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Installation (Wordpress Part): Steakhead's Atlanta Eats Blog: Almost Famous at Straits

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Almost Famous at Straits

I wasn’t sure about what to expect when I walked into the celebrity-owned Straits last night. Chef Chris Yeo has partnered with Ludacris to bring his popular SF-based Malaysian concept to Midtown in the space previously occupied by Spice, and at first it may seem like an odd pairing. I mean, Yeo has been wowing Bay Area foodies for years with his take on Singaporean cuisine, and Luda (yes, we are that tight, he calls me Steak) gets people grooving to “Move Get Out the Way” (at least, that’s what I think the song is called- my only exposure to it was that they used to play it at Falcons games when TJ Duckett plowed through the line.) I’ll give them both credit, though. Ludacris partnered with a seasoned chef that brings something different to the Atlanta market, and Yeo partnered with someone who will bring in the customers. I was sort of hoping that one of them would be in the restaurant that night, but Yeo had just left town, and if Luda shows up, supposedly it’s usually after midnight. But heck, I was there, so I am sure that made someone’s night.

When I first walked in at 7pm, the place was mostly empty. Sitting at the bar sipping on a Kirin, Tears for Fears was playing (somewhat loudly) over the sound system, and I was thinking to myself “Would Luda approve of this?” It was a nice tune, however, reminding me of my days as the “guy on the scene” in 1985 (I was that hip, even at 17!). The bartender was quick to tell me that not only would it pick up, but the kitchen would likely be open until 2am that night. Why, I asked. “Because it’s Tuesday.” (Of course, silly question). There are also upscale private rooms both upstairs and downstairs for those looking to take their groove to a higher level. One day.

As the night went on, the place filled up, the music got louder, and let’s just say, more contemporary. So on to the food. The menu is filled with many small plates and you are encouraged to share everything. Even the entrée’s are quite small, so the two of us easily devoured two appetizers and two entrees. Their signature appetizer is the Kung Pao Lollipops, and these rock. They are chicken wing drums (prepared more like a “General Tso” style, than Kung Pao- but Kung Pao sounds better), covered with minced peanuts and jalapenos. I could have eaten 10 of these (you only get 4 per plate).

For the main course, we had the Tamarind Beef and the Origami Sea bass. The Tamarind Beef was served with a delicious black pepper oyster sauce. Unfortunately, the beef was slightly overcooked and not very tender for a filet. Also, this was one of the rare dishes that suffered from not enough sauce. I found myself using the beef to mop up any residual sauce on the bottom of the plate. The Sea bass was outstanding. It was cooked and served in something like a parchment covered box which kept the fish hot and moist. Flavor exploded from each bite. And given that there were quite a few mushrooms (Steakhead’s big food aversion), I still cobbled up my share.

As I look at Straits, I could definitely see myself going back for drinks and grazing on the small plates. There were so many that caught my eye (like the Crispy Wontons, Sambal Udang, and Straits Spareribs to name a few). And who knows, if you time it right- both day of week and after midnight- you may see someone famous.

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