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Tiki Tango: Island Paradise

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 10/8/20

Once you step into Tiki Tango, you’re whisked away to a tropical island with all the sights and sounds of the jungle. You can imagine the palm trees hanging low, nestled close to a beautiful sprawling beach and the sound of the rain hitting the hut roof. There’s a humidity in the air beckoning you to grab a cocktail, so why not go for the best Tiki cocktail in Atlanta, Tiki Tango, or the striking Cobra’s Fang and even a classic boozy Mai Tai? Plus, did you know they have some fun, seriously delicious sharable bites? Come, join us on an island adventure that you won’t forget.

Tiki Tango is known for their stellar cocktails and we can’t speak any more highly about the Tiki Tango signature cocktail. It’s truly a perfect tiki cocktail, the best we’ve had in Atlanta. While you sip it, you can feel the pineapple and warm rum wash over you. The sweetness mixes well with the tea bitters, which really make this drink unique. Rich. Sweet. Tart. Slightly fruity. Perfect. There’s something naughty about the Cobra’s Fang with a balanced combo of rum, bitters, passionfruit, then it hits you. It creeps up on you and bites right when you least expect it, Demerara 151. One part boozy, one part sweet, it’s a fun drink. We’d recommend you share! Finally, no tiki bar is truly a tiki bar without doing the Mai Tai well. This was truly a great Mai Tai. We’ve had a ton and most of the time they come off sweet or watered down, this one was strong, booze forward with light citrus, lime, and the slight nuttiness of the almond. Refreshing and cool, but strong and tart, this is a solid cocktail.

Again, who knew that Tiki Tango had a great sharable menu? From our favorite Tiki Tango Tuna, plus the pineapple forward and refreshing Mauna Loa Hummus, to the Sticky Huli Huli Wings with a great sauce, crispy and tasty turmeric fried okra, and of course crispy flamingo fries with a freakin fantastic cucumber wasabi aioli, you can’t sleep on these bites.  Starting with the fresh and bright Tiki Tango Tuna, we loved the tender tuna atop of earthy and slightly peppery greens that mixed well with the savory vinaigrette and wasabi. It was a culmination of rich fish, earthy and tart ginger, greens, and the slight spice of the wasabi to be a balanced bite.

You don’t see many fried okra appetizers on menus around Atlanta, but who doesn’t love a good fried okra? The Turmeric Fried Okra was no exception with a crispy, slightly spicy, and rich batter that went well with the crunchy okra. Okra is a finicky vegetable and sometimes gets stringy or gooey, this one wasn’t! It had the right amount of crunch and tenderness! We think we can all agree that wings are always a good idea for the table, and the Sticky Huli Huli Wings didn’t disappoint. The stand-out was the slightly spicy, but sweet chili lime sauce that was just the right amount with the meat of the wings. The sauce was definitely sticky, but was delicious, wet naps required. One thing that we didn’t anticipate was how much we’d enjoy the pineapple-forward and savory Mauna Loa Hummus. We are now in love with the hummus and pineapple combo, it’s something we didn’t know you could even pair. It has the perfect balance of savory chick peas and crunchy sweet of the pineapple. We all agreed this one was fantastic! The Flamingo Fries were cut like a plank, which made it easy to shovel the cucumber wasabi aioli into our mouths. Spicy, creamy, cool, sweet, savory, four stars on the sauce. Can we get this on EVERYTHING?

Out back on the patio, the cool night breeze picked up and remind us about those long summer nights at the beach. The last of our cocktails dwindled and the tiki lights began to grow louder. We reminisced about our favorites, so we’d love to know what you’d like to try at Tiki Tango. Next time we’re getting the drink they set on fire.

Fresco Cantina Grille: Fresh is right in the name.

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 9/27/20

We came for the Summer Sippin Cocktail and stayed for the fresh food. And fresh is right in the name and we must agree, Fresco Cantina Grille is a perfect mix of fresh ingredients and classic Mexican fare! From perfectly seasoned classic street tacos, to a wonderful triple dip, to one of the best margaritas in all of Atlanta, you’re in for a fiesta! Plus, we went on Taco Tuesday, the holiest of taco days and if you’re looking for a good Taco Tuesday spot, the street tacos we mention below are two bucks! It was such a great price without skimping on the taste. Let’s dig in.

Whatever you do, make sure to get the fresh Pico de Gallo, guacamole, and queso trio. You can mix and match the trio with all your food! Like the freshly chopped Pico de Gallo with sweetness of corn and savory of tomatoes. We put this on everything and was the best topping for any taco! The guacamole was the right amount of spice and creaminess, while the queso goes with just about everything and was thick and creamy, as well. We mixed the guacamole and Pico together some and that was really fantastic, fresh and bright!

