Saturday, May 30, 2009


Finally we get to the much anticipated Atlanta restaurant review from last weekends travels. Now, I love many of my local restaurants, but I had some unique dining experiences in Atlanta. In order of appearance: (links provided)
  • OK Cafe (lunch Saturday): This diner-like spot near my nephew's place appears to be busy all the time. The food is typical diner food, maybe kicked up a notch with sweet potato chips and a blue cheese dipping sauce. And the waitresses are all dressed in outfits similar to the old Alice TV show, you know, just like a diner. Overall, good, but not memorable.
  • Alfredo's Italian Restaurant (dinner Saturday with my nephew and his new sweetheart Jill): This is an old-style, red sauce, Italian restaurant on Cheshire Bridge Road. It has been in operation since 1974. While we had a very nice meal, the wait staff has probably been working there since opening day, and the decor has changed little over the years. (That is just my food snob talking). Nice, but not remarkable, and does not come up the the standards of Vino e Pasta, Buena Vita or Primi. The best part was spending an evening with my nephew and Jill - fun time.
  • Skipping by Sunday breakfast at the High Museum (croissants) and lunch at the Botanical Garden cafe (sandwich) and moving on to...
  • Atmosphere Bistro (Sunday dinner): If it says "bistro" it catches our eye. While I tried to make reservations at Rathbun's Restaurant a great space and equally great restaurant in a converted warehouse space (Stoveworks) only to learn they are closed on Sunday. So Frank turned on the research mode, and located Atmosphere Bistro which looked promising. Thanks to my phone GPS, we located the restaurant with only one wrong turn. This small French restaurant is located in an old house with small rooms ala Circles in South Tampa. For added authenticity, our server was a young lady from France. OK, on to the food. We started out by sharing a Plateau de charcuterie (assorted meats etc) which was very good. I had the Confit de Canard (Roasted Duck Leg) served with a Dauphinois gratin. Oh, it was so good!. Frank had the Hanger Steak and Fries. The steak was perfectly cooked and very tasty. We finished with a rustic apple tart. This was a lovely French meal, in a nice setting, and was enjoyed with a bottle of Chateau d'Aigueville Cotes Du Rhone.
  • Goldbergs' Bagel Company and Deli (Monday breakfast with my nephew): With a name of Goldberg how can you go wrong. I had bagel and lox, Frank had an asiago bagel with olive cream cheese (something we had never seen before) and Monte had Eggs Benedict. Good breakfast fare
  • Six Feet Under (lunch across from Oakland Cemetery-see prior blog): This was a fun, funky spot located directly across the street from the Cemetery (hence the name). It has somewhat of a sports bar atmosphere, but better. The service was superb and our food was above average. Frank had Combo Tacos, one each of Fried Catfish, Blackened Shrimp, and Fried Calamari. The catfish won the competition for the best of the three. I enjoyed a Fried Catfish basket. A fun place, as Monte's daughter, Summer, comments on in the prior post.
  • Pura Vida (Monday dinner with Liz and Henry): Pura Vida is a cool (i.e. funky) tapas restaurant that takes tapas well beyond the norm. We shared the following: Malanga Root Chips with a Cremini Mushroom Dip and Truffel Oil (very good); "Melted" White Asparagus (could have used a little more punch in my opinion); Diablo Shrimp Coctel (yummy); Duck Confit with caramelized ripe plantains (nice combination of flavors, with a hint of sweetness from the plantains); Empanadas (Henry's favorite); and finally (I think) Los Riburgers, (see menu for details). The Riburgers and the Diablo shrimp were my favorites. Great food, great space, and great friends sharing a meal together - it doesn't get any better.
  • Flip Burger Boutique (Tuesday lunch with Liz): OMG !. If ever in Atlanta go here!. But as Liz pointed out you have to go early; the place fills up fast with a hungry lunch crowd. We arrived about 11:30 and had no problem getting a table. The space is very contemporary, with a mix of long white hi-top tables in the center, booths on one side, and butcher block topped tables along another. There is even a bar in the back where you can eat. But the highlight is the menu - click the link to check out the burgers, milkshakes and other items. Our choices were Flip Burger (Liz); Tuna Burger made with yellow fin tuna (Frank); Pâté Melt made of veal and pork, with Swiss cheese, cornichones, and lingonberry for a touch of sweetness (me). We shared a starter of Asparagus Tempura (yummy), and an order of French Fries (very good) with our burgers. This was a unique experience. 
  • One Flew South (Tuesday dinner at Hartsfield Airport - Terminal E): We all know that airline food is non-existent these days, and that airport food is usually left to the chains like Chili's, sports bars, and the like, but at Terminal E, Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, you can toss out any preconceived ideas about airport food. This had to be, without a doubt, the best meal I have eaten in an airport. The decor is great and so was the food. The inventive menu options made final selection very difficult, but decisions were made. Frank had papperadelli with butternut squash, pearl onions, spinach, raisins and Brussels sprouts. (I got to taste it and it was great, the pearl onions were caramelized perfectly and all the flavors complemented each other. I enjoyed Sweet potato and spinach gnocchi with clams, speck, and sweet peas and their tendrils. This too was an interesting combinations of flavors - sweet, savory, and salty. As we were leaving the restaurant there was a couple looking over the menu. Frank told them to go in, the food was great, and they would not be disappointed. We didn't wait to see if they took our advice, but it they did not, they missed out.
To the gate, board the plane, wait forever for delayed connecting flights to arrive and their passengers to board, fly home, arrive over one hour late, get home, and sleep... remembering the fine food we enjoyed in Atlanta. 

