Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hopstix

From the bowels of interior Chambodia, comes a new fusion of Japanese cuisine and American brewery... Ok, maybe not real Japanese cuisine but there's real American made brews here, though. This Asian brewpub is the first of it's kind in this area which is kinda amazing to say the least and it has been gangbusters since their grand opening day which I'm sure Union Hill Kitchen is not thrilled about it at all, not that anyone goes there anyways. Let's get back on topic here... Perhaps we should classify this as a CauxAsian brewpub, instead... Where did all these gaijins come from?  Maybe they're the out of work paid protestors leftover from the election getting paid with chews and brews to fill up the seats... Because there's no way in fucking hell this crowd was from this area. I don't know, maybe they redrew the borderlines for "Brookhaven" and we all know the milpies (millennial yuppies) can't resist a brewery, especially, one with fusion grub if it's in their "hood"... Why do whities love hanging around breweries so much, do they have nothing else to do all day? Enquiring minds want to know! But anyways, you know what they say, if you brew it, they will come. I don't even know where to begin with this joint, I have compiled so much beat off material to work with in only a few visits that I might as well just poke it and stroke it with this imaginary pen... Squirt.
The space looks small from the outside but the inside is quite spacious, you got a large bar which was smart (but not enough bartenders), a large dining room, a sushi chef's bar/table and then the garage aka the children's table. As usual, I prefer to sit at the bar than at a table and especially, the kiddie communal table around back. During the weeks it's bearable and not slammed, but when it comes quittin' time on a Friday and the weekends, they're absolutely butt slammed... Don't expect for a courtesy reach around but do expect to wait a long time for a table or a bar stool... You may get lucky getting herded to the kiddie table in the garage but the service pretty much sucks ass back there when they're in the weeds because it seems like they're actually smoking weed in the back and they totally forget about you. But those are just miscellaneous details... Let's get to the important details. Like the grub and booze... Fuck yeah!

Not a huge selection of party liquors... But I'm gonna get drunk or die trying.

Porter, Stout and Double Rye... Otherwise known as the three stooges... Y'all know, Larry and his brother Daryl and his other brother Daryl.

Sushi Corndog, beer battered spicy tuna roll, spicy mayo. A total gaijin gimmick if I ever saw one. I didn't want to do it but I eventually caved in to the pouch's curiosity on this monstrosity. This ridiculous gimmick was tailor-made for the round eyes and they were flying out of the fryer faster than Hamburger Helper off the shelves on aisle 4 at Piggly Wiggly. Jesus, is that donkey sauce squirts on there? Now, this failure is complete. Look at this thing... Even the fat slobs at a county fair wouldn't even eat this and they will eat anything that is fried in batter. I'm still laughing at it. But I have to try it for my one reader... Crunch, squoosh, squish, crunch... Yeah, it's as awful as it looks. But I can understand their thought process here but I still can't figure out the wilted greens on the side... C'mon, bro, this was just plain silly... And a $10 price tag to boot, ain't cheap... But gimmicky grub usually ain't. If you must, try it once, get over it and then spend the money on something else...

Three Way Oysters, oysters of the day, monkfish liver, uni, wasabi tobiko. It sounded great on paper but I knew this was gonna be a total rip off at $15 for 3 oysters with tiny sprinkles of the 3 toppings... And since, I'm a stupid fat fuck... I ordered it anyways, naturally. I can't let my readership of one down. The presentation is quite lovely but as I expected, the ankimo, uni and tobiko were like dirt specks. Look at the tobiko, there's like 2 1/2 tiny fish roe on there and that's like the cheapest shit you can buy at any Asian/farmers market. The bland brineless oysters were nicely cleaned, shucked and looked decently plump as if they were all from the gulf coast. You barely taste the star attractions here, they were like a single kibble nugget that just kinda went with the flow with the oyster down your gullet. Nice presentation but the supposedly Beausoleil, James River and gulf coast of the night were all drained of their brine and rinsed under sink water which made them taste like nothing.

Toro, fattiest tuna belly, serrano, caviar, truffle soy. Can they redeem themselves from the gimmicky dishes with some straight to the point nigiri? Fuck yeah, bro... Look at this shit. Looked pretty damn swanky to me... Nice and simple, just let the natural flavor of the product do it's deed. And it tasted great... Melted in your piehole like buttah. Nice work, keep going.

Foie Gras, sweet tamari, radish. Simple and gorgeous presentation. Yes, it's gimmicky... But the pouch can't pass up a foie gras nigiri... Nice sear, soft as silk and savory as fuck. And this pricey gimmick was totally worth it.

Tuna Tartare, asian pear, avocado, pine nuts, quail egg. Jesus, they're on a roll, now... I kinda like the square presentation vs. the usual round. The tartare was mixed and seasoned nicely... The quail yolk was under the nori threads, just mix all that shit up and add some avocado to it and you're in for a nice treat. I liked the wakame seaweed on side vs. the nasty wilted mixed greens that appear on so many of their dishes. It's a good dish that you should put in your pouch.

Miso Ramen, cloudy broth, robatayaki pork belly, poached egg, scallions, seaweed, ramen noodles. You motherfuckers knew I had to do this... First things first, notice anything missing? One of the most important breakfast items... The incredible edible egg. Asked them for it and pushed the bowl aside until it arrived which shouldn't be a long ordeal... Boy, am I the fuck wrong, again. Everyone knows that you never wait to eat a bowl of ramen, you gotta eat it hot while the ramen noodles are still toothy... So, I started to eat it without the egg. The miso broth was just ok, it was too light in color and flavor. The raw red onions doesn't work with ramen for me, it's like a lazy topping to give it color and crunch. The pork belly was pretty good but way too thin, when you lay it flat on top it tricks you visually like it's more than it is, until you eat it and you're like wha da fuk, yo... It's like half a fruit rollup. After eating like 1/4 of it, the egg finally came out...

