Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fran's Filling Station - Charlotte

Huge salad with grilled salmon.
Fran's Filling Station is a relatively new addition to the Dilworth dining scene. Located on Park Road across the street from the American Red Cross, Fran's functions as a place nice enough to take company but inexpensive enough for a casual dinner anytime. Restauranteur and owner Fran Scibelli serves a varied, tasty menu including soups, sandwiches and salads as well as some heavier entrees. Having dined here twice recently, the second time indulging in dessert, I recommend Fran's wholeheartedly. Try the grapenut pudding if it is offered - a real New England treat not usually found down south.

Special fries plain and (back) with blue cheese.

Chicken sandwich - I can't remember which variety!

Greek salad with seared tuna.

Eggplant parmesan.

Burger with fries.
Fran's Filling Station on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lupie's in Charlotte

While in Charlotte we had a late night meal at Lupie's Cafe, a long standing Charlotte institution serving up delicious chili in a darkish neighborhood bar-like comfotable atmosphere. Unfortnately the burger was nowhere near as good as the chili. The patty tasted like it had been frozen and with so many great freshly packed burger places around - no use having a froze one! The veggie plate with mac & cheese, carrots and salad was tasty and hit the spot. Next time I'll stick to the chili if I'm going for meat.
Lupie's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fado Irish Pub

Corned Beef Rolls - a Fado specialty.

A few weeks ago I was invited to bring the family along to try Fado, an Irish Pub located in Buckhead. We really enjoyed our meal - so much in fact that I brought my office here to celebrate a birthday and we're holding our office holiday luncheon here soon!

Not only was the food amazing, the space is also fantastic, with dark wood, Irish objects and three levels of seating including a rooftap bar and patio. Wow. For some reason I don't think I've ever had Irish food before and I mistakenly thought I would not really like it. Well, go figure. Some of the highlights for me were the corned beef rolls, the chips and the brown bread ice cream. The boxty was great also. Apparently they have all of the soccer games on (even early) here and they always serve a good Irish breakfast! If you haven't been to Fado before, you should definitely check it out. They are not so busy at lunchtime (at least when I was there) so it's also a great place for an office luncheon or party.

The front door.

"Chips" with curry sauce and Guinness BBQ wings.

Trinity Steak Boxty. I loved the whiskey garlic sauce. Boxty is an Irish potato pancake, perfect for stuffing and rolling.

Fish tacos - a seasonal special that has since moved off the menu.

Harvest bread pudding with brown bread ice cream and black & tan brownie with Guinness ice cream - yum! The brown bread ice cream has an amazing consistency and taste - very unique and delicious.

Fadó Irish Pub & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 10, 2010

Taka Sushi Lunch

Sashimi Lunch.

After hearing about Taka Sushi Cafe and reading Chef Taka's blog from time to time I finally had an opportunity to venture there for lunch. Lunch service was recently added, which is helpful for me since I work in Buckhead. It is also helpful for the wallet because lunch is most certainly less expensive than dinner. Overall I enjoyed what I had and the fish was fresh. I would have loved a scallop or shrimp to be included also on the sashimi plate. I still hope to try this place for dinner sometime. I've noticed that Chef Taka serves up some home-style Japanese specialties similar to what my host mother made for me when I studied near Osaka in 2003. I am going to have to try their curry rice!

Spicy Tuna Roll.

Soup and Salad.

Taka Sushi Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Ziba's Restaurant and Wine Bar in Grant Park

Olive and nut plate - the olives were outstanding.

Back in October I met up with my book club at Ziba's Restaurant and Wine Bar. I'd heard about Ziba's for some time but this group meeting made for the perfect opportunity to check it out. The funniest part was that another book club was meeting there on the same night!

The menu.

The inviting patio.

Yucca Frites.

Crispy Artichoke.

Our group enjoyed sharing several small plates and entrees. After finding out about my food blog the owner graciously sent over some freebies from the kitchen. I really enjoyed the clams with sausage and the quail. The atmosphere was perfect for our group meeting - not too loud and very inviting. As we were leaving, they were gearing up for some dance lessons.

Stuffed dates - I love this presentation!

Persian Meatballs.

Citrus braised baby octopus with clams.

Crabcake entree.

Clams and Merguez Sausage - a surprise highlight of the meal.

Grilled quail (back) and grilled calamari with artichokes (front). The quail was very tasty and the calamari definitely had a unique preparation.

Overall I was a bit disappointed with the food. For example, the meatballs were dry and there was something off about the octopus, which I was so excited about when I ordered it. I think it would work better with sliced octopus rather than small baby octopus, which dried out easily. I would give Ziba's another try sometime, though, as I don't like to judge a place based solely on one visit. There were also several dishes I liked a lot, as indicated above.

Ziba’s Restaurant and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Der Biergarten VIP Opening Event

Der Biergarten, brings German cuisine and the beer garden atmosphere to Marietta Street's Luckie District. I was invited to the restaurant's grand opening a couple of months ago and really enjoyed the food, special music they had for the event and the atmosphere. This is definitely a unique addition to the Atlanta scene. The restaurant offers over a dozen German draft beers including some cider that I particularly enjoyed.

