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Joy Cafe Atlanta

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 12/20/20

We heard a rumor that Joy Café in Midtown serves up the best brunch in the city, but what we know for absolute certainty is that they have a delectable dinner menu and specialty cocktails! The second you walk in; you’re greeted with a larger-than-life Christmas tree in the center of the dinning room. With babbles and ornaments, tons of colorful lights, packages, and a train running around the bottom, what stands out is the word Joy. Not only is Joy Café have it in it’s name, it’s a testament to the love and you know we’re going to say it, joy, that goes into every dish and cocktail that they make. Like the tree, larger-than-life flavors and textures are in every bite, like the best southern fried chicken we’ve found in Atlanta, the healthy salmon, savory pork belly ribs, “southerned-up” ahi tuna ceviche, amazing cocktails, and unforgettable homemade hot sauce. Who’s ready to eat?

During the holidays, Joy Café turns their bar into a holiday pop-up with fresh, unique cocktails that meld simple, yet diverse flavors. The three from the holiday cocktail menu included Cuddly as a Cactus, Stocking Stuffer, and The Milk and Cookies Santa Really Wants. Our favorite of the three was the Grinch-inspired Cuddly as a Cactus (charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch). You ending up singing that last bit, didn’t you? From the black coupe to the green hue, it packs a ton of flavors like chartreuse, citrus, but very little smoke of the mezcal. It comes off very balanced between the bold chartreuse flavors and the citrus.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Stocking Stuffer that’s coated in candy cane flecks and sugar, this one starts off sweet and milky of the egg then comes around and hits you with bold peppermint. It’s a Christmas treat to say the least. We can’t agree more with The Milk and Cookies Santa Really Wants. Boozy kahlua shot inside a fresh homemade cookie glass you can eat after? Yes, please. Plus, the cookie is so good you may want to get TWO, just for the cookie! Now, that’s definitely what Santa would approve.

Starting off with a couple of appetizers, we opted for the Pork Belly Ribs and the Ahi Tuna Ceviche. One of the favorite bites of the night, had to be the ceviche with creamy guacamole, perfectly tender and marinated in bloody mary mix tuna then topped with fried onions. We think it is genius that they added a hint of southern with the fried onions. They’re delightfully and really gives this dish a uniqueness! It comes off with all the flavors, creamy, meaty, crunchy, and tart. As for the Pork Belly Ribs, you’re in for a hearty, rich treat with so many bold and dynamic flavors. From the tender and perfectly cooked belly to the chunky and rich grits to a phenomenal hot sauce, you end up with a meaty, earthy, creamy, and spicy bite all in one. Speaking of the homemade hot sauce, you must try it. It has peppers in it, perfectly seasoned, creamy, and very spicy and puts those boring one-note hot sauces to shame. It’s on the pork belly and comes with the fried chicken, but we bet you could put it on just about anything.

Speaking of the fried chicken, we cannot stop thinking about this dish. It’s perfect. The crunchy, crispy, and oh, so naughty skin peels back to reveal a tender and juicy bird. The skin is so good with rich buttermilk, the right amount of spices, and that unforgettable crunch. But don’t forget to eat with the meat because it’s so tender it just falls right off the bone. This dish comes with not-your-mommas mac and cheese that’s so rich and cheesy. On the other side, we also opted for a healthier option, the Salmon. Just because we said it was healthier, we didn’t mean a lack of flavor. The succulent salmon is topped with a light creamy, lemony sauce atop a bead of mixed lentils, chick peas, celery, carrots, and more. The accoutrements are a lot like a cassoulet but just on the light side without too much fuss.  It’s nicely seasoned and the crunch goes so well with the tenderness of the salmon and the lightness of the sauce.

Save room for dessert, because here comes the Milk and Cookies Pie that we’ve heard they’re famous for! It looks more like a cake, but definitely eats like a pie. Light and airy filling paired with cookie crust, you can imagine you’re eating literal milk and cookies. Now that you’ve had a few things on the menu, what do you want to try? For us, next time, meatloaf! We also must get out and try this brunch too. We have to confirm that rumor.