There she is, Miss Poached Egg... And it was spot on runny. Too bad the bowl was too tepid now to even matter. Look at the noodles' girth, it has absorbed enough liquid that it lost all bite to them. Overall, it's not a great bowl of ramen but they need to have it on the menu to go with the theme of the joint. If you need a quick fix for lunch or a snack before dinner, this will do... But don't say I didn't warn ya.

I had to finish off the night with a Hopstix House Cocktail.. I was curious about the fish sauce and I gotta say it was prolly the best part of this cocktail.. The fish sauce finish on the palate did it for me. What didn't do it for me was watching the staff work the room... It was like watching people riding scooters in traffic in India, just a total fucking gosht goat rodeo. Why is there a server wearing goddamn high heels? This ain't a fucking fashion show... Literally, she was wearing at least 6" stilettos like she was trying out for the Cheetah but she was more like Follies material. By the end of the night she was wearing fuckin fobbie flippie floppies like she's at Kinko's straight flippin copies.  Overall, this visit was more than interesting enough for me to come back and see what else these mofos can do... I gotta admit, I kinda dig this place, more than I really should. But guess what my loyal one reader? You don't have to wait for the follow up visits on the next post... You want it now, don't ya? You want some meatloaf? MA! The meatloaf, they want it now!

Since, the first look gave me a promising impression that made me curious for more, I went back on another night... It was just as butt slammed and fudge packed as the previous week, I mean a total shit show, all pun intended. Which was a good sign for the joint but might not be so good for the kitchen... The main dining room was a fucking circus, so they put us in the garage space with the communal table, like I said before the fucking kiddie table... Because the entire table was full of goddamn kids acting as if they were at home and the parents didn't give a fuck about those little mooks making it a living hell for other people that were at the same table and if that wasn't bad enough already, we were sat in the middle of the fucking table... I was almost tempted to sit on the floor instead. But I knew it was gonna be even more of a shit show when I found out who the server was... The same server that was wearing the fucking 6" high heels while working the tables the previous week. This was gonna be a very amusing night... If we can even get service at all since the entire staff were totally in the weeds, up shit creek without a paddle, again.... I can't fucking wait, let the hunger games begin...

Oysters on the half. Look, they ain't got the best oyster program in town, not even on this street corner... But I thought I would give this another shot. Ordered a dozen mixed, they still had the same selection of gulf, Beausoleil and James River, so that's four each... It looks like someone miscounted or punched in the wrong amount on the POS (I know what POS y'all are thinking but it's the touchscreen machine thingy). Maybe they're coming over with another platter later... I like how they plop this down and walk away without even telling you which oyster is which. It's like a chef's tasting test, guess which oyster it is... Who the fuck knows and who the fuck cares, just send it down my piehole... Yet again, these were totally devoid of all taste, brine and chew. These were all pre-shucked hours ago, perhaps days in advance. Thank god, they only brought half of them. When I tried to cancel the rest, they all mysteriously appeared like some STD that you didn't expect to get, but somehow you knew you would from that tingling sensation, kinda like the spidey sense... But needless to say they sucked as much as the first sampling. I also ordered the fried oysters but they never showed, which was a total blessing in disguise. At $3 a pop, don't even waste your time on these low grade oysters, just skip them all together... They ain't no Kimball House.  

Kurobuta Sausage. You can't fuck these up, right? Hell no, not when they are store bought and cooked over the "binchotan" grill. Ok, it's robatayaki style but it's the same difference to the gaijins. The sausage was good, had a nice snap to them but it could be juicier.

Kabocha Tempura, crispy squash tempura, grated ginger and radish, tempura sauce. These were pretty decent, good tempura batter, light and crispy but the squash was a bit raw on the inside. Perhaps poach them off in a flavored broth then cool, battered and fried to finish. Still pretty good for what it was.

Hopstix Fried Chicken, beer battered fried chicken, buttermilk, house spices, sweet chili peanut sauce. I can't believe I didn't get these on my initial visit... That's because you never underestimate the pouch's instincts... These cheekan nuggets were amateurishly executed. The crust was too light and kept falling off the meat when you pick them up, either the beer batter was too thin or they didn't dust it in flour first. But either way, they were pretty forgettable... Contrary to popular belief in my imaginary world, the pouch doesn't like all fwied cheekan. Maybe because these were nuggets instead of bone in... Who doesn't like a bone in their chick... Skip these if you have a palate or get 6 orders of them to shut these damn screaming kids up... They will prolly use them as ammo against each other at the kiddie table and knock me in the head with one... Little mothercluckers.

Super Bowl (Fan Favorite), sashimi cubes, pork belly, unagi, scallion, masago, spring mix, ginger, sesame seeds, sushi rice, zuke sauce. I don't know how it's a fan favorite when this is brand new and untested but let's do the litmus test.... This super bowl has been reworked a few times and this is their most recent presentation... Doesn't look half bad, huh... Breaking the quail egg out of the shell and mixing all this crap in a bowl up is work enough, let alone de-sticking the pork belly skewer that is locked on there like a joey inside his mama's marsupial pouch. That shit ain't coming off with ease... But once you do get them off and mix it all up.. It becomes a total mess to eat, layers and layers of flavor just gets melted together and every bite taste the same. The quality was acceptable. This dressed up poke bowl was a bit over priced at $16 because half the bowl is ruffage... Shit, come to think of it, I coulda found cheaper Super Bowl LI tickets, instead.

