Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Moving On

First of all, thank you so much to all the loyal readers of Blog Soup over the last few years.  This blog was started right after we moved to Atlanta, and it's been a great way to chronicle our time here.  I've had a great time writing restaurant reviews, talking about cooking, making random observations about life in A-town and getting to know others in the blogging world!  

As we get ready to leave Atlanta and make our way back to Kansas City, I feel like Blog Soup is something that belongs here, so I won't be taking it with me to KC.  

That being said, I think my internet addiction makes it impossible not to blog.  So I've got a new one, The DIY Diaries!  

The next several months of our lives will be pretty heavily focused on the ups and downs of home improvement.  I'm really excited for it.  Please hop on over there, and follow along.  Thanks for reading y'all!

Woodfire Grill

Final stop on the Bon Voyage Atlanta Mini Restaurant Tour!  I'm so glad we went to Woodfire Grill before the train pulls out of the station here in just a few hours.  (Hours!)  When we first moved to the ATL and lived down in the Virginia Highland area, we'd been eyeing Woodfire... just never went.  I suppose it took Executive Chef Kevin Gillespie getting on season 6 of Top Chef to really light a fire under our asses and get us over there!

Loved the ambiance of this restaurant.  It's inviting, but still has the slightest flutter of formality.  The dining room is lively but not too loud.  The scent of the woodfire grill is intoxicating as you first walk in.  The bartender has a friendly face.  It's easy to feel right at home.

We'll start with service.  The service at Woodfire was some of the best we've had from some of the finer establishments we've dined at as of late.  Attentive but not too talkative, this guy had it right.

There is a nice selection of seasonal cocktails available from the bar - I personally went with the Blackberry Bramble which had fresh muddled blackberries and gin.  Fresh, tasty and not oppressive with the taste of alcohol, this is definitely a nicely mixed cocktail.  The wine list is also notable - we had a 2005 Ferrari Carano Prevail Cab/Syrah with dinner that was outstanding.  Compared to retail ($55), the price of the bottle at the restaurant ($59) was not bad at all!  I love anything red from the Alexander Valley.  It was bold, big in the mouth, juicy and delish!

Now on to the food :)  I started with the caramelized gala apples with celery leaf, fennel bulb and a sort of salty cheese on top.  Very nice juxtaposition of sweet/salty/fresh and some great textures as well.  One of our dinnermates ordered the pork belly.... originally we'd passed but once it got to the table Mason and I had to have an order to split.  Definitely not the wrong move there.  More fat than meat, but a nice crisp carmelization from the woodfire on the outside paired nicely with the apple butter served on the side.  Can you ever really go wrong with pork belly?  Another dinnermate had the prosciutto wrapped arugula salad with cherries and cranberries... delectable!

My main course was a grass fed beef strip loin, which I had to clarify with the waiter -- was it a strip or a tenderloin?  It was the tenderloin in fact - three 1/2" pieces.  Cooked to a perfect medium rare, but it was the slightest bit tough.  The au-gratin-ish potatoes served on the side were underwhelming at best and overly salty.  Mason had the halibut, which was served with a curry cabbage... his reaction to it was so-so.

Dessert redeemed a few of the entree shortcomings.  Banana fritters with banana bavarian creme, milk chocolate mousse, salted caramel sauce and candied bacon was heavenly.

One interesting option offered by Woodfire is the 3 or 5 course blind chef's tasting.  I think the next time we go, we might have to go in that direction.

Verdict - definitely worth the trip, there are some impressive qualities to the restaurant.  I'd like to give it another try.

Woodfire Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Canoe Review

Stop #3 on our BVAMRT (Bon Voyage Atlanta Mini-Restaurant Tour) was Canoe in Vinings, GA.  We got there just in the nick of time before the great flood of 2009 hit the restaurant.  The good news is, the restoration is in full swing and they should be back up and running soon.  

Canoe is situated right on the banks of the Chattahoochee River and boasts some absolutely lovely gardens that are perfectly suited for an outdoor reception, rehearsal dinner or other fancy-pants party.  The interior of the restaurant is warm, with lots of wood and brick.  A very comfortable environment overall.

Executive Chef Carvel Grant Gould is careful in selecting the items that go on her menu, and many of the proteins and veggies are locally sourced.  I always like to see the Executive Chef when we go to a restaurant, and Chef Gould was spot on, managing the kitchen and walking throughout the restaurant while we were there to make sure everything was humming.

Canoe's wine list was huge.  We started with an 2006 Anne Amie Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley of Oregon that was outstanding.  When dinner came, we ordered the 2006 JC Cellars Syrah - and much to our delight they had a 2004 that they presented instead.  The JC Cellars was incredibly rich for a Syrah - almost more like a Cab or a Zinfandel.  

For starters I began with the carrot and pistachio soup, which was topped with tempura snow peas and pistachio oil.  Thick, creamy and delicious.  For dinner, I opted for their swordfish special, which was seared and then finished in the oven and served with a bacon and leek risotto.  I wish I could remember exactly what else came with it... but it's been a few days and I'm a bad blogger... oops.  I'm also not one of those food bloggers that takes pictures of the food... maybe that makes me a REALLY bad blogger but eh.  Either way, it was fresh and delicious!

For dessert I also went with their special which was a watermelon and lime sorbet.  The lime was great - the watermelon lacked flavor.  Presentation was good.  We also had a warm ricotta cheesecake with meyer lemon that was quite the treat.

Canoe is on my 10 best list for a reason - definitely worth the trip!

Canoe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


It's pretty scary how quickly things can go from perfect to a total mess. We had the pleasure of dining at Canoe on Saturday night - and now just 2 days later, a good portion of the restaurant is underwater.

The food was fabulous though, review to come soon.
Update 9/23/09: Canoe is definitely reopening! Wish them all the best for a quick cleanup.

Monday, September 21, 2009

10 Best Atlanta Restaurants

Considering that a good portion of this blog has been devoted to Atlanta area restaurants, I thought it proper to post a top 10 list (another one!) before we depart in a few days. So here they are folks, Blog Soup's A-town favorites. I will note that this list is more or less off the cuff... I didn't deliberate on my choices for too long. These are the restaurants that came to mind first.

Most of these are centrally located - so if you're visiting Atlanta, they're easy to find.
10. Two Urban Licks. Great place to take out-of-towners with a hip, urban vibe. I like this place for the environment more than the food. Quintessentially Atlanta.
9. Canoe. Focus on local, fresh, in season. Comfortable dining in a gorgeous setting right by the Chattahoochee. Admirable wine list. Good seafood selections.
8. JCT Kitchen. Deliciousness in every course. Fantastic bread from The Bread Garden, upscale Southern comfort food. Fried chicken and angry mussels are to die for. Great bar upstairs!
7. Alon's Bakery & Market. Fabulous cheese and olive selection, great grab & go entrees, delectable soups and sandwiches.
6. The Colonnade. An ATL favorite since the late 1920's, this is my favorite meat & three in town. I wake up at 3am craving their yeast rolls and butter on a regular basis.
5. Hal's for Steaks. Skip the snootiness of Bones and/or Chops and head for a place that will give better service and phenomenal steaks in a hard-to-find laid back environment. The piano player and regulars in the bar add to the charm.
4. Varasano's Pizza. Only been there once, but the pizza was better than any other pie I've had in the ATL. Hot, thin and crispy.
3. One Midtown Kitchen. Another Concentrics creation, this is also a goodie for the out of town crowd. Reasonable prices, consistent quality and innovation are among One's best traits.
2. Sotto Sotto. My choice in town for Italian. Superb lemon chicken in the best neighborhood in ATL - Inman Park.
1. Rathbun's. Definitely my favorite restaurant in Atlanta. Only wish I'd had more chances to visit!

Floataway Cafe

The first stop on our BVAMRT (that's the Bon Voyage Atlanta Mini-Restaurant Tour, for the uninformed) was Floataway Cafe. Owned by the Bacchanalia folks, this place had been on our hit list for awhile. In a sentence - I enjoyed the meal but wasn't completely enamored with the experience overall.

The environment is completely charming, kind of airy and beachy and ethereal. Some bright pops of orange in the lounge area give a nice modern vibe. The menu has a huge variety of choices - literally everyone should be able to find something they like. Our friends brought their darling and very well behaved 10 year old twins and they had no problem selecting something off the menu that was suited for a decade-old palate.
Quick rundown: we started with the roasted peppers, anchovies on the side. Overall the peppers lacked flavor - like they hadn't been roasted long enough to bring that depth and sugar out. Mason had the bibb lettuce salad with green goddess dressing, bacon, maytag and tomatoes -- a great salad that's hard to mess up. We also had an order of gougeres for the table. The outside was perfectly flaky and light. The cheese inside was a bit too runny for my tastes.
Both husband and I had the quail for our entree which I have to say was cooked perfectly. The wood grill gave the outside a beautiful char and carmelization. It was advertised with roasted figs and balsamic - however nary a fig was to be found on my plate. Disappointing since they're in season right now.
Dessert was a toffee pudding cake with vanilla ice cream as well as a fig brown butter tart with buttermilk sorbet. The pudding cake was tops and the tart honorable as well; however the buttermilk sorbet tasted much more like citrusy lemon than it did buttermilk.
Service was just so-so. Kind of slow.
The verdict: Hard to judge after just one visit. I feel like I'd need to give it another chance.
Floataway Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 11, 2009

Restaurant Weekend

We're hitting up a few places this weekend with both some local and out of town friends - I can't wait!

Friday will be Floataway Cafe. I'm eyeing the marinated roasted peppers, ellijay apple and endive salad, warm cheese gougeres, local fig pizza with maytag and prosciutto, and the wood grilled quail. How's a girl to decide.... We're going to bring our bottle of Caymus Zinfandel with us. Hell to the yeah.
Tomorrow night will be the much anticipated Rathbun's with a good friend of mine from Philly who's coming in from out of town. I'm semi-embarrassed we haven't made it down there yet, seeing as the chef is semi famous and the restaurant has received so much praise. I didn't know Chef Kevin Rathbun himself was born and raised in good ole Kansas City... a man after my own heart to say the least! Eggplant steak fries with confectioner's sugar, coriander roasted pork belly, roasted bone marrow (Bourdain's fave and a curiosity of mine), and the Maine Lobster and roasted chile soft taco are all looking pretty tasty.
Maybe I should just commit myself to gaining 15# this weekend.
I'd really like to get to Woodfire Grill before we leave but not sure if it will be happening. Stay tuned for reviews!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Another reason to miss Trader Joe's

Thank God for Trader Joe's. I am going to miss them so much when we move... hopefully it won't be too long til KC gets one. I have to rave about this latest find that I picked up on a whim during my last trip. This Trader Joe's Chicken Gorgonzola totally saved me in a pinch tonight.
2 chicken breasts, with chopped roasted tomatoes, portabellas, gorgonzola cheese and a light pesto sauce goes from freezer to table in 8 minutes and it's the perfect amount for two. The sauce would go nicely with a side of pasta - but we actually poured it over a little steamed broccoli for an extra veggie fix. The best thing - the chicken gorgonzola has all natural ingredients - no Yellow 5, high fructose corn syrup or nitrates or nitrites or whatever that crap is packaged in. Totally did not taste like a frozen meal.
The verdict: better than a Lean Cuisine any day.