Cru Food and Wine Bar Atlanta: Wine Oasis

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 7/27/20

On a bustling corner at The Battery Atlanta, there’s a wine oasis dotted with bluish-purple umbrellas, marble tabletops, warm vibes, and surrounded by several colors of delicate flowers and greenery. Cru Food & Wine Bar at the Battery Atlanta has mastered the art of superb wine procurement from magnificent champagne and Smell the Roses flights to a wide variety of dishes that compliment the wine on their menu. We can’t think of anything better to pair your favorite vino with than a solid charcuterie or small plate, and even a succulent filet mignon. Wine not join us on a culinary journey from our time at Cru Atlanta?

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of wine? Charcuterie and cheese OF COURSE. Yes, all caps. Cru Food & Wine Bar has exemplary flight pairings with carefully curated list of cheeses and meats. We got the Premier Cru which boasted of salami, prosciutto, soppressata, and manchego cheese and accompanied with a selection of pickled vegetables, tasty mustard, and rustic bread. What a great way to start our wine journey. To go with it we opted for the Smell the Roses flight which had 3 delicate and well-balanced Rose wines. Our favorite was Chateau Gassier Esprit. It was crisp and light with a delicate amount of tart, apples, citrus-like notes. Plus, who can go to a wine bar without sampling at least one champagne? The one we sampled was the Laurent Perrier Brut La Cuvee from France. It was everything a true champagne should be with brut bubbles and a slight tart finish. What’s your favorite wine varietal?

Beyond your traditional wine bar fare, Cru Food & Wine Bar also offers a wide array of sharable plates. The Ahi Tartare is mild and tender with creamy avocado, crunchy cucumber with a hint of earthiness combined with bitterness of the olive. I (Liz) don’t usually like olives (AT ALL) but the combination of the avocado, cucumber, and tomatoes, cuts the bitterness, while the olive actually adds to the flavor. Mix all the ingredients up on the plate and add some of the rustic bread, it’s a great bite. After something light, we decided on something a little heavier, like the Wagyu meatballs. With wagyu as the main ingredient, these meatballs are the right amount of meatiness, yet lighter than expected. Paired with a bright and light sauce that we loved, topped with basil that added a good amount of earthiness to balance the richness of the meat and the creaminess of the cheese. Our tip is to cut the meatballs up and pile all the ingredients on the rustic bread for a solid complete bite.

Want something a little sweeter? Cru Food & Wine Bar has these goat cheese beignets that are surprisingly decedent treat. Almost dessert-like, we’re in love with the creaminess and tart of the goat cheese, the crunch of the beignet, and the sweetness of the honey. That last touch really adds a ton of rich, sweet flavor. The secret ingredient in this dish, though, is the mascarpone. It lightens up the goat cheese and gives it more of a creaminess to the inside. Make sure to get every bit of honey, beignet, and filling into one bite and get ready for a flavor explosion. This was the biggest surprise of the night and ended up being my (Liz’s) favorite thing!

Earlier we asked what’s the first thing you think of when you think wine, but now we have a follow up. What’s the second? Before you answer, you were thinking steak, right? We knew it and this one is filet mignon at that! This beauty is a perfectly tender piece of meat cooked medium with the right amount of seasoning, sauce, and the tart of the blue cheese. The tasty sauce on the plate around the steak was a chianti-based that was slightly sweet to balance out the tart of the blue cheese and heaviness of the meat. Add in the earthiness of rosemary to round out the flavor! On the side, the au gratin potatoes are like a hearty potato pie with layer upon layer of cheese and potatoes, which goes so well with the sauce. It was also paired with green beans that had the right crunch and seasoning, adding a little hint of freshness and brightness to round out the succulent dish.

Sipping on a cool glass of champagne, we relaxed in the shade and just watched people walk by Cru Atlanta. The people around us glasses clinked, and the light sound of chatter filled the warm summer air. We couldn’t eat another bite, so we just sat full and happy. We know it’s hard but if you could choose one thing to try, what would it be?

Grana Atlanta: Meatball Heaven

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 7/21/20

On the busy corner in Piedmont Heights, Grana’s newly built restaurant is a shrine to the almighty meatball – and all things Italian. Herringbone floor, two large wood burning pizza ovens, sweeping lights, and impeccable décor, Grana has an impressively upscale dining room that pays homage to the Chef’s Italian Heritage. It’s a stunner. Heading up to the beach vibe rooftop bar and patio, you’re greeted with the neon sign that reminds you that this place will be known for it’s balls, meatballs that is. Mark our words, the best meatballs in Atlanta. Beyond this, sinful appetizers, array of unique pizza, fantastic pasta, summer sippers, and impeccable main dishes make up the fabric of the best new Italian restaurant in Atlanta. That’s amore. Let’s dig in.

