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Atlanta Metro Area


robsimons
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I’ve lived in Atlanta off and on for the past 6/7 years and now that I have become “culinary” trained I have noticed that Atlanta does not seem to have much in Culinary Creativity.

So I want to know from other Metro Atlantians what they consider to be “good eats” in Atlanta. Personally I’m looking for places that are not just exercising use of local ingredients (although this is very important) but I am also looking for a place that uses a tremendous amount of Culinary Technique (read French classical technique) applied to “modern” food.

I currently work at one of the 3 stars “meat on a plate” joints and I think I am forgetting how to use a knife. I have been trying to find places but I am having troubles. The AJC food critic sucks and I just think that Atlanta’s idea of good food is not on the same level as NY or Philly.

Please I want to hear anything and everything from anyone that might be able to shed some light.

Please enlighten me….

Treat everyone the same, like a VIP...

Something gave its life for what you are about to eat... Respect the food...

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all."

-Sam Ewig

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Thanks for these names I have them also.

But I guess I'm looking for something "off" the beaten path for restaurants in Atlanta Metro. I am also looking for insider information of any restaurants.

Information like how is the kitchen run, what are the station setups, who prep’s the items, are they composed plates put together by the cook or are composed by the expo, etc...

Things like this.

I would also just like to maybe start a discu7ssion of Atlanta Food, for anyone willing.

Thanks,

Treat everyone the same, like a VIP...

Something gave its life for what you are about to eat... Respect the food...

"Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all."

-Sam Ewig

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The best way to learn the specifics that your interested in is to try the new places when they open, get to know the kitchen brigades, and ask when you go someplace new for a kitchen tour.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

In an attempt to continue discussion of Atlanta restaurants, I am listing some of my favorites with short descriptions and appropriate links. I have a 5 and 6 year old and accordingly have not explored in depth Atlanta's fine dining scene (although Seegers' and Joel are on my list of places to go).

Vietnam House—This Buford highway establishment has what I consider the best Vietnamese in Atlanta and the best I’ve eaten in either Northern Virginia (been to 20 or so) or Atlanta (Outside of pho joints and bahn mi deli’s I’ve eaten here and at Bien Thuy). Bien Thuy gets John Kessler’s mark as the best in Atlanta, but I think that the food and atmosphere at VHU is better. The menu is extensive and the standards are impeccably done. I think that the pork and lotus salad appetizer is an amazing combination of flavors and I never come with ordering one of the fondue dishes (I love playing with food) or one of the large soups. The restaurant has a web page at http://www.vietnamhouseusa.com

Oriental Pearl or Happy Valley for dim sum. Both are astounding. Kessler does a better review than me at http://www.ajc.com/living/content/living/d...2/12dimsum.html

I can’t stand mediocre or boring sushi. I consistently return to both Haru Ichiban http://www.accessatlanta.com/restaurants/c...ning/22962.html and Soto Japanese Restaurant http://atlanta.citysearch.com/profile/2994908/ I’d never go to Soto after 7 because the service gets abysmal because of the small size.

I love the food at Madras Saravana Bhavan http://atlanta.citysearch.com/profile/35713000/ it is an Indian vegetarian restaurant with both simple and complex, mild and spicy food. The dosai are amazing

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I have never been to Atlanta. :shock::sad: However, a couple of weeks ago, the NY Times, in its Friday "Escapes" section, did Atlanta in the "36 Hours" in a particular city page. Since I do hope to get to Atlanta in the near future, :smile: I clipped the page. These are the eating stops that are recommended.

Sotto Sotto for "delicious Italian food, a lively crowd and a casual-chic atmosphere." They suggest that carnivores order the "sliced NY strip steak with wilted arugala, rosemary and olive oil ($20)," and that seafood people order the "wood-roasted whole fish ($22)."

Flying Biscuit, especially for fried green tomatoes which "come sprinkled with cashew-jalapeno relish and goat cheese ($5.95). They also mention Love Cakes, which are "sauteed black bean and cornmeal cakes topped with tomatillo salsa, sour cream, feta cheese, and red onion." ($6.95) Most dishes come with what is described as "the perfect biscuit" which can be topped with homemade cranberry apple butter.

