Atlanta Restaurant Reviews: Mini Hot Pot

If you’re not familiar with Asian food, I’m here to help!  Not that I’m an expert, but spending the past 7 years with Jimmy has taught me my fair share of Asian culinary knowledge.  When our friend, Jean, called us up a few weeks ago to hang out at Mini Hot Pot on Buford Highway, how could we say no?  Even if you don’t live in Atlanta, keep reading as hopefully your hometown has a similar establishment.

I’m pretty sure hot pot is a traditional Chinese dish – or rather, bowl.  It’s a super fun concept and something out-of-town guests will likely enjoy tremendously, even if they have no clue what they are doing.  Basically, you sit at a table that has what amounts to a fondue pot for each individual built in.  You select your choice of broth – beef, chicken, and so on – and then order the various menu offerings you want to throw into the broth and cook.  Asian fondue.

 

Generally speaking, most order a large veggie dish with selections of cabbage, spinach, tomatoes – lots of other stuff, even a hot dog!  Then you order your meats or tofu along with eggs and other offerings.  Really, the choices are plentiful.  You also get to concoct your own special sauce either for dipping or flavoring your broth.  The sauce making station can be scary, but so much fun to mix and match flavors.  The servers will help you out if you need a little extra guidance!

Mini Hot Pot was so much fun and I can’t wait to go back.  This particular restaurant in Chamblee is quite tiny so a group larger than six will need to split up.  The servers were friendly and helpful – turning the heat of our pots up and down as needed.  I had Jimmy mix me a sauce which he kept pretty tame, but I can’t wait to spice it up next time!  After letting lots of meats and veggies simmer and flavor my broth, I had the perfect soup mixture left.  You can even take it home to make your own soup!  I decided to thrown in my corn cob and let is soak up the loveliness and I’m telling you it was the best corn cob EVER.  Then I added some noodles and finished my meal off with a delicious noodle soup.

I highly suggest going with a small group and splitting the cost.  You will order more food than you can eat – guaranteed – which can make Mini Hot Pot expensive for one or two people – but way less expensive than other fondue joints like The Melting Pot.  Be prepared to spend more than the usual time dining as well – you’ll be cooking your own food as you go along after all!  Mini Hot Pot also adds a small dish of red bean ice cream at the end of each meal!  Enjoy!!

(Photos are not my own.  Click the photos for links to the owner.)

Atlanta Restaurant Review: Rosebud

I’ve been having massive cravings for brunch these past few Sunday mornings and Jimmy has been letting me indulge.  A few weeks ago we drove down to the Morningside neighborhood in Midtown to try out Rosebud.  The location is gorgeous, but parking is not so great.  They don’t really have their own parking so most patrons park street-side, but we found a lot behind the shops which was almost deserted.

First thing you need to know – make a reservation.  This place is packed and super busy at all hours.  See the pictorial evidence below:

Second, the hostess was not particularly good at her job.  It took us approximately 10 minutes just to get our names put on the list because she was being scatterbrained about someone who had made a double reservation.  Once our name was down, we waited around 30 minutes to get a seat.  Probably should have timed it better than arriving with the post-church crowd.

Like I said, Rosebud is beautifully decorated and has a lovely patio.  A full length bar runs the length of the restaurant and looks nicely stocked.  Our waiter, once we were finally waited on, provided excellent service throughout the meal.  He never let Jimmy run out of water which is AMAZING, trust me.

Now for the food – pretty decent.  We were a bit sad that they were out of some popular brunch items by midday, but there were plenty of other yummy sounding dishes to choose from.  We started with the sweet corn muffins served with housemade preserves.  Normally, I don’t like corn muffins (how can I be Southern, right?), but these babies were phenomenal.  And the blueberry, honey, syrupy deliciousness that was served alongside as a dipping sauce was heaven on earth – I kid you not.  By far, our favorite thing we tried!  I’d go back for this one simple $6 dish.

For our main courses, Jimmy ordered the ultimate pancake which is stuffed with the likes of sausage, bacon, and scrambled egg and I had the breakfast bowl filled with grits, tomatoes, poached egg, bacon, and cheese.  Jimmy’s pancake looked like it delivered the goods, but apparently was sort of tasteless.  He wished the sausage flavor had been stronger.  I liked my breakfast bowl – loved the perfectly seasoned warm grits with the contrasting cold tomatoes.  The bacon was thickly chopped with a great smoky flavor, but my poached egg was a disappointment.  Pretty sure this was my fault as I asked for a hard poached egg.  I know poached eggs should have a gooey yolk, but gooey yolks weird me out.  The hard poached egg felt way overcooked – it was almost crunchy.  Next time, I’ll keep things simple, get the gooey yolk, and stir it into oblivion!

