Friday, April 29, 2016

Willy's Mexicana Grill - Chastain Rd - Kennesaw Georgia

You can find this location of Willy's Mexicana Grill at 600 Chastain Road NW, Kennesaw, GA 30144 - this is the stretch of Chastain that stretches between I75 and I675 just north of Town Center Mall and host of several restaurants and of course a Starbucks. Parking is in the lots out front and to the sides but be warned that it's a high traffic area and a bit difficult to navigate around the divided roads - I'm not sure what the developers were thinking when they provided these buildings for restaurants - actually I doubt if they took much time to think through the traffic at all, after experiencing this area a few times myself.

This Willy's is one of their "new concept" done in a high design, industrial-modern style - quite beautiful inside as these types of restaurants go - love the stainless hood that rolls up from the food prep areas to the high ceilings. Those of you who know me also know that I'm a big fan of Willy's - it's become a staple for me to visit the location at the Publix near the Concourse which has provided me with fantastic food for over 10 years. I was quite excited to try this new Willy's and thrilled to see the interior.

We went through the line much like I have at previous locations - the staff was good about asking the right questions and building my burrito and everything looked and went quite well. At the sauce station I noticed a new selection - Roasted Tomato Fiery Hot Salsa and of course I had to try it. The food was good and consistent but wow - that new salsa is a total failure - it basically tasted like burnt mush - ugh. I don't know what Willy's was thinking introducing this one. Stick with the habanero, chipotle or tomatillo.

In any case, other than the disgusting new salsa, the food was consistent, the restaurant spotless and the interior amazing. I've now visited a few times and the experience every time has been a good one. Still sucks trying to get out of the lot though.

-- John

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Newks Eatery - Dunwoody Atlanta Geogia

You can find this location of Newk's Eatery at 1181 Hammond Drive, Suite 1000, GA 30346 in the Perimeter Expo shopping center anchored by Best Buy. This is the shopping center just south of Perimeter Mall adjacent to I285 - Newk's is located in about the center of the two buildings. There's plenty of free parking in this very busy shopping center and a MARTA station (Dunwoody Station) is conveniently located between it and the mall.

The interior of this location of Newk's features both internal and external seating via a small patio with three tables covered by read umbrellas - there's not much of a view from the patio as it faces the front and parking. The interior is larger than it appears at first glance with the line forming up to the right to a counter that wraps around the food assembly. Newk's is a fast casual restaurant so you order at the counter. After ordering you can watch your salad being made or just have a seat with your order number - on my first occasion eating there (shortly after the restaurant first opened its doors to the public) the food delivery was slow, however this has improved the second time with the same very hectic and busy lunch crowd.

The menu features Specialty Toasted Sandwiches, Fresh Tossed Salads, Artisan Pizzas, Pairings, Mac & Cheese, Little Newk's Favorites (kid's menu), Soups, Desserts and Beverages. I believe the restaurant is designed to compete with the likes of Panara Bread or the local Atlanta Bread Company. I have yet to try the pizzas, electing instead to have a turkey sandwich and side salad. Sid had a veggie sandwich and a side of beans. I thought my sandwich was good but nothing special - I don't believe Sid liked his selection at all.

If you don't feel like waiting for your food there's a section of ready-made sandwiches - however you will still need to wait in line to pay - too bad they don't have the payment kiosk where you can scan, pay and go. 

Newk's provides a table where you can get some free add-ons to your meal, including croutons, cheeses and pickles (I liberally applied the hot peppers). The restaurant is relatively clean but very busy during lunch so the tables aren't the tidiest - the staff seemed overwhelmed a bit but very friendly. To me this is more-of-the-same rather than anything special - a solid addition to an area that already has similar fare.

-- John

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

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ri Ra Irish Pub - Midtown Atlanta Georgia

You can find Rí Rá Irish Pub at 1080 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30309 in Midtown. This is located on the back-side of the building in the corner of Crescent and 12th Street so it's a bit difficult to find if you haven't been there before. I believe you can use the same parking deck that also feeds RA Sushi and Mi Cocina on the opposite corner of the building (facing Peachtree) if you can't find free parking.

I met about a dozen friends at Rí Rá after an event - it was late afternoon and the pub was about half full. This is a really gorgeous pub done in the classic Irish style with high ceilings, beautiful woodwork and motifs to transport you to the Irish countryside. Even the exterior is very reminiscent of the traditional pub with wood panels and windows opening to the interior on two walls. Once inside there's an expansive great hall providing access to the large bar, and then side-galleries where you can experience a more intimate setting. It was love at first sight for me.

We basically downed multiple pints - I stuck with local craft while others hit pretty much everything offered. For snacks we ordered a few items that can be shared including  calimari, the pub chips and several different types of chicken wings. I really enjoyed the hot "Volcanic" especially with an extra side for dipping. Yum.

The next time I'll make sure to order entrees but it just wasn't the right time. I love pub food and especially fish and chips so I'll make sure to at least have a bite to compare with the others (mostly lackluster fried tilapia instead of the appropriate cod or haddock) I've found in Atlanta.

Service was excellent with many small tables and groups of people and much scurrying to take care of all the different selections. Overall an awesome experience.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Ri Ra Irish Pub - Atlanta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Del Frisco's Grille - Buckhead - Atlanta Geogia

You can find Del Frisco's Grille at 3376 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30326 across the courtyard from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel - the restaurant location is not obvious and it will take you a couple of turns to find it. Once your in the valet courtyard you're good to go.

The interior of Del Frisco's is quite special -  the restaurant has a modernist fell with a really spectacular red light tower that climbs up an open atrium in the center across the floors - this motif is repeated elsewhere in red pendant lamps. Quite beautiful and a wonderful dinner or lunch setting. There are bars at both levels that look quite fun to visit - there's also a great elevated patio with fantastic views of Buckhead.

This is my first time at Del Frisco's so I had no expectations. I was there to attend a technology seminar, a bit of a lunch-and-learn, provided by Box, a secure content and file sharing technology services provider. As events go, this was very good as the content was interesting and the food superb. These tend to be a combination of informative and sales-pitch and in this case it was more the former.

We were presented a short menu with a couple of  entree and dessert selections. I went with the filet mignon (rare) which came with haricot vert and smashed potatoes - all was quite delicious. The meal started with a Grille salad - your basic mixed greens with cherry tomatoes and two thick slices of bacon - loved the house salad. For dessert I selected the ward chocolate cake a la mode.

The food at Del Frisco's reminded me quite a bit of the Capital Grill - I'd say they were directly competing and every bit as good.  I think the interior is aimed at a younger crowd, one that likes to socialize more at the bar before enjoying a delicious meal. It's a bit hipper based on the loud music, and less about formality. The service here was also quite good, overall a fantastic experience.

-- John 

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

Grindhouse Killer Burgers - Piedmont Near Cheshirebridge

You can find this location of Grindhouse Killer Burgers at 1842 Piedmont Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30324 across the street from Fat Matt's. I think this was the former Gorilla Wash? Parking is to either side of the building but be forewarned about the traffic, especially with the construction going on up the street. The building is hard to miss as "KILLER BURGERS" is plastered along all the front.

This is my first visit to Grindhouse after passing it many times, usually to visit Fat Matt's Rib Shack. I finally decided to swing by on the way home from an afternoon event in L5P. I was by myself on a rainy, cold weekday evening and the restaurant was about 30% full. As you enter you'll see a fairly large enclosed patio - empty this evening probably due to the cold. You walk up to the counter to order - there are menus but the convenient boards provide your options.

The bar in this restaurant is really fantastic - great robot mural by Eric Joyner and similar motifs abound. I loved the vibe of this place and could see it as a regular hangout if I lived closer. The place also has an exceptional craft beer menu and happened to have cans of my favorite local, Creature Comforts Tropicalia so how could I resist?

For my meal I ordered a fairly basic double cheese burger with sweet potato fries - holy $h!T this is an amazing burger!  Some of my friends argue about burgers and there seems to be two schools of thought - there's the classic thick-meat style which I'm a huge fan of - Farmburger comes to mind. Then there's the double-thin-meat style popularized by Holeman and Finch and others. To tell the truth, while the H&F burger is awesome, the burger at Grindhouse to me is as good if not better. This is a perfect combination of oozy-cheese, delicious bread, succulent meat and delicious toppings. Wow.

I also liked the sweet-potato fries quite a bit - these are wavy cut, on the thick side with crisp outsides, more like steak fries than potato sticks. Delicious.

Tonight one of my favorite movies, David Lynch's Dune is projected on the wall - you can't get much better than this. 

The service was good with a helpful person at the counter and a fairly quick delivery. Food is served on metal shallow baking pans covered in paper. Overall a fantastic experience that I hope to dive into again.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Grindhouse Killer Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato