Saturday, October 31, 2015

Takorea - Dunwoody at Georgetown Shopping Center

You can find this location of Takorea at 4474 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30338 in front of the Georgetown Shopping Center in the old Guthrie's location. While the former Guthrie's was a good option for fried chicken, with so many other options nearby it had a hard time competing. Nice to find a Takorea now at the same location, this time with additional outside seating via a covered patio. Limited parking to the front, but plenty in the Georgetown lot.

I first became aware of the Takorea in midtown and ate there one evening with friends during trivia night. I later sampled the parent location, Hankook Taqueria on Collier Rd in West Atlanta. This location has the same awesome food but with the same fast-casual, order-at-the-counter vibe. During lunch the line often extends out the door. It's easier to spot the ready marquee near Chamblee Dunwoody Rd - just know that the restaurant is closest to the road and is stand-alone, unlike those businesses that are incorporated into the main shopping center row anchored by Kroger (so it's not in the same building at Starbucks, Goldberg's or Farmburger - all also excellent options, by the way).

I've been coming to this Takorea since it opened mid-2014 and somehow have selfishly visited over a dozen times without more than a passing review. This shopping center is conveniently located between my work (near 400) and my home near spaghetti junction, so it's super, super convenient for a quick bite or as a place to camp while traffic works itself out. They have a few decent local beers on the menu so I can sit on the patio and watch the messy roads while sipping a brew and maybe a taco or two.

If you haven't tried the Koran taco yet it's quite a treat. This involves the spicy and sweet flavors usually reserved for grilled Korean food, inside of a soft tortilla or wrapped in a burrito. The flavors are super complimentary and just lend themselves well to one-another - and you also get the convenience of wrapped food. I like to bring people who haven't had Korean and might have some fear of the cuisine here to Takorea and have been very successful in converting them to Korean cuisine.

Speaking of bringing people here, this is a great lunch hangout but I would suggest that you either come earlier or later as I've already written, the line can go out the door. The interior is part Mex-brightness and part Asian with robot-looking guys prancing around the room - quite fanciful-whimsical. The menu is broken down into three main categories, Snacks, Tacos and Burritos. You order from a simple paper menu at the counter, grab your drink and sit with a numbered stand. Someone brings you your food and then it's a race to not woof everything down too fast and actually enjoy your food.

Here are some highlights of items I've sampled:

Sesame Frieds - Tossed in sesame oil and red pepper flakes. These are delicious but some of my friends, who I later found out did not like sesame oil and which is a prevalent flavor in Korean cooking, did not like them. Otherwise they are crisp, slightly tangy with the nutty flavor profile.

Quesadilla - bulgogi (Korean marinated beef), roasted onions and jack cheese. Move over carne asada, this version is sweet-savory and an excellent introduction food. Ask for a side of hot sauce (GQ Dip made with Gochujang).

Man-doo - the traditional Korean dumpling - sic fried dumplings, filled with ginger scallion pork.

Gogi-nachos - chips and jack cheese topped with bulgogi - I liked these but the portion really should be doubled. Make sure you get extra jalapenos.

Kimchee Fried Rice - your basic fried rice made with hot sauce (Gochujang) - really delicious with great mouth feel. 

Bibim-bop - beef, gevetables, fried egg w/pepper sauce on rice. I know I'm supposed to like this dish but it's never been one of my favorites (here or elsewhere - my mom didn't make it). I think it's the cold/hot relationship that doesn't work for me.

Of the Tacos, I've tried the Chicken (both fried and BBQ), Beef, Pork, Fish and Shrimp. I like getting the three taco special with one of each flavor.

Burritos - I've had the Chicken, Beef and Pork, all delicious but I do wish they were about 25% bigger.

Entree Salad - I prefer the chicken over the beef, but I generally like that combination with lettuce. Ask for a side of the hot sauce.

In all, I thing you'll enjoy this place - kick back with a local craft, a handful of tacos and a side of the fried rice and you'll leave with a smile and a warm belly. Enjoy!

-- John
Takorea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, October 26, 2015

Rathbun's - Inman Park - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Rathbun's at 112 Krog Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 in the building across from Krog Street Market. This area of town (right at the Inman Park end of the beltline) is certainly hopping with many new businesses and restaurants, particularly at Krog Street Market. Parking is a bit on the sparse side and thus it may be better to go during the week rather during a weekend. There's valet and two outdoor lots, one behind the Market and the other across the street (but may be a bit muddy as it's mostly gravel). 

I always enjoy going to Krog Street Market, primarily due to Hops City and the fine selection of local craft beer you can get there (I'm talking about the keg-pour and drink station) - I also am quite fond of Gu's Dumplings and am glad he's doing well there. Across the street is the very good Rathbun's restaurant occupying what looks to be an old industrial building. The restaurant features high ceilings with a mix of industrial and polished, loft concrete and mixed-recycled finishes and plenty of rich woods. I loved what they've done to the interior. There's also an exterior patio surrounded by cloth walls for a bit of privacy.

We arrived early on a Friday for an anniversary dinner which coincidentally coincided with the Inman Park Festival. I believe the wait was around 10 minutes while they got our table situated, I recommend reservations. We enjoyed a couple of drinks at the bar and carried them to the table. I had a very good Founders Breakfast Stout on draft that setup the evening quite nicely. I loved the lit bottle-wall and the fantastic lighting treatment - class all the way. The menus provided included both the regular dinner and wine list, plus a short set-menu for the Festival - we decided to try those items. 

If you've never done a fixed-menu before it's fairly interesting. At Bacchanalia you basically have two or maybe three paths to go with the food, each course paired with wine with few options beyond the initial choice. At Rathbun's, for the Inman Park Festival the restaurant chose to go with four items for each of three courses, Appetizers, Entree and Desserts. I sensed that these items were a bit easier to prepare and have moderately equivalent value (either price or cost) while providing a good assortment, all for $25 per person - quite a deal!

For appetizers, we selected:

* Venison & Bacon Meatballs, Blue Cheese Fondue, Picked Herbs - these insanely rich meatballs were delicious with the blue cheese.

* Crispy Gulf Oysters, Tabasco Tartar - these were positively delicious but with only three to the plate slightly small in portion.

We also added a small Caesar salad as we wanted more green veggies with our meal - bread was also served with our salad and it was quite good with two different varieties.

For Entrees, we selected:

* Herb Crusted Haddock, Roasted New Potatoes, Broccoli, Lemon Butter - the haddock was very flavorful and buttery, cooked with a perfection hard to master in this size of fish.

* Allen Brothers 10oz Ribeye, Creamed Spinach - I thought the creamed spinach sounded a bit weird but it worked well with the steak, which was a perfect rare cut. The creamed spinach added a cheesy-like quality that provided some mouth-feel.

For Desserts, we selected:

* Spumoni Gelato Sundae, Waffle Crisp, Crushed Pistachios - anything with ice cream works for me and this was no exception. 

* Warm Pecan Pound Cake, Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Bourbon Sauce - as much as I liked the Sundae this was my favorite by far. Great flavors.

We of course also had the most excellent coffee. 

In all, the highlights were the fantastic setting/ambiance, great service and of course the food. I did feel like the evening was a bit rushed and the staff certainly looked to be overworked. When we come back it will be in the middle of the week and during a time where the place isn't so packed. In all an exceptional meal.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Rathbun's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato