A nice couple of days in Atlanta and Points South.
Manuel’s Tavern: I liked the ambience, which reminded me of no-nonsense bars in NY. I ordered the Dogzilla with extra onions. The Dogzilla came slathered in much coleslaw, much kraut, much chili . . . but nary an extra onion in sight (my only specific request!) To add insult to injury, the waitress says “Let me know if you want more onions on that.” Er . . . didn’t I already do that!? One cannot retrofit the extra onions in the face of the mountain of other toppings anyhow. The fries were sublime. Greasy oven fries (in shape) and fine potato flavor. The dog . . . I detected some (rub? adjunct to the filling?) that I could not place (I also wondered if it was possibly wood smoke char . . . I asked, and no info); but, whatever this spice was (I’d be interested if anyone can enlighten me) it wasn’t quite to my taste. Overall, a very nice, and not-too-much-to-complain-about lunch though at reasonable price. Oh, quite well-kept Guinness.
Dinner that night was in the Westin Airport Hotel Restaurant. While normally anathema to Chowhound, their Southern Egg Pie (de facto quiche), and Shrimp and Grits (with the grits formed to resemble Texas Toast Triangle and lightly toasted as such) was quite (actually very!) well done. And helpful and friendly, if not particularly adept, service at the bar.
Breakfast at barbecue Kitchen (near the airport) the next morning was fine! FINE! Country ham, eggs, biscuit and hash browns (sorry no grits, although it clearly was the side of choice). Great veteran waitress and felt in good hands all ways. If ONLY all meals could be like this.
Lunch was a Nu-Way dog “All the Way” and again the mystery seasoning (not typical to dogs in other environs). Good, but again not quite to my taste (the seasoning).
Dinner in Locust Grove. I tried the http://www.frenchmarkettavern.com/ French Market. Clearly Locust Grove’s “upmarket” place. But their raw oysters were terrible. They were room temperature plus, and not even served on a bed of ice. Some were warm as though having been set near an open flame. They put me off dallying here although the place is clearly trying to be the go-to upscale place in town. They did make a reasonable cocktail.
I ended up at Gabino’s Mexican Grill http://www.gabinosmexicangrill.com/ and I tell you what: a hidden little gem. It looks like a chain, but isn’t; and the owner is hands-on and passionate about his food. Good Mexican style shrimp cocktail, excellent shrimp dishes in general, and a small, but pleasant, bar with an excellent bartender-ress. She dispensed a digestif of a sage-infused liquor which was quite interesting and a genuine digestif and made me nostalgic for France.
Spotted but not tried: the Busy Bee in Atlanta looked very popular and I could almost smell the fried chicken from the car. The Manchester Arms as a Brit pub looked worth a try, especially for a beer on the patio in the cooler weather.
Standout was that country ham breakfast (I can’t recall the last time having a breakfast tab less than $10 and for it to be a GREAT breakfast and less than $10 is astonishing: also the clientele is clearly daily patrons for the most part.
Then the Mexican in Locust Grove. I have to say it was much appreciated and again very good value for the eventual tab.
Thanks for reading.
On to Los Angeles. Further reportage from there.