The food was better than expected!

Too funny to pass up!

Der Biergarten on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guest Post: Serpas

The below post is written by my friend Kimberly, who is a writer and fellow foodie. I hope you enjoy.

Crab stack.

Lobster Salad.

I recently revisited this neighborhood favorite for dinner with a friend. After having eaten here twice previously-- one dinner and one brunch-- I was excited to come back for more of Scott Serpas’ fresh, elegant, and creative cuisine. We started with cocktails: the Crescent moon bramble and Yucatan Summer. Both were refreshing and attractively presented. For appetizers, I chose the lobster salad and my companion, the fried green tomato and crab stack. The salad was definitely a highlight: light and delicious, with a perfect balance between the sweetness of the corn and the savory, buttery lobster meat. A simple, herb-based sauce brought the different elements of the dish together with a nice tang. My friend enjoyed the crab stack, describing it as very tasty.




For the entree, I ordered a rabbit dish that appears now to be off the menu. The rich, buttery braised meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, though I thought the seasoning was not quite right, perhaps needing more salt. The gouda-smoked grits served with it were out of this world, with a nutty, creamy flavor and fabulous mouthfeel. Sauteed mustard greens and tender, roasted radishes provided an excellent counterpoint, lightening up what might otherwise have been an overly heavy dish. My friend had the crab and mushroom stuffed trout, which she enjoyed. The bite I had was disappointingly monotone-- little flavor aside from the heavy, butter sauce. I’m not sure I got much of the filling so it may not have been representative of the dish, but my friend agreed that the butter was a very strong flavor.

For dessert, we split the brown sugar cake with cinnamon ice cream. This was too sweet for my taste, but my companion loves this dessert and rated Serpas’ version very highly. The cinnamon ice cream and blueberry sauce provided a nice complement.

Having eaten here three times, I can say that Serpas is a fabulous addition to the Old Fourth Ward’s burgeoning food scene. My only criticism, both of this meal and others, is that some dishes can be a bit heavy, as evidenced by the “buttery” and “rich” descriptors. Overall though, I love the menu and Serpas’ fusion of Asian, Cajun, and southern influences. I also have to add that the service here has always been outstanding, and the ambiance in the restaurant’s beautiful, open space is lovely. I highly recommend it for a memorable date night or an elegant evening out with friends or family.

Serpas True Food on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mexican Night - Home Cooking

Grass-fed ground beef tacos with oven toasted nachos.

So I know you probably think I never cook - but I do, I just usually forget about taking photos until it's too late! I recently decided to make a full-on Mexican meal at home and it turned out great. I'm so glad they sell decent corn tortillas now in most of the regular grocery stores. Sometimes you have to hunt for them as they are not with the rest of the Mexican items. Here is how I make nachos:

Preheat oven to 425
1. Spread large tortilla chips on a baking sheet.
2. Spoon a small amount of salsa on each chip.
3. Sprinkle cheese - I usually use either cheddar or Mexican mix - on top of the salsa.
4. Place a picked jalepeno slice on top of the cheese (optional).
5. Bake for 5 - 7 minutes, remove and serve as soon as possible.

I also toast the tortillas with cheese before putting in the remainder of the fillings. Yum!

The setup with all the accompaniments - the avocado really makes it better!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nam Phuong

Vietnamese Yellow Pancake (Banh Xeo) - crisp as it should be.

While my dad was visiting, he noticed the AJC review of Nam Phuong and despite the distance from home, we decided to try it out on a Saturday evening. Luckily, we also made a reservation and wound up at one of the nice round tables, perfect for sharing. The restaurant includes two large rooms, the main one encompassing a bar as well as a slideshow of the food - I found this quite amusing!

We started with the combination make your own fresh rolls platter (bun hoi), which was wonderful for sharing. I found the beef wrapped grape leaves to be particularly delicious and might opt only for those next time. We also shared a large bowl of seafood soup, simple and satisfying. Although I am a big fan of most green papaya salads (usually at Thai restaurants), here the salads, which we tried with both chicken and shrimp and pork and shrimp, were quite bland and although tasty enough with plenty of crunch, not something I would order again. The salt and pepper squid was well-received by all - in fact we almost ordered more but managed to restrain ourselves.

The banh xeo (yellow crepe/pancake) offered here is a stellar rendition also, and something I am always looking for. In my hometown of Charlotte I've found the best Vietnamese food and I've never been able to find a better banh xeo. Nam Phuong's version didn't quite make the "better" category, but it was certainly better than any I've had in Atlanta. I also tried the avocado shake, which I enjoyed very much - not too sweet but just creamy enough.

This place is made even more interesting by it's surrounding shopping center: Oakbrook Square. There are several other restaurants that look like they are worth checking out here and the Hong Kong Supermarket provided grounds for a thrilling field trip for us after dinner. Nam Phuong is a restaurant worth going to, for newbies to Vietnamese cuisine and for more seasoned diners as well.

Salt and Pepper Squid.

The AJC's John Kessler recently reviewed Nam Phuong also - and here he provides a demo on how to roll bun hoi!

Papaya salad with shrimp and pork.

Nam Phuong on Urbanspoon