We get it, dreaming of the perfect meatball was never in our realm of reality either. But here we are awestruck by the master meatball-teer.  We opted for the meatball flight which included Mommy’s, Nonna’s, Crisp Veal, Pork, Grana, and Brasstown Beef. All practically perfect in their own way, but our stand-out was the best meatball ever, Crispy Veal. Imagine biting into a crisp, crunchy shell and coming upon tender and mild veal, perfectly seasoned with a blend of spices, and topped with a dollop of spicy aioli. It has everything you’d want in a meatball: meaty, spicy, sweet, crunchy, earthy. Perfection if you ask us. Perusing the reset of the meatball wonders, we also really enjoyed the Brasstown Beef that boasts hearty and tender beef topped with immaculate black truffle jam(!) and gouda that rounds out the bite, bringing in a little earth and a little creaminess. All the flavors on this one!! Break up the meatball and mix in the truffle topping. WOW! As for the Pork with the whipped ricotta, it was also delicious, with a very mellow pork ball and the creaminess and earthiness of the ricotta cheese. Meaty and creamy. Nonna’s mixes the right amount of meatball with mustard seed for tart and a slight pop in the mouth. Then, on top of that the currants are sweet and tart. Cut the meatball up and mix in the toppings, yum! What feels like the original, just plain good Mommy’s that reminds you of something your grandma would make, perfect meatball, sauce, earthy basil. BAM! Finally, The Grana is a simple, yet delicious meatball that is a good mix of sage and meat, perfectly balanced. Be honest, if you could have just one, what would it be?

Now that we’ve gotten you good and hungry, our Italian journey continues on the vendura and pasta. Something we would never think of getting was the wood roasted peppers. Pat sent them up for us to try and boy, what a treat. Slightly spicy of the pepper to the creamy of the whipped ricotta to the sweetness of the honey, mix it all up and you get a great all-around flavor! The most delightful surprise of the night was the Roasted Corn Vendura. Immaculately plated standing up with the stalks in the air, the corn is surrounded by a moat of lemon aioli, peppers, and Calabrian oils, it was visually and tastefully stunning. The crunchiness of the corn, the creaminess of the aioli and then comes the spice on the back end to kick you in the teeth. We’re in love with this dish because it gives you a little bit of everything and it’s so unique! After breathing a little fire, came our Pappardelle pasta. Oh. My. Goodness. Ragu is our love language. This Pappardelle pasta, which is thick and hearty, is perfectly cooked and fresh topped with rich pork ragu and sprinkled with hard mozzarella cheese. So meaty and rich, the ragu is the perfect combination with the heartiness and heft of the pasta, plus the right amount of spices. Top with that perfect amount of cheese and you’ve got a dynamite pasta that we will have to come back for seconds to get!

Next stop, pizza. We sampled the Roni, which was a mix of fresh cheese, crisp crust, pepperoni, honey and Calabrian chili combined inside curled up pepperoni. An everchanging collaboration of flavors that seep together to make one of the most unique flavored pizza’s we’ve ever had! Tip: horde the middle. All of the pepperoni goodness and honey, chili, all come together there. It’s the best bite. We’d like to mention that John really enjoyed the Roni. He said at one point that he couldn’t get over how good the pepperoni, honey, and cheese combination was and never would have thought he would love it so much.

Just when you think you can’t get a better meal, in comes the Wood Roasted Chicken. Having the Porchetta (WOWZER!) at the preview, we figured since our waitress recommended it, we’d give it a whirl. Good. Choice. Tender and fall off the bone roasted chicken in a blend of spices and mixed with peppers and surrounded by the sweet and spicy rosemary lemon sauce that elevates the chicken.  The best part was the fattier chicken thighs paired so well with the spiciness of the sauce and the peppers. If you have any leftovers, make a quick panini or sandwich with it the next day. Delicimo!

Full to the brim, now, while we sat on the patio and the rainstorm rolled in, we sipped on several cocktails, like the Lemonada, which was Liz’s favorite! It’s just a gin slushie with lemon Pellegrino! It’s simply refreshing and perfect for a hot day. They’re frozen cocktail changes every so often so you might go and get an Aperol Spritz slushie or even a Froze. Our favorite shaken cocktail was the Amalfly Coasting that is the right mix of Pellegrino pompelmo, gin, peychaud’s. It’s sippable heaven.

That evening as we left, a lone beam of light shown under the clouds. A glimpse of the sunset could be seen from the rooftop and we stopped to take it in. The perfect ending to a wonderful meal. It just proved to us that meatball heaven does exist.

