Home      Horses      About      Contact

All photos are copyright Southeasterncycling.com. Please do not copy without proper credit.

My website is Southeastern Cycling.

Photos | Our Home | Restaurant Reviews | Wedding Photos | Cycling Advice


Marietta Cyclocross Race Nov. 2010


Nestie Happy Hour, July 2010. Backrow:  WifedeAngel, Aeorea, Noelle, Smyrningsbride, Front Row: joelizabeth 23, Sadlebred, musgal8, Adorable Baby JulesDiane, Sadlebred, champagnedreams

Nestie Lunch GTG May 2010

L to R: Smyningsbride, WifedeAngel, new2atl, Ms_Shell, JulesDiane, Adorable Baby JulesDiane, Sadlebred, BAMFMrsB

Sadlebred and the Snow Bunny at the Smyrna Market Village in Feb. 2010.

Sadlebred and Mr. Sadle on Valentine's Day 2010 at Waffle House.

Nestie Ugly Holiday Sweater GTG Party, Christmas/Hannukah 2009

Nestie GTG at Tin Lizzys in Buckhead Nov. 2009. L to R: AmandaRyan, MrzMozz, UGADawg, Sadlebred, Ms_Shell, Smynings_bride

Nestie GTG Oct. 2009 L to R; champagnedreams, wifedeangel, aerorea, SassyErika, rudywooten, Sadlebred


Nestie GTG August 2009, Noche in Vinings. Left to Right: BAMFMrsB, ChampagneDreams, rudywooten, Aerorea, Sadlebred

Sadlebred and DH posing for the photo booth at a friend's wedding. June 2009

Riding into the Sunset in Jackson, WY, June 2009

Sadlebred and DH riding horses in Jackson, WY. June 2009

Sadlebred and DH at the Sunny King Crit bike race. May 2009. Pardon the lovely hair. I was in the middle of a 12 hour day of photographing the race.

Visiting a mule on a mountain bike ride in the North Georgia Mountains, May 2009.

Sadlebred racing her mountain bike. April 2009.

Nestie GTG at Bone Garden Cantina. Sadlebred, Jacqueline, Dizzyblonde, BAMFMrsB, twinkldystar327. November 2008.

Sadlebred during a cyclocross race in Rome, GA. I love the flash effects in the photo. November 2008.

NDLauren and Ally-Cat at Marlows Happy Hour in Vinings. October 2008.

Ally-Cat, Sadlebred, and Mrs. PeachyKeen at Marlows. October 2008.

Aerorea and CraigsJen at Marlow's Tavern. October 2008.

Sadlebred competes in the Dahlonega, GA Cyclocross Race and runs up the stairs. October 2008.

Sadlebred wins 2nd in the GCS Mountain bike series-Sport Women, August 2008

Nestie GTG, Marlow's Tavern, Kennesaw. L to R: yamqueen, Aerorea, Sadlebred, raynaw, MrsMaybride, Not pictured: ISU2005bride, May 2008

Sadlebred and DH riding horses in Costa Rica, May 2008

Sadlebred at a bike race in her 2008 team "kit" (uniform). March 2008. Photo by CG Photography.

Sadlebred mountain biking over a frozen creek in the North Georgia Mountains. Photo by Mama8Chocolate. January 2008.

Sadlebred racing at the Monroe, GA Cyclocross Race, Jumping over the ditch dismount. November 2007. Photo by Sid Carter/Southeasterncycling.com.

Teaching a cyclocross bike clinic. How to carry your bike up a run up. August 2007. Photo by Carl Mesta photography.

Downtown Lunch GTG: MrsGuz, BAMFMrsB, and yamqueen. Sept. 2007.

Downtown Lunch GTG: Sadlebred, soccer6, missmlp. Sept. 2007.

My 2007 Cycling Team portrait. August 2007

DH and I pose for our cycling team photos. August 2007

Trish (right) wins 3rd place in Sport Women for the overall for the Georgia Championship Series mountain bike race series. August 2007

Missmlp, Sadlebred, and edw enjoyed lunch downtown. July 2007

DH and I eating Gelato in Siena, Italy. June 2007

Riding horses in Tuscany, Italy. June 2007.

Me racing my road bike at the Anniston, Alabama criterium race. May 2007.

Sadlebred and her mountain bike at a mountain bike race at Ft. Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. April 2007. Photo by Carl Mesta Photography.

I'm taking up mud wrestling. This is me and my teammate after a very muddy race in NC. April 2007.

At the State Capitol as part of the Ride to the Capitol cycling advocacy rally, March 2007.

Shooting a cycling event, March 6, 2007.

Nestie Re-Gift GTG, Georgia Tech Alumni House, Feb. 17, 2007.

Does anyone want a 2 ton green vase?

Downtown Lunch GTG at Ted's Montana Grill Feb. 2007. Missmlp, soccer6, and Sadlebred.

This is me after dental surgery on Jan. 16th. Don't you love the ice pack? It's the hot fashion accessory of 2007!

The Elusive Creature has been captured on film!! A man mopping the kitchen floor! DH proves it IS possible!

Me and DH at a party in the summer of 2006

Doing what I love-Cyclocross! November 2006

Some Northside Nesties had a GTG at Cafe Intermezzo in Nov. 2006. Backrow: Craigsjen, Sadlebred, Maya, and TeacherMomma, Frontrow: Thembi, Lawchick, and TNT.

My cycling team portrait for 2006.

Our Home

Christmas Tree 2010. Changes for this year: new tree topper, several new ornaments

Master Bedroom Suite. October 2009.

New Master Bedroom Suite. October 2009.

Pumpkin on a Bicycle. Halloween 2009.

The guest room repainted with popcorn ceiling taken down and walls repaired. Sherwin Williams paint, painting by Collerton Painting. Photo is pre-picture hanging. I also need to find new curtains and a curtain rod. It will be decorated in an equestrian theme. The wall color is the same as a hunt vest that equestrians wear during a fox hunt, but it's neutral enough that I can redecorate in a few years if I want to. January 2008.

The foyer and stairs repainted with popcorn ceiling taken down and walls repaired. Sherwin Williams paint, painting by Collerton Painting. Photo is pre-picture hanging. I have an antique mirror that goes above the foyer table. January 2008.

The upstairs hall repainted with popcorn ceiling taken down and walls repaired, crown molding added, and all new 6 panel interior doors. Sherwin Williams paint, painting by Collerton Painting. Photo is pre-picture hanging. The walls are a bit lighter than they appear in the photo. The hall will also get new outlet covers and light fixtures. January 2008.

View of the dining room. The dining room set and buffet are from Crate and Barrel. The china cabinet is an antique. October 2007.

Flowers DH bought me on the ottoman with small couch in the background. October 2007.

The living room. I love my burgandy Ethan Allen sofa! The shelves are from Thomasville. The end tables are antiques. October 2007.

Our new kitchen faucet. It's a Delta with high spout, soap dispenser, and sprayer. We did not have a sprayer with our old faucet, and I missed it. July 2007.

New silk bedroom curtains from Linens N Things. March 2007.

Our new bedroom linens and pillows from Macy's Calvin Klein collection. March 2007.

I'm also a photographer. I am going to put several photos of old barns on the wall in our living room. I have half a dozen photos I am trying to decide between. I have somewhere around 15,000 photos, and DH finally agreed to let me display some of them in the house.

Another old Barn

There was some ice on the deck off of our master bedroom on the morning of 2-1-2007.

The coffee cart in the kitchen. This is my husband's favorite thing in the house; he loves his coffee!

Side view of the kitchen with refrigerator and stove.

DH found this new fireplace screen on super clearance from Home Depot Expo. It replaces some horrible 1970's gold and glass doors. January 2007.

New paint in the guest bathoom. January 2007. Cowgirl Blue by Ralph Lauren.

Another shot of the new paint in the guest bathroom.

A Black and White view of the backyard after the "blizzard" of January 2008.

Christmas 2006: The den mantle. The stockings were made by 2 of my aunts when I was a child.

The tree is mostly blue and silver with some other ornaments thrown in there.

Front Door Wreath. I think the berries add a nice touch of color.

I have been looking for affordable shelves for my office for quite some time. I found these at Target. September 2007.

Restaurant Reviews

Chicken and the Egg, Sept. 2011

DH and I decided to go to the Chicken and the Egg for my birthday on Saturday. We were really enjoyed dinner. For appetizers, we had the deviled eggs with truffle oil and fried green tomatos with pimento cheese and some kind of slightly spicy jam. Mr. Sadle likes deviled eggs more than I do, so he loved them. I thought they were ok. IMO, DH makes the best deviled eggs anywhere, and these were just different. The truffle oil gave the yolks a slightly earthy flavor. The fried green tomatos were good. They did not fall apart when cut like some I've had. Although not a fan of pimento cheese (can you tell DH ordered the apps?), I enjoyed this version. He had the short ribs for his entree; he said it was the best entree he's had in a while. The au gratin potatos were delicious and cheesy. There was a hint of bacon in the cheese. I had the pasta with heirloom tomatos, which tasted light and perfect for a hot summer evening. We skipped dessert since we had chocolate cake from a Piece of Cake waiting at home for us. The wine list was small, but I enjoyed a German Reisling. DH liked his Malbec.

Service was spot on the entire evening. Dinner was paced nicely. The space is huge; it was maybe 65% full on Sat. night. There were several people at the bar as well. Parking is easy, as you'd expect in a suburban shopping center. Prices are a bit lower than you would expect from such a restaurant. If it were located intown, it would probably be 25% more expensive.

Pros: Good food, like an intown restaurant in the burbs
Cons: Can be a bit noisy
Website: http://www.chickandtheegg.com/

Dogwood Terrance, May 2011

The other week DH and I wound up at the Dogwood Terrace Restaurant in Acworth. We saw 2 other restaurants that looked good as drove by, but they were closed for private parties. Service was slow to start out; it took about 10 minutes to get our drink orders taken. It remained a little slow but attentive throughout the rest of the meal.

DH enjoyed a house Merlot, and I had a nice Riesling. Wine prices were about $2 higher per glass than we thought they should have been. For an appetizer, we had the vegetable spring rolls with 3 dipping sauces-soy, ponzu and spicy chili sauce. It was a good but not outstanding. DH opted for a dinner salad with a crab cake. He said it was good. I had the Pasta Primavera, linguini served with loads of veggies in a garlicky creamy sauce. It was heavy, creamy, and delicious. It was heavy for the summer, but it was one of the best pastas with cream sauce I've had in the last year. The accompanying salad was average. We were both full, so we did not have dessert.

Parking is readily available in the lot behind the restaurant and the surrounding streets. The restaurant is lovely with a lot of woodwork and stacked stone fireplaces.

Pros: Good food, reasonable prices
Cons: Service can be slow, prices are a bit high
Website: http://www.dogwoodterraceacworth.com/

Local Three, 3-12-2011

Local Three is a new restaurant from the owners of Muss and Turners and Chef Chris Hall. The focus is on local ingredients while maintaining a friendly atmosphere. So much as been written about the restaurant in the food press and blogsphere that DH and I wanted to check it out. Be forewarned that it hit everything that has been hyped about it.
The space is a bit hard to find in the middle of a high rise business park. The door is hidden in the lobby of one of the buildings behind the restrooms. Thankfully, there were several signs pointing the way. The space was darker and smaller than I thought it would be. The larger tables are in the front part of the restaurant while the two tops are in a separate space towards the back. DH and I were seated at a two top. It was still energetic without being as noisy, which was nice because we could hear each other talk.

