Sunday, March 18, 2018

Urban Cookhouse - Sandy Springs Georgia

You can find Urban Cookhouse at 4600 Roswell Rd Ste G-100, Sandy Springs, GA 30342- this is the newish shopping center achored by Sprouts Market. Parking is out front and down several side streets - this place gets swamped, particularly on the weekends so you may have to walk a bit but generally there's plenty of parking on this end of the shopping center.

Urban Cookhouse is a fast casual restaurant that features farm-to-table ingredients in an earthy, American style. You'll find all your favorites here and several opportunities for sandwiches, salads and lightweight pastas. I've eaten here on several occasions and all of them have been okay-to-good, with hot food a bit tepid rather than hot. My first experience was with a group of friends and I was underwhelmed - my second was a bit better so I'll give this 3/5 stars.

I think the service here is good overall with fairly fast food delivery. I thought the portions slightly on the smallish side. Most of the meats are cooked on a Big Green Egg so there's a smokiness to them that was quite good - the chicken is not though (not sure why?). The second time I tried a salad and liked it quite a bit. Overall this would not be a bad choice if you were in the area - however with Tupelo Honey and Cheeky Taqueria within walking distance I'm not sure why you would bother, unless you were dying for macaroni and cheese?

(also posted to Yelp)
Urban Cookhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Taqueria Los Rayos -

You can find Taqueria Los Rayos at 3473 Clairmont Rd, Atlanta, GA 30319 where Clairmont crosses Buford Highway just south of the Deering crossing. This is a free-standing building that used to have some fast-food joint like a DQ or Del Taco and it still has the same basic footprint - parking is all along the edges and there's an unattached covered patio in part of the parking lot so you can eat outside. There's a remnant of a drive-through which appears to still be in operation.

I've eaten here before, coincidentally on both occasions it was with my usual Buford Highway Restaurant Crawler group - this second time was much better than the first (the first time there was a rather unpleasant sewer backup going on and the smell was hard to get past). You order at the counter at Taqueria Los Rayos and then pick up the food as it comes up. On this Wednesday evening there was on person at the counter and one in back - otherwise it was empty. As with other local area Latino joints, this place caters to the many who live in the nearby apartments and can easily walk by.

The food here is fairly authentic - very typical of what you might find in Mexico City or elsewhere in central Mexico. The tacos are double wrapped in corn tortillas and have a hefty serving. I had this meat plate - don't remember what it's called on the menu but it had beef, pork and bacon with sides. Good but a bit much for a single serving. Make sure you order a Mexican Coke with your meal - a bit of a given - you can thank me later.

Service here is quite good if sparse - I think everyone enjoyed their food. The carne asada I tired was good if a bit dry. Note that there aren't really any vegetarian options - this is more of a taco dive.

(also posted to Yelp)
Taqueria Los Rayos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, January 1, 2018

Pontoon Brewery - Sandy Springs Atlanta Georgia

You can find Pontoon Brewery at 8601 Dunwoody Pl, Ste 500, Sandy Springs, GA 30350 - this is a series of buildings as part of a business park right across the street from Quicktrip - Pontoon is in the building to the far left (Building 500) and they have the space on the left corner. There's plenty of parking out front and to the sides.

I was invited by a few friends to attend Pontoon Brewery's "soft open" and I'm very glad I did. I was a bit skeptical of Pontoon as I hadn't heard anything about them - a search online quickly found their website and frankly the beers noted there showed very little that I would be interested in - at least as part of their current production. I was happily wrong in my thinking as what they offered on tap exceeded my expectations.

When you walk into Pontoon you're basically in a converted warehouse/office space with high and exposed ceilings. The bar is to your left and there are tables scattered about. To the far right are the restrooms and a secondary bar (looks like something they travel with) - while we were there some people got out a cornhole game and started playing in that area (yes the ceilings are that tall).

I arrived a bit early with my friend Arvin and ordered up a - Black Squall Russian Imperial Stout (Smoky, Dark Roast Coffee, Bittersweet, 9% ABV) - I ordered a 12 oz glass at the very reasonable price of $6.50. At Pontoon you can get classes from a 2 oz sample size all the way up to 16 oz with scaling prices. You can also order a flight of four $9 which is a great deal. The Russian Stout was appropriately opaque and delicious with great chocolate/coffee foam and "legs" - it was like drinking an awesome espresso and a great started.

The rest of our group arrived so we moved to a table - I also ordered a flight with the following:
  • Galaxy Drifter American IPA (Juicy, Hoppy, Tropical, 6.3% ABV)
  • Midnight Silver Pecan Pie Nut Brown Ale (Nutty, Roasty, Malty, 5.8% ABV)
  • Freedom Bird American Strong Ale (Cocoa, Grassy, Malty, 8% ABV)
  • BBA Freedom Bird American Strong Ale (Toasted Oak, Caramel, Cocoa, 8.8% ABV)

Of the four my favoite was the Midnight Silver Pecan Pie Nut Brown Ale. Then best to least: BBA Freedom Bird, regular Freedom Bird and finally the IPA. That last was jarring after starting with the Freedom Bird (regular) and the Brown Ale. I think the drinking order is important here and I should have started with the IPA - the bitterness was off-putting after the mellow tones of the rest - it also had an aftertaste that took a while to dispel. Note that under normal circumstances I think it would have been borderline for me but in the flight I didn't care for it at all. Of the Freedom Birds, the Bourbon Barrel Aged version was much better than the regular with awesome mellow tones - the regular reminded be of Victory's Golden Monkey (not a bad thing) but the BBA was just better.

After the flight I had a pint of the Brown Ale and was very happy. We headed to Aladdin for some shwarma next and it was an awesome way to top off the evening. In general the location is awesome (very similar in feel to Orpheus crossed with Jekyll) and the guy pouring was both knowledgeable and attentive, coming around several times to see if we were ready for more. Like I said in the beginning, the beer exceeded expectations and overall this was an awesome experience. Kudos to Pontoon for starting out on the right foot!

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)