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

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Eats - Bone Garden Cantina

We went to Bone Garden Cantina on recommendations. The restaurant is less than a month old and was opened by Michael Benoit, co-owner of Vortex, and his wife. I'm sure having a foot in the Atlanta restaurant scene didn't hurt in getting Atlanta foodies to flock to this new establishment.

The restaurant isn't the easiest to find unless you're actively looking for it. One would never happen across it if he or she were driving around hungry. That is, unless that person was THAT attracted by the skeleton sitting on the lawn.

The restaurant itself is pretty cute. It has a Day of the Dead motif and a friendly staff to greet you. Even though the restaurant has only been open less than a month, the fluidity seemed like they've been in operation for years. It isn't the best service in the traditional sense, but the staff is very nice and attentive, which is what is important in a place like this. I also like that there is outdoor seating. It seems like a nice place to kick back with a couple margaritas.

As for the food, we tried half of what most of the reviews said was good and half of other things that weren't mentioned. We just wanted to get a good balance as to what this place was all about.

  • The "free stuff": Chips and salsa are always an important indicator when it comes to these places. It is the first taste impression you get. The chips were just okay but the salsa was quite nice and refreshing
  • The Chunky Guacamole: I'm a big guacamole person so of course we ordered it. It was disappointing and has a lot of room for improvement. Skip it.
  • Mahi Mahi Ceviche: Almost everyone had recommended this dish. It was only okay. I won't be ordering it again. The avocado had browned and the top part was very fishy. It got better as we got to the bottom, but it wasn't anything special to me.
At this point we were a little disappointed, but the good thing was that things got better.
  • Blackened Tilapia Taco: These were better than good. These might be the best fish tacos in Atlanta. Great flavors and better than I expected!
  • Tamale: A little dry but the flavors were great
  • Empanada: These aren't your traditional empanadas, but they were good. The skin was light a flaky. They're a bit on the greasier side.
  • El Pastor Taco: We've had better. It was good but not one of the strong menu items
  • Margarita: I can't recall the name of the margarita that we had, but it was on their drink menu. It was a bit on the pricier side, but it was delicious and refreshing. (I do remember it started with a P)
  • Black Beans: I loved the black beans here. They were not your traditional black beans. These were blended or whipped so that it was just smooth, but it was a nice side to get.
In summary, I'd come here again and stick with the fish tacos, black beans, and margarita. It's incredibly reasonable for some decent food and friendly service. It's also a great place for large groups and even kids!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bummer...Food Studio Closing

It was sad to hear today that one of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta is closing its doors as a restaurant. I first went to Food Studio for Valentine's Day celebration. It wasn't the best food in Atlanta, but it is certainly one of my favorite restaurants, and somewhere that we could count on a good time when taking out guests. It has a wonderful ambiance, and I've always enjoyed the industrial look. The last night will be July 19, 2008. They will then be transformed into a private events venue. The Fifth Group already has the King Plow Arts Center as an event venue, so maybe this will be better for celebrations without all the strangers walking by.

It's coming up quick so make your reservations now if you haven't had the chance to try this great restaurant.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Weekend of Food

Entry to come....

Dynamic Dish - Recommended

Krog Bar - Surprisingly good

Fickle Pickle - Nothing to write home about but okay

Tanaka - Awesome

Shilla Bakery - Meh, you can skip this one

Honey Pig

From my Yelp page
4 /5 stars
Unless you want cardiac surgery, I don't suggest coming here more than once a year. When you DO go, here are some things to keep in mind:

1) wear clothes you don't care about. In fact, remember that shirt in the back of your closet that you know you should get rid of but can't bring yourself to? Wear it to Honey Pig and you'll have no trouble trashing it the next day. YOUR CLOTHES WILL SMELLLLLL. I made the mistake of not listening to people the first time I went. Let's put it this way:

Have you ever seen a restaurant that keeps 5 Febreeze containers by the door??? Honey Pig does, and it won't get that smell off you.

2) Go with someone who speaks Korean. You'll get much better service. If you don't, they'll forget you...or pretend to. Sad, but the truth...

3) If you don't go with someone who speaks Korean and they speak Korean to you, just nod your head and pretend you do. You might be able to get decent service.

4) Make sure you get the rice at the end where they make your leftovers into a very greasy fried rice.

5) This should go without saying, but don't bring a date there. The lingering smell of kimchi with squid, garlic, and pork fat is not very romantic afterwards. (I've noticed that someone stuck Honey Pig under romantic Duluth restaurants...I hope that is a joke)

I can't really suggest Honey Pig to the people I love. Doing so would be like saying, "I want you to be really fat and die of heart disease!" I know that sounds silly, but honey pig is probably one of the most greasy and fatty meals I have ever had. Depending on what you get, you may be better off going to the Varsity and ordering a hot dog and hamburger with the works plus all the greasy onion rings.

