July 31, 2012
If you’re a foodie with an ounce of pride in what you eat, and you are anywhere near Suwanee, a suburb north of Atlanta, then you need to run, not walk, to Cafe Gourmandises. Seriously. It hasn’t gone away, and it continues to produce some of the finest food value around. Staff? Ridiculously amiable and chatty. The chef? The most approachable guy this side of Guy Wong. The food? Terrific.
A fine Kobe burger.
The shaved and crispy lamb sandwich is to die for.
I snuck in for lunch recently. My daughter had the shaved and crispy lamb sandwich, and I had their Kobe burger. And perhaps I’m spoiled, as decent burgers for me are just a couple blocks away, but the lamb was definitely over the top. And as good as the lamb is, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten the same thing twice in this restaurant.
We’ll be back. My wife now recalls this place and I’ll need some excuse to get her here.
686 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard
Suwanee, GA 30024
July 31, 2012
Haveli Indian Cuisine is part of a small Atlanta chain of restaurants, unnoticed by newspapers and social media. I’m not sure why. Lively spicing and rich flavors are the hallmark of this restaurant, along with a tendency to cook their foot on the spot — though these days they do have lunch buffets.
Photo taken when Haveli was first opening.
Outside sign of more recent vintage.
Their samosa have a kick to them and are good eaten in or takeout.
Their naan isn’t bad either.
Tandoori chicken and tikka masala work well here, and Haveli’s curries have some kick to them. They have a dish called a jalfrezi which seems an Indian equivalent of ropa vieja, rich in tomato flavors and really worth some consideration.
Lamb jalfrezi. I really enjoyed this dish.
Mutton curry. Earthy meat with some bones, sauce has some spice.
I’ve eaten in and taken out, both more than once, and right now, I’m tending to eat out more than in. I like the staff, sweet natured generally and helpful. The inside is serviceable instead of pretty, and has the feel of a restaurant still ironing out their kinks. On occasion they lose their air conditioning. I would call ahead if you’re considering dining in.
Haveli Indian Cuisine
1480 Beaver Ruin Road
Norcross, GA 30093
July 30, 2012
Always Fresh is a meat and two place near the corner of Five Forks Trickum and Rockbridge Road, a few feet away from Colossus Family Restaurant. The focus is on “the everyday family cooking that we grew up with”, and the simplicity of the menu bears that out. They have a rotating menu with different meats offered each day, different sides offered each day. If they don’t have collard greens one day, perhaps they have them the next.
My daughter and I came on a weekday to try it. I enjoyed my baked chicken, though I wish I had shown on a day when they served greens. My daughter had a turkey sandwich which she enjoyed (besides a meat and two and a four vegetable plate, there are sandwich offerings as well as burgers here).
Service was good, and in my opinion, the reason to come. The local buffets offer similar food, but places like Golden Corral tend to be crowded affairs, elbows into the sides of others at tables and really no one to talk to about your meal. Service here, for us, arrived early and was often around.
Always Fresh Neighborhood Restaurant
5385 Five Forks Trickum Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
July 25, 2012
On point gumbo. Po boys, enormous and good. These are just two of the reasons to go to Boudreaux’s Cafe Acadiana in Duluth. Reasons not to go? Well, I found out I’m addicted to crawfish fat, and a shrimp étouffée, as opposed to a crawfish étouffée, doesn’t quite do it for me. That said, the one cuisine that I eat at and refuse to blog most is Cajun. There are a plethora of Cajun/Creole/New Orleans restaurants in Atlanta that do nothing but butcher the cuisine. Boudreaux’s is not one of them.
The gumbo has the best flavor I’ve tasted in an Atlanta gumbo since Benny’s Bar and Grill was active in my neighborhood. I wasn’t thrilled with the amount of filler compared to meat, but I’d drive half way across town for a broth this good. Highlights are the hit of the roux, the complexity of the pepper blend, flavors driven by black pepper aromatics as opposed to too heavy a hand on the red.
My daughter had the alligator po-boy and it was fantastic. Fried just right, and huge, we took half the sandwich home. This restaurant has a all you can eat catfish night on Thursdays, and it makes me look forward to trying one of those, sometime.
Shrimp étouffée? All I can say is it doesn’t have the flavor highlights of the crawfish kind. It’s probably the crawfish fat that’s doing it to me. What I ate was good enough, but not that heavenly bliss I get from fresh crawfish, properly spiced, in a superb roux.
