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BOS Chowhounder Seeks 5-Star Recommendations in ATL

Found my rapidly-scribbled notes from the drive back to the hotel -- here's the full menu:

I. Cured Rainbow Trout with roe, lemon cucumber, pickled watermelon, and radish (note my different first course per above)
II. Fois Gras terrine with pears, ice wine syrup and pulverized "peanut brittle"
III. Seared scallops with cauliflower, porcini, country ham and cress
IV. Red snapper with vidalia onion, apples, butternut squash, and pecan
V. Crispy veal sweetbread with turnips, greens, and butter beans
VI. Glazed veal cheek, corned Wagyu shortrib with greens, chanterelles, and celeriac
VII. Stoney Man with persimmon, arugula, and Saba
VIII. Cranberry and marcona almond parfait
IX. Chocolate pecan tartlet with caramel apple and vanilla iced creme

Can't wait to go back ...

BOS Chowhounder Seeks 5-Star Recommendations in ATL

You guys got it -- it's definitely the Hard Rock Cafe, but we were there so often for so long, it felt like ... well, I won't embarrass anyone any further ;-)

Have fun!

BOS Chowhounder Seeks 5-Star Recommendations in ATL

Hello everyone -- thanks again for your recommendations! Sorry for the delay in getting the report to you (had to cope with family illness upon my return) ... but here's what happened after a VERY busy visit to your lovely city (haven't been in 20 years):

As it turns out, we were stuck in the hotel a lot, did the hotel restaurant/room service/banqueting thing more than expected. Went to the Rock Hard Cafe a couple of times. At least it was consistent.

Finally, clients insisted we go to Mary Mac's (yikes! my original suggestion; they wouldn't hear of going to the Colonnade -- I think they were fearful of the location!), and so we did. Um..... sounds better on paper, I suppose. There were 28 of us (!) altogether, with lots of passing foods up and down the table. Servers were fun, calling the Euros "baby" and "honey", the atmosphere was different (most haven't experienced filling out your own order sheet), the food a new experience (many didn't believe me when I explained that Brunswick Stew was originally made with squirrel), and drinks interesting (a single glass of mint julep kept going up and down the table with nobody able to drink beyond a tiny sip -- finally our Aussie "garbage disposal" downed it in a single gulp, then ran for the men's room!).
Food: not very good, I'm afraid to say! Their staples -- fried chicken, for example -- tasted like it was cooked in old oil :-( We had a lot of unfinished plates (not because the portions were too large to finish -- they weren't). Potterybliss: you're absolutely dead-on about the side dishes ... even their macaroni and cheese was lackluster. Peach cobbler was really disappointing -- runny, sloppy, almost stale. Overall not so great. We did, however, enjoy the fried green tomatoes and fried okra very much! So the puzzled looks on the Euro's faces, combined with lots of alcohol and fun waitstaff resulted in a not-entirely failed evening.

This was followed by more hotel fare and a few too many spins in the Westin Peachtree's Sun Dial on the 73rd floor ... I thought "will this tedium ever end?"

Until the amazing bit: Quinones at Bacchanalia. Wonderful.

The VIPs joined me for a most-fantastic dinner our last night in town. Our party fluctuated in size a few times before our arrival, and the Quinones front-of-house staff were wholly accommodating. We finally arrived to the elegant dining room, where my purse was swiftly placed upon a tuffet (rather than behind my chair or the floor); the other parties included a rather-quiet party of ten, a family of four, and a couple canoodling openly nearby (thankfully, the Euros didn't think anything of that!). Service was seamless and swift: a glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Brut brought for me, and still water for the rest of the hardcore foodies (didn't want alcohol to influence their palates!). We started with a trio of briny Kumamoto oysters with green sorbetto for me, and delicately cured rainbow trout with roe and pickled watermelon. Second course was a velvety slice of fois gras terrine with caramelized peanut dust. Third course was beautifully seared scallops with country ham and porcini. Fourth and fifth courses are a blur to me -- I can't remember right now what we had (odd!) -- I'll update the post once I do, however. Sixth course was an absolute dream: meltingly good glazed veal cheeks with corned Wagyu shortrib, chanterelles, and greens. Every morsel was devoured in near silence, as my guests were in awe. Thank heavens! The seventh and eighth courses (dessert) were fine -- we were beyond stuffed at that point -- but less than the stellar experience of the first six. The apple-pecan tartlet was a bit on the dry side, but by no means nothing to ruin the experience. Beautiful little mignardises were packaged up for me to bring home. We simply couldn't handle another bite!

The Quinones dinner was praised as the "highlight of the trip" by several guests, and I'm left wanting to return specifically for their truffle dinner!

ATL Chowhounders: your suggestions and support are most appreciated! I'll be in touch regarding the next trip -- cheers!

Blue Room hit the spot again last night

I love the Blue Room. For nearly a decade it has withstood the test of time. Never have I had a bad experience there ... I used to bring clients to dinner just about every other week at one point. Too bad I've been suburban-bound for so long ... seems like a visit is in order. Thanks for kicking up the memories, Taralli!

Dec 16, 2007
tealilly in Greater Boston Area

late-night newton-wellesley-chestnut hill?

Agreed on Vela. Just a teeny bit dark inside! If you want something nearby but a bit off the beaten (Rte's 9 and 16) path, Kouzina across from the Waban T station is lovely, cozy, and has many nice things to choose from. Good luck!

Dec 16, 2007
tealilly in Greater Boston Area

Cooling our heels at the Cottage

Similar experience on our end: I heard lots of buzz from co-workers, and decided to visit last Sunday with the family. Initially wanted to go for breakfast, but couldn't find their telephone number or website anywhere online. Not a problem, new businesses have this issue often, but we'd heard these guys had opened Wellesley as a second location to the original in La Jolla. No mention of a second location online (http://www.cottagelajolla.com/), so we did the 411 and called. Were told that breakfast will be available "in a few weeks".

No problem, we'll do dinner instead.
Hmmm. Greeted nicely enough by the kids behind the large reception desk, were being seated immediately (arrived just before 5.30PM -- early bird special, here we come!) couldn't walk past the mass at the bar, watching the VERY loud game on television (please, no!) and had a bit of a juggle trying to sit somewhere quiet (a few large parties were there). Finally gotten settled, the experience went downhill from there. I wanted to like The Cottage -- we all really did -- but very little worked for us. Again, nice waiter, no winelist offered, but provided upon request (selection OK); very very broad food offerings -- California-style, some Southwestern, some Asian-inspired, some (New) England ... American pan-regional?

Everyone seemed to be running like mad -- the place was packed -- kitchen seemed in the weeds -- execution and follow-through failed as a result. To start, we had their "famous" chicken tortilla soup and did a double-take: a teeny-tiny cup filled with a few chunks of grilled chicken (not bad) topped with lukewarm "soup" and two 2" strips of corn tortilla; the kid ordered the grilled avocado salad which was a huge plate of char-marked tomatoes and avocados cut in half and drizzled with pesto. When my kid (who loves both of these "fruit") barely touched the plate, I mentioned that it looked like it could use a little acid (sure enough, it was described as being served with a balsamic pesto). Little things like this caused some "who knows?" eye-rolling on our end, we let it pass: nothing earth-shattering. Nice to receive free refills on soda, and we waited for the next course.

Do NOT order appetizers as entrees -- they'll be held at the pass as ours were -- turning the guacamole a very unappetizing dark brown, the quesadillas rock hard, and the salad accompanying chili shrimp completely wilted. Not good. Husband (Scottish) described his bowl of short ribs (on "triple-mashed potatoes" made with cheese ...? it had an orange-y hue and drowning in a sauce that looked like canned stew) as a "bowl of baby sick", I couldn't but agree. Visually awful, but the beef itself tasted OK. Kid had chicken fingers which were OK. Dessert was not good: peanut butter pie for the kid and molten chocolate cake for us; both seemingly stale tasting, accompanied by a very odd, thin "chocolate" sauce. Nothing to write home about, our server sternly informed us that they are "known for our desserts" upon hearing our review of "they're OK".

