Tapas Bar


The Iberian Pig is a nice looking restaurant in Decatur, near the Marta station and along a row filled with good restaurants. We went on a day where we had no restaurant specifically in mind. We just wanted good food and the opportunity to be seated quickly. At Iberian Pig, they could seat us within 5 minutes if we could sit outside. Usually that’s the kiss of death for my wife’s asthma, but this day, she was feeling good enough that we managed.

We started with small dishes, were served only one main dish (my daughter’s cabrito carbonara), and otherwise just ate things that appealed. Things we enjoyed included fried eggplant, pork cheek tacos, some octopus (pulpo a la parilla), lamb ribs, and Iberian Pig’s asparagus. My wife had an arugula salad, and we also asked for bread, which took some time coming. By the time it arrived, my wife and daughter had grown bored and started wandering, as a King of Pops cart within a few feet had caught their eye.

pork cheek tacos.

pork cheek tacos.

pulpo a la parilla, a good tasting octopus small dish.

pulpo a la parilla, a good tasting octopus small dish.

cabrito carbonara, a dish with shredded goat.

cabrito carbonara, a dish with shredded goat.

Overall, I’d say we enjoyed this meal. Service ranged from good to sensational at times. When Iberian Pig starts delivering food, you can have as many as 4-5 servers around your table. Our waiter was gracious and funny. Dishes ranged from good to superb (my daughter loved her goat dish). The restaurant is definitely a keeper, and I could easily see us coming back.

The Iberian Pig
121 Sycamore Street
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 371-8800

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Two words: grilled meats. That’s what Fuego Mundo does, and does it well. It’s a pretty restaurant, perhaps a little confusing if you have never been there. I stood for a while, and I eventually asked if I were going to be seated. Turns out the drill is: order first, then sit. They’ll hand you a card you use to ID that you’re waiting for your order.

They have interesting meat choices: things like skirt steak (churassco), lamb chops, and various tapas choices abound. A few of the choices drift to a bit too much sugar for my comfort. I’d really like a couple more grilled vegetables and a way to avoid starches on their “side plates.” That said, meat skewers and nicely grilled asparagus fit well within my dietary plan, and they’re good looking enough I ordered 2 skewers instead of 1 after looking at their setup.

Fuego Mundo is neither expensive nor cheap. Tres Tapas is $10, $11 if you choose a steak skewer. A chicken skewer with side runs about  $7.75. The most expensive single entrée ran around $16 (There are meals for 2 in the 25 dollar range). Flavors are rich. I liked my chicken skewer more than the steak, and I’m not really a big fan of chicken. I’m not sure if they marinated the chicken, or if I caught a bland first chunk of steak. The steak ended well, with a very tender and flavorful square of meat.

Staff tend to keep their heads down and work. They’re good looking. They wear black outfits with a lot of red bandannas. The restaurant has a modern look, with a lot of steel, glass and wood.  Music is constant and festive.

Fuego Mundo
5590 Roswell Road, Suite 120
Sandy Springs, GA 30342

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Sushi House Hayakawa is a small place, perhaps 10 tables total wrapped around a sushi bar that could seat perhaps a dozen. The inside is full of white surfaces and natural wood frame, a look I like. The intimacy of the eatery puts others almost at your feet. When a neighboring diner said, “This is my birthday”, it was impossible not to notice. When a couple walked in, and seated their really cute daughter at the corner of the sushi bar, it was pretty clear who the star of the eatery was from that point on.

Most items are served are in the small plate (tapas) style, intending to encourage a diner to buy a lot of them. There are no sign of large vegetable plates, of things that are free of starch and filling. That’s an issue with me these days, because I’ve been ravenous coming off work. There is plenty of sushi, of course, but rice is starchy.  They have plenty of udon (noodle) and donburi (rice bowl) dishes, but again, starchy, not entirely suitable for a diabetic.

That said, the food they do serve is really pretty darned good. They started with a bit of spinach in dashi as a starter. A small salad plate soon followed.

Afterwards a seafood sautée showed, which was to be my main entrée. This was one of the house’s daily specials. The sauce was wonderfully creamy in taste, the mushrooms adding a touch of umami. The bits of seafood included some very tender scallops.

These were followed by eel and octopus sushi and a bit of squid sunomono.I especially liked the sunomono, the chewiness of the squid hit the spot.

Service is intimate, focused and good. They inquired about my diabetes, they asked if I were doing okay. They had both Asian and Caucasian staff, dressed nicely in black tops, Staff were careful, for those who wanted it, to explain everything they served. One of Sushi House Hayakawa’s specialties is an extensive tasting course, their omakase. A couple nearby were indulging, and the staff patiently explained everything being served.

Verdict: Small, intimate, with an emphasis on small plate dining. Highly recommended.

