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

Monday, October 31, 2005

Steakhead in Philadelphia- Morimoto and L'Angolo

From the moment I made the reservations at Morimoto’s in Philadelphia 3 weeks ago, I had been counting the days to last Friday. Masaharu Morimoto, or also known as the Iron Chef, has a very distinguished career as one of the top sushi chefs of the country, including a gig as the executive chef of the famous Nobu in New York City. You will see a lot of the Nobu experience at Morimoto’s, from the ultra-hip atmosphere and décor to the $100 Omakase dinner. The chef’s selections also closely mirror my Omakase dinner at Nobu Las Vegas with the Toro Tartare being equally heavenly at both.

If I had one knock on Morimoto’s, it was that it was just a tad too loud. It was very difficult to hear your companions and the wait staff (my father had a particularly difficult time following the conversation). Be warned- this place is not for the meek of wallet. But for a once in a decade sushi experience, it ranks equal to Nobu in my estimation.

Two nights later, we went in the complete opposite direction. Philadelphia should be known for 2 culinary specialties- cheesesteaks and Italian food. And when you go for Italian, it doesn’t get anymore authentic than L’Angolo in South Philly. L’Angolo is located on Porter St, just off of Broad St near the very southern tip of South Philly (this is just a few blocks from the sports complex).

The row house that L’Angolo occupies looks like something Rocky ran by when training for Apollo Creed. The Italian flag outside marks the location, and you walk in through the kitchen. The number of tables maybe totals 15, and it fills up fast. We walked in at 5:45 on a Sunday and got the last seat in the place. Mario Lanza (native South Philly) and other opera singers pour out of the sound system (but not too loud). As for the décor, its not much to speak of, but the food is very authentic and the “straight off the boat” wait staff is very accommodating.

We started off the mussels and grilled calamari which were outstanding. For entrée’s, I went with a more traditional spaghetti with seafood, while my Dad went with a pasta with butternut squash. Different, but tasty. (Lady Steakhead had something with eggplant, but since I don’t like eggplant, I didn’t pay much attention to it.) Supposedly, they are known for the best gnocchi in the city. We have been there multiple times now, and we have been pleased every time. Bring a bottle of wine if you go, since its BYOB. But this helps keep the cost to a very reasonable amount. Three of us gorged with multiple appetizers and fantastic entrée’s for $85 total. Authentic, great food and not expensive- a real find!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Meehan's Ale House Opening in Sandy Springs

I got the news I was looking for today- the opening announcement for the newest Meehan's Ale House location at City Walk in Sandy Springs. The Grand Opening Party is set for Thursday November 3rd from 6:30-9:30pm. There will be bagpipers, food and I am sure the traditional Irish ales will be flowing. A $10 donation will be collected at the door benefiting Heritage Sandy Springs. Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bones- Where Men are Men and the Steaks are Nervous

This place is Old School. And let me emphasize “old”. I am 37, and my buddy Wingman and I were just about the youngest people in the joint (except for the two insanely underdressed Georgia Tech students sipping Grand Ma at the bar). Bones is Downtown Vegas as Chops or New York Prime is to Bellagio. There is nothing flashy about this place, including most of the clientele. It’s where men, precisely old men, go to eat. I have seen more women eating at the restaurant at the Cheetah than I saw at Bones last night. One guy was nice enough to bring his girlfriend there for her birthday, but by the looks of them, it seemed it was more for his sake than hers.

As for food, there are plenty of appetizers to choose from, including soups, salads, smoked salmon and shrimp. The Lobster Bisque I ordered was a nice complement to the steak, although the lobster stock could have been heartier.

Bones offers the standard variety of cuts in their steak menu. Bones “no nonsense” approach to décor and atmosphere can also be seen in their approach to steaks. We each had the ribeye, which comes cowboy cut (bone-in). A healthy 22-oz chop cooked perfectly. Bones does not season their meat to the degree others do, leaving the taste of the meat to stand on its own. I probably would prefer a little more seasoning than bones offers, but this is definitely better than over-seasoned. The steak’s presentation matches the overall atmosphere at Bones. The meat isn’t over-seared and the ribeye cut was not the thickest steak I have ever had (which is not necessarily a bad thing). A simple white plate with a slab of meat.

And that is Bones. It’s not the nicest looking place. It’s not the best place to hangout at the bar while waiting for your table. And it’s definitely not a place for hip single people to meet. It’s an old man’s steakhouse. And at that, Bones does a decent job. I, for one, go for the trendy ambiance of some of the newer upscale steakhouses, so it’s probably not the highest on my list. But for what it is, Bones delivers. Grade: B.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

O' Sushi Mio

Out of the many numerous articles written in the AJC about Sandy Springs incorporation in the past year, the one two months ago about the growing ethnic restaurant population got my eye. And sure enough, if you peruse the strip malls that line Roswell Rd., you will find a host of middle eastern and Far Eastern establishments. Given my love of sushi, I immediately put Sushi Mio on my list given the decent review.

