Friday, March 16, 2012

Tip: Inman Park Restaurant Week

In case you don't know already, Inman Park Restaurant week is coming up soon! Restaurants in one of the best food neighborhoods in Atlanta will be offering special tasting menus for $15, $25 or $35 for the week of March 26 - April 1. I'm planning on going, and so should you!

More info can be found here:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday Supper

Over the last 5 weeks the lab that I work in had a visiting student from Denmark. One night, Cashew, my roommate Snooks and I decided to take Mette to a traditional Southern restaurant to introduce her to the food here. While trying to find a place that's open on Sunday, we accidentally stumbled upon the Sunday Supper at JCT Kitchen. The name, by the way, stands for "Junction;" we did ask our server about it... Every Sunday, the restaurant offers a special menu in a family-style dinner setting. What makes it even more special is that the majority of items offered on Sunday are not available on the regular menu.

No Southern dinner will be complete without buttermilk biscuits. The ones at JCT Kitchen were served with butter and apple sauce. The biscuits were moist and flaky without being greasy. I really liked them. This was followed by another Southern favorite - deviled eggs. We each had one half egg, but I wish we were given a lot more than that. The filling was surprisingly light considering that it contains egg yolk and mayo. The eggs this time weren't topped with prosciutto, but that made me like them even better. I'm not eating meat for Lent, so I would have had to remove the prosciutto anyway. Finally, we were served an amazing salad made with field greens, beets, carrots, radishes, and even roasted new potatoes! The overabundance of ingredients made it great for every taste. I personally enjoyed everything that was in it, and liked the contrast in texture between, say, the crispy beets and soft potatoes.

Yes, we got all of this food before the main course! However, we were all excited about the only item that we could pick for ourselves for the night. My selection was the fish (cod) and grits. Cashew got the fried chicken that JCT Kitchen is known for, Snooks wanted to try the sausage and seafood gumbo, and Mette ordered the cider-braised pot roast. I really liked the spice rub on my fish, and I didn't even mind it being a little too salty for my taste. I even ate all of the grits! If you remember from previous posts, I'm not a grits fan... But the ones at JCT Kitchen were so different that I completely forgot what I was eating until the very end. They were made from very finely ground corn and were more liquidy than other grits I've had. I couldn't try the other dishes because of the meat components, but they looked great for all that's worth... Plus, my friends seemed to enjoy them.

The main course came with three sides that we could also choose. We selected the kale with citrus, the mashed potatoes, and the sweet potato puree with candied pecans. Yes, that's too types of potatoes but we wanted to try both of them. The sweet potato puree was out of this world! It was incredibly delicious. It tasted as decadent as dessert. I could have eaten the whole bowl just by myself. I bet they had a ton of butter to make them taste that good, but who cares :P The mashed potatoes and kale weren't bad either. The mashed potatoes were perfectly light and fluffy, and the kale wasn't bitter. Unfortunately, their taste paled in comparison to the sweet potatoes.

Of course, there was dessert at the end of the meal. This time it was a brownie topped with mascarpone cream. I don't know if I was too full by this point, but I didn't like the brownie too much. It seemed a little stale, and the crust was too hard to cut through. The cream was delicious, but couldn't quite rescue the shortcomings of the brownie.

And you know what was the BEST part of this FEAST? It was only $24 per person! It's an incredible deal for the amount and amazing quality of the food we got, and I'm sure I'll be taking advantage of these Sunday Suppers in the future.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Seafood Feast

Once in a while will have a 90% off sale, and whenever I see this, I make sure I get a certificate for Fontaine's Oyster House. I'm always up for trying new foods, but this is one place where Cashew and I order the same thing over and over again: the steamed seafood platter. And because we need to order at least $45-worth of food to be able to use the certificate, we just end up getting a dozen of raw oysters in addition to the one on the platter. Mmmm, oysters! Can't get too many of them!