King Crab Fried Rice, short grain rice, scallion, green peas, king crab meats, sesame oil, fish sauce. I kinda wished they misspelled this on purpose like at Chino joints with King Crap just for the hell of it... I lurv me some flied lice, who doesn't? It's the ultimate hangover grub... It's the slutty Chino grub equivalent of a greasy spoon or Waffle House. But if you dress it up with king crab meat on top for $16 does that make it classy? I don't have any class but I do have plenty of crass... And I'll tell ya that this looked good until I saw that damn side salad on the plate... C'mon, everyone knows slopes don't eat salads with fried rice, this ain't LongHorn where you get a salad with your steak. This pricey fwied wice would be worth it if the crab meat was mixed in and had egg in it as well... And maybe some green peas as promised. It's not a bad fried rice but this was such a simple comfort food dish that it coulda been a lot more flavorful. It seemed like they either used not enough sesame oil and fish sauce or none at all since they were rushing dishes out as fast as possible.

Hopsteak, 16 oz bone in ribeye, shiitake mushroom wasabi butter, fingerling potato, spring mix. The price tag is $55... It's right up there with the top steakhouses in this town for this weight and cut, but what about the quality? When you're asking customers to shell out $55 for a ribeye, you usually brag about the cut, breed, from who and where it was raised and aged. There was none of that to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling about getting a primo piece of manmeat. For the amount paid, this is what  you get... Looked like the aftermath of a frenzied feeding by strays dogs on the streets of Rio's favela... Or a Mexican hairless through a wood chipper. Why the fuck was this all chopped up like low grade dog food? I tell you, this steak still has marks where the jockey was hitting it. It was absolutely baffling... You can't tell the difference if this was a top shelf $55 piece of steak or a low rent ghetto ass $5 piece of stew meat. The meat was unseasoned, gristly, cut in all directions of the grain, painfully chewy and just visually unappetizing... I've seen younger looking pinkish meat flaps at the Clermont Lounge. The fingerling taters were fine and that fucking side salad made another appearance but on this dish it may be justified if that protein was indeed a ribeye. The pink salt on the corner was soak in meat juice which render it totally useless like wet sand. This was an absolute travesty and molestation of a ribeye steak that I have ever had the pleasure of paying $55 for. My friends took home the bone for their dog and left the few pieces of inedible meat on the plate... The most expensive dog bone ever in history. I would advise anyone with any level of self respect to avoid this with extreme prejudice... Unless you're into that S&M shit, awww, I miss the Chamber. Fifty five bucks down the drain... Fuck me, I coulda blew that money on a few pieces of foie gras and toro nigiri... And still have enough leftover for a piece of cheap ass around the corner.

Yum Yum Sauce. A friend asked for steak sauce but this came out... It was chopped mushroom in oil. Where am I? Someone open a window, I can't breathe... I wonder what would come out if I asked for ketchup... Perhaps a California roll.

I can't totally blame the new kitchen for poorly executed dishes since this place has been opened for only a couple of weeks or so, it has been a total madhouse since they opened. And everybody and their kids and mothers have been jamming up this joint. I actually feel bad for the kitchen staff, they are doing their best to just get dishes out to the tables... But will it really do them any justice with half ass executions... Of course not for the long run but you also can't have tables waiting hours to get their food done properly, either. They need a lot more people in the kitchen if it continues to go this way for them, which is great for business... But how many of those people who had really bad dishes will show up again for the food? Once the hype dies down and the kitchen finds their groove, they will be more successful in executing their menu... But for now the menu is just way too large for them to handle consistently. I would stick with the "sushi" side of the menu which is also priced inline with the best sushi spots intown, maybe some of the robatayaki items and definitely stay away from the oysters and that shameful and revolting ribeye. I can't gauge their sushi program and quality just yet with the few samples I had but for the lofty prices they are charging, they better be sourcing top grade shit. The service is hit or miss depending on the crowds but it needs work overall, it seems like they haven't worked out an efficient system of running the front of the house or the back of the house, just yet. But on the booze/brewery side, I'm totally on board with them on that... I like drinking here, I like that they have half pints so you can sample their thoughtfully stocked beer list of local brews, I like the decent whiskey and other party liquors list but they need to work on the Japanese whisky, I like the sake list, and the wine list is just so-so.
Even with all the food misses, I am still rooting for this underdog... I like their concept, I like the rural fobby location and I just like the dudebros and bras working here. In time, they will get their shit together and pump out some consistent tasty vittles... If they pump it twice in a row for da pouch... It might even make him squirt.

