Soups and Salads


La Petite Maison is a one story eatery on Roswell Road, between Mount Vernon and Abernathy, found on the left hand side of  the road while driving north. It’s a place that has been on my  radar for a while. La Petite Maison is right next door to Clay’s Sports Cafe. Clay’s Sports Cafe is nearly impossible to see, but La Petite Maison can be seen from a distance (separate building and all). I’ve been driving by this eatery for a while.

Deal is, I’ve been getting out at 3pm to go looking for food. La Petite Maison has classic lunch, then dinner hours so when I’ve been interested, La Petite Maison has been closed. This day I was out around lunch, looking for another restaurant, and was running by here when I realized that La Petite was on my short list. Hence, step inside.

It’s graceful inside. The tables are cloth covered, there are flowers on the tables, and nice wood on the chairs. Booths are available. A small functional bar is on one side. There is covered outside seating, seating that would come in handy during the spring and fall. Staff is small but excellent, really excellent.

I had three things this day. I had a soup special, a lobster bisque, a ratatouille, and what I thought was a salmon salad – I’m not sure that order came through the way I wanted. It might be a salmon entrée and a salad. I’ll post the picture. You can decide for yourself.

The lobster bisque featured a sprinkling of lobster and a lot of that dark brown soup. I liked it, plenty of flavor. The ratatouille was sweeter than I expected, but really did fill a need I have. I can’t get enough vegetables in my diet. Finally, seeing the salmon plate was a Zen moment. Yes, the plate looked that good!

You sit, look at this and wonder. Yügen comes to mind. Japanese chefs cutting their arms off to attend French schools and  learn how to cook French come to mind. It’s pan Asian, this worship of things French – think Bakery Cafe Maum and Cafe Mozart and how two disparate cultures all zone in on the idea of aesthetics in food, how if this plate of food were served to you in Bishoku, say, you wouldn’t blink an eye.

I don’t have many moments like these.

Service wasn’t just good, it was excellent. To note, it’s a tad pricey for a salary man’s lunch. Most of the men here wore ties, about half were in full suits. I was probably the most dressed down male in the eatery. The toughest guy in the place spoke French and after his meal, stepped behind the bar. Bartender, maybe? Wouldn’t be surprised.

I didn’t find this place pretentious. It serves sandwiches. It has plenty of good salads, with an emphasis on seafood plus greens. There are entrees, in the 14 to 19 dollar range. Sandwiches are closer to 10 than 5. And the pace is casual. This isn’t a spot for the 30 minute lunch.

Verdict: Graceful, not pretentious. Really good food. Superb staff. Highly recommended.

La Petite Maison
6510 Roswell Road
Sandy Springs, GA 30328

La Petite Maison on Urbanspoon

Sweet Tomatoes always seems to have a bit of eye candy. If it isn’t the colorful greens, the fruit displays near the soups, or some eye catching pasta, it’s their new catering truck.

Speaking of Duluth and that end of the world, what is happening to this KFC on Pleasant Hill Road?

Recent photos of take out from Ming’s BBQ.

Saturday the 3rd was the day we snuck into Fox Brother’s BBQ and found out I could eat their BBQ as a diabetic and live. Almost no photos, but we have one of their jalapeno corn bread. I had a small bit of this (I loved it).

My sole boonie pepper has green peppers now.

A Lawrenceville based BBQ restaurant has been showing up to the Snellville Farmer’s Market. Three Brother’s Barbecue, I’m told, is somewhere down 124, past Lavender Asian Bistro, and near an Ingles. I spent a good portion of the 4th driving up and down 124 and never found the Ingles, much less Three Brothers.

Finally, on the corner of Five Forks Trickum and Oak Road, in the Shell oil station, is Tipsy Pig BBQ. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve seen the smoker outside and it all smells good to me.

Tipsy Pig BBQ
3020 Five Forks Trickum Road
Lilburn, GA 30047
(770) 885-5313

Tipsy Pig BBQ on Urbanspoon

Mini Hot Pot 2 is a cousin to a restaurant along Buford Highway, and as Chow Down Atlanta has found out, is recently opened. I’ve been intrigued because any style of eating that lets me pick and choose what I eat works wonders when I’m dieting, especially as specific as my diet can be.