The platter comes with all the amazing goodies that the seas have to offer: mussels, clams, shrimp, crab legs, oysters. The only way to make it even more perfect would be to add calamari :P (Did you take the hint, Fontaine's?). Well, and to get the oysters raw rather than steamed.... But you can do that if you're nice to your servers and politely ask them to do it for you. Even though most of them say that they'll have to check whether it can be done, we've had 100% success rate, and I have yet to try steamed oysters. No complaints from me, though. I love them raw, with just a little bit of lemon squeezed on top of them. On the bright side, everything else on the platter is perfect as it is. The crab legs are fresh, not cooked in butter, and only with their natural saltiness. If you do want to ruin their taste, there's a container of melted butter to dunk them into. The shrimp are cooked in an herb broth that doesn't overpower them. I'm not quite sure what's in the broth, but I do suck out all the flavors from the shell before pealing it away... Finally, there's a good number of clams and mussels cooked in a simple broth to complete the seafood tasting trip.

The last time Cashew and I went to Fontaine's, we were feeling extra adventurous and ordered the chicken jambalaya instead of more raw oysters. Oooo, aren't we just crazy ;) It turned out that Cashew had meant to try the gumbo, but had the two mixed in her head. Well, I wasn't too upset about the mistake because the jambalaya was amazing! It wasn't dry like the jambalaya in New Orleans. Instead, it had a good amount of liquid in it that made eating it easier. Plus, all the flavors and spiciness were spot on. I think we have a new item to add to our "usual" order!

OK, now I need to do a brief aside because I just realized that I didn't post anything about my New Orleans trip last December. How could I forget to do that?!?!? Anyway, it was a few days of amazing food! I did try all the New Orleans staples: jambalaya, gumbo, muffaletta, etouffee, rice and red beans, shrimp po-boy, raw oysters, beignets, and hurricane and green alligator cocktails! My favorite was the gumbo, with the crawfish etouffee a close second... The beignets lived up to my expectations as well. I was pretty disappointed in the jambalaya because it was too dry, as if it had been overcooked. But I'm glad that I had the jambalaya at Fontaine's to see that it can taste great as well.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brunch at Highland Bakery

Highland Bakery is one of the traditional Atlanta establishments that offers great baked goods and artisan sandwiches for brunch. In the past couple of years, it opened a new location in Midtown, but only the original location has all of the original charm. And yes, part of the charm is the long wait times, but my friend Cat and I braved them recently.

I had actually been to Highland Bakery once before for a sit down meal and another time to get food to go. So before I describe my most recent experience there, let me mention what I had before. The first time I went there, I stayed on the conservative side and ordered the Caprese Sandwich, which contains Italian staples like mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. The sandwich was really good, but something I can make myself. The second time I ate food from the bakery, I got the Sweet Potato Pancakes. I was pretty worried about how they would taste by the time I ate them at home, but all my worries were unfounded. The pancakes were still warm and fluffy. The caramel-based sauce that they came with was in a small container on the side, so I could eat the pancakes before they got soggy. Let me tell you, they were divine even after an hour away from the griddle! Well, the pancakes themselves were nothing extraordinary, but the sauce was just delicious! It was thick, sweet, buttery, and nutty (from the toasted pecans), and just the epitome of a guilty pleasure :) I have to admit, I had a few small tastes of the sauce by itself...

Finally, the most recent time I went to Highland Bakery, I decided to try yet another food group and got the Crabcakes Benedict. Just like the other items I had had before, they were delicious. The crabcakes were large, moist, and full of REAL crab meat. The Hollandaise sauce was the perfect consistency and lightness. I had the potatoes on the side, and they were nice and crispy without being too oily. They had sauted peppers and tomatoes, which is always a plus for me.

So, I've had traditional breakfast, sweet/dessert breakfast and a sandwich at Highland Bakery, and it hasn't disappointed me yet. This is the sign of a truly good place, but can't live up to the brunch at Murphy's...