3404 Pierce Dr.
Chamblee, GA 30341
678-888-2306 
https://www.hopstixbrewing.com/

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Rize Artisan Pizza + Salad

Gimmicky 'ZA joints are dime a dozen in this town, they're usually found in high foot traffic areas with a lot of families in the suburbs or located near malls (ie: California Pizza Kitchen). These types of generic corporate "chef driven" 'ZA joints do well with people with kids, teenagers and office workers during lunch or early after work. So what happens when a corporate style 'ZA concept is hell bent on expanding at a pace that does not appear to be sustainable? You naturally open your flagship location in Poncy-Highland, another one up in Sandy Springs and plan a third for midtown without even seeing if the first flagship location will work over a reasonable period of time... That sounds like a great strategy and use of investor funds.
Will the aging hipsters in Poncey- Highland take to this place or will they just walk on by to old school standbys like Righteous Room and Manuel's Tavern? I have no fucking idea but it's never crowded every time I ride by this place. I guess I've waited long enough to check this place out... Time to stop talking the talk and and start walking the walk... I shit you not, my fat ass actually walked to this place and with my luck, I thought it was closed at first because no one was in there. Then I turned the corner and up to the front door, I'm like is this place even open? I walked in and there were 3 workers on staff in the entire place totally silent and I'm like are they the cleaning crew because there was not a single paying customer in sight. Was this place being robbed, was I in the middle of a heist for the 'dough' in their safe? There can't be much cash in here with no customers. So, the only server walked up to me at the front and before she can even say a word, I'm like BLINK TWICE if you are under duress... Then she starts laughing at me and asked if I had ever been in here before... I'm thinking to myself out loud like usual and said, by the looks of it, I don't think anyone has... Hardy har har, she says. Damn, that was a cheesy line... Speaking of cheese, let's take a look at the 'ZA menu... I don't like how you have to order at the front door, you feel like you're being rushed (like at Tea House Formosa)... Not that there was anyone in there to rush me but still she's standing there staring at the distinguished pouch plumage waiting for me to give her an order to put into their high tech ordering system aka a tablet.
The menu is pretty simple and straight forward but they like to call it "bold, global flavors", hey whatever floats your dinghy... They got pizza, flatbreads, salads, small plates, pastas, beer and wine.. The same old, same old. Jesus, sounds like they just opened up a CPK wannabe so that they can be close to the Urban Outfitters' demographics... And no one knows how that place is still even in business. My pouchy senses are starting to tingle, but let's take a quick look anyways...

Slammed packed on a Sunday afternoon... You can hear a spider fart in here. Bless their hearts.

Charbroiled Wings, ginger honey sauce.These did not look and smelled half bad. Nice color and a little char. The ginger honey was kinda boring for these 'bold' wings to be dunked into. But the wings themselves were pretty damn good. Good crisp/char on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. Not a bad wing, I would get them again since there's no one in here to order them.

Grilled Pork Meatballs, fire roasted tomato, shaved grana padano.This sounded great on paper, I was dreaming of soft tender succulent juicy meatballs but all I got was reheated hard rigor mortis grandpa balls that were stored in the refrigerator way too long. They weren't even warm through and lacked any seasoning. The fire roasted cherry tomatoes were fine and they burst in your mouth like it should. The grana padano flakes were fine as well. These meatballs were forgettable and I would not order these again unless they were prepared fresh on that day.

Stuffed Peppadew Peppers, whipped feta, crumbled fennel sausage, spiced walnuts, calabrese oil, parsley. Sounds like a winner on paper but they came in 3rd place. While the feta stuffed peppers were pretty decent, the crumbled fennel sausage were hard bits of tiny pork dust. The oil was neither spicy nor vibrant, kinda looked like the leftover oil after over cooking the little ground pork nuggets. Maybe they could have drawn the attention away from the dried out meat bits if this dish was covered in parsley as the menu stated.

Charred Cauliflower, maple sesame dressing, spiced walnuts, pomegranate seed. When I see the word charred, I kinda expect the dish to be warm at least... Maybe that's just me because in order to char something you kinda need fire... Last time I checked fire was hot and this dish was not. It was actually stone cold. It's got nice ingredients in there but no one said there would be 40% celery filler in there. The maple sesame dressing was ultra bland but if it was done right, this little veggie dish coulda came together nicely.

Vegetable, red peppers, tri-color carrot, fire roasted tomato, zucchini,artichoke, goat cheese, chickpeas, watermelon radish, fennel, baby spinach, pistachio, lemon ginger vinaigrette. Jesus, can you put more shit in there... Because everyone loves to read a small novel about each dish. This salad was actually made by mistake and they gave it to me because there was no one else in the place to dump this on... I guess they coulda put it on a demo table in the front window like how all the touristy Eyetalian joints on Mulberry do to lure in all the suckers. But I don't think it would work on this desolate part of North Highland. Believe it or not, the dish that was made by mistake was the best tasting one... Isn't that always how it is, the shit you didn't order always taste the best.

Steak & Smoked Bleu Cheese Wedge, angus steak, romaine, Beeler's bacon, smoked bleu cheese, fire roasted tomato, charred red onion, bleu cheese dressing. I think the keyword here is 'Wedge'... Because I don't see anything that looks like a wedge on this plate. Perhaps they meant that I can wedge that plate under one of the wobbly table's legs. The sliced steak pieces were cold, hard, chewy and overcooked, not a piece of pink in sight and we're even right across from Urban Outfitters. If you took off the steak and erase the word 'wedge' from this salad, then it wouldn't be half bad. Not that it was very exciting, either. Meh, just skip it.

Superfood, seared shrimp, quinoa, mixed lettuce, feta cheese, zucchini, cucumber, spiced walnuts, honey lemon vinaigrette. With a name like that, you would think this would be Supergood. This looked like the scraps bucket out back for composting. The shrimp wasn't seared, it was cold and hard like chewing on an eraser. The honey lemon vinaigrette tasted like pure castor oil and nothing else... If I ate this entire thing like the lardass that I am, I woulda prolly reenacted the entire pie eating contest scene from Stand By Me. Totally skip this.

Prosciutto & Pomengranate, goat cheese, baby spinach, spiced walnuts, balsamic reduction. You can't go wrong with a flatbread and prosciutto, right? Unless it was reheated from yesterday's leftovers. This wasn't half bad... I mean this flatbread is so easy to make, nothing is really cooked except the bread part. It was light, airy, a little crisp and warmed through... Not bad tasting but it was so average that once is more than enough.

