Friday, March 23, 2012

Red Gold Tomatoes

I was offered a complimentary sample of Red Gold canned tomatoes, a family owned business based in Indiana which has been around since the 1940's. The website provides information about the company and lots of great recipes. I used the tomatoes for turkey chili, in omelets and to make bruschetta. If you are in the market for a new canned tomato you should definitely give Red Gold a try!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stir it Up - Jamaican in Little 5 Points

Jerk chicken - ask for extra sauce for the rice!

After waiting in line at the Vortex for 20 minutes with no table in sight, I persuaded Calvin to try something different: the Jamaican restaurant Stir It Up that I read about recently. I am so glad we tried it! Not only did the waitress accommodate our extreme hunger in a quick way, the food was truly fantastic and the dessert was out of this world. We started with the Coco bread and the Jamaican beef patty. Skip the bread, get the patty. It was hot and the beef had excellent flavor with tasty gravy inside the delicious patty (see below for half eaten photo)!

I'm no expert on Jamaican cuisine but I love spicy food and the jerk chicken did not disappoint. It was a generous serving with rice/peas and cabbage included. The oxtail was also delicious and creamy. Both of these dishes arrived quickly although some of the menu items are cooked to order and require a long wait. When we were leaving the kitchen was just bringing out some fresh macaroni and cheese - it looked fantastic. There are also some great lunch specials offered Tuesday through Friday and surprisingly, several vegetarian options available. See menu here.


Coco Bread and Jamaican beef patty.

Best chocolate cheesecake - EVER!

Although we were stuffed, the waitress assured us that the cheesecake was really good and really different - she was right! While it has a very rich and chocolatey taste, the cake was lighter and less dense than traditional cheesecake. I would go back just for this! They also have a vanilla version that I want to try next time. Stir it Up is one of the nicer establishments in Little 5 Points and the food is quality as well. Try it!

Stir It Up on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

El Taco - VA Highlands

Roasted chicken taco, fried chicken taco and side of grilled corn in chili-lime mayo.

We had not been to El Taco since it changed hands and joined 5th Group. We started with the lime-salted corn chips and house salsa. Paying for chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant is one of my pet peeves, but how can you pass up chips and salsa?! I also found it odd that although there is a nice salsa bar in back, you can't get the "house salsa", which I liked a lot, unless you order the chips. I enjoyed trying the various salsas available at the bar but would like to see slightly larger cup size available so the salsas could be more easily dipped and shared.

I ordered two tacos (fried chicken and roasted chicken) and the side of corn. The corn dish and the fried chicken taco were my favorites. Something about the chili-lime mayo on the corn really adds a wonderful flavor. Calvin enjoyed his short stack with pork also. The short stack includes open-faced corn tortillas, red and green chili sauces, refried beans, Mexican cheeses, sunny-side-up egg plus the optional pork.

El Taco has a varied and interesting menu and it would be fun to try some of the other items like the fajitas, the Mexican pizzas or the shrimp del diablo. I very much want to try 5th Group's newest Mexican restaurant, Alma Cocina - hopefully you'll read about it soon in a new post!

El Short Stack + pork carnitas.

El Taco on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hankook Taqueria

I finally made my first visit to Hankook Taqueria although I've eaten from the related Yumbii food truck several times. This place is very popular for lunch and I found it a bit tricky to find parking. You order at the long counter and then your food is brought out to your table - if you can find one! We ended up sharing a table with another twosome since the place was so packed.

I tried the Bibim-bop, one of my favorite Korean dishes and shared the above sweet potato taquitos as well. The taquitos were tasty and flavorful, with a nice sour cream dip on the side. The Bibim-bop was a bit disappointing, probably because I usually have it way out Buford Highway at more full service Korean restaurants, but I enjoyed it all the same. While I love spice, the amount of hot sauce here was a bit much - I think they would do better to serve it on the side. Hankook is known for its tacos and burritos and the ones I've had from their Yumbii food truck have been quite tasty. The sesame fries are also very good. This combination of Mexican/Korean is certainly an interesting one and another more upscale restaurant venture of the same ownership/genre called Takorea has now opened in Midtown. This is a fun introduction to Korean tastes for those who are not familiar and a fun lunch meeting spot.

Bibim-bop with lots of spicy hot sauce!

Hankook Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 19, 2012

Heirloom Market BBQ - Living Up to the Hype

Pulled pork with collards and fabulous mac & cheese. What taste!!

Heirloom Market BBQ is a new favorite. Housed near I-285 near Cumberland Boulevard in a tiny parking lot with a package store next door, the tranquil lines and the folks happily eating while standing up demonstrate the ethereal nature of this amazing spot. We arrived on a Saturday around 3 PM and the crowd was visible. Luckily after placing our order and paying at the register we found room at the standing room only wooden table on the small deck. Inside, patrons waiting patiently for seating on bar stools or at the one communal table.