Piastra: Handmade With Love

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 7/15/20

With the white table cloth crisp and clean, adorned with fine linen wrapped silverware, china, tall shiny wine glasses, and the smell of fresh baked bread, this sets the stage for the elegant Italian food that Piastra makes from scratch with love. Tucked in the charming downtown Marietta Square, Piastra boasts handmade, in house mozzarella or pasta, fresh baked bread, hand stuffed sausage, and even made-from-scratch desserts like their peach cobbler, it’s all so fresh and feels authentic. From the rich meatballs, to the crunchy risotto balls, refreshing peach caprese salad, to the delicate salmon sausage entrée, to the unbelievable pork chop, and finally finishing it off with crumbly peach cobbler. This authentic Italian meal was a walk through Italy, but with a hint of the south sprinkled in to remind us we’re not in the Lipman family kitchen in the outskirts of Rome. Bring your elastic waste pants, you’ll need them for this journey.

Starting with the meatballs, these three beauties were hand-made with pork, beef, cheese, and perfectly seasoned with garlic and topped with a silky red sauce. They were rich and meaty with great flavor and balance. A good little appetizer to share or on the side. Beyond these, we got two other dishes, the Arrancini (Fried Risotto Balls) and Peach Caprese Salad special. The risotto balls were outwardly crispy and crunchy with creamy risotto and pancetta pieces, then the balsamic drizzle is earthier completed the entire bite. So, a crispy, crunchy, creamy, with hints of meat and earth all in one fun little ball. Enough for sharing or not. We opted for NOT. Opting for something a little lighter after fried and meaty starts, Piastra’s seasonal take on a traditional caprese salad was to add peaches and orange tomatoes. The mozzarella is the freshest we’ve ever had, so light and mild paired well with the earthiness, sweetness, and slight pine of a fresh sliced peach.  Take the peach, mozzarella, basil, tomato, all in one bite, you’ll get a ton of flavors that’s perfect for the patio on a hot summer day.

Every Thursday through Saturday, Chef Lipman offers a Chef’s Tasting Menu, a 4-course menu with appetizer, pasta, entrée, and dessert. It’s only $65 and a steal! Off that menu, we sampled the Salsiccia de Salmone, the salmon sausage. Now this, we’ve never had anything like it! This isn’t your momma’s sausage, it’s lighter and flakier. Just imagine perfectly ground salmon encased and mixed with spices,  herbs, while paired with onions, garlic, and zucchini. It screams summer with the lightness of the fish to the bright and crispness of the zucchini squash, and richness of the onion. The addition of the lemon vinaigrette really brought the whole thing together with a bright, light flavor.  We’re definitely a fan of this one!

If you’ve been waiting for our favorite dish, it’s ready for it’s close-up. The Braciola di Maiale, Tomahawk Pork Chop, was a thick cut piece of pork heaven. We only had a pork chop this thick and juicy one other time at a fancy, upscale, Atlanta steakhouse to be unnamed and this one was BETTER! From the absolute divine char on the top, the juicy and thick perfectly cooked cut of pork, to the sweetness of the sauce, this piece of meat is perfection. Then, you pair it with out of this world mashed potatoes boasting of creamy and rosemary(!) goodness. On top of that, the earthiness of the garlic drenched spinach and you’ve got a melody of flavors that work in perfect harmony to bring to life one amazingly beautiful dish. What more could we say about this dish besides, “GET IT?”

One thing we did not anticipate when we stepped into Piastra was the dessert passion that comes with visiting Chef Lipman’s kitchen. Made from scratch and one of the freshest peach cobblers, their desserts are all made fresh daily and change seasonally. Peach is perfect for the summer, especially in this dessert because the sweetness and cool of the peach matches the creaminess of the whipped cream and the nutty, buttery, crumbly, graham cracker crust. Overall, the crunchy crust mixed with the peach and the whipped cream is every dessert flavor we can imagine. We need more peach cobbler in our lives. Don’t you?

We told you that you would need your stretchy pants for this Italian family-style meal. Let’s top that off with a glass of Pinot Grigio, which was so affordable, or some fantastic white sangria that paired perfectly with the peach caprese salad and you’ve got it all. Are you think what we’re thinking? See you at the Chef’s Table next week? You’re in for a treat.

Carson Kitchen: Love is in the Air

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 7/9/20

You know that scene at the end of the romantic comedy where the two love birds you’ve been rooting for the entire move finally share their first kiss and the credits roll along with that single tear on your cheek? That’s the heartfelt homecoming we enjoyed in our recent outing back to our love, Carson Kitchen. Impressed with the bacon jam and oxtail risotto on the first go-round, this time we were equally impressed with every bite we put in our mouths. Like the pork belly and it’s fantastic sauce, the beet salad with those goat cheese balls to the best %^$# salmon you’ll ever have in Atlanta, and don’t forget the bacon jam, it’s all perfection. Yes, PERFECTION. Get ready to fall in love all over again. Get the tissues ready, you’ll need them.

 

If you haven’t guessed, Carson Kitchen is our favorite new restaurant of 2020 thus far. We both agree on this AND haven’t had one mediocre thing in all of our tastings. With an extensive signature cocktail menu that changes with the seasons, to the long list of local beers, to the wine list, you can enjoy a happy hour on the patio, or with a meal. We sampled the Just the Tip, which is a whiskey-based drink, but doesn’t drink like it. It’s refreshing and cool with mint and mellowed by the lemon, vanilla, and brightened by the apricot preserves. Loved the sweetness and balance of this cocktail and enhanced by the sweet grand mariner finish. Patio sipping at it’s finest.

 

Giddy with anticipation, we ordered a foodie’s dream, the Carson Kitchen Bacon Jam. How can something be this good? We already have fawned over that in our last trip, so we’re going to transition to what we did sample on the social plate menu this time, the pork belly. We must ask you, have you ever had pork belly that melted in your mouth? This does, it’s that tender. It’s one of the best cooked and plump pork belly slices we’ve ever had and topped with THAT SAUCE. We can’t say enough about the blue cheese-forward buffalo blue cheese beurre blanc sauce that was rich, creamy, tart, to compliment the hearty meat. A complete and amazing overall dish.

 

From hearty Bacon Jam and pork belly, we opted for something light to eat on the patio. Enter the Young Beets off the Farm & Garden menu. This mix of beets were perfectly balanced and earthy, plus perfectly paired with the sweetness of the grapes, and the best part the creamy, dreamy, goat cheese balls rolled in our favorite nut ever, pistachio. Who knew beets and grapes would pair so well? It’s genius. All together the beets, grapes, cheese, and sauce melted into an earthy, crunchy, tangy bite that was perfectly light for the patio dining. Taste all the ingredients together, you’ll thank us. Light and bright!

 

Salmon. Period. Full stop. Bold this, highlight it. This mind-blowing dish boasts perfectly medium cooked salmon that’s light and flaky, yet the outside is crisped just right with light seasoning and a slight crunch. Alone, the salmon itself is an amazing piece of deliciousness, but pair it with the cheese and spinach goodness and a splash of charred lemon and you’ll get an explosion of flavors. The devil is in the details and this one is hearty fish, flaky and light with creamy and sharp cheese, complimented by the earthiness of the spinach. Decadent begins to describe it, but it’s one of the best %^$# salmon dishes we’ve ever tried. Ever.

As the sunsets over Alpharetta City Center, Carson Kitchen lights up it’s patio center-piece, the firepit. The sunset casts yellows, pinks, and purples all over the glass beads in it and it casts and beautiful fire dancing and leaping through the air. We relax in our chairs and just take in our amazing culinary journey of the day. We’d like to know what, if you went to Carson Kitchen, would you like to try? Whatever you choose, you’ll fall in love too! Big heart emoji.

Take Us Out To Live! At The Battery

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 7/6/20

The pitcher comes up to the mound and the crowd grows silent in anticipation. Here’s the pitch! The ball sails through the air and with the crack of the bat, the ball is going, going, GONE. Next to Truist Park, Home of the Braves, Live! At The Battery knocks it out of the park with margarita pitcher specials, fun cocktails, and an array of bites for any sports or social occasion. Really, the minute you walk up to the Battery, you feel the electricity that the stadium brings and being literally a stone’s throw from Truist Park, it’s one amazing patio and sports enthusiast space. Nestled in Live! At the Battery is Sports & Social, Todd English Tavern, and late-night haunt, PBR. The complex has a little bit of everything from sports watching, the biggest TV you’ll ever see, a good array of dishes, cocktails, drinks, and even a mechanical bull. Take us out to Live!

The word we’d use to describe the cocktails at the Live! Complex would be eye-catching. In our time on the patio, we got The Wave and Blackberry Ginger Margarita. The Blackberry Ginger Margarita was reddish in color and was sweet, tangy, and finished with a slight ginger beer after taste. It was the right mix of all those flavors to make one tasty margarita. Plus, you could get a whole pitcher for only $25 when we were there! A steal! We also sipped on The Wave. It was tropical style margarita with blue curacao and garnished with a pineapple. Pleasingly blue and green hue, topped with yellow pineapple, it was a sweet, yet refreshing patio drink perfect for the hot summer days. Eat the pineapple WITH the pineapple for the best flavor!