STK Atlanta

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 9/3/20

The large glass doors open slowly to reveal a swanky, low-light opulent bar, and luxury greeting space dotted with flashes of lights and a smooth beat permeating the air with cool vibes. STK Atlanta is one cool cat with sleek design and top-notch service, but don’t let its vibe fool you, they’re also very serious about their food. Everything your traditional steak house offers like a myriad of perfect cuts of steak, sauces, decadent sides to fun happy hour dishes like the rich beef tartare, stellar seafood options like the sea bass to specialty cocktails that reminisce of a hip night club. Our chef’s tasting had all of this, plus a dash of pizzazz to culminate in one of the most epic of culinary journey’s the city has to offer. Are you ready to be amazed?

Starting with our first course, the beef tartar. Beautifully presented, this beauty is packed with flavors, like the richness of the tender beef juxtaposed to the creaminess and tartness of the horseradish and earthiness of the olives. Mix that all up and pile it on a large, crunchy banana chip and you got a complete array of textures. We can’t get over how crunchy and hearty this dish turned out to be in the end. What better way to start your meal with a little bit of beef, and a cool sweet drink to complete it? With this course we sipped on the Strawberry Cobbler. A sweet and sassy pink drink that’s one-part sweet and tart strawberry and one-part boozy vodka martini. Finish it off with a sweet and rich graham cracker crust rim and you have a dessert in a glass. Pinky up.

Something we can’t stop thinking about is the second course dish, the sea bass. A fantastic and flaky, melt-in-your-mouth piece of decadence simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and dusted with butter. Even thought it is simply done, it is perfection. Just image that perfectly done fish on top of a fava bean puree mixed with fava beans, snap peas, and butter. It was soft, light, buttery, earthy, and crunchy. It had the gamut of flavors and knocked our socks off. Mark our words, this is one of the best fish dishes in Atlanta. For best bite, mix all the dish ingredients together. With our sea bass, we opted for the Shake Your Honey Maker cocktail. Their take on the tiki cocktail with a blend of pineapple, rum, honey, and vanilla. This was my (Liz’s) favorite cocktail because it reminded me of a cool beach day, sitting under an umbrella, watching the ocean waves crash on the beach. It was the beach in a glass. Don’t forget to get some of the sugar rim for something a little sweeter!

Have you ever had an experience that went down as one of the best of your lives? Enter the Tomahawk Steak with truffle and butter. Brought to the table plain, the butter is slathered on top and then the truffle is sliced FRESH right in front of you and layered on top of the steak. Beyond the top-notch presentation, it comes with all-out decadent sides and so many sauces, you almost have an endless combination of flavors to choose! Starting with the steak itself, tender and medium temperature, it has everything you’d imagine in a perfect steak with that meaty burst up front and a slight char on the back. Topped with the butter and truffle, you get a ton of creaminess up front, but the truffle comes in and mellows it into an earthy, creamy, meaty bite. You really don’t need ANY sauce for this gorgeous piece of meat, but if you do you can mix and match to find your favorite combination. With the butter and the truffle, we found that you can brighten up the bite with the chimichurri sauce or turn up the richness with the au poivre. If some tartness is what you’re looking for to pair with the butter and earthiness of the truffle and butter, why not MIX both the STK sauce and the STK sauce with sriracha? No matter what you pick, you’re in for a real treat. Perfection on a plate.

You can’t go to a steak house and not get an array of fabulous sides that are beyond good. From the truffle mac n cheese to the jalapeno cheese grits and the newest side, egg-in-a-hole, you’re taste buds are in for a roller coaster! The best of the three was the truffle mac n cheese, which was so rich, deep, cheesy, creamy, and earthy, there’s no way to you’re NOT finish that whole thing. It’s one of those sides you can’t stop eating. They also offer bacon, lobster, and other flavors to top on there, but for just the base mac n cheese it’s one of the best we’ve ever had, EVER. The jalapeno cheese grits were the perfect blend of out-of-control cheesy to slightly spicy. Plus, the egg-in-a-hole was a fun, different side with a runny egg that created a sauce over the succulent mushrooms. Which side would you choose?  Put us down for some more mac n cheese, please.

