The List: Pasta/Pizza/Noodles, Vegetable Entrees, and Seafood
Happy Saturday!! Time for another installment in the fabulous experiment of "seeing how much weight one can gain eating through Creative Loafing's 100 Dish List." Of course, I'm not going to give you that fact based on MY experience, but I'm happy to hear about yours. If you haven't picked a restaurant for dinner tonight, you may want to give one of these spots a try.
There are eight items on this section of The List, and I've barely started the goodness. Still, the couple that I've tried are ahhhmazing! So loosen your belt buckle, here we go!
Carbonara @ Holeman & Finch Public House – I wrote about this dish in an earlier post and it remains a top ten find from this list. Although not impressive to view, I’ve have yet to find another pasta dish in Atlanta that tastes this good. You’ve got to try it!
Giggioto calzone @ Antico Pizza Napoletano – Apparently I’m late to the Antico Pizza craze because if you go to this restaurant, expect to see a line out the door and around the building. (Yesterday alone I saw two different friends tweet pictures of their meals at Antico!) Also expect to have a grand time watching your meal being assembled by a group of enthusiastic and skilled pizza artisans. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to sit in the back and watch your creation come together. Your table will be covered with butcher paper, and if you are drinking water, you'll walk over to the sink to fill your cup. I loved the vibe in ways that I can't explain! I certainly enjoyed the sausage calzone from the list, but I think there are a couple of other competitive “pies” that could take its place. Bottom line – go with a group so that you can order an assortment of pizzas and find your favorite. Definitely worth the list and worth the wait! (I'm showing a picture of the kitchen since it's such a big part of the experience, plus my shot of the calzone is blurry!!)
The only other item I tried to order was at Varasanos - the New Haven Clam Pizza is no longer on the menu. So sad.
Unlike the pasta category, I've made significant strides in this section, knocking through four of five from the list. All of these dishes have been exceptional (in stark contrast to my pictures!)
Dry fried eggplant @ Peter Changs (no picture) –I’ve posted about Peter Changs before. He is the real deal. The food at this restaurant is not like the food anywhere else (outside of his other location, Tasty China!). This guy has cooked for the President of China, so list "worthiness" is easy to understand. The fried eggplant is not only list worthy, but also and more importantly, worth the drive. Just be patient with the service. It’s not always speedy. I've also heard complaints from people that they don't always honor Scoutmob/Groupon coupons. This can leave a "bad taste" in your mouth. If you DO stop by, remember to try any of the dishes with the hot and numbing spice. You don't want to miss the experience of heat and a numb tongue. Odd, but fun.
Mushroom Bim n bop @ Stone Bowl House (also no pic!)– Date night on Buford Hwy (woot!) – and this spot is great fun. It is not, however, easy to find. The sign on the street is in Korean font, so, unless you’re bi-lingual, pull into the strip mall that has the correct address and then wander around. The chef at Stone Bowl calls herself “Grandma,” and she has a very funny sign about which days she takes off in order to get her rest. The sign becomes especially amusing when Grandma comes by your table (and I think she visits every table) because she reminds me of the Energizer Bunny. She’s lovely and, what’s most relevant to this post, she is an incredible chef. The meal starts with half a dozen Korean condiments ; I wish I could tell you what they were, but when you google it, you’ll get the picture! The bim n bop comes out in the traditional cast iron skillet and the rice forms a crust around the hot bottom. The mushrooms are sauteed in a flavorful sauce that made me giggle in delight (seriously - I LOVE me some mushrooms!). Billy ordered the calamari bim n bop and he preferred his dish over mine. We have agreed to disagree on this point. That said, we did concur that this is a spot worth a repeat visit!
Orange Apple Tofu @ Top Flr - I'm a full-fledged carnivore, so I've never leaned into tofu menu options. Still, this "List thing" isn't about doing what I usually do, so I went ahead and ordered the Orange Apple tofu dish with the hopes of being converted. I can honestly say that I loved the dish, but I think it's possible to put the orange/apple glaze over anything and have a great dish. The perfect blend of tangy-ness with savory bits made me very happy. Plus, I discovered that while I'm still not a tofu convert, I've developed a new fondness for black sesame seeds. (Try tossing them in with sauteed snow peas to see what I mean!) Forgive the picture. Top Flr likes the dim lighting vibe - and I like it too!
Vegetable plate @ Restaurant Eugene - My anniversary is in August and my birthday is in October, so I didn't have a built-in excuse to drop the coin necessary to eat at Restaurant Eugene. This spot is, arguably, a top three Atlanta restaurant and it has the price-tag to match. I knew it would be a great meal, but our date nights are more aptly suited to Buford Highway prices!! Fortunately, I had a new client dinner to schedule, and I may or may not have volunteered to find the location. It was a quick call to Restaurant Eugene. YAY for me, but sad that I went with three work colleagues and Billy didn't come along : ( I managed to rally, and I couldn't have been more excited to order a vegetable plate in my life. It was simply divine. This dish redefines "vegetable plate" for me in the same way that Empire State South redefined "salad" for me. The dish had an assortment of beans, greens, root vegetables, peppers made in every possible way. The techniques included sauté, fried, steamed, baked, grilled -WOW. The waiter said that the vegetables differ from week to week, so you may not get the same assortment that I had, but I doubt that it matters. The vegetable plate should be scrumptious regardless!
There are only two items on the list. As a big seafood fan, this is my primary disappointment with The List (or, perhaps, Atlanta dining). Ah well, I will soldier on! As for the two items, one is the Seafood Risotto @ Sotto Sotto. I had this ages ago, so I’m not sure whether I should count it or not. I’ve liked everything I’ve ever had at Sotto Sotto, so I’m confident that the dish is solid. The other item on the list is the Shrimp & Grits @ Taqueria Del Sol. The dish rotates on & off of the menu, and whenever I call, it’s “off.” Plan accordingly!
Until next Saturday, happy dining!