Waverly 'ZA, prosciutto, gorgonzola, shredded mozzarella, asiago, fig jam, balsamic reduction, grana padano. This was their lunch size signature pie which was the better way to test the 'ZA... And I'm glad I did. It's a very greasy pie... The crust was oily as if they brushed the crust after it came out of the oven... Wait, they did brush the crust. Remember, the crust is basically your handle to eat the damn slice. If I wanted a greasy ass crust I would order from Pizza Hut. It's not a bad looking pie but I just can't get that greasy crust out of my mind. The pie itself was semi decent, it had nice lightly charred spots and the slice folded with ease. The flavors were ok as well, not a great 'ZA by any means but for a quick lunch bite, it could do if nothing else was opened. I wouldn't get this pie again, I shoulda prolly stuck with the simple Margherita, instead.

I don't know if this place will last long at this rate based on this weekend visit... Opening more locations may not be the brightest idea... Especially, a 3rd one in midtown which is prolly the dumbest idea being so close to this location. Anyone remember when Chipotle opened a bunch of Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchens thinking it was the best idea ever? Yeah, I thought so... They are now quietly closing all of them down within the week because they sucked ass. Don't be like Slophouse... Get your first location in order and work on your customer base first then think about exploring future expansion. Why do people always think their concept will work when all other similar concepts have failed... You gotta ask, who's stroking their ego? No one even knows about this place, do they even have PR promoting this or just using Eater? This location for this corporate pedestrian concept is baffling... After witnessing first hand on how dead it was on a weekend afternoon, it's not a good sign. This place would work better in the suburbs, in a mall... The sheep and their younglings will eat this generic shit up.


675 N. Highland Ave
Atlanta, GA 30306
www.rizeartisanpizza.com

Monday, March 13, 2017

Pouch's KitChen

Sometimes, the pouch can't be out eating all the time... When it's at home, the pouch actually have to fend for itself and whip up something to fill that never ending abyss. Let's take a gander at what this creasture eats in it's natural habitat... Ok, sometimes I'm just flat broke and can't afford to have someone else service, feed and clean me like in my parents' basement... Hey, ma! Da meatloaf! We want it now! Not that I make or like meatloaf... But here's a few examples of what the pouch eats in it's lair like a fat girl and then cries itself to sleep...

Crispy rice cake, soft egg, dashi, furikake.

Uni pasta, XO sauce, togarashi, uni.
 
Spicy ramyn fried chicken.

Lobster, sausage, mushroom risotto.

Filet, prosciutto asparagus, roast carrots, fried tater logs, balsamic fig reduction.

Tater patty breakfast sando, baby bella, bacon, carmelized onion, egg.

Stove top potato gratin.

Chopped Cheese, Harlem bodega style.

Shrimp & grits, eggs.

Shrimp & grits, sans egg.

Tonkatsu, barley, peas & lentils blend, veggie medley.

If the pouch puts his pannus into it, something tasty can result from it's lazy efforts... Hey, I guessed they're right, the morbidly obese, although slow, and dangerous in front of the buffet, can still serve a purpose.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Outback Steakhouse

Have y'all ever come home after a long day at work on a Friday night and try to come up with a place to eat... Trolling endlessly online for a new place to slay but can't seem to find anything because you have been to all of them? Prolly not because the cool kids never stay home on a Friday night and just stare at the wall and cry themselves to sleep like a fat girl... Ok, I'm not a cool kid nor a girl but I am fat and I may have done it a few dozen times in the past... But that doesn't make me any less of a loser than I already am in my entire miserable existence. So, what do you do when you have run out of ideas or no ideas at all... You turn on the TV, open up a bag of chips, start crying into your Big K cola and Early Times whiskey cocktail and then an Outback Steakhouse commercial comes on at the lowest point of your life and a sexy younger Crocodile Dundee voice starts shilling their "back by popular demand" steak and lobster special in his aboriginal accent... "It's back for a limited time. We pair our tender, seasoned & seared steaks with the king of the sea. A bountiful, mouthwatering steamed lobster."
First of all, who is calling Outback headquarters and demanding them to bring this back? Was there a consensus taken? How come, I didn't get one... Second, I know what y'all are saying... Why are you going to this low rent redneck dump, pouch? Look, motherfuckers, I don't discriminate, I'll eat anything and I'll even wear a pink pussy hat while dining there... Imagine A day without Pouch and the entire eating world will protest and riot... Well, at least in my nightmares. But since, I have never heard of this obviously very popular combo before, maybe it was time to put on the Depends and mosey on over there... But the big question was... Where the fuck is an Outback's? I don't care if I have to drive to upstate Georgia, I'm gonna get me a fucking manmeat and sea roach special. No rules, just right... Into the pouch, motherfuckers!

Black Barrel Irish Tea. Luckily, I found an Outback's right in town because there was no fucking way I could wait any longer to get a cocktail in my face funnel. This specimen got Jameson and something something something with a sprig of mint. Took a gulp and then noticed that it also had fresh squeezed lemon, mango and Gold Peak® Tea... Per the drink menu but c'mon, who has time to read all the ingredients on a drink menu, I get too antzy when it comes to booze within striking distance. It's obviously not a craft cocktail with top shelf shit but for a gimmicky chain resto, it's good enough for the barn animals that feed here.

Coconut Shrimp. I know it's a big box chain resto but there's gotta be some kind of pride and decency back there in the kitchen... But after this pitiful display, I'm not so sure there's any pride back there, just prejudice against these poor little skrimpz. Look at that plate... This shit still haunts me when I'm deep in thought on the can. Jesus, I know 5th graders that can plate a more appetizing presentation than this. As for the taste, they're no Bahama Breeze... Why I get a hard-on for BB's coconut skrimpz, I have no idea, it must be the Danish part of me.

