Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A pleasantly unplanned weekend

There's a nice second run movie theater not too far from where we're staying. If you're like me the term second-run-theater conjures up images of musty old theaters with sticky floors and scared screens. Not so The Picture Show in Marietta, Georgia. The Picture Show is an older six screen movie house adjacent to a strip mall. Whoever runs the place does a great job of keeping it up. The theaters are clean, well maintained and a good option for seeing a show.

We've seen just about a movie a week these past few months but one, The Avengers, escaped our notice. Truth be told, I didn't have high hopes for it, but in keeping with the theme of this weekend, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a fun, entertaining movie and well worth the $1.75 price of admission. Did I not mention that? Two adult tickets for $3.50, such a deal.

We got to the theater a few minutes before the doors opened so we took a walk through the strip mall. Along the way we passed a menu board for a Thai/Chinese restaurant. We glanced at it briefly then headed back to see the movie.

After an entertaining 90 minutes or so it was lunch time. We decided to take a chance and headed back to the Thai place we saw earlier. Cue pleasant surprise of the weekend #2, Bamboo China Bistro. We were greeted and seated promptly and given menus. Bamboo China Bistro has daily lunch specials so we both took advantage of that. For $7 we each got a bowl of delicious coconut soup, nicely spiced, full of fresh mushrooms and lemongrass, a fried spring roll and an entrée. I ordered the Red Curry with chicken and my dining companion ordered the Masaman Curry with beef. I ordered mine spicy hot, which was spicy but not really hot. I asked and was told that there is a Thai spicy level beyond the one I ordered. I definitely get that next time.
The food at Bamboo was great and we'll be eating there again next time the craving for Thai food hits.

Coconut soup

Red Curry Chicken

Masaman Curry with beef

We had one more pleasant surprise this weekend. We had planned to have lunch at a local seafood place and made our way there Sunday afternoon. Sadly the place was not as advertised (that was our one unpleasant surprise!) so we were at odds and ends for lunch. We drove around a bit in the area and settled on Cinco, a modern Mexican restaurant billed as Mexican with Attitude. Hmmmm. We went in and they were serving brunch. Again, hmmmm. Well, brunch was terrific. The food was fresh, made to order guacamole was on offer and the rare spicy tuna was perfect. I didn't take one picture sadly but we'll probably try and get back there. If we do I'll post about it.

Round that all out with breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, The Red Eyed Mule, and it was a very nice weekend.

Miami Hangover

Plans don't always work out so be flexible. Some pleasant surprises of your own could be right around the corner.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ted's Montana Grill - Kennesaw, Georgia

We're always on the lookout for a good burger. With that in mind we headed to Ted's Montana Grill. The Ted in the name is Ted Turner and the restaurant features his Montana ranch's bison.

We were there for lunch and arrived to a not very busy dining room. Unfortunately we got off to a bit of a bumpy start and the good food, drinks and service never quite overcame that initial disappointing impression. We were seated and then ignored. There may have been some confusion over whose section we were in or some other service issue but the end result was that we sat and sat and sat. The manager must have noticed this about the same time I was getting up to find a server because our server finally appeared. She apologized for the delay and the service from that point forward was ok.

I ordered a white wine sangria with mango as we placed our order for lunch. My drink arrived in a short time and was delicious.

Soon after our burgers arrived. The Green and Hot burger I had was very good. A hand crafted bison patty served at exactly the temperature I requested, rare. It was topped with pepper jack cheese, fresh made guacamole, grilled jalapeños and chipotle ranch. The whole thing was rounded out with an order of just about perfect fries. Skin on, double fried, lightly salted and delicious.

My dining companion had the Montana Breakfast burger. A hand crafted bison patty topped with American cheese, grilled ham, spicy tomato jam and a fried over-easy egg. Another good burger also served with an order of those perfect fries.

House made pickles
 The food was good, the service, once it started, was ok and the sangria was great. But all that said I never could shake the initial disappointment. We're still undecided as to whether we will go back. Maybe we were all having an off day, it happens. If we do go back I'll update this post with those impressions too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Figo Pasta - Vinings, GA (Atlanta)

Last week we had lunch at a pasta place in Vinings, GA. Figo Pasta is a fast casual restaurant that serves Italian food. Fresh pasta with several different sauces, along with soup, salads and paninis.  Figo Pasta is set up like a typical fast casual restaurant, you order at a counter and your food is brought out to your table by a server. The food however is on par with or better than many full service places we've dined at. Figo offers many different types of pasta and several different sauces. You chose whatever type of noodle you want (they also have ravioli with many tasty and inventive fillings) and then select a sauce. You can add meatballs too if you'd like.

After we ordered we were given a brightly colored pepper mill table marker and headed outside to take advantage of what was a truly beautiful day. Our server stopped by and took our drink orders. He returned a short time later with some bread and offered a nice pour of olive oil.

While we waited for our food we sat back to enjoy the day. Adding to the ambiance were the people a couple of tables away speaking Italian and enjoying their lunch of pasta and paninis.

Lunch started with a crostini appetizer: goat cheese, caramelized onions and apricots spread on toasted ciabatta bread.

For entrees we had the tagliatelle with ragu of lamb and kalamata olives and the pappardelle with the amatriciana sauce. Both entrees were excellent, perfectly al dente pasta with just the right amount of sauce. One of the better bowls of pasta I've had.

