Yeah, I’m still here, still hungry, cooking and eating. Busy with life and a pending addition to our family, which we tried to fire-bomb out of Katie with Sichuan cuisine at Peter Cheng’s Tasty China II. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve double-dared my digestive system with Sichuan food, and TC did not disappoint. Everything was great. Hot and numbing tofu rolls, fragrant duck, fish in hot oil with noodles, dry fried eggplant were all as fiery and interesting as ever. Amazingly, there were no, ahem, repercussions over the next two days. The next evening Katie was eating bites of leftover fish and noodles, in tears, her nose a faucet, chasing each bite with a bit of peanut butter to put out the fire. Amazed, I asked her why she kept eating it – “But the flavors are so good!”
Onward – tacos at Taqueria el Rey del Taco. The tortillas are great. Thin and smooth white corn, only one required per taco, which I prefer. The carnitas were the best of my selection of barbacoa (goat – excellent) and cabeza (head/cheek – a bit greasy).
More sushi at Huku. Just hung out and had a few pieces of nigiri and a sashimi platter of “Korean-style” sashimi (Jey Oh is Korean). White fish and octopus and a spicy Korean pepper sauce. An interesting and tasty change of pace.
The double stack at Livingston for brunch. We were the only people there this past weekend at 1PM. Chef Zeb Stevenson has left, though they still market him on the menu. It’s a fine option for a burger if in Midtown, neighborhood-worthy I guess you could say. What it lacked in sear was rectified by well textured and beefy tasting beef. FYI, in Midtown, I do like the burger at Tap too. Underrated.
Last week we kicked it old-school service style at Chops Lobster Bar for my buddy Michael’s birthday. I always enjoy Michael’s birthday, because were both born in ’81, so as far as wine goes, I get to go along for the juice ride provided by generous friends. Last year we started with the ’95 Krug Clos de Mesnil and this year the ’98, which basically makes me a shit-head wine bragger. But they are stunning Champagnes if you can foot the bill. I like Lobster Bar, this being my second visit downstairs, with a much better vibe than upstairs. I’m told the best servers all want to work downstairs, where the tabs are higher and you are more likely to serve regulars. Or maybe Chipper Jones, who was passing through to the cigar bar. They did overcook my steak, and I hate sending that back, but at $50 you gotta do it. It was quickly corrected, graciously. There is something to be said for a well-oiled machine of a restaurant, with comprehensive staff training programs.
The 1981 Riojas did not suck. LDH is still the jam.
Last weekend brought many other delicious wines for a cookout with friends. I brought the Chablis, which I purchased from Le Caveau in Chamblee. No longer can I afford to buy Grand Cru Burgundy (or even much of the excellent Premier Cru) so I turn to Eric at Le Caveau, who finds great old world style and interesting wines my wallet can tackle. Eric really does his homework and can educate in a way that a big box can’t.
Much great food of course – we had lobster and squid paella – excellent.
And fried chicken and salad and octopus. The grill was in heavy use (even for blackberry cobbler and fried chicken in cast iron skillets), the weather was cool, they set up the spread outdoors – you can’t ask for much more in the summer.
Besides grilling, my other summer obsession is Vietnamese food, particularly at Nam Phuong. Everything is herbal and crunchy and aromatic, even soups. Pho is good there, but I feel I’m missing out on other specialties, of which they have many.
I finally tried Seven Lamps - I’m very late to hitting this interesting restaurant. The menu is quite creative, as is the cocktail list wo-manned by Arianne Felder, who made this fantastic watermelon and gin cocktail. Not a touch too sweet, it’s a killer summer cocktail to start a visit.
Sampling just a few appetizers prior to catching a movie at Phipps (and their new luxurious reclining chairs), I chose the lobster roll, which comes on a overly giant squishy steamed bun of sorts. The soon saturated bun dominates and distracts from the lobster, which is really interesting, snappy, and flavorful, but too soggy of a mix.
Agnolotti with corn and mascarpone is brilliant – a heavy portion of chanterelles contrasted with blueberries really sets this dish off. It’s lighter than it may appear.
Another visit to Octopus Bar. I like this place. I’m definitely not cool enough to be there at 1AM, but where else can you get beer and oysters and sea urchin laced with weed aromas at that hour?
I also really like Ben’s Brown Bag for quality “fast food” in my neighborhood. This $5 chicken sandwich is killer. Burgers are solid too. Prices have been lowered so toppings aren’t as punitive.
Finally, the Braves go for 14 tonight. Everyone is talking about how they haven’t lost since the Waffle House opened, but everyone fails to mention how I happened to be there that evening, for the packed night game against the Cardinals. Katie has even refused to have our baby until the streak ends. Lord help her.