Boudreaux’s evidently boils crawfish on weekends when they are in season. Check out their website for more details.
Boudreaux’s Cafe Acadiana
2750 Buford Hwy NW
Duluth, GA 30096
Two interesting reviews, with perhaps different opinions of the restaurant, are here and here.
July 19, 2012
Colossus was a surprise to us, offering far better Greek food than we expected. Clearly a superior choice for dinner, I’m very tempted to claim it’s the best Greek within half an hour of Snellville. As our overall experience with Greek cuisine is neither broad nor exhaustive, I’m also happy saying take any of my claims with a grain of salt. Still, I’d have no qualms taking out of town guests to this restaurant.
It’s perhaps the largest restaurant near the corner of Five Forks Trickum and Rockbridge Road, on the right as you’re heading south down Five Forks, and located a bit before the intersection. Inside, the restaurant is longish, as opposed to square. Staff were wearing black tops and the men were wearing baseball caps when we arrived. There are tables and booths, and as the eatery is thin and one side has good windows, if you love light you can get plenty of it.
My wife ordered pizza, I ordered the Greek plate and my daughter ordered the Moussaka. We ordered salads and appetizers, some fried zucchini. The fried zucchini was excellent.
The Greek plate is a tasty meat paradise.
Moussaka. The hit of the meal.
Of the entrées, the pizza had no crust to speak of, except at the edges, just a floppy “suburban special”. But the Greek food was superior and impressive. The Moussaka was the hit of the table, something I expect we’ll be ordering again and again. The plates were enormous and we took back food from almost every entrée we ordered.
In conclusion? This is a place we’re likely to go back to. Overall, we were impressed by what we ate. This restaurant is a keeper.
Colossus Family Restaurant
5385 Five Forks Trickum Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30047
July 19, 2012
Reviewing Cioffi’s has been a bit like a Monthy Python skit. I would come for the pizza, and the people manning the ovens would be novices. I would get floppy pizza. I would come again. Teens were manning the ovens (or perhaps they just looked young) and I would get a “suburban special”, a pizza with too little char and stiffness, and a little overloaded with ingredients, leading to softer, wet crusts.
If you’ve spent any time in the Northeast United States, you come to quickly realize that without a good crust, then a pizza is essentially nothing. I wasn’t getting what this eatery was capable of. It was a bit too much like this bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
Listen, lad, I built this kingdom up from nothing. All I had when I started was swamp … other kings said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same … just to show ‘em. It sank into the swamp. So I built a another one … that sank into the swamp. I built another one … That fell over and THEN sank into the swamp …. So I built another … and that stayed up.
Some years later, I’ve found a much better way to drive to this section of the world, and I gave Cioffi’s yet another try. This time, yes, I can see a pizza worth writing about. Of course, it’s my daughter eating it. With my physical issues, I’m best sticking to sandwiches these days.
A respectable crust, and more flavorful than chain pizzas.
The whole pie.
We came at lunch and in general found the lunch specials not all that appealing. My daughter likes meat pizzas, and my recollection was that Cioffi’s did have a reasonable personal sized pizza. I ended up having an Italiano sandwich, she had the personal meat pizza. These we ordered off the dinner menu.
Asked to rate the crust, my daughter gave it an 8, and said it actually had some flavor. The sandwich had a nice crusty bread and good meats. It was certainly worth the money I spent.
I’ll note some changes on the inside. It’s a bit more sedate, less focused on the local school. A middle aged gentleman manned the oven, and one staffer waited tables. They still had beer taps on the far side of the eatery, and the best beers provided are those on tap (a Terrapin selection caught my eye).
Veridict? A generally good eatery, but my personal experience with these pizzas has been hit or miss. I’m much better with hits when veteran chefs man the ovens.
1218 Rockbridge Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
Rather than fight traffic down Highway 78, it’s a much easier drive to get onto Five Forks and head past Killian Hills. A few minutes later, you’ll run into the intersection of Five Forks and Rockbridge Road. Turn right and look to your right almost immediately. Cioffi’s is up on a rise just past the turn.
July 18, 2012
Mama Mia’s is a basic Italian eatery carved out of an old Bank of America building near the corner of Rockbridge Road and 5 Forks Trickum. This corner has a number of eateries, but I had Mama Mia’s pointed out to me by a someone working on our air conditioning one day. They said it was a terrific place to get a cheap lunch. Recently, we tried Mama’s out and have to agree.
