Indigo is a small, pretty restaurant on Canton Road in the old Roswell district, carved out of a brick duplex. The restaurant has perhaps a dozen tables on the outside and a couple dozen inside, and also manages to have a small bar as well, with a few seats. It’s on the left side as you head north on Canton, covered partly with trees, and was quite inviting the first time I drove by. With couples and the small dinner parties outside, Indigo looks a bit like a garden party on first glance, and the mood is not lost when you go inside.

It was a busy day when I arrived, as the restaurant was hosting a party, and music could be heard from the party’s location. It made for a couple apologies and some slowness of service that day. Not that it mattered much to me. I wasn’t in a hurry. It was a little tricky navigating the restaurant’s menu, since I have to avoid red meats and cheeses when possible, so I settled on a strawberry and romaine salad, the stuffed baby potato appetizer, and their caper and lemon grilled chicken.

Waitstaff, if I haven’t mentioned, are dressed in light blue Indigo t-shirts and jeans. They wear aprons if appropriate. They team well, and work with one another.  I enjoyed the service I had, I thought it was very good. Management was also attentive, and asked about my meal and chatted.

The salads and appetizer took a while to arrive, I suspect because of the party. I was glad when they arrived, as the salad wasn’t small. It was a healthy bowl of greens. Some places seem to think if you put a couple nuts in a salad, they can give you two bites of the greens and go on, but not Indigo. The strawberries were sliced, and the salad also had blue cheese and crunchy bits of pecans. They may have been roasted. I wasn’t 100 percent sure.

The baby potatoes were awesome but as they had a creamy filling, I could only have a couple bites of those. The chicken was .. as my waiter said it would be ..  incredibly juicy, perfectly cooked. Half a lemon was in the bowl, if you wanted more citrus flavor, and green capers danced in the bed of wide flat pasta. Again, it’s a large good looking dish.

Live music set up as I ate, and more couples came. Most were sitting outside, sipping wine, under the evening skies and green foliage. Indigo manages to pull a trick that seems easy but really is not, managing to be both graceful and informal at the same time. That the food is top notch doesn’t hurt either.

Verdict: Informal, graceful, very good service and great food.  Very highly recommended.

1170 Canton Street
Roswell, GA 30075
(678) 277-9551

Indigo on Urbanspoon

The Royal Oak Pub is next to the Quiznos and near the Atlanta Bread Company in the mall near the northeast corner of Abernathy and Mount Vernon Roads. It’s tucked in the back, and you have to brave traffic from Chik Fil-A to even reach it from the Mount Vernon side. However, if you do, the service is friendly and efficient, a bit of “Cheers” in Atlanta, and the food can be good to very good.

There are six of these restaurants, all run by the Dunwoody Restaurant group. These restaurants share a common menu, and similar look. Upon entry to the Royal Oak, there is a suit of armor that greets you to the left, with menus in hand.  Inside walls are made of brick and stained wood, and the front of the bar is “papered” in framed Guinness commercials from the past. There is bar seating, tables, and a few booths. Seating is roomy enough when the bar is mostly empty to half packed, but it can get tight in the pub when the place is packed.

There are 5 good beers and 1 hard cider on tap. There are dozens of different beers in bottles, and more tapped bottles of vodka and bourbon than I can count. The food? There is an online menu, which gives you an idea of the scope of their offerings. I’m partial to the nachos here. I like their Mediterranean salad, though the Hong Kong steak salad is a little better. All the salads, sandwiches, nacho plates, etc tend to be large plates of food. If someone leaves the Royal Oak hungry, it’s because they didn’t like the food or weren’t eating.

The “Doozy” is a good solid burger, though I like it better with the onion things scraped off. Fries are thick, meaty, and actually look like Texas fries. And I bet if you ask nicely, you can still get a “pot of fries” (delivered in a clay flower pot), if you need more. The Royal Oak has a decent array of sandwiches, and recently added a gyro I believe.

And since this is labeled an English pub, there are some English dishes. You can get a good shepherd’s pie here, bangers and mash, a good Irish stew, or a plate of fish and chips. There is a lot more lamb on the menu than most places, and this was the place I realized that I really like lamb.

