restaurant review:: Ammazza

DSC_0174
Located in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, Ammazza is one of the newer wood fired pizza joints to make some competition for famed Antico Pizza. While I think the verdict was still that Antico wins for the actual pizza, I’m really glad we checked this one out. It’s located in a cool old brick building and has a big, airy dining area with a bar at the back, as well as a quaint little patio outside. You order at the counter as soon as you enter the building, and the dining area features big windows looking into the kitchen so diners can see the pizzas as they’re being made.

IMG_1469photo credit

We started with the Polpete (homemade meatballs, tomato sauce, romano, mozzarella and ricotta). What we didn’t realize is that they’d be served in a cast iron dish and SWIMMING in melted, hot cheese. I could have just eaten this for dinner. In fact, I’d like some right now.

unnamed (4)
Pizzas are offered in either 12″ or 16″ sizes. We split the 16″ Ammazzare (artisan Italian sausage, roasted peppers, vidalia onion, basil, and house mozzarella). It came out rather quickly (but not as quickly as the .5 seconds it takes at Antico) — our only complaint was that because we were sitting outside, the pizza got cold really quickly. I’ll attribute that to the abnormally chilly May weather we were having. The pizza was well-cooked, and the toppings were a great combo.

unnamed (5)
Overall, I think Ammazza gives Antico a good run for its money. Although plenty busy, the crowd was still a lot smaller (a good thing in my book), the dining area was a lot larger and not crazy loud, and while you can’t BYOB at Ammazza, their bar was fully-equipped with fun cocktails and good beer/wine options. I’ll look forward to going back again.

restaurant review:: hammock’s trading company (sandy springs)

Last weekend, we mad a little drive up to Sandy Springs for a Saturday night dinner date at Hammock’s Trading Company. We’d seen the restaurant highlighted on an episode of Atlanta Eats, which I mentioned in a post earlier this week. It’s located in an unassuming stretch of Roswell Road, but inside, it’s full of beachy character, music, and what appear to be a lot of neighborhood customers. The restaurant describes itself as a place where Southern Coastal Seafood meets Baja California. We happened to be there over the end of Mardi Gras week, so they had a special New Orleans-inspired menu (and lots of Mardi Gras beads) in addition to the regular fare.

food1
They have $5 sangria, margaritas, and mojitos every day, so we took advantage of that. My sangria was very festive, as you can see.
food2
We started with one of the specials, chicken and sausage gumbo, and added on some jalapeno cornbread from the regular menu. We couldn’t get enough of the gumbo — it was spicy and filled with lots of meat. The cornbread, however, left a little to be desired… it was late coming out from the kitchen, and I think they under-cooked it in an effort to get it to us more quickly. I liked the presentation, though.
food3
The dinner menu is pretty extensive, but I don’t eat a lot of seafood, so I went with the Crabcake appetizer and a side of Cheddar Grits. Crabcake = full of meat and really good. Grits = AMAZING! I am a sucker for some good cheese grits. They were thick, cheesey, but not overpowering, and just so good.  Craig went with one of the specials — the Shrimp Creole — and it was a pretty big dish filled with nice-sized shrimp.

food5
food4
One of the best parts of our dining experience was the waiter. I can’t remember his name, but he was so enthusiastic and really seemed invested in working for this restaurant. You don’t often see that, so it was much appreciated. If you’re out in Sandy Springs and want some good seafood options that won’t break the bank, check out Hammock’s Trading Company.

restaurant review:: ecco

After seeing a show at the Fox Theatre a couple weekends ago, we had dinner with some of our family at Ecco. It’s a great nearby Italian place in Midtown that we have been meaning to try for a long time, so I was really excited to finally make it there.

IMG_2385

My brother and SIL have been talking about their fried goat cheese balls (with honey) since the first time they ate there, and I’ve been dreaming about them since. They did not disappoint. We also tried the Braised Beef-Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, and they were delicious as well. I enjoyed having 2 starters, along with their bread and butter, that weren’t too large and filling before we had a big meal of pasta and pizza.

IMG_2381

For dinner, I had the Pappardelle with braised pork, peppadew peppers, garlic. The pasta itself was fantastic, and the meat, peppers, and sauce were the prefect combo. I cleaned my plate.
IMG_2383
Craig got the wood fired pizza with homemade sausage, ricotta, and mint. And while we originally agreed to share our dishes, he almost wouldn’t let me take a slice because he wanted it all to himself. The crust was super light and crispy with a nice smoky flavor. This dish was also demolished. 
IMG_2384

Italian-type desserts aren’t really our favorite, so we opted out and picked up Sublime Donuts on the way home. PS — they’re apparently open late on weekends now!!! Bad, bad idea… but so good.
IMG_2386

restaurant review:: Coast

coast

If you’re looking for great seafood in Atlanta, you need to check out Coast. I’m not the biggest seafood fan, but I do love a good crabcake (and white fish). We visited over the Christmas holiday with my parents and brother — it was their 2nd time dining there in one month if that tells you anything. Coast is part of the Here To Serve restaurant group, and it’s located in a charming little house on West Paces Ferry in Buckhead.

