Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympic Junkie

I'm an Olympic junkie and sad to report that aside from Friday evening, I've barely been out of the house this weekend since the Olympics started. I've been glued to the TV despite all the things that I need to do. BTW, the men's relay 4X100m relay was amazing. Even the team coming in fifth beat the previous world record! It is a good thing that my week routine starts tomorrow, otherwise my muscles would probably start to atrophy.

We're doing intense Radiology review beginning tomorrow. Last week, we ended up killing Stan (the mechanical simulator patient) a couple times during these simulated patient scenarios. Wow! That makes people out there feel so secure, huh? The good thing is that we became better and better at approaching situations by the end.

Time for bed...zzzzz

Saturday, August 9, 2008


The Olympics began yesterday (8.8.08 at 8) with a breathtaking opening ceremony. Leave it to the Chinese to bid to host the Olympics in a year that they were able to start the ceremony on a date with all 8's, a lucky number for Chinese people. Fitting.

I have to say - thank goodness for Tivo! It makes Olympic watching so much more enjoyable and allows me much more sleep than my Olympic-obsessed mind would otherwise allow me. I'm not sure which part of the opening ceremony I liked most. The opening drumming performance with 2008 drummers was quite impressive with the incredibly well-timed count down. Then it just got better and better. They estimate that there were about 15,000 performers involved in the ceremony - none of them repeating.

The march of nations that paraded all of the athletes is always entertaining. Here's where Tivo is great - you can always fast forward or rewind back to your favorite countries if you miss them. Rather than being lined up in alphabetic order, it was done by brush strokes, a nice touch. I did find it funny as they announced each country in the three languages - French, English, then Chinese. Okay, I agree some of the countries have very different names between the three languages, but generally this isn't the case. Example

French announcer: Mali
English announcer: Mali
Chinese announcer: Ma- Leeeeeeeeeee!!!

Well, I must run now. More later..

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Unplugged In the Park

I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not so great about updating. Here are a few photos from Unplugged in the Park from a couple weeks back. (one of the many things I haven't updated about) The place was pretty crowded, but we ended up running into some friends there before settling down on the grass. It was a nice way to spend a Sunday evening in Atlanta.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cupcake Hunting Part II

Since our cupcake hunting episode a few weeks ago, I think I've driven everyone nuts with cupcakes. We've now upped our cupcake samples to 10 locations (at least) and still counting. The funny thing, as I've said, is that I didn't even like cupcakes before. Now we've been bringing them to friend's houses, making them on our own, etc. It has become a sick obsession. Here are my thoughts on the new places we've tried: (and now maybe I'll get it out of my system - though I have four more places on my list of places to try)

Star Provisions:
I've tried two different cupcakes here: the S'Mores cupcake and the Vanilla cake with blueberries. These weren't bad but also not my favorites. I'm also a bit disappointed with the icing on the blueberry one. It was whipped cream (and pretty good whipped cream at that) - kinda cheating if you ask me. The cake was light, moist, and not too sweet. However, it was border-line muffin-ish with the blueberries inside. The s'mores was an interesting one. It was a bit on the drier side, but I liked the bottom that had a crispy cookie or crust of some sort. Again, not my favorite cupcakes, but I do love star provisions for everything else!!! (esp their shrimp po 'boys)
Sugar Mama's - Ding ding ding! I think we have a winner!!! I really have a fellow Yelper to thank for this suggestion. He swore me to secrecy about it until they had their wedding contract with them finalized, which it has. This place was my favorite of the bunch. They don't have a store, but you can find the cupcakes at Aurora coffee. Nice light smooth icing, moist cake, mmm... interesting flavors. There is an Aurora coffee in Virginia Highlands and another in Little Five. I think partnering up with Sugar Mama's is the smartest thing Aurora Coffee has ever done because I'm honestly not crazy about their coffee. I've been twice for cupcakes (I've tried three different flavors) now and haven't been disappointed! I'm wary sharing this information because I'd be incredibly sad if I make the trip to Aurora and they have no cupcakes.

Dr. Bombay's - don't bother, though the store itself is cool. It was like tasting freezer-burn cardboard. I'd still go to Dr. Bombay's to chill and get a coffee. It is a cute store with many imported items from the UK.

