Thursday, October 26, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Castleberry Hill- The CNN Center Food Court Alternative
For those not familiar with Castleberry Hill, it is burgeoning area of lofts just south of the Dome and Philips Arena (map). Wasabi is located in the heart of the loft community at 180 Walker St., right next to another newcomer to the neighborhood- NoMas Cantina. It is very easy to get to and there is plenty of parking in back, so this place is a winner from a convenience standpoint. And as an added bonus, when headed back to the Arena, the approach from the South (Spring St.) is completely devoid of the traffic hassles that you would encounter trying to navigate through and around the Park.
A recent review described Wasabi as having an “LA” feel, and I can see where this comes from. Hip music, and simplistic bright decor all add to this persona. This place seems more club than restaurant. It was practically deserted at 6:30 on a Saturday night, and according to our waitress, it doesn’t really get going until 9:30. There is not a ton of table seating at Wasabi, but the long sushi bar seems perfect for sipping on sake or enjoying one of the many creative cocktails on the Wasabi menu.
We started off with our usual sushi appetizers- seaweed salad and miso soup- and things got off to a rough start. The miso soup was devoid of flavor, and the seaweed was like eating a heap of rubber bands. I was immediately depressed, (and to be honest, a little nervous since raw fish was on the way). But I must say, the sushi was a very pleasant surprise. The presentation was fabulous. The Bulls Eye Roll, with eel and avocado and topped with yellowtail and a jalapeno slice, was one of the better tasting creative rolls I have had. And the nigiri was fresh and cut perfectly.
I will be returning to Wasabi, although maybe not for a 3 course meal. Maybe to get a quick sushi dinner before a game. Maybe for some sake after a game.While not 5-star cuisine, it is good if you stick to the sushi and drinks, and it is different. And that may be its biggest plus when compared to the options around the Arena.
Steakhead Recommends: Yes
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Great Food, Big Crowds at Taste of Atlanta
The organizers did a great job getting some of the more upscale restaurants to participate. We sampled the Mussels Mediterranean from Au Pied de Cochan and the clam chowder from The Oceanaire Room. Fleming’s wins the award for best booth display (see picture above) and gets added props for the size of shrimp they supplied for the shrimp cocktail. The shrimp hushpuppies at Spice were delicious. Sheri Davis of Dish featured her shrimp lollipops which are very tasty. But this was third food event I had been to this year where Dish had participated, and this was served all three times. I love ya girl, but how about something different next time, like perhaps a sample of that lobster lasagna of yours?
The plate of the day in the minds of our group was the Szechuan BBQ Ribs at Roy’s. I give a lot of credit to Roy’s approach to this event, as this is a signature dish at all Roy’s restaurants, and they used this festival to put their best foot forward. Bravo, I say, and I would venture we will be coming into the restaurant soon for more!
Taste of Atlanta partnered with the Atlanta Wine School for tastings and seminars throughout the day. Unfortunately for many (including myself), these sold out well in advance, so even if you purchased a VIP ticket, you were turned away. There seems to be a big demand for these kinds of events, and the school offers various courses and a wine club for novices and enthusiasts alike. More info can be found on their website (www.atlantawineschool.com).
While turnout for the event can be definitely gauged as a success, the experience suffered by many of the paying patrons can not. I like the Atlantic Station venue for this and with a few tweaks, this event can be even better next year. Here are my recommendations:
- Email tickets with advance purchase to cut down on the will call line
- Station coupon-only ticket booths throughout the festival so people looking to buy more tickets and eat more food (and that is the goal, right?) can do so quickly.
- Forget the VIP pass. Food demonstration entry should be on a first-come/first served. Sell wine seminar tickets separately so those paying for that are guaranteed a seat.
- I like Moe’s. I really do. But is there really a need for fast-food chains to be a part of this festival? The alley where Moe’s, MamaFu’s, Doc Green’s and Waffle House were parked was a mad house full of people who probably eat there every week.
- Sell less festival tickets. If you succeed in encouraging more coupon purchases, you will break-even on event revenue, and probably encourage more trial for the restaurants.
Well, now that this big week is behind me, it’s back to more of a sense of normalcy. The Steakheads will be checking out the Castleberry Hill area this Saturday before the Thrashers game. Until then, Happy Eating!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Culinaire- A Festive Opening for Taste of Atlanta
And of course, being an esteemed member of the press, being able to rub elbows with my fellow media colleagues is always a treat. A special shout-out to Leslie Fram of 99X who pointed me in the right direction for the Event Program. Meanwhile, Jeff Dauler of Q100 and I opined on the impending move of Mellow Mushroom from the backroom of a tattoo parlor to its own stand-alone building in Sandy Springs. Yeah, us local celebrities are a pretty tight group, and love to come together for a great cause: Food!
And speaking of food, it was delightful, if not bountiful. 9 Different stations with the executive chefs from Rathbun's, Restaurant Eugene, Aria, Taurus, Dish, Repast, Sotto Sotto/Fritti and Pacific Rim/Silk. Kevin Rathbun, always one for presentation, featured a Thai Squid Salad served with chopsticks and in a chinese to-go carton. Many of the chefs seem to be big fans of squash. I particularly liked the butternut squash with ham sample from Chef Linton Hopkins' Restaurant Eugene. Despite my claims to the contrary, I even tried Foie Gras from the offering from Repast! It helped that it was covered with a hot dog slice, onion straws and ketchup.
Now its on to the main festival this Saturday & Sunday on the streets of Atlantic Station. Remember, you can get more info and advance tickets at www.tasteofatlanta.com. Have a great week, see you Saturday and Happy Eating!
Monday, October 09, 2006
Taste of Atlanta This Weekend!
Hello one and all. Steakhead is back from a week on Hilton Head Island completely rejuvenated. What a week- sun, golf, seafood, and with the Mets sweeping the Dodgers in their NLDS series on the same day as the Yankees were eliminated, well, it just doesn't get any better!
But now I am back, and its a good week to be Steakhead. My aforementioned Mets open their NLCS series against the Cards on Wednesday, the NY Football Giants make their first visit to the GA Dome in 5 years on Sunday and the Taste of Atlanta festival takes place this weekend! The festival actually opens with Culinaire- a $150 per plate extravaganza featuring 10 of the best chefs in Atlanta, open bar and live entertainment. The event takes place Tuesday night at the Lobby at Twelve. Steakhead will be one of the esteemed members of the press at this event, so I look to give you a first-hand account on Wednesday morning.
The main festival- just a tad less decadcent- takes place Saturday and Sunday from 11am - 6pm at Atlantic Station with tickets going for $15 in advance and $25 at the door. There will be more than 70 restaurants represented at this year's festival, with samples, cooking demonstrations, wine classes and more. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the official web site at www.tasteofatlanta.com. Happy eating and I hope to see you this weekend!