Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Driving around for three years and dining at Rosebud

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Crab cakes at Rosebud

Every regular Atlanta restaurant diner knows that without a reservation, it's often next-to-impossible to find a desirable table in our city on a Friday night. That's not such a bad thing, considering how just the opposite was true a few years ago when restaurants were dropping like flies, thanks to a suck-ass economy.

Openings became so rare that food writers scratched and clawed their way to be first at, say, Maria's Casa de Pollo con Chow Mein behind a whorehouse in Alpharetta. Fine dining turned into a luxury enjoyed only by trust-fund zombies. I mean who wants to sit in a restaurant full or Republicans?

As regular readers know, I've been driving around Friday nights for nearly three years. My weekly dining group (which has grown to 10 or more some nights and includes several Republicans) set out to visit the new Ink & Elm in Emory Village. One of our members, Michael, is friends with the owners. "They've been telling me we have to visit," he said ...

So we drove over. And it's not yet open. Like so many restaurant owners in Atlanta, they are apparently still busy impersonating toy poodles leaping through hoops held high by our city administration. Who knows? But check out their website, linked above. It looks interesting.

So we decided to head over to Virginia-Highland to see what was up. Looky there. Ron Eyester's new pizza joint, Timone's, has opened! "No," somebody whined. "I had pizza last night." So had I, actually. And, in any case, I knew the restaurant was still working out some kinks and that it was too early to visit.

Landing at Rosebud

So, tired of riding around in Ryan Jung's short bus-like SUV that seats 8, we decided on Eyester's flagship restaurant a few doors down, Rosebud. I was surprised we got a table right away, on the patio.

Eyester's food remains as good as ever. Words like "local," "seasonal," and "sustainable" apply to the menu but, mercifully, aren't plastered all over the place. By this time, as Asha Gomez told me when she opened Cardamom Hill, diners should be able to presume those words apply in any good restaurant.

I ordered the Carolina pea stew with rice as an app. Two thoughts crossed my mind: Jamaican red pea soup and Hoppin' John. I love both, and Eyester's stew is still on my mind a week later. I was torn between two entrées. Would it be the coffee-braised lamb shank with a sweet pea puree or the regular Friday night special of Peekytoe crab cakes? Our super server convinced me to go for the latter. Good choice. Crab cakes also show up on Eyester's brunch menu, prepared eggs-Benedict-style. They're a soothing, smooth way to clog your arteries.

There wasn't much variety at the table. Others also picked the crab cakes. The fried chicken, from Springer Mountain Farms (source noted!), landed in front of several. I took a few tastes here and there. All was well.

Time to update

Ryan Jung, driver and bookkeeper, at the Colonnade
As it happens, our driver Ryan, has updated the list of restaurants where the group has eaten since we started in March 2011. Joining several of them at LongHorn, I was horrified by the quality for the cost and proposed that I guide them to some far better alternatives. I've eliminated restaurants that have closed to my knowledge - and there were some good ones like Pura Vida and Tierra. The list includes some repeats. I noticed in reading this over that we've gravitated a lot toward Mexican/Latino and Italian flavors. The type of restaurant is chosen by consensus.

Note: The point of these meals is to visit moderate-to-low-priced, established restaurants, not to explore newbies, although we do occasionally. This is not a list of the best restaurants in the city and I have mentioned many of these over the last 20+ years. I have asterisked those where most seemed to especially enjoy the food.

2013

Rosebud
Amazza Pizza
Little Bangkok*
Yum Bunz
Mariscos El Veneno
Poor Calvin's
Red Snapper
The Colonnade
Zocalo*
Bell Street Burritos & Jake's Ice Cream*
BoccaLupo*
Persepolis
Canton House
Cho Sun OK*
Baraonda
Lunacy Black Market*
Canton House
The General Muir
Gio's Chicken Amalfitano*
Spoon Eastside*
DBA Barbeque
Fritti*
Ameer's Mediterranean Grill

2012

Holy Taco*
Mezza*
Chateau de Saigon*
LongHorn (hard baseline reset 11-23-12)
Desta Ethiopian*
Beijing Kabobs
Agave*
Eclectic Bistro
Nuevo Laredo*
Cruzado*
Osteria 832 Pasta & Pizza
Sun in my Belly*
Chef Liu*
Hong Kong Harbour
Harold's Chicken & Ice Bar
Lure
Figo Pasta
STG Trattoria
The Shed at Glenwood*
Stir It Up *
Fritti*
Crawfish Shack Seafood*
Krusty Krabb (Ft. Walton Beach, FL)
Pho Dai Loi*
El Rey del Taco*
Campagnolo
Urban Pl8*
Tommy Bahamas Naples, FL
Nino's
Boneyard*
HD1
Mezza*
57th Fighter Group
The Ridge
Roxx*
Stir it up*
Chateau de Saigon*
Taqueria la Oaxaquena (Jonesboro)*
Gu's Bistro*
Community Q*
Cardamom Hill*

2011

Outback
Antico Pizza*
Alma Cocina
Rain
Barcelona*
Tartufo Pizza
246*
Nicola's*
Takorea
Au Rendez Vous
Lunacy Black Market*
Holy Taco*
Serpas*
Thali
Stir it Up*
Top Floor*
Sufi's*
Penang*
Sotto Sotto*
One Ear Stag*
Miso Izakaya*
Bhojanic*
The Sound Table*
Urban Pl8*
Cakes & Ale*
JCT Kitchen*
Sprig*
Stone Bowl*
Chateau de Saigon*
Co'm*
LongHorn

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