Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Jason and I went to see Old '97's last Tuesday at the Variety Playhouse, so we needed a spot not too far from L5P that wouldn't take too long and George's in Virginia Highlands fit the bill nicely. The reviews all praised the burgers as being the best in town, so of course that's what we ordered. I very much appreciate the fact that you can choose a 5 oz or an 8 oz burger. I got the 5 oz blue cheese burger with barbecue sauce (the BBQ sauce was my addition). Quite tasty, still pink in the middle, juicy, and with plenty of blue cheese. Jason got the mushroom swiss, I believe. We both thought the burgers were good, but also agreed that they could maybe have used a little spice in the beef (I feel like this is a theme in our reviews). The fries were steak cut, but still crispy which I definitely appreciate, since I like the taste of potatoes, but not the texture (I know, I know, I'm a weirdo). The onion rings, which Jason got, were also nice and crisp. Pretty standard.

The atmosphere is definitely a neighborhood bar kind of place. Nothing fancy, but not too sketchy. The waitstaff was very friendly. I'd definitely go here again for a burger and they apparently have trivia on Tuesday nights.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I was really looking forward to our planned trip to The Feed Store, but Katy realized last night that she had actually been there. Oh well, another time. So instead we went to Fritti, on North Highland Ave in Inman Park. We had walked about 3/4 of a mile to get here from her office, so I kind of wanted to sit inside and cool down, but we were directed to the patio. I got over that quickly because this is a very nice patio. Based on this visit I think that you have to get into the idea of having a nice, leisurely time because nothing is going to happen quickly. That's okay with me, as I'm fine spending a few hours on a meal but the service here is definitely a bit slower than most places. It's friendly, and I'm not talking about Steak and Shake levels of slowness, but come with the mindset that you're going to enjoy spending some time sitting on a nice patio.

From the Fritti e Antipasti part of the menu we ordered the Robiola Fritta, which is an almond crusted goat cheese, arugula, peppers, olive salad and the Bresaola della Valtellina, which is air dried beef, arugula, celery and parmigiano with lemon. It's hard to not love good, fried cheese and the almond crusted goat cheese in the Robiola Fritta was much better than your average cheese stick. The salad itself was nice, though quite heavy with the dressing. The flavors in the Bresaola della Valtellina complimented each other nicely (I'm mainly talking about the beef and the parmigiano). I didn't really know what to expect from the air dried beef, but it was very similar to some types of cured pork that I've had.

Our pizza was the Agnello e Menta, which was lamb, mint, red onions, and mozzarella. It was actually a little underwhelming. It was ground lamb mixed with mint, and there wasn't very much of it or of the onions, so most bites were plain pizza. Well done plain pizza for sure, but still plain. The crisp was light, chewy, and slightly crispy and the sauce tasted fresher than most.

The highlight of the meal was easily the Panna Cotta we had for dessert. It is a traditional eggless custard with caramel and balsamic vinegar. It was silky and creamy without being heavy. It was not too sweet, and the combination of the caramel, vinegar, and lemon was perfectly balanced against the creaminess of the custard. For some reason they threw an almond cookie on the plate, which was unnecessary and proved to be a disappointing ending though. It was actually a good cookie, but why?

Sorry no pictures. I forgot that I had taken the batteries out of my camera.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I'm gonna take first crack at this one, since Jason hasn't put up the pictures yet. Eurasia is a "pan-asian bistro" in downtown Decatur, right next to our C, Cafe Alsace. Walking in, I immediately identified it as a much fancier restaurant than I usually frequent, but they have a quite reasonable fixe prix lunch menu and seem to do a pretty brisk lunchtime business. The fixe prix menu gives you a sample of three different appetizers, then your choice of one of four entrees. The appetizers were tasty and interesting: a chicken satay with peanut sauce, which was maybe a bit less cooked than some folks would like, but I found pleasantly tender; a crab spring roll, a slight variation on a familiar theme; and a chicken and shrimp ravioli with a coconut milk curry sauce.

I ordered the crispy beef tenderloin with thai basil aioli as the entree. It was a fairly standard beef stirfry in a sweet sauce. The beef wasn't actually crispy, but it was tender. There was lots of basil, which I definitely appreciate as some places tend to skimp. But the sauce could have used more spice. There was a lovely piece of rosemary garnishing the top, and I kind of wished they would have actually used it in the dish. It could have used a little more interest.

Jason got the soy ginger glaze salmon, which was tasty, but very light on the ginger and somewhat heavy on the sweet. I felt that both entrees could have used something to cut the sweetness - either more spice or even just some straight up salt.