The alcohol selection is fairly extensive. I chose the Hooked Riesling from Germany. From this non-wine expert, it was good with sweet hints of fruit. DH had a Malbec that he enjoyed. We started with the cheese tasting. The sheep cheese was surprisingly very mild. I also sampled a mixed milk and Gouda that I enjoyed. DH liked the New Zealand blue cheese. The cheese was accompanied by a cinnamon jam, honey, and flat bread. For his entrée, DH got the McDowell, which was two Angus patties. He also got the braised winter greens, which he said were the best he has had in years. He also enjoyed the beef. I got the chicken potpie. It was definitely comfort food. The sauce was thick and creamy, and the biscuit melted right into the rest of the dish. It was the best chicken potpie I’ve had at a restaurant ever. The portions were very generous for this price point and for the quality of the food. For dessert I got the chocolate and caramel mousse, which was slightly less chocolatey than I like but still delicious.

There is no valet, and parking is easy in the parking deck. The restaurant validates. Service was very good. My one complaint is that the two tops are very close together. The same server was also waiting on the two tables next to us. Several times she stepped in between the tables, and we got a view of her backside while she took orders. It was a minor annoyance in an otherwise great evening.

Pros: Excellent food, reasonable prices
Cons: Tables close together
Website: http://www.localthree.com

Heirloom Market BBQ, 1-29-2011

Heirloom Market BBQ has been getting a lot of buzz on the local foodie blogs and boards. It’s located in an out of the way place on Akers Mill Rd. in Cobb County. If you blink, you will miss the building. The small space has a communal table and some seating around the perimeter of the space as well as an open kitchen.
The menu is traditional barbeque and some Korean inspired dishes. One of the owners, Chef JiJi, is Korean, and the other, Chef Cody, is southern. Chef JiJi was tending to the dining room duties tonight, and Chef Cody was in the kitchen. DH and I enjoyed watching through the open kitchen. Service was quick and very friendly. Chef JiJi took the time to tell us about their bbq sauces. DH had the brisket with a spicy bbq sauce. He enjoyed it and said that it was very tender. He also had collards that he liked. I had the pulled chicken sandwich. It was good. I enjoyed the sweet bbq sauce. The mac and cheese was ok, but I thought that it could have used more cheese. A twist on tea, green tea with jasmine, was a surprise; it was some of the best tea I’ve had lately. DH and I agreed that the food was good but not necessarily worthy of all of the hype.

Just a warning about the seating; this is not a place that is good for large groups, energetic kids that need room to move, or for hanging out. It’s very small, and they like to get people in and out.

Pros: Good food, reasonable prices, fast service
Cons: Small dining room
Website: http://www.heirloommarketbbq.com

Murphy's 12-18-2010

Murphy's is an Atlanta institution. It's been around "forever" and is best known for Sunday brunch. Scoutmob had a coupon a few weeks ago, and DH and I were going to a play on Saturday night in Little 5 Points. I had problems making reservations online for our desired time, so I called the restaurant. The first time I was put on hold for more than 10 minutes, and no one came back to the phone. A complaint on their Facebook page elicited a response. While our desired time wasn't available, I was able to get a table for slightly earlier.

We arrived on-time but had to wait for about 10 minutes to be seated. The restaurant was busy even before 6 pm. Once we were seated, service was spot on for the most part. Our waitress was prompt and courteous. I ordered a Reisling, which had a generous pour for half a glass. DH enjoyed his martini. We both had the broccoli soup for our appetizer. It was robust and hot, which was wonderful on a cold night. DH wanted a lighter entree and chose the Lobster Cobb salad. He said that it was good. (DH doesn't elaborate on how things taste. They are either good or bad.) I had the Ashley Farms roasted chicken. The breast was very moist and juicy. The juice it was roasted in provided a nice flavor as well. The potato dumplings were good and were soaked in the juices. The Swiss chard was tasty and was not chewy like it can be. DH got a coffee with Bailey's and liked it. I had the Tollhouse Pie for dessert. It is warm Tollhouse dough with chocolate pieces and walnuts on an Oreo crust topped with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. It was delicious; I can easily see why it's the most popular dessert.

The server brought us the check before we were finished with dessert. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I don't want to see the check until I am finished with my meal unless I ask for it; it makes me feel as though they are ready to turn the table over even though we were not done with our meal. Our entire meal took about an hour and 15 minutes, so I did not feel that we were table sitting. Parking is either on the street or with the valet that serves several restaurants including Murphy's. The atmosphere was warm and inviting. Although the restaurant was busy and there was a holiday party in the room next to where we were seated, it was never excessively noisy.

Pros: Good food, good service
Cons: Parking is a bit of a hassle, reservations are a must
Website: http://www.murphys-atlanta-restaurant.com

Terra Terroir, 10-30-2010

Terra Terroir (aka Terra Grille or the 5 other names it goes by) is a wine bar/restaurant in Brookhaven. It has won many awards for its wine list. I wish I could say the same for the food. DH and I went there for dinner on Saturday. We were immediately greeted by earlier diners streaming out of the restaurant . The opening is very long and narrow, and I nearly had to stand on a chair to let a disabled patron out of the restaurant as there was no where else for me to go. After we walked up to the host stand, it took several minutes for us to be noticed. There was no wait, so we were seated. The waiter took several minutes to come over and take our drink order. He never got mine right. Throughout the meal, he kept bringing me the wrong drink. Thankfully, the busboy was brought me the correct drink after he server would not bring me what I wanted. We ordered the bruschetta as an appetizer. It was topped with so many tomatos that the bread was very soggy. I took the topping off, ate it with a fork, and put the bread to the side. The entrees came out while we were half way done eating the appetizer. I felt very rushed. DH ordered the Buffalo meatloaf. He said it was ok but nothing special. I had the Mediterranean pasta with sundried tomatos. It was pretty good although it tasted oily. There was a lot of oil left on the plate when I was finished eating. They tried to clear the plates before we were finished our entrees. I was not sure why as there was no one waiting to be seated, and there were a number of tables open. I hate feeling rushed during a meal.

