Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tasting the new and rediscovering the old

The proximity of a place to home is often inversely proportional to the time that elapses before we make a visit. Top Flr is close to home, too close to feel like "going out" when an adventure is what we seek. Had our friends not suggested the place to meet, we probably still be waiting for the right time to go.

The upstairs space is small and narrow, but rather cozy. I tucked myself into a tight corner by the door with pillows and felt instantly at home. Service was not particularly speedy, but the food kinks mentioned on the AC forum were no longer apparent. The duck confit on the rustic pizza was succulent as opposed to stringy. The pizza crust was pleasantly puffy and slightly chewy. It's hard to find fault with soft dough, gooey cheese, and salty duck cooked in its own fat. I enjoyed the richness and softness immensity. :)
Despite all the positive reviews written about FAB downtown, the few lunches I had there did not blow me away. Perhaps I haven't ordered the right things. It's hard to be in the mood for super buttery dishes when much work looms in the inevitable future. My opportunity to try something rich came at our Christmas lunch. The intoxicating smell of truffles permeated the dinning room when half of the office received the white bean soup drizzled generously with truffle oil. Salty and thick, the soup satisfied in the way that mashed potatoes do on a cold night, but with a sophisticated flare. The critic reports may suggest that truffle oil is over used in restaurant dishes, but to the average mortal, it's still a treat when paired with the humble beans.
Allegro opened without much fanfare across the street from One Midtown Kitchen. Like Sotto Sotto, where its chef worked previously, Allegro attempts to offer a more authentic taste of the boot-shaped country. Unlike Sotto Sotto, the Allegro space is much larger and darker, and as a consequence, lacked a bit of the warmth that has become a signature of Italian establishments. Our visit was perhaps too early in the life of the kitchen to allow just judgement. Many dishes seemed to have the best intentions, but came through just shy of perfection. For example, the large head-on shrimps in a vibrantly acidic tomato sauce had a wonderful flavor, but were a tad overcooked and took on a rubbery texture. With some time and a sizable crowd, this place may be a gem yet.
C & S Oyster bar evokes mixed feelings among food lovers. There is a bit of an identity issue. It's tough for the restaurant, situated in a Kroger trip mall, to stick to its urban bistro soul, while also please the family-oriented suburban clientele. It does, however, succeed in one area, the seafood platter. The oysters and clams were fresh and unmessed with. The crab legs and shrimps were lightly cooked with no toughness. Sunday supper for two couldn't get better than sharing a platter with some bubbly.
J and I ate our first real restaurant meal in the atl at Dish, the unassuming V-highland neighborhood favorite. It took us almost three years to return, which, in a way, was good timing, as the restaurant's ten year run will come to an end this month. Sad news, especially because the mussels absolutely took my breath away. I swear I have not had such meaty and well-seasoned creatures for as long as I can remember. I am almost afraid to go back before the year end, fearing that I might ruin a perfect memory.
Another veteran of the ATL dinning scene is the dated Buckhead Dinner. From what I heard, the menu hasn't changed much since its opening. The maytag blue cheese potato chips are still on the menu as is the veal meatloaf. Both were good on my visit, if not excitingly new. Then again, who said new is always better. Good is always good.