December 2010


Village Burger is a smaller restaurant near the corner of Chamblee Dunwoody and Mount Vernon Road, behind the Fresh Market. It sits in a building all to itself. On each side of the building is cloth covered seating so that people could sit outside and not be exposed to the elements. Inside, people line up in front of a counter, make orders, and are handed numbered laminated cards. You sit, and the food comes to you.

This day there were young men in sweats, older men in business suits squinting at newspapers, young ladies in fur lined boots, people blowing into their hands as they waited. The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” played from speakers hanging from the roof. The menu was provided on a stack of laminated cards. The menu was also available on a blackboard behind the counter register. To the left of the line was a chalkboard with daily specials. The place offered burgers, hot dogs, salads, sodas, ice creams (with toppings and mixins).  Seating inside is either at one of their pretty wooden tables (seating 2, or perhaps 4), or their stools, made from barrels cut in half and covered with leather.

The Village Burger is their 2 patty burger, a large burger with plenty of juicy gray beef. You can customize it however you wish, and it usually comes with fries. I’m not a fry eater so I added a salad instead. The Village Burger’s heft, small and compact, reminds me a bit of the Five Guys burger, as both are balls of meat and bun. But that’s where the similarities end.

The ambience of Village Burger is totally different from the environs of a Five Guys. Village Burger is clearly a small shop labor of love. Five Guys is, by contrast, plastic, commercial, chain-like. Five Guys is a place to eat, whereas Village Burger is a place to linger, listen to the music, check out the clippings on the wall, read a newspaper while eating. It’s the kind of small owner, small shop experience that food bloggers should point out. Metaphorically, it’s the difference between whipped cream, and Kool Whip.

Verdict: A real small shop burger experience, with a fine burger. Highly recommended.

Note: This will be the 300th Atlanta review as counted by Urbanspoon on this blog.

Village Burger
1426 Dunwoody Village Parkway
Dunwoody, GA 30338
(770) 522-1600

Village Burger on Urbanspoon

I’ve canned my 300th post, 300 Atlanta reviews as counted by Urbanspoon. The new post will be published tomorrow. Since this is an accomplishment I’m happy to have achieved, I  thought I’d take a brief moment to give a bit of advice to the newer bloggers in this game, the ones who seem to have suddenly discovered Urban Spoon and are pushing reviews out onto the “Internets”. I really only have three pieces of advice:

1. Be yourself. If you are yourself, you’ll be true to an audience who are like you. Find places you like, talk about places you enjoy eating. Yes, there are places you have to review, but do them and keep scouring the landscape for “gems” of eateries.

2. Be readable. Get rid of the run on sentences, check your spelling, clean up your prose. Sentence fragments do not make for great food reviews. This link is good if you need accent marks in your blog articles. Googling “entree merriam-webster” can show you how to write entrée.

3. Find good lighting. Great lighting makes for great food photos. A good photo almost makes up for lousy prose.

I’ve already reviewed OU for U, the Kosher sandwich shop at Hammond and Peachtree-Dunwoody, but I really wanted to try their grilled veggie sandwich. Well, I have been there and the sandwich is excellent.

The Firkin and Gryphon is a new pub in town with an English/Irish theme. I say theme because F&G is about as authentic as Outback. Outside of Fish and Chips and Bangers and Mash, the whole menu could be exported to, well, Applebees or O’Charlie’s and no one would know the difference. That said, the food quality is high once it reaches your plate. F&G is rich in servers, and both servers and  the manager come out and ask how you are doing. I  had a chicken club  that day and it was delicious, the chicken grilled, juicy, rich in flavor and the ham and other meats giving the sandwich a huge flavor bang for the buck.

If not mentioned earlier, F&G is a chain restaurant, part of the Firkin Pubs group, and hence a sister restaurant to Firkin and Lindburgh. This is a chain to keep on your “friend wants food, not too fancy” short list.

Any downsides? The steamed vegetables came out a little plain. That was cured with some salt and pepper. They have specials, and the boards with specials on them are everywhere, but not out front. The items on their specials menu look more adventurous than the stock menu. Check for it when you enter.

Firkin and Gryphon
4764 Ashford Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, GA 30338
(770) 350-5977

Firkin and Gryphon on Urbanspoon

Since my tweeting this would only be seen by  a few people, grats to Jimmy of Eat It Atlanta on his recent engagement. May this lead to many decades of happiness.

 

I mentioned to my wife that I was interested in Star Provisions, and it got under her skin in a way that places to buy groceries seldom do. So after a hellish Saturday at work, I was taking off into the middle of town to find Star Provisions.

I get lost down on Howell Mill plenty, but this time a pair of cop cars marked the way. We turned into the lot, parked, walked inside. Roomy! I let my wife and daughter wander while I went to find Tim the Cheese Man.

