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Installation (Wordpress Part): Steakhead's Atlanta Eats Blog: July 2005

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Pizza is in Style at Piebar

If the first Saturday night is any indication, Piebar will become one of the more popular eating joints on the Atlanta scene for a long time to come. Bob Amick's (One Midtown Kichen, Two Urban Licks) latest concept can be summarized as hip simplicity with a flair.

Let's start with hip- the location. Piebar occupies a former retro bank site on Monroe Drive near Armour Blvd along I-85. The main building is completely round and open inside, with a covered deck that looks more like it belongs in a 70's sci-fi film than a restaurant patio. A bar takes the middle of the main floor, surrounded by plasma TVs and a good-looking crowd of 20, 30 and 40 somethings waiting for their table. Once seated, you are fairely close to the adjacent tables that you almost feel like you are seated at one large communal table. We wound up chatting with the parties on both sides of us and even exchanged phone numbers with one group (no, we are not swingers- not yet anyway).

Second, is simpicity- menu pricing. Wine is available by the glass or by bottle and is all the same reasonable price- $7 by glass, $28 by bottle. The food is organized into three areas- Create your own antipasta, Small plates, and pizzas. Again, Piebar goes the simple route on pricing- there are three different sizes for the antipasta, 4 prices for the 16 small plates, and pizzas are all the same price ($8 for half, $14 for whole). This scheme allows for trying many small things and getting a feel for the varied menu. We started with a small antipasta, which includes 3 meats and cheeses and 2 accessories. For small plates, we tried the tuna brushetta and mussels in a garlic and mint pesta broth. Our waiter also brought us some garlic knots to soak up the mussel broth. All outstanding. And the thing is, with 16 small plates to choose from, I doubt I would order the same things again as much I as I liked them.

Third, this is not your run-of-the-mill pizza. While there is the pepperoni and naked pizzas, the offerings are so diverse that you would be foolish not to be adverturous. Menu items include a rabbit, mole and cilantro pizza and a bacon, breakfast sausage and maple syrup pizza. We went with two halves- one with duck confit, blue cheese ans cilantro and one with tuna sashimi, ginger and soy jelly. They were both outstanding and would have a tough time picking a favorite of the two.

I had high expectations when I arrived last night and Piebar met them with flying colors. Its a cool scene and an ultra cool space. The food is daring and delicious at the same time. Our waiter was not only very knowledgeable about the menu but very accomodating as well. And to top it all off, it can easily be done by diners on a budget. For those looking to impress a date, go now, while you can still be considered "in the know". This place will become known by all very soon. Grade; A+.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Audience Participation

Well, its been a while since I have posted. Just started a new job, bought a new house, and really haven't had the opportunity to try any new places in the past few weeks. So this is where you all come in. I'd like to hear of any new places that y'all have been to in the past 3-6 months that really struck a chord. It could be for fantastic food, or a great scene, or great value. Whatever the reason, if its new and you liked it, I would love to know about it. Thanks!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dim Sum Delight

Its been a week heavy on the Asian cuisine for Steakhead and wife. First, my trip to Canton Cooks early in the week. Then, the wife and I had another outstanding meal at a packed Real Chow Baby on Saturday night. And to top the weekend off, we traveled to Chamblee to our favorite Dim Sum place for Sunday brunch at Royal China on Chamblee Dunwoody Rd. this morning.

Royal China is about as authentic as it gets for Atlanta chinese food. Looking more like a Chinatown staple in New York or San Francisco, the clientele was roughly 75% Asian- always a good sign. The lobby area was mobbed with groups of people, many families of 6 or 8, waiting for their number to be called. The frantic scene leads you to believe that these folks know this is worth the wait.

If you have not experienced Dim Sum yet, you are really missing out. Sort of like Asian tapas, servers wheel carts full of varieties of steamed dumplings, pastries filled with pork and other appetizers. You pick want you want and the servers mark a card on your table. When you have gorged yourself, you simply take the card to the cashier, who adds up the marks and gives you a price for your meal. And you will be amazed how reasonable it is. With tip it came to less than $15 per person, and trust me, you do not leave wanting for more.

While many dishes fall into "potsticker" domain, there are plenty of opportunities to be adventurous. Like the chicken fingers. Now, I am not kidding you when I say these are real chicken fingers, not some bar fare with the same name you may be used to. But as you can also imagine, there ain't a lotta meat on chicken fingers, so you wind up sifting through more bone than anything. Ending your meal with the custard is a nice touch of sweet, after a heavy dose of sodium.

The great thing about this place is that its not only good and cheap, its a lot of fun. Best to go in a big group, so you can try many of the offerings. For those looking for something different on a Sunday morning (they have Dim Sum everyday, but this is when the scene is at its best), this is something you need to try. Grade: A.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Canton Cooks Really Cooks

One of my biggest culinary disappointments in Atlanta has been the lack of decent Chinese food. I have my favorite place on Buford Highway and a great dim sum place on Chamblee Dunwoody, but all in all, I find the run of the mill Chinese place in Atlanta to be pretty poor. And why do Atlanta Chinese places insist on putting peas and carrots in the Egg Drop soup??? Coming from the North, I find this rather odd.

But lo and behold, there is hope. I had heard a recommendation of Canton Cooks in Sandy Springs last summer, but didn't make it up there until just this week (after I heard Steak Shapiro- no relation- brag about it on his 790 morning show). Let me tell you, this place is good.

This place really looks the part. You walk through red doors and there is a dragon ertched in glass as you walk in. Reminds me of circa 1970 Chinese in New Jersey. The menu is expansive, ranging from traditional dishes like Kung Pao anything, to more exotic dishes like dungeoness crab. For those that have read my reviews in the past, this sounds like Crustacean in San Francisco, and I am dying to go back to Canton Cooks to try their version.

I went for lunch, and like most Chinese places, there is a ~$7 lunch that includes soup, and egg roll and a chicken wing. And guess what? No peas and carrots in the Egg Drop Soup! The soup was great and the kung pao chicken swimming in a zesty, dark Asian sauce.

My next visit will entail some of the more adventurous offerings, and most likely for dinner. But so far, I am sold. Grade: A-.