For dessert, there was mango ice cream and strawberry sorbet. I think we both preferred the mango as being both a bit more interesting than the strawberry and also ice cream, which is always better than sorbet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Daru ssalam Restaurant

I don't really know the proper way to spell this. The menu says Darussalam, the big sign out front says Daru ssalam, and the sign on the window says Daru.ssalam. It's a Somali restaurant located at 4746 Memorial Dr (in the Dunkin Donuts shopping center just west of North Decatur). We had no idea what to expect. Well that's not completely true...between the time I suggested that we eat here and I showed up at Katy's work she had discovered online that Somali food is related to Ethiopian, Indian, and Italian (Somalia was under Italy's control from the 1880's until 1942). Because Clarkston has a large Somali community I have been meaning to try Somali food for a long time but hadn't actually found a place (I'll admit that I didn't look very hard).

We arrived at about 12:30 and were the only people in there for our entire meal. It's a shame too, because the food was very good. We ordered 2 sambusas for appetizers ($1.00 each). We ordered everything together and they were actually the last thing to come out, but that's okay. These are the Somali version of samosas, empanadas, etc. This version had a perfect, light, crispy crust. The filling was mainly hamburger with onions and spices. I also ordered the tea. I was warned that it is Somali tea, which of course made me want it more. I don't generally put milk or anything sweet in my tea, but this came out with milk, lightly sweetened and spiced. It was very good and comes free with breakfast.

I ordered the injera ($10.00). Injera would be familiar to anyone who has ever eaten in an Ethiopian restaurant. It's the sour, spongy flat bread that you eat your food with. This was served with (clockwise from the top) 1)lettuce 2)something I didn't figure out but could have eaten a whole plate of 3)a mixture of cucumber, tomatoes, onions, and peppers 4)green sauce very similar to the green sauce I love at the Peruvian chicken place Pollo a la Brazza 5)spinach, which was a little over cooked for my taste, but I like very lightly cooked spinach 6)cabbage, which was nicely done 7) and in the middle is fajita type chicken that was great with the green sauce. This was a good, varied plate. Even with Katy helping me this was too much food to finish.

Katy got the chicken sukar sandwich. Sukar was an option for breakfast, on a sandwich, and as an entree, so we figured we should try it. This was a serious sandwich. I only had a bite, so I'll let Katy do most of the explaining, but it was good bread, plenty of chicken, and a delicious sauce. For $4.00.

The interior certainly isn't the nicest I've been in, but it's clean. The young lady working there was very friendly and helpful. What's most important is that the food is well done, tasty, and as a big bonus it's super cheap. I don't know why nobody was here. The restaurant has been there a few years and under current ownership for about a year so presumably they do get some business.

I was a bit worried upon opening the menu and seeing the hot wings, caesar salad, and philly cheese steak next to the sukar and injera. Visions of a repeat of Bay Leaf danced in my head momentarily, but in this case the Somali dishes came through admirably. I had no idea what sukar was when I ordered it, but figured if you could have it for breakfast, a sandwich, or an entree that it must be the thing to eat. It was quite good with onions and peppers along with the chicken. The sauce was a little spicy, a little sour, and a lot yummy. Maybe the Somali version of a good buffalo sauce? I didn't think to ask what the breakfast and entree versions came with (if anything), but it made a great (if slightly messy) sandwich.

The sambusas were a bit bland compared to the other food. Nicely executed in terms of the pastry, just not super exciting on the inside, but still tasty enough.

Definitely the atmosphere is nothing to write home about (and you have to look hard to even spot the restaurant in the strip mall because it's surrounded by tax preparation service signs) but I've found that in many such cases that's where you get the best food.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cafe Alsace

I've wanted to try Cafe Alsace, a little French bistro in Decatur, for a long time and never got around to it. It's not fancy inside, but it's charming and pleasant. There was a lot on the menu that looked good. We decided to split the quiche du jour (salmon, goat cheese, and chives) and the tartines au jambon (two slices of sourdough wheat bread baked with prosciutto ham, caramelized apples, and goat cheese. Lunch comes with soup or salad so we got a cup of the house french onion and of the soup du jour, a cold peach, rosemary, and cranberry soup.