The sign is hard to see heading down 5 Forks from the Snellville area. The tree blocks the view.
The inside is pretty roomy, with a bar on one side and booths and tables scattered about. The air is informal and comfortable. In the bar I saw perhaps 4 taps, one of which was serving New Belgium’s Fat Tire.
If you purchase salads, they will be served in a large bowl and can be shared.
Garlic bread came with our meal.
I loved my Italian sausage sandwich. My daughter enjoyed her baked ziti. Lunches are all less than 10 dollars and pretty no frills.
While the lunches are pretty basic, dinner can be more sophisticated and prices are higher. Still, I suspect Mama’s is the kind of place my wife would like. The odds we’ll be back are pretty high.
Tip: because the building is carved out of a former bank, it has a protected drive-through window. You can call in orders to be picked up.
5394 Five Forks Trickum Road
Lilburn, GA 30047
There are a couple ways of getting here from Snellville, but I recommend going down Five Forks Trickum. You can get to this place heading down 78 and exiting near the Wall-Mart, and then heading down Rockbridge, but I think getting onto 5 Forks from Ronald Reagan, or Oak Road, or Killian Hills is a better local solution. The ride is much simpler. If you do this, Mama Mia’s will be on the left a half block or so before the intersection of 5 Forks and Rockbridge. Your view of Mama Mia’s is partly obscured by trees, so be warned.
July 17, 2012
Shabu & Shabu is a restaurant on the Wall Mart side of the intersection of North Berkeley and Pleasant Hill, an intersection that on the northeast side also has a Super H Mart. It’s a Korean style mini hot pot, and immaculately clean.
In the mini hot pot setup, there is a heater in the table. You take your meats and greens and dip them into broth, and fetch them out yourself. This differs I’ll note from the Japanese style of serving these dishes, where a staffer helps you cook and eat, and as Chloe has pointed out, the broths on these various hot pots are quite different.
Dipping sauce comes in three levels of heat: medium hot, hot, and very hot. My daughter got medium hot and said she’d get a hotter variety next time.
Meats are thin sliced to cook quickly. Use the back sides of your chopsticks to place raw meat into the pot.
Prices for the main dishes are reasonable, and the cleanliness, and the simplicity of ordering there (there is no sauce bar, as there is in Mini Hot Pot 2) make this an ideal place to introduce a mini hot pot to a relative newcomer.
Next door to Shabu & Shabu is the Hansel and Gretel Bakery. It’s a classic EuroKorean bakery, with a mix of Western and Asian sweets. It’s smaller than the Cafe Mozart near Gwinnett Place, and so the selection of bean paste goods isn’t as extensive as that bakery. But certainly it is clean and nice, and they seemed affable, and much easier to deal with than certain (unmentioned) Korean bakeries in the area.
Shabu & Shabu
2605 Pleasant Hill Road, Suite 300
Duluth, GA 30096
Hansel and Gretel Bakery
2605 Pleasant Hill Road, Suite 400
Duluth, GA 30096
July 15, 2012
Eating food at the Johns Creek Smashburger is a kind of Russian Roulette. You pay your money and you take your chances. I saw plenty of happy people there on the day we arrived, a store dealing with a restaurant perhaps 70 to 80% full. If, on the other hand, they manage to mess up your order, you end up in a kind of living hell, because this restaurant currently lacks the people skills to overcome multiple staff mistakes.
That’s a little unfortunate, as the menu is dynamic and versatile and very diabetic friendly. That versatility is one reason that we went back to Smashburger as my wife spied it on the way home. Further, glowing reviews, such as the one Grant Goggans gave here, led me to believe this place was a step above most fast food fare and comparable to a poor man’s Farm Burger.
No, unfortunately, what we experienced is a version of the classic bad fast food experience, with all the problems and mistakes one comes to expect of bad fast food restaurants. I’ll simply quote what I recently posted on Urbanspoon.
The manager of this restaurant took the order and he messed it up in multiple ways. The food in the ticket delivered to his staff was not the food delivered to our table. When my wife went to ask for the things that were forgotten, she was asked to stand in line once again, a rather long one. 20 minutes after she made her second order, my daughter asked, “Isn’t the guy who was standing behind you now eating?” 10 minutes after that, my wife went up to ask what happened to her order, and they ignored her one more time.
