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

Friday, June 30, 2006

Anniversary Dinner Tonight

Tonight, Lady Steakhead and I celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary at our favorite restaurant in town- The Lobster Bar at Chops. Now you would think with a name like Steakhead, that the meat would be the focus of my night. But the appetizers at a place like this is where a meal can be won or lost.

We have been known to go for the shellfish tower- a fantastic display of culinary conspicuous consumption. On the lighter side, the lobster bisque may be a way to save room for the carnivorous feast to come. If 22-oz of ribeye aren't enough to satisfy your need for meat, the steak tartare prepared tableside is an excellent choice. So many choices, my head is spinning - and my stomach growling- at the thought of it all. 9 hours to go! Now its off to lunch and likely something barely edible. I hate the food court.

Monday, June 26, 2006

What Really Stays in Vegas

I just returned from my annual jaunt in Las Vegas with my Atlanta crew feeling pretty much like I usually do- tired, a body that’s considerably heavier, and a wallet that’s considerably lighter. Vegas is a town that indulges all my vices- gambling, eating, boozing and the occasional trip to the “Gentleman’s Club”. And it’s all expensive. Maybe there was a time when the $5.99 prime rib dinner ruled the Strip, but those days are long gone. The airfare, lodging, eating, and nightlife will all put you in a serious hole, even before you can lose one double-down on a Blackjack table.

But here is the thing in Vegas- for the time you are there, you are dealing in some form of alternate currency. For example, we stayed at the Mandalay Bay where they have what is likely the best pool on the Strip. But for a mere $50 more, you can go to the upscale Moorea Club pool, or as I like to call it- the Naked Pool. Women, or paid strippers- I am not really sure which- can elect to bathe topless if they so choose. And, while I didn’t pay the entry fee…this time…my thought process to justify the cost is that I could lose much more than $50 at the tables for that 60-90 minute time frame.

You see, every minute you are not spending at a table in Las Vegas, is a money-saver for you and lost profit for the casino. And they know this. So they are going to find alternative ways to get that cash out of you. Want to see a show? How about $100-$150 per ticket. Want a massage? At Mandalay Bay, the massages start at $110. A round of golf? The only golf course on the Strip is located at the Wynn, and the rate there for 5 hours away from the tables is a mere $500. And the restaurants. Every major casino has at least 4 or 5 top of the line places where you can easily spend $100 per person. On a trip last year, Lady Steakhead and I had our most expensive and second most expensive meals ever…on consecutive nights. And where you would cringe about doing that anywhere else, for some reason in Vegas, it seems perfectly natural. I won’t even get into what you’ll drop if you venture into a club (gentleman’s or dance).

I hear this phrase often playing Blackjack about the “book”. Those that play the game know what I am talking about. The “book” says to hit a soft 17. The “book” says to always split 8’s (though I am still skeptical about that one). But what does the “book” tell you to do when you’ve blown your spending budget and you are only a day and a half into a three-day trip? Unfortunately, the “book” ends before you get to that point. Because what really stays in Vegas is your cash.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Blogsday 2006

Atlanta Eats will be one of many blogs to be featured on the Public Radio show Open Source tomorrow night, Thursday June 15, from 7-8pm ET. The feature is called Blogsday 2006 and chronicles one day in the Blogosphere. Actors will read posts from various blogs who made posts on June 6, trying to capture "descriptions of everyday life that shed light on contemporary society".

While Open Source is not available on public radio in Atlanta, it can be heard via podcasting, live streaming and on XM Public Radio Channel 133.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The 5 Seasons Brewing Company- For Food or Beer, That Is The Question

Even though I had been to the 5 Seasons Brewing Company before, it had always been for drinks. When dining there last week, I was somewhat taken aback at the menu. You see, when going to a restaurant with the name “Brewing Company” in the title, I was somewhat expecting more of an everyman’s menu. But the 5 Seasons menu might be something you would expect to see at a more high-end establishment. And I’m a little on the fence as to whether this is a good thing or not.

On the plus side, many microbrew restaurants focus on the beer and the food is completely forgettable. Sort of like going to England. But on the other hand, a good burger or fish and chips goes mighty well with an India Pale Ale or a Lager. There are no burgers at the 5 Seasons, and the Fish and Chips they do offer is trout. Other items you would least expect to find on a microbrewery menu include a salmon curry, duck with a grape demi-glaze (not sure what this means, but as a rule of thumb, if I have to ask, go with something else), and a fried French chicken (huh?- why can they just go with the Kentucky variety?).

After looking the menu up and down several times, I settled for the filet au poivre. And to its credit, it was quite good. While the entrees seemed to have a European flair to them, the appetizers seemed to have more of an Asian tilt. There were many tempting dishes here for me, and the Crab and Cheese Fried Dumplings (Kari Kari) were a winning choice.

The atmosphere at the 5 Seasons is relaxed and comfortable and there are outdoor dining options available. Of course, there are a number of different beers on tap, and while I this is not a blog on beers, I can say I gulped my IPA down with great gusto. So, now the verdict. I think it depends on what your motivation is. If dinner is the excuse for enjoying the microbrews, you may wind up overplaying the dinner hand here. If your motivation is for Beer only, Beer and some appetizers, or if you don't mind spending $20+ for your meal along with your barley and hops, then the 5 Seasons is a fine choice.

Steakhead Recommends: Sometimes
Price: $$-$$$

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Where to Eat Near Centennial Olympic Park

I consider myself lucky to work in the one part of Atlanta that actually sees a little “hustle and bustle” on a daily basis. Within a stone’s throw, we have the Georgia Aquarium, which recently celebrated their 2 millionth visitor, CNN Center, Centennial Olympic Park, the World Congress Center, Phillips Arena and the Georgia Dome, and thousands of workerbees spread through Downtown Atlanta. So for the tourists, Atlantans and folks from nearby hamlets, you may wonder, what are my choices for food? And the answer is- Not Much.

Unfortunately, the dining options for this area of Downtown Atlanta have not grown with the popularity of the attractions. But there is a gem or two, a lot of mediocrity and a few places to avoid. Here is my synopsis.

The CNN Center Food Court- Unfortunately I eat here way too often. And with most places named Arby’s, Wendy’s or Moe’s, you really don’t need a Steakhead review. But I will say avoid Don Juan’s (its never busy for a reason), and the Chinese place (are you sure that’s chicken?). LePetit Bistro in my mind is terrible. There are usually lines here as it is the only place that remotely looks healthy. A) I doubt its any healthier than any place else in there, B) Half the time they can’t tell their chicken salad from the tuna salad, and C) The hot dishes leave an odor if you bring them back to your desk (I learned this lesson the hard way one day). Avoid it. The Japanese place isn’t bad.

McCormick & Schmick’s- The only decent place for a business lunch in the immediate vicinity so it tends to get crowded by noon. But for weeknight events at Phillips Arena, the daily Happy Hour (4:30-6:30, I think), which includes $1.95 cheeseburgers and other munchies, it’s not a bad option.

Golden Buddha- Your typical mediocre Chinese fare, it’s definitely nothing to go out of your way for. There is a sushi bar, and if you go for lunch, make sure you get the sushi lunch menu that features $8.95 sushi plates, which includes Miso Soup and a roll (you can ask for the spicy tuna roll instead of the standard tuna roll). I went yesterday and the wait staff doesn’t seem too eager to hand this menu out, as neither my waiter nor the waitress for the person next to me seemed to know of its existence. Otherwise, you will easily spend $20-$30 for sushi at lunch.

Ted's Montana Grill- Great burgers, but crowded at lunch. You will likely spend close to $15pp after tip and tax, so its somewhat of a treat. The pickles are addictive.

Park Avenue Deli- This place is my “gem”. It’s located in the same building as Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, facing the park. They serve Boar’s Head cold cuts, and the roast beef is served as it should be- rare. There are also hot sandwiches, salads and soups. It’s not the cheapest deli, but given the choices around here, you’ll easily pay it.

Hopefully some young entrepreneur will see the void being left in this area for decent eateries and will come to the rescue. Until then, Park Deli and the Moe’s Close Talker will have to serve me well.