Friday, February 17, 2017

Piece of Cake - Decatur Georgia

You can find this location of Piece of Cake at 307 E College Ave, Decatur, GA 30030. This is in a row of connected buildings on East College near Agnes Scott where E Trinity crosses over to become E Candler. Parking is shared along one side with additional in the back or on the street (if you can find it).

Piece of Cake is my favorite local bakery for cakes. This is the best traditional multi-layer round cake I've found in Atlanta with some really fantastic variations that you don't typically find elsewhere, like the Green Velvet Cake they offer during St Paddy's Day. There are fancier cakes in town, but for a bakery where you can basically walk in and walk out with a whole cake or slice, Piece of Cake can't be beat. I ended up at this location while attending a local convention at an unconventional spot (hotel on Lavista Rd). The initial idea was to go to the Buckhead location but then I thought - I bet there's one closer - getting out the handy-dandy Yelp mobile app saved the day. A quick phone call and we were on our way to pick up a whole Orange cake.

This shop, much like the others I've visited (Collier Rd, Roswell Rd in Buckhead and Mt Vernon in Dunwoody) is a quaint shop with various food items including cupcakes, the aforementioned whole cakes (not on display usually) and individually portioned slices; and ice cream. There are other items but really, they had me already with cake and ice cream - who can resist? My favorites so far are the coconut, orange, red velvet, green velvet and banana cakes - I usually get those in slices. 

The staff here was wonderful - actually I've never had a bad experience at any location and I don't believe I've ever encountered a group in a retail situation that were this happy to work, maintaining a great attitude while retaining their individual personalities. Kudos to Piece of Cake for providing a great working environment - something other companies could learn from - ahem. 

We took the Orange cake to the nearby My Parents Basement where we could enjoy the excellent beer, eat some interesting food and finish off the evening with some delicious cake, all while enjoying the great weather on the patio. We continued to eat this cake, finishing it off the next day. A great time was had by all.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Piece of Cake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, February 13, 2017

Taqueria Michoacan - Buford Highway near Druid Hills - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Taqueria Michoacan at 3328 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30329 across the street from the Northeast Plaza shopping center. This is in the center of a shopping center with limited parking out front. The place is fairly busy, I believe with regular clientele.

This restaurant is a bit of a dive with limited seating - I visited with my regular Buford Highway Restaurant group, tonight there were a handful of us. The people who waited on us were quite kind and provided some limited translations when we asked questions - however the English was limited.

The menu features classic plates of Carne Asada, Caldos (soups and stews), Ordenes, Mariscos (seafood, mostly shrimp or fish), Tacos and Tortas (sandwiches). They also serve Negra Modelo - if you like beer you'll know that this is one of the better Mexican cervezas (in my humble opinion).

I ordered the Tortas Campechana as it's one of my favorite sandwiches - here it was on one of those squishy Latino bakery rolls. I think the Campesina at Las Tortas is better, but I could certainly get by on this one.

I also ordered the Pollo Mole Rojo - this was spicier than you usually encounter on BufHi and I liked the mole quite a bit - but I've come to find that I really don't like this version of mole where the chicken legs seem to be stewed then doused with the mole as a sauce. I think it's the texture of the skin and meat that turns me off a bit. I rate it as average but maybe worth trying if you like picante mole.

John F ordered the Camerones a la Diabla - your basic sauteed shrimp in spicy red sauce. This was unusually not very spicy - the Diabla label had us fooled. Otherwise the shrimp were delicately cooked and not the rubber bands you sometimes end up with.

Also ordered were some classic pork tacos and these were passable if not fantastic. We were hoping for fantastic but sometimes you get just OK.

I think overall we weren't too impressed but we didn't think it was awful either. I think there's much better authentic Mexican down the street (in either direction) - it's difficult to say with one visit - we may just not have ordered what Michoacan does best? It was certainly inexpensive with most entrees in the $10 range.

-- John

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

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hammocks Trading Co - Sandy Springs - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Hammocks Trading Co at 7285 Roswell Rd, Sandy Springs, GA 30328 - if you're traveling north outside the perimeter its on the left (east) side just past Abernathy but before Dalrymple. Parking is in the lot out front and to one side with some overflow towards the back. The parking lots for this and other buildings along this corridor may connect (I don't recall if they do but think they do?).