Sushi House Hayakawa
5979 Buford Highway
Doraville, GA 30340-1366
(770) 986-0010

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PS – Chloe has an excellent review of Sushi House’s omakase. Other reviews, too many to be given by name, are listed here.

Kampai is a small chain, with locations in Duluth and Lithonia, whose focus these days is on steaks, sushi, and tapas. You don’t need to take my word for it. It’s on the side of the building of their new location in Lawrenceville, in the same plaza (Avenue Webb Ginn) that houses Ted’s Montana Grill and Red Robin. Kampai is in the building that used to house On the Border, and they’ve done nice things to the inside. It’s a good looking place. There is a lot of black stain, natural wood finish, and brick, and a decent number of flat screens.

Though I arrived at lunch, after commenting on the lack of useful selection on their lunch menu, I ended up with their dinner menu. This menu is pretty large, with two pages devoted to various tapas and three pages to sushi rolls alone. This doesn’t count the extensive coverage of tempura dishes and also their hibachi meals. I’ve never been a huge tempura fan and hibachi would be dietary overkill. I focused on sushi and tapas, looking for items I could eat.

I rapidly found the edamame, which I ordered and their braised pork belly on sauteed tofu. Along with that I ordered salmon nigiri and salmon roe nigiri (or so I thought) and also what they called a diet roll. There were no tapas available that had just a vegetable. I would have liked some steamed greens, or spinach, or bok choy with my meal.

The edamame came out steamed and the serving was large. I was very appreciative of what I was offered. The pork belly was smaller than I expected, looking a lot like a thick cut slice of bacon cut into squares and placed on a bed of tofu. Still, fat is a luxury I can afford. The flavor was good and the tofu welcome.

The nigiri ended up sashimi instead. It wasn’t what I expected but this was rather a welcome mistake. The foods were on mint leaves and then placed on what looked like daikon slivers. Both were fresh and flavorful. The diet roll was just okay. Edible yes, but no mind blowing flavors. I would have dropped this if there were a single steamed vegetable tapas, but no such luck at this time.

In retrospect, this small chain seems to do well on the edges of the metro area. The style of the place, to cater to many different trends in the industry, is similar to Sakegura and indeed, Nakato. It’s not as popular the closer to the city you get, as people seem to want specialized eateries in places like Buckhead and Midtown. But it should do well in the Avenue Webb Ginn mall area. It has a nice upscale look. When I showed, it was attracting Asian and American clientele. With the local Urban Flats shut down for the time being, it fills a niche for better dining in the neighborhood, and it is far quieter than Bonefish. I like its chances, and wish this chain the best.

Verdict: Versatile upscale dining in the Avenue Webb Ginn area. Highly recommended.

Kampai
1250 Scenic Highway #1300
Lawrenceville GA 30045
(678) 951-1000

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9700 Medlock Bridge Rd
Duluth, GA 30097
(678) 417-0086

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7105 Stonecrest Pkwy
Lithonia, GA 30038
(770) 484-1801

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Notes: There have been many behind the scenes conversations with Mike Stock (Gadget Geek) about the Avenue Webb Ginn area. He was the one who pointed out to me that Urban Flats was closed, among other things.

Eclipse di Luna, Dunwoody edition, is found on Ashford Dunwoody road just opposite Perimeter Mall. It’s in the same mall area as Alon’s, but it is entirely on the other side from the bakery. It’s a very popular place. I tried going once after work and there was no way I was going to fight those crowds. I tried during the week at lunchtime, and was a lot more successful.

It’s very festive on entering, with a sign and posted menus near the doorway:

edl_door

edl_menus

edl_sign

Inside, it’s a very pretty restaurant. The bar is large, and the wines, all stacked above the bar, are backlit. Lights that look like Christmas ornaments hang from the roof. There is inside and outside seating, roomy tables everywhere. Some of the seating was closed for the time being, as there were just a few customers.

Service came reasonably fast, and we ordered food and soda in quick succession. And for those ordering soda, please note it comes in 8 ounce bottles, is not cheap, and you pay for refills. The dishes were ordered included a duck empanada (empanada de pato), mussels, and a bit of trout (trucha nativa).

mussels with a bit of leftover empanada.

mussels with a bit of leftover empanada.

edl_trout

The empanada wasn’t bad, though the cream on the outside was overpowering and detracted, in my opinion, from the duck. The mussels were delicious, and the curry cream sauce really enhanced the flavor of the shellfish. The fish was quite good, crusty and dusted with almonds and capers. I was surprised at the size of the servings of mussels and fish. It ended up being a heavy lunch. And if not for the cost of the little bottles of soda, it would have been quite a bargain, even.

Would I go again? Absolutely. There are a lot of things on their menu I didn’t have time to try, including three different kinds of paella.

Verdict: If you want to try a lot of small dishes, Eclipse can scratch your itch. Nicely done, highly recommended.

Eclipse di Luna – Park Place
4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road,
Atlanta, GA 30346
(678) 205-5862

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