Pappardelle with Amatriciana sauce.

Tagliatelle with ragu of lamb and kalamata olives
 Figo Pasta is a low key, comfortable place that serves really good pasta. Lunch for two ran us about $25 for an app, two entrees and two beverages. Add in friendly, knowledgable staff, a nice location and Figo Pasta is a winner.

 After lunch we walked across the street to CamiCakes Cupcake shop. I'd noticed it on the way to Figo and decided to pop in for a dessert to take home with us. I'm a sucker for cupcakes and these looked amazing.  While the flavors of the cupcakes were delicious, the cake itself was a little dry. I put this down to being over baked just a tad. Next time I'm in the area I'll give CamiCakes another try. Hopefully they'll have the minor cake issues sorted out.

Chocolate Raspberry Almond Cream, Key Lime and Classic Vanilla & Chocolate (L-R)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fox Brothers BBQ - Atlanta, Georgia

A couple of weeks ago we went to Fox Brothers BBQ for lunch. Fox Brothers is a local Atlanta BBQ joint that serves up Texas style BBQ. Texas style BBQ is all about the beef, brisket primarily and also beef ribs.

Earlier this year a large tree from a neighboring property fell on and destroyed a part of the Fox Brothers dining room. Slowed down but not out, the restaurant was open again in less than 48 hours. In the picture below the white tent now stands where the front part of the restaurant used to be.

There was a line of people waiting to sit outside under the tent so we opted to sit inside where there was no wait. The inside dining area is small and dominated on one side by a good sized bar. It's nice to find a decent BBQ place with a full bar and my favorite Texas beer on tap.

We started with an appetizer called The Lopez, tater tots covered with brisket chili and cheese. Honestly I was all in at tater tots but the addition of the chili and cheese made it that much better.

We ordered a Shiner Bock to go with our tot appetizer and placed our order for lunch. I ordered the Fox Brothers burger, a smoked burger with bacon and pimento cheese with a side of Frito pie. My dining companion had the two meat combo, ribs and brisket with potato salad and coleslaw.   In short order our food arrived. Everything looked good, including my "Frito pie" served in a small chip bag. (For those unfamiliar, Frito pie is basically corn chips covered with chili and cheese and baked into a casserole.) The coleslaw and potato salad were both flavorful.  Unlike most of my experience with smokehouse sides, these were really good. 

Frito Pie served in a chip bag
Having ordered the burger I had to forgo my standard BBQ order of ribs. Lucky for me my dining companion shared his ribs and brisket. The ribs were fall off the bone tender but not mushy. My complaint with brisket is always the same, too dry and too thin. Not here; the brisket was moist with a good amount of fat and not too thinly sliced. A good showing all the way around. 

Brisket and Ribs

Chocolate cake with strawberries and ice cream
We finished up lunch with a huge slab of chocolate cake. All in all our lunch at Fox Brothers BBQ was good with the sides and brisket both better than expected.  If you're ever in the Atlanta area and looking for Texas style BBQ do stop by. Fox Brothers will definitely fit the bill.
A quick note: We had lunch at Figo Pasta this past weekend. Easily one of the best dishes of pasta I've had in a long time. Fresh made pasta, a large variety of sauces at a very reasonable price point. I've paid twice the price or more at higher end Italian restaurants and didn't have pasta this good. Look for a full review with pictures coming soon. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Madison, Georgia

Last week we visited the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum in Madison, GA. After our stop at the museum we headed into the downtown area of Madison.

We took a brief ride around the town square in an open air car called the Lady Buggie. The ride around the city is free and helps to get an idea of what to see and the places to visit.

Madison is a lovely small town and it's very clear that the people who live here take great pride in their city.

A small but beautiful private courtyard
The town of Madison was once located on the stagecoach route between Charlestown and New Orleans. When the railroad pushed east from Augusta along that same stagecoach route Madison's citizens fought to preserve their downtown. The town deeded land to the railroad and arranged for the tracks to skirt the town. The town was spared during the civil war and rode out the boll weevil destruction of the cotton crop but by the end of WW II the population had declined and the economy had slowed down. For the next 30 years the town continued in a state of decline. Then in the 1970's with a renewed interest in preservation many of the older homes and businesses were purchased and restored. Today Madison is a lovely small town with a lot of charm and some beautifully restored spaces.

Small public park

While we were there I had a chance to visit a couple of these lovingly restored homes. The first place I visited was the Rose Cottage. This was a small home built by a former slave, Adeline Rose. Adeline earned a living by taking in laundry. Truck load sized loads of washing and ironing for which she earned 50 cents a load. Rose and her family lived in that little house for 68 years. It was moved to its present location by the city of Madison so that it could be preserved.

Picture of Adeline Rose

Adeline Rose
I also stopped in at the Madison Tea Room. What a gorgeous place. On the day I visited it was decked out for a wedding party. Just lovely. I managed to take a few pictures.

Hats - It's a Southern thing

I'm going to try and get back to Madison when it is decorated for the holidays. Historic and private home tours take place between November 30th and December 1st.

The visit to the Weiner Microcar Museum and the visit to Madison are part of our effort to get out and see the local sites of whatever area we find ourselves in. You never know what's right outside your front door unless you get out there and take a look.

Happy travels!