In this kind of eatery, the tables have individual heaters (with individual heat controls) and they place small steel pots into the sunkern heater area. You get to choose the kind of broth you want (4 kinds) and whether it is spicy or not. There are a variety of meat choices and a wide array of side dishes to add to the pot. All the food that appears, you cook yourself in the pot.

The first time I came here, I took my daughter because my wife was ailing. She chose pork as her main meat and I took lamb. The lamb was excellent in the pot, as nothing hid the flavor of the meat. We added a lot of vegetables as sides, including chinese cabbage, spinach, and watercress. Staff was extremely helpful, guiding my daughter and I through all the intricacies of the meal.

watercress in foreground, spinach in the background.

We came the next day, as my wife was feeling better. This time both my daughter and I chose lamb, and my wife chose chicken as her meat. We started going to the “dipping sauce” bar by ourselves, making something to dip the cooked foods in.

In comparison with Gom Shabu Shabu, which we recently reviewed, I think Mini Hot Pot 2 has more side choices, more choices in the stock. My wife’s reaction to Mini Hot Pot 2 was that it was “wonderful”, and she spent a good part of the afternoon plotting ways to get various members of her family there. I can only hope she succeeds, as I think it would be as big a success with them as it was with us.

Verdict: Excellent place to get your veggie fix and your glasses steamed. Highly recommended.

Mini Hot Pot 2
2174 Pleasant Hill Rd. Suite 101
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 417-8888

Mini Hot Pot 2 on Urbanspoon

I had to buy a cable for work, and so Fry’s was on my agenda. I spent a lot of time working my way up Windward Parkway, and Windward has a ton of good places to eat (Sushi Nami, Wildflour, and Tara Humata are three examples).  After getting my cable, though, this soup and salad place caught my eye. Lettuce Souprise You has yet another name dominated by puns, and the pun in this case is so bad I’d normally have avoided it. But the soup and salad place near my work and my home is Sweet Tomatoes, and for a change of pace, I decided to try Lettuce Souprise You.

It’s simpler than Sweet Tomatoes. Gone are the prepared salads (and also the dressings on those salads). Gone is the ice cream, gone are the fancy lemonades, gone is the wide array of exotic cheesy breads, gone are many of the things that can make you fat. Gone is the really high price for lunch, gone are the slices of chicken you have to pay for. Instead, chicken on this buffet is part of the all you can eat price.

That said, there are plenty of bread options, about five or six soups (including a chili and a chicken noodle). There are cornbreads, muffins, pita quarters, and small chunks of garlic bread. The salad had more than enough things to help me balance my diet. Things like chicken, olives, corn, cheese crumbles were available as well as plenty of kinds of green leafy vegetables.

Verdict: Simpler spread than Sweet Tomatoes, but less expensive and perhaps a better value. Highly recommended.

Lettuce Souprise You
5530 Windward Parkway Ste 300
Alpharetta, GA 30004

Lettuce Souprise You on Urbanspoon

China House is one of two restaurants in the Assi Plaza that were first introduced to the blog reading public by Chow Down Atlanta. China House has perhaps fared less than than YoriJori Burger. No pizzazz factor, you see. But it has soups, soups with home made noodles. It’s easy enough to see, just walk up to the counter and watch the man in the back. You don’t even need to walk close. I can see the guy making noodles half way across the food court.

On this day I got a #6, and asked for it spicy. They tossed in 4 dried pepper pods, and the only way the soup ended up spicy was if I tried to eat the dried pods. The noodles though, were thick and chewy and worth the trouble. The seafood was there, sort of, but the noodles were the star. They weren’t as uniform as noodles from a machine and it showed in the mouth feel. You could feel the slightly irregular character on the tongue and it added to the pleasure of eating here.

I’d go back, but that’s what I’ve said about almost all the eateries here.

Verdict: Neat little noodle house. The soup you choose is immaterial, noodles star here. Recommended.

China House
1630 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 638-0995

China House - Assi Plaza on Urbanspoon

La Madeleine is a chain, in several states, and is also a bakery and restaurant. It’s generally well favored at work. It’s not uncommon to see people at lunch with “La Madeleine” brown bags by their desks. It has been hampered recently because of all the construction around Perimeter Mall, but otherwise is a fairly common sight.

I went here for lunch once, out of curiosity. It’s homier than other regional French bakeries and cafes, using heavy wood furniture inside. The setup is kind of a buffet style line, where you ask for foods to be given to you and/or ask for foods to be made for you. At the end they present you with a wooden spoon mounted on a base (carved with a number) and you’re asked to sit and wait for your food.

To begin I had some cream of potato soup, a bread stick, and a small lemon based dessert. All were quite good.

Bacon is optional on the potato soup.

The sandwich had a lot of flavor for a turkey based sandwich. A lot of that was the layer of bacon in the sandwich. In terms of flavor for the buck, this sandwich was quite a bargain.

The brown strip between the turkey is a layer of bacon.

I looked carefully at the menu afterwards for items that could be used in a diet. I didn’t see any so I asked the staff. They couldn’t recall any either. So, unlike some other bakeries, which offer inexpensive vegetarian sandwiches that could be used in a diet, this isn’t an option at La Madeleine. In almost all other respects though, this is a pleasant, carefully crafted sandwich shop and bakery and I do recommend it.

Verdict: Pleasant sandwich shop and bakery with nice sandwiches and nice breads. Highly recommended.

La Madeleine Country French Cafe
1165 Perimeter Center West
Atlanta, GA 30338
(770) 392-0516

La Madeleine French Bakery on Urbanspoon

Joli-Kobe Bakery and Cafe has been around since 1985, long enough that I wonder if we haven’t taken it for granted in the wave of new ethnic bakeries throughout Atlanta. This eatery is in the Prado, on Roswell Road south of 285, next to Kobe Steaks and the original 5 Seasons Brewery location. I’ve been around this place since Books Japan had a location nearby. The whole area is totally different, though, from the Books Japan period. The large parking lot is gone, replaced by a Publix and a strip mall. What parking remains is all marked with “two hours maximum” signs. It makes you wonder how people that work in the Prado ever park.

The bakery is immaculate, so pretty I always had trouble getting my family to go. But the cafe, heavy on European influenced dishes, did have a dish called Hayashi rice, and that intrigued me. It was only open for lunch, so I had to come during work or on a weekend. I came during work, and my experience was good enough my family asked to try it themselves. So what I’m going to describe is the experience of a couple visits, plus some time spent roaming Joli-Kobe’s excellent bakery.

The first time I came, I was also served bread. Joli-Kobe’s bread is excellent, chewy and crusty and I recall asking for seconds.

Joli-Kobe’s Hayashi rice is also a terrific dish, a kind of beef stew. The sauce has a very rich flavor: beef, mushrooms and onions are the main elements. The sauce is so potent that you almost need the rice to moderate it.

Afterwards, I had a trio of small desserts. I think they cost about $3.00 total. One of the joys of Joli-Kobe are the relatively inexpensive desserts. In a town where certain bakeries think nothing of offering a $5.00 fruit tart, Joli-Kobe has smaller desserts that cost 95 cents, and quite a few decent sized desserts that cost less than $2.00. The range of cost options is exceptional.

On our second visit my wife had a sandwich with a fruit salad, and I had their lunch box.

The sandwich was made with an excellent bread, the fruit was tasty and fresh and the lunch box.. the soup was a blue crab bisque and very rich and creamy, the mussels were good, the bit of mozzarella and tomato tasty, and the Hayashi rice was once again excellent, with rich beef, mushroom, and onion flavors.

Verdict: Good cafe, excellent and inexpensive bakery. Excellent service. Very Highly Recommended.

Joli-Kobe Bakery and Cafe
In the Prado Shopping Center
5600 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 843-3257

Joli Kobe Bakery & Bistro on Urbanspoon

It’s a pretty restaurant, Wildflour, just a little east and south of the intersection of Windward Parkway and North Point Parkway. It’s also a popular restaurant, as by the time I arrived at 12:30pm, there was a line of 4-5 people waiting to make orders and every place to sit was filled. I ordered food to go and waited, even though the lady up front said the tables might clear. There was no sign of any tables clearing at the time.

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Wildflour has a pretty web site and a respectable pedigree, all of which is detailed on the menu pdf you can download from the site.  But to summarize, Michael Field, after having a lot of success with Portabellas, downsized the restaurant and called it Wildflour. Launched in Roswell in 2007, it moved to Alpahretta some time later. It lives in a strip mall now, accessible from the Windward Parkway side or the North Point Parkway side. It’s pretty inside, light colored, with natural wood furniture, but it’s not large. So, there is a lot of reason to not arrive during the lunch rush, which unfortunately, I did.