The first challenge one may have with Sushi Mio is merely finding it. It is located in a fairly old, very ugly (of course) strip mall just south of the Punchline. The inside decor is very minimalist, so combine this with the outside appearance, this is not a place that aims to impress at first glance.

When first seated, we were greeted by the friendly staff and presented with hot towels. I did find there was a considerable delay between the time we ordered and arrival of the food to be a little longer than I expected, especially since the place was just about empty. But all in all, the service was adequate.

I started with the Miso Soup, pretty much a standard for me at sushi places and my wife ordered the gomae (a spinach salad with a peanut dressing). While the soup was quite good, the gomae was less than satisfactory. The dressing was overpowering and the spinach did not taste fresh at all. I was preparing myself for a disappointing dinner.

We ordered a various assortment of sushi (the cooked variety for the prego wife)- unagi, maguro, hamachi, sake and two rolls. Much to my delight, the sushi was surprisingly good. The pieces were cut rather large, and the consistency was of the "melt in your mouth" distinction. The rolls were even better. Unlike most spicy tuna rolls, Mio's spicy tuna roll is big on the tuna and little on the rice. And the spice does not come from some gloppy sauce like some other place I won't name. The second roll was for Lady Steakhead- a concoction of crab wrapped with unagi- which as also very good. Unfortunately, I didn't leave any room to try Mio Roll #2- a hamachi roll, fried-shrimp with ponzu sauce. Next time, I guess.

Oh, and there will be a next time. While it does not rank up there with Soto or MF, it is a heck of a lot closer...and cheaper. And while not being quite the same experience as Twist or Shout, sometimes you just want some good sushi and go home. Grade: B.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Decatur Beer Festival

The Great Decatur Beer Tasting Festival takes place this Saturday on the square in Decatur, one of the highlights of Fall for me every year. Local, national and international breweries decend upon the beuatiful square of Downtown Decatur with samples of their tradional and seasonal concotions. If you are planning on going and haven't already done so, I would highly encourage you to ourchase your tickets online at as this events fills up every year.

The festival goes from 1-6, creating the perfect opportunity to head out afterwards and check out the restaurant scene that has burgeoned in Decatur over the past 5-10 years. Restaurants line the square on both the north and south sides. On the North side, the Brick Store pub is one of my favorite pubs in town. On the south side off of Sycamore St, lies Sushi Avenue, Sage, Raging Burrito and Siam (Thai) among others. A short walk away is Carpe Diem and if drinking more beer is your thing, The Angel, a Derek Lawford pub, is off of Ponce de Leon.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Doc Chey's Open at CityWalk in Sandy Springs

The new CityWalk in Sandy Springs is beginning to show signs of life, and this week was the opening of the new Doc Chey's. Coming soon to CityWalk include The Grape and my personal favorite, Meehan's Ale House.

While I am excited about new dining options in Sandy Springs, I think planners may have missed the boat a little with CityWalk. The layout may wind up being pretty cool, but right now, it appears most of the buildings surround a Kroger parking lot. I have seen better implementations of more urban and pedestrian-friendly modern shopping developments both in and out of Atlanta. And while having a cool drinking spot like Meehan's will be a nice addition, it would have been nice to get at least one or two more upscale eateries. There is more construction around CityWalk, so one can hope that is coming in time. It will need to if developers believe this will become the epicenter of the new city.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Let's Go Thrashers!

Steakhead is one happy guy. Why you ask? Is it "All You Can Eat Night" at Chops? No. Did the Sweetwater 420 truck just break down in front of my house? Good guess, but no. Steakhead is happy because NHL hockey has finally returned to the ice, and tomorrow is the Thrashers home opener. And with the new economic system, the recent trades and the new rule changes, it figures to be an exciting time at Philips Arena this year.

But, every time I go to a game, I struggle with the same question around the restaurant-depraved CNN Center- "Where do we eat?" Usually, I suck it up and eat at the Food Court. But for tomorrow night's game, that is not acceptable for two reasons. 1) Its a Saturday night, and there is ample time for a fun/decent meal beforehand, and 2) I eat at the Food Court everyday for lunch and is the last place I want to spend my Saturday night.