I originally attended a Yelp event hosted by Hammocks in 2013 back when Heidi was the OTP Yelp Community Manager so I already had an idea of what was offered on the menu (I recall scoring a pair of red Yelp socks at this event). I've since been back once for drinks and on this occasion for lunch with my coworker, friend and frequent companion Sid S. Hammocks occupies the location of a previous restaurant - I don't recall exactly what it was but the layout elicits some memory of a bar or Three Dollar Cafe - it's been a while.

The building reminds me of the coastal shacks you see along the Gulf, and I believe that's the intent. The interior is a bit chopped up with dining and extended seating along an enclosed patio with a bar laid-out in the middle. It's a super friendly atmosphere with netting and coastal pastels - your basic seafood shack where you wouldn't be surprised to run into Jimmy Buffet. The menu has several seafood selections with a focus on gulf oysters and shrimp that can be priced by the half or full dozen. These can be had with several variations. Besides the regular seafood options (fried, broiled, grilled etc) Hammocks also offers smoked items which really expands the flavor profiles available.

Hammocks also offers a blistering array of sides - it reminds me of the huge array at Roasters down the street and made Sid, who is vegetarian, very happy. Today I decided to go with one of the several sandwich options - the Grilled Salmon BLT - this was one of my favorite sandwiches when I worked at the Buckhead Diner.

I started with a cut of Seafood Gumbo - Chef's dark roux with crab meat and shrimp - this was quite delicious and could easily be made into a meal as a bowl with the addition of some bread. Sid went with a vegetarian black bean soup.

The Salmon BLT I ordered was quite good - it didn't measure-up to the Salmon BLT at the Buckhead Diner but that was a very special sandwich due to the dill-shallot mayo. This one though was quite good and relatively inexpensive at $14.50. This came with two sides (collard greens - quite good, and a lightly-dressed wild-green salad).

Sid ordered a veggie sandwich with small side-salad and a corn-bread muffin. He said it was quite good.

The service here was exceptional and the food quite good. We plan on putting this restaurant into our usual lunch rotation.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Hammocks Trading Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Caribbean Fiesta - North Point Pky - Alpharetta Georgia

You can find Caribbean Fiesta at 4000 N Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30022 - this is one of those cut-through streets that parallels 400 to the east so you can travel from Mansell Rd and Windward Pky. Parking is out front - the restaurant is on the end of a row of brick storefronts.

I've eaten at this location a few times in the past, back in the later 2000s when I had an office near the mall. I've also eaten at the now defunct location on Holcomb Bridge when I worked near Technology Park. I loved that location - mostly because of the big Asian dude behind the counter with the islander accent - cracked me up every time I visited.

I was on the way to Jekyll Brewing for a mid-week tour with my friend Kymber W (meeting other friends) when she asked me if I was hungry (hint for "I'm hungry bitch, pull over so I can eat"). I asked what she was in the mood for and she said "Jamaican!" and I remembered this location of Caribbean Fiesta - so glad she said something as it's been a while. For this and the other location, you can order a few items off the menu or from the steam tables - tonight they had several items that were interesting.

The interior is bright with a row of booths and tables in the middle. The line of steam tables is to the back and there's a knee wall separating the customer line from the rest of the dining room. The place is quite cheery as these places go - you take a look at what's offered and the people behind the counter load up a to-go container.

I ordered the jerk chicken, rice and peas, and cabbage - this is one of my standard ordering combinations. If they had jerk chicken on skewers (something of a specialty at the other location) I would have went for that - the seasoning permeates throughout the meat and is something special. I thought this was damn good jerk. The sides were also good and piping hot.

Kymber ordered the Ox Tails, rice and peas, and the green beans. I tried the tails and beans and it was all delicious - the Ox Tails are very rich and filling - not something I can eat everyday. She also ordered some fried pie or empanada thingy for later.

The people here were really cool to us and allowed us to geek out over the food - that's a nice change from the usual bored attitude you often get at fast casual restaurants. In all this was a good precursor to many "tastings" of beer at Jekyll - I'd recommend this combo to anyone looking for a simple outing.

-- John
(also posted to Yelp)
Caribbean Fiesta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato