Cardamom Hill: Let’s Not Get Ahead of Ourselves 20

Posted by Foodie Buddha on January 07, 2012

more short ribs at cardamom hill

I strolled into Asha Gomez’s fresh faced Cardamom Hill half expecting the second coming.  Tucked away in the Berkeley Heights section of Westside, Cardamom Hill is the full-service, fixed location manifestation of Spice Route Supper Club (Gomez’s previous endeavor).

It’s a cozy little Indian restaurant, somewhat out of place in a strip center; and, it comes backed by a whole heck of a lot of of word of mouth and media chatter love splooge.  Gomez, who serves as chef and owner, endeared herself so well to the many people who previously sampled her take on Indian food, that she is, so far as I know, the first to take a local supper club and turn it into a brick and mortar.  Mind you, this ain’t a new trick … just new to Atlanta, where we follow trends instead of set them.

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Café Todahmgol: Get In My Belly 1

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 22, 2011

barbecue trays at cafe todahmgol

Writing about Café Todahmgol in Duluth is an exercise in frustration … I just get hungry.  Perhaps that is why I’ve never spent the time to relay my thoughts on this tucked away Korean restaurant way up yonder.  You see, as you begin to reach the Northeast border of Atlanta, most often identified by Interstate 285 and Spaghetti Junction, Korean restaurants become as common place as even the most inundating of fast food chains.

Though these spots are everywhere, it seems as if most “ethnic food” passionistas continually identify just a handful of restaurant when discussing Atlanta’s best Korean Barbecue.  Restaurants like Han Il Kwan, Hae Woon Dae, Honey Pig, Iron Age, and Myung Ga Won repeatedly get a nod.  Cho Sun Ok, Sun and Moon Café, and Star Daepo also get mentioned.  That’s frankly just the tip of the iceberg.  I’ve been to all of those places, some several times over, and yet I’m constantly disappointed that Café T, one of Atlanta’s best Korean restaurants of any discipline, is buried beneath a heap of the less worthy. 

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Burger Tap: Atlanta’s Latest Burger Bar 2

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 19, 2011

burger and rings at burger tap

It seems as if Atlanta’s culinary milieu dictates the popularity of the burger.  It’s very much a straight out of Field of Dreams situation, whereby “if you build it, they will come.”  So it happens that Burger Tap, Morningside’s brand spanking new restaurant, is serving burgers.  Elephant, meet room.

Aside from a few blurbs on various Atlanta news sites, Burger Tap opened last week a little under the radar.  A quasi-derivative of yogurt shop chain Yoforia, Burger Tap is attempting to put a spin on Atlanta’s unavoidable food trend.  As I was in the hood during their earliest of days, me and a few compadres decided to stroll in and see if Burger Tap had anything worthwhile.  After a single meal, things seem promising.

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Curly’s Fried Chicken: Westside Atlanta’s Latest FC

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 13, 2011

fried chicken and a side at curly's fried chicken

A family of Atlanta chickenistas has moved into the little Westside building that briefly housed LeRoy’s Fried Chicken.  While this restaurant also focuses on fried bird and the street sign and building are basically as they were before, there are several distinctions between the patriarchal Curly’s Fried Chicken and 1021’s former tenant.

First, Curly’s doesn’t focus on the locavore movement (aka – no “gourmet” Springer Mountain chickens).  Second, in lieu of lard, Curly’s uses canola oil to fry their product in.  Third, the prices at Curly’s are more inline with those of most chicken shacks (LeRoy’s was hella expensive).   There are a handful of other differentiators, but those three points alone establish a very different playing field for Curly’s, and by consequence, produce a very different type of expectation for a meal at Atlanta’s newest fried chicken parlor.

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Fuoco Di Napoli & The Pizza Obsessed 1

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 12, 2011

margherita pizza at fuoco di napoli

Fuoco Di Napoli is Atlanta’s newest pizzeria obsession.  Open less than 168 hours, pizza fans from all parts of Atlanta have made it over to Buckhead’s newest pizza joint to test the skills of Fuoco’s pizzaioli, one Enrico Liberato.

In his two-years in Atlanta, Liberato has become to pizza what Peter Chang is to Chinese food.  In other words, he’s a kitchen hopper of the highest order.  Liberato was brought to Atlanta by restaurateur Riccardo Ullio to help revitalize Ullio’s pizza restaurant Fritti.  He soon fled into the arms of Giovanni Di Palma to help get things started at Antico Pizza.  Then, Liberato quickly disappeared only to show up for yet another short lived stint.  This time, Liberato took his trademark checkered hat and chose the remotely located Vingenzo’s in Woodstock as his next destination … “and like that, poof.  He’s gone.”