So what are the choices? For those looking for something in walking distance of the arena, McCormick & Schmick's runs a great happy hour on weekdays- $1.95 menu that includes cheeseburgers and appetizers in the bar area. There is a Ted's Montana Grill on the corner of Spring and Luckie streets that is a short walk to the arena. Jocks n Jills in CNN Center is okay, but much better for a beer after the game. Clearly, the Centennial Park/CNN Center area still has plenty of opportunity for restaurant entrepreneurs to enter. Especially with the opening of the Georgia Aquarium next month.

If you are driving to the game, you may want to consider hitting Taqueria del Sol or Real Chow Baby on Howell Mill beforehand. Both are relatively quick and provide an easy back-way down to the arena via Marietta St. One place I am eagerly awaiting is the opening of The Spotted Dog- a revamped firehouse on North Avenue that will be the newest Derek Lawford pub concept (I have been eagerly awaiting this for about 3 years...I am hoping it is still on track to open at all).

As for myself, its going to be a McCormick & Schmicks pre-game. Even though there is no Happy Hour special on a Saturday, the bar area is nice and its right next to the arena. Go Thrashers!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Agave 5-Year Anniversary Party

Agave, the awesome Southwestern restaurant in Cabbagetown, will be celebrating their 5 year anniversary on Friday October 14th. They will feature $5 Cuervo margaritas, $2 bottles of Sol, and live music from The Brethren R & B Funk Band. The party starts at 11pm and there is a $5 cover. For those that heven't been, this is a great excuse to go early and sample the best Southwestern food in the city, in one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

No Bull- Taurus Has Growing Pains

I really wanted to like Taurus. Honest. The location and the view, the focus on meat, supposedly reasonably priced. And to top it off, owned by Greg Mennie, the previous executive chef from Canoe. However, the night was full of ups and downs, and unfortunately, there were too many problems that could not be overcome.

Taurus is located in the Brookwood shopping center that also houses Borders, Kroger and Wolfgang Puck Express. Upon hearing about the great view from upstairs lounge, we arrive a full hour ahead of our reservation to comfortably enjoy a drink while looking upon the Midtown and Downtown skyline. The deck gets an A for view, although the service outside could be more frequent. This wasn't the end of the world for us as we were hoping our early arrival will get us seated a little ahead of our 9pm reservation. However, we were not seated until 9:30. And when we were called, they brought us to what I would describe as the worst table in the restaurant. This table was situated along the main corrider that divided the bar from the dining area, and was configured so that we were sitting next to each other, instead of facing each other. Instead of viewing into the eyes of my beautiful wife, I had a great view of the bar and two TVs showing the Notre Dame/Purdue game- not quite my idea of a nice night out with the honey.

I decided that this was not acceptable and went to the hostess asking to find another table. And they obliged. Within 10 minutes they managed to find the only other table in the restaurant where we could not sit facing each other. And when the hostess asked, "Is this one okay?", I just shook my head in amazement. Lady Steakhead by this time was rather famished, so we took it.

The next knock on this place was our waitresses lack of knowledge regarding food in general. Don't get me wrong, she was nice enough. But when I asked if she would recommend the Ribeye or the Veal Chop, her response was "It all depends if you are in the mood for beef or pork". It took everything I had not to laugh at this one.

So how about the food you say? The menu is rather bold on the meat selections and the prices are reasonable. The ribeye, veal chop and filet all go for around $23. There is also a healthy selection of seafood entres as well. Lady Steakhead had the crab fritters to start with and I had the PEI mussels. Both were rather good, but within moments of taking my empty mussels bowl and broth away, a server comes by with the bread for the table. This would have been very useful with the mussels instead of after as I love to sop up the broth with bread. Its a small thing, but a mistake that a more polished restaurant does not make.

On to the main course. Sticking with the chophouse motif, we each went for cuts of beef. Myself with the ribeye and LS with a filet. Both were tremendously undercooked. My medium rare was rare, and LS's filet, which she ordered rare, was, well...raw. And I am not sensitive to these things. My usual concern is non-steakhouses overcooking medium rare.

So as you can see, it was a tough night for Steakhead. I have been trying to figure out how much of these issues can be overcome with time, and how many are inherent with the place. In my mind, Mennie will have an uphill battle with this place. The staff may need extensive training (or retraining)- from the hostesses to the waitstaff. The only bright spot was one of the hostesses remembered my name as we were leaving. Thumbs up on that. But an even larger problem for Mennie may be that this place does not have a true target audience. The true chophouse afficiando will dismiss Taurus. The younger and more female crowd may not gravitate toward the heavy meat focus of the menu. And when the newness wears off, will people that suffered through an evening such as I had, go back? Grade: D.