Our "doggie bag" (why did we even ask for this? to be polite?) went missing, and a new order was prepared -- a nod to the management, for taking care of this. We left with a headache from the blaring TV, wondering why did we bother, but wanted to give it a try. They've been open just under a month, so things will happen -- we all understand that. But with less than 90% of the experience successful, I'm not sure I'll do this again. To be frank, The Cheesecake Factory does this a hell of a lot better ... seems to me that The Cottage is trying to do the same concept, but upscale, which is just one of their points of failure (the place looks good though!).

I have no doubt that I'll be there again at some point with an insisting friend, and pray that the experience will be more successful.

Dec 16, 2007
tealilly in Greater Boston Area

Buying Citric Acid in Boston area for candy making

Also the Armenian stores in Watertown carry it -- I've heard it being called something that sounds like "lemoon dizzy". Good luck!

Dec 16, 2007
tealilly in Greater Boston Area

BOS Chowhounder Seeks 5-Star Recommendations in ATL

TRIP BACK ON -- Arriving tomorrow! Trying to find Element: site's offline; Open Table returns a "This Restaurant Is Currently Unavailable" message ... have they closed down? I was so looking forward to going there.

Am thinking about bringing my team to Eugene for Sunday Supper. A

WOW! Quinones' menu looks fabulous ... have got a small handful of Foodie Clients From Europe to entertain ... but am concerned about the atmosphere ... fun is great, professional is great, funky is fine, but romantic will send the wrong message. How is the mood there? Is it a "date place"?

German food in New England?

Katy's in Tamworth, NH (about 30 minutes outside of the North Conway area -- known for it's skiing {Bretton Woods} and shopping {outlets}) is absolutely great. While I haven't been there in a while, we used to drive 2.5 hours each way for a taste of her weinerschnitzel a la holstein. Definitely worth the drive. Katy thought we were nuts. Authentic German fare, albeit heavy at times, lots of cute little tchotckes in a converted home on Old Route 25 ... if you ever go there, be sure to write a review upon your return! Good luck!

Locke-Ober...Drinks & App's in the Bar or Dinner?

We haven't been since Lydia Shire had taken over, but you're absolutely right: the people *are* amusing! I used to go quite a bit as a child with my grandfather during his weekly "roundtable" dinners, and have fond memories. The last time I was there (about 6 years ago) I had asked our very-close-to-retirement-aged server for more water, and he returned to our table with a very large plate of *butter*. We still say "pass the butter" when refilling the water glasses during dinner in his honor! :-D

Sep 14, 2007
tealilly in Greater Boston Area

BOS Chowhounder Seeks 5-Star Recommendations in ATL

Thank you, potterybliss! I knew I'd get the real low-down: side dishes are what make these sorts of places. Can't wait for this trip!

Top Chef Sept. 12th. >>SPOILER<<

Bourdain is always great ... just great. I loved CJ's "Crepe Spice" crack. He's got great one-liners: at the opening of the season he was discussing his testicular cancer and said something along the lines of "I've got one ball and I'm here to cook". Nice to see that someone's got a sense of humor. As for Hung's "I don't care about anybody" behavior, we all know that'll hurt him if he's a finalist (a la Tiffany and Marcel {whom I actually like}) ... also agree that the season seems to be dragging, because it is: it's been held up several weeks for holiday weekends, etc. Let's wrap it up already.

