Friday, February 26, 2010

Tofu Village Korean BBQ

Last Sunday was the perfect day. Perfect in the sense that it included:
  • No waste of daylight (I woke up early)
  • 100% use of the gorgeous weather (we hiked Stone Mountain)
  • And the most unexpected delicious feast at the Tofu Village Korean BBQ in Marietta.
Now, I'll admit it, I didn't think I was a tofu person. Not only did I discover that I'm totally a tofu person (it just needs the right preparation), I also discovered that despite it's name, the Tofu Village is a carnivore's dream restaurant.

It was 3:00 in the afternoon, and our tired selves ate the following (probably two meals worth of food for each of us):

  • The Tofu Appetizer: Tofu bricks, grilled. Serve them up with some sesame seed soy sauce mixed with scallions and other ingredients that I couldn't decipher.
  • The Five-Course BBQ Experience: (1) Shrimp (2) Chicken (3) Steak Strips (4) Ribs (5) Pork (6) Keel over into a food coma. This is grilled over hot charcoals that sit inside of the table. Our server was a ton of fun, and don't worry, they take care of the preparation for you. Much like a hibachi bar, you sit back and watch as they prepare your masterpiece. Make your own wraps with rice paper or some romaine, either a hot or mild "sauce" and rice. Don't forget your chop-stick skills, you'll be using some nice metal chop sticks.
  • Kimchi- It wouldn't be a Korean meal if it didn't include some kimchi. My low spice tolerance limited my consumption, but the few bites that I did have (followed by a glass of water) was very enjoyable. I'll work up a tolerance eventually.
  • Veggies Galore- Cucumbers, seaweed (does this count as a vegetable?), onions, bean sprouts etc, etc...
Joe and Norm documented the experience, so here are some photos:

Joe and Jess about to eat Course 1: Shrimp
Rufus, Norm, and Kelly (on the other side of the table)
The Final Course: Spicy Pork

The Bottom Line: Tucked into a strip mall off of 75 in Marietta is a Korean BBQ oasis. Stop by, you won't be disappointed!

Tofu Village on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Vortex Bar & Grill

Where have you heard of this place before? It's killing you, isn't it? Well, let me give you a hint:

(1) It was on the Travel Channel
(2) It was probably really difficult to watch
(3) You most likely heard it first from Alan Richman

That's right --- the famous Vortex Bar & Grill was featured on Man vs. Food in one of the earlier episodes (before each episode included a challenge). Having gone to school in ATL, we can bet that this place was one of Alan's old stomping grounds. I visited the Vortex Version 2.0 in Midtown on Saturday with some new Atlanta friends from Norfolk Southern and the Weather Channel; the original Vortex is appropriately located in the eclectic Little Five Points (AKA: L5P --- stick it in your acronym vault, it's one of my favorites).

What made this burger joint Man vs. Food-worthy? It's the Double Bypass Burger (don't read this on an upset stomach - I copied directly from the menu): "Twice as big as the Coronary Bypass! Topped with two fried eggs, six slices of American cheese, and eight slices of bacon, all served between the two grilled cheese sandwiches that we use in place of the regular hamburger buns." Basically it's a heart attack with a side of tater-tots.

Our visit did not include the Double Bypass Burger, it did however consist of the following (easily broken down to the drinks and the food):

The Drinks: Bringing this blog full circle, I ordered the Laughing Skull Ale brewed by, you guessed it, the Atlanta Brewing Company. This quickly rose to the top of my ABC beers list. They also brewed a mean sweet tea. Yes, it only took me four weeks in Atlanta to become a sweet tea drinker. Just typing it is making me thirsty!

The Food: I went with the Pesto Burger, a new menu item that is sure to be a hit. Take one part burger, 1/4 part pesto, 1/2 part provolone, and 2 parts toasted buns. Stack in a logical manner to create a blissful combination. Add tots (or one of the five other available side items), but I recommend the tots.

I must give a shout out to Amanda back in Pittsburgh who's gift card I used during this meal. As a going away present, Amanda researched the best restaurants across Atlanta and sent me gift certificates to help with starting the Atlanta SK&MS. It's just about the most thoughtful present I've ever received --- thank you again, Amanda!

The Bottom Line

The Vortex knows burgers - the experience is delicious.
Atlanta knows the Vortex - so be prepared to wait for a seat.

I'm excited to hit up the original L5P Vortex soon!

Vortex Bar & Grill (Midtown) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Let's talk Beer, More Specifically let's talk LOCAL Beer...

I just posted about coffee, and now I'll switch to my other favorite beverage (aside from pomegranate juice), beer. Yesterday after work, my co-workers and I met up at the Atlanta Brewing Company (more popularly know as "ABC") for their 6-8PM beer tasting and brewery tour.

Before I begin this review, allow me to shed a bit of light on brewery rivalries in the 404/770 area codes. The two big players in this tale are the Sweet Water Brewing Company in Buckhead and ABC in Northwest Atlanta. Now, according to our tour guide, these two establishments hate one another. Very upsetting for them, but very great for us patrons. Why? Well, we have two awesome breweries to attend that are consistently trying to top one another, thus, they're always improving. I'll be hitting up Sweet Water in the next few weeks, but for now, let's talk ABC:

You may be familiar with ABC based on their Red Brick Ales (which is the name that they sell their brews under) and the Laughing Skull Ale that they supply for the Vortex. For non-Atlanta readers, the Vortex is a burger shop that started in Little Five Points that has fabulous burgers. I'm actually going tonight, so I'll be sure to post my review!