Parking is easy as there are not many other shops open in the evenings in the stripmall where Terra Terroir is located. Service could have been much better. I doubt we will be back.

Pros: Easy parking, good wine selection
Cons: Service is not great; food is overpriced
Website: http://www.terragrille.com/

 Review of Nickolai's Roof by WifedeAngel, 10-24-2010

We went to Nickolai's Roof on Saturday night for our anniversary. It's on the 29th floor of the downtown Atlanta Hilton. The decor is very "elegant 1983", with a lot of brass, marble, and a really elaborate carpet. The servers wear these "awesome" red jackets with the restaurant's crest on the breast, they also wear white gloves. Although the restaurant started out as a purely Russian place, the food has moved into more of "Russian influenced French" cuisine.

The menu is pretty limited as far as options, you can do the 6 course "tasting menu" for $95pp, 4 course "regular" menu for $75, or you can go ala cart, which would still put you at about $75 anyway. We decided to do the 6 course tasting menu, which is fixed, but you can choose which of 3 entrées you want.

The first course was a trio of Peroshkis, beef, pheasant and shrimp. They were very good, although the shrimp one was a bit too fishy for me (keeping in mind that I don't eat seafood at all, and can handle shrimp only sometimes). Next was Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin & Quail Egg which was very good. Following that was lobster and scallops, which was pretty rubbery and overcooked. Then it was the Foie Gras, and it was amazing. After this we had a palate cleanser of a spoonful of strawberry sherbet. For the entrée, DH had the Beef Tenderloin, which was thick and tender and delicious. I had the Breaded Veal Schnitzel. It was very good, but DH's steak was better. After the entrée came the cheese course. They had about a dozen different cheeses for us to choose 3 each. I don't remember exactly which we ones we got, but 5 of the 6 cheeses we tried were good to very good. Dessert was a Grand Marnier Soufflé with Orange Almond Crème Fraîche. At this point we died of ecstasy, and they had to bring out the crash cart to revive us. (haha, ok not really, but that Soufflé was AH-mazing) Dinner was wrapped up by a small plate of cookies and truffles, just in case there was any more space between your stomach and eyeballs that needed filling.

The total experience took about 2.5 hours, and it certainly was an "experience". We had reservations at 6:30, which was a little early, so we got a table right on the windows, 29 stories up, and watched the light fade beautifully over the east side of ATL, and then saw the 99% full moon rise. Service is attentive and detailed. Everything is done with much pomp and ceremony. When they delivered our entrées, they came with sliver covers, which were lifted simultaneously with a snap. It was all very dramatic. :D.

So, the place is a little cheesy, but it is also rated 4 Diamonds, and is consistently voted a "Best of" for a romantic dinner. I would definitely recommend it for a special occasion. I think 2/3 of the people sitting around us were also celebrating some type of event. Just make sure you have plenty of $$$$!
Website: http://nikolaisroof.com/ 

 Der Biergarten by K&P414, 10-24-2010

I thought it was good. We really enjoyed the atmosphere, they have an open porch area, a covered porch area and an inside dining area. The menu is pretty small, it's posted on the website if you want to take a look at it. We ordered the meat and chese plate for an ap. The meats seemed pretty authentic, the cheese was cubed swiss and smoked gouda I think. Served with grilled wheat bread and 3 types of mustard. DH was disappointed that they didn't have brochen but the grilled bread was fine. I had the weinerschnitzle w/ spaetzle. It was pretty good, not the best I've ever had but it was still good. The spaetzle was nice though with carmelized onion and cheese. DH had jaegerschnitzle which was also good. We shared a cucumber salad.

The service was fast, the server was alright. It is not fine dining by any means. But it is a fun restaurant and would be great for a (nonromantic) date night or out to dinner with a group of friends. I'm not sure about parking because we walked from our hotel.

It's definitely worth checking out, we really enjoyed the outside seating area. We sat under the covering and watched the UGA game. I think as long as you keep an open mind about the place you won't be disappointed. If you are looking for an authentic German restuarant experience (hand made breads, German speaking staff, etc) this isn't that kind of place.

Magnolia Thomas Restaurant, 7-3-2010

DH’s company is using Magnolia Thomas for cater an upcoming event, and he wanted to check it out. The restaurant is easy to find in downtown Woodstock, and self parking is easy. We were seated immediately; the restaurant was only one quarter full on a Saturday night of a holiday weekend. Fried green tomatos were good; they were topped with Gorgonzola cheese, which added a nice flavor. Salad was an average mix of greens and spinach. The n\balsamic vinaigrette dressing tasted homemade. It was very thick. The bread was hot and fresh; the olive oil was tasty. Entrees were a bit of a disappointment. The food was ok, but too complicated. The chef was trying to put too many flavors into one dish. I had the sundried tomato and cheese ravioli. The ravioli was good, but there were too many ingredients in the sauce—zucchini, squash, sundried tomatos, corn, and some things I could not identify It was also spicy, which was not a good contrast to the mild ravioli. DH got the barbeque chicken and roasted potatos. The potatos were fine but nothing special. The chicken was tender but slathered in a barbeque sauce that tasted like it came from the grocery store.

Service was friendly and very attentive. The atmosphere is relaxed. My one major complaint about the restaurant was that it was so cold I had goose bumps for most of the meal. I put on my jacket but was still freezing. This is the type of place I could bring my parents to if they wanted to venture a little outside of their culinary comfort zone but not be overwhelmed by “foodie” food.

Pros: Safe food, easy parking, relaxed atmosphere, good services
Cons: Food is trying to do too much with too many flavors, slightly overpriced
Kid Friendly: Yes (but keep in mind this is a “nice” restaurant with a very limited menu)
Website: http://www.magnoliathomas.com

Casa Nuova by ReadytobeMrsB June 2010

DH and I drove there Friday night by recommendation of someone at our club. It is located in a small shopping center off of Hwy 9 that you would never go to unless you had heard about it.

We called a little early and got a reservation. When we got there, the restaurant was packed so we ended up waiting about 20 minutes. Enough time to enjoy a glass of wine at the bar. Everyone there was super friendly. We ordered fried mozzarella as an appetizer. you know it's going to be good when they are sticks that are brought out. the marinara sauce was sweet and the mozzarella was fresh. DELISH!!! dh ordered a ceaser salad that i tried. it was pretty good, but the croutons were super peppery. for dinner, i ordered chicken scallopini in a lemon herb sauce. it was heavenly!!! dh ordered veal scallopini - one of their specials. it was 3 veal medalions with squash medalions on top covered in mozzarella and fontina cheese melted on top. dh said it was fantastic. good thing about this place is that they use vegetables grown from their own garden. you could tell how fresh everything was. both of our dishes came with a side of pasta with that wonderfully sweet marinara sauce. of course, we had to have dessert. we got creme brulee cheesecake and coffee. both were fantastic. i love me a good cup of coffee.

Pros: phenominal food, our water glasses never got below 1/2 empty, servers and owners were incredibly nice and attentive, made you feel like family
Cons: long drive (but soooooo worth it), crowded and noisy (both add to the ambiance of the place).
Website: http://www.casanuovarestaurant.net/ 

Muss and Turners 5-28-2010

DH and I went back to Muss and Turners for dinner after trying it 2 years ago for lunch. At the time, we thought it was overpriced for mediocre food. M&T has matured into a full service restaurant that serves farm to table food for a (mostly) reasonable price. DH got the cold English pea soup for an appetizer. He said that it was good. I had a salad with goat cheese. I don't normally care for goat cheese, but this was very mild. DH had the "State Fair" fried pork sandwich as his entree. He did not realize when he ordered it that it was fried, but he enjoyed it. The accompanying white beans with bbq sauce were very good with a unique flavor. I had the Springer Mountain Chicken Tagliatelle with roasted chicken, tomato, and basil. Chicken in pasta is always odd to me as it was in this dish. The chicken was good, and the pasta was fine, but the flavors were strange together. Still, I enjoyed it. Dessert was a chocolate chip cookie that had just been cooked. The chocolate was ooey-gooey and warm. It was slightly undercooked, just how I like my cookies. DH and I will probably try it again for lunch this summer to try their sandwiches and other side items. The prices are more reasonable than the last time we were there.

The scene is lively. There were people of all ages. Although M&T has an outside patio for summer dining we sat inside because of pending thunderstorms. If the restaurant had been full, I could see it being very noisy. Service was adequate but not outstanding. I got the feeling that our young server had not been waiting tables for very long. He had to ask someone else for the answers to the questions we had, and he knew nothing about the wine list. The counter is open all day for those that want to purchase side items or food to go.

Good food, some organic and local food, dessert
Small Parking Lot, Must have reservations
Kid Friendly:

Bocado 4-24-2010

Bocado is a neighborhood gem in Midtown (or Buckhead) West on Howell Mill Road. It's one of the hot "foodie places to eat dinner" of the moment. It lived up to its billing. DH ordered the cold split pea soup for an appetizer and loved it. I tried it, but I'm not a cold soup person. My endive salad was wonderful. It had endive, watercress, cranberries, and a very flavorful buttermilk dressing. We also got the Holeman and Fitch bread and butter basket. It was my first time tasting the H&F bread that is served at quite a few Atlanta restaurants. The 4 bread selections were very good and served warm. The butter had sea salt in it, which added a delicious touch. DH had roasted poblano and pimento cheese sandwich with fried green tomatos. He really enjoyed it and said that the poblanos added just enough "zing." I had the pan fried chicken with grits. I was expecting more of a breaded fried chicken, but it was almost grilled. One piece was a tad dry, but the rest was fine. The grits were very smooth and the best I've had in several years. I wanted to try one of the signature cocktails but couldn't because of a medication I'm on. I'll save it for next time as DH and I will be back. DH had his heart set on a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, so we didn't try any of the desserts.

The bar scene was just starting as we were leaving. The lounge area outside looked like it would be fun to hang out at on a nice night, but it was raining when we were there. There is also a back patio dining area. It's very much a "see and be seen" restaurant. We arrived just after 6:30 to a nearly empty restaurant. By the time we left at 8, it was very noisy, and I had to raise my voice to have DH hear me. Service was informal and friendly. Our server was very knowledgable about the menu and stressed that they try to source local ingredients when possible. There is free valet parking or a lot about a block away.

Pros: Good food, See and Be Seen
Cons: Limited Menu
Kid Friendly: No
Website: http://www.bocado.com

Revist: 1-8-2010 DH and I returned to Bocado tonight for the first time since last summer. We weren't disappointed. DH got the chicken liver pate for his appetizer and was in heaven. He doesn't order it often but said that it was the best he'd had in a long time. I had a sweet potato appetizer with "crushed jackets" (flash fried sweet potato skins), almonds, house made ricotta, and pickled raisins. It was amazing, the best dish I've had out in quite a while. The ricotta was mild and complimented the sweet potatos. The pickled raisins provided a striking contrast to the sweetness of the rest of the dish. DH had the salmon BLT and enjoyed it. I had the pan fried chicken with grits and carrots. It came with a wine-tabasco sauce for the chicken that I could not eat b/c it was too spicy (I've been warned off of spicy foods by my doctor b/c of a medical issue I'm dealing with). DH enjoyed it. The grits were creamy and very tasty. The carrots were probably too mushy for the majority of people, but I like mushy veggies. Service was good. My one small complaint would be that it took almost 25 minutes from the time we finished our appetizers for the entrees to come.

Inc. Street Food, 4-25-2010

Some friends and I were looking for a place to eat after the Historic Roswell Criterium Bike race. I saw Inc. walking around earlier in the day. It gets mixed reviews, but I wanted to try it. The concept is that the food is supposed to be what you would buy on the street from a street cart vendor in Latin America. The restaurant is decorated to resemble a street cart. The lights over the tables looked like bug zappers but provided sufficient light. This isn't a typical Mexican restaurant; they don't offer free chips and salsa.

