The Roaming Foodie

Posts Tagged ‘American

So, after Friday evening, I can now say I’ve eaten at two Top Chef restaurants. And not just any Top Chef restaurants….those that are attached to the names Richard Blais and Kevin Gillespie. Both of them made it to the top three of their respective seasons, and after eating at their restaurants, I know exactly why.

Woodfire is expensive, especially since I am on a college student’s budget. But the dinner was a gift from my great-uncle, and definitely quite the treat.

Woodfire is located on Cheshire Bridge Road. Cheshire Bridge is an eclectic mix of sketchy buildings and some really great restaurants. Woodfire is a very unassuming orange building near where Cheshire Bridge intersects Piedmont.

The inside is wonderfully warm, cozy, and inviting. I loved the inside. It wasn’t pretentious, despite the white tablecloths, it just felt very homey. They had some pillows that I fell in love with on all of the booth seating. The restaurant is also a LOT bigger than it looked from the outside.

Everyone inside was very friendly. Our waitress was phenomenal, very nice, prompt, and knowledgeable. The service was really well-timed, and it didn’t take long at all for us to get our drinks and our starters.

Now, Woodfire has a great sounding 5 course tasting menu for $65, with full table participation. Andrew and I opted for drinks, a first course, and a third course so that we wouldn’t go overboard. And I’m glad we did, because everything we ate was amazing and very filling.

For my cocktail (Andrew got a Sweetwater 420), I had something they called the Botanical Garden. It was vodka, lavender syrup, pear liquer, something citrusy (I think, I can’t remember) and club soda. It was incredibly refreshing and delicious, perfect for Spring like evening in the middle of February (I love the South).

We ordered our first and third course, and the chef sent out an amuse bouche. It was beet and microgreens, and something else. Point is, it was the first restaurant I’d been to that served an amuse bouche.

We both ordered the potato and bacon soup for our starter. It was potato and bacon with creme fraiche and crispy potato skins. It was delicious. What I loved was that the potatoes were left in chunks, and not cooked down so much like other potato soups, so the texture was there to cut through the creaminess of the soup. What made it special was the crispy potato skins, but I’m not sure there’s a dish out there that can’t be bettered by crispy potato skins.

I ordered the wood-fire grilled hudson valley duck breast for my entree. It was hands down one of the best dishes I’ve eaten. I generally don’t like duck, but this was so good that my mind may be changed. I had it cooked medium, and the inside of the duck was oh so tender while the outside was perfectly crisped. The wood-fire grill gave it a great smoky flavor as well. The duck was served atop some black-eyed peas flavored with small pieces of sausage. The breast was topped with microgreens, crispy duck cracklings, and a citrus dressing. Everything worked so well together on the plate to create a dish that I might just obsess about a little.

Andrew got a wood-grilled beef striploin. I can’t say anything about it. Sorry, I was way too focused on my duck dish to even remember that he was eating. I might get him to describe it to me. I’ll see if he’ll write about it. And he just described it to me:

“It was some sort of beef with some sort of mint salsa verde, and a creamy sauce. And some vegetables. And it was good. Be sure to put that on there.”

He’s pretty awesome 🙂

All in all, Woodfire Grill was one of the best (if not the best) meal I’ve had in Atlanta. Kevin Gillespie is a fantastic chef, and definitely a top chef. His menu is brilliant and inspired. I love that he changes it based on what’s in season, only it makes me wish I could afford to return more times. But I’ll definitely be back as soon as I can.

Woodfire Grill on Urbanspoon

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For some reason today, I have been non-stop thinking about the two summers I spent in New York City with American Ballet Theater. The program with ABT lasted 3 weeks, so, I’ve only spent a total of 6 weeks in NYC. But, I fell in love with the city that never sleeps on day one.

Of course, a distinctive part of my trip revolved around food. The second year, I lived there without my mom being with me, and I made a very dear friend (p.s., you can find her really awesome blog about NYC here: http://www.madamebnyc.blogspot.com/) She showed me some of the most AMAZING places to eat in all of our adventures around NYC. One place that really stood out in my mind was this tiny Thai restaurant that was up around Lincoln Center. I can’t remember the name of it, but the deal with it was, there was another restaurant with the same name that served Americanized Thai up the street, but this one was the real-deal Thai food. I don’t remember everything we ate, but I know there was this crispy duck salad that wasn’t on the menu, that had crispy duck pieces (it’s the only time I’ve had duck and enjoyed it), green apples, and some peanuts. So, so yummy. We also went to a great Korean place in East Village where she and I shared Korean barbecued beef that we wrapped in lettuce with white rice. We had several other things too, but I obviously didn’t have this blog then (I so wish I had…it makes me sad that I can’t remember every detail of every meal I had in New York). We also had the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had at a restaurant called Cafeteria. And of course, we went to Magnolia Bakery twice for cupcakes. I remember she had consumed her entire cupcake at Magnolia before we even hit the cash register, and there wasn’t even a line! She also introduced me to Pinkberry (um…overpriced froyo, but absolutely delicious as well) and Gray’s Papaya (which one might remember from the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie has her book signing party, and then the chaffeur takes her for hot dogs afterwards…that was Gray’s Papaya). Nothing like a hot dog and papaya juice on a warm day in NYC after touring the Met.