Surprisingly good were all the dishes! Our favorite bite of our adventure were the skillet meatballs. Perfectly cooked beef and pork mix, they were topped with melted cheese and accompanied by stewed tomatoes and crisp, herb-buttered bread. We loved that the tomatoes were fresh and really complimented the meatiness of the entire dish. Pile up the bread with some of the meat, cheese, and tomatoes. It’s a creamy, earthy, deep, and rich crescendo of deliciousness. This is a must try.

Looking for a bite to pair with a refreshing beer while watching the game? You should check out their Sweet Thai Chili chicken wings! Hefty wings that are deep fried and slathered in a sweet and spicy sauce that’s so messy, you’ll need to have a ton of napkins handy. The messier the better we say. Then, just imagine on top of that the crunch of perfectly fried and breaded skin for an all-around good bite. It’s just so meaty, spicy, sweet, and crunchy, you don’t even need the blue cheese or ranch for any additional flavor. Now, as you eat them, they get spicier, so this is where you could dip it in the blue cheese or ranch for a cooling creaminess. Yum.

For our handheld, the Ahi Tuna Tacos were light and crisp with tangy pineapple and sweet soy sauce. The ahi tuna itself was very tender and mild, a great bite on it’s own and paired with slightly charred and tangy pineapple. Piled on top of that is the sweet of the soy, and the crunch of the wonton shell and slaw. The wonton shell really drew the bite together for a crunchy, sweet, tangy, meaty dish. This goes great with one of the featured margaritas or even a glass of white wine.

You know that feeling when you get home from a big Braves’ win? That’s the feeling you get when you leave Live! At The Battery.

Ph’East: Stamp Your Passport to Eastern Flavors

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 7/5/20

Being a hot day in Summer, we opted for the little bit of shade on a patio around the corner from Truist Park. Far to our right, there’s a guy with his guitar singing the greatest 80s and 90s rock and pop hits. As he sings, people tap their toes, sip on bowls, dig into poke, and try new beers and cocktails at the recently opened Ph’East. Just outside Atlanta in the Battery complex, Ph’East has several hawker stalls that includes our new friends at Poke Burri and Lifting Noodles Ramen, as well as the Tap at Ph’East. We sipped, slurped, and noshed our way to an international journey outside American, right from Atlanta. These days, we could all use a little vacation, so join us on a little trip to Asian flavor and tiki islands. Do you have your passport?

At the heart of Ph’East is the Tap at Ph’East beer bar where you can grab a cocktail, an IPA, a stout, and even a glass of wine. They have something fun every day of the week, our favorite is Tiki Tuesday and they have the perfect drink for it: Scorpion. It’s Tiki Heaven! Marrying a taste of the islands with rum, cognac, orange, lemon, and more, it reminds us of a drink you would sip under at a beach bar on a hot Summer day. Don’t forget the little umbrella. Plus, we sampled some new local beers like John’s favorite the Nolan IPA from Reformation, which he describes as refreshing and slightly hoppy on the back! I (Liz) got a new stout, The Breury Bakery BA Stout with vanilla, cinnamon, and cherry. It’s a hefty and boozy stout! Overall, they have a great assortment of cocktails and beers for any drink lover!

We’ve been anticipating visiting Poke Burri ever since we had a sample at Atlanta Food & Wine Festival a few years ago. They won best of the fest and we remember why! From spicy tuna nachos, sushi donuts, poke burritos, poke bowls, and even dumplings, Poke Burri has some of the best poke and sushi in all of Atlanta. Everything in our feast was delicious, but our favorite has to be the spicy tuna nachos. It has to do with the addition of the fried wonton chips. The spiciness and richness of the tuna juxtaposed with the creaminess of the avocado and spicy mayo then comes in the crunch of the fried wonton chips all comes together to make a wonderfully complete bite. Something that we really wanted to try was the sushi donut. The delicate salmon and avocado wrapped around rice with hints of creamy mayo and spicy siracha. What really made this bite was the sriracha dollops. I added it to the top and dipped in soy sauce for one great mouthful. Tip: pick it up like a donut and dip in sauces! It’s so fun.

If you know us, Poke bowls have long been a favorite of mine (Liz) and this one didn’t disappoint! It was everything you’d imagine from the meatiness of the salmon and spiciness of the tuna to the avocado to the rice and soy base, it is a spicy, creamy bite. Add some soy sauce to complete it! Perfection. Going from sushi to traditional Asian fare: dumplings. These packed a punch with meaty and delicious pork middle, the perfectly fried crunch of the shell, and you add in soy sauce. That’s some fried goodness. Let’s not forget what Poke Burri does most: sushi burritos. We actually got the spicy fried chicken and it was perfectly spicy and crisp that mixed well with the crunch of the carrot and tender sushi rice. Yum.