I have a love for carbs… so of course, my favorite things on the menu were the Sweetcorn & Jalapeno Hushpuppies and the Cheese Grits. The grits were to.die.for. I could have eaten a whole bowl of them.  I hear the fried shrimp is exceptional, as well as the She Crab Soup. The menu has a great selection, so I look forward to coming back and trying other dishes.

IMG_1733
Also, they know how to do dessert. The S’mores Brownie was ah-mazing — look at that giant marshmallow!

IMG_1734

restaurant review:: Seed Kitchen & Bar

seed_logo

It’s a bit of a drive (30 minutes) to get to Seed Kitchen & Bar from our house, but I have heard nothing but great things about this (new to me) restaurant in East Cobb.

We visited on a Saturday night over the Christmas holiday, and it was PACKED. I assume it’s one of the better dining options in the area, based on the clientele and the full tables and bar. We started off with the skillet cornbread, Pimiento Crostinis (stacked with pimiento cheese, country ham, arugula, and apples), and the White Corn Grit Fritters (my favorite). Per the usual with restaurant photos, please excuse the dark, poor quality… I don’t make a  habit of carrying my DSLR around with me to dinner.

IMG_1714
For entrees, our favorites were the Merchant Burger (with cheddar, carmalized onions, and merch. sauce), Scallops and Crispy Pork Belly, and the Butternut Squash Risotto. My mom got the risotto, which is just a side dish, but it was so rich, flavorful, and delicious that I wish I’d gotten it as my dinner.  Craig liked the pork belly (more thick bacon consistency than fatty pork), but the scallops were a bit underwhelming in comparison.

The all-star dessert was the Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookie with ice cream. Restaurants never tend to bring enough ice cream to accompany a dessert like this, so we had to get more. The cookie was a bit under-cooked, but it was deliciously gooey and chocolatey.
IMG_1717
The food was fantastic, but the service was pretty slow, even taking the busy night into consideration… it took over 30 minutes just to get our appetizers.  I don’t know that I’ll rush to go back soon, given the distance from our house and the slow service (although our waiter was super friendly and helpful). But I’d definitely recommend trying it out if you live in Marietta or don’t mind a trip outside the perimeter!

restaurant review:: Pallookaville Fine Foods

unnamed1

Pallookaville Fine Foods

Old School Carnival. Fried. Delicious.
Those are the words I’d use to describe Pallookaville’s menu. I’ve been patiently waiting to make the drive across the city to Avondale Estates for months — ever since I heard the first word about the famous corn dog man opening a brick and mortar.

unnamed3

While my parents were in town for Christmas, we made the 30-minute trek in the pouring rain for said famous corn dogs. And they did not disappoint. We may have over-ordered… as we usually do.

unnamed2

We tried the BOILT Nuts (yes, boilt) as a starter, and I’m not the biggest boiled peanut eater, but they were pretty addicting. Each of us got some variation of the corn dog. The boys apparently had very big appetites — they each chose the “Fryinstein Monster,” which is THREE different sausages/hot dogs on a stick! The Fryinstein is the biggest corn dog I’ve ever seen. We also got fries, tots covered in cheese, and milkshakes all around. It was a very filling, but fun way to spend our rainy day lunch.

unnamed4
unnamed5

unnamed7

They also offer sandwiches, baked potatoes with toppings, pork burgers, and salads if you’re not in the mood for a fried dog.

I just wish it weren’t a solid 30-minute drive from the Vinings, or I’d be back more often. But my arteries are probably glad we don’t live any closer.

restaurant review & ornaments, too:: 1Kept

Every year, we plan a girls’ dinner and ornament exchange before Christmas. It grew out of our Bunko get-togethers that we had years ago, so I really look forward to having that night to celebrate the season with some of my favorite girls. And who doesn’t love the game of picking your ornament from a random assortment of gift bags and boxes — and if it’s one of the most coveted ones (i.e. not a Dora the Explorer microphone…), having it “stolen” back and forth until one lucky winner ends up with the favorite.

So anyway, this year, we decided to try out a newer restaurant in the Peachtree Hills area called 1Kept. It’s an American/Southern restaurant with a really neat vibe — lots of reclaimed wood, butcher block tables, and big tufted chairs. We sort of felt like we were at a king’s table.

unnamed

I didn’t manage to get shots of any of the food (other than one dessert), but every single thing we tried was so, so delicious. Everyone at the table was gushing over how good their own food was, and then handing off their plates because everyone else needed to try it as well. At one point, I left the table and came back to find my bowl of pasta being eaten by the girls sitting across from me. That tells you two things — the food was amazing, and we are really good friends. 🙂

Just a quick recap on some of our favorite dishes….

Starters::
Sausage + Peppers Flatbread
Warm Kale Salad — with chorizo, quinoa, garlic (this was the best kale dish I’ve ever tried)

Entrees:: 
Tagliatelle — fresh egg pasta, green peas, bacon, grated egg yolk & parmesan creme…. so rich and so, so good.
Grilled Veal Meatloaf — smoked potato puree, haricot verts & rustic tomato ragout
Short Rib Roisotto — wild mushrooms, butternut squash, fontina cheese & crispy shallots

Dessert::
Red Velvet Cheesecake — I didn’t order this one, and I wish I’d gotten one all for myself. It was that good.
Eggnog Creme Brulee — I’m not an eggnog fan, or really much of a creme brulee fan, but I think some of the girls were fighting over who got the last bite. So I’m betting it was a winner.

unnamed (4)

————————————-

So on to the ornament exchange. Here’s how it works::
1) Everyone draws a number, and the person with #1 goes first, obviously.
2) Max of 3 steals per ornament, and the person whose ornament is stolen can’t steal it right back.
3) Person #1 gets last choice, since they didn’t have the opportunity to steal from anyone.

Also, please excuse the horrible quality of these iphone photos.

unnamed (1)
I picked #1, and this was my prize. The cutest little polar bear!
unnamed (2)
And this was the winner for most amazing ornament. 
unnamed (3)

It was, however, accompanied by a real ornament, too. Love this cute little guy!
unnamed (5)

unnamed (6)

Our loot::
unnamed (7)

unnamed (10)

Cheers to another year of friendship, fantastic dinners, pretty (and silly) ornaments, and fun memories!  And if you’re in Atlanta, you should definitely check out 1Kept. I can’t wait to go back with Craig!

restaurant review:: one flew south (ATL airport)

While stuck at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport recently for several hours, we decided to make the best of it and try out One Flew South. I’ve heard so much about the busy airport’s first upscale restaurant, which serves cocktails, sushi, and a variety of other menu items, so I was excited to check it out.  

IMG_9619

IMG_9624

We had some time to kill, so we went all out — appetizers, cocktails, lunch, and dessert. We started with the mussels and edamame. 
IMG_9627

We got some fancy cocktails… well, Craig did. It was called Pretty Brown Eyes (after me, of course) and was made with bourbon topped with red wine. Sounds gross, but I think he liked it. IMG_9630
Lauren and I split the open-face meatloaf sandwich and fries for lunch, so we had plenty of room for dessert. The freshly baked chocolate chip cookies were to die for. They just needed some ice cream. I didn’t try the banana pudding, but it was a pretty presentation.

IMG_9629
It was definitely the best meal I’ve had in any airport, and the price tag reflected that. Maybe next time I wouldn’t splurge on three courses as well as drinks…. but at least it was fun!

On a different note, it’s 9/11, and I just want to say a sincere thank you to all of our service men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom and safety. I’m so very grateful for your sacrifice.

restaurant review:: local three

So I have already done one review of  Local Three Kitchen & Bar, which is just off West Paces Ferry and close to the Vinings area.
But that was last fall, and when we went a couple weekends ago for a friend’s birthday, a lot of the menu seemed to have changed (or at least everything we’ve previously ordered was no longer available). So I think it’s ok to post again because it was like eating at a new restaurant compared to our last visit!

IMG_9368

IMG_9370
Something I’d forgotten about since our last visit:: the salt and pepper shakers are different at every table. Adds a little bit of whimsy, and I thought this was very fitting, as we’re going to Mexico next week!
IMG_9369

Craig and I tried the Redneck Queso as an appetizer, and we cleaned our plates.  It’s essentially cheese, ground beef of some sort, and jalapenos with pretzel bread for dipping. I have to admit that for the price, I didn’t think the portion was big enough, but it was really spicy and delicious. 
IMG_9371

Out of 15 people at the table, well over half ordered the McDowell. The funny part is that McDowell is the last name of a couple of our friends, who we affectionately call Big Mac and Cheese… so it’s very fitting that they share a name with this burger. The description lists “Two Angus Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, American Cheese…no sesame seeds…” It was quite tasty and juicy, but the special sauce really did give a hint of the Mickey D’s version. Funny. 
IMG_9372

IMG_9377

IMG_9380

I loved our meal just as much this time as I have every other visit. Local Three is sort of a hidden gem in the middle of office/condo buildings, but it’s definitely worth seeking out.

restaurant review:: chick-a-biddy

Looking for a  cute little lunch spot in Midtown Atlanta? Chick-a-Biddy recently opened in Atlantic Station (right across from the movie theater), and it totally fits the bill for a workweek lunch outing. They serve mainly chicken, and they have very interesting sides. I had a hankering for some mac n cheese with my fried chicken, but I guess that’s a tad too Southern for what they’re going for here.

c1

The inside of the restaurant is so clean and bright, and I really enjoy the giant chickens on the wall.
c2

c3

I chose the chicken tender basket, which came with 2 sides — I chose the watermelon/feta salad and fries. Both were really good. The salad was cold and refreshing, which was a nice counter to the hot and salty fries. Oh, and the chx tenders are hidden in that bowl under the fries, in case you were wondering. They also include a wasabi honey as a dipping sauce. Yum.
c4
If you have ever been to Yeah! Burger in Atlanta, you’ll recognize the metal trays and fun paper liners. Chick-a-Biddy was started by the same folks from said delicious burger joint, and I’m a definite fan of both.