Gavage [Tampa, Chong Qing, Soundtable, etc]

July 27, 2012 · 1 comment

in atlanta, cooking at Home, dining out, misc food, out of town dining, wine in the city


Time for another gavage post. I take the photos. You view them. Or not.

Visited Sound Table last week. It was actually our third choice for the night, but that’s not to say anything about them, I really like this place. We were trying to visit somewhere new to me, but attempts to hit Watershed and 4th and Swift were thwarted by cocktail party crowds and private parties, respectively. After jettisoning 4th and Swift’s parking lot, my feisty wife called them and left a voicemail letting them know that they should really list such closures on their website. A connoisseur of right-doing and justice, watch out for Katie when she feels she has been wronged.

No problem, I love the cocktails at Sound Table – the frothy Rattlesnake sour is my favorite. If you feel funny about egg whites in your drinks, then you my friend, are a fool.

The food may not always be perfect, but dishes are priced in a more than inviting fashion, with a wide variety of influence. The smoked gazpacho above was excellent, and the roasted cauliflower and sprouts in a Vietnamese flavored sauce is a must order dose of daily veggies at $6.


The small order of crispy frites is just the right size to eat guilt-free.


The oxtail tacos may not be guilt free, but they are free of flaw, perhaps the best item on the menu. Topped with an intensely great leek salsa, the small tacos are full of flavor, are wonderfully crispy, and each is stuffed with richrichrich oxtail. Amalmagasm.


The next day I went to Tampa. Who knew the top restaurant in America is at the Renaissance hotel, attached to an Atlantic Station style mall? (Seriously, how can they post this?)

An actual top restaurant, as in the best Cuban food I’ve had, is at Arco Iris. Fantastic.

The steak with chimichurri may be one of the most expensive items at $20, but it’s certainly worth sharing, along with half a dozen other items, an ordering method I recommend.

I also visited Bern’s, a little steak house with a quaint wine menu. (Sarcasm).

Eric Renaud is the head sommelier, and more than anyone I know, he deserves that title in the most classic sense. The level of service there is among the best anywhere, surely one of the reasons hundreds of people pack in there every night. I just wanted to mention Eric, and say thanks for making each visit so special. Also, our waiter Victor is fantastic, as is Nate, who is in charge of spirits and other after dinner drinks.


Upon returning I made a quick visit to Chong Qing in the food court of Chinatown in Chamblee, which provides quick and inexpensive access to a variety of solid Asian cuisines. This food court needs to be on your to-do list if you have not been.

Chong Qing Hot Pot

Dan Dan noodles look plain in the photo below, but don’t be fooled – there is large portion of spicy, sesame paste rich sauce (think thicker tahini) on the bottom, waiting to be mixed in with the chewy noodles. It’s a heck of a portion for $5, and chock full of ma la, the hot and numbing sensation unique to Sichuan.

Chong Qing Hot Pot

Fish and tofu in hot oil is a little more expensive, but so worth it.

Chong Qing Hot Pot

After all that dining out, I mostly cooked at home in the following days. I dug into the Lee Brothers cookbook and whipped up a few Southern specialties, including their take on pimento cheese, which uses a real charred red pepper, and earns its creaminess mostly from cream cheese, with a touch of Duke’s mayo.

For lunch the next day I cooked bacon, followed by crisping the bread in said bacon’s fat, then slathered it with the pimento cheese and cilantro stems.

working from home sandwich

I also fried some chicken. Brined in a 5% solution with some pickled jalapeno juice and cilantro, I gave it one light coating of salt/pepper/flour, and fried in two inches of peanut/duck/bacon fat. The next night I refried the leftovers and coated with Rowdy’s Southern Sichuan spice blend. I give it a seven, a ten being the best Rowdy can do. I don’t think I’ve ever broached eight.

Phew, long post. Sorry. Right now I’m sitting passenger while Katie drives to Savannah. I’m eagerly anticipating a weekend of boating, beaches, beers, and burgers. I hope you enjoy yours as well.

hot chicken (and hot smashed potato)

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  • decaturwinedude

    That Bern’s place sounds interesting.
    They have older vintages there?

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