Belly - Dry and not anything I care to try again. Belly itself is cute. I'll probably make another visit if I'm in the area, but honestly, you can get better food in the area for the same price range.
Table 1280 - mini cupcakes - it probably doesn't count. I usually looooove their pastry chef but the mini cupcakes were really dry.

Whole Foods - These looked questionable and tasting them didn't change my mind. Super gritty icing, more expensive than any of the other cupcakes, dry cake. What's to like? Sorry Whole Foods! I love you but you have awful cupcakes.

Little Cake Bakery - These looked very promising but were on the sweeter side for me, so I prefer Sugar Mama's Cupcakery. The icing is also a bit on the grittier side that I prefer. Below are the Mary Antoinette and the Creamsicle. I thought the Mary Antoinette was definitely unique but again it was too sweet. The creamsicle ended up not tasting creamsicle-like at all. Go to ACF for that. I can see why this place is a favorite for many, but it just isn't my personal favorite.

A second look at:

Atlanta Cupcake Factory: Not as good the second and third time around. These were on the doughy side sometimes and at other times a bit dry side. I do find the flavors very interesting so I'll probably be back at some point to try what I haven't yet.

Matty Cakes: This just isn't my style of dessert. I went back as promised and tried their suggestion - a double chocolate cupcake. Too rich and dense for a cupcake. I can see why some people may like it but I'm not a fan.

Cupcake Hunting Part I detailed here

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lesson #189 - Be careful of your choice of words

I tried to get one of the patients to work with one of the nurses this week. My patient doesn't trust many people and was a bit reluctant to do so. Finally, I was able to convince Mr. X that the nurse was pretty nice. As I left to go find the nurse, I made the rookie mistake.

Let's give this a shot, okay?

GAME OVER. I should have said: Let's give this a chance, but my patient had already curled up in a ball repeating over and over - I don't want a shot! I don't want a shot! Fortunately, the patient calmed down pretty quickly, but I felt like such an idiot.


This blog was never intended to just be about food...I don't know how that ended up happening. I mainly wanted to keep writing without freaking out my parents. (I heard that one of my cousin introduced my mom to my old blog of many years. This apparently this upset my mom, who ended up lecturing me about not sharing details about my life online) I figure writing things about the city I live in is pretty benign. Besides, with what I do, it's not really prudent for me to talk about my every day life anyway.

I haven't really haven't found much time to update this week. Things have been hectic between my rotation, a paper, and studying for a test. My rotations have been going pretty well so far. I just finished my second one full of adventures and life lessons. There are so many times I wish I could detail a story from my day, but it would be difficult to do so without mentioning something about a patient. So many stories teeming in my head, only I can't tell anyone in the world for ethical reasons. Sigh. That's one of the drawbacks of medicine.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Star Provisions - I never knew I liked Po'Boys

Saturday was perhaps one of our most memorable days of Atlanta Eating...We started the day off at Star Provisions and later on to Aurora Coffee to get some work done. (and for a Sugar Mama's Cupcake) For dinner, we went to Tomo. (discussed in length in my last entry) We topped off the evening with drinks at JCT Bar.

I'm not sure why I never tried Star Provisions for more than the cheese, (I've always liked their cheese station) but I'm now officially a fan. Star Provisions To-Go is a great environment for a lazy weekend lunch. It is cute and relaxing - great place to sit outside on a nice day! Yes, it is pricier than most sandwiches, but they use the freshest ingredients and it is well worth it. There is also a farmer's stand outside that sells produce. I didn't really see anyone buy anything, but the vegetables were went gorgeous. Anyway, onto our lunch:

Shrimp Po: Loved it! I highly recommend this sandwich. I'm usually not a big fan of po-boys, but SP uses really delicious and large sized shrimp. The shrimp are lightly fried and perfectly seasoned. They could stand a lone without the sandwich. The bread was also delicious - soft and great for this type of sandwich. The tomatoes they use are organic local tomatoes.

Falafel: This was a recommendation by the guy behind the check-out register. Thank you check-out-register-guy! Yum! I'll be honest, it wasn't the best falafel I've had, but it was flavorful and I'd order it again. The ingredients - lettuce, tomatoes etc. again were very fresh adding great color and taste!

