We recently tried the newly opened Sushi Itto in the shopping center at the corner of LaVista an Briarcliff. The restaurant features light wood and a long sushi bar. We sat at a table and tried the gyoza and several of the rolls. The spicy tuna was good and although at times I prefer to stick with simple sushi combinations, the special rolls we tried pleased the palate. I didn't have any nigri sushi yet but that is usually my test: the taste of the plain raw salmon, white tuna and yellowtail. I'm glad this place has joined the neighborhood since there are not many moderately priced good sushi places around in town Atlanta.
Gyoza. Good but not quite like the ones I had in Japan!
Fabulous appetizer special: fish tacos - these could definitely be made into an entree as this portion was huge!
I was recently invited to sample the newly revamped menu at Park's Edge in Inman Park, which was updated following the taping of Chef Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares" show, set to air on Fox Network February 2012. My favorites among Chef Jorge Pacheco's dishes: the fish tacos (a daily special but should be added to the regular menu) were huge and delicious, although a bit messy, the lobster mac and cheese and the white chocolate bread pudding. Park's Edge has a reputation as one of Atlanta's best brunch spots. I look forward to trying brunch another time soon.
Park's Edge also has a neat cocktail menu including the midnight martini - served with blue cheese stuffed olives and a blood orange mojito (my favorite!). We also tried the strawberry basil caipirinha, which was also quite tasty.
Scallops served atop sweet corn puree with crispy maple bacon.
Bone-in Pork Chop with sweet potato puree, spinach and apricot pistachio relish. A tasty combination - love meat served with sweet sides.
Shrimp & grits. A bit bland for me but big, tasty shrimp nonetheless.
Lobster mac and cheese - as tasty as it sounds with herbed breadcrumbs.
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bread Pudding - one of my favorite parts of this meal.
I'm not usually a white chocolate fan but this bread pudding with raspberry compote ended the meal on a high note! Park's Edge is a bit hard to find so be sure to check the map here before you go.
Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary
Tanteo flavored Tequilas: Cocoa, Jalepeno and Tropical.
I recently had the opportunity to sample the above three flavors of ultra-premium 80 proof tequila from Tanteo. Their tequilas are different from many others because the flavor is infused, not added. They also use 100% Blue Weber Agave to create the tequila. Thus, the jalepeno tequila is truly unique with a BIG jalepeno taste (and smell). As soon as we opened the bottle we could tell Tanteo is really going for a true jalepeno taste. Tanteo products are available for purchase at several stores in Atlanta and arefeatured at several area restaurants including Pure Taqueria, Agave, No Mas! Cantina, Nava and Inc. Street Food. Click here to find all available locations of bottles and cocktails near you.
Big bottle of Jalepeno.
Homemade Jalepeno Margarita - recipe is available on Tanteo's website.
Disclosure: The products reviewed in this post were complimentary
Delicious Portabella Mushrooms topped with "Grandma's sauce", goat cheese and basil. A great first taste.
I was recently invited to check out Blue Moon Pizza, a local chain with four Atlanta area locations. Owners Kelvin and Mandy Slater have built a fun concept including a delicious variety of "specialty moons" (pizzas) as well as salads, "flatwiches" (sandwiches with bread made from pizza crust dough and appetizers. In addition to the Buckhead location (pictured below), there are locations in Marietta, Smyrna and now Sandy Springs as well. Click here for specific location information.
We had the opportunity to taste the mushroom appetizer (above) as well as several pizzas and one of the salads. Everything was good, with enough spice already added to make red pepper flakes a non-issue (at other pizza places we are always shaking those little glass bottles to try and get more flavor on the food!) I particularly enjoyed the portabella mushrooms, the Santa Fe style pizza and the Cobb salad. I look forward to trying more options on a future visit. We also had a fun time talking with Kelvin and Mandy, who are obviously dedicated to their concept of making Blue Moon "an everyday place that still feels special" for their customers. There is a loyalty program as well as a newsletter.
Casual, pleasing dining area adorned with special blue moon decor. The restaurant also features the amazing Coke machine with dozens of possible flavor combinations. I had fun trying out cherry Dr. Pepper - a rare treat!
Top half: BBQ chicken pizza; below: Jerk chicken pizza - just the right amount of spice!
Top half: Grandma's Pizza; below: my personal favorite, the Santa Fe featuring black beans, avocado and jalepenos - spicy and so delicious.
Calvin enjoyed a blue "moontini" - all locations feature a full bar with $5 martinis every Thursday.
Cobb salad - this is no ordinary salad! All salads at Blue Moon are served on pizza crusts - a neat touch.
Blue Moon also features a special gluten-free pizza crust, which can be used for all of the pies and for garlic bread. There is a list of gluten-free menu items and even a gluten-free chocolate brownie. Additionally, the restaurant offers lunch specials like a slice of cheese pizza, a side salad and a soda for $6.99.
Delivery is available within 3 miles of any location. Blue Moon also features Take-n-Bake: you pick up a pizza that is ready to be cooked in your oven at home. The pizza comes with a special baking tray to help you achieve that perfect crispness!
If you haven't already become a fan, give Blue Moon a try!
Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary
Fried Green Tomatoes with Deviled Egg Salad, Ruby Red Tomato & Dill Pickle Dressing.
I was excited to be invited to the second Muir Glen Tomato Dinner at Aria - I attended the first one earlier this year and you can see my post here. In celebration of its fine tomatoes, Muir Glen invites chefs around the country to create recipes using their organic canned tomatoes. Some chefs create a whole menu for guests to try at a special dinner. Before we sat down we enjoyed Tomato Clam Chowder; Tomato, white bean, red chard & fennel sausage soup; spicy Angus beef grillades and Southern Fried Chicken with Creamy Ruby Red Tomato Gravy (both served on buttermilk biscuits); grilled cheese, bacon & tomato keasters and Oak Grilled Ciabatta Bruschetta with Red & Yellow tomatoes and basil.
