Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bone Lick Barbecue


Big Ole Totties - Tots, sausage, pulled pork, chipotle bbq sauce, Brunswick stew, homemade cheese sauce, jalapenos 

The Austin-tacious - Chopped brisket, fried shoestring onions, slaw, sweet heat bbq sauce with a side of cider slaw  


Bone Lick BBQ was a part of Atlanta's Meat Week, a week-long trek of eating at local BBQ joints. I can't eat that much BBQ in one day let alone one week, so I opted to pick just one day to meet up with friends. It turned out that (a) one of my friends had a voucher to this place and (b) another friend was coming back from a work trip this day, so it worked out for those who wanted to come. I invited more people but, for whatever reason, there were four of us that evening. It's all good though - I prefer small groups anyway.

One friend had already been here before and recommended the tots and the Austin-tacious. He had tried other sandwiches but kept coming back to that one, so I had to try it, of course. My biggest mistake was ordering the side of cider slaw. The sandwich already comes with slaw on it, so the extra slaw was bit much. I thought it was going to be on the sweet side but it was quite salty and sour from being drenched in vinegar. Note to self: Order jalapeno mac and cheese next time. Otherwise, the sandwich was great. I liked the different flavors and textures together. I ate the sandwich last though which, with everything on it, made the bread a bit soggy on the bottom.

The tots were excellent, though I think the "homemade" cheese sauce tastes eerily similar to movie theatre nacho cheese sauce. If you have a different opinion, please let me know. I haven't ordered nachos at a movie theater in a while, so I need someone to confirm or deny. ;oP On the whole, I liked the food there. I'm not as impressed with the service though. Perhaps the Meat Week crowd threw them for a loop?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I Luv Pho






I'd heard of I Luv Pho but I didn't know about this particular location. The menu and decor are a bit cheesy with the heart theme. Womp, womp. This location's interior confuses me, too. Clearly, the owners did not hire an interior decorator because there's a mish-mash of patterns and styles going on. It's better to concentrate on the food, haha.

I was in the mood for noodles, so I opted for this crispy noodle dish. It was huge! I didn't anticipate getting something so big. O_O I thought I would be good and save some for later but.. nope. I ended up finishing the whole thing. *shakes head in disappointment* We were all catching up with each other for about 2 hours, and I have a nasty habit of picking at food that's in front of me, regardless of whether or not I'm full. So yeah... I ATE IT ALL BY MYSELF. It seemed like a good idea at the time! -____-"

The place was busy, and service was fast. I can't complain.

Shepherd's Pie

 
 Potatoes first...

then the meat part of the pie.  

 

Put one on top of the other... 

and drain the meat better than I did, please... 

 and voila!

I had had a craving for Shepherd's pie for a while but kept making excuses for not making it, such as I don't have the time to make it. o___O Well, that excuse went out the window with this recipe. I also needed to start using a supply of evaporated milk I had bought a while ago, so this was a perfect storm of opportunity. Granted, it only uses one can of evaporated milk but I now have one less can to use. ;oP

Other than not draining all of the excess from the cooked beef, this came out well! Unfortunately, since I didn't drain all of the beef, the contents bubbled and spilled over in the oven. Boo. But it wasn't a terrible clean-up. I might also ease up on the amount of potatoes next time; it seemed the potato to filling ratio was a little heavy on the potato side. Normally, I'd be fine with this except it threw off the balance of the dish. Oh well... it still tasted good. I didn't have any paprika on hand, so I skipped that minor step.

Ingredients:

Mashed Potato Topping
3 lb potatoes (about 6 large), peeled and quartered
1 can (370 mL) evaporated milk
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Paprika to taste

Filling
1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (I substituted balsamic vinegar.)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup ketchup

Directions:

Mashed Potato Topping
1. Cover potatoes with water in large pot; bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well.

3. Add 1 cup evaporated milk, butter, salt, and pepper; mash until smooth. Set aside.

Filling
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brown beef in large skillet over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.

2. Add onion, garlic, and bell pepper; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until bell pepper is slightly softened and beef is no longer pink. Drain off fat.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add remaining evaporated milk, frozen vegetables, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, and pepper, stirring until combined.

4. Remove from heat; stir in ketchup. Spoon into 13 x 9-inch baking dish, spreading evenly.

5. Smooth mashed potato topping over filling, sealing to edges of dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until hot and bubbling.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe: http://www.carnationmilk.ca/recipe-details.aspx?rid=974

Firkin & Gryphon


Vegetarian samosas served with mint chutney

 
Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich - Marinated then grilled chicken, ham, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and basil aioli on a toasted bun (sans onion) with sweet potato tots (!)

