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)

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Atlanta Restaurant Review: Carbonara Trattoria

Carbonara Trattoria is a local Italian joint in the OTP area of Dunwoody.  Jimmy and I decided to have dinner there for the first time Friday night since they currently have a scout mob deal going on.  If your city doesn’t have scout mob, I feel for you because that’s mainly how we afford to eat out.

The restaurant itself is on the smaller side and decorated to look sort of Italian rustic country.  The lights are turned down low enough to give a nice ambiance but not so low as to add a creep factor.  We were seated immediately in an almost full dining room (the patio was completely booked) with what appeared to be locals and out-of-town business peeps.  Our server was super sweet and very attentive without being annoying.  She gets two thumbs up as do the other servers who also stopped by when they noticed our drinks running low or a dish that could be cleared.

Now for the food!  First, they have delicious bread.  Oh my goodness it was yummy and came out fresh – still smoking – in these little round loaves with butter.  I can make a meal out of bread so I was ecstatic.  We ordered the mussels to start (mussels are quickly becoming my go-to appetizer) in a white wine sauce.  They came out in this huge bowl and there were more mussels in that bowl that I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant.  We were so happy they didn’t scrimp us on our shellfish delight.  After removing the little guys from their shell, we proceeded to let them soak up the saucy goodness.  The white wine sauce was light and well seasoned making the mussels perfect and giving us the best bread dipping sauce EVER.  We went through three bread loaves – THREE.  At this point, we were in love.

Unfortunately, our entrees didn’t live up to the starters.  I ordered the spaghetti carbonara – their signature dish.  Now, I only had room for about five bites, but nothing about the dish impressed me.  The pasta was cooked al dente which was nice, but the cream they used in the dish was way too heavy.  Traditional carbonara doesn’t even use cream – just pasta water and egg.  The cream washed out any egg flavor and was made even heavier by the parmesan cheese loaded on top.  Jimmy had the fettuccine  with artichokes and mushrooms.  He didn’t have much to say about this dish and has yet to eat his leftovers, so that speaks volumes on its on.

Despite our disappointing entrees, I’ll definitely be back to this local Italian eatery if for no other reason than the bread and mussels!  Next time I’ll stay away from the pasta dishes and give the meat options a try.  Not a super cheap option, however, so expect to spend around $50 for a 2 person meal.  They have entrees ranging from $13 to $28.  If you’re ever in the Atlanta area, top side of the perimeter, and need a good Italian escape that’s not a chain – definitely give Carbonara Trattoria at try!

(Photo courtesy of Carbonara’s FB page)