Tag Archives: Dining Out

An infrequent series of restaurant reviews by freelance food journalist Owen Renn / icnt.mx


Dining Out: Lusca

Saturday evening I finally made it to Luscathe new restaurant by Angus Brown of Miller Union and Octopus Bar fame.

Full disclosure, I have known Angus since pre-school so I will be the first to admit this is not going to be an in depth or exceptionally objective think-piece about a new Atlanta destination. Instead, below you can enjoy photos and descriptions of the dishes we tried (which speak for themselves honestly)

Washburn Oysters (MA) [Lusca | Atlanta]
Washburn Oysters (MA)
Fried Anchovies / Fennel / Lemon [Lusca | Atlanta]
Fried Anchovies / Fennel / Lemon
Trout Roe, Espelette Pepper, Raw Honey, Creme Fraiche [Lusca | Atlanta]
Trout Roe, Espelette Pepper, Raw Honey, Creme Fraiche
Charcuterie Board  [Lusca | Atlanta]
Charcuterie Board
Hand Cut Pappardelle, Fava, Green Garlic, Tomato, Oyster Mushroom [Lusca | Atlanta]
Hand Cut Pappardelle, Fava, Green Garlic, Tomato, Oyster Mushroom
Monterey Squid, Torn Potato, Calabrian Chili, Garlic [Lusca | Atlanta]
Monterey Squid, Torn Potato, Calabrian Chili, Garlic
Nigiri [Lusca | Atlanta]
Rock Crab, Avocado, Pain Au Levain, Key Lime, Scallion [Lusca | Atlanta]
Rock Crab, Avocado, Pain Au Levain, Key Lime, Scallion
Peach Baklava [Lusca | Atlanta]
Peach Baklava


DC: Dining, and Disco

After a busy week following my return from Washington, DC I finally had the time to put together this post, highlighting some finer points of the day trip – including dinner at José Andrés Jaleo

What started ostensibly as a trip to reconnect with Kozee and see Scuba DJ at U Street Music Hall, spiraled into a hedonistic food exploration as bad weather and a series of events led me to making the trip solo.

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One Night In New Orleans

Running a little behind on getting these mini-vacation posts up on to the website but fortunately there is no time limit on these. Two weekends ago I took my first trip back to New Orleans in a decade, marking my first time back since Hurricane Katrina. Similar to every New Orleans trip I have made previously this one was centered around food and music, so… let’s get to the good stuff. Continue reading

Sake Tasting Menu (Mar 2013)

Sake Tasting – March 2013

Another sake tasting at Taka Sushi and Passion this past week, hosted by Koji, the regular organizer of these events as well as a representative from the Echigo microbrewery from Niigata.

The tasting featured five sake selections as well as Echigo’s Koshihikari Rice Beer, accompanied by five selections from Taka’s kitchen. 

Check the photos of the event beneath the fold, or click here to see the complete meal [via Evernote Food]

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Dining Out: Tex's Tacos

It is probably not much of a secret anymore; I have a favorite food truck, and judging by the lines whenever I am there to get my fix, I am not alone.

Tex’s Tacos has quickly come on the Atlanta Food Truck scene separating itself from Yumbii by offering more traditional southwestern offerings including a wonderful pastor taco and what is the most memorable carne asada I’ve had in years. Special mention also to their ‘lime fries’ unfortunately not pictured here – Tex’s specialty item

The truck is staffed by Mac and Harrison, who describe themselves on their website as “two compadres passionate about this food, and set on bringing the best of our favorite Tex-Mex fare from deep in the heart of the Lone Star State to you” and it is apparent in the rich flavors of their food.

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Tex's Tacos : Carne Asada

My personal favorite menu item is the carne asada taco, hands down. The flavor of the beef balances well with creamy cheese and guacamole, admittedly the meat is hard to see in the above photo but trust it is excellent. Also, as evident by the photo above, the crew at Tex’s does not skimp on filling, food trucks are never an expensive endeavour typically but these guys always make sure you get your money’s worth.

Recently, they have started offering soft-corn tortillas in addition to the flour based ones – something I was hoping would happen. The flavor is rich, and anybody who has started eating their tacos with soft corn tortillas likely will never switch back – this isn’t something that is featured on the menu but they have assured me it is available by request.

Tex’s also offers a shredded BBQ taco, and understanding the strict loyalties southerners have to where their BBQ comes from, the truck is proud to serve Atlanta’s own Lowcountry Barbecue. Personally, for me, if you come here for the pork and you don’t have the pastor – you are cheating yourself.

Tex's Tacos Pastor on Corn Tortilla
Tex's Tacos : Pastor De Puerco on corn

Tex’s is a mainstay at most metro-Atlanta area food truck gatherings including the Howell Mill Food Park (Tuesday evenings), Stove Works (Wednesday lunch), and Atlantic Station’s Food Truck Fridays (Friday lunch)

Check Tex’s website or Twitter for their weekly schedule as well as a complete menu

Tex’s Tacos ( blogwebsite | twitter | facebook )

Howell Mill Food Park Opening

UPDATE - The Howell Mill Food Park has been relaunched in 2012 as the Atlanta Food Truck Park.

Excitement today for Atlanta’s food-truck fans as this evening brings the opening of the newly formed Howell Mill Food Park.

Located at the 1927 Emery Street (behind Willy’s near the Howell Mill / Collier Rd intersection). the park plans to offer space for diners to sample offerings from up to ten different food trucks. This is a change of pace from the situation a year ago when the City of Atlanta was a lot more litigious towards food trucks. Additionally, it is good to see some attention being paid to offering food truck gatherings outside of corporate business lunch hours. As someone who works ‘OTP’ in Atlanta I unfortunately miss the lunch gatherings many food trucks regularly make at Stove Works and Atlantic Station.

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About to make all this disappear at Chung Dam w/ @Alex_Koplin

Dining Out: Chung Dam

I don’t know why I waited so long to try Korean BBQ, and yes I know it’s but a small subset of Korean cuisine, but there is something primal for me about cooking meat over fire and putting it directly into your mouth. There is definitely no shortage of Korean BBQ options in Atlanta, and fortunately they all seem to retain a good level of uniqueness between them – and all are memorable for one reason or another.

My favorite destination of late has been Chung Dam, located in the ginormous Super H Mart shopping center on Pleasant Hill Road. Yes, I agree with a lot of people in that Tohdamgol is delicious and unique, despite it’s exceptionally ‘authentic’ decor, Immediately walking into Chung Dam, the sheer cleanliness and organization of the restaurant sets it apart from many other destinations in town. This same mentality is carried over into their food; their meats and banchan are always exceptionally fresh. Tohdamgol definitely has more memorable and unique banchan, but the flavors at Chung Dam are that much more pronounced, making a much more enjoyable dining experience. The meat is definitely higher quality than Iron Age, the bulgolgi I was served at Chung Dam on my most recent visit was nearly melting in my mouth, and the meat is never fatty nor prone to random pieces of connective tissue. Chung Dam also features excellent seafood BBQ options, the shrimp + mushrooms is a regular order for me, and most recently I tried their lobster tail and was admittedly surprised with how good it was. Chung Dam also features a sushi menu, which I have yet to try but those who I have been with who have tried it assured me the quality matches the expectations set through my descriptions above

Each visit there I have receive some form of dessert, even if it is just in the form of fresh fruit, it’s an excellent gesture at the end of the meal. Granted, it’s not as exciting as a self-serve softserve ice cream machine a la Iron Age but honestly after most visits to eat Korean BBQ I’m lucky to be able to walk to my car let alone consider the possibility of continuing to eat food. If you are looking for something a little more tasteful, both in terms of flavor and appearance in the realm of Korean BBQ, definitely make Chung Dam a future destination. For the quality of the food it is reasonably priced compared to other Korean BBQ establishments, besides – Korean BBQ is all about getting a group of friends together, and gorging as a group and typically ends by ‘going Dutch.’

Chung Dam Restaurant
550 Pleasant Hill Rd # 401
Duluth, GA 30096-9263
(770) 623-0311

Dining Out: Anis Cafe & Bistro

This is a review I probably should have done long ago, and for no real good reason I have not been eating here as much as I used to however… I digress. Let us talk a moment about an under-hyped Buckhead mainstay. Located behind Pharr Road on quiet Grandview Ave. Located in a small house with an extensive covered porch, Anis is a quaint location that serves lunch and dinner from a small neighborhood location. Even when busy, it never seems to loud providing a wonderful outdoor dining experience, weather permitting. As with any place. Anis does not have the city’s most diverse and deep menu however I often find this is the trademark of any serious kitchen. Do a handful of dishes and do them extremely well.

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Dining Out: Woody’s Famous Philadelphia Cheesesteaks

Down to business, the sign pretty much lists the entirety of this eatery’s menu; and in all my times visiting I think I can count the number of times I’ve seen somebody order something other than a cheesesteak on one hand. Woody’s serves Buckhead Beef with a choice of provolone or American cheeses, or for true Philadelphia authenticity they have recently added an option of CheezWiz. Like most sandwiches, a lot of the quality comes not from the fillers but the bread itself (the use of Leidenheimer by po-boy establishments in New Orleans has always been a requirement for any place I’m willing to give a shot.)