I had mixed feelings about both soups. I haven't had very much french onion soup so I don't have much to compare this one to, but it tasted a whole lot like the gravy that I make. It was disappointing that the cheese was just some cheese on toast instead of being baked on the bowl, and it seems like the soup could have been skimmed of more fat. It still tasted good, but I think there is room for a bit of improvement. The cold peach, rosemary, and cranberry soup tasted like summer. After a bite or two though the rosemary was too powerful. I didn't actually taste the cranberry, which is too bad because the tartness of the cranberry could have cut through the dominating earthiness of the rosemary. This would have been a good palate cleanser if we were eating more. We didn't finish the little cup.

The entrees fared much better than the soups. The quiche had a nice crumbly, almost crispy bottom. I could have eaten a lot more of this, and no doubt at some point will go back and have more.

The tartines au jambon were simple and tasty.

We got two desserts. One was a dense chocolate cake that had a consistency very similar to a flourless cake. I don't if this one had flour or not. This dessert was chosen because it had hot chili in it. In our opinion anything that combines chocolate and hot chili is worth trying. Unfortunately we couldn't detect the chili, which left us with a decent cake and good homemade vanilla ice cream.

The other dessert was an apple and pear upside down pie with caramel ice cream. I preferred this one. It had a nice chewy, but still crunchy crust and the fruit was left fairly plain.

I almost forgot, the coffee was terrible. It tasted like it had been sitting on the burner for hours. Overall, even though there were some misses I enjoyed my meal and would recommend it. It's very inexpensive for French food and some of it was very good, so a few slight misses here and there don't matter so much (except the coffee). I probably won't rush back, but I'll be back at some point.

I'd also come back here. It was a great lunch place, and not too expensive for the amount and quality of the food. Dessert was probably not necessary, but I could have eaten the quiche all day and the tartines du jambon had that perfect mix of salty and sweet. I liked the fruit soup, but as Jason said, the rosemary was a bit overpowering. Still and all, a nice tasty lunch and a nice atmosphere right there in downtown Decatur.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bay Leaf Cafe

Fusion, the mixing of disparate influences to get something new, also a restaurant fad. Bay Leaf Cafe, in Little 5 Points bills itself as a fusion restaurant. We wondered in anticipation at what kind of inspired fusion we would get to feast on. The we opened the menu. Fusion? More like confusion. There was bruschetta, caprese salad, pad thai, steak, ravioli, and various other slightly boring yet representative foods from various places, but no fusion. We dove in though, starting with an appetizer of Bay Leaf Volcano. It was a piece of pita bread with some chicken, tomatoes, spinach, basil, and chipotle sauce. It tasted homemade in the worst way possible. Not that it tasted bad, but that there was nothing special about it. Anybody could have thrown this together, and the chipotle sauce was nonexistent.

On to the main course. I got the special, which was an 8 oz New York Strip with asparagus and mashed potatoes. And just to reiterate what I said earlier this was not fusion at all. For $8.00 it was actually a pretty good deal though. The steak was tasty (and cooked how I ordered it), if not very special, and the asparagus was nicely done. The mashed potatoes weren't creamy enough, but at least they tasted and looked potatoey. That sauce that could possibly have given some interesting aspect of fusion was just A1.

Katy went for one of the Asian dishes, ginger chicken. This meat was the exact same meat that was on the volcano. If there was ginger we didn't find it. If there was taste we missed it. I won this round (I'm nice though so I let her eat some steak and asparagus).

So the meal is over, we head out, and this is where lunch gets interesting. We go to Java Lords across the street because Katy needs some Mexican hot chocolate (which is really good here). I had a cup of coffee in my car so I wasn't going to get anything until I see today's brew:

Yes, today's brew is "Robert Mugabe is an Ass Clown." There's no way I can refuse that, so I get a cup. We decide that it doesn't really taste like ass, and the closest thing to a clown would be circus peanuts, but that's really an unfair comparison. I don't know what Robert Mugabe tastes like (I'm an adventurous eater, but I don't actually ever plan on finding that out), but it's probably a safe bet that it didn't taste like him either. So the marketing was deceptive, yet highly effective. That's okay because it was still good coffee. Anyway, I'm putting one of those heat protectors on my cup, when who should walk up but my ex-girlfriend Beth. I guess it makes sense that if I spend enough time a tenth of a mile from her house that I'll eventually run into her, but it was a shock nonetheless. We all talked for awhile, and it was actually nice to see her again.

Java Lords was clearly the best part of this outing. I can't add much to the whole fusion/confusion comment (very nice wording, Jason). This restaurant clearly could not decide what it wanted to be. Maybe they're hoping to be the magical destination everyone goes to when no one in your group can agree on what kind of food they want (Jason forgot to mention the Cuban sandwiches and hummus also on the menu).