Cafe


The outside of Cafe USA is typical of strip mall fare, the inside full of memorabilia, a mature wry waitstaff, and more than decent breakfasts. It’s a place my father frequents when he doesn’t want to cook the first meal of the day himself.

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We had omelettes, grits, biscuits.

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Biscuits were good enough to order extras. Omelettes were good. I had a western omelette and my wife had a vegetarian omelette. At least as good were the staff, unpretentious and funny. Without our waitress our meal would have been a lot less memorable.

Cafe USA
3380 Barksdale Blvd
Bossier City, LA 71112
(318) 742-9600

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Buckhead Diner has a way of reminding people what a good dining experience is all about. The little things: asking your name as you enter, whether you have reservations or not, of then using that name in every conversation staff has with you. There is the uniform, with tie, that all staff wear. There is the constant graceful service that follows being seated. There is the manager, who makes sure your meal was right for you. There is the way, when you have food issues, the staff and chefs will work with you to get the whole meal just right. Metaphorically, Buckhead Diner is a fine vintage automobile, reminding people that yes indeed, some folks know how to put together a well oiled machine.

The other thing a reader needs to understand is that it’s easy to read glowing reviews of Buckhead Diner and think, “There is no way a mere diner can be that good.” I’ll suggest that, just as the green of the tropics, so green you might think the photos are retouched, that no, most reviews of Buckhead Diner are actually pretty sober affairs and the superlatives are in fact earned. This isn’t your neighborhood IHOP folks, this is about as close as anyone in Atlanta can get to a walk-in fine dining experience.

Amazingly thick and rich.

Amazingly thick and rich.

We’ll start with the milk shake my daughter received. It was so thick that if you dropped a quarter on it flat side, that the quarter would float and not sink. It was so good my daughter wasn’t able to drink most of it, as my wife started stealing bites of it routinely.

Buckhead Diner's fried chicken, perhaps the best entree we ordered.

Buckhead Diner’s fried chicken, perhaps the best entree we ordered.

There was the fried chicken, sold only on Sundays and Wednesdays, that when my daughter took a bite, she could help but say, “OMG, so good!” And I’m sure the more cynical of my readers are saying, “Chicken? Give me a break!” But the deal is, Buckhead Diner marinates that chicken. It isn’t the packaged bird from Kroger rolled in panko, it’s something supercharged to another flavor level.

Chiki thai calamari. Grteat tasting, though the sauce was more a classic sweet and sour  style than recognizably Thai.

Chili thai calamari. Great tasting, though the sauce was more a classic sweet and sour style than recognizably Thai.

Are there things to complain about? Sure. For example, we had Buckhead Diner’s chili thai calamari, and though the calamari was good, and the mix of peppers, octopus, breading and sauce tasty, the sauce itself more resembled the sweet and sour sauce found in any generic American-Chinese restaurant, as opposed to a distinctively Thai style flavoring. My daughter wasn’t altogether fond of the cheese used on their mac and cheese. But you have to get down to this level of detail before you can begin to find fault with the food.

table breads.

table breads.

Under the pepper, portobello, and asparagus is a fine bit of lamb.

Under the pepper, portobello, and asparagus is a fine bit of lamb.

Other things of note. It’s easy to forget the bread they bring to the table, but the breadsticks and small jalapeno cornbreads are worth some time and trouble. My entree was a lamb shank, braised until it was fork tender, served with vegetables and a brown sauce. The serving was considerably smaller than the bowl it came in, but tasty and still tasting like lamb.

Serving sizes are ample and we didn’t have room to get to the desserts, which are highly thought of.

Some notes on pricing. I think burgers start around 12 and go up, dinner salads around 15. A main dish may start about 16, tend to be 18-22, and the most expensive thing I saw was a fine steak around 30 dollars. Given the quality and the almost anytime access, I think the food here is reasonably priced. But I would suggest that, for those who use plastic to pay for meals in this price range, to bring enough cash to tip the staff in cash. They’re worth it.

Buckhead Diner
3073 Piedmont Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 262-3336

Buckhead Diner on Urbanspoon

 

Access from Snellville: Google Maps suggested an excellent route to this diner, one easily summarized. Take 78 into town until the N Druid Hills split and head down N Druid Hills. Turn left when you reach LaVista Road (there will be a Steak N Shake on the left). Take LaVista until it becomes Lindburgh and turn right when Lindburgh intersects Piedmont. 1.2 miles later on your right you will see Buckhead Diner. Don’t be surprised if you see Fogo De Chao first, as it’s a taller building and nearby.

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.

Cafe Gourmandises
686 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard
Suite 200
Suwanee, GA 30024
(770) 945-6599

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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
678-380-4656

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This wasn’t a place I would have chosen, but one my father had visited, and one for which he was wanting another opinion. Some friends of his just loved this chain. Others could take it or leave it. He felt, in advance, that it was pretty good, but hardly divine.

Another Broken Egg is a small chain, and the morning we went, was full of people.

Eggs benedict.

Smoked salmon omelet.

I enjoyed my breakfast, a smoked salmon omelet. My father’s order, eggs benedict, was made using ham instead of the Canadian bacon he prefers. He liked it but it wasn’t, in his opinion, heavenly. That takes a good hollandaise sauce and the right ingredients. The service was good, so I’d tend to the view that this is a good, not great deal for breakfast.

Another Broken Egg Cafe
855 Pierremont Ste. 132
Shreveport, LA 71106
(318) 865-1124

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We’ve spoken about the Brooklyn Cafe before, but never had the initiative to get past their vegetable plate, until now. This is the Brooklyn Cafe’s pork tenderloin sandwich, with a side of grilled zucchini.

pork tenderloin sandwich

Brooklyn Cafe
220 Sandy Springs Circle
Atlanta GA 30028
(404) 843-8377

Brooklyn Cafe on Urbanspoon

I’ve spoken about  the Brooklyn Cafe before, and feel it’s one of the more underrated and underappreciated eateries on the media scene. I’m not sure why; perhaps the location? But the vegetable plate they serve is a delight for someone with a diet like me. Not only good, it’s really good for you, and almost pure heaven to photograph.

The lobster bisque is nothing to sneeze at either.

Brooklyn Cafe
220 Sandy Springs Circle
Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 843-8377

Brooklyn Cafe on Urbanspoon

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