Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub - Brookhaven Atlanta Georgia

You can find Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub at 705 Town Blvd, Atlanta, GA 30319 along the main avenue into Town Brookhaven on the left and a bit behind Bua Thai+Sushi. There's free parking along the streets, you can park in the deck or all the way over at Costco and walk a couple of blocks.

I've now eaten (and sampled the beers of course) at Olde Blind Dog a couple of times and think this is an awesome Irish pub. The exterior features dark wood panels and limited seating on a fenced patio. You would think the interior would be dark but once you walk through the foyer you realize the ceilings are quite tall - high enough to house a raised interior gallery complete with stairs, seating and a manikin depicting some classic Celt warrior, complete with "bastard" sword and Irish kilt.

Once seated you'll see a fairly detailed menu complete with Greadog (apps), Anrath (soups), Sailead (salads), Ceapairi (sandwiches), Entrees (entrees) and Clasaiceach (the Irish classics). There's also a notebook full of the beer and spirits selection which is quite extensive, including local and extant craft. I've had the Jailhouse Mug Shot IPA, the Red Brick Hoplanta and the Jekyll Hop Dang Diggity IPA.

I've had a variety of the food and they range from very good to blah:

* Chicken Quesadilla - braised chicken, fresh avocado, melted Jack and cheddar cheeses and red pepper cream sauce. I thought this is on the mediocre side and wouldn't recommend.

* Chili Cheese Fries - fresh cut French fries, smothered with melted cheese, topped with sour cream, bacon bits and chives. Hard to go wrong with this one and easy to share but it won't last long - you might need to order two.

* Celtic Curry - tender sauteed chicken breast, madras curry, veggies and brown rice. Very disappointed in this - maybe my expectations were too high? The UK has some of the best Indian food and I was hopeful, however this sweet curry didn't work for me. Maybe it's different in Irish pubs, traditionally? In any case, if you like Indian food you probably won't like this - for those who aren't sure, it might be a good compromise?

* Bangers and Mash - Irish bangers (sausages), homemade mased potatoes and green peas, served with brown gravy and fried onions. This rather impressive plate was tasty and maybe the best I've had locally. I really don't care to much for this dish in general (it always seems like the sausages are underdone but since they pretty much are consistent regardless of restaurant/pub they probably are supposed to be served like that). I did enjoy these dogs at the Dog, though.

The service here has been a bit hit-or-miss - when I sat at the bar it was exceptional. Seated in one of the booths the server was missing a lot - to the point where we had to track someone down to get a beer refill. It's this latter that degrades to 3/5 stars. I do like this place in general and plan to give it another try.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bua Thai and Sushi - Brookhaven Atlanta Georgia

You can find Bua Thai+Sushi at 705 Town Boulevard Suite Q330, Brookhaven, GA 30319 along the primary avenue into Town Brookhaven on the left and in front of Olde Blind Dog Pub. There's free parking along the streets, you can park in the deck or all the way over at Costco and walk a couple of blocks.

Bua was selected by my old online marketing group to be the next restaurant for our monthly luncheon. I really didn't know much about it so had no expectations.  The exterior features green awnings that partially cover the largish patio - "Bua Thai+Sushi" is in red letters on a small yellow sign.

The interior of Bua is amazing - great contemporary furnishings against a clean and lovely backdrop of art, fresh cut flowers and the like. It's really beautiful and would create the perfect date-night atmosphere. A small sushi counter is tucked away in the back corner next to a granite-counter-topped bar. My group was promptly seated (it was about a quarter to 12) with only one other table present - it soon filled up as the lunch hour progressed.

The menu is fairly simple  with Starters, Soup, Salad, Entrees divided by meats on the front; and Vegetarian, Rice and Noodle dishes with sides and a disclaimer on sushi on the back. We were also given a very simple Lunch Special menu with Appetizers on the front; Salad and Entree on the back. The prices ranged from $8-12 for either lunch or dinner so this place is extremely reasonable, especially for this area.

I found Bua very intriguing, mostly because it offers two of my favorite foods: Thai and Sushi. I love Thai seasoning, especially the penang and other curries and the basil chicken - I'm also a huge fan of num tuk. As my regular readers know, I'm also a huge fan of sushi, but on this day I decided to forego the sushi and focus on the Thai.

We each ordered and app and an entree from the menu and pretty much shared everything:

Ka nom Bueng Yuan - Stir-fried Shrimp and coconut meat wrapped in egg roll skin. Served with fresh bean sprout and cucumber salad. I've had this more as a crepe - at Bua it's a bit more like a casadilla. This was good if a bit heavy on the pan-frying - great mix of shrimp and coconut flavors.