Pivoting to ramen, we were floored by the ramen and brussels sprouts at Lifting Noodles Ramen. The build your own ramen bowl can be vegan, vegetarian, or as meaty as you want! The pork base is Tonkatsu style, which means the bone has been soaked in broth to give it an almost milk-like consistency. We opted for the pork base because of this cloudy, creamy base that’s perfect for the earthiness of the kale noodles and the meatiness of pork belly. Yes, we said kale noodles. Get them. Now. Noodles can just be an additive to the bowl, but the kale really brings a unique, earthy, and delicious flavor to the entire bite. We added almost everything you could to get as much flavor and textures to round out the experience. We called it everything and the kitchen sink. Plus, this bowl packs a ton of rich, deep, crunchy, earthy flavor without being salty. So smooth and delicious, you’ll slurp to the bottom. As far as the brussels sprouts are concerned, they were perfectly crispy and earthy topped with sweet and spicy chili sauce that was the right balance of both sweet and spicy. Overall, it was a wonderful side. Something fun we tried to put some of the brussels sprouts in the ramen. Do you think we liked it?

Now that you’ve stamped your passport, what’s the one thing you’d love to try from Ph’East? Where would you go first? Invite us, we could use another trip soon.

Barleygarden Kitchen & Bar: Beyond Beervana

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 6/25/20

So Beervana, DOES exist. Located on the end of the Avalon complex, with a large patio and rooftop bar, Barleygarden Kitchen and Bar has a legitimate stake in Beervana, but we hope you stay for the food because you’ll be in for a real treat. From a ton of local, regional, and national beer varieties with everything from IPAs to sours to stouts, they have anything you could want made of hops and malt. On top of that, you can’t really go wrong with Barleygarden’s eats either, from fried cauliflower to brussels sprouts, to handheld favorites, to wings, stay a while and enjoy a drink and grub! Let’s check out our heady adventure on a fun OTP patio.

By the time you read this, they’ll probably already be slinging a whole new array of signature cocktails. We tried the Never Say Die set to be one of their features, as well as sipped on a delicious Untitled Art stout. Plus, we paired Arches Queen’s Weiss with the handheld, stay tuned for that pairing later. As for the new cocktail menu Never Say Die is a take on a pina colada with light and fresh lime, demerara, orgeat, curacao, and of course dark rum. It was light and refreshing and perfect to enjoy on the patio. They also plan on having a Baby! Baby! Ruth! Baby! cocktail, which will include peanut butter whiskey (!), rum, orange, pineapple, cream of coconut. Doesn’t that sound divine? They’re planning on reopening the rooftop bar and service 6/26, so you should get over there and try one of these!

Of the starters, we sampled a few things including the brussels sprouts, wings, and our favorite the fried cauliflower. Diving straight into our favorite, the fried cauliflower was crispy cauliflower battered and fried to perfection. It’s served with a side of a paprika aioli that was rich and creamy with a hint of spice. What was dynamic about this bite was the crunchy, cheesy crust that was like eating crispy fried cheese! Dip it in the aioli to round out the bite. Spectacular. We also really enjoyed the brussels sprouts that were a great balance of earthiness of the greens and sweetness of the vinaigrette. We loved the addition of the crunchy almonds and meaty bacon to balance out the bite! Also, get down to the bottom of the bowl, that’s where the best flavors and sauce pool together. Rich, meaty, crunchy, earthy! Our tip is to ask for a side of blue cheese and toss it in there to add even more flavor. Beyond the vegetables, we also go some meaty wings dusted in lemon pepper, with the right amount of char and pop of the skin. We were impressed with how meaty the flats were, as well. If you are asked what sauce you want, opt for the paprika aioli. It actually mixes really well with the lemon pepper sauce and is an excellent mix of flavors.

Of the handhelds, Butchers Bun is an over the top ribeye and gruyere sammy with a fantastic garlic aioli, fried onions, and earthy arugula. What a tasty sandwich. It’s so rich and meaty with the tang and tart of the gruyere and earthy of the arugula and the crunch of the onions. Please don’t forget the garlic aioli which was the right amount of creaminess to compliment all the other ingredients. For the best bite, eat it from the bottom, all the juices, melted cheese, aioli and meat come together down there. So. Freakin. Good.