Overall, a good place to grab brunch, but don’t expect things to be quick!  Rosebud is hopping and sometimes the staff can seem a bit overwhelmed.  The kitchen might run out of your favorite dishes as well, but with such a large, yummy menu available you’re sure to find something you enjoy.  Plenty of cocktail choices and a great dessert selection will please the sweet tooth crowd as well!  Price-wise, decently affordable for such a trendy place – our bill came to around $25 for 2 entrees and an appetizer!  We left full and I’d definitely go back.

Atlanta Restaurant Review: Bone Lick BBQ

If you are anywhere near West Midtown and craving some BBQ – this is the place to go!  Bone Lick is run by the same guy responsible for P’cheen and started as a pop-up Monday night dinner in that restaurant.  Due to popularity, Bone Lick got its own home and now serves some of the yummiest BBQ in the city.  With our trusty ScoutMob deal in hand, Jimmy and I headed over that way a couple of weeks ago.

Bone Lick is located just down the street from Star Provisions/JCT Kitchen and has a rather unassuming home at the bottom of some apartments.  The big neon sign can not be missed, so don’t worry about driving by unawares!  The decor is simple and the restaurant feels a little rustic and a lot cozy.  I will say that the chairs get rather uncomfortable quickly which I suspect is to help with the turnover rate at busy times.  Did I mention there is skee ball and vintage arcade games?  Cause there are.  Awesome.  Oh, and a bar.  What more do you need?

The service was very laid back and casual, but more than sufficient.  But the main attraction here is the FOOD and boy was it delicious.  I am by no means a BBQ expert, but have eaten it many times in my life and this little plate of pulled pork I ordered was mighty tasty.  Such a great smoky flavor and so juicy.  YUM.  Jimmy’s brisket was also a hit with a gorgeous red smoke ring surrounding every piece.  Better yet, I ate the leftovers for two days and they retained their flavor wonderfully.  Our appetizers included housemade fried pickles and boiled peanuts.  The pickles had the best crunch and the peanuts were nicely cooked, but lacked a bit of seasoning.  If you like non-salty boiled peanuts, you’ll love these guys.

Jimmy’s award for best food of the night goes to the jalapeno mac and cheese.  He loved this stuff unnaturally which is odd since he’s not a mac and cheese fan.  This variation on a classic is lightly creamy with just a hint of the jalapeno flavor throughout.  It’s not overly spicy, but just a little heat infused which means my aversion to spicy food didn’t affect my love of this customer favorite.  My tater tots were nothing to write home about, but the texas toast is done with a fun mixture of spices that was a welcome surprise.

Prices are reasonable; portion size is excellent.  We’ll definitely be back!

Atlanta Restaurant Review: 57th Fighter Group and Downwind Restaurants

The Peachtree-Dekalb Airport a few miles from my house just happens to be the second busiest airport in Georgia and houses two really fun restaurants that sit almost on top of the runways!  PDK was a WWI training base and is rich with history. Locals and tourists alike will enjoy the unique experience of dining at either restaurant and watching the planes come and go.

Jimmy and I headed to 57th Fighter Group for dinner a couple of weeks ago with another Scoutmob deal in hand and then to Downwind a few days later for some Wednesday night trivia!  These restaurants are old, very local, and not meant to impress with fancy decor.  The atmosphere is all about the air traffic which is non-stop!  Also, a great family place filled with kids super excited about the airplanes.  You really can’t go wrong here – the food is even much better than expected!

At 57th, I ordered the flat steak with garlic mashed potatoes.  The steak was cooked perfectly and quite tasty – also the perfect 6 oz. size.  The garlic mashed was creamy but a bit lacking on the garlic flavor. Still, very little to complain about.  Jimmy ordered half the menu!  He had a bunch of appetizers.  He loved the ceviche and the beer cheese soup.  You must order the beer cheese soup as that’s a crowd favorite and so delectably cheesy.  He also downed some fried shrimp and homemade fries.  I gotta say – the fried shrimp were fairly pedestrian but the fries were delicious.  Prices are reasonable but not exactly cheap.  Portions are very sizable, though, so you never feel like you’ve been skimped on quantity or quality!

Word of warning: if you decide to go during yellow jacket season, be prepared to battle with those little monsters the entire time.  The restaurant does their best to set up traps and whatnot, but there are just so many of them!  And I’m terrified of flying, stinging things so this made dinner a very anxious time for me until the sun set and temps got cooler.  Of course, you can always sit inside near the huge windows and watch the planes safely tucked away from nature as well.