Now, much like Chang, Liberato has resurfaced at a restaurant that he has a stake in assuring Atlanta’s food crazed minions that he’s here to stay (or so people hope).  While we wait and see if that holds to be true, I … like several others … have already stopped in to see if Fuoco Di Napoli is worth a fuss.

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Grand Champion BBQ: Not Quite A Title Grabber

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 10, 2011

sampler platter at grand champion bbq

Atlanta’s barbecue fanatics have almost unanimously crowned Grand Champion BBQ the current king of the smoker; but, like many of the barbecue joints around the metro area, this youthful Roswell restaurant seems to offer an incomplete picture of the ideal.

When GC BBQ opened in mid-August, word spread fast that this was the new centerpiece of the Atlanta barbecue scene … though it’s worth mentioning ATL’s scene is fairly thin in top-end quality despite a large community.  But the best of the mediocre can still be awesome, so I set out a few weeks back with high hopes in tow in order to meet up with one of my new found friends in food.

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Bell Street Burritos Review: Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat At Willy’s 2

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 30, 2011

burrito time at bell street burritos

The rise of the fast-casual restaurant, including the new Westside Atlanta location of Bell Street Burritos, owes a great deal to the burrito.  This Tex-Mex tradition is perhaps the burger of that fused cuisine.  Like the burger, the burrito is generally a massively hulking inclusion of typical toppings.  But as the trend to produce these wrapped time-bombs of gastrointestinal danger has risen, so too has the diversity of their staple composition.

Raging Burrito CockroachThe Atlanta restaurant space is now ripe with burrito shops.  We’ve got the big boys like Chipotle, Willy’s, and Moe’s.  Then there are single location operations like Decatur’s hot spot of love, Raging Burrito [REVIEW INTERLUDE: Speaking of Raging Burrito: Blow up the receipt at the right and then check out this post, which never got a lot of attention. Now back to our fair city and the series of burrito purveyors found within].  While these restaurants are a dime a dozen, and their food is often indistinguishable from the competition’s, Bell Street owner Matt Hinton has set out to differentiate Bell Street.  With the opening of his second location, it appears he’s well on his way to that goal.

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Latitude Food & Drink: Trying To Raise The Mall Food Game

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 25, 2011

roasted mushroom sandwich at latitude

There are two types of mall food in this world and chef Micah Willix’s newly opened Latitude Food and Drink is hoping to break away from that rule of thumb.  The most abundant form of mall grub is available in food courts.  Unlike a good bit of the food served in the hawker stalls of Southeast Asia, American food court grub makes McD’s chicken McNuggets look artisan.

The second type of mall food is a gentrified palate cleanser restrained by the need to serviceably satisfy a wide spectrum of less than adventurous palettes.  This is the play pen where we find Latitude Food & Drink, a new “chef driven” restaurant concept stationed in Buckhead’s opulent Phipps Plaza.

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Takorea Korean Tacos: Things That Make You Go Hmmm 1

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 22, 2011

takorea

For the past few years, Atlanta’s Korean taco market has been dominated by Tomas Lee’s Hankook Taqueria and their hand in the cookie jar food truck spin-off Yumbii.  Recently, Lee expanded into Midtown Atlanta with the opening of Takorea, a near carbon copy of his concept from the backwoods of Westside.

Once you strip away the misguided name and the disjointed aesthetic of Takorea, what you are left with is a restaurant whose newborn reputation seems to vastly exceed the quality of anything that comes out of the kitchen.  Takorea is, in that respect, exactly like Lee’s other establishments: viable for Atlantans due to a lack of framework against which it can be properly judged.

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Ringside Franks & Shakes: Neighborhood Hot Dogs In Sandy Springs 1

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 21, 2011

chili cheese dog at ringside franks

The tiny little building at 4441 Roswell Rd on the edge of Sandy Springs and Buckhead has gone through a few changes in the past year+.  What was first a Wolf Camera and then a little yogurt shop is now Ringside Franks & Shakes.  With a simple personality and a linear menu of traditional hot dogs and classic milkshake flavors, Ringside Franks seems settled in its own skin as a neighborhood restaurant.

Conceptually, Ringside is a mashup of the old reliable wiener stand meets modern American sensibilities.  In the case of the latter, those sensibilities translate into a de rigueur menu full of au naturel products.  Using both buns and links harnessed from nearby purveyors, Ringside is attempting to give people a “feel good” hot dog experience without getting caught up in the trend to reinvent the wheel.

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