Caesar Salad. Looks like a standard issue C-salad but after eating it, I wanted a C-section, STAT. Is caesar dressing suppose to be liquidity like an overflowing sewage drain? Nevermind I asked...

Side Salad. Your classic boring salad with a side of beef bone broth... Oh, wait, that must be the dressing. Jesus, is salad dressing suppose to be hot? That bowl was at least 120 degrees... Musta just came out of the dishwasher. You can sous vide meat in there.

Sirloin and Lobster. This was the main event right here... I wonder if they have color photos on the wall of how every plate should look like in the kitchen because every single dish that came out had the same template... Which was just "throw it on the plate". Besides the awful plating, the meat and lobster didn't look half bad for $15... But then you gotta ask yourself, broseph, dude.. What do you really expect for $15 on a steak and lobster... Shit, I didn't care to think that far ahead. I got too excited just to be going out on a Friday night like one of the cool kids... But they were obviously somewhere else cooler. I cut the steak open and I couldn't believe it was cooked to temp- rosy mid-rare as requested... WTF, am I dreaming? It was juicy and had a decent little char on the outside but it wasn't really seasoned that well... So, I dipped the steak in the clarified butter... Is that wrong? Fuck, do you just become an instant redneck when you walk through those doors or what? No rules, is right, motherfuckers. The lobster looked so prefabbed... Somebody in a factory somewhere plucked that tail outta the shell and made it all pretty looking and then threw it in a freezer with hundreds of other tails. There was no way they prepped this in house, there's too much skill involved here to make it look like this, like the repetitious skills on a processing line somewhere. The lobster meat had zero taste, as if all the flavor of the sea bottom drained away when it was defrosted and steamed off. The lemon didn't do a goddamn thing to enhance the flavor of the lobster, neither did the butter... Because I used it all on the steak. Bottomline- You get what you paid for... But you know what? For what it was, the common folk can enjoy some pseudo-upscale meal with this special that is affordable and aligns with their disposable income. I ain't gonna rip them a new asshole, they are doing exactly what their demographics is asking them for. I guess... Good job, you motherfuckers.

I don't come here much, maybe once a year if that... But sometimes, you just want something less complicated and simple and don't want to do the rounds around town. I'm not really a fan of this place but their fucking commercial suckered me in with their good'day mate accent and juicy steak and lobster at a vulnerable time in my life... When I was hungry and bored and they gave me hope and a change of underpants and also another reason not to make another visit until next year or later... And I will still not get that fucking blooming onion ever again. Once is a lifetime with that fried grease ball... I think I'm still digesting the one I ate from 2014.

Anywhere U.S.A.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Pleasant BBQ Garden

The pouch is always on the look out for new Chino BBQ and Cantonese joints because we all know that Cantonese grub is prolly the best overall Chino vittles that has ever been devised. The variety and flavors of the dishes in this cuisine is just awesome, you can eat a different dish everyday and never get tired of it. There's no shortage of Cantonese grub in this town but a lot of them are very middling and some are just plain slutty and the good ones like Ming's and Best BBQ has gone up in prices. Pleasant Hill Rd has become the mecca for all Asian ethnic grub but to the east of 85 is still home to mostly Cantonese grub. Within the Assi market shopping mall comes a relatively new Hong Kong style BBQ joint that quietly opened to some mixed reviews... The owners are supposedly from Flushing and we all know that Chinatown in Manhattan and Queens don't play when it comes to authentic vittles... You won't last long in this town if your shit ain't up to snuff with the ex-pats and FOBs. I don't know why the entire family moved out of NYC because not many Asians leave the city once they have established a business or local standing but I assume, like myself and most people migrating out of NYC, it's because of the sky high triple taxes, impossible to pay rents and overall lowered standard of living... And not to mention gang activity and protection money in those hoods from what I have seen in the movies. You work like a dog and live like a rat in that city, but the cheap and affordable ethnic grub can keep you there a lifetime... But enough with the trials and tribulation of the pouch's past, let's come back to reality and the reality of some potential amazing grub...
This place is pretty small, a few tables, open kitchen in the front with the BBQ meats hanging in the window and a full size kitchen in the back... The set up is very similar to most small Chino restos. It's kinda like the Buford Hwy Ming's but up on Pleasant Hill (the Ming's on P-Hill is bigger but still in the same category). The menu is pretty extensive with all the classic hits and dishes of a HK BBQ shop. The prices here is a lot cheaper than most places around. But then you have to question the quality and execution from said lower prices... Shit, I have eaten at so many dumps around the world, dirty little alley way noodle shops that had some of the best tasting shit around... And it literally coulda been shit, but it's all about the execution and seasoning. Let's take a quick bite and see if this new Chino BBQ shop has what it takes to make the pouch swoon or drop a massive load in their can... Which I over heard a bunch of old Chinese ladies saying it was very clean in Cantonese compared to the other dumps... Splash.

Hong Kong Style Wonton Noodle. It's very very tough to make a proper HK wonton noodle soup... The broth needs to be pitch perfect with a delicate balance of pork, dried fish and shrimp flavors... But a quality made chicken stock with dried shrimp works surprisingly well. This version was decent not great due to the lackluster broth, it just didn't capture all those key essence. But the noodles were toothy and have a nice bite to them. The wontons were flavorful and decent sized with an equal amount of pork and shrimp. It's not a bad bowl of wonton noodle soup but I would put the money towards something else on the menu until they have nailed the broth here.