They will have daily specials here, and it can simply be a riff off a stock menu item, a soup with a unique twist of flavors, or perhaps the chef is testing a dish to be added to the menu. The menus here are seasonally rotated and the chefs of Royal Oak do try to find food that their customers will like.

Service here is generally good, and grows far better if you let the staff get to know you. It’s more common than not for a regular to have his drink on the bar top before he gets half way to the bar. This is a place that really knows its regular customers and tries to please. Now, to note, staff is lean and everyone short of the head chef buses tables in here. If the place is a mess, the Royal Oak staff deals with it. But otherwise, service can get as good as you want it to be.

Verdict: Friendly, “Cheers”-like bar with good to very good food, good to great service. Absolutely recommended.

The Royal Oak Pub
1155 Mount Vernon Highway
Sandy Springs, GA 30338
(770) 390-0859

Royal Oak Pub on Urbanspoon

It’s easy to get lost in the menu of FLIP Burger Boutique. The menu is a candy store for the burger lover. There are just too many things to try in one outing, or even two. And for people for whom a burger is simply a price to pay to get to tasty sides,  there are things to satisfy that urge on both the front and back of the menu. There are fries, of course, but also bottled drinks with the traditional sweeteners (as opposed to high fructose corn syrup), and the spectacular liquid nitrogen shakes.

We didn’t plan to go here, really, but I knew I had to come. FLIP is the Hajj of Atlanta food bloggers. Every blogger who aspires to be respectable has to head down to FLIP, write their thoughts, and let the world know what they think. And really there were two choices: the first was to go after work, during rush hour traffic, or convince my family it was a good idea to come down to FLIP during a weekend when we have family arriving in a week or two.

So I began: “Hon, I have a totally crazy idea.” And thankfully, my family decided to go. It was going to be a lunch outing, heading into the middle of urban Atlanta, which is hardly my favorite place to drive. As traffic in Atlanta has grown worse and worse, I just find myself avoiding downtown Atlanta.

The reality of the situation was very different from my preconceived notions. FLIP is on Howell Mill Road, nestled in a part of Atlanta that lends truth to the idea that Atlanta is a small town wrapped inside a big city. There were no skyscrapers anywhere near FLIP, the road was pleasant, trees were common, and nothing was taller than two stories nearby.  FLIP has parking on both sides of the road, and we found a place to park quickly.

The inside of FLIP is clean, modern, and a little kitschy. The white “picnic tables” in the middle, all crammed together, need to go. There is bar seating for singles or couples who don’t mind, and there are more separate (and better) tables ringing the outside. There is also seating outside, so you can enjoy the small town atmosphere of this part of Atlanta.

Service was excellent. Our waitress was patient and helpful, and it wasn’t as if she were an exception. You could look round and see waitstaff handling people with patience and grace. We ordered drinks, and eventually, we ordered a liquid nitrogen shake (nutella and burned marshmallow), a salad, and four burgers: a lamburger, a turkey burger, a chorizo burger, and a po boyger, which is a kind of shrimp burger.

The burgers are small, the patties are thick, and more filling than you might imagine at first. I can say I totally enjoyed my lamburger, juicy tasty lamb topped with light sprinkling of greens. My daughter loved her chorizo burger, a potent blend of sausage, egg, and cheese.  My wife liked her turkey burger a lot, and the salad was good. The po boyger, a burger we all shared, was just okay, with a taste and texture that tended to wear on us the more of it we ate. In retrospect, I think you have to be a little ruthless in choosing food here. My wife knew she would like turkey and she did. She thought she might like the po boyger and it wasn’t nearly as good a fit as the turkey burger was to her.

Of all the dishes we ordered, the nutella shake was the most spectacular, the most eye popping. And my daughter loved every last bit of it.

In terms of access, FLIP is not going to be an easy drive for any suburban commuter. On weekends, with no rush hour, the drive is pleasant and the neighborhood low key and pleasing. Despite my reluctance in going, I suspect we’ll be back. I have a niece who only eats burgers, and taking her here would be dropping her into a burger Disney World.

Verdict: Informal, popular, creative menu offerings on almost every line. Excellent service. Highly recommended. A ‘must visit’ for the burger lover.

FLIP Burger Boutique
1587 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA, 30318
(404) 352-FLIP (3547)

FLIP Burger Boutique on Urbanspoon