 

(P.S. The building you see off in the distance beyond the runways is the CDC!  They have an awfully fun view)

A few days later, we had dinner at Downwind with friends and participated in the trivia night hosted every Wednesday at 7 pm.  The fried calamari was delicious and my grilled cheese with ham was fabulous.  The fries were a bit boring.  Everyone seemed to enjoy their food.  The ham on my sandwich was very flavorful and cut into sizable slices which I was pleasantly surprised to discover.

Overall, the service is a bit on the slow side, but these are mom and pop joints where your attention is always on the planes and rarely ever on where your waitress is!  The food could have been terrible and I’d still go back because there’s just something so mesmerizing, almost soothing, about planes taking off and landing.  Make sure to sit outside to enhance your experience and listen to those beastly jet engines!  Highly recommended dining experience!

Atlanta Restaurant Review: Farm Burger

Atlanta has seen an explosion of fancy burger places over the past few years – too many, if we’re being honest.  I mean, how different can a burger be, right?  One of the most popular joints is Farm Burger which opened its first store in Decatur awhile back and now has offerings in Buckhead and Dunwoody.  Farm Burger boasts grass-fed healthy beef, farm to table menu, and adult milkshakes.

The Dunwoody location just had their Grand Opening a few miles from my house so Jimmy and I decided to check them out one Friday night.  We had a 2-for-1 milkshakes coupon which was pretty exciting.  The restaurant itself is small and farmhouse trendy.  They have a full bar and large picnic table communal seating, plus regular tables.  Jimmy and I opted for a table outside, as we always do when the weather is nice.

Service was a bit hit or miss.  I’ll give them a few more weeks to get everyone trained up before really being bothered.  Your order is taken at the bar, you get a number, and the food is brought out to you.  The server taking the order at the register was very slow and the line (yes, there was a line) moved at a snail’s pace.  Our table server was awesome, though.

The food!  I ordered the No. 6 – burger with bacon, pepper jack cheese. salsa verde, and sunny-side up egg.  It sounded yummy.  Jimmy ordered the No. 1 – burger with aged vermont white cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and FB sauce.  I was so excited, y’all.  But when the food reached our table I was immediately dismayed.  My burger was a leaky, sopping mess.  I literally could not pick the little guy up without all the toppings sloshing out.  The bottom bun was soaked through.  My burger was eaten with a knife and fork – unacceptable.  As far as taste was concerned, the toppings were well done and lovely.  They have this awesome thick cut bacon and the salsa verde added just the right amount of heat.  The egg was perfectly cooked and delicious.  The beef, however, left a lot to be desired.  It was cooked to the exact right temp (medium), but almost flavorless and slighty dry.  I attribute this to the healthy, sans-fat beef cut which is less flavorful than fattier patties – but it’s like they forgot they could season the meat.  The toppings also kind of overpowered the burger.  I’d love to go back and build my own with less toppings and see what I think then.

Oh, the fries were just okay!  Nothing to write home about.  Jimmy’s burger had some lovely onions on top and a great smell.  He thinks FB is just okay.  Besides burgers, FB also has appetizers, salads, and soups – all of which I’d love to try.  As for the milkshakes, Jimmy ordered a chocolate cherry malt which he liked and I got the Mint which was awesome.  They use real mint and the flavor was tremendous.  This FB also has a Morelli’s ice cream counter tucked into the side which lots of patrons were enjoying.  Something for everyone!

Overall, decent food and I do want to go back once the newness has worn off to taste a broader array of selections.  Word of warning:  these burgers ain’t cheap.  And to me, that’s kind of a problem.  Who wants to pay $10 for just a burger?  By the time you add on fries and a drink, you’re at $15.  Too much.  Their cheapest burger (the build yourself) is $6.50 with the basic toppings for free, but fancy toppings start to quickly $1 and $2 you to death.  These prices are why people can’t buy 100% healthy food which is a shame.

Now I’m on a quest to find my favorite Atlanta burger!  Wish me luck!

Atlanta Restaurant Review: Baci

Baci is a local joint just around the corner in Town Brookhaven. The same people who run Cafe at Pharr also own Baci. Jimmy and I decided on dinner and a movie Saturday night – then headed out with nowhere in particular in mind for our grub.  We generally end up in Town Brookhaven when we’re craving supper and don’t have a ton of time.  They also regularly have good Scoutmob deals at several restaurants and that’s exactly what landed us at Baci.

The decor was lovely, the lights were turned down low to create a romantic atmosphere, and there was even a bar with a couple of televisions that didn’t take away from the small restaurant’s ambiance.  We opted to sit outside and had no problems getting a table.  Not very crowded for a Saturday night, but I suspect the price point affects many diners as well as lack of marketing.

Our waitress was super sweet – almost too saccharine in the way only Southerners can be (I’m allowed to say that being a Southerner and all).  But she kept our glasses full and checked up on us the proper amount.  She did have a couple of mess-ups – never bringing us our bread and forgetting to apply the Scoutmob discount first time around, but her genuine effort allowed us to forgive her.  She seemed rather new.

