Saturday, October 15, 2011

Southern Comfort

One random Tuesday night Richie Bear (new alias for Little Richie) and I were on Tech campus for a seminar. After it was over, we went to dinner at JCT Kitchen, a restaurant that Richie Bear loves and had told me a lot about. As far as I know, it's not a part of any restaurant group, but its atmosphere and decor remind me a lot of Abattoir, Two Urban Licks, Rathbun's, etc...

The menu offered a lot of Southern classics which I regret I don't have too much experience with. We started with deviled eggs as an appetizer (sorry, no pictures). Honestly, I have no idea what they do with the yolks, but they taste so light, you'll forget all about the cholesterol. For my main course, I went for the the most Southern of Southern dishes - fried chicken. The one at JCT Kitchen was supposed to be particularly good, and it completely surpassed my expectations. Actually, it is so popular that the restaurant was out of the breast-on-the-bone pieces. However, they were nice enough to fry a boneless piece of breast meat for me. It was very crispy on the outside and exceptionally moist on the inside - by far the best fried chicken and maybe even any chicken I've had. Keeping a chicken breast so moist is an art. Plus, it didn't feel greasy at all. In general, the bone makes meat even better, so I can imagine what the real fried chicken will taste like. Oh, I almost forgot. The chicken came with sauteed green beans and mac & cheese. The mac and cheese would have been amazing if it didn't have pieces of bacon in it. Even Richie Bear agreed with me on that one. The bacon taste was just too overpowering for the creaminess of the macaroni.

Richie Bear decided to try the lamb burger, something he hadn't had before. I might have mentioned it before, but I can be picky when it comes to lamb. Well, the one at JCT was the good kind. The burger was moist and tender, but I wasn't a huge fan overall. It came with goat cheese that overpowered everything else that was in between the buns. That's strange of me to say because I love goat cheese, but I just wish the flavors had been balanced a little better. 

I've had several exposures to Southern food so far, and I am slowly shedding my misconceptions about it. It's not always rich and greasy. Indeed, it can be very delicious and not-too-unhealthy when prepared properly.

Noche Night

I've been meaning to go to Noche for a looong time, and I finally went there with Cashew once they offered a Scoutmob deal. We went there on a surprisingly busy Sunday night, but were able to get a table right away.

Despite the large number of delicious-sounding options on the menu, we pretty quickly settled on an all-seafood dinner. Our choices for the night were Fried lobster tail, Salt and pepper calamari, Steamed mussels in a lobster chili broth, Pan seared crab cake and the Spanish fried potatoes as the lone non-seafood item.

We were both starving by the time the food arrived, as can be seen by the lack of actual food in the picture. The calamari also had battered and fried jalapenos in them, the crab cake did have visible pieces of real crab and the broth from the mussels tasted like a soup. All good things! It might sound weird, but the broth was my favorite thing for the night.

Once our hunger was somewhat satisfied, I actually had time to take a picture of the food before annihilating it. Hmm, that might also be the reason why I considered these two dishes not as good as the previous ones. The lobster had so much batter on it, I couldn't even taste the meat. And the fries potatoes weren't crispy and had a strange vinegar aftertaste. The aioli they came with was just horrible. It wasn't even spicy. It doesn't come even close to the tomato sauce that the fried potatoes at Loca Luna come with. On the bright side, the apricot sauce that came with the lobster tail was pretty good, so I ended up using it for the potatoes as well.

After reflecting on the meal a little bit, Cashew and I realized that everything was fried. Yes, fried food usually tastes great, but for me, the true sign of a good chef is the ability to infuse taste into fresh food. Despite all of this, the Noche menu did contain a lot of other interesting dishes that I wouldn't mind trying on a second visit.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Going to the Pacific

Soon after coming back to Atlanta from Minnesota, Cashew and I resumed our tradition of trying new Scoutmob restaurants. One night we ventured to Downtown Atlanta, an area we don't go to very often, to try Pacific Rim Bistro. The fact that it served sushi and a lot of other Asian dishes made it really appealing. Indeed, it was quite difficult to choose what to get.

After a lot of deliberations, I decided to try the Funky Buddha sushi roll. It had blue crab mix, tuna and avocado inside, and tuna, yellowtail and salmon on the outside. It also came with two different types of sauces: eel and red curry. I have to admit, the sushi tasted really good with the curry sauce. The freshness of the fish left me feeling happy about my meal as well.

Cashew's choice for the night was the Spicy Chirashi Sushi. It included salmon, yellowtail, tuna and white fish, all coated with a spicy sauce. Again, the fish was nice and fresh. It might have been a little better if it wasn't so covered in sauce, but it tasted great anyway. Mixing it with the rice on the bottom and the cucumber on the side made for a pretty big meal. However, the part that Cashew was most excited about was the quail eggs that were supposed to come with the dish. Well, they weren't delivered... We mentioned the omission to the waitress and she brought us a token raw quail egg on a new plate. We were told that most people add the egg on top of the dish and mix it in with all the other ingredients. Cashew wanted to taste it by itself, though, so she drank the egg contents. I wish I had a picture of her face at that moment; her surprise at the texture and taste of a raw egg was priceless.

We ended the night with a serving of mango sorbet. The sorbet definitely tasted like mango, but the flavor was so overpowering, it made us wonder if they used real mangoes or artificial ingredients.