But we must profess our love for their Elote side dish! It was the star of the show with a great crunch and sweetness, topped with creamy cheese. Plus, the lemony, tangy, and sweet mayonnaise and that right amount of spicy seasoning rounded out the bite and brought it all together. Fantastic bite! Must try! The other side we got were the yuca fries. A hefty amount of yuca perfectly fried and topped with a little bit of cheese. Our advice is to use the fries instead of chips for your triple dip. The starchy and crisp goes so well with the creamy cheese or earthy guacamole. Yum.

For our Taco Tuesday fix, we got an array of tacos and really enjoyed the Al Pastor street taco and the tilapia regular taco the most. Starting with the Pastor, it was the perfect little bite with sweet and savory of the pork juxtaposed with the pineapple. This is one of those tacos that you don’t need to put anything on it. Just very good, plain and simple! Then, we loved the freshness of the tilapia and the fantastic sauce. Pro tip: top with guacamole and the fresh Pico, it adds a crunch and earthiness that pairs well with the flakiness of the fish and the creaminess of the sauce. We also liked the carnitas and barbacoa street tacos, and fried chicken regular taco. The carnitas and barbacoa were both rich and meaty, while the fried chicken was crunchy and creamy with a mayo-based sauce!

What brought us here was the Summer Sippin cocktail, the Blackberries Hot Volcano Margarita, and it was one of the best margaritas we’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. A blackberry muddled cocktail, shaken on a drink contraption, with spicy tequila and topped with a Snow cone that’s drenched in mango syrup. It was slightly spicy with the tart and sweetness of the blackberries, lime, and triple sec culminated in a flavor explosion when the mango seeped into the drink and brought a delightful sweetness on the back. It was an inventive and fun cocktail that we hope they keep on the menu!

Now that we think about it, we need to go back for the margarita before it’s gone.

Bistro Niko: Taste of Paris

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 9/11/20

When you walk into Bistro Niko, you’re transported out of Buckhead to a quaint café on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. You can just feel the Parisian air filled with soft music, the smell of baguettes and the clatter of patrons enjoying their wine. From French staples like fantastic escargot, charcuterie, tartes, cocktails, and French inspired Skate Wing, there’s a little bit of that French inspiration in every dish. Would you take a stroll down to the Arc de Triomphe with us?

Starting with the hors d’oeuvres, we sampled the escargot, Jambon de asparagus, a little bit of the country pate plate, as well as the best little salmon tarte.  The favorite of these was the fresh and bright smoked salmon tarte with it’s slow-smoked in house and tender salmon atop a crisp “French pizza” bread and drizzled with an amazing crème fraiche. With the salt and slight fishiness of the salmon, crisp of the bread, creaminess of the crème, and earthiness of the minced onion and capers, it was a balance and delicious bite. A lox bagel all grown up!

Plus, who knew we loved escargot this much? Something we don’t eat very often, this is going on the “we need to try more” list, because it’s so rich and decadent you need your own bowl. You won’t want to share. From the buttery-goodness of the sauce surrounding the salty snail to the crunch and heft of the puff pastry, to the slight cheesiness around it, it was a fantastic little mouth full. It had so much deepness that it was unforgettable. Eat the entire bite at once. YUM.

Moving on to the Jambon and Pate, the Jambon, which is known to us as prosciutto, was PERFECTLY cut and literally would melt in your mouth. One of the best prosciutto slices we’ve ever tasted, the flavor itself was phenomenal! Perfectly paired with crunchy and tender asparagus, crunchy lettuce, and a rich poached egg, it was an all-around great bite. Salty, rich, crunchy, tasty. The traditional country pate reminded us of a make-your-own sandwich. Accompanied by crunchy lettuce, bread, pickles, and mustard, you could add all of it in one bite or eat the pate plain. The best bite here was to put some of the pate, lettuce, mustard, and one pickle on top. It’s a crunchy, salty, and meaty bite. Now, that’s a sandwich!

Don’t leave Bistro Niko without trying the chef’s favorite dish, Skate Wing. Something you don’t see very often on menus, we had to jump at the chance to try it this once. Let us tell you, it’s super rich and delectable! Starting with the ray itself, it starts out with a crunch on the outside and ends with tender and meaty, lightly salty on the back. Perfectly cooked in a brown butter that is so rich and deep that it simply melts in your mouth. The Skate is paired with tender spinach and potatoes to add earthiness and balance out the buttery fish. It was one of the best fish dishes we’ve had this year with so many complex flavors, yet so simple. We’d highly recommend!