Vinocity which they say is "getting raves from wine connoisseurs," and has praiseworthy cuisine as well. Suggested choices: "... caramelized scallops with golden oyster mushrooms and applewood-smoked bacon cream sauce ($13) or the pine-nut-crusted Block Island swordfish with a sauteed spinach risotto cake and artichokes ($21)."

Thumbs Up Diner "an upscale coffee shop" where you can get "scrambled eggs with cream cheese and fresh herbs, plus a bagel ($4.95). Or the Heap, skillet-cooked potatoes topped with cheese, two eggs and a choice of breakfast meat ($5.50)."

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Why didn't someone tell me not to fuckin' go to Atlanta on a Sunday. Hit the Varsity...some flat burger, "What you havin'?" in my face, cayenne french fries, NO BOOZE on sunday...will swing back by on Wednesday. Someone give me a hand. We need a designated driver. Finished the Food Network rant, will show up sooner than later in RE. There's nothing to do, a rental car in the hotel lot and I've got plenty of time. FUCK. Talahassee is a bust too.

Edited by Chef/Writer Spencer (log)
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  • 3 months later...
Why didn't someone tell me not to fuckin' go to Atlanta on a Sunday.  Hit the Varsity...some flat burger, "What you havin'?" in my face, cayenne french fries, NO BOOZE on sunday...will swing back by on Wednesday.  Someone give me a hand. 

This local Atlanta food forum may have helped you with your latest visit to Atlanta.

AtlantaCuisine.com

Gourmands must be in the know when visiting Atlanta on Sunday because many restaurants are closed. However, the ones that are open do serve BOOZE.

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I used Localharvest.org to search for restaurants in Georgia that use organic ingredients, and three turned up. (Surely there are others.)

Bacchanalia (also a member of the Chef's Collaborative)

Bacchanalia website

1198 Howell Mill Road

Atlanta, GA 30318

(I'm impressed.)

Floataway Café (owned by the same chef-owner of Bacchanalia—also a member of the Chef's Collaborative)

1123 Zonolite Rd. NE

Atlanta, GA 30306

Longstreet Café

1043 Riverside Terrace

Gainesville, GA 30504

"We are a rare old time Southern Cafe. We still peel potatoes for cream potatoes, shuck white silver queen corn, handbread fish and chicken, use local produce when in season. By far Gainesville Georgias busiest restaurant. When you visit us you will not be disapponited in the food or the price."

Do you know about Star Provisions?

ChefsCollaborative.org lists one more restaurant:

Woodfire Grill

1782 Cheshire Bridge Rd.

Atlanta

404-347-9055

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You did find three excellent restaurants and they indeed use organic ingredients.

I currently work at one of the 3 stars “meat on a plate” joints and I think I am forgetting how to use a knife. I have been trying to find places but I am having troubles. The AJC food critic sucks and I just think that Atlanta’s idea of good food is not on the same level as NY or Philly.

NY and Philly are clearly on a much higher culinary level than Atlanta. Though Atlanta has come along way, the lack of knowledge amongst patrons is the only obstacle I see keeping this city from achieving greater culinary status.

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I agree that NYC is on a grander scale than the Atlanta dining scene. But Philly ?

I think you could go restaurant for restaurant and find that Philly is comparable to Atlanta. Maybe your reference is to the second tier restaurants. Maybe I can see your point than.

This thread however does illustrate your opinion that it is the patron that is on a different level in Atlanta. The sheer fact that on a board like this, and amongst contributors no less, that the Varsity, and places like the Busy Bee ( where is that even ? ) are considered culinary, or even what this city is about, is mind boggling.

I as well, welcome the discussion of the Atlanta dining scene here. It is not fair, or accurate to think of Atlanta as an old sleepy southern city as it has been at times, erroneously reported here. The traditions are here, as they should be, but seeing only meat and 3's, BBQ, and the like, in a City this large is narrow minded.

So, yes, lets discuss Atlanta as a City and not group it as regional culinary wasteland.