We started out with an avocado and pico on a crispy tortilla as an appetizer. It was very good, but I love avocado in most forms. I had the veggie tacos with zucchini, radishes, and a few things I could not identify in them. (Just a note that I left off the garbanzo beans b/c I am allergic to them.) They were very, very tasty! There are two small tortillas per serving of vegetables. I had to use both to keep everything from falling apart. The tortillas tasted very fresh. DH had the steak tacos and enjoyed them. Our friends had the shrimp and tuna tacos and loved them. Everything was served with a side of Mexican rice and black beans. The rice was very mild, and the beans had a nice kick to them. The vegetarian in me hoped there was no meat in the beans, but I can't be sure. We all agreed that we'd like to go back and try more of the menu. Service was friendly, and drinks were refilled very quickly.

Pros: Friendly service, fun atmosphere
Cons: Some may not care for this as it's not a typical Mexican restaurant, inconsistent kitchen
Kid Friendly: Yes
Website: http://www.incstreetfood.com/

Krog Bar April 2010 by RhymeswithOrange

Parking was ample when we arrived around 7pm (the parking lot is quite large since it is shared with Rathbun's and some other local places, including a small church -- which I only noticed because it was Good Friday). Valet is available, but didn't seem necessary. DH and I sat at the oustide bar since the weather was nice. Service was quick (we only ordered wine). There were a couple of cons, including a hint of sewage smell every once in a while and the homeless person wandering around across the street. It's East Atlanta, so, whatever.

Rathbun's April 2010 by RhymeswithOrange

We had reservations and were seated immediately. One thing I did notice was that the tables were really close together. You could definitely snoop on others' conversations around you if you wanted to. We had the Smoked Prosciutto Flatbread and the Thai Rare Beef & Red Onion Salad which were both surprisingly very good (even though I am not a fan of rare ANYTHING). I had the Tarragon Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, which was a ton of food for a really good price (<$20 if I remember correctly). DH had a "Second Mortage" plate of the Maine Lobster & Roasted Green Chile Soft Taco. DH and I were impressed by both meals, especially his. It seemed kind of silly to be eating a $40 taco at a "nice" restaurant, but it was seriously good, and there was a TON of lobster meat in the taco. Of course we had to get dessert too. DH's dessert was a nice glass of brandy and I got some kind of espresso cake with Jack Daniel's ice cream. We really had no complaints about the food at all. It was kind of a steal for the amount of food and drinks we got (~$150 total). My only real complaints were the close seating, and the womens bathroom was very very dark (strange...).

57th Fighter Group, 4-10-2010

The 57th Restaurant has special meaning for DH and I as it was where we had our first date. We were disappointed when it closed in 2009 and were excited when it recently reopened. The 57th is a World War II themed restaurant complete with bunker and “latrines”. Half of the building is a lounge with dance floor (dance/couples dancing, not bump and grind) and bar; the other half is the restaurant. You can also watch the planes take off and land at the Peachtree Dekalb Airport. Request a table with headphones, and listen to the control tower. The food is mostly classic American such as steaks, seafood, and pasta. Every dish I’ve ever had has been solid. We ordered the cheese plate. All 3 cheeses were fairly mild, which I liked. DH wished there had been more variety. The smoked cheddar was quite good and went well with the herb pita bread. The salads were standard. I got a Bunker Salad with citrus dressing. The dressing was sweet, which complimented the candied pecans and cranberrie. DH had a steak, which he really enjoyed. I tasted the roasted potatos off of his plate, and they were delicious. I could taste the herbs. I had the pesto cream sauce pasta and chicken. It was as rich and delicious as it sounded. They were out of several wines, so DH settled on a Georgia Malbec. It was a very good wine with a complex taste. Dessert was a let down after such a good dinner. I ordered the red velvet cake with chocolate layers. It came “warmed.” I think it was a frozen dessert. While it was certainly good, it was not delicious. I would like to see them use fresh desserts; it would bring the final course up to the level of the entrees.  Service was friendly. The pace was relaxed, but we were not in a hurry and were enjoying watching the planes. Our waiter disappeared before we ordered dessert. He apologized and said that there was a computer problem.

Pros: Plane watching, delicious entrees
Cons: Frozen desserts
Kid Friendly: Yes but this is a “nicer” restaurant, check with management to see if kids are allowed in the bar/lounge
Website: http://www.the57threstaurant.com/

Staq’s BBQ, 4-9-2010

I ate at Staq’s BBQ with DH on Friday night. We wanted a quick dinner because we had other things to do. There was nothing quick about it. The space looks like a former fast food restaurant that has been slightly renovated. There is adequate seating if you want to dine in. They were not too busy but had a few customers come in while we were there. Service was friendly but extremely slow. We stood at the register for over 10 minutes despite being next in line. The food took another 30 minutes to come out. I had the pulled chicken sandwich. The smoke flavor was very mild, and the meat was tender. They only have 2 kinds of BBQ sauce. I had the sweet/mild. The sandwich was good but not great. Mr. Sadle had the ribs, which were oddly cut into individual ribs instead of a rack. He said they were just ok. We both tried the rice and peas. The peas looked like black eyed peas; they were definitely not green peas. The rice and peas had a nice flavor, and you could see the spices. I had the mac and cheese. It was ok but can't compare to my favorite at the OK Cafe. I couldn't tell if it was homemade or from a box/frozen. The tea was rather odd tasting, almost like it was from a mix.  The tables look like they had not been cleaned all day.