My favorites included the tomato, white bean, chard & sausage soup and the grilled cheese - both used the flavorful tomatoes perfectly.
Chef Gary Klaskala of Aria explaining the special tomato menu.
After the appetizers mentioned above, we sat down for a four course menu. We were also provided with samples of the tomatoes and reserve tomatoes - this year the reserve is called Harvest Sunset (trademark) and is a blend of red and yellow tomatoes. You can order a reserve basket here, which includes the recipe for the beef dish pictured below.
I am looking forward to making some chilli very soon using my tomatoes. I especially love the fire roasted tomatoes that Muir Glen produces. These tomatoes take canned to another level. To see recipe ideas, click here.
Pan Roasted Jumbo Prawn with Herbed Lobster Ruby Red Tomato Broth
Spicy Braised Angus Beef with Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Gold Potatoes and Cilantro. This was my favorite dish (well, after the dessert!)
UpsideDown Tomato Cake with black Pepper Tomato Ice Cream. Simply delicious - it sounds odd but a very good combination!
During our last visit to Charlotte we tried The Original Italian Pie for pizza and salads. This is a franchise with a dozen outposts in Louisiana and one in Texas. This is the only location in North Carolina.
We split the Italian salad and the Caesar salad along with a large Roasted Eggplant pizza from the "Gourmet Pizza" section. The salads were pretty average, although fresh and the pizza was better than expected. This particular pizza is made with "zesty garlic sauce" and includes fresh mushroom, fresh tomato, sauteed onions and feta as well as mozzarella and the roasted eggplant. My dad previously ordered takeout here and was pleased, but for pizza it's best to eat it right out of the oven, of course. I look forward to trying the calzones and the oven-baked sandwiches here.
Clockwise from top left, Hummingbird, Lemon Drop, Buckeye Brownie, Cookie Monster, Pumpkin (seasonal) and Black Bottom.
Just before Thanksgiving I was lucky enough to be provided with delicious cupcakes from Holly's Cupcake Shop. Holly and her husband, Jonathan, own shops in Conyers (founded in 2009) and in Midtown Atlanta where ITP folks like me can pick up their delicious cupcakes without leaving our home turf. The midtown location is at Colony Square (1197 Peachtree St.)
Holly brought me a sampling of cupcakes in her decked out truck (pictured below), which is used to transport the finished cakes from the Conyers shop/bakery to the Midtown shop. My personal favorites include the seasonal Pumpkin - so moist and delicious - and the Back Bottom - love the cream cheese filling and vanilla cream cheese frosting. My cousin's son (age 4) loved the Cookie Monster (white cake with Oreo folded in and topped with cookies and cream frosting). All of the cupcakes were tasty and moist on the first day and they lasted pretty well for a few days (Holly recommends wrapping the bakery box in plastic wrap or transferring to an airtight container to retain moisture).
Unlike some cupcake shops, Holly bakes many types of cake for her cupcakes rather than only using chocolate and vanilla cake with a variety of frosting. For example, the Hummingbird cake contains banana, pineapple and pecans and the Banana Pudding cupcake has banana cake and banana pudding filling. Many of the cupcakes are filled, which gives them a unique taste and even more moisture - a real plus.
Holly's sells six flavors every day (Conyers is open Tuesday - Saturday and Colony Square is open Monday - Friday) and offers 5-6 daily flavor options. Check the website for details. Mini-cupcakes are also available (if ordered in advance).
Clockwise from top left, Red Velvet, Vanilla Chocolate, Chocolate Chocolate, Chocolate Vanilla, Vanilla Vanilla and Gingerbread (seasonal).
Holly's fabulous cupcake truck - used to transport sweet treats from the flagship store in Conyers to the midtown store at Colony Square.
I look forward to trying more varieties of Holly's Cupcakes soon!
Right after our big honeymoon trip (more on that soon) and after a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner the day before, Calvin, my dad and I decided to check out Pinky's Westside Grill in Charlotte on West Morehead Avenue. This neighborhood is undergoing a pretty significant awakening and I'm excited to try some of the other newbies in the neighborhood also.
Pinky's serves a good burger and offers several eclectic twists, both on their burgers and other menu items that make it stand out as a causal dining joint. In addition to the tasty beef burgers, Pinky's serves hot dogs, falafel, veggie/turkey burgers and various baskets, salads and sandwiches as well. I look forward to returning to try the corn dog shrimp, the falafel and the "kinda fried turkey" sandwich.
We all tried the basic burger (the Pterodactyl), which is only available one temperature (per NC law a burger cannot be prepared rare anyway). At $3.75 (without a side but including generous toppings) it is a good value. We each tried a different topping style. Topping styles include Everything (mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion & dill pickle), Westside (mustard, chili, slaw and onion) and Ding-Dong Style (crunchy peanut butter, honey-cilantro slaw and hot sriracha sauce). I tried the Ding-Dong Style and loved it! Of course, having come from Thailand it was rather ironic that the waiter described it as their "Thai style" burger. We also shared some crab puppies as an appetizer - sweet crabmeat folded into large hush puppies and side orders of southern slaw, onion rings (more like straws) and fried squash. The sides didn't really stand out - the onion rings and squash were sliced too thin for my taste but maybe others like them this way. I preferred the cilantro-honey slaw on the burger to the southern style slaw. The only other negative is that the place is rather loud, although not as bad as some. I look forward to dining here again on the patio when the weather warms up in the spring!