WW2

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i rather disagree that atlanta has been discussed here as a sleepy city of meat & 3s and barbecue--in fact, that atlanta has been gone for over a decade. and i lament that there never has been much of any discussion about atlanta--high end or no--on this site.

dave thomas's recs are good. i like both madras and udipi for very good, cheap authentic southern indian cuisine. i haven't tried vietnam house but bien thuy is an old standard favorite. nuevo laredo cantina is still an atmospheric place to go for tex mex. the angel pub in decatur serves decent draft ales & okay food--but the attempt at an english style "local" pub in a city as devoted to giant suvs as atlanta is frankly silly--just try to overlook that aspect of it. on that note also in decatur is the brickhouse pub--the food is rather shite but the draft ales are decent, and it's a neat place--AND getting a real neighborhood feel to it--lots of locals actually walk to it on a regular basis. the best bar in atlanta, still, after all these years, is manuel's. in fact, it's one of the best bars anywhere, but i may only feel that way because i lived near it and frequented it for so many years. it is truly a locals' hang-out. the draft beers are decent, and the bar food is good & grubby. don't go to manuel's in search of a dainty cocktail however. chef spencer should have stopped by manuel's that sunday.

flying biscuit still serves a good breakfast, but i have had some genuinely bad supper there. i do NOT recommend it. alfredos and ninos are old standard atlanta "italian" joints, old dapper waiters and hearty average fare.

i read a write a write up recently praising fellini's pizza. many years ago--literally light years ago--when it was still the single most self-consciously hip eatery in town, the waitress, clearly a hard-up junkie, short-changed me and when i confronted her she acted like she was going to beat me up. i have never been back. i knew too much about the guys who started that place at one time.

rocky's pizzeria was a long time favorite, but i hear rocky passed away. unfortunate circumstances. right next to the old VA/Highlands location os alon's bakery--still one of the best in the city. i used to work with alon when he was pastry chef at the old Murphy's location--he made terrific desserts and when he left he took many of his recipes with him--there was no love lost between him and old tom murphy. now, they tell me murphy's has a new menu and chef, and the place is as successsful as ever. as a former employee [i slung hash there for 5 years] i can tell you that his success may be attributed to the fact that he sold his soul to the devil. i can't bring myself to eat there, but i might change my mind.

i've been to nava several times--i think it's a bit precious and high-priced for what you get.

most everyone i know in atlanta still likes thai chili best for thai food--on briarcliff road.

i very rarely eat in the city anymore, and i can't speak at all about the high-end places.

recently i had supper at a new italian bistro in conyers, la luna--the chef came from veni vidi vici--the food was hit or miss, but when it hit it was really good--i had the best gnocchi i've had anywhere--as light and tender as clouds, in cremini and shitake cream. the grilled tenderloin is nice, too. they're really proud of their focaccia, but i thought it was chewy and greasy. their olives tasted like they were out of a can.

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I guess my point, although I know my flaw is rambling. Is that Atlanta is a modern city and is on the rise culinarily speaking. New restaurants go up all the time. Things are moving forward, and it is a great City. True, it's not New York, but how many transplants live here.

Unfortunately this doesn't get brought up enough on similar boards.

It seems people would rather talk about the Varsity ( poor hamburgers and such ) or old places serving steam table cuisine. Or restaurants NOT in Atlanta. I'm sorry, Alpharetta is not in the City...

Sure, some of the places you mention are great. But for good grub. Nuevo Laredo is a cool hangout for standard Tex mex. And yes those Indian joints are good also.

But there is a "cheap eats" stigma to most of the Atlanta Reccomendations on this board and else where. Nothing wrong with that, but where is some indepth conversation on in town City restaurants. Ones with greats chefs, rising talent, creative approaches. Or is it an old sleepy city, where people give you the same reccomendations they have been given for years.

In that regard, there isn't too much here outside the occasional reference to Bacchanalia. And my guess would be because they are probably 9 or ten years young.

But it's good to hear anything on this board concerning Atlanta.

So lets hear it from the Atlanta contingent...

WW2

Edited by Willy Wonka (log)
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For what it's worth, I am a Marietta girl (or was before I left for college in 1976). I grew up a mile or so from the Big Chicken.