When the food arrived we could tell why this is the new spot in town for BBQ. Chef/owners Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor hail from impressive backgrounds, having worked at the St. Regis and the Ritz Carlton. Lee also brings a welcome flair from her native South Korea. The spices and sides with Korean influences meld perfectly with the succulent, tender meats. We tried pulled pork and smoked wings. The pork is truly amazing. The wings - like no other wings we've ever tried with a sauce sticky and spicy and wonderful all at the same time. Chicken, turkey and various unique sausages are also available. Next time we must try the ribs - we saw a table of college guys downing them with beautiful looking fries and cole slaw. Side dish specials can be found on the restaurant's Facebook page.

The bustling dining room.

Cucumber and radish salad - perfectly pickled.

Smoked wings with fried green tomatoes. SO delicious.

Spicy BBQ sandwich with Korean sweet potatoes. A steal at $7.50. The potatoes are crispy and sweet with a unique taste - definitely worth a try. Love the true spice on the sandwich. Several homemade BBQ sauces are also available.

Snickerdoodle cookie, apple pie and pecan pie. Cookie was delicious but who needs dessert after such a filling and fabulous meal?

In some ways I really hope that Heirloom Market BBQ moves to a new space with more room - BUT, it is so perfect right now and its energy is wonderful. It would be a shame to lose that even if more space can be gained. I must go back - and soon!

Heirloom Market BBQ on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Baci by Cafe at Pharr

Mussels of the day: today, served in a bacon cream sauce - we had to ask for more bread to sop up all the delicious sauce!

I was recently invited to check out Baci, a new restaurant by the owners of the famous Cafe at Pharr local chain. During lunch, Baci serves some of the same delicious salads and sandwiches offered at Cafe at Pharr (I'm partial to the curry and walnut chicken salad plates) but during dinner they have a totally different, delicious menu. The dinner menu is a combination of eclectic dishes that are both Mediterranean and Eastern (Asian) inspired. Since I adore all types of Asian food and really enjoy Mediterranean fare as well, this is a concept that makes me smile! The atmosphere at Baci is very inviting and once the liquor license comes through they expect to have an extensive wine list - all the better for enjoying at the bar. Service was excellent throughout our meal, which is always a good sign!

The lovely bar.

Japanese Ceviche - more like sashimi than ceviche!

We started with the delicious mussels, pictured up top, served with grilled bread. The chef's preparation, which changes regularly, included a bacon cream sauce which provided a tasty bath for the succulent, plump mussels - definitely a good choice. We saw other tables with the Mediterranean tasting plate, which looked like a good option for group sharing. The Japanese ceviche is more like sashimi with ponzu sauce and jalepeno slices. Although I enjoyed the raw salmon (I always love raw salmon) it was definitely not what we were expecting from "ceviche".

Baci burger - all Kobe beef served with homemade pickles and duck fat fries - yum!

The best entree we tried was the Chilean sea bass, served with perfect Japanese rice on the side and a bed of spinach over a Hong Kong soy broth; the flavor is light, delicate and fantastic. The burger (above) is unique in that only certified Kobe beef is used. This results in a juicy, extremely flavorful burger. Although I loved the idea of duck fat fries these did not taste much different from other fries I've enjoyed lately - I guess I expected a meatier flavor. But you don't need it when you have the Kobe beef. In order to try more from the menu, we also sampled the chef's risotto of the day: butternut squash.

Chilean sea bass with white rice (served on the side) and spinach. Favorite of the meal!

Butternut squash risotto - very tasty albeit a bit chewy.

Dessert sampler: red velvet cake, lemon fruit tart with raspberries, blueberries and kiwi and moon pie and salted caramel gelatos from Honeysuckle Gelato. All of the desserts were excellent, especially the unique gelato flavors which change on a weekly basis.

Nespresso selection and beautiful cafe latte.

Baci is a great new option in Brookhaven. I look forward to returning to try more from the menu, especially since the selections change frequently.

Baci on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The meal described in this review was complimentary.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Broadway Cafe

Pesto pasta with feta - delish.

One cold wet evening we were looking for a quick bite and decided to try Broadway Cafe, a Kosher dairy restaurant at the corner of LaVista and Briarcliff. The menu is varied and includes some faux meat dishes as well as pastas, salads and pizzas. From what we could tell the pastas are really a great way to go and I enjoyed the below Middle Eastern platter as well. The pesto pasta is very creamy, made even more delicious by the addition of sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese. We tried the garlic knots to start and although we enjoyed them, they did not have enough real garlic for my taste. Definitely a good place for vegetarians and for those who are open to a meatless meal once in awhile.

Mediterranean sampler - they forgot to bring the hummus but once I asked some was brought out quickly.

Garlic knots - more buttery than garlicky but satisfyingly chewy.

Broadway Cafe - Dairy on Urbanspoon