Whirlwind Week-end of Culinary Delights

Monday, October 4, 2010

Whew!  A whirlwind of dining at some of my old and new favorite eateries here in Atlanta has come to a close.  The reason for our culinary tour - my parents visit to town for a family friend's wedding.  OK, their Thursday afternoon arrival kicked off our 3 day visit with a bottle of their favorite California Chardonnay and the perfect accompaniment, Nutty Girl Nut Mix. Friend, creator, and owner Carolyn Cary's savory & sweet blend of rosemary, brown sugar, dried cranberries, and an assortment of nuts is perfect with cocktails.

For dinner we headed to the newly opened Empire State South.  Located right in the heart of Midtown, Empire State South is the culinary brainchild of Athens, GA based chef Hugh Acheson.  I had heard good things from friends and had high hopes for our experience.  As you make your way to the front door you can't help but get caught up in the excitement and fever of the restaurant's bocci ball court.  Adirondack style chairs line the court for patrons to gather and enjoy cocktails & fare.  Once inside, seating is offered at a large bar or smaller sized rooms.  My expectations were exceeded on all levels - staff, decor, and most importantly food.  Must trys include the Southern Antipasti Platter - complete with pimento cheese tea sandwiches; any of the salads (mine with roasted baby carrots & beets was super delicious), the Frogmore Stew, the Pan Roasted Carolina Trout, and the Five Sides Veggie Plate - the mac & cheese is to die for!  Not to be outdone, the desserts are mouth watering and insanely delicious - order a slice of the Bourbon Pecan pie for sure, the Hummingbird Cake, the Chocolate Pudding, and the Soft Serve Homemade Ice Cream were also our favorites.  Rebecca, our server, never made us feel rushed, she was perfect at allowing us to enjoy each and every course.  Empire State South also serves breakfast and lunch and offers an espresso bar, opened all day.  Make a plan to stop in soon!

Friday & Saturday morning Mom enjoyed her cappuccino at our neighborhood coffee shop - Octane.  If you haven't been, Octane has 2 locations one on the east side & west side of Atlanta.  Known for their artisan brewed & delecately crafted coffees and a staff that is passionate about espresso, another must try!

I organized our Friday afternoon lunch at Miller Union, a restaurant located on the Westside of town.  I have been recommending this place to friends for months, but we hadn't gotten a chance to try it ourselves.  Opened just over a year, Miller Union has been receiving rave reviews from culinary critics - Bon Appetit Magazine just named Miller Union on its list of 10 Best New Restuarants in America.  Bustling with patrons enjoying savory dishes, we loved the Feta Snack - served with farm fresh radishes; the Arugula Salad; the Bacon, Pecan, & Tomme Melt - open face sammy style; the Daily Grind Cheeseburger; and the Seasonal Vegetable Plate.  To finish, Miller Union offers homemade ice cream sandwiches, flavors changing daily - we tried the Mexican Chocolate split 4 ways.  Next time, a visit for dinner.

On our way back cross town, I wanted to be sure I got Mom & Dad over to Cacao in Inman Park for them to sample owner & creator Kristen Hard's artisan bean to bar chocolate.  Heavenly is the word to describe Kristen's quaint shop and chocolates!  Not only are the truffles out of sight, Kristen's chocolate "Bark" - is a must try as well.  We purchased the homemade marshmallows dipped in chocolate, an assortment of truffles, Cacao's hot chocolate mix, and my favorite Bark - nuts with dried cranberries.

Friday night ended with our friend's wedding held at the Park Tavern overlooking Piedmont Park.  The evening was exquisite complete with show stopping views of Midtown Atlanta.  The bride opted to serve cupcakes for dessert, sourcing local cupcake maker Atlanta Cupcake Factory.  Located in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood, this sliver of a shop offers an assortment of cupcakes and icing with delicate decorations.

Before their departure on Saturday, I had one more favorite eatery for Mom & Dad to enjoy.  We typically frequent Dynamic Dish for dinner - their Saturday Organic Pizza Night is super yummy - but we opted for lunch on the way to the airport.  Put Dynamic Dish on your list for lunch must trys......  Located in the Edgewood/Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, this food is farm fresh - using in season ingredients.  We ordered and loved the chunky slices of sourdough bread with butter; the beet & turnip soup; the black eyed peas and quinoa salad; the organic farm scrambled eggs; and the turkey and cheese sandwich.  Finished off with a slice of homemade Valrhona chocolate cake.  Dynamic Dish is the quaint neighborhood spot that you're looking for.....  simple refined decor with long farm style tables, staff that is welcoming & attentive (our server Gerald gets the 'Server of the Week-end Award'), and food that is savory and nourishing.  Please GO!

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