After 15 to 20 minutes after making my order, my order finally arrived. Two tables actually had cleared by that time and I was able to sit and eat.

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The pasta salad was tangy, and the sandwich surprisingly good. They call it a hammered turkey, and if you don’t read the fine print on the menu, you’ll be as surprised as I was by the sheer amount of flavor from this mix of meats and bread. But it has bacon and ham, and they add immeasurably to the whole experience. It was a terrific sandwich, the kind of eating that made it much easier to handle all the waiting. To note, by 1pm the restaurant was back to being a third clear and with no food line.  If I come back, I’m going to be sure to arrive a little late.

Verdict: A nice boutique sandwich shop, open only for lunch. Small, so time your arrival to miss the lunch peak. Highly recommended.

Wildflour
5815 Windward Parkway Suite 210
Alpharetta, GA 30005
(678) 822-9453

Wildflour on Urbanspoon

Flavor Cafe Bakery is easy to miss. It’s near the corner of Johnson Ferry Road and Roswell Road, on the left hand side as you travel north down Roswell, but it’s behind a Wendy’s and opposite the eye catching Sandy Springs Plaza. That’s unfortunate, as they offer good deals on sandwiches and salads at lunch, and it’s a pretty place in which to eat.

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What attracted me to this place is the diet potential it has. I’m looking for sandwich shops where I can eat a low calorie lunch. I want portion control and I also want flavor and variety. This bakery has several good looking salads and a lot of choice in sandwiches. Their menu for lunch, for example, is available as a pdf. What’s more they have a half and half special they call a Any Way Meal. That’s what I was aiming for when I arrived.

Of course it will take a certain amount of willpower to diet here. They have some good looking cakes and muffins and other sweets. They have breads and you see them all at the counter where you place your order. Once you order they give you a stand with a cardboard square and a number on it, and you take this to your table and wait.

It wasn’t that long before I had my half of a grilled vegetarian sandwich and half of the eponymous flavor salad. It is a pretty impressive amount of food for a half and half special.

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The sandwich was good but was really juicy. I was using a lot of napkins while eating it. The salad had nice greens, nice pistachios, nice fresh strawberries. I liked it a great deal. The bread on the side was good eating, with a nice solid crust.

I haven’t been here for dinner, so I can’t speak of this place under those circumstances, but this is a fine lunch spot.

Flavor Cafe Bakery
236 Johnson Ferry Road
Sandy Springs, GA 30328
(404) 255-7220

Flavor Cafe Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sweet Tomatoes (also Souplantation; evidently there has been some kind of merger) is perhaps the most successful chain restaurant in Atlanta focusing on the soups and salads market. These are restaurants where people line up to get a plate full of lettuce, carrots, celery, and other sliced vegetables, plus dressing perhaps, as the focus of the meal. There are a few Sweet Tomatoes in Atlanta, but not too many. Unlike McDonalds or Kentucky Fried Chicken, they seem to expand slowly and selectively. The closest one to Snellville that I know of is the Duluth restaurant, close to Gwinnett Place. This review will largely focus on that location.

Over the years Sweet Tomatoes has expanded their repetoire to include prepared salads.   These will be at the front of the line, before any other vegetable choices can be made. At the end they now have chicken strips you can add, for a small fee. We tend to ignore these, because one of the staple soups of Sweet Tomatoes is their chicken soup, which has much the same meats for free.

I’ve eaten here so often that I’m liable to forget something in my familiarity with this place. If it happens please forgive me. But once you’re through the line you have an abundance of other foods at your disposal. There are usually 5 or 6 soups, of which chicken soup and a chili are staples and the rest rotate. There are muffins, small cornbreads, foccacia, whole grain breads of various kinds, and usually a sourdough bread. There are slices of melons available, usually watermelon, cantelope, and honey dew melon. There is frozen yogurt, with sparkles. There are usually three different pastas served, usually in rich alfredo style sauces.  There was also a bowl of chocolate chip cookies this last time I went.

Some things to note about the Duluth location: the fancy flavored lemonades are available, but you have to ask waitstaff to get some of those. Otherwise it’s mostly soft drinks in the main drink island. Seating: there are a lot of booths, and some tables in the middle. The restaurant can easily handle dozens of patrons.

Verdict: The best and closest of the soup and salad chains, and highly recommended.

Sweet Tomatoes
3505 Mall Boulevard
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 418-1148

Sweet Tomatoes on Urbanspoon

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