That's all I'm Saying !

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Atlanta (continued)

So where did we leave off? Oh, right, picking flowers at the Botanical Garden. Well, that concluded the non-food portion of Sunday, so moving on to Monday we have:
  • History 101: Our first stop (after breakfast) was the Atlanta History Center. They have done a very good job of telling the history of the City of Atlanta, the Civil War, and the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. I liked the city history section the best. The Olympic are was my least favorite, possibly because the multiple interactive monitors where you could answer questions about Olympic history and events did not all work. For the golfers in the audience, they had a small section devoted to Georgia native and professional golfer, Bobby Jones.
  • A Grave Situation: After lunch at Six Feet Under, we wandered through the historic Oakland Cemetery, where the original six acres date back to 1850. There is a section devoted to Confederate soldiers; a section called Bell Tower Ridge, the highest point in the cemetery from which you get a good view of downtown Atlanta; the African American Grounds, from the 19th and 20th centuries, including many slaves. Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones, and Maynard Jackson are all resting peacefully in this quaint old place.
  • Sweet Auburn: For our next excursion, and before we invaded Henry and Liz, we drove around and found Auburn Avenue. This street was the height of African American business and culture in the 1920's - 1940's. In the surrounding area are many lovely homes, churches, and commercial buildings from that era. We passed the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King was the pastor in the 1960's. This was a very interesting part of Atlanta that neither of us had visited before and added to our understanding of the culture and history of the city. I think it made a fitting conclusion to the day that started at the Atlanta History Center.
Next time, food, glorious food.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An "A" for Atlanta

This is the first of a multi-part (exact number to be determined) post on the recent weekend trip to Atlanta. Did you ask, Why a multi-part post? I thought you did. Well primarily because there is much to cover, and second, we arrived at TPA around 12:15 AM this morning, so an early to sleep time is in order tonight.
Before I get too far into the post, I must acknowledge our hosts for the weekend. We (we being Frank and me) spent the first two days/nights with my nephew, Monte, who more than likely will not read this blog. But if he does, he was a good host, and his condo was a wonderful spot to relax. Thank you, nephew ! Monday afternoon we moved in on our dear friends, Henry and Liz. Liz has been mentioned before in my blog as she is my foodie idol. Not only is she a wonderful cook, she knows the ins and outs of culinary Atlanta. And, Henry is a great guy. We always have a great time when we visit them. Thank you both for your usual warm hospitality.
In addition to visiting my nephew and our friends, I had made an appointment for a second opinion with a melanoma specialist at Emory Cancer Center. I met with Dr. Lawson and his staff for a couple of hours on Tuesday. Without going into great detail, I was very pleased with the visit and the bottom line is that he concurs with the plans of my local specialist, Dr. Weber. So confirmation is a good thing.
I am going to make you wait for the details of our dining experiences in Atlanta. Sorry, but I am just that kind of guy. We will start with places we visited.
  • High in Atlanta: On Sunday (another rainy day) we started our excursions at the High Museum of Art to see the current special exhibit, "The Louvre and the Masterpiece". We also visited other galleries in the museum, including an exhibit of contemporary art. Pay attention Dr. T, there were four (yes count them, four) works by your favorite, Ellsworth Kelly. We finished with a tour of the permanent collection which includes some wonderful works by American Impressionism painters.
  • More Moore: When we left the High, the sun was out and the clouds had parted. We originally planned our next stop for the following day since it was an outdoor venue. But with the sun shining and an uncertain forecast for the next day, we headed to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The gardens also had a special exhibit, this one titled "Moore in America", a collection of very large sculptures by Henry Moore. These works were placed throughout the grounds which was a nice counterpoint to all the wonderful vegetation and flowers. Another highlight of the gardens was the large glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. The Museum of Fine Arts in St Petersburg had an exhibit of his work a few years ago, as did the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I will post some pictures from this stop within a few days.
That's all for today, more to come.