Sep 13, 2007
tealilly in Food Media & News

BOS Chowhounder Seeks 5-Star Recommendations in ATL

Thanks everyone -- Katj and runningwithtweezers -- it's not too late! The client had to reschedule our meetings, so there's definitely still time. I've got all these great recommendations on my list. I think I'll stay an extra day or two to get to them all. On a non-5-star note, anyone have recommendations on how to best navigate the MaryMac's experience? Thanks again!

The Business of Fun

Having been a major fan of Mr. White's for *years*, I cannot thank you enough for such a wonderful job and the terrific surprise interview! You've made my week! Bravo, MPW!

Sep 13, 2007
tealilly in Features

Authentic Chinese Fried Rice [Split from L.A. board]

usr.bin.eat -- can you share a bit more about what goes into Fukien rice? I'm heading to Hong Kong again in a few weeks and would love to know what to look for specifically. Usually I'm doing noodles for most of the trip in the form of shui jiao mian (shrimp dumplings in noodle soup ... yum!) , but want to taste as many authentic dishes as possible. Cheers!

Sep 07, 2007
tealilly in General Topics

Young Chef Battles Cancer

Any updates on his condition since the diagnosis? So sad ...
I've been a fan since his days at Trio. Here's to a speedy and full recovery!

Sep 04, 2007
tealilly in Features

BOS Chowhounder Seeks 5-Star Recommendations in ATL

Thanks notgreg and biskuit -- fabulous suggestions. I'm still open for more ideas ;-D

Incensed with Whole Foods: Enough Incompetence!

Feedback most welcomed, everyone. Thank you for this.

The question really being more along the lines of "service-related incompetence" which was why I was so terribly frustrated.

Having lived in San Francisco (the Franklin location is insane! Palo Alto WF is wonderful!) and shopped at NYC's Columbus Circle location in addition to eight WFs in Massachusetts, it's clear that customer service in the stores in the Massachusetts area suburbs (Newton/Newtonville/Wellesley area) are much more hostile/indifferent/unhelpful vs. urban (all Cambridge/Symphony/Brighton).

Maybe it's the constant battery from the clientele that they're leeching back. Must be exhausting. And, for the record, I asked very nicely, and didn't put up a stink.

Oh -- and Girl Friday -- it seems that the Wild Oats acquisition is a reality http://www.wholefoods.com/stores/wild...

Sep 03, 2007
tealilly in Chains

Disappointing meal at Pava, Newton

Hello everyone, sorry for the misleading timeframe -- yes, this was a while back, when Susan was still there. I'm not even remotely interested in seeing what's going on now. A shame, actually, I like Tess & Carlos' clothing line, and thought that their cafe would be such a natural fit. Alas, not.

Sep 03, 2007
tealilly in Greater Boston Area

Sablone's new location

Heavens! If this is true, I'm heading to Marblehead soon! I absolutely loved the mushroom sauce as well. Aaaah, just wonderful. The clown decor, however, used to upset some of my dinner guests, so we wound up going there less and less. How exciting that they'll b back.

Sep 03, 2007
tealilly in Greater Boston Area

BOS Chowhounder Seeks 5-Star Recommendations in ATL

Hello Atlanta Chowhound Members!

I'm heading to ATL on business soon and would greatly appreciate suggestions for 5-star dining. Cuisine is not important; culinary creativity, excellent service, and attention to details are. At least one recommendation for lunch would be fantastic as well.

Your help is much appreciated!

- Tealilly

Incensed with Whole Foods: Enough Incompetence!

Hello everyone -- I appreciate your insight and feedback. All good stuff. To clarify: I don't feel that I'm behaving like I'm entitled. I would have had no problems with not being able to return the shrimp if "management" at customer service would have explained it being state/federal/whatever regulation vs. insinuating that I was stupid to buy it in the first place -- "how could you ever think that we could take such a thing back". No problem, we ate it in a paella a couple of days later.

The tone is what I'm having an issue with.