What would a French dinner be without wine and cocktails? Not very Parisian, right? So, with each course, we sampled a different cocktail. With the escargot and Jambon we sampled the Trois Martini. This beauty is the perfect mix of vodka infused with strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry. It drinks just as juicy and bright as the fruit in it but with the vodka booze on the back. It’s so refreshing and good. With our second course of the tarte and pate, we decided to go with a wine cocktail mix called the Specialite Le St. Germain. One of the best champagne cocktails you can find here in Atlanta, it’s a delicate balance of floral St. Germain, champagne, and club soda. The perfect Parisian patio sipper with fizzy bubbles followed by floral notes and ending cool and crisp. Last but not least, with the Skate we enjoyed our favorite sip of the day, the Nouvelle Vie. Made with one of our favorite gins, Highclere Castle Gin and shaken with elderflower, Chareau, and Cucumber, it’s a dynamic all-around crowd pleaser. Imagine the earthy and piney of the gin on the front and finishes with floral and cucumber on the back. So flavorful and bold, this one is a must try.

The late lunch in the French café seeped into the evening and the lights of the Eiffel Tower started to glow in the background. The delicious meal now fading into memory but will mark an unforgettable portion of our trip to Bistro Niko, that spot that reminds us of Paris.

Fin.

New Realm Brewing Company: Beer and Bites Perfectly Paired

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 2/9/20

Walking down the Beltline, it’s hard to miss New Realm Brewery and that beautiful rooftop bar. It’s the perfect place to stop in for a beer, but make sure you go hungry, because they will also rapidly become a food destination. Mark our words, where world-class beer making meets elevated southern fare is New Realm Brewing Company, a patchwork of meatballs and creamy grits, beer can chicken, newly added distilled spirits, and beer aficionados discussing the newest bourbon barrel release. Tasty pairings ahead.

Our first stop on our food adventure is with the Asian-Style Loaded Fries. From the crispy and piping hot mound of French fries to the tender and deep pork, topped with a savory garlic aioli and spicy sriracha, it was a complete and balanced bite. The creaminess of the aioli mixed with the sriracha goes from creamy to spicy and then mellows out with the pork. It paired well with the Hazy Like A Fox or Hoptropolis IPA because of the bitterness of the beer and the spicy and creaminess of the fries balance each other out. What a great appetizer and pairing.

Tackling Liz’s favorite bite next, the Spanish-Style Tomato Braised Pork Meatballs, were a bite of heaven. These gems were light pork meatball, perfectly tender and earthy, topped with tasty marinara and placed on top of creamy, rich grits. The mix of grits and marinara and the richness of the meat was so good that we ate the entire thing. If you could get one thing at New Realm, this is it. As far as pairing, it’s so heavy, we liked the United Lager with it. Something light and easy drinking.

Of the larger plates, we went for the Beer Can Smoked Chicken (featured image). With tender bone-in, skin-on tender, lightly smoky on top of summer succotash (corn), and garlic mashed potatoes, it was a staple southern dish elevated to southern classic. The chicken was tender with slightly smoky flavor throughout and went well with the succotash of corn and the creaminess and depth of the mashed potatoes. You need to take the chicken and mix it with everything else. What a great bite! Since this chicken has the Hazy Like a Fox glaze, of course it pairs well with the IPA, BUT could we suggest the Oaxaca Choca or Doomsday Hound Wooded Reserve (or any stout on their menu)? The chicken is smoky, which to us pairs well with something a little heavier and cuts through the smokiness of the chicken and balances it out! The Oaxaca Choca stout reminds you of Christmas with cinnamon forward nose, mellowing out on the end. What’s better than that and a hearty Christmas-like meal?

John’s favorite was the pizza. We got the Meat Head Pizza and it was crispy, hearty, and filled with all types of meat, it was savory. He ate on that pizza for a couple of days it was so large. It’s a good deal for what you get and make sure you bring a friend to help you finish it! Pro tip: Liz decided she wanted to pile some of the fries with sriracha on her piece of pizza and it was amazing that way. Added spice and creaminess and tons of crunch. As far as beer pairing, you can have anything with it. That’s not a cop-out that’s a testament to the elevated beer brewing skills at New Realm. Pizza and beer just go together from a lager, an IPA, to the Perun Pale Ale to that delicious Chocolate Sea Salt Imperial Ale that literally tasted like a King of Pop Popsicle.

Did you know that New Realm is going to start rolling out more Seltzers and even has started to distill their own liquor? You heard us, you can get a liquor drink or a seltzer right now at New Realm. They have vodka, gin, and bourbon and mixers like soda, cranberry, or even Bloody Mary and Red Bull. So, Next time we walk the beltline, we’re going to make sure to try something new on the New Realm provisions menu and find a new favorite beer. Maybe the Spicy Korean Pork Cheek Buns and another one of the Wooded Reserve Barrel Aged Series Beers? Maybe a Bloody Mary on the weekend? Yes, please. What are you doing next weekend?