Sure, the Kerala fried chicken and waffles gets all the press, but there's another item at Cardamom Hill that fills my dreams. It's a simple cup of chai. A wonderful cup of chai. If there is a better cup of chai anywhere in the world, I just might be willing to hop on a plane to try it.
Part of what makes Cardamom Hill's chai so compelling is how different it is from the typical chai that Americans have come to know through their Starbucks or other chain coffee shop - a few pumps of syrup, or a scoop of instant powder that gets mixed into steamed milk. The difference between that and Cardamom Hill's chai is like the difference between a push-button "cappuccino" from the machine at the local gas station and a carefully constructed beauty of espresso and milk from the likes of Dancing Goats or Octane.
Yesterday, it was a beautiful, David Sweeney-esque bowl of golden quinoa with sharply bitter sautéed arugula and brightly acidic chunks of pickled beets for just $3.50. That plus a nicely nuanced spicy chicken tortilla soup for $4 made for a perfect $8 lunch (OK, a bit under $10 with tip). The creamy texture of the terracotta-red soup enveloped large chunks of pulled chicken and slowly softened the strips of corn tortilla. It wasn't a traditional rendition, but it paired perfectly with that bowl of beets and arugula to make for the kind of lunch that leaves you both sated and happy to have chosen something healthy.
LaSage moved on to open his own place, with the same name, in West Midtown. Meanwhile, P'cheen continued to serve alchemical moonshine cocktails and gastro-pub cuisine, prepared by chef/co-owner Alex Friedman. My favorite was the "just trust us" dishes that Friedman improvised, depending on his mood and available ingredients.
Now, the restaurant has a new menu, entirely of small plates, developed by chef/owner Alex Friedman.
Good evening, I'll be your server tonight.
Does anyone in the party have any food allergies?
And on your paternal grandmother's side?
What about goat, anyone allergic to goat? Because that's our appetizer special tonight, Dutchess County free-ranging baby goat, lovingly dispatched as the New York City Children's Choir sings it a traditional Austrian goat-herd lullaby. You can watch it yourself on our closed-circuit television. In fact, we insist you watch. It will be served vol-au-vent. Can anyone in this party define vol-au-vent? Very good, we'll be allowing you to keep your table until you've almost finished dessert.
Wed., May 15
The Solarium at Historic Scottish Rite Wed., May 15, 6 p.m. Go Eat Give: Destination Kenya Enjoy authentic Kenyan food, music, and culture. Hear from keynote speaker Kelly Campbell, founder of the Village Cooperative. Proceeds benefit nonprofit organization Go Eat Give. Sponsored by Global Atlanta and AKPA. Details
Mac McGee's Irish Pub Wed., May 15, 7:30 p.m. Tullamore Dew Tasting with Ambassador Tim Herlihy Enjoy three delicious expressions from Tullamore Dew with Ambassador Tim Herlihy. Tim will talk about the history of Irish distilling and guests will taste three Tullamore Dews all for $15. RSVP required. Details
Thurs., May 16
Park Tavern Thurs., May 16, 7-11 p.m. On Thursday, May 16, join Creative Loafing and 11 of Atlanta's finest bartenders as they converge upon Park Tavern in a battle to concoct the best margarita in town. Only you can pick the winner. Details
Woodfire Grill Thurs., May 16, 6 p.m. Wine Tasting Series Join Woodfire Grill co-owner and wine director Nicolas Quinones and sommelier Patrick Guilfoil for a new monthly wine-tasting series. For each tasting, the restaurant pours eight wines focused on a specific theme or region with either Quinones or Guilfoil present to answer any questions. Details
It was after midnight, and our plane was having trouble negotiating the dense clouds sitting in the high mountain valley of Quito, Ecuador. One pass, then another, then one more, all proved too risky to attempt landing. The pilot's voice carried through the cabin, a reluctant recognition of defeat - we were being diverted. To Cali, Colombia.
Cali, Colombia? At the time, all I knew of it was a vague association with drugs - the Cali Cartel, cocaine, violence. We arrived to a nearly deserted airport in the dark of night, and the thought of actually experiencing this city didn't even cross my mind. I was concerned about the safety of my family, my young kids, my wife. I didn't view our pit stop as an opportunity, but rather a potentially dangerous distraction away from our desired destination.
WTF? Jennifer Brett, the AJC's "Peach Buzz" columnist, is ashamed. Her Thursday, Apr. 25, column is headlined, "An apology to Paula Deen's son, Jamie Deen, for my rudeness."
Jennifer phone-interviewed Jamie about his appearance at this weekend's American Diabetes Association Expo at Cobb Galleria. Jamie said that it was always good to be near his mama and brother.
Then, Brett writes, explaining her seismic faux pas in language that Paula would envy:
Oh, how is your Mama...? See? I didn't even ask. Lawd where is my funeral home fan; I am giving myself the vapors acting such the fool...Since I was raised in the church, I do not bear false witness even when committing the unpardonable sin of rudeness...