Firkin & Gryphon is located where a Boneheads or Smokey Bones used to be, up Ashford-Dunwoody Road from Perimeter Mall. I chose this place because there's a regular Wednesday night trivia night, and I wanted to meet up with some folks in a central part of the metro area. Hence, Firkin & Gryphon! Plenty of parking, plenty of seating, and plenty of conversation topics due to the trivia night.

The service was attentive for the most part. I split the vegetarian samosas with someone; even though I had had Indian food not too long ago, that did not include samosas! I was glad to eat them, haha. Seeing as how Firkin & Gryphon has a variety of food genres on the menu, I'm sure the samosas were the frozen-then-fried variety but I didn't care. It still tasted good to me. And they definitely had a kick to them that I wasn't expecting! O_o By the time my friend and I polished off the samosas, I was pretty full. When my entree came, I left the sandwich alone and went straight for the tots. I ended up eating the sandwich the next day for lunch. :o) Man... those tots were good! Don't tater tots remind you of your childhood? I kind of wish they didn't because they're not exactly healthy for you but oh well. Nothing can be done about it now!

I'm planning on going back, if not for the food then definitely for the trivia. ;o) I thought we had a fighting chance there.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Himalayas



I was introduced to Himalayas about a year or two ago. Several friends and I ate there for dinner to celebrate a someone's birthday. I met up with a couple of friends here for the lunch buffet. Surprisingly, it'd been a while since I last had Indian food.

The lunch buffet is pretty typical of Indian lunch buffets: soup, rice, naan, vegetarian dishes, and chicken dishes. There are also desserts and yogurts available. This place was pretty empty when we ate there but perhaps the cold weather kept people away. The service is okay; they've got nothing on Panahar though. (Panahar is still my favorite Indian place!) One of my favorite Indian dishes is the saag paneer - spinach and cheese. OMG... I love it. You can fill up pretty quickly, especially with the never-ending naan. 

Fontaine's

Crab Cake Remoulade - Two jumbo lump crab cakes with remoulade sauce and a side item (mixed veggies)

Po'Boy with fries 

Chocolate Pie

Fontaine's in Virginia Highlands - I had seen the sign a few times but never cared to try it until my friend mentioned she had a voucher, haha. Amazing what vouchers can do, huh?

We wound up in the back patio near a heat lamp, thank goodness. It was a cold evening and we didn't feel like getting sick. I believe the voucher was from Restaurant.com, and it was definitely worth it. My friend ordered a cup of the lobster bisque and a po'boy while I ordered the crab cake remoulade. The crab cakes were good - the sauce really made it. The texture of the cakes was lightly fried on both sides but still soft enough on the inside where you don't feel like you're chewing rubber. YUM. The vegetables were on the mushy side having been sauteed pretty well, which I prefer. This is especially the case with squash and zucchini because not cooking them long enough, to me, gives the veggies a rubbery texture that I don't particularly like.

The cake was the best though. In appearance, it reminds me of Waffle House chocolate pie, haha. I'll have to stop by a Waffle House soon to compare. ;o) I'd go back to Fontaine's but only with a voucher.

Porto Brasil






A friend of mine introduced me to Porto Brasil a couple of years ago. It's a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant that has a variety of meats to choose from. We went for the lunch buffet that time and I had a great experience.

This particular evening, I took another friend here because she was craving meat. There's apparently a dinner buffet option, so we dove in. The meat is the main attraction here - chicken, beef, pork (no lamb) - all roasting on a spit behind the counter. You have to ask someone to slice the cuts for you. I have to admit the meats left something to be desired - it's possible they'd been out too long - but I think it's because we went for dinner. I'm sure it's better during the lunch hour. Anyway, it didn't take us long to fill our stomachs! There were a few other diners on that cold evening. Brave and hungry people.

I'm going to have to try this place again during lunch to refresh my memory. I smell another meat outing.

Zuma







My friend and I are making a habit of coming to Zuma when we have vouchers for our meal. ^_^"

This time, there were only two of us and I exercised more autonomy in the sushi selection. I'm generally a sucker for rolls that have a variety of filling and, hence, are colorful in nature. I feel like the more colorful the roll, the more flavorful it tastes. :o) I really enjoyed the rolls this time around, and I remembered to get pictures of what we ordered to boot. We had the same server this time, too. Great service again.

Outback Steakhouse




Every year for my stepmom's birthday, we go to Outback Steakhouse. I'm not a huge fan of steak because it can be too heavy for me at times but I made an exception that night, hehe.