Last time I was home, we ate at Cafe Tutu Tango (I think) and Canoe. Both were just wonderful. We also ate at a place up in Woodstock, near my sister's house, and the meal there was definitely local and seasonal and organic. Lord, I think I had venison, which I just don't do. I can't remember the name of the place, though.

I think Atlanta is big and fun and crazy. It's not New York and it's not LA (thank you, Jesus!) but it's got so much energy all its own. I agree with WW's post about it being on the rise. Phooey on naysayers.

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But there is a "cheap eats" stigma to most of the Atlanta Reccomendations on this board and else where. Nothing wrong with that, but where is some indepth conversation on in town City restaurants. Ones with greats chefs, rising talent, creative approaches. Or is it an old sleepy city, where people give you the same reccomendations they have been given for years.

In that regard, there isn't too much here outside the occasional reference to Bacchanalia. And my guess would be because they are probably 9 or ten years young.

But it's good to hear anything on this board concerning Atlanta.

So lets hear it from the Atlanta contingent...

Having been a resident of Atlanta, not Alpharetta, nor Marietta, I must agree with you that, after watching the restaurant situation evolve over some 26 years, I have indeed seen a number of good and not so good and downright horrific places open and close ... but now, even with my historic perspective, I can see new trends and growth in this area about a number of things, restaurants, in this particular case ...

and that evolution has brought many of us gourmet diners blessed relief! You hit the nail on the head, Willy Wonka!

Even as we speak, there are some very exciting and intriguing places either opening or about to open within the next few months. The passion the new chefs have brought to their cooking is clearly evident in the fare being offered now. The creativity and willingness to experiment with the tastes here are gratifying to an "old timer" like me ...

and while we are not offered the range of choices a city such as NYC can offer, we "have come a long way, baby" .... hopefully, we'll continue this forward progress!

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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But there is a "cheap eats" stigma to most of the Atlanta Reccomendations on this board and else where. Nothing wrong with that, but where is some indepth conversation on in town City restaurants.

WW2

At the risk of appearing defensive, the cheap eats stigma on this board is probably because there are so few posts that the dining preferences of people like me (I'm cheap, like ethnic food, and have a 5 year old and a 7 year old) are overly weighted.

Two recent dining experiences have me going blah.

I've been to the downtown Ted's montana Grill twice and was underwhelmed both times. The burgers are just plain boring and not well cooked. They go on and on about their special cooking technique where they cook they burgers on the griddle under a dome without just saying that they are fry-steaming their burgers. The bison burger I had tasted as though there was liver ground into the bison (tasted gross). I had a chicken sandwhich today that was completely unobjectionable. A plus to the place is that they hand cut their fries and the fries are good.

I went to mid-city cuisine for lunch and was thoroughly underwhelmed by the food. All it appears to be is mumbo jumbo midtown, which fine, but nothing worth getting a car to go to.

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You may be cheap, but it sounds like you have pretty gourmet opinions of what has been described as "cheap eats".

I agree that Ted's could use some work but what did you expect. The bison is more discernible in it's ground form. But I doubt there is liver in the burgers. But agreed, it is a flavor that is different than beef, and I don't like it as much as beef.

Suprised you didn't like Mid-City. I'd like to know more about what you did not enjoy since Mumbo Jumbo was one of the best in Atlanta and their chef is of a high pedigree...

There is a new restaurant now open in the former Mumbo location, but I haven't heard report of it yet...

nb

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I think Atlanta doesn't get much play here and on other national/international forums for a couple of reasons: locals are already very busy talking about restaurants on local forums (until recently AccessAtlanta, though that's recently gone belly up due to ill-advised changes to the format, and now atlantacuisine.com, except that there is not yet sufficient volume to have built a library) and so don't post much elsewhere, and most of the non-local posters are either looking for something downtown (still about the worst place in town to be hungry after 2:00 pm) or for "southern" food (which has got to be my single least favorite request, 'cause it's not the sort of food you want to eat in a restaurant).

There are lots of great restaurants in Atlanta, and plenty of poor ones as well, just as there are other places. New York probably has fewer poor ones, but certainly Philadelphia cannot claim to be free of them (I had a perfectly atrocious meal there less than a year ago).

