Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hot Dishes in Hotlanta

I am on a 5 day tour of Atlanta this week Son3 and Friend are attending the Julliard Jazz Camp . It is a non residence camp, so I am here to enjoy the city and provide lodging. ( Meaning I am here to serve as a chauffeur/legal hotel room renter for Son3 plus Friend)

Don't get me wrong, I like Atlanta as much as the next guy, but the idea of riding the roller coasters in Six Flags solo or walking through the zoo alone is just not my idea of fun. Plus being here for this long I am pacing my activities. I am trying to do something interesting each day, and trying to do something I can't do at home. So far I have mainly been sight seeing and shopping. Today I am doing a couple of things I could have done at home but decided since I was going to be stuck here I could do them here.

Sunday night we rolled in. checked into the hotel and left immediately to find something for supper. Son3 was STARVING, but then he is 17 and is either starving, about to be starving, or will be starving again in an hour. We decided to try somewhere locally owned, but on a Sunday night not knowing where to go it can be difficult.

We found, quite by accident, a little place called Mckinnon's Louisanne. It is in a little shopping strip on a side street right off of Peachtree. It looked decent enough, so I sent Son3 in to see if the menu was agreeable. He stood at the door with a thumbs up so we went in. Now I have been in some places that are nothign like what you think they will be, and was prepared to be underwhelmed I might need to mention we were expecting a mom and pop kind of place with checkered oilcloth atop linoleum tables, serving red beans and rice and jambalaya. What we were not prepared for was a very opulent decor, white cloth setting and fabulous menu choices like trout Pontchartrain and grouper coccadrie. We were surrounded by wait staff dressed in white tux shirts and bow ties, who were amazingly efficient and courteous without being intrusive. Son 3 ordered the crab claws as an appetizer. They were sauteed in butter and served in a puddle of a piquant cream sauce (Oh my goodness, delicious does not even begin to describe it) While we were enjoying it, the owner stopped by our table, introduced himself and welcomed us to his restaurant. We were ooohing and ahhhing over the sauce. He told us he gets a bowl of the sauce once a week and dips bread in it. He claimed he has to limit himself to one time a week because more would be addicting. We agree totally.

I had the trout Pontchartrain. It was a perfectly cooked pan sauteed trout with a quick fried soft shell crab on top of it. I am not sure exactly what the sauce was but it tasted like a beurre blanc gussied up with traditional Cajun seasonings. The sauce was spare, but anymore would have overpowered the light flavor of the trout.

Son3 opted for the crayfish etouffee. It must have been pretty darn good because he ate it and it even had stuff in it he normally doesn't eat ( like vegetables)

Friend had a filet and judging by how quickly it disappeared, I would say he was pleased with his also.

Great meal and excellent service. Next time we are here we will go back.

Monday I met my S-I-L at Mary Mac's in Midtown. Cute not so little tea room, but they have several rooms so it does not seem as cavernous as it really is. It is a traditional meat and three type place. I had a vegetable plate ( 4 veggies constitute a veggie plate here) I really only wanted 3 (tomatoes and okra, turnip greens and squash casserole) so I told the waitress to just bring whatever was their best seller for the 4th. She chose the sweet potato souffle for me. I must admit I am not overly fond of sweet potatoes, but these were pretty darn good. It was nothing that I would call a veggie though. It was dessert in a bowl masquerading as a main course dish. It was a puree of sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg. My new great niece was with her grandmother ( S-I-L) and she loved every single bite I gave her. She wound up eating about a third of the bowl. ( Did I mention how adorable and smart and beautiful she is?) Overall it was good and a great place to sit and talk while eating comfortable and comforting food.

Monday night after picking up Son3 and friend we were going to meet S-I-L and her D-I-L plus the adorable, smart, beautiful baby. We were looking for a location that was mutually convenient but had no idea where to go. While driving down Peachtree, Son3 used my phone app and found a place with 4 stars. It was roughly 2 blocks from our car and had valet parking and they were STARVING so we decided to try it.

We pulled up to Einsteins, which is evidently a hip little American restaurant/bar. Fortunately, we/I were/was there early, before all of the beautiful people came out to play. The decor was trendy, urban spartan with a touch of funk.

The wait staff wore black with sensible shoes, Now I am used to seeing total black on the waitstaff, but more than half of the female staff had on little black dresses. You know those fashionable frocks that go easily from day to evening with just a couple of accessory changes? Well that was what most of the darling ladies were wearing. Our particular waiter was a precious young women who spent a good deal of time engaging Son3 and Friend in conversation. (What a gift...she occupied them off and on so I could spend time talking with the others. Again did I mention how amazing the baby is?)

This is one of those slow food establishments. Don't dare ask them for bottled condiments cause it is not going to happen. The guys started their meal with an order of scratch made potato chips. They are supposed to come with a bleu cheese cream sauce and herbs. The chef was kind enough to replace the blue cheese with cheddar and just threw in a few chives for color. OMG!!!!!!! How good are toasty warm freshly made chips. Forget the cheese! I could dive into a bowlful of them again right now. The serving was huge. They came in a heaping bowl about the size of a traditional family serving bowl.

For dinner, I could not tell you what anyone else ate. They offered a tuna sesame salad, so I didn't look one item further. I loved a seared tune salad better than just about anything. The dressing was nice and gigery (I think I just invented that word) with a touch of honey. It was sweet enough to carry all the ginger without being too sweet. I had 6 slices of tuna on a bed of mixed greens. In addition to the greens there was several sprigs of tarragon. Nice flavor compliment for the tuna.

The guys ( being 17 and bottomless) wanted desserts. Once again the chef was very generous in altering his standards to make it acceptable. ( no, fruit, no nuts, no whipped cream, no caramel) I think the end result was a brownie with some ice cream and chocolate sauce. It must have been pretty good because they both finished the ample serving in about a minute and a half. Lovely place and lovely time. I will go back again.

Tuesday morning I was up early to get them to their class. The bad thing is I have to look decent to take them since no matter how you slice it I have to walk through the hotel lobby to get my car. Since I was up early and the sun was shining and I was fully dressed and had make-up already in place, I drove around a little exploring the northeastern part of the city. I happened on a building that just had a big sign saying OK. There were a lot of cars around and I actually thought it was a used car lot at first, but the building looked to big for car sales. When I looked again I noticed the word "cafe" in very small letters under the big OK. I figured with all those cars it would be worth taking a chance.

This was a step back in time. I was taken to my table ( booth) by a hostess nearly 30 years my senior who had one what looked like black polyester slacks and a white bowling shirt with a big OK cafe over the pocket. ( Not to be confused with the gigantic OK Diner printed on the back) and met by a menu toting waitress dressed in a white 50's waitress outfit. I looked at her and then the menu which had ALMOST every possible combination of egg/ham/biscuit/toast/bacon/sausage/grits/hash browns. Basic juice assortment. Would you like the 4 or the 8 ounce serving of apple, orange or tomato juice? I would have loved to have seen sliced tomatoes offered, but it seemed melon and fruit cocktail were the "fresh" choices of the morning. I felt kind of like Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces when I was ordering. I just wanted one scrambled egg, 1 link of turkey sausage and 1 slice of whole wheat toast. The menu has nothing less than 2 eggs, with 4 links of sausage and 2 slices of toast. I told them fine, and I would be happy to order that, but to just leave the other egg, sausage links and toast in the kitchen and bring me the 1 egg, link and bread. But it seems the cook always cooks the eggs together ...fine just bring me half of the 2 cooked eggs. After a couple of minutes of mental gymnastics, I gave up. The end result was my official order on one plate with a plate on the side, so I could remove half the eggs, 3/4 of the sausage links and one slice of toast, then have the waitress remove the plate I did not need. To be fair the place was very busy. Judging by all the laptops around me with people sitting on both sides of the table, I am guessing a lot of people in the area have breakfast meetings there and they have no room or time for menu alterations. The food was good and the coffee not only was really good coffee, but the coffee person walked by about every 3 minutes and would top off the cup. Every sip was a hot as the first and that was very nice. Would I go again? Not sure, but if I do you can be dang certain I will only go if I am really hungry!

Supper Tuesday night The Border Grill. Chain restaurant, nothing special, surprising or bad.

So, again another week of no cooking, no trying new recipes and no dirty dishes!


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