Something you can do to elevate your meal is pair your food with beer! This is the place to do that! We opted for the Queens Weiss from Arches, which is a wheat beer that pairs well with the strong flavor of the gruyere cheese on this dish. Ask your server or bartender what they’d recommend with the food and enjoy. If you could pair a beer and food together what would it be?

Varuni Napoli: Hidden Gem

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 6/22/20

Tucked behind Varuni Napoli’s dining room sits a hidden garden patio with a leafy tree canopy, tons of shade, comfy couches, and a Koi pond. It’s a small oasis in the heart of the busy city that’s perfect for a date night or even after dinner drinks and dessert. Sitting on the patio, we sipped on a white sangria while dining on delicious Neapolitan style pizza and being pampered with the delightful desserts. It was the perfect early Saturday dinner. Let’s dig in.

If you didn’t know, Neapolitan style is known as wet pizza, that can be eaten with a fork and knife. It’s typically hard to pick up with a soft crust near the middle and we dig it. The two we tried were the Bastardo and the Pako. Starting with the Bastardo, it’s one of those dream pizzas that has everything, like the perfect flavor of the cheese and pepperoni and some of the best sauce ever! The sauce, known as Nduja, is spicy with a blend of the Calabrian chili and chili oil mixed with ground up pepperoni, sausage, pancetta, and other types of meat. They dolloped it on and it really was one of those pizzas you didn’t need any salt, garlic, or even parmesan on the top. Amazing. Don’t know if you know but I (Liz) have a threshold issue with dairy, so I asked if they could do one pizza without cheese and they said absolutely, so we got a Pako that boasts of sausage, onions, pepperoni, red peppers, mushrooms, all just without the cheese. Just because you don’t have cheese doesn’t mean you can’t get a ton of flavor out of your pizza! With the spiciness of the sausage, tender pepperoni, and a mound of veggies, there was no lack of flavor from the Pako. What made this pizza was the caramelized onions and paired with the sausage and pepperoni was the perfect combo.

What’s a specialty pizza restaurant without some surprisingly delicious desserts and a good cocktail and wine list? When you arrive, we’d recommend starting off with something refreshing, like the white sangria! A perfect mix of white wine, citrus forward lemon, as well as the right amount of fruit like apple! It’s the perfect patio sipper that’s one-part cool and one-part fresh. They also have a full beer list with local favorites, as well as a large wine list! Salut! After your meal, leave room for a dessert or two like the build your own cannoli or tiramisu! Of the ones we tried, the cannoli was perfectly fried and the cream was light, lemony, and had a lot of chocolate chips. Crunchy and creamy! Our favorite was the Tiramisu, which was deep and rich with fluffy lady fingers and custard and the boozy richness of the crust. So rich and creamy, who can resist?

Just imagine the sunsets and the twinkle lights turn on, turning the hidden patio into a romantic nook for a dinner under the stars. If you could try any of these things, what would it be?

Jekyll Brewing: Island Inspired

Through the thick forest of palm trees, you come upon a tree that’s been uprooted and the limbs are twisted into the soft sand below your feet. There are small black bugs scurrying along the waterline where the gentle waves are afraid to come up any further. When you look down the surf line, you notice that there are at least 50 other trees in contorted formations, one reaches to the sky like a skyscraper, the other one next to it fans out into what almost looks like a peacock. Have you been transported to a Martian moonscape? You’d think so, but, no, you’re in the most beautifully unique place on earth, Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island on the Georgia coastline. This is the beach vibe that you get when you go to Jekyll Brewing in Alpharetta City Center. Our two-part experience brought us unique food and beer options inspired by the island with an array of tasty treats like a whole shellfish menu, low-country options like pork chops, and even southern staples like pork rinds and a fun take on the charcuterie plate. Let’s not forget the bubbly brew, either. Are you ready for some Golden Isles adventure right here in Atlanta? We are!

Remember what Jekyll Brewing first started as, a brewery. They have a large array of beers and seltzers to choose from, like the fact that they have two stouts almost permanently on the menu, to IPAs, sours, and everything in between. One of the best beers on their menu is the Tart Vice that’s a mellow berliner weiss with a ton of raspberry flavor. It’s fruity and refreshing. Also, we must mention that we love their Redneck Christmas Stout! Liz, being a stout drinker loves the minty-cinnamon forward stout that doesn’t make you feel like your drinking a meal. Finally, their HARDly Selzer has so many refreshing flavors: blueberry, blackberry, lavender, hibiscus, peach, and more. They top it with crunchy ice and it’s the perfect thing for their rooftop airstream patio!

Who’s ready to eat? Starting with the pork rinds, when they first arrived, they were still popping from the fryer. Perfectly crisp little numbers that were sprinkled with some slightly spicy seasoning and wedges of limes. The best bite is if you dip the rind in the hot sauce and put some of the lime on there. Meaty, crispy, spicy, and a hint of lime. We also enjoyed the charcuterie plate, which was delightful mix of andouille sausage, Tasso, pimento cheese, buttered crackers, and some very tasty pickled vegetables. The best part was the Tasso, a wonderfully tender cut of meat with some great seasoning. If you put together the cracker, a little bit of the pickled vegetable, pimento cheese, and andouille sausage, what a phenomenal little snack. We also bite into some chicken wings. They are mighty meaty with a ton of chicken, slightly spicy sauce, and some delicious flavoring. Dip it in the buttermilk sauce, cool and creamy!

One thing about Jekyll Brewing that was unexpected is the wonderful healthier options to their southern fare. The tastiest of those was the lite bowl. Tender and juicy salmon nestled on a bed of ancient grains mixed with a light vinaigrette, avocado, tomato, and the best addition, sweet potato! To make this even healthier skip the tzatziki sauce, it’s great even without it. Mix all the ingredients together for a meaty, creamy from the avocado, earthy from the tomato, and hearty from the potatoes bite. Such a balanced and dynamic bowl! We’d recommend you pair it with one of their HARDly seltzer’s like the blackberry!

When you think southern, pork chops and collard greens always come to mind. Why not combine them? The collards were perfectly cooked and loved that it was more leaf than stem, plus it was seasoned just right with a balance of spice and vinegar. The chop itself was very tender, meaty, smoky, and lightly seasoned. Combine those together, so from the char and perfectly cooked chops to the earthiness and saltiness of the greens with the right amount of hot sauce mixed in, we really enjoyed this dish.

Jekyll Island is a utopia of sprawling marshlands and tropical wildlife. Jekyll Brewing brings all the beach and island vibes to Alpharetta. So, grab your large beach hat and take a seat on the patio, you’ll be transported to the Golden Isles. Airstream included.

Park Tavern: Piedmont Park’s Go-To Spot

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 6/16/20

Piedmont Park is one of Atlanta’s best features, boasting miles of walking trails, public amenities, a serene pond, and a fantastic view of the Midtown Skyline. On the corner of Monroe and 10th sits Park Tavern, go-to spot for post-run and group activity patio grub, as well as fresh sangria, cocktails, and a refreshing beer. They have a little bit of everything from fried seafood to tacos, buffalo chicken wings, freshly brewed beer on-site, cocktails, and even buffalo cauliflower to Nashville Hot Chicken. It’s hard not to find something to enjoy after your day at the park, meeting friends, or to just enjoy a cocktail or two. In Real Estate they say, location, location, location. Park Tavern has that in spades and so much more. Parkside adventure ahead, so grab your walking shoes, and come hungry.

Park Tavern isn’t lacking in beer options, since they brew their own beer with everything from an IPA, Pilsner, Amber, and more typically on draft year-round, you can grab a pint and watch the sunset, hang out at the fire pits, or catch the stars over the midtown skyline. Plus, they have tons of cocktail options, and even a tasty red sangria that’s fruity and refreshing. Not big red wine fans, we were surprised by the refreshing citrus and orange forward sangria that was perfectly paired with the sprawling Park Tavern patio and gardens. Impressed.

Of the array of appetizers, the best one of the bunch was the rich and meaty chicken wings with tender meat and the right amount of medium spice. From the crunch of the skin to the meatiness of the chicken and the overall flavor of the sauce, this was a delicious overall bite after a day at the park! We also really enjoyed the buffalo cauliflower, which was perfectly breaded and fried tender cauliflower with a spicy, hot sauce kick on the back-end. It’s spicier than expected. Take a moment to dip it in the blue cheese or ranch, it almost like eating a chicken wing! Creamy. Spicy.

The best handheld was the delicious Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich. The perfect fried chicken filet breaded and fried just right with a serious hot sauce bite. We can’t get over how tender and meaty the chicken turned out to be, plus, the addition of the pickles gave it more crunch and tartness! Let’s not forget the creamy coleslaw that cuts through the spiciness and ending up making the entire bite cool as a cucumber. This dish ramps up the heat and flavor and then cools it. Amazing. Paired with fries, the sandwich is even better if you stuff a few of those seasoned fries on there for a little more crunch! Even better with Park Tavern’s legendary tots. Yum!

So, as the sunsets over the Atlanta Midtown Skyline, park lovers are heading to Park Tavern to find the perfect pairing of beer and wings or sangria and hot chicken. They relax watching the sun fade, feeling good about their day and raising a glass to their night cap at Park Tavern.