Baci’s food is an eclectic mix of Mediterranean and Eastern Asian cuisine.  Jimmy was immediately put off by the prices and the fact that they misspelled gyoza – their special appetizer of the night (they wrote geyoza both on the menu and the specials board).  I’d also like to add that Jimmy was in a very grumpy mood and nothing would have satisfied him so I’ll temper his moodiness with my own opinions, promise!

For our appetizer, Jimmy wanted the fried goat cheese balls so that’s what we ordered.  They came out very quickly and Jimmy approved.  They had a lovely fried coating and the goat cheese flavor was strongly satisfying.  I’m not the world’s biggest goat cheese fan, but these were good.  The cheese was slightly on the dry side and had a fun texture.  Jimmy also noted that the sauces drizzled on top were delicious.

Our entrees were also served in good time.  I ordered the Baci burger made entirely of Kobe beef.  What impressed me most was that all the toppings (besides the cheese!) were served on the side so I could make my own burger.  These sides included mixed greens, tomato slices, housemade pickles, mustard, ketchup, and onions.  I slapped on some greens and tomatoes and went to town!  The burger was supposedly cooked medium, but I think probably closer to medium well.  It was tender and juicy, but nothing particularly flavorful.  A decent burger, but I’ve had better.  The housemade pickles were divine.  The fries that came with the meal were also tasty, even Jimmy approved!

Jimmy selected one of the night’s specials – Israeli schnitzel with fingerling potatoes and side salad.  He cleaned his plate – I mention this because he said his meal was okay, but a bit too simple – groan, groan, moan, moan.  If he cleans his plate, he liked it despite what comes out of his mouth!  He did say his schnitzel had a nice crisp to it, but that it was a little too greasy – you could definitely see a shine going on.

Our first impressions of this restaurant were lightly positive.  Our meal totaled $39 and we both ordered cheaper entrees.  Without the $20 off due to the Scoutmob, we’d probably not have eaten here.  I think we’d give this place another shot as long as we had a coupon in hand.  Of course, most restaurants now charge an arm and a leg except for fast food which is such a shame.  Thank goodness for websites like Scoutmob!

(Pictures by Angel Wings Photography)

Atlanta Restaurant Review: Marlow’s Tavern

Marlow’s is a chain that resides in many places, but we just got a brand new one in Dunwoody!  Jimmy and I decided to eat there Friday night since it was open late.  It was my first time at Marlow’s and Jimmy’s second – although he doesn’t remember much of his first time thanks to more alcohol intake than food!  Wow, I totally just made him sound like an alcoholic, but you must understand – two drinks in and Jimmy’s a little out of it.

Anyway, the new location (pictured above) is really well done.  The patio is large and a great place to spend watching a game and chowing down during the lovely fall weather.  Our waiter, Harold, was super nice and we spent a lot of time talking to him about our current car shopping exploits.  He even let us take a look at this brand new car – a car we’ve been considering buying ourselves.  He did a great job serving as well – our drinks stayed full and he was more than helpful with our questions about the menu.

Food-wise, Marlow’s Tavern tries to be a bit more upscale than most sports bars.  Sort of in the gastropub niche.  I always try the fries at every bar because I’m a fry freak and generally believe bars should have awesome potato offerings.  The truffled parmesan fries were pretty good, but not the best.  When the fry was coated in the truffle oil and parmesan it got two thumbs up – the remainder fries were sort of tasteless.

For my entree, I went with the customer favorite shrimp and grits.  I love shrimp and grits in general in various varieties.  Marlow’s serves the shrimp, roma tomatoes, and roast tomato beurre blanc over two white cheddar grit cakes with spinach between the cake layers.  The sauce has an interestingly mild flavor while the diced tomatoes had a wonderfully fresh taste.  I do wish the sauce had had a bit more kick to it.  The shrimp were so-so, but the grits really threw me off.  And this could just be entirely personal bias.  I’ve never had grit cakes before – only soup-like grits.  The cakes make the grits taste slightly dry and overcooked.  Not a huge fan of that outcome.  All-in-all, my food was decent, but way overpriced for the quality and for bar food in general.

Jimmy had the Everything and the “Kitchen Sink” burger and fries.  He gobbled up the burger, but left most of the fries sitting.  He’s not a huge fry guy though and not overly fond of potatoes if I think about it.

In short, we’ll probably be back for some appetizers and to watch a game.  Like I said earlier, the patio is terrific and the service great.  As long as you order reasonably priced dishes, a worthy addition to the neighborhood.  Welcome Marlow’s!

(All pictures courtesy of Marlow’s Tavern’s FB page)