At that point we left.
This was the worst customer experience I’ve suffered in the ATL since I began food blogging over 3 years ago.
The food? Decent, though really the burgers here show none of the verve or skill that impressed food bloggers in the Piedmont or the Kennesaw locations. When Erion, a blogger on Urbanspoon, said of the meal:
If McDonald’s is your standard for burgers then this place is an upgrade for you …slightly though.
at this point I can only agree. The lack of skill at this location is telling.
Caesar salad. Tomatoes struck me as a little odd, but they’re listed as part of the online menu. The mixture of greens is also off putting. IMO, they should simplify this salad to classic caesar ingredients. Tastes fine, though.
Spicy Baja burger and veggie fries. The veggie fries were a little oily, but the kind of thing that could make this chain useful to diabetics. Certainly, it’s a superior side to the classic french fry. The burger was decent, not really impressive.
My daughter’s BBQ burger and fries. We found the sauce too sweet. And for want of some fries, our patronage was lost.
The burgers weren’t the highlights of our meal. My wife regarded her chicken as good. My daughter had a disagreement with the sauce on her barbecue burger, but otherwise the ingredients weren’t bad. The best thing about the meal were the oversized $4.99 salads, which had plenty of greens and were served in enormous bowls.
The fries – my daughter actually received hers – had a mixed reception. She didn’t like them much, I thought they were a fine enough version of the thin fry.
The burgers? I’m on record as thinking smashing a burger is a bad idea, but the crusty juicy meat has no complaints on my part. I found the buns to be a little limp, a little unimpressive. In fact this “meh” reaction to the burgers and meat here seems a theme that’s being repeated. Let’s quote a Yelper this time, Vania H:
i had my first smashburger experience when i visited charlotte, nc for the weekend – and either i was STARVING, or it really was one of the best burgers i’d ever had. upon hearing that smashburger was opening up in johns creek, i got really excited!…until i actually ate here.
i came here with a friend for dinner one evening, the first thing i noticed when i came in was that the restaurant was FREEZING. it was very uncomfortable to even sit inside, so luckily there was patio seating outside. when we went up to the counter to order, we were greeted by a very unenthusiastic cashier who didn’t really know the menu (or the cash register) that well, and ordering our food took a very long time. i created my own burger, and the portion was extremely small and not very filling. i ordered the regular fries, which were bland, limp, and cold. my friend ordered the smashfries, which supposedly had rosemary, olive oil, and garlic – but just tasted exactly like my regular fries, with a few sprigs of rosemary tossed on the top. disappointing.
but like all hopeful foodies, i came back here once more with another friend, hoping that i just had one bad experience, and that smashburger wasn’t really that bad. nope.
probably won’t be coming back here again.
In short, I don’t think the chain is a bust, but I do believe this location is a misheard order away from becoming a food disaster. Staff are well meaning I believe, but incompetent when it comes to service. How much do fries cost Smashburger? Ten cents of potato, perhaps? How big a loss would it have been to have just comped my wife’s fries when they were found to be missing? The notion that you can do these kinds of things and please customers is exactly what’s missing at this Smashburger.
If I may be allowed an entirely politically incorrect notion, I’ll note that this store is just across the road from a Tilted Kilt. This class of restaurant, including the better known Hooters, are places where service is everything. Without waitresses that can serve and charm, there is no business model for these eateries. So, in a fantasy world where I would be king for a day, I’d fire the entire staff of this Smashburger and replace the manager with a Tilted Kilt bartender. Whether that person could run the restaurant, I do not know, but that person would have forgotten more about customer service than this staff currently displays.
9775 Medlock Bridge Road
Johns Creek GA 30097
July 10, 2012
I speak often about the Guam Boonie, a pequin style pepper related to the tepin so lovingly described by Mark Miller. They’re native to the Marianas Islands, and are used for things like finadene:
Home made Finadene sauce.
Thing is, in Georgia, my plants have never flowered in the spring or summer, but only in the fall, until now. One of my four plants is not only flowering, it’s also growing peppers.
You can see a flower about to bloom, a flower after it has bloomed, and a green pepper in this photo.
They’re aren’t many on this plant, but some are better than none. I’m working hard to keep this plant watered and producing. In pots like the ones I use, in Georgia heat you have to water these every other day.
Next Page »