So, you may ask, how did we consume all this food, and not completely destroy our waistlines (besides the fact that we pretty much walked everywhere) and our wallets (food in NYC is pricey, especially eating out)? I learned a very, very good lesson from her that I really should put into practice more.

We ordered one or two dishes of whatever we wanted, and shared them, then split the ticket down the middle.

It was a beautiful system. For instance, at Cafeteria, we ordered the fabulous mac and cheese, and a salmon dish that was phenomenal. But we shared it. And, if I can recall, we didn’t even finish it all because it was more than enough food. We did this pretty much every single time we ate out, and if one of the other dancers we made friends with was joining us, we’d up it to 3 dishes and share those between us all, and split the check three ways. This way, we could get away with eating whatever we wanted and not eat too much or have to pay an exorbitant amount for a meal.

Seriously. I am re-introducing this idea into my life. So I can eat out more, and thus write more blog posts. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

There was also this diner called Manatus near where I stayed the first summer I was there. I was lucky enough to be able to spend the first summer in West Village where my great-uncle used to have an apartment (he sold it before my 2nd summer). I don’t know if it was because this diner was the first place I ate, ever, in NYC, but it is still one of my favorite restaurants ever, even though there was nothing about it that particularly stood out. It was just simple, normal, good diner fare.

The other thing about the apartment I stayed at my first summer was that it was literally right across the street from the Magnolia Bakery made famous by the Saturday Night Live “Lazy Sunday” skit and, more importantly, Sex and the City (yes…the actual one SJP and Cynthia Nixon sat outside of was right across the street from me…love!) The lines for it were ridiculous too. Except on weekday evenings around dinner time. No line. My mom and I got cupcakes every Monday night we were there. There’s not much to say about Magnolia cupcakes except that they are phenomenal and have every right to be as famous as they are.

Now I really want a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. Or some Tasti D-Lite ( http://www.tastidlite.com/ don’t judge me…it’s good!) Someone should really think about putting a Tasti D-Lite in ATL…I’m just saying.

Between the walking around the city, the fantastic food to be found, the shopping, the shows (I got to see WICKED and met some of the actors and actresses outside of the stage door…and they signed my program!) and the visit to Tiffany and Co, my heart swoons…

I miss you, New York City.

So, my mom visited me on Wednesday and Thursday on her Spring Break, before bringing me home for Easter Break. We spent the day and a half shopping, hanging out, and more importantly, eating at a few of the places that she really enjoys in the Ham.

Wednesday:
I took my mom back to Edgar’s for one of the last visits (I’m making at least one last one myself). She ordered a Chicken Avocado Wrap, and I got the usual Red White and Blue wrap. We split it, so we had half of each wrap. The Chicken Avocado had grilled chicken that was slightly spiced but incredibly moist and juicy, mashed avocado, and lettuce. My wrap has incredibly lean roast beef, feta cheese, cabbage, and tomatoes, and is so so so good and addictive. The thing I like about Edgar’s wraps is that they press them in a panini press, so they’re slightly warmed through and it makes the outside of the wrap a little bit crispy. Then we split a chocolate cupcake. The chocolate icing at Edgar’s is to die for. It’s like eating softened fudge. So good, and really hard to explain how good it is. So just go try it. Then you’ll know just how delicious the chocolate buttercream is. Since it was Easter, the bakery had Easter decorated cakes, petit fours and cookies. My mom and I bought the most adorable Easter bunny sugar cookies to eat for dessert that night. The cookie itself reminded me of the cookies we make at Christmas, so it wasn’t that astounding (but still really delicious) since my mom and I can totally make it ourselves. But the decorating was absolutely adorable.
For dinner, we went to Jim n’ Nicks, a barbecue place in 5 Points, but they’re also scattered about elsewhere, including around Atlanta (I’ve seen one out in Gwinnett, but I don’t know if there are any In The Perimeter). Basically, JNN has the best creamed spinach I’ve ever had, hands down. It’s perfectly creamy with little pieces of artichoke in it. I really could eat just a bowl of that for dinner, but they don’t offer that, so my mom and I each ordered 1/4 of a barbecued chicken and a side of creamed spinach. The chicken is incredibly moist with a great smoked flavor to it, and you can totally tell it’s cooked “slow and low” like all good barbecue should be (and if it’s not actually cooked that way, then they have an amazing way of faking it), and they’re sauce is good, even if it is a little spicy for my taste.

Thursday:
We ate breakfast at Starbucks, each getting a Turkey Bacon Egg sandwich. It was alright, but doesn’t hold a candle to Panera’s breakfast sandwich (I could eat those crazy delicious things everyday. But I don’t. Go me.)
For lunch, before heading home, we ate at Dragon, my favorite Chinese restaurant in the Ham. They don’t use MSG AT ALL, and for $12, my mom and I each got an egg roll, a bowl of egg drop soup, an entree that could’ve fed two people, and a scoop of rice. The food was waaaay more than expected for $6 each, and it’s really great Americanized Chinese food. Which is about all you can find in B’ham as far as I know, except for a place called Red Pearl that’s inside an Oriental Market. I haven’t been, but we’re going as a group in my Chinese class in a few weeks, so I’ll let ya’ll know how it is 🙂

That’s about it for now. I’m home for Easter/my grandmother’s birthday right now, then I’ll be back down to Atlanta to meet Andrew’s parents on Sunday night. Good food for Easter, of course. Ham, roast asparagus, potato salad, bread, and I’m making cupcakes! Easter cupcakes! I’ll post pictures in all their decorated glory, as long as they look good 🙂

Happy Easter or Happy Passover!!!

Alright. So here’s my first real post. It’s based on something I’ve been wanting to discuss, but didn’t know where. And now I have a place to put it!

So. Flip Burger. It’s run by Richard Blaise (he was one of the three finalists on Top Chef Season 4). He’s an Atlanta chef whose creativity level, in my opinion, is way above anything I have ever experienced. He opened Flip as a new, inventive way to enjoy the classic American staple…burgers.

What’s cool about Flip is that they grind their beef for the burgers in house. Everything is fresh, and seasonal (so yeah, that means the menu changes, which I like, but some people may not). They even make their pickles in house (and they are absolutely delicious). Their milkshakes are made using liquid nitrogen to freeze them, so they come out with smoke on top, but with a creamy consistency that you can’t get with traditionally made milkshakes.

I ate at the one in Atlanta several times with my brother and some other friends. I wrote about it awhile ago, so I’ll just repost that here as my insight into Flip Burger Atlanta.

so, after fighting through some Atlanta traffic, we arrive at Flip. It’s in a kinda odd area, surrounded by some auto dealerships or whatever, but it’s not too terribly far from Tech. The ambiance is very cool and hip, albeit slightly on the small and crowded side. The majority of the restaurant was painted white, with touches of red in the seat cushions, and lots of light coming into the restaurant. The plasma TVs sat behind the bar and were framed by white picture frames.  It had a good crowd, mostly younger/middle aged people, but there were a few older adults scattered. I think I saw like one kid (my kind of place).we didn’t have to wait for seating, probably because we went at like 6:30 on a Thursday night (my brother went on a Friday night last time and said he had to wait about 2 hours, but well worth the wait).  we were seated at the chef bar, so you could actually see them working on plating the dishes and serving them (SO FREAKING COOL). And who just happened to be at the chef bar, right smack in front of where we sat? that’s right…Richard from Top Chef. spiked hair and all. He didn’t stay there long…he stood there for a few minutes right when we were seated, and came back at the end of our meal…still awesome either way.

Here’s what we had:

Butcher cut: beef, caramelized onions, red wine jam, bleu cheese -probably my favorite of the three. simple and classic, but made exceptional by the red wine jam with gave a nice sweet contrast to the bleu cheese. Luckily this one is always on the menu.

