Sunday, June 29, 2008

Oenophile at Large: Restaurant Reviews

It's been a crazy busy week for the Oenophile and Hubby.

I had one of those marketing lecture thingies that happens every so often in my "other life" (see: job I get paid for) on Wednesday evening. This particular adventure took me to Nan Fine Thai Dining at the corner of Spring and 17th in downtown Atlanta. I had been looking forward to it because everyone I mentioned it to responded with something like, "Oh! That's supposed to be the best Thai food in Atlanta!" I'm still trying to decide if it lives up to the hype, and it's probably not fair of me to say one way or the other since I didn't have access to the whole menu. I was able to sample the Chicken Satay, Fried Shrimp, and Vegetarian Spring Roll appetizers, all of which were very good. The Fried Shrimp were essentially tempura battered on sticks, and it was funny watching people try to eat them without using their fingers (they usually gave up). The spring rolls seemed more like the egg rolls you'd get in a Chinese restaurant with the thick skins rather than the crispy layered spring roll skin I'd expected. All appetizers were served with good sauces. I chose the Thai Salad for my first course. It was served with peanut dressing and egg and had some sort of crispy element to it, tofu, I think. I liked it. My main course was the Pha Sham Rod, or "fried snapper filet with three-flavored chili sauce." Like the shrimp, the snapper was fried in a tempura style, but thankfully not on a stick. It came with fried okra and some other sort of starchy vegetable. The sauce was spicy, but not overly so. I eschewed the green tea ice cream for the blueberry pie and homemade ice cream in my fridge.

Score card:
Atmosphere: The main dining room is light and airy, almost temple-like. The side room where we were got the afternoon sun and tended to be stuffy, especially with the door shut.
Food: Very Good
Wine list: Good, from what I could see (again, had limited options)
Wait staff: Good, at least the two we had for our group
Desserts: Hard to say. I saw a good-looking chocolate thing come out of the kitchen as we waited outside the room for the talk to start, but alas, I didn't get to try it
Vegetarian friendly? Not really, at least not from the online menu
Kid friendly? No
Would I go back? Yes

Thursday night was a wine tasting (notes in another entry), and Hubby and I were running late because the meeting I had after work that "would only be 10 minutes, we promise!" lasted 40. We decided to try Saba, an Emory restaurant that just opened another location on the square in Decatur. I had the Wild Mushroom Ravioli, which was served with tomato sauce, feta, and fresh herb vinaigrette, and Hubby had the Four Cheese Ravioli with kalamata olives, tomato sauce, and pureed herbs. We both started out with a mixed green salad with herb vinaigrette. Both meals were big enough for two, so we have lunch for one day this week. We both were impressed with the food and with the fellow diners, many of whom were under eight and well-behaved. Well-behaved children in a Decatur restaurant? Isn't that one of the signs of the Apocalypse?

Kidding (ha! that pun really wasn't intended, I promise!) aside, this is definitely a place we'll keep in mind even when we're not running late.
Score card:
Atmosphere: Nice, reminded me a little of a coffee shop.
Food: Excellent
Wine list: I didn't try any, but although it's short, it goes beyond the Chianti one typically sees at a pasta place and actually has a Lodi zin on it
Wait staff: ?? It's a walk up, order your food at a counter, and wait for someone to bring it to you kind of place
Desserts: Unknown
Vegetarian friendly? Yep, lots of options
Kid friendly? Yes
Would I go back? Definitely!

Today we joined our VERY pregnant friends Logic Boy and Grammar Girl (their blog is here if anyone is interested) at the Peachtree Diner in Roswell for lunch. We're looking very forward for the kid to be born so that Grammar Girl can join us for wine again. This menu is incredibly varied, and they told us that they bring people there because there's something for everyone. The menu is spiral bound, and I've read novels that are shorter. You could see the variety in our meals. I got the Moussaka (yes, there's a whole Greek page), which was excellent. The Greek spices, tomato sauce, and Bechamel sauce were well-balanced, and it was served with a Greek salad that was a little heavy on the onion, but also very good. Grammar Girl got the Mediterranean Salad, which looked like fried onions and eggplant parmesan atop a salad. Hubby got the blackened Prime Rib grill, and Logic Boy got the open-faced roast beef sandwich. Everyone said their food was delicious. Logic Boy is a fellow chocoholic, so we took a field trip to the dessert case that looks like something out of a sugar addict's dream. I got a piece of the chocolate cream pie, which was a little heavy on cream and not so much on chocolate, and our fellow diners got the Caramel Cake, which has layers of chocolate mousse, vanilla mousse, two kinds of cake, and layers of caramel between all of it as well as a creamy light chocolate icing. I had a bite (for the blog, of course), and it was fantastic.

Score card:
Atmosphere: Busy, but the tables are set up so that you're not bothered by other diners or ambient noise
Food: Excellent
Wine list: Good, even if the whites are divided into "Chardonnay" and "Other Whites" The impressive thing is that everything is available by the glass.
Wait staff: Although the restaurant seemed short-staffed, everything was handled very efficiently, and we never felt neglected
Desserts: Wow
Vegetarian friendly? Fair with a few options
Kid friendly? Yes
Would I go back? Definitely!

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