Congee with 1000 year old egg and pork. This is prolly my main test for a Cantonese joint.. It's the classic congee bowl that I have dreamt about on a regular basis since I was a baby pouch to this day. It is the ultimate comfort dish, so velvety, so smooth, so rich in flavor, so comforting in every way on a cold ass day. This version was all that except the preserved duck egg were in tiny pieces and not much of it at all in the bowl, the pork bits were more prevalent but it needed an equal balance of both and in bigger pieces. It's a great rice porridge on it's own but don't be so fucking chintzy on the other good stuff, ya hear?!

Beef Chowfun. This classic noodle dish has become increasingly more and more pricey, I have seen this dish go for as high as $15... Fifteen motherfucking duckets! This place was charging a normal reality based rate of $8.50... And it was tasty as shit. The flavoring aka umami was in full effect. The noodles could use a bit more soy to give it a darker look and glaze but it didn't take away from the overall flavor factor. The beef slices were marinated well and tender after a quick wok fry. Was it the best I have had in this town? Hell no, but for the price of this generous portion, it was pretty damn good overall. I would get this again and it comes out fucking piping hot.

Sour mustard with chicken. The classic dish is usually done with intestines which I love but to make it a bit more eater friendly for the table, we went with chicken... Yeah, I know, boring. But the sour mustard was made in house and it was pretty damn tasty. It was the right amount of sour and sweetness to the lightly crisp mustard, the small use of black bean sauce came through just enough and the other filler veggies were fresh and crisp, cooked through just enough. I tell you what... If you have leftovers, mix this in with some fresh wok fried lo mein noodles and that shit will be a hit, believe the pouch.

Combo #3: char siu, roast pork, roast duck. Not a bad looking spread. I had ordered this with the other dishes but he totally forgot about it, he was like it didn't come out? I told him look at the table of food, do you seen any BBQ meats on it? I got this to go anyways because after 4 dishes of addictive grub leaves the pouch with not much space left for fried chicken later, so I only snacked on a couple pieces of each. The char siu could be a little more sweeter and the color a bit more vibrant (I know I know the bright red char siu are due to food coloring but that's why it's so good) but overall it wasn't fatty and tasted pretty good. The skin on the roast pig was ultra crispy, the small fat layer was rendered decently down and the meat was tender. The duck was nice meaty pieces with a thin crackly skin and the fat rendered perfectly. For $15-16, this meat combo was fairly priced and the quality was just as good as the other top spots... It would be even a better deal if they gave you rice with this... Shit, I didn't ask for any so they might have done it anyways, they seemed nice enough to make you happy.

The classic dishes I tried were pretty good overall on this visit... But was it worth the drive all the way to Duluth? Yeah, I would say it's worth the drive on a weekend, that's the trade off you have to make, the cheaper prices for the distance. If it was ITP on Buford Hwy this would be my new go to spot for HK vittles. But for now, I will only make my way up there on the weekends. There's still the Chinatown food court that slays it on a daily basis with the wide variety of grub that can be had in that shithole on the cheap.

1630 Pleasant Hill Rd #220
Duluth, GA 30096

Monday, March 6, 2017

American Cut

After a very very long delayed opening, another steakhouse graces the Buckhead Army ranks. It wants to be an Officer and a Gentleman in their dreams... But in reality it's more like Sgt. Bilko and Tropic Thunder. So, they teamed up with hot NYC chef, Marc Forgione, to devise a meatcentric menu that will set them apart from the other steakhouses that are only a skip, hop and jump away. Imagine that, another steakhouse in Buckhead... But this ain't no ordinary steakhouse. It wants to cater towards the millennial crowd and their parents' money. The inside is swanky and they obviously spent a goddamn fortune on the mid century art deco style interior... Not that anyone of these pussy ass millennials will even know what the fuck that is. Good luck making it all back with the food and drinks... You never go full retard. Speaking of which... Let's start from the bottom and work our way up to the top of this Donkey Kong-esque multi-level steakhouse.
First thing I see is the bar downstairs with a nice selection of party liquors, good start so far. Then I look at the cocktail menu... Snooze. It really almost put me to sleep reading that list... It was awful. I was still in a daze when the Latina bartender with a cute FUPA underneath her vest rushed me to order so I got nervous and got the gimmicky smoked Old Fashioned... Yeah, yeah, what a douche, I know. Then I looked around the joint while I was waiting for her to light a piece of wood on fire and cupped it with the cocktail glass... It was so fucking cheesy but I kinda digged it. So, I'm scanning the space for an exit strategy just in case and I'm noticing the crowd in here... Jesus Henry Christ, Buckhead hasn't changed a fucking bit. Why are there so many goddamn yentas and ginzos in here... It was like Bensonhurst in the 80's. It's the friggin end of February and everyone's got a tan, in shape and clean clothes on. Holy shit... It's the Jersey Shore all up in this GTL piece! Then more and more people come through the door and I swear it had to be an ex-porn star convention. There were so many aging hookers dressed in sleazy outfits that Frederick's of Hollywood would even laugh at and their overweight pimps were dripping sweat from their meatheads because their shirt was 2 sizes too small. Who needs Dragon Con when you got Jenna Jameson in an Adele fat body suit trying to score a free drink from a roided up juicehead with a hand full of gaudy rings on... You just can't make this shit up.
I need a fucking drink, yo... Where's that drink my little honey badger bartender with the Mexican muffin top...

Plank Smoked Old Fashioned. Yes, this was such an outdated gimmick cocktail but shit, it had whiskey in it right? Fuck yeah... And a giant ass block of ice in there. It smelled smokey but that's where it ends, the drink itself was average and the pouch sucked that down in 3 gulps, what a rip off. Next...

