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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Chapter 1- Always Avoid Asian Buffets

If I ever write The Idiot’s Guide to Finding Great Restaurants, the first rule of thumb would have to be Always Avoid Asian Buffets. This seems like a no-brainer, I know, but every time I promise never to go back, I get the Michael Corleone treatment and get lured back in. Last night, Lady Steakhead and I tried Badayori in Sandy Springs, since a) we had heard a few somewhat flattering comments about it, and b) its around the corner from our house. Do I need to even write the rest of this review, for you to figure out the outcome?

Badayori is an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet. At $26 per person for dinner, it’s not cheap. And actually it’s the price that in my mind does this place in. Its not that the food is that bad (ok- its pretty bad), but its just not worth $26. The sushi did not seem like the choicest cuts, the rolls were unadventurous, and I just couldn’t stop wondering how long some of the pieces had been sitting out. The place is not very crowded so it’s not like the pieces turn over at a high rate.

The selection at the buffet is somewhat impressive, including some of my favorite Japanese starters- Seaweed salad, oshinko (Japanese pickles), Miso Soup and a very tasty seafood spring roll. But again, would you pay $26 for some pickles and mediocre (at best) sushi?

I have been to several places in LA and New York where you can sit at a sushi bar and order all-you-can-eat sushi. These are normal sushi restaurants where many folks order a la carte. With the all-you-can-eat deal, the sushi is made to order from the sushi chef, and covers mostly the full extent of the sushi menu. Typically, you have a time limit, say 1 hour, and when the hour is up, you get the bill. Atlanta is really missing a place like this, and if anyone who reads this knows of a local sushi bar that has this option, please let me know.

But as for sushi buffets, or Chinese buffets, Steakhead is out from now on. Yeah, I know I have said that before, but this time I REALLY mean it!

Steakhead Recommends: No
Cost: $$$

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Power Meal at The Capital Grille

With my Dad in town for the holiday weekend, we made our usual trip to a steakhouse. Being it was just Dad and me, I figured this was a good opportunity to try a true Atlanta power destination- The Capital Grille. While I have been once before for appetizers, my real familiarity with The Capital Grille stems from the plugs Neil Boortz gives this place during his radio show.

The decor of this place is old school and screams money. You get the feeling this is the place where rich men celebrate multi-million dollar business deals. (Even though Steakhead will not be celebrating any deal like this anytime soon, it is nice to pretend once in a while!) Lots of wood adorn the restaurant with several small rooms joining a mid-sized dining room. We were seated in one of these rooms, which only had 4 tables.

As for food, The Capital Grille takes its food seriously. This isn't some trendy eatery with young anorexics waiting the tables. Our waiter was a true steak afficianado who knew the menu inside out. We started with two appetizers- a calamari dish with fried hot peppers, and a lightly-seared tuna sashimi with ponzu sauce, wasabi served over a bed of seaweed salad. Both were outstanding. The tuna dish was a special that night, but from what we hear, it makes a frequent appearance on the specials list.

The steak menu has several dry-aged steaks including a sirloin and porterhouse. Surprisingly enough, neither the filet nor the delmonico cuts are dry aged. Both of us went with the delmonico, with Dad going with a porcini rubbed version and Steakhead getting a "black and blue" version with light Cajun spices. This version is not on the menu, but was recommended by our waiter. While not as thick of a cut as the bone-in ribeye at Chops, it was a very tasty and cooked perfectly.

The Capital Grille is probably not the place I'll take Lady Steakhead, it is a place that would be well-suited for a bachalor party or another "New School Boys Night". The food and service are commendable and the atmosphere will make you feel like a player, even if its just for 2 hours.

Steakhead Recommends: Yes
Cost: $$$$

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Moe Buys Flying Biscuit

The AJC reports that Raving Brands, the Atlanta parent of Moe's, Mama Fu's, Doc Green's and Shane's Rib Shack, has purchased the two Flying Biscuit restaurants and plans a massive expansion of the concept. The current plan is to open 50 franchises in 2007 and another 50 in 2008. As with most Raving Brands concepts, look for the openings to heavy up on the Atlanta market at first with reported possible locations in Downtown, Decatur, Sandy Springs, and Cumberland Galleria. The full article can be found here.

