Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Aug. 10, 2009 - Bhojanic

1363 Clairmont Road
Decatur,GA 30033

Every month we get a new Savvy Shopper magazine, see a coupon for Bhojanic and say, "We need to go there." Well, "Taste of Asia" week meant a prix fixe menu for $25 a person so we used this as a good excuse.

Billed as "Fusion, Homestyle Indian, Tapas", we decided to stick to the three-course menu.

Vegetable Samosas - Potato and peas with mint leaves and an authentic blend of spices stuffed into a triangular pastry.

Two large Samosas per person. Despite the mostly-potato filling, it was not too starchy. Obviously fried, but not oily at all. In fact, it was quite light. I alternated between the mint (hot) and tamarind (sweet) chutneys. Not sure which I liked better.

Tilapia Curry - with garlic, tomato and cilantro
Lamb Curry - Boneless lamb in a tangy yogurt based sauce

Both entrees were served Rice Pullao, Raita (cucumber yogurt sauce), Papadam (crispy lentil cracker), and Indian pickle. The pickle was strong-flavored, maybe even bitter. Luckily our waiter told us to take it easy on those before we dove in. I used it more as a palate cleanser, but could do without it next time. I did enjoy dipping pieces of the Papadam into the Tamarind Chutney.

The lamb was tender without much of that gamey taste you occasionally get with lamb. The sauce was thick but not spicy. The tilipia was soft, not flakey or dry. The sauce had just a hint of spice (although I loved being able to eat the whole pepper that made it onto the plate). I could have eaten the sauce and rice by itself.

Saffron-Cardamom Cheesecake - with pistachios and mango sauce

We each got a piece of cheesecake, but ended up wrapping up one for home. One piece was more than enough for both of us. Loved the flavor of the mango sauce on the cheesecake. With the color, you think it's a caramel sauce, but then you taste the mango and it's refreshing. I thought the pistachios could have been chopped smaller as there were some times I would get only pistachios in my bite. However, I will say I thought the pistachios were essential to the dessert. On the occasion I got a bite without any pistachios, I missed the texture and flavor.

We were a bit skeptical at the cost at first, but we got value for our money as we will be having a second dinner at home with our two boxes of leftovers. We'll definitely be going back, perhaps to try the tapas but more likely to eat the homestyle dishes again.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Aug. 7, 2009 - Lumière

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta
1927 Lakeside ParkwayTucker, GA 30084

For this meeting of the Black Thai Supper Club, we went to Lumière, the restaurant attached to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. Culinary students practice their classroom skills and diners get to experience fine dining at a fraction of the cost (we estimate that our $50 worth of food should have been well over $100).


The bread of the two pizzas was slightly undercooked, but the toppings were quite good (fresh mozzarella, summer tomato and pesto; roasted chicken, red onion confit, spinach, garlic cream sauce with fresh mozzarella). The best of the bunch was the red onion confit - slightly sweet and still crunchy.

The fried green tomatoes with toasted pecans and buttermilk-herb aioli was odd. The breading and the pecans obliterated the flavor of the tomatoes.


The pork shoulder, slow roasted, was tender, fatty and flavorful. The corn bread dressing was rather plain and the melon salad didn't match the whole flavor profile.

The grilled lamb chops were cut inconsistently. The chops were of varying thicknesses, which led to some pieces being burned, some just slightly undercooked. However, the flavor was still good, even if the orzo was lacking. It was served with roasted peppers and green beans and sauce Provencal.

The grilled flat iron steak was definitely the winner of the entrees, cooked perfectly to medium rare. Again, thinner slices of the steak would have been better as some pieces were difficult to chew. The zucchini-tomato tian added a nice acidity to the dish.


Really, you can't go wrong with crème brulée. This one was not too sweet, and the coconut wasn't too overpowering. The giant blackberries remained untouched because of their unappealing and unfortunate resemblance to insects.

The chocolate dome, with coffee mousse and hazelnut crème anglaise, was very good, although the dome itself could have been a little thinner. It made breaking the chocolate crust to get to the center a bit difficult. The coffee mousse was a nice bitter counterpoint to the chocolate.

The lemon mascarpone cheesecake was wonderful - a hint of lemon in the cheesecake, the reduction gave it a little sweetness and the strawberries a slight tart flavor. I could eat this dessert over and over again.

Off the menu, we also had an amuse bouche of salmon mousse on celery root cracker (salmon flavor was overpowering, the cracker was oily) and an after-dessert chocolate truffle (dark chocolate, bitter and palate cleansing).

I got the sense that we arrived on the first night of the session. The service (also students at the school) was painfully slow, seemed overly nervous and had difficulty splitting our bill amongst the eight diners. The kitchen had a "situation with the lamb" so the timing of the service was off. I liked the concept of all of their dishes, but not the execution. With the exception of the cheesecake, every dish had much room for improvement.

However, I would definitely go back again when the menu changes (about once every six months) and further into the semester so they had more time to perfect their techniques.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feb. 7, 2009 - Spice Market Atlanta

Spice Market Atlanta
188 14th Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30361

Our post-High Museum dinner was attended by five of the BTSC members. We considered doing the "Spice Market Menu" (5 courses of 10 flavors), but ended up having our meal family-style, sharing every dish. We came out ahead, $31 per person our way versus $48 per person with the tasting menu.