Here's the scoop on ABC:

  • LOCATION: ABC is located in an industrial park in NW Atlanta. Not the greatest location if you're used to walking to the places you go out to (I'm a typical city-dweller), but fine if you're coming in from the burbs. Also, it is interesting that there is a brewery amongst otherwise harmless office buildings; it is humorously out of place.
  • HOW IT WORKS: You enter ABC, show your ID, get a hand stamp and pay $8.00. They hand you a glass (yours to keep) and four tickets. Each ticket gets you a beer from the tap. So, for $2.00 per beer, you're getting some delicious brews.
  • THE ATMOSPHERE: The Atlanta Brewing Company has a front bar room, and a back room with tables that have a factory view. There is a band that plays in the factory, and when the band is between sets, the playlist is perfectly nostalgic (everything from 1997 Mariah Carey to Afroman).
  • THE TOUR: The brewmaster discusses the history of the company and the points in the process that hops are added. Although, having just come from work, I couldn't help but contemplate their process inefficiencies, thus, it was a semi-stressful tour. We agreed that it would be just about the coolest senior design project ever for GT Industrial Engineers.
  • THE CROWD: Well, it was pretty Lockheed-concentrated (which was so much fun!) --- I think that we brought about twenty people, but the people that weren't in our party seemed to be college aged or young professionals. And, I must mention, I was introduced to many of them at first as they crowded around the bonfire and ate hot dogs in the parking lot. That's right, free hot dogs on your way into ABC!
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE BEER: Delicious! I tasted many, but sadly I only used two of my tickets and gave the others away (on account of the driving). I had the Blonde Ale and the Peachtree Pale Ale. Very hoppy, very concentrated, and very much worth a return trip!
The Bottom Line
For way cheaper than any bar, you can start your evening off right (and build your glass collection). I'll be an ABC regular for sure!

With that, I say, Cheers, FRIENDS!

All the best,


PS: Someone took pictures last night, so I'll work on procuring our photos and adding to this page shortly!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

COFFEE: an essential web design tool.

While settling into my new home in Atlanta, I have been plotting the launch of my own version of SK&MS (minus the and minus the form template). It turns out that it takes longer than a few days to make a website, who would have thought? This isn't your standard html coding friends, I demand an amazing site. Thus, you'll have to wait longer for greatness.

That being said, it turns out that in order to program this site, I've needed a LOT of coffee, and have thus been on several coffee shop tours of Atlanta. I am finding that my discovery of new places in the ATL is generally paired with one of two beverages: coffee or beer. Let's focus on the former today. So, what have I been drinking while coding SK&MS version 2.0? Let's see...

I'm actually here right now! As I avoid the monsoon with my fellow coffee shop rain-bravers (a surprisingly high turn out for the 3 inches of rain forecasted today), I'm drinking a large vanilla latte and catching-up on emails. Here's the scoop on the Inman Perk:

- It has a great name, just at the edge of Inman Park (which is right next to my neighborhood, the Old 4th Ward --- I'll refer to my part of town as "the O4W" from now on, so take note and keep up!) with an appropriate coffee-like twist on it's location.
- Outlets everywhere --- this is a staple of any good coffee shop. I refuse to fight for power.
- Books available for borrowing while patrons sip their javas. A nice touch, but I usually come to coffee places armed with a to do list.
- I'm jamming to an awesome Inman Perk provided playlist --- I've heard Spoon, Regina Spektor, and Matt and Kim in the last half-hour.
- The coffee is strong! I'm pretty sure that my 16 oz latte has three shots of espresso in it right now. I appreciate this at 6PM, but we'll see how I'm doing when I try to go to bed tonight in preparing to wake up at 5AM tomorrow (that's right, I work first shift).
- Plenty of seating and a hip patronage!

So, will this be a regular coffee place? Yes, sir! And, a bonus: I can walk here (but probably not in the rain, I'm parked right across the street currently).

Inman Perk Coffee on Urbanspoon

Karin was in for her first week of work from Pittsburgh on Friday, and before her flight, we met up for coffee at Octane in West Midtown (formerly the Westside). I looked for apartments in West Midtown, and I really liked the area, but I did not like the apartment prices. Thus, my time spent there will be for gallery viewings, eating, and coffee drinking. Octane is my new number one coffee shop in Atlanta, here's why:

- The coffee is simply deliscious. Normally I don't solely love coffee shops for their coffee (I'll be honest, the number of outlets has about the same weight in my mind). But, man, Octane has some deliscious espresso (it's of Pittsburgh's Taza D'oro caliber)!
- Trendy atmosphere with witty staff and a great catch line on their website ("we think it has something to do with the coffee") make this place just as addictive as the coffee they sell.
- I love the O4W, but Octane helps make a compelling argument for W.Midtown as one of the cooler parts of Atlanta

So, will this be a regular coffee place? Heck yes! I need to test out the outlet situation and internet connectivity, and I'm sensing another visit this week...

Octane Coffee (Westside) on Urbanspoon

Be very jealous, I live right next door to the Highland Bakery. That's right, my street consistently smells of fresh bread and pastries, and I'm a quick run in PJ's away from what Urban Spoon deems to be the best coffee in Atlanta.

I visited the Highland Bakery on my first official day as a resident of ATL, and I brought my mom along for the ride. Here's what we found:

- AMAZING, AMAZING fresh breads (and sandwiches that go on them)
- Cool converted factory feel (you know, exposed brick, etc)
- Very good coffee, although I did not get any gourmet drinks
- A down side: it's really loud! I'm going to treat it as a take-out place for my fresh bagel and muffin purchasing needs.

So, will this be a regular coffee place? For to-go purchases, you bet ya!

Highland Bakery on Urbanspoon

Looks like I'm 3-for-3 on amazing coffee finds in my new town! More to come with my coffee, beer, and food finds in the 303** zip codes. Be looking for updates to this site, and then updates to the new site (at a time to be announced later)!