I, for one, do not like the news of this at all. I can see the attraction for Raving Brands to take an extremely popular local concept and re-create it en masse. But as an Atlanta native and food lover, we need more popular independent holes like Flying Biscuit, not less. I like the fact that if you want to do something special, you actually make the drive to Candler Park and wait in the line on a Sunday morning. Walking through the new intown developments like Atlantic Station and the Edgewood Retail District, it seems this town has lost all sense of individuality and creativty. Every restaurant is some form of chain, with Raving Brands being just about everywhere. Even the non-chains are cookie-cutter reproductions of other restaurants within a portfolio (Strip).

I was planning on going to Goldfish tonight with the wife, but after reading this news, we are having a change of plans. Not sure where yet, but it will be someplace where it's a sole owner's only establishment.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Authenticity Served at Sushi Huku

Sushi Huku on Powers Ferry Rd. is quickly becoming one of my favorite sushi places in Atlanta. The place has a very authentic feel to it, which I initially attributed to the décor and the dress worn by the waitresses and the sushi chefs. But I uncovered an interesting fact while chatting up the sushi chef Saturday night. Of the approximately 150 sushi restaurants in Atlanta, Sushi Huku is one of 10 that are owned by a Japanese person. I am not exactly sure if this is true, but I have heard that many sushi places are owned and run by Koreans, so it wouldn’t surprise me. And of course in this town, where the trend is to add a sushi bar to make a restaurant “hip” (Tom Catherall), and you can definitely believe it.

Sushi Huku has a full menu of Japanese traditional meals, but I have come for sushi, so the only thing on the menu I will order is a large Asahi (not sure that it’s even on the menu, but it seemed like a clever thing to say). I go with my usual order (tuna, yellowtail, unagi, salmon) and even splurge with an order of toro- the premium fatty tuna. The highlight of my dinner is the Samurai Roll, recommended by the sushi chef. This roll features a lightly fried tuna roll served warm, covered in spicy tuna and an aioli dressing. Mucho yummy. (How to say this in Japanese?)

If I have one reservation about Sushi Huku, it seems like the food is served a tad too quick. I wouldn’t say I felt pressured to provide my order, but I was asked several times if I was ready. When I made my order with a Miso Soup, the fish came first. For the price of Sushi Huku, which with a drink can easily get to $40-$50 per person, I would like to be there for a little longer than 45 minutes.

The next time I go, however, I am going to try their Omakase dinner. I have had wonderful Omakase experiences at both Nobu in Las Vegas and Morimoto in Philadelphia. The cost of this multi-course, chef-selection meal can be prohibitive, getting to three figures in both the aforementioned institutions. At Sushi Huku, however, it is $50. If you decide to go this route, it is not featured on the menu, and the chefs request that you call in advance.

Steakhead Recommendation: Yes
Cost: $$$

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Open Letter to Meehan's & 101 Concepts

The wifey and I made our first trip to our favorite neighborhood watering hole last night since the birth of Baby Steakhead...Meehan's in Sandy Springs. We love this place for several reasons. First, its close. Second, it has the feel of a true English pub. And third, unlike true English pubs, the food is excellent. We love the appetizers- the pigs in a blanket, the sliders and especially the naked rangoons are all awesome.

Unfortunately, last night was the first night of a new menu, and the naked rangoons were conspicuously absent. From what I understand, the decision was based on the desire to have uniformity across all Meehan's locations. I am writing, nay begging, you to rethink this decision. From a customer's perspective, I will tell you this doesn't matter. 99% of my visits to Meehan's will take place in my local area which is Sandy Springs. And I can't imagine there is a major operational issue if one or two items on the menu are unique to a specific location. The Naked Rangoon is the kind of dish you make a special trip for. And from what we heard from the manager and our waitress, we are not the only customers who think this.

On a positive note, we tried the new Cheesesteak, and it was outstanding. So menu changes can be a good thing. Just don't replace the best thing on your menu. Please bring back the Naked Rangoons!