Weekend Eats ATL

…because calories don't count on the weekends

Article 14 small plates

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14 Reasons to Love Article 14

Article 14 is one of my favorite Midtown spots for a cocktail and an evening bite.  I’ve dined at the place half a dozen times, but have rarely ordered anything other than the Kale Yeah salad, simply because it’s so delicious.  During a recent meal, I branched out and found many other reasons to love the place…

  1. Cocktails: Article 14 has a menu full of fun and unique cocktails.  The zesty melon cooler was right up my alley – vodka, watermelon, lime, and red pepper flakes.  It was subtle, not too sweet, and a little spicy from the red pepper.
Article 14 cocktails

They also serve an excellent dirty martini, if that’s more your style

2.  Lobstah: The lobster roll special made me feel like I was dining on the coast of Maine.  The lobster was served chilled with diced celery, and piled into a toasty bun.  Although the sauce looks a bit heavy, it was actually light and zesty.

Article 14 Atlanta

Fresh Maine lobstaaa

3.  BWD: The bacon-wrapped dates are a staple at Article 14.  The sweet dates were wrapped in a slice of thick-cut and crispy bacon, and topped with a drizzle of aged balsamic.

Article 14 menu

Bacon-wrapped deliciousness

4.  Deviled eggs: I’m not normally big on deviled eggs, but Article 14’s version struck my fancy.  Instead of mayo, the yolks were whipped with goat cheese, and sprinkled with crispy prosciutto and scallions.  They goat cheese made them tangier, creamier, and so much more delicious than the regular version.

Article 14 midtown

Deviled delights

5. & 6.  Peaches & Prosciutto: We had to get in an order of the grilled local peaches before they disappear for the next 9 months.  The juicy peach slices were wrapped in prosciutto and grilled with just the right amount of char and glaze from the saba sauce.  I wouldn’t want to have peaches any other way.

Article 14 small plates

Peachy keen

7.  Tomatoes:  The heirloom tomato salad was the best I’ve had all summer.  The dish was vibrant, beautiful, and flavorful.  The colorful heirlooms were perfectly salted and drizzled with EVOO.  And then there was that delicate (and also perfectly seasoned) piece of burrata on top.

Article 14 Atlanta

Heavenly heirlooms

8. & 9.  Kale + Bacon:  Even though I was branching out, I couldn’t possibly go without a bite of the kale yeah salad.  Article 14 has somehow managed to turn kale into bacon.  The smoky bacon vinaigrette is seriously addicting.  I could eat it all day long.

Article 14 kale yeah

Kale or bacon?

10.  The burger was too tasty-looking to pass on a bite.  The double beef patty was perfectly medium rare, topped with aged white cheddar, and served on a challah bun.  With a pickle on top.  Mouthwatering.

Article 14 menu

A solid stack

11.  Lemon Tart:  I wasn’t really hungry for dessert, but had to at least try a few bites of the chocolate lava cake.  You know, for research purposes.  The cake was disappointingly overcooked, and definitely lacking in the lava department.  Had it been cooked more like the moist and fluffy lemon tart, I might have had more than a few bites.

Article 14 dessert

Deceptively un-lavalike

Article 14 dessert

Now if only they would replace the lemon part with chocolate

12, 13, & 14. The 3 S’s (service, speed, seasonal):  The service was excellent, and I don’t think we waited more than a few minutes in between courses.  I really enjoyed exploring Article 14’s menu, and the chef did an excellent job highlighting so many seasonal ingredients.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for fall, I hear bacon-flavored kale is in.

Empire State South Atlanta

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Empire State of Mind…with a Southern Twist

I’m a big fan of Hugh Acheson.  Actually, I think I have a small, school-girl kinda crush on him.  Five & Ten and The National are both worth a visit if you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in Athens.  Needless to say, I was super excited to dine at Empire State South for the first time this weekend.

The restaurant is located in Midtown at the corner of 10th and Peachtree streets.  Outside, it has a huge seating area and bocce court, which looked perfect for a summertime Sunday funday.  It’s too bad I didn’t discover that patio two months ago.  Inside, the restaurant was dimly lit, slightly rustic, with a little bit of hipster flair here and there.  We were lucky enough to snag a nice corner booth, with a good view for people-watching.

Empire State South

Best seat in the house

I started the evening with a dirty martini, which took about ten minutes longer to arrive than I would have liked.  Our server made up for it with a clever martini joke and some jumbo-sized blue cheese stuffed olives.  However, the serving of martinis in coupe glasses is a trend that must stop immediately.  Martinis belong in martini glasses.  The end.

Empire State South cocktails

I don’t always drink martinis, but when I do, I prefer a martini glass

Empire State South’s menu offers an eclectic range of modern Southern fare.  Upscale comfort food, really.  The ESS charcuterie and cheese boards seemed to be popular items around the restaurant, but we started with the burrata and the roasted roulette peppers, per our server’s recommendation.

Empire State South menu

The burrata dish was a delicious spin on a traditional tomato and mozzarella salad.  The creamy burrata was topped with grape tomatoes, basil, squash, and roasted chanterelle mushrooms.  The mushrooms absolutely made the dish.  Their earthy flavor balanced really nicely with the rich and creamy mozzarella.  We both wished there had been more of them.

Empire State South Atlanta

More mushrooms, please.

The roasted roulette peppers dish looked and tasted like the essence of fall.  The peppers were super flavorful, and tossed with tomatoes, arugula, squash, and a little bit of quinoa.  A handful of green peanuts added a nice bit of crunch to the dish.  They weren’t kidding, though, when they said roulette peppers.  Chad ate one innocent-looking pepper that was so hot I thought he was going to start breathing fire at the table.

Empire State South Atlanta

The beauty of fall on a plate

Portion-wise, both of the starters were pretty large and hearty.  By the time our entrees arrived, I was already starting to get full (which turned out to be a good thing, as you’ll see).

I ordered the king salmon, which was served with roasted squash, mushrooms, bok choi, and a few tiny little shrimp.  The salmon was, in one word, awful.  I took only two bites: the first, and then the second to confirm how terrible the first bite was.  The main problem was that the fish was completely overcooked.  I always order my salmon rare, and this piece was pretty close to well-done.

Empire State South Hugh Acheson

A telltale sign of overcooked salmon: the unappetizing white albumin on the side of the fish

I couldn’t even really tell whether the fish had a good flavor because I was unable to get past the dry and un-flaky texture.  The rest of the dish wasn’t much better.  The ‘Tybee Island shrimp’ might have come from Tybee Island, where they were caught and frozen several months ago. The squash, mushrooms, everything else was just blah.

Hugh Acheson

I love my fish with a nice and crispy skin, but not at the expense of overcooking the entire filet

Chad’s dish, on the other hand, was phenomenal.  He went with the Gum Creek pork, which was prepared four ways.  The pork belly and crispy pig’s ears were definitely my favorite components of the dish, but the roasted and fried tenderloin pieces were also quite tasty.  Everything on the plate was tender, flavorful, and cooked perfectly.  I wish I could have said the same thing about my salmon.  So naturally, Chad did what any good boyfriend would do: he pretended that he wasn’t all that hungry and shared his dish with me.  Even that delicious pork belly.

Empire State South Atlanta

The dish that saved the day

After the disappointment of the salmon, we opted not to test the waters on dessert.  They also didn’t offer anything chocolate, so that made the decision easy.  I enjoyed everything about the meal, other than the salmon, obviously.  At the end of the day, I’d say that the tastiness of the other dishes outweighed the disaster that was the salmon.  I’m still on the fence about whether or not I would be willing to give Empire State South another try.  Maybe on a good day, but I certainly wouldn’t touch that salmon again with a 10-foot pole.

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Mi Cocina es Tu Cocina

While working on a consulting project in Dallas several years back, a friend recommended that I try out the Tex-Mex and Mambo Taxis at Mi Cocina.  I was very thankful for his suggestion, as I enjoy Tex-Mex much more than any sort of “authentic” Mexican cuisine.  Walking down the “Midtown Mile” a few months ago, I was delighted to stumble across a sign that read “Mi Cocina – Coming Soon.”

Mi Cocina Atlanta opened back in November, but I decided to give them a few months to get the kinks worked out before testing it out for dinner.  I called earlier in the week to make a reservation, only to be informed that they only reserve tables for parties of 10 or more.  By nature, I am miserably impatient, so I hate showing up anywhere on a Friday or Saturday evening without a reservation.  I finally convinced the hostess on the phone to reserve a table for eight, and was glad I did because the restaurant was pretty much full by the time we arrived (which says a lot because the two-story space is huge).  The décor gives off an upscale, almost loungy vibe.  I loved the contrast of the white leather seating with the dark, mahogany tables, as well as the eclectic mood lighting.

Mi Cocina dinner

Sorry Jenni, I might be blocking half of your head

We were seated (on the second floor) immediately upon arrival, despite the fact that our entire party wasn’t even there yet.  Chips and salsa were delivered about 30 seconds later – bonus points for that.

Mi Cocina chips & salsa

Everyone got their own personal salsa dish, no double dipping complaints at our table

I skipped out on the famous Mambo Taxi this time and tried the Agave Margarita.  With any margarita, you always risk an overly-sweet and artificially-flavored disaster, but this one was the real deal.  I also tried (three) tastes of the Dilemma, which entailed “starting with strawberry, taking a Taxi, [and] arriving on Mango.”

Mi Cocina Agave Margarita & Dilemma

Agave on the left, Dilemma on the right

The Agave Margarita paired nicely with the guacamole that we ordered for the table.  The only problem was that the guacamole was nearly gone by the time our cocktails, napkins, and silverware arrived.

Mi Cocina guacamole

Without silverware, the center chip worked nicely as a serving spoon – plenty to share for all

Entrée-wise, I shared a plate of the Tacos “De Pescado,” which absolutely made up for my most recent less-than-desirable fish taco experience, and then some.  The soft, corn tortillas had an appealing,  fresh-out-of-the-tortilla press texture.  The tilapia was pan seared and topped off with a light cabbage slaw that added a nice tangy-bitterness.  Avocado salad and rice accompanied the meal – both of which disappeared as quickly as the tacos.  I only wished there had been the option to combine the fish and shrimp tacos into Tacos “De Pescado y Camaron” – perhaps they will honor a special request next time I return…

Mi Cocina Tacos "De Pescado"

Still dreaming about those tortillas…

I also tasted the Crispy Chicken “Enchiladas Verdes.”  Appropriately named, the corn tortillas were perfectly crunchy and smothered in a spicy salsa verde, with a sprinkle of cojita cheese on top.  This dish was absolutely delicious, although I think my mouth might have been on fire had I eaten the entire thing.

Mi Cocina Enchiladas

Crispy, crunchy, & spicy

Everything I tasted throughout the evening had a bold, clean flavor.  The food is very reasonably priced, especially given the Peachtree Street-Midtown address.  They’re still working out a few of those kinks in the service, it seems, but I’m excited to return and test out the downstairs bar area.  We finished the night with a round of Moscow Mules at nearby Article 14.  The vodka-ginger beer concoctions were cold and refreshing, but I could have done without the condescending bartender…

Article 14 Moscow Mules

Always served in a copper mug. Love that.