As yet there is no word whether Jamie, whose mother's food totally sucks, has accepted her apology.
Since it was Tres de Mayo,a few days before Cinco de Mayo, I agreed to the choice. (And Tres de Mayo is famous for its own reasons, anyway.) In a shopping center swarming with Walmart shoppers and a view of Lane Bryant, La Parilla was packed with margarita-swilling diners, all raucous and rosy-faced, thanks to red neon signs that say things like "Cocina" and "Baños." Que auténtico! Not really.
Like the average chain restaurant, La Parilla serves mostly tame Tex-Mex (think fajitas) that won't sting the cowardly palates of most Americans. I don't mean that Tex-Mex isn't an authentic, regional cuisine, but it shouldn't be called Mexican. (The best Tex-Mex in town, incidentally, is down the road from La Parilla at Nuevo Laredo.)
So, why did the meal turn out better than I expected?
The carnitas. I was ambivalent about ordering them, a favorite dish, because the vast majority of Atlanta restaurants don't cook them correctly. They typically just serve hunks of roasted pork. Then I heard our Friday ringleader Bobby order them and tell the server he wanted them crispy. That's exactly what they are not in most restaurants here, so I decided to give them a try.
No kidding, they were delicious - certainly among the best I've had in Atlanta. They were crispy, fork- tender and sat atop a totally mild green sauce intense with the slightly sour taste of tomatillos. (I asked for extra.) Corn tortillas for making tacos were hot off the grill.
The bad news: The frijoles charros was way watery and that inevitable plate filler, "Mexican rice," was completely unappetizing. Hey, Paula Deen likes the stuff, so I'm probably in a minority.
I didn't sample anything that my friends ordered, except for a hunk of grilled steak - carne asada - served fajita-style on a sizzling iron dish of grilled onions and peppers. Good enough.
So, if you go, order the carnitas but be sure to specify that you want them extra-crispy. Or you can order a giant margarita and anything you order will taste fantastico.
Here are her picks:
Bantam + Biddy, Buttermilk Kitchen, The General Muir, Little Alley Steak, Lure, The Optimist, Shabu N Shabu, STG Trattoria, Watershed on Peachtree, and Yet Tuh. Honorable mentions go to The Spence, Gato/Arigato, and Seven Lamps.
Let's see if you can match Christiane's adjectives to restaurant names. No peeking below!:
(1) extraordinary, (2) sleek and secret, (3) humble (4) fine, (5) nontraditional, (6) handsome, (7) glam and comfortable, (8) perfectly pitched, (9) super-fun, (10) spot-on gourmet
(Answers: (1) The General Muir, (2) STG, (3) Yet Tuh, (4) Watershed, (5) Buttermilk, (6) Little Alley, (7) Lure, (8) The Optimist, (9) Shabu, (10) Bantam + Biddy.)
(By the way, one of the things I've always liked about Christiane's writing is that it is not descriptively baroque. Call 404-378-2775 to subscribe to Knife & Fork.)
King + Duke is finally upon us: T-minus 3 days until Ford Fry's new restaurant with a wood-burning hearth opens at 3060 Peachtree Road in Buckhead. The prolific chef and his team - which includes executive chef Joe Schafer and pastry chef Chrysta Poulos - has plucked Paige Lane from Midtown seafood spot Lure to lead the cocktail program.
Henry's, the new Midtown restaurant from Peasant Restaurants owner Maureen Kalmanson, is quickly taking shape. After shuttering Peasant Bistro on April 18, Kalmanson has turned her attention to the high traffic of Midtown, which also houses her Italian eatery Campagnolo. The design of Henry's (132 10th St.), the vision of Jeffrey Bruce Baker, will be highly detailed, with reclaimed barn wood, dark tones, and lots of built-in storage. They've also filed a permit for a multi-level deck that will cantilever around existing trees and shrubs and allow water runoff. The non-smoking American eatery should open by June.
Hola Mexican Cantina will officially open in place of the shuttered Decatur Diner (205 E. Ponce De Leon Ave.) on Monday, May 13. The color-splashed eatery will serve inventive items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including blue corn waffles with tequila syrup and strawberries, aged sirloin Benedict, fried lobster tail tacos, and crispy chicharron and pork carnitas.
Up-and-coming Atlanta bartender Bradford Tolleson, formerly of Pura Vida, recently landed the head bartender position at Restaurant Eugene. While the cocktail menu will continue to be created and critiqued collectively by all bartenders from Eugene and Holeman & Finch under the direction of Greg Best, Tolleson says that moving forward, guests can expect "well-curated, elegant drinks that forgo silly names and change constantly to fit each day perfectly. "
Love it. He's my hero of the week.
To "I mean really": As the girl who held the 'keys' to his cuffs, I…
Wesley why do you keep following me? Stop conspiring against me!
Pee breaks allowed for a chain-in?
jr, why are u talking?
He's protesting because Aurora has been a community "place" for years. Its a gathering place…