Undoubtably part of the appeal for many to this place is the unassuming decor, for restaurants, especially ethnic ones, seems to many to be a sign of authenticity. The inside holds what could be no more than 6 or 7 tables, with nary-enough space between the dining area and the counter from which you order, and watch your food being prepared. The size of the interior makes even the most modest Manhattan apartment seem spacious, the kitchen is about the size of a phone-booth and I’ve seen people laboring three deep in there even on a 100+ degree summer day. Fortunately, for days like that Woody’s also offers delicious milkshakes and malts to help cool off. There is additionally some outdoor seating, allowing for a view of the Grady High School Stadium, Midtown Promenade, and more enjoyably Piedmont Park.

Woody's Cheesesteak
I unfortunately have not known about this place as long as some; having heard stories from those I know who attended Grady High School, I can hardly pretend to be even a regular here, only a mere fan. In the past, my inabilities to eat here regularly were caused by the extremely prohibitive hours the establishment kept (Tues-Sat until 5PM) however under new management, the restaurant is now open 7-Days a week, staying open until 10PM each night except Friday and Saturday’s where they stay open until 3AM, ostensibly for those who have spent the earlier hours of the evening in one of the many surrounding spots in either VaHi, Poncey-Highlands, or Monroe. The new owner was nice enough to come introduce himself to me on one of my more recent visits and made it clear that maintaining the integrity of the restaurants authenticity is priority number one for him and his new staff. I definitely got the impression that his involvement was one of hoping to see the location’s continued growth and success beyond what the original owners were able to commit too after their years of personal investment into the location.

Woody’s Famous Philadelphia Cheesesteaks
981 Monroe Drive (at Virginia Ave.)
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 876-1939


Dining Out: Umaido Ramen

Looking at the posts from other Atlanta-area food bloggers, I can’t pretend to have found this one on my own however, earlier this week to Suwannee to experience the ramen at Umaido, as it was a rainy respite from the oncoming summer. Let me preface this with stating that I am a relative neophyte to ramen, my only other in experiences in metro Atlanta being with Yakitori Jinbei, and a small sampling of ramen during a sake tasting at Taka. All three have been unmistakably unique.

We arrived to the location which, not surprising for the restaurants I have been trying lately, is located in the same shopping center as a Super H Mart, a good omen if I have encountered one before. From the front and initially entering, Umaido appears empty, however as you are taken past the open kitchen the restaurant opens up into a few tables and one long communal bench in the middle of the room.

The waitstaff was wonderful and attentive, it must have been apparent that we were new to Umaido; our waitress did an excellent job however of going over the short menu and offering explanations when necessary. The menu is not that much to traverse; only offering a few variations on raman and a few a la carte options. In the two times I have visited I have gotten the spicy tonkatsu ramen both times, Alex has sampled both the seafood ramen and the miso-based broth. I am not a fan of the miso/shoyu ramen as much as the pork-based tonkatsu, however Umaido offers a ‘rich-broth’ option on all it’s items so you can achieve the richness of the normal tonkatsu with any of the selections.

The bowls when delivered are undeniably appealing. I was worried that using just my iPhone to get the photograph of the dish when it was brought to the table would not do justice to the myriad colors coming from the bowl. Looking at what is posted above. The slices of pork are extremely tender, I was unable to resist tasting one as soon as it landed on the table and it was extremely lean yet flavorful, the other two slices I promptly buried beneath the fresh noodles to absorb the flavor of the broth. The soup is garnished with seaweed, green and white onions, garlic, and a soft-boiled egg — which I have always had an affinity for since having them served for breakfast when I was in grade school. Despite ordering the broth spicier than I thought, it did not out-balance the other flavors in the bowl. The noodles made fresh in house were not all notted up, and retained their own flavors as well. Balance is extremely important to me in any dish, and Umaido definitely does not disappoint in being able to combine all these things together, and not compromising any of the individual aspects of the dish. I am pleasantly surprised; often times extremely wonderful food does not photograph well and loses all it’s appetizing appeal once captured on film, I am glad to say I feel the picture above does this one justice though.

My apologies to Yakitori Jinbei, which I still love tremendously for their wonderful in house grilled yakitori, however Umaido, at least for me, wins the Atlanta ramen contest hands down. I have been back once already since originally beginning to write this article and will definitely be making this a regular stop after work; unfortunately it’s just a bit too far to make it a reasonable lunch destination from work.

2790 Lawrenceville Suwanee Road Northwest
Suwanee, GA 30024-2671
(678) 318-8568‎