As for some of the previous mentions in this thread, in no particular order...

The Varsity...you ate there? On purpose?

No liquor on Sunday...not a problem in restaurants, so I'm sort of wondering about the source here.

The Flying Biscuit...like stellabella says, not for anything but breakfast, and even then I'd send you to Ria's Bluebird.

The Angel...I don't agree with stellabella here, as all of that group of pubs (Rose & Crown, Prince of Wales, Hand in Hand) are in walking neighborhoods with commercial centers. Perfect pub locales with very much a local, walk in crowd. About a billion other restaurants in easy walking distance: Watershed, Taqueria del Sol, Cafe Lily, Sushi Avenue, The Supper Club, Levi's Key West, Cafe Alsace...you get the idea.

Bacchanalia...great.

Floataway...great.

Woodfire Grill...very good to great.

Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton...great.

Seeger's...great (I'm eating there tonight, heh heh).

Joel's...very good.

MidCity Cuisine...very good. Also try One Midtown Kitchen.

Ted's Montana Grill...haven't been, and won't be going unless somebody drags me along. I mean, does it sound like anything other than hamburgers?

Vietnam House...very good upmarket Vietnamese. I got points with local Vietnamese friends for recommending this place to them.

Haru Ichiban...very good Japanese. Other great Japanese at Sushi Avenue, Sakana-ya, Sushi Yoko.

Nava...another tiresome Buckhead Life restaurant. But great if you're considering a face lift and want to check out the results.

Okay, enough for now.

Is Luxe (the new place in the Mumbo Jumbo locale) open yet? If so somebody needs to go and post. Except the post will likely be local...

Can you pee in the ocean?

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I love Fifth Group Restaurants, the ones I've been to at least. Food Studio and South City Kitchen are good, and the food at Sala is good, though the decor is terrifying.

I don't get what the deal is with Flying Biscuit. A friend of mine loved it and dragged me there too many damn times, when I'd much rather settle in for a Sunday morning hangover breakfast at Awful Waffle.

As for the Varsity, that's an Atlanta experience, but certainly not an Atlanta Food Experience. I'd take tourists there, but only if they don't mind eating crap and getting harangued by the staff. Stupid Yella Jackets.

Great sashimi at MF SushiBar and at Hashigushi (which is in Marietta, but there's now a Hashigushi, Jr. at Lenox).

There are good cheap eats to be found downtown, but you have to know where to go. Thai Gourmet is popular; I don't know how authentically Thai it is, but it's fresh and well made.

And there's tons of stuff in West Midtown I've been wanting to try. hopefully going to Pangea for lunch sometime soon, will report back.

I always feel bad for yankees coming to visit or moving here, always taken aback by the blue laws. But C/W Spencer should have been able to come by a drink on Sunday, as long as it was after 12 pm. That's when the Baptists get out of church, you see;-) And on Sunday night, I know of no better place to go than American Pie....heh, right.

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As a Westside resident I must offer these suggestions...

All bread and pastries are half price in the evening at Star Provisions and free to dinners. Best gingerbread cookies ever - forget those Moravians.

If you sit at the bar at Bacchanalia you don't need a reservation and you can order a la carte while watching Clifford cook. A real $ saver.

Via Elisa has THE best pasta on this side of the pond.

Tacqueria del sol is a surly dinning experience offered up by a bunch of pissed off dudes.

Commune has a can't-be-beat patio over looking trains every 20 minutes, creeping kudzu, and a midtown skyline under a lovely urban industrial backdrop. This is the perfect weather to enjoy their cocktails, diverse crowd and great setting.

The new pasta place is OK but doesn't hold a candle to Elisa's artisan pasta.

Want fresh seafood at half the price of Star Provisions order it from Inland Seafood? It's right around the corner from Pangaea.

Haven't tried Ambria yet.

Finally, ARIA in buckhead is the only reason one would want to venture that neck of the woods after dark. Always a fabulous experience.