Pickles: These came with the sandwiches. Not bad and not too salty!

Cupcakes - These aren't bad. I've had better cupcakes in Atlanta for certain, (I even had a better one later that day) but the cake of the original was nicely done - light and not overly sweet! It wasn't dry, but it could have used a slight more moisture for a cupcake. What I wasn't a fan of was the whipped cream on the top. I like light icings, but whipped cream seems a bit like cheating when it comes to a cupcake. The s'mores cupcake (that I tried on a different day) was a bit dry, although I really liked the concept and the crispness of the bottom of the cake.

Ham and Cheese Spiral Muffin - It looked so beautiful that I had to buy it. It was tasty all the way through. I was not disappointed but probably will not be purchasing it again.

I'll definitely be back to Star Provisions in the near future. I'd really like to try the hot dog there. It looked great and many people seem to be getting it - maybe they know something I don't.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My New Favorite Atlanta Sushi Joint - Tomo

(I wish I had more pictures, but I didn't start taking them until half way through our meal. I really wish I had taken pics of everything else because the presentations were lovely)

I was dragged to Tomo, I'll admit that. It is in the Vinings, and I am NOT a Vinings girl - perhaps it is a misconception on my part, but it has always seemed very vanilla and nothing special to me. With the exception for a few restaurants, I've always remained inside-the-perimeter and up 85 loyal. When I do venture up I-75 too far, it is usually for a pretty specific reason. Then, I am in and out.

For those who are unfamiliar with this restaurant, it is the restaurant of Tom (short for Tomohiro, I think) Naito who has worked as a sushi chef all over the US, including working under the world famous NoBu Matsuhisa in Las Vegas for three years. Tomo is located in a Kroger shopping center. That's not what I was expecting, but most of the great sushi restaurants in the Atlanta area aren't in the most glamorous of locations. (take Circle Sushi and Tanaka for example) The restaurant was pretty small and nicely decorated. We decided to eat at the sushi bar. At first, we regretted our choice since it was pretty tight in terms of space and I wondered how we would enjoy our meal without elbowing the people next to us in the eye. It ended up being one of the best decisions that night. (eating at the sushi bar...I did not elbow anyone in the eye)

Seated next to me was a man, eating alone and reading a book about Iraq Snipers. He had a very serious look on his face. From time to time he'd tell Chef Naito that he wanted this and that. The chef seemed to know who he was. Either this guy was a friend of the chef or he was a serious foodie...perhaps critic, but if you were a critic, why would you make your presence known? Hmmm... curious.

The menu was an interesting one - very innovative and I wanted to try just about everything. When trying out a new sushi restaurant, we normally make sure to order certain specific items so that we can get an idea of the restaurant overall. We did order some of our standards, but we ended up so enchanted by the innovative menu, that we threw some of our first time visit rules out the door. One thing that I forgot to order was a roll. We generally like to try at least one roll in the line up to get a general idea. In the end, I don't think it was necessary because we were impressed with all the technique and flavor combinations in each dish.

Half way through dinner, we ended up talking to the man with the book. It turns out he is a regular at Tomo and was eating at the restaurant almost every night while his wife was out of town. He knew the whole menu inside and out and was well versed in what fish was currently in season, which nights were best to come, etc. It's always fun to meet fellow foodies! We had already ordered, but after talking to him, we ended up ordering another dish that happened to be in season. (This visitor was clearly an asset to this restaurant--we joked that perhaps Chef Naito should put him on commission) We also learned that Tomo's restaurant has actually been around for a couple years. Somehow it escaped our radar until this week. That's what I love about Atlanta...there's always something new to explore no matter how long you've lived here.

Decor: Nice. Nothing to write home about, but it set a nice tone and had a modern and fresh look with appropriate lighting.

Service: Excellent. The service was professional but still personable and attentive without being obtrusive. If I had to sum up the service in one word it would be - thoughtful. There were a lot of little things they did that made the experience great - eg. a salad came with one of our orders, and the server split it just because she knew we were together. It sounds like a silly thing, but it is the small things that count, right?

One thing that I really noticed was the timing of dinner. Dishes were served with a nice progression and pace. The dishes were served one by one so that you could really appreciate each dish and not get one big hodge podge of stuff at once. You were never rushed and they always asked if they could take a dish away before they did. I could tell that the staff and sushi chefs knew everything that was going on in the restaurant so that they could make this possible and so that food didn't sit before being served. Wonderful..and they were able to do it with such grace.

We also enjoyed seeing how much passion all the servers and chefs had for the food. You could see Chef Naito hard at work and putting great detail into each dish. He is extremely personable and conversing with his customers at the sushi bar. Before speaking to him, I was a bit shy about whipping out my camera to capture his artwork, hence the missing pictures. I finely asked him and he seemed tickled that I enjoyed my meal so much. In fact, his regular customer was eager for me to snap a shot of one of his dishes as well.

Food: The food was amazing. All of the fish was well selected and the technique and knife skills were impressive. I know Soto was considered the great one in Atlanta before his move to New York, but I have to say that I even enjoyed my experience at Tomo more. (Don't get me wrong, I loved Soto) Between the two of us, we split at least 6+ dishes if not more. I can't think of a single thing that we did not like. The only dish that was not as impressive was the Yellowtail Serano Sashimi topped with a pepper slices. It was still good but I've had better. Everything else was a delight. I have to say that my favorite dish of the night was the "Tomo Urchin". It was two beautifully presented fried cylindrical pieces containing urchin. We were instructed to take the spoon to scoop up the bottom salsa-looking concoction and place it on top of the urchin before eating it. I was a bit skeptical about the combination but I was floored by the textures and flavors. I could have easily eaten an entire tray of them, but that wasn't exactly in my budget for the night.

Other dishes we tried: (no order)
  • Tempura Lotus Root: Thumbs up! Perfectly battered, evenly fried, and served at the perfect temperature.
  • Chirashi: When this dish came out, I was already feeling a bit full. We were surprised and impressed to find a generous serving of Chirashi. This is one of the dishes we measure how much we like a new sushi restaurant. Each piece was beautifully selected and cut. The mackerel skin looked as if it had been torched, adding a nice texture. The Tamago was nicely done - maybe my second fav in Atlanta. As a whole, I could not find a single thing wrong with this Chirashi dish.
  • Tomo Urchin - Fantastic! My favorite (see above)
  • Miso Soup & salad - I usually wouldn't comment on this but it was pretty good here. The soup was the first thing they serve everyone. The salad was also light and made with better quality greens than most places
  • Yellowtail Serano Sashimi - see above; My least favorite of the night, but still good.
  • I forgot the name of the dish - but it is a signature dish; Sashimi slices with dabs of urchin on the side. Great flavors and exquisite selection of fish and knife skills.
  • Sock-eye Salmon Tartar served with truffle oil - Beautifully presented and a nice addition to the meal. This was currently in season and suggested to us.
  • Sakes - There is such a nice selection of sakes here. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. Next time, I'd like to try his sake tasting menu.
All in all, I'll be back. Tomo is hands down my favorite sushi restaurant in the Atlanta area. I still love Circle Sushi and Tanaka, esp for their price points. Sushi House Hayakawa is also another decent one. Tomo, on the other hand, is on an entirely different level. You'll certainly pay more, but it is quite an experience.

In the words of the man with book - "The only sad part of the evening is when you're too full to eat another bite of Tomo's creations"


Another Sad Closing - Kool Korners

I tried phoning in an order to Kool Korners this week. I got off early so I thought I could make it over to Kool Korners by 3pm to get one of the much-raved-about cuban sandwiches. I seem to never make it to this Atlanta hot spot on time due to their limited hours.

Ring Ring.

Lady: Hello?
Me: Hi. Yes, I was wondering what your hours are for today.
Lady: We're closed.
Me: Oh, okay. Well, can you tell me your normal hours?
Lady: Hold on
[shuffle shuffle]
Man: Hello
Me: Yes, I was wondering what your business hours are...
Man: We're closed.
Me: Yes, I realize that, but can you tell me what time you normally are open?
Man: No. We are closed forever.

GASP! How could Kool Korners close? It was one of the hottest things in Atlanta. In all my years in Atlanta, I never made it over there in time to get one of these was my unicorn of Atlanta food, and now it seems that I will never get a chance at it. I immediately started texting family and friends who are fans of this joint. The reaction was unanimous - sadness. Kool Korners, oh why did you have to close?!?

Well, the afternoon wasn't a complete loss. I ended up trying out a pressed sandwich from Georgia French Bakery & Cafe. I'll write about it later, but it was a good find and more than a consolation prize.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Toto, I Don't Think We're in Ma Lul Ha Lu - Experience at Mung Dong Restaurant

Our visit to Mung Dong was a confusing one. To understand my adventure, rewind to two weeks ago when we were having breakfast with some of our Korean friends. They were all raving about some corn dish mixed with mayonnaise and cooked with Kraft singles. The idea was all to foreign to my Chinese-American mind. I consider myself quite open minded and adventurous when it comes to food, but corn with mayo??? with a Kraft Single? Mind boggling! It didn't sound appetizing at all, but our friends assured us that it was awesome, and I'll try (almost) anything once!

A week later, we read (on Yelp) about Ma Lul Ha Lu, which had great reviews. Oh, and guess what?!? The restaurant served this mystery corn we had heard so much about. I was sold and decided to pay this Ma Lul Ha Lu a visit so that I could see if my friends were right about corn with mayo.

As we entered the Super H complex, we could not find anything called Ma Lul Ha Lu so we called. I asked where the restaurant was, to which a man replied with a stern, "WHY?!?!?" I responded, "err...because I want to eat at your restaurant?" When we finally arrived at the restaurant, the English read, Man Doo, which we knew was a big Korean Dumpling and not fried chicken, which Ma Lul is known for. We did see a pic of fried chicken inside, and the phone number matched, so it appeared to be the correct place. We went in and were seated.

The server didn't speak English and looked a bit stressed that we couldn't converse, but she did find someone who spoke some. When we asked about the corn dish, the lady looked perplexed and suggested that we eat dumplings instead. We quickly called our friends trying to find out the name of the corn dish. Our friend could only tell us that it was part of "Anju" a general term. "We would like to order some 'anju' please." The lady, again looked confused and said..."if you want alcohol, we don't serve any." Apparently "anju" are dishes that you eat when drinking Korean alcohol. She politely explained this concept to us and we dropped the subject of the corn.

After much discussion, we learned that Ma Lul Ha Lu no longer exists. The business was bought out about a month ago. They are now called Mung Dong, named after a famous part of Korea known for Man Doo. To our dismay, they do not have corn with mayo and kraft singles, but their dumplings were pretty good. We also had the fried chicken was decent, not the best fried chicken - but still good. It was juicy and well flavored.

The place probably deserves closer to a 3.5/5.0, but the ingredients were very fresh and you can even watch them making the man doo from scratch. The servers were very nice and seem to have quite a passion for the food. I'm still looking for a place with the corn dish, but I wouldn't mind coming back here for some dumplings.

Eventful week

I haven't really been updating lately since things have been busy, but that doesn't mean we haven't been able to get out. Unfortunately (or not so unfortunately) for me, most of our activities have revolved around food events. (Okay, we did see Batman last night, but so did all of America) Like I said, we went to Food Studio one last time this week. (I've now uploaded pics) It wasn't the best closing, but I'm glad I went. Food Studio has been a place of great memories.

We also attended the Yelp event at Table 1280, which was pretty fun. (my first Yelp event!) The weather was perfect that day. We were greeted by the very spirited Deanna from Yelp, who organized the party. Yelp and Table 1280 were great hosts...they kept the drinks and food coming and had little activities on the sides to keep the party going. It was pretty fun to see some of the Yelpers live in person, although I'll have to admit I didn't really advertise who I was. Exhausted from my long week and not feeling as sociable that day, I sat back and observed a bit more than I normally would have. I hope to meet more people at the next one. It was an awesome event though and it was a great mix of people.

We also took the opportunity to get some dessert at Table 1280. (even though we had already eaten dessert at the party) Yum! Table 1280 generally has delicious and innovative desserts. The current pastry chef is Chad Guay, one of my favs in Atlanta! The dessert menu is always changing here, but we had the: Peach Upside Down Cake, Basil Ice Cream, Sweet Tea Reduction; and the Roasted Plum Turnover, Fromage Blanc Sorbet, Candied Ginger

I'll write more later about some of our other restaurant visits later...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Good Bye Food Studio

I haven't written in a while, but we've been to a few new places within the last couple of weeks.

We also dined at Food Studio this week to pay one last visit before it converts to a event-only space next week. I hate to say it, but the food was pretty disappointing (at least disappointing for the Food Studio) - a weak last hoorah. I can't really think of anything that really stood out, although they were offering an attractively priced price fixed menu. I won't comment on the different dishes since this restaurant will not be around soon, but here are some pics of the food.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Cross-Eyed Cat : Gato Bizco Cafe, A Review

How do I describe Gato Bizco Cafe? Tex-mex meets Crunchy-Granola = Great food and great people!

One sunny weekend noon, my friend and I decided to go to a brunch joint that neither of us had tried. Gato Bizco Cafe is located in the Candler Park area right across from the original Flying Biscuit Cafe. I'm not sure why I'd never been to Gato Bizco, which according to Babel Fish means Cross-Eyed Cat. I suppose it had something to do with the fact that I never noticed this small eatery until I read about it online. (online has really changed the way I eat)

To be honest, we were a bit apprehensive about the place, the reviews were pretty good for the most part, but there were the harsh ones as well. Also, the logo of the cat wasn't exactly inviting. The wait was longer than we had anticipated, but we were finally seated by who we believe was the owner, a nice bearded man. The place is very relaxed and all the people are very down to earth. There are people outside waiting for a seat, but you don't get that chaotic rushed feeling of many of the other hot brunch spots in Atlanta.

Service: It was the owner (again, pretty sure, but not certain) who took our order. He's a really nice guy who looks as if he was plucked straight out of the 70's. He even took the time to sit down at our booth to answer questions about the menu. Very helpful! The thing that really sold us was when he pointed out that we could basically order anything we wanted, however we wanted. It's written on the menu itself. He's pretty interested in making sure that all his patrons have a great experience, and for that, I'll be back soon.

The food/drinks: Even though the atmosphere is pretty laid back and you never feel rushed one bit. The cafe is pretty small so the service is quick and the food comes out fast, hot, and fresh. It was also incredibly impressive that the owner was there the entire time. Here's a run down of what we got:

  • Yum! I'll have another:
    • Orange juice: Fresh squeezed and delicious
    • Coffee: I didn't have any but my friend said it was pretty good
    • Huevos Rancheros: I went with the huevos since I had read so much about it. It isn't your traditional huevos rancheros, like I've had in Mexico. However, this dish is phenomenal. The flavors were nice and there was a good balance between all the ingredients. It was also well presented, something I wasn't expecting. I couldn't stop eating it. It lived up to the hype on Yelp. (a rarity) I highly recommend this dish, just don't expect traditional huevos.
    • Sweet Potato Pancakes: Yum! It is really delicious. I only wish I had had more room in my stomach. I'd never thought to mix sweet potato into a pancake, but it works very well. (This is coming from a girl who doesn't fancy sweet potatoes)
    • French Toast: This is what my friend had. It was pretty good. (get some pecans on it too)
  • Could Be Better:
    • The grits: I got cheese grits. I always get grits at a breakfast place, but if I go back, I'll be skipping this dish. Grits are not the Gato's forte, but hey, that was just one dish out of the bunch.
All in all, this definitely goes on my list of favorite brunch spots in Atlanta. The service is spectacular, there's a character and warmth about the place, and I really enjoyed my food. I'll be back.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chicken and Waffles

In all the time I have lived in Atlanta, I never made it to Gladys Knight and Ron Winans' Chicken and Waffles until t his weekend. I think part of the reason was because I had always assumed they meant waffle fries and not an actual waffle. Once I heard it was an actual waffle, I felt compelled to go. Chicken and Waffles??? I had never had such a combination before, so we gathered a group up and decided to try the famous Atlanta establishment.

The wait was pretty long, with the line spilling out into the sidewalk. I've actually seen people crowded around this area before, but I never realized that they were all waiting to get into Gladys Knight's. I just thought they were loitering. The wait was nearly as bad as waiting to get into a brunch place in Atlanta on the weekend. Occasionally, the hostess came out to call names, it was like the lottery, "is it me? is it me?!? awww...." Finally, it was our turn. How exciting! We even had one group try to pretend to be ours to take it. I gues s you can't blame them for the attempt.

The interior was relatively nice. It seemed to surprise most new comers - I had heard several people in line comment on it. The restaurant is clean as are the bathrooms.

Service: From start to finish, I have to say that the service was great. Everyone was very polite, professional, and personable. We questioned our server when he didn't write a single thing down for our large group, but he said that he had not done so all day. When we were all done ordering, he quickly repeated our order back to us flawlessly and proceeded to the kitchen. Our order came out in a timely fashion and everything was in place. The only thing remotely flawed about the drink orders is that they did not refill drinks very often and our glasses were taken away from us when we they did so, which is a nono in most restaurants. Still, I loved the service and our guy was awesome.

Food: Some food was better than others. If you go, I suggest getting the fried chicken and a separate waffle rather than the midnight train, which comes with wings.
  • Things we liked:
    • Sweet Tea : not the best but pretty good and not too sweet. It is better than the Uptown, which is their version of the Arnold Palmer
    • Fried Chicken: I liked their fried chicken. It wasn't out of this world, but it was pretty darn good. It was fried evenly on all sides and came out in a beautiful golden color. It was also not overly greasy or salty. I only wish that it had just a bit more crisp.
    • Baked Chicken? I didn't get this, but the person at our table devoured it so I'm assuming it is pretty acceptable
    • Grits
    • Fried Corn
    • Black Eye Peas
    • Corn Bread
    • Waffle
  • Things that were just okay
    • Wings: The people at our table liked them but weren't raving about it or other words, the wings aren't worth the long wait in line
    • Mac & Cheese
    • Mash Potatoes
  • Things I'll never get again
    • Collar Greens: Surprisingly, these were not that great. I do like collard greens, but these were a bit tough and there was something about the taste that didn't work for me. I've had hospital greens that have tasted better. (but to the defense of the restaurant, the hospital greens I had were pretty good)
In summary, I'd go back again if a friend were in from out of town or if the wait happened not to be so long. The service is great as well as welcoming. It's something I suggest every Atlantan do at least once.

Cupcake Hunting

This is Part I, (part II here)

To be honest, I've never really been a fan of cupcakes. When I learned that there were a few cupcake places in Atlanta, though, it piqued my interest. We set out to just try one cupcake place, but as we were on the way, we noticed online that there were a few cupcake places in the same vicinity.

Which one were we to try?
The simple solution was to try them all, of course. We decided to go on a cupcake hunt of sorts to figure out which one had the best Atlanta cupcake. We were on a mission, rain and all.

Matty Cakes: Since we were already close by, we started off our adventure at Matty Cakes, a store on Piedmont. I had always overlooked Matty Cakes, but had read some great reviews recently about this place. We walked right in, but discovered that it was closed. Actually, the place had been closed for an hour and a half, and they were cleaning up and preparing for the next day. The staff was incredibly nice and didn't even mention that they were closed until we noticed their store hours and asked. They replied that they were indeed closed but that we were welcome to purchase anything they had left.

There wasn't much left. One case had been completely cleaned out, and the other had only four cupcakes left crying out, "buy me!" Pretty impressive that they were this popular! This place also got bonus points for being so accommodating and welcoming. The remaining cupcakes were the gigantic sized. They normally have three sizes, a mini, a normal and the gigantic. We purchased the tirimisu flavor, had it packed up for later, and headed off to our next location.

Atlanta Cupcake Factory: Our second stop was in the highlands at a place called Atlanta Cupcake Factory. It was actually the place we first intended on visiting. It opened sometime in 2007 and the online pictures I had seen of their cupcakes looked pretty de-lish!

I'm not sure how many people are normally there, but it looked like a one man operation. The store was pretty cute and there seemed to be a steady stream of visitors. Even though it hasn't been open very long, the building it is in is an older Virginia Highlands retail space, giving it that homey feel. It is pretty small on the inside, but there are a couple places to sit outside.

I didn't take pictures inside, but I wish I did. Their cupcakes were cute. By their suggestion, we purchased a strawberry cupcake and a banana one as well. At $2.50 each, they were a bit pricier than Matty Cake's cupcake of similar size, $1.99. We packed up the two and headed for the next location, Sweet Pockets, which is located near the Rathbun restaurants.

Sweet Pockets: The skies had cleared up nicely by the time we arrived Sweet Pockets. The business shares a space with a few other vendors, including the famous Jake's Ice Cream. All the businesses share a common eating area as well as a living room set up as many Jake's Ice Creams have. Once inside, we discovered that Sweet Pockets was in the back. There was a girl behind the counter engrossed in a book. When we got to the counter, she popped up and was very helpful. The business is just a stand, but we were told they are looking for an additional location.

There were so many good looking cupcakes. Like, Matty Cakes, this place also carries miniature cupcakes, but we were told they run out first thing in the morning. The cute thing about this place were the little flags indicating the flavor. She suggested the Vegan Midnight cupcake, the Happy Monkey (a banana and peanut butter cupcake), Cookies and Cream, and the Key Lime. (the month special) After much back and forth, we settled on the Happy Monkey and the Vegan Midnight. We knew there were a few other cupcake places, but five were plenty to try for one sitting.

Somehow, we ended up taking our cupcakes to eat in front of the Highland's Bakery. There was a bench, and since the bakery was closed, we thought they wouldn't mind terribly much. We were so excited and set out all five cupcakes to admire before we dug in. I feel a little bad about eating our treats here, however. A few separate groups came up to the bakery thinking it was open since we enjoying our cupcakes outside. It was like false advertising.

Matty Cake's - Tirimisu - This was probably the most unfair one to judge because, being one of four remaining, it was clear that it was not going to be their top seller. It was good though. The icing was nice. The cake was a bit drier than I would have liked, but it was better towards the middle. I can't really review this one so it won't go on Yelp until we get to go again.

Atlanta Cupcake Factory
- We liked these. The strawberry cupcake was delicious. It was moist, not too sweet, but flavorful. The icing had a fruity tartness that was refreshing. The strawberry cupcake ended up being my top pick out of the bunch. I would definitely go back for this little bite of delight. The banana cupcake was good too, but there were portions of this cupcake that turned out to be a little doughy. I loved the icing on both cupcakes though! (I'm not even an icing fan) The icing here is light and very smooth. It isn't exactly what you think of when someone says icing, but I prefer this icing.

Sweet Pockets - Surprisingly, these cupcakes were good as well. I didn't care for the icing as much since it was a little bit more gritty. The Happy Monkey cupcake was a bit drier than any of the cupcakes we tried, but it worked really well with its icing. Combined with the peanut butter flavor, there was a very appropriate texture. I'm not sure if this was intended or if that is by accident, but it worked for me. The Vegan Midnight is a chocolate cupcake made with soy. On first bite, I found it too sweet and rich, but it grew on me. I'm not saying that I'd try it again, but it was not bad. It's also the staff favorite at Sweet Pockets and when we gave our friend a bite, it was is favorite cupcake as well.


All in all, it was a fun outing. I wasn't expecting much since I generally am not impressed with cupcakes, so it was surprising to find not one, but three decent cupcake stores in Atlanta. All three places were pretty good. I liked each place for different things, but when it comes down to which place I'm looking forward to going again, I'd have to say it would be Atlanta Cupcake Factory for the strawberry cupcake. I'll also be going back to Matty Cake's to try their most highly recommended items and for their incredible hospitality. Still, from what I can tell, Atlanta Cupcake Factory fits my taste the best.

This was pretty fun I think that we'll have to go around trying cupcakes at the places we didn't hit up. I had no idea that there were so many cupcake place in the ATL!
Matty Cakes: 1830 piedmont ave | atlanta ga 30324 | 404.917.cake (2253)
tues - fri: 8 - 6 | sat: 8 - 3 |sun and mon: closed

Atlanta Cupcake Factory
: 624 n highland ave ne| atlanta ga 30306| 678.358.9195
thurs 11-5 |fri 12-8:30 | sat 12-8:30 | sun 12-5:00

Sweet Pockets
: 660 irwin st se | atlanta, ga 30312 | 404.584.2826
tues-sun 11-6