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.

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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: 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: Mary Mac’s Tea Room

Ah, Southern food.  How I do so very much love you – at least when you come out of my mother’s kitchen.  But alas, most restaurants fall short of my mother’s brilliance and I’ve never found that go-to comfort food spot.  Would Mary Mac’s come to the rescue?

The restaurant is an Atlanta staple and somewhere I urge all visitors to check out.  Even the Dali Lama has dined at this most Southern of establishments!  The decor is somewhat dated, but you can enjoy browsing through the wall-of-fame photos taken of all the famous people who have visited.

I’m going to dock the restaurant a couple of points on service solely because of the hostess who seated us.  She was obviously in a pissy mood and wanted nothing to do with customers.  She brought us into a dining room and just stood there while we had to guess which table we were supposed to sit at and then threw our menus at us.  Wow.  But then we were rescued by our server who was fantastic and super helpful.  So things turned around quickly.

People will tell you to order the fried chicken and I’m not going to argue with those people, but I ordered the cubed steak with brown gravy.  Cubed steak with gravy is my most favorite meal of all time EVER.  My mom cooked this for me instead of baking a birthday cake.  Served with lima beans and mashed potatoes, all mixed together, is my idea of heaven on earth.  Mary Mac’s didn’t have lima beans, but did have butter peas which are just as yummy.  And they didn’t have mashed potatoes – WHAT?  So I substituted cheese grits and hoped for the best.

The sides were awesome.  Loved the peas and grits – both were a bit under seasoned but a little salt cured this travesty.  The cubed steak wasn’t so lucky.  Try as I might, the salt just couldn’t save this particular serving of beef.  The steak itself was tough and filled with grizzle.  I wasn’t able to cut it with my fork which is a huge no-no.  Plus, the gravy had a chalky flavor, so obviously the flour mixture wasn’t done properly.  I believe the gravy was missing milk or cream.  My mom makes this dish with milk gravy which works well.  Perhaps Mary Mac’s should do the same.

So, I’m still on the lookout for my perfect Southern comfort food outside my mom’s kitchen.  Jimmy did enjoy his chicken liver and onions – saying that the liver was a bit over salty but still managed to retain a lovely liver flavor.  He was less impressed with his turnip greens and sweet potato souffle.  He also liked the batter on his order of fried okra.  We both agreed that the prices were fair so we’ll probably go back at some point, and this time I’ll order the fried chicken!

(Picture courtesy of restaurant’s website)

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)

Atlanta Restaurant Review: Gekko Sushi

Friday, Victoria and I headed out to Gekko Sushi for a fun bestie’s lunch.  We decided on a little sushi joint down in Old Fourth Ward near City Hall East and the Ponce City Market.  Arriving at noon, we both scored super great parking spots adjacent to the building.  Many other reviewers have bemoaned the parking, but we didn’t have an issue.

The restaurant itself is a trendy little joint, well decorated, and definitely a comfy lunch place.  We were seated immediately and the service was pretty great.  Our waitress seemed on top of things for the most part – water was always filled, plates were cleared away quickly, and food arrived right on time.  Granted, they were the very opposite of busy so not sure what would have happened had the place been hoppin’!

On to the food!  A little disclaimer first:  Japanese cuisine is not something I normally eat in-town.  We live far too close to Buford Highway and other surrounding ethnic areas that generally (but not always) serve better quality food for way less money.  Also, having an Asian husband means he’s very picky about where we eat Asian food.  Just like I’m super picky about Southern food.  Not always fair, often biased, but it is what it is.  Second, I worry about a restaurant that always has some kind of half-off deal going on.  To me, that screams no confidence in their food and a problem with over-pricing.

Moving on – we shared a calamari salad.  The salad consisted of mixed greens, fried calamari, and a sweet chili sauce dressing.  This little guy could have been a big hit especially since the chili sauce had a great flavor to it and a lovely kick, but they DROWNED the salad in the sauce.  All you tasted was the sauce and the calamari became a dripping, soggy mess.  Fried calamari should always be crisp.  So I suggest ordering the sauce on the side.

(The beek teriyaki version of my meal – just with a spring roll in the gyoza’s place.  Pictures both courtesy of Gekko’s website and FB page)

For my main course, I went with the tonkatsu bento box lunch special.  The bento comes with tonkatsu, white rice, a veggie spring roll, 4 pc California roll, salad, and miso soup.  A very fair amount of food for $9.  I was a bit disappointed to see the spring roll instead of the advertised gyoza – why isn’t their menu correct or why don’t they inform you of the change?  But I quickly got over my issue because the spring roll was maybe the best part of the meal.  It was quite flavorful.  Sadly, everything else was sub-par.  The tonkatsu was over cooked, almost burnt.  The salad was drenched in ginger and suffered from the same soggy problems as the calamari salad.  The miso soup was so SALTY.  I had to drink it so slowly.  And the sushi tasted like Publix sushi.  The rice was utterly forgettable.

If the food had been half the price or if I had been able to use the half-off deal, I would have dealt with the problems much better.  But this is just another example of a trendy in-town restaurant with meh-food and prices that are too hard to swallow.  Not worth the drive with Buford Highway so much closer.

(Another note:  Victoria asked if she could substitute her California roll for a Veggie roll – fairly simple request.  The waitress suggested she just take the California roll without the crab meat.  Victoria agreed to this and asked for extra carrot.  Homegirl told her no, that everything was pre-made.  You know what that means?  Nothing is fresh.)