Friday, May 22, 2009

No Exchange Required

It has been a rainy week or two in the Tampa Bay area, and last night was no different. But to brighten the day, and to lift our spirits (oh, and drink some spirits too); Frank and I went to the Wine Exchange for dinner. This has long been a favorite restaurant in Hyde Park with consistently good food. A while back they relocated to larger, hipper quarters around the corner. The food is still as good as ever with something for everyone. I enjoyed a properly cooked, slightly pink, Grilled Mustard Glazed Pork Tenderloin with a wonderful large grain couscous with a hint of curry and a touch of fruit. Frank had a tasty Salmon Dijon with a tangy breadcrumb and Dijon crust, served with a side of mashed potatoes. I am never disappointed at the Wine Exchange. Oh, and the wine was good too.

That's all I'm saying

Saturday, May 16, 2009

But Who Is Counting...

The magic number is thirty, as in thirty days to go. Really, thirty days before we go... to B.A., as in Buenos Aires, Argentina. For my 65th birthday, I decided I wanted to go somewhere I have never been. So Frank and I tossed around a few ideas, and decided on Buenos Aires. It had been on our wish list for a while and this seemed like the opportune time to go. We fly from Tampa to Miami, then an overnight flight to B.A. We have six nights at the NH Jousten in the downtown area. I am soooo ready to go. But we still have thirty days before departure. Oh my!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Getting to the Root of the Problem

What a way to start a Friday, with a root canal. Yep, there I was at my favorite endodontist's office at 9:30 this morning, waiting for him to go to town on tooth #3 (upper right). As I listened to light classical music via Verizon Fios on the wireless headset the office provides, the good doctor extracted the nerves and sent me on my way... to work, (oh fun). It was a "been-there, done-that" experience, as this is not the first root canal I have had. I am always amazed at the lack of discomfort during the process. As his expert assistant said, "you come in with a tooth ache, and you leave pain free". Well, yea, they ripped the nerves out, so nothing left to hurt. Truly, it is easier than prepping for a crown. And the good doctor grew up in Italy, where his parents still live. He flies his two sons over every summer to spend a month with their grandparents. What lucky kids. 

OK enough dental chatter. This was the end of my second week of returning to work. All is going well with the continued recovery from the surgery. I have an appointment scheduled for May 26th with a melanoma expert at Emory Cancer Center in Atlanta. I just want a second opinion regarding ongoing treatment. I will spend Memorial weekend in Atlanta visiting my nephew and my good friends Liz and Henry, so there will be some fun included (oh and good food I am sure).

That's all I'm saying

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Where Have I Been?

My last post was over a week ago, so it is time for a brief update. I returned to work last week after a two week break for the last surgery. Believe it or not, it was good to be back at work, at least it gave me some sense of accomplishment. So, I worked Monday thru Thursday, then on Thursday evening, my good friend from Philadelphia, Deirdre, arrived for a weekend visit. We enjoyed a relaxing weekend, with occasional walks to show her my home city and to eat at some of my favorite places. Our dining took us to Red Mesa Cantina, The Hurricane at Pass-a-Grill, (really good grouper sandwiches), Parkshore Grill (for her birthday dinner) and Buona Vita for a very nice Sunday brunch. We lucked out and had McCarron as our server again today. And, ta da..., a significant accomplishment for me, I stepped back into the kitchen on Friday to prepare a dinner for Deirdre, Frank and me. We dined on pan seared scallops in a lemon butter sauce, asparagus risotto, and Frank's Caprese Stack. This was all pared with a couple bottles of St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc. Nice...

That's all I'm Saying