Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Rotisserie Shop - Kennesaw, Georgia

I've been keeping a list of restaurants that I want to try so when the Dining Companion asks what I want to do for lunch I have some ideas. Some of the places on the list made it there because of one dish on their menu. The Rotisserie Shop is one of those places.

Specials menu and featured desserts

The interior has a homey, rustic vibe. One that carries through in the original art work displayed in the space. I believe the artist is Jeanie Tomanek. I loved the art. Loved.

Now to the good and not so good parts of lunch and the reason this place made my list.

One not so good thing was the service. It was way too intrusive. I get that everyone is different and some customers like very high-touch. I'm just not one of them. Very kind but trying way too hard. 

Another little bump was timing out of the kitchen. We ordered an appetizer (really the whole reason I was there) and a little later ordered our entrees. We were just starting on our appetizer when the entrees hit the table. Better timing by the kitchen is definitely in order.

Now the good stuff, the food, and the reason I was there. The Pork Poutine starter. Poutine is a French Canadian dish that got its start in Quebec. It consists of french fries, gravy and cheese curds. I've seen different versions of this dish on menus lately but the one at The Rotisserie Shop had the ring of authenticity and I just had to try it. (Yes, I know that roasted pork is not authentic to poutine. It sure was good though!)
Pork Poutine - hand cut fries, pulled pork, cheese curds and rotisserie gravy
Our untimely entrees were good as well. I had the Rotisserie Chicken Club with a side of the days special Brunswick Stew.
Rotisserie Chicken Club and Brunswick Stew
The Dining Companion had the Rotisserie Chicken with a side of Jalapeno Cole Slaw.

Rotisserie Chicken with Jalapeno Cole Slaw
I tasted the jalapeno cole slaw and immediately started planning a way to swipe it. I did manage to kind of trade the Dining Companion my Brunswick stew for his cole slaw so I didn't need to outright steal it. All of the food that we ordered was tasty and well prepared. However, the jalapeno cole slaw and the poutine is what will get me back in the door.

The Rotisserie Shop is a good, local, non chain option serving thoughtfully prepared, locally sourced food. If you're ever in the northwest Atlanta area in need of a good lunch spot you'd do well to give these guys a try.

Happy dining! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bay Breeze Seafood Restaurant - Marietta, Georgia

Image from Bay Breeze website
Bay Breeze Seafood Restaurant is one of the places the Dining Companion and I visited the last time we were in the Atlanta area.

Bay Breeze is a local place that, while not fancy, offers good food at reasonable prices.

Image from Bay Breeze website
Image from Bay Breeze website
We started with grilled jumbo shrimp. 

Then moved on to entrees.

Jumbo shrimp stuffed with crab stuffing
My favorite side is shown wrapped in foil above. It's a perfectly baked sweet potato. I love sweet potatoes and I'm always happy to see them on a menu.

We also ordered a mixed seafood platter. There was fish, clams, oysters and a couple of other items. I'm definitely a fried seafood fan. For those that aren't there are broiled platters available too.
Fried seafood platter - and no, those round things are not onion rings, they're hush puppies
There are plenty of options available for the non-seafood eaters in the party. Bay Breeze offers chicken, steak, burgers and a few other landlubber options.

There are daily dessert specials as well. The day we were there we had the chocolate cake.

The tipped over but still delicious chocolate cake
No matter where our travels take us we find it's a good idea to look past the chains and seek out something local. It usually works out. There's been a clinker or two over the years surely. But when that strategy pays off we end up at a place like Bay Breeze. Good food, friendly service and only available while we're local. 

Happy dining!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Taste of South Texas

The Texas Gulf Coast; it's hard to imagine a more perfect storm of foods that I love. It's where you can find a mix of great seafood, steaks, barbecue, TexMex and even authentic Cajun food.

There's everything from good BBQ at a chain like Rudy's to really great barbecue at a local one-off like Killen's Texas Barbecue.
Rudy's Texas meat market style barbecue
Rudy's Green chili stew
Killen's Beef Rib and Brisket
Killen's Ribs and Sausage
All the great TexMex is like my idea of heaven.
Everything good about a TexMex breakfast
Freshly made tortillas
Breakfast tacos
Some of the best TexMex we had was at Lupe Tortilla. The best veggie fajitas and awesome margaritas. Just so good.

There's a place in Houston called Abe's Cajun Market. I can't even remember all the times that we ate there. It's a local place, off the beaten track, but for Cajun influenced cooking it was our go-to.

Cajun spiced boiled shrimp (image from Abe's website)
Crawfish Etouffee and Seafood Gumbo (image from Abe's website)
Image from Eater Houston
Besides a barbecue joint, Chef Ronnie Killen also helms Killen's Steakhouse. A gem of a restaurant located in the Houston suburb of Pearland. I had a wonderful meal there highlighted by both a perfect Manhattan and a perfectly prepared steak. Definitely worth the drive.

Another favorite is Perry's Steakhouse and Grill. Although we never did have a steak at Perry's, their signature Famous Pork Chop is amazing.

While there are a lot of places to find fresh seafood in the area, one of the nicest is Pappas Seafood House. Wonderful fresh fish cooked simply and a fried stuffed avocado appetizer I love.

A short and sweet list of the places the Dining Companion and I enjoyed. If you find yourself in the Houston area any of these places would be well worth a stop.

When I think about places with a food culture I think about a place like Southern Louisiana with its creole and Cajun flavors or coastal New England with its great seafood. Houston, for me, hadn't been a part of that conversation before. It is now. If you're looking for a place with a great mix of some of the best food cultures look no further. You'll find it in the Lone Star state, on the Third Coast, where the best of land and sea come together.

Happy dining!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tom+Chee - Kennesaw, Georgia

The Tom+Chee in the name of this place is for tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. A restaurant that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup? Yes please! 

What better to do on a chilly, damp day than dive into a bowl of soup and a crispy, comforting, warm sandwich? Nothing better that's what. Faced with just such a day recently the Dining Companion and I stopped in at Tom+Chee.

The brightly colored red and yellow space is the perfect antidote for a drab day.

Hanging over the counter is a menu board that lists not only the dozens of grilled cheese options but also the soups, salads and grilled donuts(!) that are available. To the left is a chalkboard that shows all of the days specials. You order at the counter and the food is delivered to you at your table. Standard fast casual set-up.

There are so many choices that it can be a little overwhelming. The Dining Companion ordered the Tom+Chee and I ordered BBQ+Bacon with a Soup Dipper. The Dippers are small containers of soup to, you got it, dip your sandwich in. I love that.
diced tomato+garlic seasoning
+mozz+cheddar+hardy white bread
bbq potato chips+bacon+american+hardy white bread w/a creamy chicken soup dipper

The sandwiches were crispy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside. Just like you'd expect from a grilled cheese sandwich.

Oh, I also ordered the Grilled Donut of the day because of course I did. The donut this day was the Buckeye. A grilled donut topped with chocolate, peanut butter mascarpone, chocolate syrup and mozzarella cheese. I know!

This was the strangest thing I've eaten in a long time but man oh man, it was crazy good. Don't try to make sense of this insanity; just eat it.

(this is the first donut that's tempted me since my visit to Voodoo Doughnut last year)
The Buckeye - A grilled donut topped with chocolate, peanut butter mascarpone, chocolate syrup and mozzarella cheese
Everything we tried was good and there are enough bread and cheese choices, add-ins and variety that I'm sure we'll be back. I may or may not be plotting what my next donut is going to be. Maybe.

Happy dining!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Brandi's World Famous Hot Dogs - Marietta, Georgia

Photo from city-data.com
The Dining Companion and I recently had lunch at Brandi's World Famous Hot Dogs. Brandi's in Marietta is a small lunch place that's open 10am-3pm Monday through Friday.

When we arrived at lunch time there was a line at the door and the tiny dining room was standing room only. Luckily for us we were able to snag a seat with two older gentleman that were finishing up their lunch. They seemed a little bemused at my request to sit with them but they were polite and gracious and allowed us to share their table. We chatted briefly about the weather, like you do, they gave us a couple of recommendations for local places to eat and then said their goodbyes. By this time we had placed our order and sat looking around and waiting for our food.

There are a handful of tables in the dining room as well as a a two sided bar that surrounds the small kitchen. Every seat in the house was filled. Everyone from moms with kids, business men and law enforcement officers stopped in for lunch.

Finally lunch arrived.
Chili Slaw Dogs, Chili Burgers, Fries and Onion Rings
The chili dogs, one of the things Brandi's is known for, were really good. The burgers were okay but it was clear that the dogs were the star of the show. The onion rings were made with whole onion slices, as they should be and the fries were crinkle cut and fried crispy just like I prefer.

Brandi's is a simple place with a small dining room and a limited menu. It is also a beloved local institution. Having lunch with the locals, and people like ourselves who came here based on word of mouth, was fun. A room full of happy people sharing good food and a fun time. What could be better than that?

Happy dining!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Deep in the Heart of Dixie

Once again our merry little band is hitting the road. The East Coast is beckoning once again.

We had a good time in Texas. All that barbecue, all those icehouses, all the great seafood and TexMex cuisine. (I sense a theme here!) We've often vacationed in Texas and with all of our new found knowledge those vacations will be more fun than ever.

But, for all that, there is something about the East Coast that keeps calling us back.

So off we go. Heading east along I10 and into the Atchafalaya Basin, crossing on the Atchafalaya Swamp Freeway and its 18 mile bridge. East through the cities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And finally north towards Georgia and the Carolinas. 

We took our time and stopped a few places on the way. The Blow Fly Inn in Gulfport, Mississippi had been on my radar for a while. Too many Diners, Drive-ins and Dives viewings I suspect. But in any case, I wanted to check it out and the Dining Companion was kind enough to indulge me.

There wasn't much of a crowd the day we stopped for lunch. We were warmly greeted and seated at a table by a window.
I spotted a favorite of mine on the menu, a pimento cheese burger, and just had to order it. The Dining Companion ordered a Gulf Coast staple; a shrimp po'boy. 
Pimento Cheese Burger

Shrimp Po'boy
Lunch was good but I honestly didn't see what all the fuss was about. Maybe this place lights up with a crowd? Hard to say. I'm glad we stopped and that I had the chance to cross if off my list.

It's strange and comforting to travel along roads both familiar and made new by the haze of a capricious memory. Was that place there before? Did we stop here on a previous trip? It seems known and unknown at once.

Which, in a way, is nice. We get to rediscover old friends and discover new to us places along the way. But travel can be like that. It can make the old and familiar seem new and the new seem like an old friend.

Happy travels y'all!