To end our epic night of decadence, was the dessert board with a little bit of every dessert on the menu. We sampled the bag of donuts, cheesecake, chocolate cake, and the cookie sundae. Each were delicious in their own way, the cheesecake with hints of key lime and rich crust was tart and slightly sweet, while the donuts were flaky, puffy, and sweet with spicy or sweet dipping sauce. These are good for those who like their desserts on the lighter and sweeter side. Of all the desserts, the chocolate cake and the cookie sundae stood out. Being a decadent dessert lover, we both really enjoyed the chocolate cake. It was an explosion of rich, dark chocolate with tender cake. The cookie sundae was so rich, chocolate-forward, and delicious topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce. This was Liz’s favorite because it was warm, gooey, and so deep and rich that it was the perfect icing on the cake for this great meal.

Did we mention we wish we would have worn our elastic waist pants? With the evening winding down and the darkness coming over the buildings, we left happy and stuffed. This is one of those meals, you’d never forget! So, next time you’re in midtown, whether you want a light bite for happy hour, which they have daily with great deals, or in for a full meal, this is the spot to go. Next time, I want to try that $5 Lil’ Burger for happy hour. It’s so cute and looks amazing! What do you want to try?

Hoyle’s Kitchen & Bar: Marietta Gem Has Amazing Food!

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 11/10/19

It was one of those nights where the rain started to fall, and the traffic was a challenge. There’s nothing like one of the best meals we’ve ever had, wonderful pairings with beer and wine, and the company of foodie friends to make things right with the world. That’s the experience we had at Hoyle’s Kitchen and Bar in Marietta. It’s an unassuming restaurant out near the Big Chicken, but has delicious apps featuring tempura cauliflower that was the hit of the night. Entrees include Crisp Brick Chicken with a delectable rub, and Sous Vide Sirloin that nestled Brussel sprouts and steak in a melody of flavors. Are you hungry yet? Let’s dive into the details.

The star of the evening had to be the Tempura Cauliflower as everyone raved about the sweet and spicy, lightly fried morsels. From the lightly fried tempura batter to the sweet chili glaze and topped with sriracha aioli, it truly was one of the best bites! It was sweet, spicy, savory, and crunchy. It was perfectly paired with a J. Vineyards Pinot Gris that was light and went well with the sweet and spicy of the cauliflower! This appetizer is a must-try when you head over to Hoyle’s!

All the main course dishes were top notch, so let’s take a journey through all of them. Yes, all of them. They were all something you should try! Let’s start with the Pan Seared Salmon. One of our go-to menu items is always the salmon and can be a good test to if the restaurant is good or not. This one was so tender and flaky, it fell apart. It was succulent, sweet, and savory on top of poblano cous-cous that was creamy and salty with a hint of ginger-soy dressing. A great bit when you mix it all up together: savory and Asian inspired.

If you could have one dish the rest of your life, this is it, the Crispy Brick Chicken! The chicken was perfectly brined in a local IPA and smoked in the house smoker! After that, it is crisped on the grill and rubbed with spices. It was almost like a barbeque fried chicken when you top it with Alabama white sauce. Placing the chicken on poblano mac and cheese and green beans. Saucy, sweet, tender, crispy, need we say more? Whatever you do, cut up the chicken, mix in the sauce between the chicken and the mac and cheese and eat it all together. OMG! It was also wonderfully paired with a Merlot that was deep and rich, just like the dish. One of our favorites of the evening!

In an answer to a country favorite, the 10 oz Frenched Pork Chop is a sweet addition to the menu with its maple bourbon beurre blanc. The chop is tender and melds well with the cheddar grits, that give it a savory and sharp taste. The whole dish is made when you add that sunny side up egg and it covers the chops and grits, creating a savory balance to the sweet of the sauce and sous vide. Best drink pairing of night right here with the sweet of the dish and the sweet of Terrapin MooHoo. You’d think that would be too sweet, but it works well and the MooHoo actually mellows the sweetness of the meat perfectly.

More of a steak and potatoes lover? Don’t worry, get the Sous Vide Sirloin. The sirloin is Sous Vide with butter and thyme to tenderize the meat and cooked to perfection. It was very tender and sat on smashed fingerling potatoes and maple bourbon glazed crispy Brussel sprouts. This is all drizzled with caramelized onion-wild mushroom demi. It’s one of those bites where if you can get it all on the fork, DO IT. It’s rich, savory, crisp, and deep all in one bite.

Next time you want some of the best food in the city, get up to Hoyles’ Kitchen and Bar. We love this restaurant and want everyone to know about it. RUN. DRIVE. TAKE THE BUS up there today!