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Installation (Wordpress Part): Steakhead's Atlanta Eats Blog: February 2006

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Culinary Birthday Tour

I definitely received my appreciation of food from my father. And while I doubt he would take to Tofu Mock Chicken any more than I do, he is probably a little more adventurous than I am. For example, my parents once brought home a calf’s brain from the local gourmet grocery store. I guess it’s a French delicacy (those silly French), and if you have never seen one, it looks EXACTLY like one of those fake human brains you would see in an elementary school science classroom. But I digress.

My father came in town for my birthday last week, and we hit many of the places on the ‘Best of Steakhead” list. We started with my aforementioned review of di Paolo. On Sunday, we treated Dad to a true Southern experience- world-class BBQ from Sam & Dave’s and watching the Daytona 500! On Monday, it was off to Royal China for a Dim Sum lunch. This is something that I would whole-heartedly recommend for those that haven’t done it yet.

My actual birthday was on Tuesday, and we started with lunch at Strip. This is the new Tom Catherall (Prime, Twist, Shout, Goldfish) concept at Atlantic Station that focuses on sushi and steaks. Strip’s decor is very industrial, with the bottom floor being more the restaurant and the top floor being more of a club/sushi bar. There is not much table seating upstairs, so we sat ourselves at the sushi bar. The sushi menu is very reminiscent of Twist and Shout, but just as good. We had the sashimi plate for two, and the pieces were very fresh, plentiful and cut in nice small pieces. I am curious to try the steaks, but am a little worried that the hip/industrial theme may not play well for me as a steak destination. I prefer my steakhouses to have a certain “old world” charm- lots of oak, and waiters that actually look like they have eaten a steak or two in their lifetime. The wait staff at this place could all be vegetarians by the looks of them.

And speaking of meat, for the grand finale of my 4-day birthday weekend, Dad, Lady Steakhead, Wingman and I all went to Fogo de Chao for dinner that night. This has been a birthday tradition for me ever since my wife and I first started dating. All you can eat meat on a skewer, what else could someone named Steakhead want?? And as usual, Fogo delivered. It seems every time I come, something different stands out as the best meat of the evening. This night, it was the lamb chops. Perfectly season, and cooked to a perfect medium rare.

So, after this four day period, I admit the pants were a little tighter than before the weekend started. Thank God winter is just about over and maybe I will actually get some exercise one day…

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

di Paolo Offers Fine Italian for the Northsiders

While driving through a cold rain on Saturday night, trying to determine which strip mall on Holcomb Bridge Rd. housed di Paolo (, I began to wonder if this venture into suburbia was the right idea. I mean, I had read the raving reports from Zagat, and even a strong recommendation from a friend who I truly trust when it comes to Italian, but the location in the middle of strip mall hell had me somewhat concerned.

But, my fellow foodies, fear not- di Paolo is the real deal. Not your typical Italian that serves veal parmigiana (no knock on this dish- its actually one of my favorites), di Paolo’s menu offers a unique, albeit limited, menu. For instance, my Dad, who was in town for the weekend, ordered skate. Now, I was pretty sure it was a fish, but other than that, I knew nothing about this dish. What is actually served is the wing of the skate, and it was cooked with a sweet glaze. I went with the Pappardelle, a flat wide pasta, with lobster, shrimp and scallops in a wine and butter sauce that was outstanding. You can get all the pastas in half portions, so if you wanted one for an appetizer, that is an option. Another cool thing about di Paolo is that you can bring your own wine for a $15 corking fee, which is very unusual for these parts.

The service was fantastic. Our waiter had a constant smile and very upbeat attitude. The restaurant has and modern simplistic elegance to it. Not huge, not overly decorated, but still you know you are in a special place. The only knock from a food perspective is that my Dad wasn’t thrilled with the tiramisu he had for dessert. I didn’t try it, so I can’t corroborate his claim that it was a little soggy. My wife’s dessert, however, the cheesecake with maple syrup gelato, was the best of the bunch.