Pros: Easy Parking, Ample Seating
Cons: Mediocre Food, Long Waits
Kid Friendly: Yes
Website: http://www.staqsbbq.com/

Roy’s Cheesesteaks, March 2010

DH and I stopped by Roy’s Cheesesteaks in Smyrna to grab a quick bite to eat. Roy’s is a quick service cheesesteak restaurant. The décor is minimal but modern and clean with reminders of Philadelphia. DH loved his cheesesteak with American cheese. I had the chicken cheesesteak with American cheese. It was ok but tasted like it was made with precooked chicken (ala Purdue Short Cuts or something similar). It was fine and cheap enough. The fries were crispy and tasty but very greasy. We splurged on a Tastycake Butterscotch Krimpet. So yummy! It reminds me of eating them on the Jersey Shore as a kid when I visited my grandparents. Service was quick and friendly. Parking was easy and ample. We'll probably go back to try some other things.

Pros: Cheap, Good food for the price
Cons: None
Kid Friendly: Definitely
Website: None. Menu

Wisteria March 2010 by busybodyK

The food was amazing! I had the fried Southern Fried Catfish with green tomato, okra and spicy crawfish ragout with remoulade. It was perfectly fried and the okra was cooked so that it was a little crispy, not slimy
at all. My friend had the Almond Encrusted Georgia Mountain Trout and she ate every bit. For dessert we had three small desserts; the Crème Brulee, Bread Pudding and the Sweet Potato Cheesecake. The Bread
Pudding had too many raisins in it but the other two desserts were great. When I made the reservation I added a note asking for a candle in one of the desserts for my friend's birthday. When it came out
she was really surprised. I can't wait to return to Wisteria to try their mussels and fried chicken.

Rathbuns by PuppiesandRainbows February 2010

So we went last night with our friends for dinner. We had reservations and were seated quickly. But.....

I don't think it was that good. We all ordered the 10 oz ribeye, and all of our steaks were quite charred on the outside, although cooked properly on the inside. None of the sides were good, except for the scalloped sweet potatoes with gruyere. We had the mac and cheese (tasted like stuffing, WTH?), mashed potatoes that actually had too much butter, and broccoli with cheese. I had the spinach salad before my meal, that was actually pretty bad, the dressing had absolutely no flavor and was mostly all bacon grease. We decided to skip dessert. The waiter took one of our steaks off the bill because my friend was so unhappy with it, and he brought us a dessert to share. The service was very good. Overall, the service was great, but the food was not that great, and we won't be returning. I'm disappointed based on the amount of money we spent.

The Iberian Pig, 2-2010 by evanaree
I found this restaurant by Google, while looking for a Spanish Tapas restaurant. The Iberian pig is the only place in Georgia that serves Iberian Ham. (I went to Spain for my Honeymoon and was looking to relive some of the good food we had there.) We went with a bunch of friends and we ordered a variety of tapas, Pork cheek tacos, eggplant French fries, Spanish Ham, Bacon Wrapped dates. The tapas once ordered came out fast and were all very fresh and seasoned well. I would say that 2-3 tapas (small plates) would make a regular dinner. The Sangria is also some of the best I’ve had this side of Spain. We ordered a liter and split it between 3 people. The place has a very good ambiance with dark wood and low lighting. It seemed to be a place that local residents gather by the conversations I heard. It was a weekday evening the day we went and seemed to be filled by people coming off of work. This would not be a restaurant for kids. The menu doesn’t cater towards them. It is very grown up fare.

Service was swift and good. The owner of the restaurant came by and introduced himself. The only con I can see is it can be pricey and parking isn’t easy to find. Also one person in our group ordered a burger and it came out much slower then our tapas. That could have just been a mistake by the kitchen I am not sure. The food was so good though that it made up for it being a little bit late. The restaurant does seem to have the Spanish flair for eating and enjoying the company you are with it was a great experience and I’ll definitely go back.

The Red Hen by KMI123, Feb. 2010

 - located in Alpharetta on Windward ParkwaybCasual dining - The stay open 7:00 to 3:00
Delicious breakfast - cream cheese grits, the most delicious pancakes ever with cinnamon butter, omelets to die for. The food critic for the ajc actually did a write up about how perfect the omelets are there. Oh yes, then there is the oatmeal brulee. Need I say more? Lunch is awesome too!! They have great burgers and sandwiches. My favorite is the Portabella burger. Marinated in balsamic vinegar with tomato, avocado, basil, mozzarella cheese and an herb mayo. Yummy!!! The grilled cheese is the best I have ever had with gruyere, cheddar and monterey jack cheese, roasted tomato, arugala and chipotle mayo all  served on challah bread. They also have fresh delicious salads. My favorite part is the huge cupcakes that they serve daily. Peanut butter, Chocolate, Key lime, Orange Cream, Vanilla.  I highly recommend this restaurant!!!!!

Flip Burger Boutique 2-26-2010

DH and I finally ate at Flip tonight. We’ve tried to go several other times, but it’s been too busy. We decided to arrive before 6:30. There was a short wait for 4 tops, but we were seated immediately. DH ordered the Southern Burger. He liked the green tomato ketchup. I ordered the turkey burger and really enjoyed it. The burger was very good; I like almost anything with avocado on it. The ketchup had a hint of pomegranate in it. The buns were very fresh. The 5.5 oz burgers were the perfect size for DH and I to order 2 sides each. We both got the warm potato salad. It was very flavorful but a too oily. The fried pickles were just “this side” of sweet. The zucchini fries were wonderful. They were served with a gremolata mayo, which provided a nice contrast to the different ketchups on the burgers. I had the Krispy Kreme milkshake. It's a vanilla ice cream base with a pureed glazed Krispy Kreme donut in it. Words cannot describe how good it was. It tasted just like it was made. So good!

Our waitress gets server of the week. I have a few food allergies and wanted to know what was in 2 of the dishes. She immediately named all of the ingredients. Because of that I was able to avoid having an allergic reaction to the bean salad I was planning to order. Service was very friendly and attentive.

The décor is contemporary, a place to see and be seen. The graphics on the wall of the restaurant are very bold. The kitchen is open, and there is a small bar where you can watch the chefs at work. Early diners seemed to be after work friends and families. The “socialites” seemed to be coming in as we were leaving. Self parking is ample in the lot adjacent to the restaurant and one across the stree.