I do give this place 4 stars, however, because when you don't think about how your arteries are being clogged, the food is quite good. It is also a one-of-a-kind in Atlanta and that's always nice to have. One of the stars also is given for the febreeze by the door. So, props to you Honey Pig, for being something new, yummy, and very smelly!!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008


I've been addicted to Yelp lately and not kept up with any of my blogs. *Shame*

I've been meaning to write about last weekend for a while. The good thing about this silly Yelp addiction is that I got ideas for new places. We tried quite few places last weekend, some of them quite exciting. I'll have to post pics soon!

I'm stuck out of town right now. Well, I gotta run but more soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yelp - Cool and Funny?

I started a Yelp account and started reviewing like crazy. Once I started it was like a horrible addiction. In this afternoon alone, I was so excited to received a few votes for being Useful, Cool and funny...mainly useful and funny. I guess I'm not so cool...Too bad. I'll take funny flattering.

Maybe this yelp thing isn't so good. What if I happen to go to one of the places I've given a poor rating? Perhaps they have a wall of faces to "get back at". Will they spit in my food? Will they stir bugs in? I hope not.

There have also been these people request to be a friend. Fellow foodies...nice! The day I get favorited...that will be the day. Ah, such simple goals.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blue Jean Bandits...

The AJC published an article about a recent manhunt for the Blue Jean Bandits. I had heard about this operation a while back on the news, but that was some time ago. The article mentioned they had two people in custody and they were still looking for two others after an attempted burglary in Dawson County.

It's really unfortunate that people are robbing these stores. Many of the shops are mom & pop businesses that don't have much to spare. They've hit up several small boutiques already, such as The Fabrik Boutique in Midtown and Boogaloos in downtown Decatur.

I hope that it all stops soon. It is pretty sick what these guys are doing. However, in its simplest form, I can't help but find it strange knowing that it has gotten so out of hand that they've sent helicopters and K-9 units out looking for a couple guys who stole some pants. Well, I hope they find the guys soon so that it can come to an end.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Another look at Castleberry Hill

We took a brief trip to another part of town that we don't venture often now -- Castleberry Hill. I like this part of town and used to take pictures here. It had been quite a while so it was a nice treat to have a good excuse to come back. We were invited for a private showing of a friend's art exhibit showing at the Granite Room. The exhibit originally premiered on May 23rd as part of the 4th Friday Art Stroll that occurs each month. We'd been to other similar events in Atlanta, but never the one at Castleberry Hill.

The exhibit, entitled "Transplanting" by Tina Ying Han was symbolic of the artist's cultural transition from Asia to the United States. There were several elements included in the collection, each telling a part of her story.

Perhaps one of the most impressive parts of the exhibit is a family style round dinner table that is coated in rice. The table displays several dishes, chopsticks, and bowls made of rice and resin. Han explained how this depicted the way she wanted her family to be--eating together in harmony.

There were several other works not shown here. Together, there was the common theme that her move to America has been life changing and that she would never be the same.

The exhibit is going to show again at Georgia Tech, although I'm not sure when or where.

Monday, June 2, 2008

East Atlanta - The Kills Concert

(Written prior w/o internet)

Last night, we went into East Atlanta for a concert. It’s a pretty cool little part of town that I don’t visit enough. There are little boutiques, restaurants, and bars.

The concert was at a place called The Earl. The outside, with a plain purple exterior, was pretty unassuming. It looks like your everyday neighborhood dive. If I had not been there for a concert, I would never have guessed there was even a concert venue in the back. We were actually there on a whim. We had forgotten to purchase tickets and had learned earlier that day that it was sold out. We thought we’d give it a try anyway since we were in the vicinity. We were in luck. The guy by the door pointed out one of the bartenders who could maybe help us out. She had two last tickets to sell, or so we were told anyway. We were some of the very first people to enter the venue. We didn’t realize that there were opening act, so we were able to get an excellent view. There were two acts before The Kills went on, Magic Wands and a guy named Dax with his drummer. It was a pretty good concert fro beginning to end.

It turned out that a good number of people were there for Dax. While in line for the restroom, I met one girl who practically stalks the guy. Another guy, who was obviously drunk, hopped on stage and started head banging to his music until he was finally pulled off stage. Dax’s voice was nice, but his drummer was the more entertaining of the two. His nonchalant attitude, curly Ashton-Kutcher-hair, and his ability to simultaneously smoke, drink and play drums would make a school girl swoon.

The Kills finally started playing around 11:30 or so, and by then, the whole room had filled. They’re great live. Admittedly, I had learned of them through a recent episode of Gossip Girl, where their music was featured, so I had not heard too much of their music. I can now say that I’m a true fan. It was nice having a good view. In fact, at one point I backed away because the man was about to sweat on me…okay, so I’m not THAT big of a fan to allow him to sweat on me, but I like them and I’d definitely go see them again.

Magic Wands

Dax and Guitarist/Drummer

The Kills

The Kills