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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.

9 Mile Station: Stunning Sunsets Included

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 6/8/20

The orange and yellow rays of the sun fade behind a Midtown skyscraper throwing a cascade of pinks, blues, and purples over the clouds in perfect unison. Once the sun finishes its descent, the lights of the city illuminate the sky with a pale yellow halo. It’s a jaw dropping site that everyone should experience! Sitting on the corner of the Ponce City Rooftop, 9 Mile Station is the go-to place to spend a warm, sunny sunset over the Atlanta Skylines like we just described, while enjoying a refreshing cocktail, and nibbling on a light bite with your favorite people. Stunning sunsets included! On top of that, fill your stomach with great food and drinks that pair well with any weather. Color us impressed.

From a large beer on tap menu, cocktails, wines, and more, 9 Mile Station has a good selection of local and national brews, an array of wines, and a fun cocktail menu. The first cocktail we sampled was One Way Ticket to Mars and it reminded us of the color of the setting sun. In flavor, it is deeper and richer of the two cocktails we tried with a sweet and citrus nose to start and finished off with slight mint and tart. From the deepness and warmth of the whiskey, to the richness of the passionfruit, to the mint, lemon, and bubbles, it’s a fun drink to sip all the way around. Also, beautifully presented in a champagne flute, you’d never know it was a whiskey and sparkling wine combo cocktail. Our second cocktail was refreshing and perfect for the rooftop, sunset vibe you get from 9 Mile Station. The Rose All Day 2.0 is a combination of gin, hint of lemon, rose wine, and sparkling rose wine. It’s one of those drinks you could sit on their ledge seating and just sip on for hours. You’d never get tired of the view or the drink.

From sipping a cocktail while taking in the sunset view, why not stay for a bite while you relax at the firepit and enjoy the nighttime vibe by the fire? They have some delicious options, we were impressed with the array of starters, as well as entrees. Plus, 9 Mile Station has blown us away with their presentation. Seriously beautiful, like the croquets had an array of color and the wings were stunning. It elevates the experience, like your eating at an upscale restaurant!

One of the best little all-around balanced bites was the smoked trout croquettes. They are a delicious ball of flavor from the light, flaky fish, perfectly crunchy fried shell, and the earthiness and cream of the mint tarragon yogurt. Make sure to get yogurt and a bite of the pickled onions in each bite, it’s perfection. Beyond that, the lemon pepper wings were some of the best wings in Atlanta. The whole wing was perfectly cooked, charred evenly, and the skin popped when you took a bite. The lemon pepper sauce was balanced with the right amount of lemon and pepper, as well as the richness of the butter. We cannot say enough about how delicious these wings on their own, you MUST but dip every bite in that perfect Alabama White BBQ sauce, because it’s one of the best white sauces EVER. The perfect blend of spices and creaminess is to die for. What a wonderful bite!

When you enter the elevator to Ponce City Market and head to the roof, you know you’re in for something special. You get that on the roof. Beautiful views, food, drinks, and if you still have room for more fun, why not try your hand at a carnival game or a round of mini-golf? Next time we head up to the roof, we’re going to try a 9 Mile Station Beer Smash (beer cocktail) and eyeing the smoked baby back ribs. Reservation for two, please.

Surin of Thailand: Thai Taco Tuesday

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 2/15/20

On a heavily traveled corner of the Virginia Highlands, Surin of Thailand has been a long-time staple of the community serving up Thai food favorites like volcano pot soup, curries, fried rice dishes, and even Thai-inspired cocktails. We arrived on a Tuesday evening, where the restaurant was relatively busy, and found that even a Thai restaurant can get you into the Taco Tuesday mood. Let’s take a food adventure into everything Surin of Thailand.

Starting with the Surin Sour it’s a whiskey-based cocktail that also includes lemon, bitters, banane, and orgeat. This cocktail is boozy up front that finishes sweet, plus it’s a good drinkable cocktail that is noticeably frothy and rather smooth. Not being a big whiskey drinker, it was nice to get a cocktail like this that I would drink again and enjoy. We really enjoyed it. Cheers.

For our starter, what doesn’t scream Thai restaurant than spicy Coconut Soup in a Volcano Pot? Amiright? This soup lived up to the hype with creamy coconut milk, tender chicken and mushrooms all served piping hot! It was creamy and rich with a slightly spicy finish all wrapped up into that Volcano Pot that keeps the soup hot. Reminds us of a cold winter night by the fire! We’ll be back for more.

We also got, Nuer Nom Tok, a Thai take on a taco. From the spicy beef to the delectable soy-based sauce to the crunch of the cabbage, you can pile it all into one bite wrapped in a piece of cabbage or eat it like a salad. The beef was very tender and paired well with the rich and deep sauce and the crunch of the vegetables. Plus, what made this dynamic was that the spice grew as you ate, which went so well with all the flavors that this dish had going on. What’s a taco that doesn’t have multiple flavors and spice? It was even better the next day for lunch! Love!

As the main, we went for the Salmon entrée that comes with a sweet and spicy creamy thai sauce paired with tender broccoli, crunchy peppers, and savory rice. The salmon was flaky and cooked perfectly with a slight char on the back of the bite. With the creamy, sweet, spicy sauce really went well with the entire plate: the crunch of the peppers, savory of the rice, tender of the broccoli. Mix it all together and you’ve got a great bite. So good.

We didn’t get to try a few other things but the Chicken Larb sounded good, as well as any of the fried rice dishes. We will be back for those on our next Taco Tuesday adventure. We think Chicken Larb wrapped in the cabbage can also be a Thai Taco adventure. Are you in?

How to Eat and Drink at Dragon Con: Meal Hacks and Secret Drink Spots

It’s the sign of a seasoned con-goer to bring their own pre-mixed drinks, beer, and snacks along with you to a con. Typically, we lug around a large backpack with drinks or even a few times: a rolling suitcase. It becomes cumbersome. What if you didn’t have to do any of that? We’ve found some meal hacks, as well as secret (or not so secret) drink spots. Next Dragon Con you too can meal hack or find these secret drink spots and leave the baggage at home! Enjoy!

Sure, you can hoof it to the food court where the lines are long and the food is mediocre (except Aviva, we’d hoof it there for you) or you could grab a tall boy or 12 at Sols but don’t go on Saturday because you’re not getting in the door any time soon. What we found is that you can get good service, good food, reasonable prices at a few places and FAST. How? Two words: the bar. Two more words: off hours.

We found going in and sitting at the bar at off hours was the best way to eat (or drink) at Dragon Con. First, Gus’ Chicken for the price of the food court and without all the people, you could get a seat at the bar, and get in and out for a meal with soda only about $14. They also have a la carte and so you can mix and match your soul food favorites together to make your perfect meal. Don’t get us started on the chicken either, it’s fresh, good portions, and juicy. Top that you can get a big tall 40 for about 7 bucks. Split it with someone, it’s almost a pitcher!

Second is Tin Lizzy’s because first off we are Mexican food connoisseurs and second because they have $3 PBR tall boys. Pick your taco(s) and a side for less than $10. Prefer just a snack? Chips and salsa are reasonable, one taco runs about $4, or you could get tater tots app. Top it off with a PBR tall boy for $3. They do have 24 oz domestic light beers, but they’re more, and the PBR is the best deal. Now, mixed drinks are pricy here, we’d just recommend that Voodoo bucket of rum in the Hyatt for about the same price as a large margarita.

If you don’t want a meal but maybe just an affordable drink or maybe something sweet head to the Hyatt. First, on the lower level near the pool, there’s a small bar with some local favorites like Wild Heaven Emergency Drinking Beer for only $5. They also have a Brooklyn IPA. If you opt for a larger beer, they’re more. Again, anything beyond these two like mixed drinks or wine are pricier and we’d again just recommend that Voodoo Bucket of Rum for the price. While your down there, we swung by High Road Ice Cream out near the pool for a sweet treat. They brought their A game with their little Wallop Ice Cream Balls. They were only $2 each and had a variety of flavors like dark chocolate cookie dough and mint, peanut butter and strawberry, almond, and chocolate chip cookie dough with sweet cream (fave). Mix and match a few or just eat one.

If you’re in the Hilton, you don’t need to go to the Hyatt, stay there. Two good options there were local brewery Red Hare SPF 50/50 Tangerine or Grapefruit for $6 or if it’s Thursday Mai Tais at Trader Vic’s were only $6.

Eat and drink well Dragon Con!