Kobe beef: kobe beef, seared foie gras, shaved truffles, pickles, red wine syrup -this one was delicious, but one of those things I’d only order once in a blue moon.  The beef was so tender, it was like butter. I’d never had kobe beef before, and this was an awesome way to eat it, although it was a little on the pricey side.

tuna: yellowtail tuna, pickled ginger, vietnamese herb salad -probably my least favorite of the night, but still really good. Kind of spicy, with a lot of cilantro on it.  Next time I’d probably try one of the other non-beef burgers instead though.

vodka battered onion rings -I’d heard of beer battered, but never vodka. And they were amazing. Not too greasy, and still crunchy when they got to our table (I hate soggy onion rings). They were served with a beer honey mustard sauce that was quite good as well.

french fries with smoked mayo -just normal, well cooked french fries, but what made them exceptional was the smoked mayo. I don’t know how one goes about make smoked mayo…but i’d like to.

and to finish it all off…nutella with burnt marshmallow milkshake. -it tasted more like chocolate than nutella, and had bits of hazelnut in it to give it a nice crunch.  The whole thing was topped off with a good handful of marshmallows that were burnt with a torch on top. It was delicious, and I don’t think I could go with any of the other milkshakes, though if someone ordered a krispy kreme milkshake (they literally put a doughnut in a blender), i’d have to take at least a sip. but the nutella was fantastic.All in all, an exceptionally wonderful meal.  Totally brought out the side of me that secretly longs to be a chef and own a restaurant.  I loved how hip and trendy it is, and how it’s taken classic burgers and made them gourmet (not a new concept by any means, but a nice change of pace for Atlanta).

Other times I’ve been to Flip Atlanta, I’ve had the Shrimp Po’Burger, which is just a fried shrimp patty with lettuce tomato, and Old Bay mayo. I didn’t care for that too much, as it was too shrimpy for my taste, but what I did really like on it was the fried lemon. Weird, but very yummy. My absolute favorite burger at Flip is the turkey burger. It’s a turkey patty with avocado (I love avocado so much), alfalfa sprouts, and pomegranate ketchup. I get this everytime I go now, because it’s not as heavy as the Butcher Cut (my favorite beef burger), but still incredibly yummy. As far as milkshakes, I usually stick with the Nutella, but once I tried a Chocolate Mole. It was just a normal chocolate shake, but it had cayenne in it which gave a nice warm background to the sweetness of the chocolate. I still like Nutella best.

When I moved to Birmingham, I was deeply saddened at the loss of several of my favorite Atlanta restaurants, Flip included on the list. One weekend, though, while I was shopping at The Summit (an outdoor, kind of ritzy expensive shopping area), I noticed that…much to my shock and happiness…a Flip Burger was opening here! It finally opened in December, and my mom and I went before I went home for Christmas break.

Flip B’ham has a much bigger space to occupy, is a lot lighter feeling (probably because of the huge window at the back that looks out over the summit and provides a beautiful view of some mountains and the horizon), but had pretty much the same setup and decor as Atlanta. We were seated fairly quickly, as we went at 11:30 am, so the lunch crowd hadn’t quite appeared. We sat next to two businessmen, who, after learning that we ate at the one in Atlanta a lot, kept asking us for advice, lol. I was happy to give it…it makes me feel like a real foodie.

So, looking over the menu, I was immediately disappointed to see that my favorite turkey burger was not there. They had a turkey burger…but it was a “wild turkey burger” that had bacon, and a lot of unnecessary things on it (where was my avocado and pomegranate ketchup burger???). The special of the day was a turkey club burger. My mom ordered that, I ordered a mushroom and swiss (from here on out referred to as M&S). We also ordered the fried pickles, which I believe were the best thing we had that meal. The M&S was a patty made from mushrooms, topped with swiss cheese, red wine ketchup, and lettuce, tomato, and onion. It was good, although hard to share with my mom, because when you cut it, the mushroom patty got squished and fell apart. My mom’s turkey club was a fried turkey patty with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. It was alright, but too heavy for my taste. I do not think that any kind of meat patty really needs to be fried and slapped on a burger, but that’s just me, and I can only take so much friend food. They also didn’t have my Nutella shake on the menu, but they had a S’mores milkshake, which was essentially the same thing minus the nuttiness of the Nutella. It was good…I liked the graham cracker bits in it, and of course I loved the toasted marshmallows.

All in all, I definitely prefer Flip Atlanta. The atmosphere seems more chill and a lot less pretentious than B’ham (which, I think, was only because of it’s location in a shopping center that has a Saks Fifth Avenue). I personally like that Flip Atlanta is a little crowded, kind of small, and in a weird location. I also like the food better at Flip Atlanta. I mean, come on, they have my turkey burger! I’m not saying Flip B’ham is bad, because the quality of the food is still fresh and very high quality, but it’s just not nearly as good as Flip Atlanta, and that’s mainly due to the fact that the menu is slightly different.

FLIP Burger Boutique on Urbanspoon

Flip burger boutique on Urbanspoon