Resurrected from the ashes of Gary’s Bistro, the sister restaurant to “Local Republic” has emerged with a pared down menu and a focus on locally sourced meats and produce. Staff tell me it’s been open about two months, and the chef of Georgia Pine, Scott Smith, has Local Republic roots.

I went for lunch on Mike “Gadget Geek” Stock’s suggestion. We met at the bar and moved to a table. He ordered a reuben, I ordered the trout special. As appetizers I ordered a pickle plate and Mike ordered octopus. I added an extra side, some collards.

pickles.

pickles.

octopus.

octopus.

One of the biggest reubens I've ever seen.

One of the biggest reubens I’ve ever seen.

Trout special. Excellent fish, as good as anything I had in Savannah over the weekend.

Trout special. Excellent fish, as good as anything I had in Savannah over the weekend.

Everything was good, no stinkers in the lot. The pickles were tasty and subtle, the octopus had a hint of spice to it. Collards were tender and hit the spot. My fish was as good as anything I had while near the Atlantic coast, and Mike’s reuben was the king of sandwiches, in terms of size.

I’m told the menu is a work in progress, so expect more changes. But what I’ve seen so far is promising, and gives me hope this restaurant will stand to the big three of this region (Local Republic, Graft, Three Blind Mice) and lose nothing in the comparison.

The Georgia Pine
1250 Scenic Highway, Suite 1240
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
(770) 978-1800

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Note: Mike’s take on this meal can be seen here.

Oyster Bay Cafe is a restaurant found on Lawrenceville Square, whose focus is fresh sustainable seafood with plenty of oyster and shrimp options. Classed as a gastropub on Urban Spoon, I’m not sure I see that. To me, it evokes an Atlantic Ocean seafood shack, perhaps crossed with a little Vortex style kitsch.

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The Inside is bigger than it appears from the outside.

The restaurant is long and thin inside, and bigger than it appears from the outside.

We came for lunch, were feeling a little cautious and not hungry enough to push the dinner offerings, so my daughter went with a bacon shrimp po boy and I got a shrimp and fish fried basket, broccoli instead of fries. We had 6 steamed oysters to start with, tender and good.

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Later our plates arrived.

Fish and shrimp basket, with slaw.

Fish and shrimp basket, with slaw.

Bacon shrimp po boy, paired with some excellent fries.

Bacon shrimp po boy, paired with some excellent fries.

The fried fish was well cooked, dry, hot, and tasty. The po boy was good. My daughter leaves food she doesn’t care for, but she took what she couldn’t eat home, including the fries. Fries at Oyster Bay have a light crust (I think I’ve tasted similar at Checkers), and she liked that crust a lot.

Staff here are good, homespun and chatty, a fine complement to the food.

Oyster Bay has a sister restaurant in Loganville, O’Shucks. We’ll be reviewing that restaurant in a later post. But for now, know that a good inexpensive seafood option is available in Lawrenceville, and if you’re close, I suggest you go often.

Complementary review: The 285 Foodies thread on this restaurant.

Oyster Bay Cafe
125 West Crogan Street
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
(770) 910-7521

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Tip: 60 cent oysters on Tuesdays.

Southern’s Best is pretty outside and inside, and manages to be cute at the same time. In many ways, it would be a good place for a casual first date. The menu is simple and straightforward. Meats tend towards chicken or turkey. One of a fistful of vegetables are made without meat, and retain plenty of flavor.

Roughly at the corner of Five Forks and Sugarloaf Parkway, across from Fronteras and Athens Cafe, and completely opposite the Publix at this corner.

I enjoyed my cornbread roll, but the spices in the roll might not work for everybody. Please don’t mistake this simple menu for plain spicing, because the people here do know how to draw flavor out of their food.

Southern’s Best Cafe
3315 Sugarloaf Parkway
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
(770) 864-9495

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It’s a tiny wings joint near Club Drive and Pleasant Hill, and it has a unique (I’d say very good) wings sauce. The sauce has more in common with a finely ground salsa than the tomato soup consistency of a vinegar based wings sauce. For that reason, I’d suggest trying it out.

Entrance.

You can see black and red pepper specks in their wings sauce.

It’s Asian run, if not Asian owned. I’d guess Korean owners. The iconography is cute, the inside is clean and neat, the tables are nice, and I hope this place makes it. The finely ground nature of the sauce comes though in the specks of pepper you can see on your wings (both black and red). They’re not afraid of spice here, something that leaves me smiling big time.