Much fun. I ended up with the chunk of cheese above. The Cabot, like most high end cheddars, lacks the bitter tastes you often see in supermarket sharp cheddars. Tim was affable and patient, worth the 50 minute trip downtown. If you’re needing not a good cheese for your dinner, but the right cheese,  this is clearly a place to go.

We missed the sandwiches though. We’ll have to come back sometime.

27th wedding anniversary. Wife says she wants a card, 4 good chocolates, a nice place to eat. We’ve scoped out options for place to eat (#1 does not take reservations for parties our size), card can  be anything, but the chocolates? Godiva is in Walgreens these days. This would be a good excuse to check out Star Provisions, if I can find time. Alons? Schakolad? Who is making chocolates in the ATL, and doing a bang up job of it?

Chicken 65 is a dish in much the same category as the French fry: an unhealthy concoction of twice fried foods dipped in a batter, best when piping hot. It’s also really good when hot, and doesn’t really make the best leftovers. The origin of the name is lost; all anyone has are suggestions, such as the age of the chicken to use (65 days) or that perhaps it was the 65th item on a famous restaurants long lost menu. The red color isn’t native to the dish. It comes from food coloring added. There are a number of ways to prepare it. Some fry once, others fry twice. All dip their chicken in a marinade and prep the chicken for a few hours to a day in advance.

How did this start? I  tweeted that I liked the dish. Malika Harrichan replied.  So I suggested a crawl, Malika thought  it a great idea, and so here we are, planning to run around the city of Atlanta chasing something as substantial as, well, a French Fry.

Using Google, Zyka seems an interesting place to start. I’ve had all my exposure to chicken 65 at Mughals in Norcross. I’d like a bit more variety than the restaurants along Scott in Decatur, and a single isolated shop in Norcross near Tucker. So I’m just opening the blog to discussions, to possible places to find the best, most piping hot straight-off-the-fryer chicken 65 in the city.

R Rice’s name isn’t obvious from a distance. Instead, the words “Wok Grill Sushi” are the first to catch your eye. It’s one of a line of eateries at the Piedmont Heart Institute on Peachtree-Dunwoody, of which I’ve reviewed Uncle Julio’s and FIGO so far. This isn’t the easiest place to park but if you’ll be patient, you can.

I didn’t make the connection to R. Rice and this location until I was seated and I was looking at the menu. The items on the list seemed too familiar, and I realized I had already selected what I wanted  to eat in advance. They had a mussels appetizer and they had edamame. Agedashi tofu sounded good as well. They had a Kobe burger if I wanted to eat simply, grilled salmon if I wanted to eat cautiously, and sushi if I wanted to tread higher carb waters. I opted for caution.

lightly salted

To note, it’s pretty inside, modern and sleek in appearance.  Space near the sushi chef is open. You can watch people prepare food here. Staff is good looking, dressed in black, graceful, efficient. From where I was sitting, there were two wide screen televisions to view and they turned on the subtitles. There is a small but well stocked bar in here as well. It’s not a large place, perhaps the equivalent of 10 tables seating four. Ambiance was casual.

A perfectly balanced plate of food.

 

The mussels were good. I like boiled mussels, and the cream sauce added color and a rich creamy flavor to the mix. The salmon plate was about as perfectly balanced a plate of food (for me) as I’ve ever seen. Meats, grilled vegetables, and a salad. Plenty of mushrooms and  grilled onions, plenty of umami in the vegetables. A bit of sweetness in the salad, not unacceptably so.  Given the size of the rice portions on other plates, what you’re talking about is a staff that adapted when I told them I couldn’t eat starches and gave me food that I could. I have reviewed dozens of restaurants since being diagnosed and the ones that could pull this trick can be counted on the thumbs of one hand.

Yes. Call me impressed.

I didn’t try the sushi, but the French couple to my right were downing plenty of  it with no regrets.

Verdict: This restaurant features a flexible menu, reasonable appetizers, and good entrées. If you just want a pint and a burger, you can get it here. If you’re into sushi rolls, they have plenty of those. If you just want edamame, some grilled meats, and a chance to watch a game, they have the screens. In a land where “authentic” is often assumed to be synonymous with quality, this is an Asian hybrid with plenty of vigor. I like this place, a lot. Two thumbs, way up.

Update: This is post number 500 on this blog.

R. Rice
1140 Hammond Drive
Sandy Springs, GA 30328
(770) 804-8155

R Rice on Urbanspoon

The first useful breakfast cereal I found post dietary changes was Cheerios. After that came Fiber One, which uses a little artificial sweetener to mask the addition of fiber in their product. After a while, too much Fiber One and you can feel as if you’re eating sawdust.

Nature’s Path has a good multibran cereal that I use sometimes. This new cereal is also pretty good. Not my find, my wife dug it out on a trip to Whole Foods.

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