So for those on the Northside of our fair city, this is definitely a place you should visit. Very good food, reasonably priced and great service. You just need to find the right strip mall. Grade: A-.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Heading to Alpharetta

Well, I knew this day would eventually come. Ever since moving to Sandy Springs last summer, I knew I would at some point have to confront my "Intown guy" self description on the blog header. I told myself "as long as I continue to act like an intown person, I am an intown person". And I believed it.

But this weekend, I am doing something that I had originally said Atlanta Eats would not do- I am heading to the heart of the burbs, Alpharetta, for dinner. But my fellow readers, it's a journey I believe well worth taking. DiPaolo's has received Zagat's highest rating for Italian restaurants in metro Atlanta, and one of my goomba's has said this place is the real deal. So, I have rewritten by Blog Intro and am heading to Alpharetta, fully embracing my status as a true OTPer.

However, do NOT expect a future review of the Olive Garden or Chili's. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Amazed and Confused at Antica Posta

Pretty much since I first heard about Antica Posta, I was under the impression the name was due to the fact that the restaurant used to be a Post Office. You could see where I got this idea. But after several conversations with a bartender and two waiters, I got the true story. This is owner Marco Betti's second Antica Posta- the first being a rsetaurant in Tuscany located in an old post office. With this all straightened out, I could now focus on the task at hand- eating!

The restaurant, located on East Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead, is actually an old home converted to a restaurant. Betti's brother is the head chef (another brother is the head chef at the Tuscany location), and you get the feeling other Betti relatives are handling some of the other duties. For instance, our very well-attentive servers are native Italians and probably not long in the U.S. Being a converted home, the feel is very comfortable. I especially liked the room where the bar is located. A wide expanse of a room, with cathedral ceilings and exposed wooden beams.

As for the food, it was all outstanding. We started with a beef carpaccio, that melted in your mouth. Ladt Steakhead ordered the bruschetta, which was nice, although I find bruschetta to be somewhat boring. For main courses, LS ordered the pasta special- a bow-tie pasta with lobster, diced tomatoes and onions. Wow- this was goooood. I went in almost sold on the osso buco, which I have heard is the best in the city, but made an audible at the last minute towards the rack of lamb. I'm sure the osso buco is great, but I did not regret this decision at all. The meat was well seasoned and tender, and drizzled with their house olive oil, which they import directly from Tuscany.

Being the weekend before Valentine's Day, we splurged on dessert, and of course went with the Terra Misu. Toward the end of the meal, the Maitre d' informed us of a trip the restaurant organizes about twice a year. A food and wine tour of Tuscany. With the bambino coming, this isn't in the cards for us in the near term, but it is definitely on the list in the future. After an evening at his restaurant, I would trust Betti with my eating vacation. Grade: A.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Is It a Lobby or a Bar or a Restaurant??

I was all set to check out Bob Amick's new venture at Twelve at Atlantic Station this past Tuesday, and then venture over to the Fox Sports Grille to catch the Duke/Carolina game. That is until about 2:00 that afternoon, when I found out I was needed in a meeting in DC the next morning. But with the reservations made, and the rest of the group still going, my friend Bob agreed to be a ghost writer for me, and has offered the following assessment.

"Lobby at Twelve Atlantic Station in a new hotel/condo tower tries to capture the feel of a W Hotel without being too hip and trendy. Think modern designs, flat screen monitors, servers dressed in all black, etc. but with the casual touches you come to expect from a Bob Amick restaurant (PieBar, One Midtown Kitchen, Two Urban Licks). The space is small with an open layout that has a lot of energy. However it is difficult to get drinks at the small bar and the restaurant gets very loud. Lobby keeps it basic with 10-12 red and white wines by the glass organized by price $6-12 and a one page menu of contemporary American items. We tried a variety of things -- sea bass, roast chicken, wood-fired sausage/goat cheese/basil, panini. Overall we give it a good rating. Sea bass was excellent while the pizza was average. Service was friendly but not what you expect from a place like this. Cost averaged around $30 per person including drinks and tip. I might wait for it to be open a little longer before making a return trip."