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.

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