truffle oil - what a combination of tastes! The Caesar Salad is an absolute must - the perfect flavor of the homemade croutons work to make this perhaps the best caesar salad we've had in the city. For pasta/risotto entrees (primi), try the Tortelli di Michangelo - ravioli made of veal, chicken and pork in a perfectly smooth and satisfying butter/sage sauce. The Lasagnette alla Bolognese is a perfect combination of flavors, tomatoey with a tiny bit of sweetness. For dessert, try the Panna Cotta, which is an eggless flan custard drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. Sotto Sotto features a great all-Italian wine list and the waitstaff is always very knowledgeable, though at times is a bit too efficient at moving your meal along, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.

If you're looking for a delicious Italian meal in Atlanta, Sotto Sotto should not be missed.

Riccardo's restaurants are all significant in their own right and will be covered in separate posts. Photo of Riccardo courtesy of Georgia Tech.

Sotto Sotto in Atlanta