Jenna

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The Angel...I don't agree with stellabella here, as all of that group of pubs (Rose & Crown, Prince of Wales, Hand in Hand) are in walking neighborhoods with commercial centers. Perfect pub locales with very much a local, walk in crowd. About a billion other restaurants in easy walking distance: Watershed, Taqueria del Sol, Cafe Lily, Sushi Avenue, The Supper Club, Levi's Key West, Cafe Alsace...you get the idea.

but there a very few real intown walking neighborhoods--and if you live in one--say downtown decatur area, and want to go to another, say va/highlands, you have to drive to it. and even though the distance isn't all that far, depending on the time of day, it can take well over a half hour to get there.

that's my great complaint about atlanta, and why i disagreed with an earlier remark about alpharetta not being in atlanta. i can't claim to be a native atlantan, but i lived in inman park and va'highlands and midtown for nine years. of course the midtown area is distinctly different from marietta, but in terms of dining/eating out, it almost doesn't matter where the place is--at least eight times out of ten you're gonna have to drive to it--and because atlanta's roads are so crowded [this is statistically true--we're up at the top of the list of americans who spend the most time in our cars], driving the freeway up past the perimeter might not take any longer than traveling from ansley park to cabbage town.

of course in any community there will be local eateries that attract local clientele. that just stands to reason. all i am saying, i think, is that when it comes to eating out, it doesn't hardly matter where a place is located; if you need food fast, you go for what's close, if you can, but the typical atlantan does NOT live within walking distance of good food. so driving to alpharetta in some cases is as easy as driving to midtown.

about taqueria del sol. i keep seeing this place getting glowing write-ups, and i drove past it at 7:3- on wednesay night and the lines snaked out into the parking lot. so, are you saying thart this is another one of those fellinis/tortillas type places, where you order up a healthy serving of surly pseudo-hip posturing along with your meal? that's too bad.

i'm not a fine diner, so i don't claim to know about fine dining establishments, but over the last decade i've watched buford highway turn into an ethnic/cheap eats lover's dream. in fact i'd say that buford highway and new peachtree road offer some of the most exciting eating in the whole city--here's a sleepy little southern city that has gone ethnic in a really interesting way in a very short time--the choices for food seem endless.

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Since you are promoting those restaurants what about mine??

Well if you guys want to come north of Atlanta, in Flowery Branch is the restaurant where I am chef: The Flowery Branch Yacht Club. http://www.flowerybranchyachtclub.com

We are not really a yacht club but a restaurant with that name. Its a 1800's ranch style home with a wrap around porch, we do wine dinners once a month, we've got one coming this October with Ravenswood's wines (looking forward to the Big River single vineyard and their Cab Franc!) I cook seasonal foods and fine dinning, but with a part casual-ness for it is in the boonies! Well heres a sample menu:

DINNER MENU

APPETIZERS

SEARED HUDSON VALLEY FOIE GRAS - Served with seared Parmesan polenta cake and poached huckleberries in their syrup with sugar cured country ham

SEARED TOGARASHI AHI TUNA - With cucumber noodles, sesame seed brittle, shitake mushroom salad and lemon soy vinaigrette

ESCARGOTS BOUCHEE - Helix escargots sautee with chanterelle mushrooms, shallots, garlic, Pernod and demi-glaze served in a puff pastry shell

PEAKY TOE CRAB VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLL - Filled with cellophane noodles, scallions, almonds and basil with dipping sauce

(soups & salads)

MAINS

PAN ROASTED BABY VEAL RACK

Served with house-made black pepper fettuccine with Puttanesca sauce and shaved Reggiano cheese.

GRILLED AGED FILET OF BEEF

Served with a double double hash and garlic braised spinach, sauce Foyot and red wine reduction

POULET a la BASQUAISE

Pan roasted chicken breast with basques style stew of flageolets, peppers, onions, speck prosciuto and garlic

GRILLED PEPPERED HANGER STEAK

With potato leek gratin topped with Raclette cheese, fennel wild mushroom ragout and truffle oil.

SEARED AHI TUNA

Autumn roasted vegetables, sautee spinach with garlic, autumn spiced demi-glaze and butternut squash sauce

Well enough self promotion for one post! :wink:

Life is so brief that we should not glance either too far backwards or forwards…therefore study how to fix our happiness in our glass and in our plate.

A.L.B. Grimod de la Reyniere

'Almanach des gourmands'

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