The concept of the restaurant is Southeast Asian Street Market. That meant foods with contrasting tastes. For example sweet, spicy (black pepper shrimp) and sour (sun-dried pineapple). I was raised on this type of cooking so I thoroughly enjoyed the meal.

And special thanks to our outstanding waiter Steven. He was extremely patient and helped us make our food decisions wisely. Hopefully we weren't too obnoxious.

Appetizers and Salad
Black Pepper Shrimp, Sun-Dried Pineapple
Charred Chili Rubbed Beef Skewers, Thai Basil Dipping Sauce
Avocado and Radish Salad, Chinese Mustard, Tempura Onions

The Black Pepper Shrimp (billed as a house favorite) was definitely the best of this bunch. The shrimp had a thick, sweet and slightly pepper-y sauce. Eating it with the pineapple cut the heat and also prevented the sauce from being too overpowering. I'm glad we got two orders of this appetizer for the table.

The Beef Skewers looked like corndogs to be dipped into a light green dipping sauce. The skewers tasted slightly of lamb mixed with beef, which was a little disconcerting, but the meat was tender and flavorful. The sauce was almost too mild. I could take it or leave it.

The Salad was more artwork than food. An avocado provided the base of the structure, increasing-in-size tempura onion rings created a bowl and the avocado and radish salad sat inside the bowl. Pretty to look at, but not tremendous in flavor. I would pass on this next time.

Snap Peas, Shitake and Water Chestnut
Baby Corn and Broccoli, Lemongrass and Chili

Onion and Chili Crusted Short Ribs, Egg Noodles and Pea Shoots
Pork Vindaloo

The vegetable dishes were nice, but nothing special. Our attempt at rounding out the meal into a healthy one.

The Short Ribs were okay. I think they could have been cooked a little more tender. I found it difficult to eat (a little stringy at times) and the flavors did not pop out at me. The homemade egg noodles and pea shoots were good, but perhaps would have been better served dry (instead of in the slight broth). The best part of the Short Ribs was apparently the caramelized onions, but of course I did not have any.

The winner of the night was the Pork Vindaloo. Billed as the spiciest thing on the menu, it really wasn't all that bad. When eaten with a slice of fingerling pepper, it provided a nice but not overpowering kick. The flavor was tremendous. I found myself scooping up all the remaining sauce and eating it with rice. I would definitely order this again.

Pecan Tart with Cinnamon Ice Cream
Pumpkin Brulee with Garam Masala Cookies
Ovaltine Kulfi, Caramelised Banana, Spice Milk Chocolate Sauce
Exotic Fruit with Spiced Lime Salt
Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

I only tasted the Pumpkin Brulee and the Exotic Fruit. The Pumpkin Brulee was creamy but not overly pumpkin-y. It had a slighty burned crust which could have been too much, but with the darker coloring and flavor of the dessert was fine. The Garam Masala cookie tasted like a soft ginger snap cookie.

The exotic fruit reminded me of visiting Thailand. There, a common dessert or snack in homes is fruit dipped in a sugar, salt and pepper mixture. The seasonal fruit were mango, kiwi, pineapple, asian pear, and orange. A nice, light end to the meal, one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jan. 17,2009 - Primanti Bros. (Pittsburgh, PA)

Primanti Bros. - Robinson Township
"Almost Famous - Since 1933"
4501 Steubenville Pike
Pittsburgh, PA 15205

A special review of Primanti Bros. restaurant from our trip to Pittsburgh this past weekend.

A sports bar atmosphere, like a more casual Taco Mac. We sat at a table near the door, with views of the many flat screen TVs around the bar and on the walls of the restaurant. We were surrounded by Steelers hats, shirts, jackets, jerseys and the like. There was even a "mixed marriage" who came in later - the guy in Ravens gear and the woman wearing Steelers stuff. And for some reason, another guy came in wearing his Green Bay Packers jacket. Not sure what that was about.

In any case, very busy. A Saturday afternoon filled with replays of previous Steelers/Ravens games, plus college basketball. Our waitress (Donel) seemed busy, but still managed to take very good care of us. After asking if we'd ever been to the restaurant before, she followed with, "You're not Ravens fans, are you?" We assured her we were not and she lamented that with all the out-of-towners, she was not looking forward to having to serve opposing fans.

For an appetizer, I ordered the Big Jalapeno Cheese Stuffed Pretzel. It's exactly what it sounds like. You could see the green tint of the jalapenos through the "skin" of the pretzel. A little kick, but no burn. The cheese was not too heavy (unlike those scary stuffed crust pizzas I see advertised on TV). I would most definitely order this again. (As an aside, I've discovered an apparent weakness for soft pretzels and cheese. This is not good for my waistline or my arteries).

For the meal, we both ordered The Pitts-Burger Cheese Steak (#2 Best Seller). I'm not sure what their #1 Best Seller is. I've read their menu several times and they don't seem to list it. Described as "the original Almost Famous sirloin beef patty sandwich that feeds the spirited fans of Pittsburgh," it was served on fresh Italian bread with fresh-cut fries, cole slaw (not mayo-based, but vinegar-based), tomatoes and provolone cheese, onions by request.

Personally, I thought the fries were extraneous, but the cole slaw was great. It gave the sandwich a nice sweet and sour feel. I was hoping less for the hamburger patty and more of the traditional loose meat of a cheese steak, but apparently that's the draw of this particular sandwich - that it doesn't fall apart when you eat it. I'm not sure I can eat another one for about 3 years, but when in Rome, you must eat as the locals do.