Barrel Aged Negroni. Well, I'm just a sucka again with this other classic cocktail. It wasn't half bad but it tasted watered down. A good negroni should be bold and strong, this was kinda weak. Ok, I had enough of their average cocktails... Let's adjourn to the upstairs and eat some manmeat... Well, excluding the hookers at the bar downstairs, they looked like they had their hands and mouth full already.

These "everything" biscuits were pretty good and the butter spread made it all the more better. The reflection off the table lead me to look up from stuffing my fat snout with these glutenous balls.

I liked these giant lights but do they really need to have them all bunched up in a row? The dining room is just as swanky as the downstairs, the theme goes throughout the entire space.

Bone Marrow. From this angle, it's not a bad looking piece of bone... It's quite girthy, long and strong. But you can't see the marrow hidden under all that filler shit on top... Let's face it, the marrow is the real money shot coming from this boner. Let's take a look from the other side...

From this angle you can't even tell what the fuck that is... It kinda looked like a goddamn terrarium with a bunch of succulents and air plants. This fucking better not be a vegan dish, bitch. Scraped off the herb and voila! There was the marrow. The channel of gooey collagen was executed spot on and it scooped out of the tunnel of love with ease... But the thick ass bread chunks not so much, it was a bit tough to cut them into smaller slices. Look, no one is gonna slather that gorgeous marrow on a piece of bread that was modeled after an iceberg. But overall, this was a pretty decent dish... Do the paying customers a favor and slice the bread to semi normal bite size pieces.

Pastrami Bone In Ribeye, 30 day dry aged, 20 oz. I heard that the pastrami ribeye was just too overpowering with the pastrami seasonings and this was the only ribeye on the menu... Which everyone knows that the ribeye is the best cut anywhere. But they will also do a plain old ribeye without all that shit... Fuck it, I'm game. Ordered it mid-rare like usual and this is what came out... What in holy god's heavenly name is this fucking thing? Did they find this scrap of torn up meat in the middle of a coyote group feeding behind the dumpster at King + Duke? Look at how ugly that presentation is... Jesus, I'm still having flashbacks of this gladiator carnage. The outside was well charred, maybe a bit too over charred. But the inside was pretty much spot on at mid rare temp. It wasn't as tender as it looked or hoped for but at that price point you would expect pretty close to perfection with this supposedly "30 day dry aged" ribeye. And I wasn't impressed with this at all... But after looking over at the next table's good looking order of the Tomahawk Chop, it only confirmed that... I been took! I been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok! ...With my measly piece of the servant's cut.

Potato Puree "Robuchon". That are some bold words to use... You sure y'all wanna name them after Joel Robuchon's ridiculously creamy taters? You better use like a 10:1 butter to tater ratio then because anything else is just not a Robuchon tater puree. This looked creamy at first but when you start whipping it around it was pretty dense, almost a gummy texture. It was so thick that only half of it came off the spoon, you had to get a giant scoop of it just get some on the plate. The taste was just ok, it sat heavy on your tongue and mouth and it wasn't as buttery and velvety as the real Robuchon version.

Brussels Sprouts. You can't fuck up brussels sprouts, right? You damn right you can't and this version was pretty good, nicely roasted and charred and I think they may have flashed fried to finish. Not bad at all.

Sunchoke Spinach. When this came out all I could think of was asking for a few cubes of cottage cheese and a side of basmati rice to complete the dish. C'mon, bro, you never send out a dish half complete. But as it stands as a creamy sunchoke spinach with fontina, it wasn't half bad. It seemed like the cook who executes the green veggies on the line has got his shit together in this kitchen... As for the rest of the line, they might have been on a cig break.

Booze list. If you don't know what booze cost retail or wholesale, you're gonna get fucked in the drive thru here. The pricing is all over the place and none of it reflects reality... Blanton's and Buffalo Trace were the same price and Old Rip Van Winkle 10 yr was cheaper than them but they were out of the one bottle on stock, so they were substituting WL Wellers at the same price point, not that Wellers is bad (it's good for what it is) but charging the same price is just ridunkulous. Server goes back to the bar and asked for the real pricing and comes back with a lower price tag, imagine the millennial suckaz that doesn't question this price list. Their poor parents are paying up for average whiskey and don't even know they're getting fucked up the ass. At least take the bottle home as a trophy.

So, after that very mediocre meal, I went upstairs to the Regent Cocktail Club to see how the trust fund babies were living these days... Jesus Christ, they are blowing through their family's savings faster than Hunter Biden with the drinks, drugs and hookers... Downstairs. The Buckhead army is still alive and well with the same uniforms (Polo shirt, khakis and boat shoes for the dudebros and the open back short dresses with built in side boob vents and open toe shoes for the bimbras). The Buckhead crowd are like crocodiles, they have not changed in millions of years.
Even after a couple of months of full service, the place still lacks finesse in the kitchen and service execution, especially, with who's behind it. Not that anyone down here knows who the fuck Marc Forgione is, nor care, their clientele comes here for one thing- to look good, show off their money and hook up. I know they want to run a classy joint but hiring a celebrity chef to open the place and never show up again has never worked in the past in this town... Anyone remember Craft and Craftbar? Maybe American Cut can pretend to reneg on the lease like Tom Colicchio, too, in six months. But they can always turn it into an event space for future adult conventions since there's no lack of hookers in this part of town.

The Shops Buckhead Atlanta
3035 Peachtree Rd NE #140
Atlanta, GA 30305
http://www.americancutsteakhouse.com/