The plate sizes have gotten smaller! Hmm... I wonder if it has something to do with cost-cutting during the recession, though I don't frequent Outback often enough to know when this change happened. It's just my best guess. If anyone else knows, do tell!

I loved the Hollandaise sauce! I must admit though, I enjoyed a bite of my brother's New York Strip steak more. I can't quite pinpoint whether it was the marinade or the cut of the meat, but I felt the NY Strip tasted better. Every year, I forget which cut I should get. Hopefully, I'll reference this post next year and I'll be on my way. :o) The veggies were there as a reminder for me to eat healthily, especially after we had Bloomin' Onions and Spinach Artichoke dip as appetizers. o_____O Of course, all of this food was on top of the loaves of bread and butter we had. Needless to say, we always stuff ourselves for my stepmom's birthday. (As if holiday eating weren't bad enough!)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Aladdin's




I've been to Aladdin's before and, out of curiosity, ordered shawarma. I wasn't that adventurous this time around, so I went with the falafel meal. I had had this meal the very first time I came to this place (pre-food blog). It still tastes great - it comes out freshly cooked but not searing hot so you can eat it right away. I don't think there's enough pita bread, truth be told, but you can stretch the meal into two if you wanted to do so. I know I did, so I took the leftover falafels and used regular bread as a pita stand-in. Not ideal but it'll do in a pinch.

Whatever dressing is used for the salad... I wish there wasn't so much of it. I tend not to eat many of those veggies because the dressing tastes a little tart to me. Otherwise, it's comforting to see ethnic people in the restaurant. Always a sign of a good place.

Pho Bac



If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I'm not a huge fan of pho itself. The broth simply doesn't fill me up. If I have a bowl of noodle soup for lunch, I know for sure that I'll be hungry at least one hour later. -___-" That doesn't strike me as being a good value but if you want pho, you want pho.

Whenever I'm at a pho place such as Pho Bac, I always order a vermicelli noodle dish. It always comes with fish sauce which is AWESOME, and you can generally find one that includes meat, veggies, egg rolls, or a combination thereto. I usually order the pork and egg roll vermicelli dish but I decided against the pork this evening. The pork and egg roll should stretch into two meals for me but my greedy stomach usually takes over and finishes the dish well after the point of being full. :o( Knowing this and knowing that this dinner was a late one anyway, I opted only for the egg roll which was a good decision.

I tried not using all of the fish sauce but it's impossible. You just have to otherwise you're going to hit a dry noodle somewhere and it just tastes bland. So go ahead and pour the whole bowl of fish sauce into the noodle dish and toss to coat accordingly. There are veggies hidden underneath the noodles to make you think you're eating healthy. Hahaha.... okay, you keep thinking that. ;oP I like Pho Bac because the service is fast and everything on the menu is reasonably priced... but mostly because the service is fast. If you want "fast food" that's not a traditional American burger joint, then you should come to this place.

Haru Ichiban




I've been to Haru Ichiban a few times; I decided to get something different this time though: rainbow roll and tempura. Mmmmm... so glad that I did! I was starving! I've always been a fan of rainbow rolls - who can resist such a wonderful array of seafood colors? - so this was a no-brainer decision for me. Tempura is also awesome. I only have positive things to say about this place, which is amazing. Service is usually pretty quick, too. The hot tea feels really good when it's cold outside. :o) Just remember that the employees are not Japanese. I assume that people assume that because it's a Japanese restaurant that Japanese people work there. Not true! In fact, they speak Mandarin Chinese. O_o Life's funny like that.

Uncle Julio's






This was my second trip to Uncle Julio's, but the first time visiting the Buckhead location. I had been to the Sandy Springs location once before and had a horrible experience - both with the food and the service. I'm pleased to say the second go-around was significantly better than the first!

First of all, the service at the Buckhead location was pretty spot-on. Everyone's orders came out in a reasonable amount of time. The only 'oops' moment was when someone didn't get their fajita tortillas; this was quickly corrected though. Drinks were refilled and plates were taken away in a timely manner.

Adhering to the comment left on the first Uncle Julio's post, I ordered the fajitas. Chicken fajitas. The seasoning they use is pretty good, I'll have to admit, and there are condiments a-plenty (sour cream, guac, etc). I definitely could not finish the meal, so I'm glad it was a "two meals for the price of one" type of deal. It's still a bit pricey for me but stretching it into two meals helps. Also, the chips and salsa at this location were MUCH better than the Sandy Springs location. It tasted nothing like the mesquite flavor I mentioned in the previous post!

I don't know why I had such drastically different experiences at the two locations but I'm glad I gave the place another try.