Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Aug. 2, 2011 - Watershed

Aug. 2, 2011
406 W. Ponce de Leon
Decatur, GA 30030

I've lived in Decatur for 10 years, but it took the announced closing of Watershed to finally get me there. Of course, we had to go early on a Tuesday to experience their award winning southern fried chicken. So glad we made reservations because we saw many people who were turned away at the door disappointed.

Our shared appetizer of crispy pork belly lettuce wraps, Steen's cane syrup, Dijon and creamy coleslaw was by far the best dish of the night. The skin gave a nice crunch while the fat and meat (marinated with a pepper sauce) stayed soft and flavorful. The coleslaw was slightly sweet, while the Dijon and cane syrup gave a background heat and bitterness to the dish. All the flavors blended wonderfully.

My entree was the porcini crusted sea scallops, Tuscan kale, potato gnocchi and wild mushrooms. The scallops were perfectly cooked with just a slight hint of earthiness from the porcini. I considered them more dusted than crusted. The gnocchi was a pillow shape (my dining companion asked why my scallops were square), but nice and light. However, the kale and mushrooms were extremely sour. I couldn't get over how overpowering the flavor was. I made sure that my bites of scallop and gnocchi were different from the kale and mushrooms so there was no cross-contamination.

My friend graciously offered up a white meat piece of the famous southern fried chicken. I was pleasantly surprised at how juicy it was. The batter was more a light coating instead of the heavy dredge you see at most places. My friend told me that the chicken and mashed potato was just like Mom's. In my opinion, that's the highest compliment you can get.

For dessert, I ordered the souffle cheesecake with blueberry compote and wrestled away a few crumbs of the Very Good Chocolate Cake from my friend. The cheesecake was deliciously light. The compote was a good combination of tart and sweet if you had a bite with a berry. If you only got the sauce part, it was cloyingly sweet. The Very Good Chocolate Cake lives up to its name. It was not overly sweet, in fact a little bitter which I prefer. Not being a chocolate fan, I'm not sure I could eat a whole piece, but my friend left only a few crumbs.

The Decatur location of Watershed will close after dinner on Saturday, August 6th. But don't worry, they hope to open a new location (still TBA) by the end of the year.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jan. 22, 2011 - Spoon (West Side)

Jan. 22, 2011
Spoon (West Side)
768 Marietta Street, Suite A
Atlanta, GA 30318

The latest ScoutMob coupon had us returning to the original location of Spoon after a long hiatus. A few years back, we would visit once every two months. We stopped coming because we made a concerted effort to try new restaurants, but boy are we glad we came back.

The chicken satay was outstanding as always. I know, chicken satay seems a rather pedestrian appetizer to get, but Spoon's version is the best we've ever had. The chicken breast is moist and tender, perfectly grilled. The peanut sauce goes beyond the peanut butter mixture you get at most Thai restaurants. The sweet and spicy sauce with onion and cucumber was authentic.

The double soft shell crabs are another favorite of ours. The fried crabs have an airy crunch to them, offset by the tender, soft vegetables in the red curry. The sauce is thick and creamy, with a pleasant spice level.

The rack of lamb with basil sauce is a special that we will call ahead to check if they have it that night. Perfectly cooked to medium rare, the lamb was perfectly seasoned (not over peppered as we find often at other restaurants) so that I was gnawing on the bone to get every last bit of the meat. The basil sauce was amazing, just sweet enough to offset the pepper. I could pour this sauce over a bowl of rice and eat it plain. The vegetables, including my favorite straw mushrooms, soaked up the flavorful sauce.

As good as the food is, Chef Aim's desserts are what we stay for. This night, we chose the caramel chocolate mousse with green tea ice cream. It was served with a raspberry sauce, mint and a single lychee fruit. The delicate mousse, sourness of the raspberry sauce and bittersweet green tea ice cream formed the perfect end to our meal.

The service tonight was possibly the best we've ever had. Friendly and attentive, she brought us drinks (Singha beer, Thai iced coffee) at various points in the meal. She offered wonderful suggestions and chatted with us even though it was clear the restaurant was very busy because of the ScoutMob event.

One of the amazing things about Spoon is that the food has not suffered one bit even after their expansion to a second location. This is probably because the two sisters and brother who co-own the restaurant split time at the locations (when one is at East Side, the other is at the West Side). I'm glad that one of our favorite restaurants has been able to weather the expansion storm. We're sure to go again in the next two months.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jan. 11, 2011 - Farm Burger

Jan. 11, 2011
Farm Burger
410B W. Ponce de Leon
Decatur, GA 30030

Day Two of the ice storm brought cabin fever, so we decided to venture out into downtown Decatur to see what was open. Two restaurants we have been meaning to try for ages were high on our list. While Watershed was dark, thankfully Farm Burger was open.

Ordering the counter, I asked Jose if the special appetizer of pepperjack sausages with caramelized onions was really good. He said yes (which I expected) but also had this look on his face that told me this was going to be worth it. So along with the appetizer I ordered a burger (medium, with tomatoes, red onion, roasted garlic and grainy mustard), rings and fries, and a "brown cow" (Abita root beer float).

I'm so glad I ordered the sausages. I pictured pepperjack cheese oozing out of a bratwurst sausage (as you sometimes find in grocery stores), but this was not like that at all. Three inch long sausages that were creamy on the inside, resting on a bed of caramelized onions. It was served with a mustard that reminded me of the hot English mustard that comes with bangers and mash. All three components together had me hoarding the appetizer to myself (I only gave up three small bites).

The burger was supposed to be cooked to "medium" (medium and well were the only choices), but looked more like a perfect medium-rare to me. No problem here because I prefer medium-rare, but please be aware when you make your order. The burger was large, juicy and flavorful. The roasted garlic was perfect, but I did wish there had been more grainy mustard.

The fries and rings were disappointing. The onion rings were overbattered and heavy. The skin-on fries were ok, nothing special. The smoked paprika mayo was an interesting side to the fries.

The brown cow was wonderful. I'm a big fan of root beer in general and Abita root beer in particular, so there was no doubt I was ordering it. A refreshing, but not heavy, drink and dessert.

We definitely want to try some of the more unusual toppings on the burger, such as the oxtail marmalade or bone marrow. But most toppings are a la carte ($1-2 each), so expect to pay well for your burger. A basic burger is only $6, but those toppings add up quickly. We spent $31 (not including tip) for an appetizer, two burgers, fries and rings, and two drinks.

The service was honest and friendly. That, along with great food made this trip well worth the money. Hopefully we can return before the next ice storm.