Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cupcakes & Burgers & Haute Dogs... Oy Vey!!The Cup, names itself a gourmet cupcake shop, which is Nestled in the new Brookhaven shopping center amongst Costco and Noche.  First, the furniture choice was poor. The tables and chairs are too large for the space making it impossible to navigate. I purchased four cupcakes:  Red Velvet, Carrot Cake, Turtle Brownie and the Reeses Peanut Butter Brownie. I took a bite out of the Red Velvet to learn that they were refrigerated, meaning not made today. The dollop of frosting was cold, there was no classic flavor. It actually tasted like corn; too dense.  On to the carrot cake, which tasted like a carrot cake muffin.  They should be a gourmet muffin shop- less is more, especially in cupcakes. The other two were brownie consistency, but way too sweet and cold. Brownie, cold? So at a whopping $13, I threw them all in the trash.  No Bueno:( I've tried many a cupcake in the city and I have to go with Cami Cakes. They go a little crazy with the icing, but they are fresh, airy, and have a good distribution of flavors. There's a line out the door for a reason! 5Napkin Burger. 
Oh what can I say? I had high hopes. When I walked in I felt nostalgia for NYC. Kudos for that- Black and white diamond mason floors, white subway tile walls and diner booths. They have high prices. A regular burger is $15 not including tax or tip. Their hot dog is $14 respectively. I got neither, I just couldn't validate it. We are not in NYC. I'm sorry. So I got the wings. I asked for them spicy and was told they come one way. I requested crispy. (sorry, if it makes you feel better I eat meat and fish  rare) The chef ignored my request which I figured he would.  The bartender saw my disappointment and told a manager, who came over and took them away while I was eating them. The sauce tasted ketchup based. Yuk. So a new order came, crispy this time, but it didn't help. I also ordered the tator tots that are made in house in what they said is a pain-staking process. I didn't taste the pain or the love. It was a confused mashed potato ball. Prior to my food coming I did have a drink. I opted for beer since on their site they boast on their beer affiliations. Unfortunately, the staff wasn't trained in their beer, but 5Napkins ATL beer list isn't very exciting.  So I settled for a Bell's Oberon and chose the women's beer who was sitting next to me. My good deed of the day.  Staff was friendly as to be expected and management was present.   They also have a limited and I mean limited sushi menu. Maki at $13 and you can't even see them prepare it. The sushi just magically appears from the sushi gods in the back.   As far as 5Napkin is concerned, I will return when: someone is buying me dinner or lunch (which prices are $1 cheaper)  or when they get a hold of themselves and reprice the menu. I'd rather spend that money elsewhere. 

Last but not least, Haute Dogs. Many restaurants are adding hot dogs to their menu but Richard Blais is opening a spot named Haute Doggery in the Virginia Highlands. I wonder what's going in them and if these Haute items will also be a whopping $14 a pop. I have my dogs crossed! 


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Have My Cake & Eat It!

I happened to be in the Smyrna area, having lunch  at Muss & Turners and needed to get some keys made. I saw the recognized ACE signage. I thought, "Sure, I just need some keys," so I started to look for the turn in.  The turn in is a hidden dirt road along side a shack/barn looking structure. I decided to just wait till I reached west midtown to go to the one on Howell Mill and proceeded into the dirt lot to make a U-turn and this is what I saw. (pic above)

Now, I am just plain ol' intrigued. So I moseyed on up to the front porch and inside to get my keys made.

What a breath of fresh air, well really, old school air!  When I walked in there I was transported to a place and time where family businesses reigned supreme and with that family business came  sincere hospitality and customer care. It was the "Cheers" of hardware stores - "Where everybody knows your name."  I truly forgot I was in the city. I couldn't help myself and asked the lively gentleman at the counter to please tell me the history of this store. They had customers inside, but he kindly and enthusiastically obliged as a teenage associate, whom I later learned was family, cut my keys.

Mr. Randy informed me that they were celebrating fifty years in business.  They were a small family run hardware store that took on the franchise ACE in 1964.  He worked there since eight years old when his parents worked there.  They used to be in the lot across the driveway, but had a fire. The insurance company wouldn't dish out the money to rebuild so they moved into their current space which was a battery repair shop. They added the front porch so they can sit and catch up with their long time customers/friends.  They are the only business to still go by the name Oakdale, which was the original name of the town. He also painted a picture for me of the landscape and shops that used to be there once upon a time.  The business is still family run and they do very well, despite what people may think with the Home Depots and Lowes.

Apparently, the CEO of Home Depot, Bernard Marcus spoke at an Ace Hardware Corp. convention, that Mr. Randy attended. His message was that they shouldn't be afraid of Home Depot taking away business. In fact, he suggested that they work together because, "Home Depot cannot provide that one on one guest service amongst some other things we don't do or do well; such as key cutting, glass and fiber glass cutting and Ace Hardware doesn't sell a lot of their inventory or do kitchen installation." Mr. Randy stated, "Bernard Marcus couldn't be more right! Home Depot has help sustain business and they send people to each other all the time."

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with Mr. Randy and at Ace. It was inspiring to see that there can be a balance between corporate structure/franchising with out losing the family owned small business feel and customer service. Kudos to Ace for allowing the Oakdale location to keep it's charm etc as most franchises have rules regarding how the brand is represented.  I will definitely return even though it is a 20 minute drive. Great old school, "welcome to my home" service is a hard to come by and they sure hit the nail on the head!

Yep, I said it! :)

Ace Hardware
4359 W Atlanta Rd SE
Smyna, GA 30080

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I had the privilege of hanging out and talking shop with the good people at Good People Brewing. The appropriately named multi-function space houses fantastic beer that is not available here in Atlanta unfortunately. We all are hoping that it will be coming to Hop City Craft Beer & Wine and to our beloved craft beer bars sooner than later.In the meantime, definitely take a trip to Alabama and  head to Jackson's Bar & Grill in the Soho district in Homewood, Alabama. I suggest the sesame  encrusted Ahi tuna on the wasabi ceasar salad and a  Good People IPA on draft. Mmm, mmm, good... Cheers!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mixed feelings about the new Panera Bread @Ansley. I have to make my own bagel with pre packaged cream cheese. By the time I made my own iced coffee, my bagel was cold:( Well, there is an Einstein's right next door for bagels. I will try the breakfast here next time. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

#1 Rule-Consistency Among the Brand

A brand has a character, a look, a tone of voice and a way of behaving. There is a reason McDonalds has been so successful, aside from the hot crispy fries and playgrounds. The have brand and product consistency.(Ok and they market to the ideal guest, the child, who in turn brings at least one more guest-the parent- ingenious, btw)

I live in the Ansley Park area and have a Thai restaurant within walking distance that has a sister restaurant in Decatur. I would love to eat at the one nearest me, but to get that delicious Pad Ke Mao, I have to hike it out of the county. Booo, shame on you! It's so annoying. Why is that? Who's in charge of quality control? It's a real turn off and I don't want the cop out that it's an asian restaurant. That is BS. I didn't move into the city, to have to drive my ass out of the city.

Another example: I went to the Royal Orchid in the Midtown Promenade at about 10:10. They close at 10:30. I asked for a menu and knew by their tone that they were closed. Oh and the mopping and seats up;) Instead of just saving me for the half ass meal that was about to come, they said sure sit down. I KNEW I was going to get a half assed meal. I got steamed unseasoned shrimp in pre cooked rice noodle and heated up sauce underneath my stir fry. The noodles, shrimp and veggies had not been seasoned or stir fried with the sauce. It was disgusting. In addition, I asked for Thai hot. THREE TIMES. Which she looked at me saying yea sure, yet thinking - you can't hang with us you American. So she brought out this food with sides of chilli condiments even though I specified I want my chili cooked into my food, not on the side. It's like you have to come with your asian co-signer. Sometimes, when I need to validate that I'm "down" I whip out my I.D, which has my last name "Ho" to get me the stamp of asian approval to have my food cooked hot. I hate having to send my food back when I am starving and then having my seafood inadvertently over cooked in the process. I will lie and say I am asian if I have to. Just make my food Thai hot. Okay?

Anyway, the point, was that they should have said, "Sorry we are closed even though its twenty minutes early and the kitchen is shut down, I cannot make Pad Ke Mao the way it is SUPPOSED to be made. I wouldn't want to serve you a sub par product because we want your return business."

I can only thank them for being part of the muse for this post.
Thank you Royal Orchid:)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sun In My Belly, Kirkwood

I am known as the one who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, but today my luck has changed! Right next to the MARTA railway, on E. College Ave is a wonderful quaint cafe that is chef driven, called Sun In My Belly.

I am so glad I pulled a U-turn to grab a cup of Joe, let me tell you. My self made mid-week brunch has officially deemed Sun In My Belly the BEST breakfast/lunch spot in town. I honestly could not decide what to order on the menu because everything was so appetizing. Now, don't let the understated bi-fold, home printed, black and white menu fool you. It is a poor representation of the caliber of product that will grace your palate and plate.

I decided to go classic breakfast. The usual suspects: eggs, bacon, potatoes, bread. There was nothing usual about it. My eggs were softly scrambled to perfection, laced with Herbed Boursin cheese. I could write a whole blog post on the bacon alone. It was honey glazed and came with this sweet salty crust, it wasn't crispy, but wasn't soft or undercooked either. It was heaven.
I ordered a side of hashed potatoes, which to my pleasant suprise, were more NY style home-fries, but with roasted red peppers and caramelized onions.

Plate presentation was exeptional, service was outstanding (thank you Kendra) , price point is absolutely freakin fantastic for the quality and portion size, and the ambiance definitely captures the essence of the neighborhood.

Alison Lueker, started of with a vision from home, cooking and catering and with partner, Max Leblanc and the support of Chef Nimma Osman, they hit the nail on the head.

They also do catering and events. So if you would like to check them out, you can do so at: www.suninmybelly.com

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Hmmm, this place is a hidden gem. Unfortunately too hidden. I love mixology and this place has it. Navarro, behind the bar, creating old school cocktails with a modern twist and personality, making the price worth while. Travis, who is the mind behind the "crudo bar" is a joy to watch. Not only is he good at making excellent plates with NO KITCHEN, he has been dabbling in mixology, creating a cocktail or two that have been quite fabulous. I do enjoy going there when they first open so I can chit chat with the two of them and they have the time to invent things for us to try:) Definitely a great date spot and relatively healthy too, food wise that is. lol;)


Beleza closed In May along with it's brother restaurant Lupe, the brainchildren of Riccardo Ullio, the mastermind behind the successful Sotto Sotto and Friti restaurant concepts. However, Riccardo Ullio’s fourth try for a Latino restaurant in Midtown Escorpion — has finally opened.

Top FLR and Dinner Party Atlanta owners to open a restaurant at 905 Juniper, where Riccardo's concepts failed TWICE? Patrick La Bouff, lead owner of Dinner Party Atlanta and Darren Carr, co-owner of Top FLR and The Sound Table, leased the space together. I love their other concepts...Fingers crossed!!!