Restaurants & Bars

Dining in Atlanta Review, part 1

suemac | Apr 20, 200803:38 PM

I posted a couple of weeks ago asking for dining suggestions for a week in Atlanta. Thanks to all who replied; we had some wonderful meals while we were there. We visited Tasty China, Frank Ma's, Sotto Sotto, Woodfire Grill, Atmosphere, Muss & Turner's, Five Guys Burgers, Alon's and Intermezzo. Whew! Must 've gained 10 pounds at least :-).

One thing that surprised us was that we didn't really need reservations as long as we ate before 7:30ish. We'd been told that reservations were important if we wanted to visit the more popular restaurants, and made them I did! However, traffic wasn't as bad as we expected and we generally got to our restaurant-of-the-evening a half hour or more early. We thought we'd have to kick our heels while we waited for our reservation time to roll around, but had no problems being seated right away - most places were pretty empty around 6 and didn't start to get busy until 7:30. We rather enjoyed the extra attention we got by being among the first to be seated for the evening.

So for this post I'll review the two chinese restaurants we visited; the rest of the write-ups will follow.

Our first meal was at Tasty China Sunday evening when we arrived in town. We got there later than expected (around 8:30 p.m.) due to construction delays on I75 northbound to Atlanta; the staff was already starting to clean the dining room, but assured us they were still open for over an hour. We started with the cilantro/fish spring rolls and dan dan noodles. The spring rolls were yummy; I'm a big cilantro fan and the combination of soft mild fish and cilantro in crispy wrappers was great. The dan dan noodles (with pork) seemed like sichuan comfort food - just the right ratio of veggies and meat to noodles with a wonderful flavor and heat. They were actually too hot for my husband (who says he likes hot, but actually only likes warm lol). We threw ourselves on the mercy of our waitress for our entrees; my husband got pork with bamboo shoots and I got shrimp with salted pepper. The pork was tasty, but not outstanding - pretty mild since he'd said the dan dan noodles were too hot. My shrimp was very good - the shrimp were lightly dusted with cornstarch and seasonings and fried with scallions and jalapenos, served on a bed of something crispy and dark green that our waitress identified only as 'vegetable'. I'm not sure what it actually was, but it was good - the shrimp looked as if they were swimming on a bed of seaweed :-). The staff was very helpful and friendly - it probably helped that we were the only ones in the restaurant at the time - and we spent quite awhile after our meal talking to our waitress. Her daughter got her degree at UF (where both my husband and I work) last year, so she was somewhat familiar with our neck of the woods. She agreed with us when we lamented the lack of good chinese food in Gainesville - guess I should have asked when they were going to open a restaurant in Gainesville!

On Wednesday we visited Frank Ma's. I'd fat-fingered the address when I put it into the GPS (would have been sunk in Atlanta without my trusty GPS), but had the address elsewhere so we finally made it to the right area. It was around 6 p.m. and we were the only customers again :-). We were greeted right away by Frank Ma who asked us if we'd read about them on the 'net. He mentioned The Blissful Glutton specifically; I told him I'd read glowing reviews about his restaurant several places, Glutton and Chowhound among them. He suggested we start with the Shanghai Soup Buns and I added an order of Scallion Cake 'cause I just had to. I hadn't had Soup Buns before; we both enjoyed them - tender and flavorful, but not as 'soupy' as I expected. The Scallion Cake was awesome. I'm a total scallion fan and have made these several times in the past (with a recipe from a Yan Kit Martin cookbook), but had never eaten them out. Mine are pretty close, but not quite as thin and flaky as Frank's. We compared recipes - the ingredients and procedure is exactly the same; I just need to roll my cakes out thiner :-). For entrees, my husband couldn't resist having one of his favorite dishes, Lamb with Scallion, while I had the Fish in Hot Oil. The lamb was very good - nicely flavored, tender lamb, lots of scallions (good for me!). The fish was excellent; I haven't had anything similar before and loved how I kept finding new kinds of veggies and such as I dug down into the bowl. I just dumped big spoonfuls over the rice in my bowl which let me slurp up lots of the wonderful sauce as well. I only wish we could have gone with a crowd so we could have sampled more from the menu - oh well, it just means we have to visit Atlanta more often now!

So that's it for our chinese dining - both meals were wonderful and certainly some of the least expensive of the week. Will post more later...

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