Crispy Rolls (Veggie Rolls) - Four fried rolls stuffed with glass noodle, carrot, taro and cabbage served with sweet and sour sauce. This is an interesting take on a spring roll, with a tight wrap like a fat straw. I prefer something with more-contents than wrap so I was surprised I liked it as much as I did - I think it's the crunchy texture that makes it appealing.

Tom Kha Gai Soup - authentic coconut soup with galangal, mushrooms, kaffir lime leave, cilantro, and lime juice. This is perhaps the richest coconut chicken soup I've ever had - maybe a bit too rich? Try this one and tell me what you think.

Pad Woon Sen Shrimp and Chicken - Shrimp, chicken, stir-fried with clear noodles, jumbo onion, green onion, red bell pepper, bean sprout, egg and carrot. This is a delicious take on this dish - loved it!

Pad Thai (Chicken only) - rice noodles stir-fried with chicken, egg, bean sprouts, green onion, and topped with ground peanuts and a side of fresh sprouts. The shrimp was intentionally left off this dish.

Massaman Shrimp - sweet and sour Massaman curry, coconut milk with onion, avocado, potato and cashew nut. This had a very distinctive flavor - I don't believe I've ever had it with avocado - quite good.

The service was excellent with very attentive servers - the food came out very quickly. The food portions were a bit on the small side, but then again I'm used to the massive portions at Little Bangkok and Thai Restaurant of Norcross and really, who needs that much food for lunch? In all this is an awesome venue with an interesting take on Thai food to match.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
BUA Thai and Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Barn Smokehouse - Lawrenceville Highway - Lilburn Atlanta Georgia

You can find The Barn Smokehouse at 5364 Lawrenceville Hwy, Lilburn, GA 30047. Those of you paying attention will recognize the address as the location of the original Spiced Right BBQ, which changed owners and eventually became this new business, The Barn. Parking is in the lot next to the building which is hard to miss, as the main covered deck is painted red like a barn (makes sense, no?).

 The interior of The Barn Smokehouse is much as it was previously as Spiced Right so maybe now is the time to talk about that previous business. Spiced Right was one of my favorite BBQ places due to the all-you-can-eat pulled-pork buffet - I used to visit several times a month and while some of the other items on the buffet (like the hot dogs?) weren't worthwhile, the pulled-park was awesome, especially with a bit of the Lilburner sauce (hot, vinegary). At some point the buffet went away but I would still visit occasionally to have the ribs - which have been pretty much retained in the Roswell location (still open). I believe the family just got tired of having the Lilburn business and sold it where it remained Spice Right until The Barn took over.

The menu for The Barn is exactly what I like to see on a BBQ menu, mostly meats by the pound, as plates or sandwiches with just a few sides. I think to make good Que the business should stay focused and this menu indeed accomplishes this. You'll see options for Pulled Pork, Ribs, Brisket, Smoked Turkey & Chicken, Combos, a Quick Lunch (sandwich, chips and drink), Family Style (combos of meats and sides), Side Items, Kids Meal, Desserts and Beverages including beer by the bottle - I thought all the prices were very reasonable. You order at the counter from a very helpful guy who can answer some fairly detailed questions. Go for a combo platter - there's a ton of food, you'll be able to sample a lot and still have a bit to take home for later and lets face it, BBQ is too good to go to waste so just accept that you'll want to take some home.

I order the two-meat combo with ribs, pulled pork and two sides including collard greens and Brunswick stew - all for $14.95 ($2 up charge for the ribs). The ribs were super-tender with just a bit of caramelized sauce, meaty and about 1/8 inch of rind. Personally I like a bit more rind (which is where the smoky-flavor comes in) but these were very satisfying and I think most would like them. The pulled pork was also juicy with just a bit of rub and a little more rind. As with the ribs, not as smoking as I like but still very good and I know that most of my friends wouldn't complain. The Collards were good (made with smoked turkey I believe). I liked the flavors of the Brunswick stew but the corn was a bit under-cooked otherwise good. In all it was a ton of food and I left stuffed.

For sauces, there's a whole array on one of the counters, plus their basic sweet sauce on the table - I liked the "The Bite" which is hot but not blazing, and the "Hot n/ Spicy" which I believe is "The Bite" mixed with one of their other sauces. Really my favorite are the vinegary sauces that are hot-and-spicy and I didn't see that offered (but may have missed it as some people dining had taken bottles to their tables).

In all I thought the food very good and the people working there very nice. I'll be returning to sample the other items. I think that while The Barn doesn't have the history of Spiced Right, it's a good replacement for that venerable establishment.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
The Barn Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato