restaurant review:: Muss & Turner’s in Vinings

After a looooooong day of work on Saturday, a dinner date was much needed. We had an OpenTable:AtlantaRestaurants gift certificate (you accrue points every time you book a restaurant reservation through their website, and eventually, you earn a gift certificate), so we decided to check out Muss & Turner’s. It’s located in a shopping center just outside the perimeter of Atlanta in the Vinings area (think more upscale than a regular old strip mall with the Chinese buffet and tanning salon). I love the neighborhood feel… they have indoor/outdoor seating, as well as some spots at the bar, which overlooks the open kitchen. During the day, they operate more as a deli/bakery. For the evening crowd, they operate a full-service restaurant. That particular night, they also had a big green egg going outside the front door, which I thought was pretty cool.

My only experience with M&T (until last weekend) was buying some of their white chocolate brownies for a party I was hosting right after we moved into our house. They were TO DIE FOR… a mix between white chocolate brownie and pound cake, with a slightly crispy topping. So I knew they had some amazing baked goods, but I somehow just never made it in for an actual meal. I was a little weary of the menu at first glance, but after some encouragement from Craig, who will eat just about anything, I found several dishes on the menu that I’d like. It seems to be a neighborhood favorite, and it’s just a couple minutes from our house…. so I’m surprised it’s taken us this long to try it.

We weren’t starving, so instead of a big appetizer, we went for the standard Bread ‘n Butter… sort of odd to have to pay for bread, but it was worth the few bucks. The bread was dense and a little sweet, but the best part was the jar full of butter that accompanied it. Some sort of nuts were mixed in, and Craig contemplated licking the jar clean when we ran out of bread.

Their Fall Salad (apples, red wine cranberries, bitter greens, pecans, blue cheese, pear ginger vinaigrette) sounded yummy and winter-ish, but again, we didn’t want to fill up before dinner, so I bypassed the salad and moved on to the real stuff. I chose the Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf (!!!!) that came with a really good sweet potato mash, crispy tatsoi (some sort of green – it was ok), roasted mushrooms (didn’t touch), and truffle jus (which I had them leave off because I am not a fan). Craig chose the Berkshire Pork, Apple, and Cranberry Sausage with braised greens, yummy, sweet pumpkin bread, and hard cider Welsh rarebit. I think he ate every bite, and I came close to finishing all of my bacon wrapped goodness. Oh — and we also ordered a small side of the Pommes Frites. I love some good, crispy french fries.

I always have room for dessert, and I had to have another white chocolate brownie. Craig added the homemade vanilla ice cream, and they heated the brownie for us. Perfect combination and perfect way to end a delicious meal and nice little neighborhood date.

I’ll look forward to going back to try some other dishes — Swifty’s Dream (pork shoulder, Carolina style bbq, bacon, horseradish slaw, french bun) and Chicken and Dumplins (ricotta biscuit dumplings, celery root, parsnips, carrots). Their brunch sounds pretty amazing, too. I’m eyeing the Pumpkin Bread Pudding French Toast.

wonderful wedding weekend in the big easy:: part 1

Last weekend we traveled to the great city of New Orleans to celebrate my dear friend Meg and her love Jason at their wedding. As I probably mentioned in the post about Meg’s bachelorette trip, she was one of the very first friends I made at UGA, and we have made so many memories together. I had the pleasure of meeting Jason right after college when we visited Meg in Colorado Springs, where she’d taken a job. Jason worked with Meg, but lived in Boulder, so we convinced her that we should go up for the night to visit this guy she told us about… and the rest is history!

Meg is from New Orleans and we visited her hometown several times throughout college. It may sometimes get a bad rap, but I love it for the culture and beautiful architecture and great food and lively music. We stayed at the Bienville House Hotel in the French Quarter for the weekend, and we were able to walk almost everywhere we needed to go. The Bienville is a historic boutique hotel with one of the tiniest elevators I’ve ever been in, but it also has surprisingly large rooms. We had a view of the fire station across the street, so I felt quite safe. 🙂

Craig, our friend Karen, and I arrived Thursday afternoon and spent the evening wandering the streets of the Quarter, sampling the obligatory frozen daiquiris, and eating Mexican food with a funny little dancing waiter until we were able to meet up with a couple other college friends who live there.

Outside of the Bienville House::

The Bienville House Hotel::

Morning walk past Jackson Square::

Fried, sugary goodness and creamy hot chocolate at Cafe du Monde::

Meg’s Bridesmaids Luncheon at Antoine’s Restaurant — open since 1840:: 

The Rex Room — one of the most gorgeous rooms I’ve ever been in! The walls are lined with photos and memorabilia from the Rex crew, which I believe is the largest Mardi Gras crew. How perfect is this for a girly luncheon?

The bride and her Tri Delta ladies::

Meg and all of her bridesmaids::

Meg and her beautiful mom and sisters::

Rehearsal at the Academy of the Sacred Heart::

Rehearsal Dinner/Cocktail Party venue in the Quarter. The lighting in the courtyard was romantic, and the house itself was so beautiful. It was the perfect venue for all of Meg and Jason’s wedding party, family, and out-of-town guests to gather and celebrate before their big day!

UGA girls::

The couple of honor::

To be continued!

recipe:: chili for an extra chilly day

Craig and our friend Hunter found this chili recipe years ago and have since perfected it to be meat-filled and oh-so-delicious, so I thought it would be perfect to share on this extra cold day!


White or Yellow Onion (1)

Bacon (12 oz.)

Lean Ground Beef (approx 1.25 lbs)

Italian Sausage (1 lb)

Diced Tomatoes (32 oz.)

Pinto Beans (16 oz.)

Great White Beans (16 oz.)

Kidney Beans (16 oz.)

Beer (2)

Chili Powder (6 tbsp)

Garlic (6-12 cloves)

Cumin (2 tbsp)

Black Pepper (1 tbsp)


Dice and cook bacon in large skillet.  Remove and place in a large pot or crockpot.  Leave grease.

Dice onion and cook with ground beef, sausage, and garlic in the bacon grease. Add 1 beer about half-way through cooking.

Remove to large pot or crockpot.

Add diced tomatoes, beans, spices, and 1 beer to crockpot.

Cook on low for several hours.

Voila! All done. Best chili ever.

Here’s the finished product! I love this bowl…. we had them as kids and ate our cereal out of them many mornings before school. And although the idea of chili for breakfast seems a little gross, I still think it’s cute. We made cornbread in a cast iron skillet for this meal, but my favorite side is a nice, hot grilled cheese… oh, and Fritos on top! mmm!

a 30th birthday celebration & a restaurant review:: rathbun’s

Last week, we celebrated Craig’s 30th birthday a little early, as we were traveling to Nashville for the long weekend over his actual birthday. We have been to Kevin Rathbun Steak sevel times and love it, so we decided to try out the sister restaurant, Rathbun’s. The restaurant is in the BottleWorks Building and has a really industrial feel on the outside, but is dark and cozy inside. We had a great waiter who gave us what I think were pretty honset opinions on what to order… like when I asked about the special Krog Candy Bar dessert, he made a face and said that would not be the best choice, which was much appreciated!

I think if you’ve been reading any of my other posts about restaurants we’ve visited, you’ll know that my two favorite things at a restaurant are appetizers and desserts. So we started off with the flatbread pizza with carmelized onions, local chevre, and honey. It was super thin and crispy, and the flavors were really interesting.

Craig had the Sea Scallop Benedict on Country Ham Grits with asparagus and spiced hollandaise… he ate every bit. I had one of the specials from the “Second Mortgage” section — filet, grits, and charred corn with gouda cheese… so, so good! I’m a sucker for creamy grits with just about any meal.

The waiter brought Craig a birthday dessert on the house — Banana Peanut Butter Cream Pie — and he also ate every bite of that. Sensing a trend here? I don’t do bananas (except in banana bread), so I just sampled the cream on top, which was really thick, sweet, and delightful.  We of course had to try something else as well, so we got the Warm Gooey Toffee Cake with Jack Daniels Ice Cream, too. We gobbled it up! It was a fabulous way to start off Craig’s 30th birthday weekend…. and now on to our Nashville trip!

a festive labor day weekend

Our Labor Day weekend was full of food, friends, and football. How surprising!

We spent time at several yummy eating establishments around the city — and one of our favorites was Roy’s Cheesesteaks, which is right down the street from our house. My friend Kristina’s husband is from Philly and gave the thumbs up on these guys, who are legit cheesesteak-makers — they apparently fly their bread in from Philly to make them extra authentic! You also might see them around Atlanta with their food truck, Champion Cheesesteaks. Definitely give them a try!

Friday night, I was invited to JCT Kitchen & Bar for a little celerbation of our friend Courtney, who just got engaged in Mexico the weekend before. I’m beyond excited for Courtney and Joey – they’re just so cute and in love! (He’d probably die if he read this, but it’s true.)

Saturday, we kicked off football season with the Auburn / Clemson game at the GA Dome. It was a LOOONG, HOT day, but it was fun to visit with our Auburn friends (and a few of us wives/girlfriends who were nice enough to don orange and navy for the day).

Sunday was filled with more eating…. brunch at Kaleidoscope (featured in my post Wednesday) and dinner at Orient Express. I share a deep love of hibachi and fried rice with our friend Renee, so we often drag Craig and Brian (her husband) there for dinner dates.  No photos taken, but I’m sure you can imagine.

Since we were filled to the brim after eating all around town the previous two days, we took the boat up to Lake Lanier to celebrate our Monday off. Andrew was our captain for the day. It was surprisingly not crowded for a holiday weekend — I guess we can thank the cloudy day and threat of storms for that. Good news for us — no rain all day!

2 NYC restaurant reviews:: adrienne’s and la bottega

While we were in NYC last weekend visiting my bestie Charlotte (more on the trip in a later post), we ate at some YUMMY restaurants, so I had to share my faves! Coincidentally, both were Italian.

Restaurant #1:: Adrienne’s Pizza Bar in the Financial District
We walked to dinner after we got in town on Friday night, which I just love. We can’t walk anywhere from our house in Smyrna, so walking to eat is sort of refreshing, especially when I’m planning on pigging out on pizza and bread and wine…. The restaurant is located on the cutest cobblestone pedestrian street. As soon as we turned onto the street, I felt like we’d been transported to Europe. The rows and rows of outdoor tables were filled to the brim, even though it was hot hot hot. What a perfect way to kick off the weekend with friends or family.

Some of Charlotte’s friends met us for dinner, and we shared a couple of the traditional rectangular pies that I sense they’re known for. Char and her friend Erin immediately insisted on the “pepps and mush” pizza…. I had no idea what sort of special pizza that was until I realized it was just their shorthand for pepperoni and mushrooms. Should have known with Char and her abbreviations. Anyway, we tried that, a veggie, and a pepps and pepps (my own version with pepperoni and bell peppers). The pizza was so so tasty — just the right amount of dough and crunch and spice. We also had hot bread to dip in olive oil, caesar salad, and caprese salad (Craig’s new fave). Everything was perfectly delicious. The restaurant was really hot, but we were also sitting right by the kitchen. Char claims it’s the best pizza in NY, and I am sure there could be a debate about that for days, but I’ll take her word for it.

Restaurant #2:: La Bottega at the Maritime Hotel
Saturday night, we had reservations here for one of Charlotte’s friend’s birthdays. It was such a neat place! I love dining al fresco, and this place felt like we were eating in a big park in the middle of Chelsea.

How fun is this arial shot of the umbrellas on their patio?

And the Chinese lanterns… so festive!

We started the meal with some hot-out-of-the-oven pizza dough dipped in olive oil… mmmmm. Charlotte tried the watermelon and watercress salad (below) and I got the Tri Colore salad (hers was better and much more interesting). Craig got the farro salad (which is a grain) with mozzarella and orange segments. It was more filling than I’d want for a salad/appetizer, but it was interesting to try.

A big plate of the Burrata Caprese was passed around the table as well. I wasn’t a huge fan of the watery texture inside the mozzarella ball, but it seemed to be pretty popular with everyone else.

I stuck with one of my new faves for the entree — Tagliatelle alla Bolognes (basically pasta with a bunch of meat sauce) and it was good. I ate most of it, despite having eaten all day.  Craig chose the artichoke and goat cheese ravioli, which were HUGE and green and tasty-looking. We had a large group and shared several pitchers of the white sangria, which was filled with fresh fruit. So refreshing on such a hot, humid night!

We went to a number of other restaurants while in the city, but these were my faves. I can’t wait to go back and try more. What are your favorites in the big city?