Bistro Off Broad: Big City Eats with Small Town Charm

A short walk from the downtown Courthouse in Winder is a small bistro that has big city eats, nestled in a charming small town. It’s worth the drive from Atlanta to peruse the windows of the small shops and stop in for Brunch at Bistro Off Broad. Great cocktails and sparklers, as well as delicious appetizers and hearty brunch items. Get your fork out, it’s time to take a food adventure with us.

The long bar invites you into Bistro off Broad and they have a serious wine, beer, and cocktail list, along with specialty brunch drinks. Focusing on brunch, we sampled the bottomless sparklers that included four unique mimosas and Bellinis. Get. This. When. You. Go. They were all worth a sip and it was so tough to pick one to feature, so decided to feature them all. Starting with the Raspberry Bellini, it was simply raspberry puree and sparkling prosecco that was refreshing and sweet. The Peach Bellini also combined a peach puree with the sparkling prosecco, but it turned out more tart forward and brought out the tart in the wine. In between the sweet of the two Bellinis were the Mimosa and the Poinsettia. The Mimosa had a good mix of orange juice and brut champagne, not too sweet, not too tart. The Poinsettia incorporated cranberry and brut champagne, as well, but the brut brought out the sweet of the cranberry, so it was more balanced. Take your pick, you won’t go wrong.

Once you move from the bar into the dining room, gorgeous chandeliers hang strategically over each table. They were the first thing we noticed! The second thing we noticed was the full brunch menu full of delicious eats like fresh salads, benedicts, hashes, biscuits and gravy, and everything you can think of you’d ever want for brunch. We opted for several dishes, apps, and sides including deviled eggs, wings, corned beef hash, farmer’s scramble, and Brussel sprouts.

For the apps, the wings were beautifully stacked and looked almost too pretty to dig into. You wouldn’t be disappointed though when you did because they were sweet, salty, fall off the bone good. With a sticky, spicy Asian sauce then slightly charred they had the right amount of sauce and meat. Followed that up by the Reuben Deviled Eggs that were some of the best we’ve had in all of Atlanta.  These beauties were delicately whipped savory egg filling topped with tangy onion and a meaty piece of corned beef. Underneath is a tart and tangy ground mustard that gives it a flavor pop at the end.

For the entrees, the corned beef hash combined real thick cut-corned beef, roasted potatoes, onions and peppers, topped by a runny egg. It was savory, sweet, decadent, salty, and we could go on! If you’re looking for a healthy option, may we suggest the farmer’s scramble with mushroom, corn, green beans, and scrambled eggs. Let’s not leave out the Brussel sprouts side. This is something that we always get because it’s a good food to add brightness and crunch to a meal and we could eat them every day. These were very good with the right amount of crunch, along with a smoky, onion, and savory bacon flavor. It was the right combination of flavors that we wouldn’t add anything to it! They do offer it with a sauce, but it was really good even with out it.

With that we’re throwing in the towel! Stuffed and happy. Isn’t that how all Brunch should end?

Black Walnut Cafe: Fine Dining in a Fast-Casual Setting (Atlanta Locations Closed)

Black Walnut Café out of Houston, TX, has opened in Atlanta, settling near all the action in Peachtree Corners and Alpharetta. This café has a lounge where you can sit and chat with your friends, a bar where you can grab a drink and an appetizer, or you can order at the counter and sit in the dining room. Opting for the bar at the Peachtree Corners location, we got several delicious fast-casual dishes that ate like fine dining. From the Salmon to the Shrimp and Grits, as well as the hand-made cocktails, Black Walnut Café really does fine dining in a fast-casual setting.

We sampled the BWC Grand Mimosa and the Ginger Peach Lemonade. The mimosa was a good balance of champagne, orange juice, and Gran Marnier, while the Ginger Peach Lemonade mixed the sweet peach syrup, fresh sliced peaches, and tangy ginger. Both drinks were tasty! Fun fact: the bar tenders hand squeezed the juice themselves!

As far as the main entrees, the salmon was cooked perfectly to a silky quality that melted in your mouth. Contrasted to the smooth fish was the sweet and savory of the honey ginger sauce that was deep and tangy. You combine that with the crunch of the peppers and snap peas rounded out the dish with some brightness and depth! Along with the fish, we had the Shrimp and Grits that was perfectly seasoned with the right amount of spice to offset the creaminess of the grits. On top of that, the grits could have stood on their own with the addition of savory bacon and crunchy scallions. Both great dishes all the way around.

Yum.