WF is expensive, and pride themselves on offering exceptionally friendly service, which I've not experienced. As for the Mascarpone, it wasn't a matter of someone just peeling back the protective seal: there were several portions dug out of it using a serrated knife. Like someone spreading it on a bagel or something and not liking it, so it was returned. I've had lots of things go bad on me dairy-wise, particularly in the summertime, and am realistic that things go bad. After the shrimp thing in July, I just don't want to deal with it.

And no, I wasn't drunk when I posted last night. Just frustrated.

Aug 31, 2007
tealilly in Chains

Disappointing meal at Pava, Newton

Rachmel, my experience was similar to yours. Add to that indifferent staff, and heavy-handed flavorings across the board (dishes tasting "polluted" with way too much tomalley, for example) -- yech. Clueless about wine suggestions, it seemed to me that most of the staff were hired for looks over knowledge/skill. Oh well. We did wind up getting a complimentary dessert sent up from the kitchen after some confusion with the order and requests to speak with the chef, Susan Regis did come up to chat for a bit. Realizing that we had connections in common, the resultant dessert was sent up. Overall, not good -- which is confusing. The place is pretty (minimalism is OK), but not with my service. Ah: lest I forget, the gnocchi was, indeed, excellent, so hats off on that end. That's about it. I've been told to try them for lunch instead, but I'm hardly ever in the area and don't feel compelled to go out of my way for a potentially disappointing experience again.

Aug 31, 2007
tealilly in Greater Boston Area

Famous dishes from famous movies!

Well done, MC Slim JB! Almost exactly my list. Let's not forget peppers and eggs from the Sopranos (or any of their meals for that matter). 91/2 weeks, definitely yes. The food styling in Marie Antoinette was quite impressive. Caille en Sarcophage from Babbette's Feast ...

Aug 30, 2007
tealilly in Food Media & News

Incensed with Whole Foods: Enough Incompetence!

So it seems that not only is San Francisco fed up with Whole Foods http://www.chowhound.com/topics/421849 -- just last night I purchased some Vermont Butter & Cheese brand Mascarpone to prepare dessert for guests tonight.

Well, well, well ... the $5 8oz. tub turned out to not only have already been opened, it was used and completely spoiled. Yes, the weather of late has been really hot, things can go wrong, but I would have never -- ever -- expected to experience this. Particularly as last month I had to return some shrimp back to the seafood department **within 5 minutes of checking out** (guests allergic to shellfish) and was given major attitude, all angry and "now we can't sell this" business. I hadn't even finished loading the car when the call came in.

So tonight was really frustrating. No home-made dessert, unwilling to return this mess back to the store. Simply served cut-up fruit drizzled with Absolut Raspberri and sent everyone home. We're still drinking...

I'm fed up. Too many angry customers, rude staff (when you can find anyone at all -- good luck at the cheese department in Newton or Newtonville), unwilling to check for something possibly out of stock, crappy baggers. The florists and produce teams, however, have usually been kind. I'll give them that.

Is it me? Am I a bad-luck magnet of late, or have others been experiencing this as well?

Aug 30, 2007
tealilly in Chains

Alta Strada anyone?

emilief -- I couldn't agree with you more. We were really excited to go, as we LOVE small plates ... everything we ordered seemed really old/tired. Yes, we dined "late" (9PM), and the kitchen staff were already closing down (why?), but it's not like the restaurant was empty on a Sunday night with no supplies left. This was a Thursday night! Come on, folks. Absolute rubbish. Everything was misrepresented and horribly boring. Seems to me that they're trying desperately to be Tomasso's in Southborough. "Fresh ricotta" everything, everywhere. We complained to our server that the whipped cream on our dessert had turned (it tasted awfully sour with a gritty texture): turns out to be ricotta. Hey! Can't seem to figure out what to do with the leftovers, I guess. While I agree with hoplover that the service was friendly (our server, while young, tried to be accommodating), the food and ambience hardly makes up for it. I couldn't hear my dinner partner over the noise level and I just couldn't wait to get out of there. What a disappointment.

Aug 30, 2007
tealilly in Greater Boston Area