December 2009

Cheeseburgers in Paradise is a bar and burger/sandwich eatery, brightly colored and using a tropical theme. It features a lot of Jimmy Buffet tunes and has some nice outdoor seating. I became familiar with it when work meetings with vendors would be conducted here. Salesmen and sales engineers respond well to the place. They enjoy the surroundings and business gets conducted easily here.

I’m not going to pretend that CIP is a great eatery, but it’s a fun eatery and they do have their food moments. Take their dragon fire wings, for example. Big and meaty, with a sweet and spicy sauce, these are the kind and size of wings I’d expect (but never get) at a wings place.  What I liked best on this visit, though, were their Cruzan shrimp. Shrimp and banana peppers and a rum reduction go together extremely well.

Service here has been come and go. This visit I had an excellent server. There have been times, however, when the manager moved me to the bar because the person handling tables wasn’t cutting it. In short, if your expectations are reasonable, you’ll probably not be disappointed. This is a place trying to sell drinks, after all. But their burgers and sandwiches can be nice, and the outside seating is a lot of fun from spring through fall.

Verdict: Fun eatery, with some good food. Recommended.

Cheeseburgers in Paradise
1230 Ashford Crossing
Atlanta, GA 30346
(770) 730-0782

Cheeseburger in Paradise on Urbanspoon

I’m out of town this week, so if the nature and number of posts are smaller than ordinary, that would be why. I’m going to try and eat at a couple local restaurants – I’ll be in Louisiana and Texas – and so we should have some interesting new content in the days to follow.

That said, I still haven’t published all my content from San Francisco either. I have articles on two Japanese restaurants to complete.


Wilkes Meats is a butcher shop with multiple locations, one in Snellville. It has been covered extensively by Snellville Eats (articles here, here, and here) and that has led me really to avoid talking about it in the past. But as we have recently reviewed Patton’s Meat Market, I thought I would touch base with this shop, to compare and contrast the various meat options, as I know them, in the city.

By far the least expensive meats come from Mexican butchers, such as La Jalisco Carniceria and the Lilburn International Farmer’s Market. On the other side of the price equation are supermarkets such as Kroger and Publix, and then also high end butchers such as Patton’s. Wilkes serves a niche that wants a better cut of meat than the supermarket at a reasonable price.

When I went, I didn’t have any trouble getting the attention of people behind the counter, nor did I see it lacking in civil conversation. They had good looking strip steaks, ribeyes, extra large sirloins and they also had marinated meats. They had a more extensive pork section than Patton’s. I bought a marinated filet mignon for the holidays and a pound of stew meat. The filet mignon, a thick cut of meat and wrapped in a thick slab of bacon, cost about 8 dollars. And when I cooked it for Christmas Eve, it was amazingly tender.

Issues? The smell of the butcher shop, as noted by Snellville Eats. The cheeses and sausages were stripped when I dropped by. The grade of meats wasn’t noted, though the shop claims their meats are all Angus beef. But none of these are deal breakers, and yes, I think Wilkes can be a perfectly reasonable option for good meats at fair prices.

Wilkes Meat Market
2304 Scenic Highway
Snellville, GA 30078-3151
(770) 978-8106

On 285 Foodies, there has been a certain amount of conversation about an eatery named Richie Rich, at the corner of Main Street (78) and Henry Clower Boulevard.

It’s a Jamaican place. Gadget Geek seems to like it, but felt his one trip there wasn’t enough to cover the menu. I’d have liked to try it, but it was closed this Sunday.

Perhaps another time.

Patton’s Meat Market was a recommendation I saw posted by the author of Marina’s Recipe Box. I was looking for something appropriate for Christmas, as I would be cooking for myself. I looked up the location (Peachtree Industrial at North Berkeley Lake) and tried to get there a couple times from work. That was never successful, as traffic along 285 was far too slow for me to get there on time. I finally managed to get there around lunch time.

Patton’s Meat Market does indeed offer prime grade meats, as well as choice cuts. I bought a prime New York strip and a choice ribeye for the holidays. Patton’s offers a lot more than just beef, however. It sells a very nice but small collection of produce. Good looking tomatoes, potatoes, and mushrooms dot the store. There are sauces for meats. There are home made sausages, such as Italian sausages and jalapeño and cheese sausages. Patton’s is neat and clean, and smells no different than any higher end grocery store I’ve been in.

When I was there, it was full of shoppers. There were so many people behind the counter, though, I never felt as if I had to wait at all.

Prime strip, waiting for a garlic rubdown.

I recently cooked the strip. It was an excellent cut of meat, very tender.

To get there from Snellville, I’d take Pleasant Hill from I-85 until you reach the Hill Drive intersection. This is the 4 way just after Super H Mart, and just before Wall Mart. Turn left here. This road becomes North Berkeley and the traffic is much lighter along this route. Patton’s itself is behind a gas station, so if you see the gas station on the northwest corner of Peachtree Industrial and North Berkeley, then just head a little past the gas station ands enter the mall area.

I recommend this as a convenient place to buy the highest grade of meats. Marina has mentioned that you can get other delicacies here if you ask, such as bison steaks or goose liver. So ask. You don’t know what they may be able to provide you with.

Patton’s Meat Market
3931 Peachtree Ind Boulevard
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 495-0077

When I saw this t-shirt ad, I couldn’t help but break out laughing. For those who never saw Redd Foxx and the show “Sanford and Son”, I guess it’s time to dig around on “Youtube”. He was always coming up with some inventive variation on common alcoholic drinks such as Ripple.

Wild Ginger is a modest Thai and sushi restaurant found on Savoy Drive, a road that parallels 285. I don’t go here often but when 285 traffic is dreadful I will exit the Interstate and travel along Savoy. In one of these moments I stopped and tried Wild Ginger. I liked the looks of the place, puzzled at the inclusion of sushi, thought the food wasn’t bad. I hadn’t been back until now, until the awful mid December 285 traffic drove me off the road again.

It is pretty inside. Nice tables, wine racks, a good looking bar greet you as you enter. That, and an ever cheerful Rachel Ray on the flat screen. This is one of the few restaurants in town where a flat screen doesn’t have sports. Instead, Wild Ginger tends to tune to the Food Channel.

Service is unhurried and graceful. White shrimp crackers end up on your table by magic. I decided I wanted to try a salad and entrée, so I ordered nam tok and the chicken entrée spicy basil leaf.

Nam Tok

Spicy basil leaf

Nam tok, when it arrived, looked good. But I could taste the salt on it and that affected my pleasure in the dish. Not bad, but would have been better if the salt wasn’t such an obvious part of the taste. I enjoyed the spicy basil leaf much more, in part because whole chunks of long hot peppers were used to spice the dish. Long hots are spicy but not overwhelmingly so, and spicy plus good flavor equals a lot of joy in my book.

Verdict: Good food, welcome respite from a difficult commute. Recommended.

Wild Ginger
2201 Savoy Dr
Atlanta, GA 30341
(770) 451-3880

Wild Ginger 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

Bell’s Expedition Stout. Alcohol content ca 10.5%

I was surprised by the beer. I’d not had a high gravity beer before, and in many respects, drinking this thing felt like drinking wine. The aromaticity of wines, particularly of chardonnays, was present in this beer, which otherwise had the character of a thick heavy brew with a lot of flavor and a smooth and bitter finish. I was happy drinking about half of this beer. I had one more beer before this one and I know my “feel good” point when drinking. Midway through, this beer left me right there and I didn’t have to have any more.

There is a fine review of this beer by Dr. Beer Love.

We went to Ria’s on a day when my wife’s plane flight was cancelled, and she needed something to eat before heading back to the airport. Ria’s Bluebird had been on my “to go” list for ages, and so we winged it. Knowing it was in the general vicinity of Grant Park, we drove onto Memorial and just looked. As it turns out, you could throw a stone from Six Feet Under and it could land on Ria’s Bluebird.

Once we were there, we ended up in a line, seven parties in front of us. Because of a general lack of space, waiting for a table at Ria’s happens outside. It was cold outside, and they had a propane heater on one side of the eatery. That helped the issue with heat, but it didn’t help my wife’s asthma at all. She left the area because the heater was affecting her breathing.

When they finally seated us, we had what was certainly the worst seating I’ve had in 13 years in Atlanta. It was outside, on a table. In order to keep customers warm, they had wrapped the framework around the outside seating in plastic tarpaulin, using plastic ties to hold it to the railing. Most of this seating was pretty decent, but our particular table was by the opening to let customers in (suffering from cold blasts of air). Further, the table was also the target of the nearby heater. The hot air was blowing directly on all three of us, and it was uncomfortable, to say the least. I suspect the only reason we tried to endure it was the long wait we had just suffered through at the airport.

Once seated, we were hungry and I know my wife likes biscuits, so we ordered the biscuits and gravy along with our drinks. The biscuits were quite nice, and the pepper Ria’s adds to their white gravy is a nice touch. The biscuits are crumbly, so if you use biscuits to fish out the gravy, you’ll be using forks to dig bits of biscuit out of the gravy.

The sodas are tiny at Ria's.

After starting on the biscuits, my wife ordered the arugula salad with chicken, my daughter ordered fish and grits, and I ordered the short stack of pancakes with pecans and also the bionic breakfast. I figured the pancakes could be shared between all of us. Before our entrées arrived we ran out of biscuits and my wife ordered two more. She likes good bread and she really liked Ria’s biscuits.

The greens in the salad were tender, and the chicken was good. Still, I think I’d have preferred the salad without the chicken. My wife didn’t feel that way at all, and was quite happy with her dish.

The tilapia was crusty, warm, tender and mild. The grits were creamy, cheesy, richly flavored and delicious. The combination of fish and grits was better than either dish separately, warm mild fish a fine complement to the sharper flavors of the grits.

The bionic breakfast was more a hit with my wife and daughter, who would sneak tastes on occasion. I didn’t think the dish was bad, but I was hoping for a lot more corn and a lot more peppers in the dish. The sauce for this dish is delightfully spicy though, a welcome respite from tamer than tame Atlanta food.

The pancakes surprised me. When they arrived, I looked at the pecans on top and thought I hadn’t received much of any of them. Then I poured some syrup (maple syrup, a nice touch) onto the pancakes and had a bite. Flipping a pancake over shows the tale. The roasted pecans were in the pancake and the combination is flavor dynamite. I tried to make sure everyone got at least a taste but I ended up eating most of these. They were just amazingly good.

So, I have just one bit of advice if you come here. Please don’t sit where we sat. Simply refuse.

Verdict: Highly recommended for the food. Seating, however, can be wretched.

Ria’s Bluebird
421 Memorial Drive
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 521-3737

Ria's Bluebird on Urbanspoon

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