Crazy Wings
1455 Pleasant Hill Road, Suite 101
Lawrenceville GA 30044
770-921-3635

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Step into this eatery, and 5 consecutive years of “Best of Gwinnett” awards pass you on the right. Fini’s is surprisingly good for a pizzeria on the edge of town. It is just to the east of I-85, in a mall centered by a Publix, and almost impossible to spot from Old Peachtree. These days, this is the sole Fini’s in Lawrenceville, as the other fell victim to a rent tripling scheme (*). My daughter and I went for lunch, and after having had a lot of fair to middling pizza, were pleased as punch we chose this location. Crusts here were nicely done.

Entrance.

Crusty and delicious.

The photo doesn’t do the size of this sandwich any justice. The bread and cheese were fantastic, the eggplant merely good.

Another view of the sandwich, showing the insides.

My daughter had a slice of Sicilian, and I had their eggplant sandwich. Her crust was the way a thick slice should be, and size and crusty character of the sandwich bread was totally delightful. The eggplant was wrapped in a batter, and wasn’t bad. Fini’s has an Italian sausage sandwich, and that kind of spicy meat with this kind of bread would be totally over the top.

Fini’s Pizzeria
1032 Old Peachtree Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
(678) 205-3872

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(*) I know this because Tower Games also left the mall, and my contact in the gaming community, Deep Gamer, let me know all about how the strip mall was seeking to profit from expansion by the nearby hospital.

I have entirely biased feelings towards the chain “Sonic”. When I first arrived in the Atlanta area, I was staying in a weekly hotel on Cobb Parkway, about half way between the Marietta Diner and the Big Chicken. The closest restaurant to that hotel was a Sonic, and especially on days when I had little if any money, I was living on Sonic Jalapeno Double Cheeseburgers, onion rings, and a large fruit slush.

These days I live near Snellville, and the closest Sonic to my house is the one on 820 Oak Road, near the corner of Oak and Dogwood, just across the street from Danthai. A number of my daughter’s friends have worked at this one, on and off, and it tends to gather a teen aged crowd in the afternoons. These days, the Jalapeno Double Cheeseburger, as a menu item, is long gone. You can approximate it, though, by ordering a Double Cheeseburger, add japalenos.

Among other things, Sonic is serving a Chicago Dog these days.

Tater tots, one of a variety of sides offered.

It’s the rich variety of options that sets this restaurant apart. You have all kinds of side items, a crazy-quilt selection of drinks. It has a way of making customers feel like kids all over again.

Double Cheeseburger, add jalapenos. It’s been my Sonic staple for over 17 years.

Some food reviewers from Snellville have tried to make comparisons between 5 Guys and Sonic, as in, which one is better. To me, that’s an apples and oranges comparison. A typical 5 Guys is a small restaurant, compact. A 5 Guys restaurant would live well in a crowded urban downtown, and the menu is focused on doing just a few things well. Sonic, by contrast, is selling a past that never existed – seriously, these burgers are just too big to be 1950s and 1960s authentic – and doing so in expansive fashion, with a big menu. I could imagine sneaking a 5 Guys franchise into San Francisco, but I can’t see it being done easily with Sonic.

Not surprisingly, when we get relatives in from San Francisco, they like going to Sonic, with the caveat that to a San Franciscan, nothing ever beats an In and Out Burger.

But to summarize, Sonic is good greasy fun. It has large burgers with decent options, plenty of sides, and over the top drinks that make this a kid pleasing place to park a family.

Sonic Drive-In
820 Oak Road
Lawrenceville GA 30044
(678) 344-2777

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It’s a hole in the wall at the corner of Five Forks and Sugarloaf Parkway, in the same location as the now closed Totori Fresh Grill. It’s pretty, just recently opened, and already police are stopping there, on cycles no less.

Once inside, you order at a countertop from a whiteboard menu above the counter. To the left of the counter is a pastry display.

Athens Grill has a pretty basic menu: gyros and kofta kabobs and souvlaki steaks, very similar to the online menus I can find for the Loganville Athens Grill. Same owners? Perhaps, but there is no mention of any chain on the take out menus.

Souvlaki steak platter, extra salad and no fries. Like a cheese steak in a pita.

Kofta kababs, with fries.

Super gyro platter, extra salad.

#1 (gyro) with fries.

There are sweets as well. Bird’s nests, little roses, baklava.

Bird’s nest upper left and lower right. Little roses, upper middle. Baklava on the upper right.

My family preferred the little roses. Not too sweet, they said.

Athens Grill
1430 Five Forks Trickum Road, Suite 260
Lawrenceville GA 30044
(770)-277-7008

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