Pros: Very good food, reasonable price for the quality, good service
Cons: Loud atmosphere
Kid Friendly: Yes, early in the evening. There is no kid’s menu that I saw, no changing tables
Website: http://www.flipburgerboutique.com/

The Farmhouse 12-24-2009

DH and I went to the Farmhouse at Serenbe for Christmas Eve dinner. The Farmhouse is in an old farmhouse that has been renovated and expanded. They serve farm to table cuisine and will have vegetables grown at the Serenbe farm on the menu during the growing season. The dining area is two rooms that is split by a long wall of open doors. It was sparsely populated on this holiday. There is also a small lounge area outside of the restaurant.

DH started off with the turnip soup and said it was very good. I had an organic green salad with vinagrette. The dressing was very good. For his entree, DH had the hangar steak with onions and potatos au gratin. He enjoyed everything. I had the roast turkey, potatos au gratin, and sauteed kale. The potatos melted in my mouth. The taste was mild and delicious. The turkey was very tender but slightly bland. I would have like more gravy. The kale was well seasoned but a little chewy. DH loved the kale. DH had the double fudge brownie with homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. The ice cream was very creamy and delicious. The brownie was slightly crispy on the bottom and good. I had a huge slice of the red velvet cake. Most red velvet cakes I've had have been dry. This one was very moist. I haven't met a cream cheese icing that I didn't love, and this did not disappoint.

Service was spot on the entire time. Soft drinks were never left more than half empty. Our cocktails came out seemingly immediately after we ordered them. The courses were served at a nice pace, and we were never rushed. Parking is easy. I realize that this is a rural/farm location, but paving the parking lot would be a good idea. It was rainy, and my cute shoes and the bottom of my pants got very dirty. There was also very little lighting and no signage outside, and it took us several minutes to find the restaurant's entrance.

Pro: Delicious farm to table food, service
Cons: Long drive to get there, parking lot is gravel
Website: http://www.serenbe.com

Ray’s in the City 12-10-2009
We had a work Christmas party at Ray’s in the City. Someone likened it to a "Good Applebees," and I'm inclined to agree. Every time I've eaten there, it's been decent but nothing special. The décor is standard restaurant décor. There is a bar down the left side of the space with tables and booths along the right side. At the back is the wine room, where we were seated. There were quite a few people at the bar, mostly from out of town from the conversations I heard.

The dinner was not very memorable. Everyone seemed to enjoy the seafood appetizers. The salad consisting of lettuce, onions, and tomatos was completely bland despite being slathered with vinagrette dressing. The dressing had been on the salad so long that everything was limp. Since we were with a group, we had a choice of 3 entrees—seafood, prime rib, or grilled chicken. I had the grilled chicken; it's really hard to mess up grilled chicken. It was served on the bone but was easy to get off. The chicken was very moist. The “natural gravy” could have used more flavor but was ok. The mashed potatos were bland and lumpy. The vegetables were limp and severely lacking in number. DG said that his prime rib could have been better. Dessert was cheesecake, and I was glad that it wasn't a huge slice. It was standard frozen cheesecake, and I’ve never met a cheesecake that I wouldn’t eat.

The wines were way overpriced even given the “downtown premium” and standard restaurant markups. I had a glass of Chateau St. Michelle Reisling that is $6.50 at most restaurants; it was $9.50 at Ray’s in the City. DH enjoyed his glass of Malbec.

Service was quite good and very friendly. Drinks were brought quickly and refilled. The one complaint might be that it took a while to get our salads after ordering, but the other courses came out at a good pace. Parking can be found in nearby decks. The restaurant will validate parking at the Americasmart deck on Spring Street.

Pros: Decent seafood, wine room is nice to have dinner in
Cons: Bland, average food
Kid Friendly: Yes, in the front room, no kid’s menu
Website: http://www.raysontheriver.com/

No Mas Cantina 9-18-2009

DH and I wanted to try somewhere different Friday night. Despite a valet parking area, we opted for easy nearby street parking. (Just don’t leave valuables in the car!) The outside patio looked like a fun place to eat dinner on a nice evening, but there was a long wait. We opted to eat inside and get seated immediately. We were seated on the upper level. The menu is smaller than your typical Mexican cantina. We got the guacamole as an appetizer. It was fresh but a little bland. As we got down to the bottom, it got watery, odd. The chips were crispy and light. DH got a skirt steak, which he really enjoyed. He said it was tender and tasty. I got two veggie tacos (black beans, squash, zucchini, cheese, and lettuce) and sma cheese enchilada. The tacos were good and tasted very light. It was missing something, though. Some pico or salsa would have made it better. The cheese enchilada was tasty. It was melted white cheese, which is hard to mess up. DH enjoyed his mojito. The food was good but not outstanding. It lacked “just something.”

Two large parties were seated right next to us as we were finishing our meal. Next time I’d ask to be seated away from the large parties as we could not hear each other the last 10 minutes we were there. Service was good until the large parties came; we never saw our server after that. Someone else dropped off the check. He wasn’t helping with the other parties, so his whereabouts were a mystery.

We stopped by the Adios Café attached to No Mas afterwards and bought half a dozen truffles. The vanilla was very good as was the peanut better. The lemon-mint was odd tasting. DH enjoyed his chili chocolate truffle.

Website: http://www.nomascantina.com/
Pros: Huge space, good for groups, fun bar
Cons: Noisy, food is just “good”

Bacchanalia, 8-23-2009

DH and I ate at Bacchanalia for our 4th wedding anniversary. It’s located in the White Provisions district at Howell Mill and Huff Roads in an old factory. The entrance is odd as you have to go into Star Provisions and head to the very back of the store. The restaurant is decorated very conservatively. The space is fairly small with maybe 20-25 tables and one larger private “room” sectioned off by a curtain. There is also a small bar area. My one complaint is that the restaurant got very loud as the evening progressed.
The menu is a 4 course prix-fixe at $75. There were two amuses—a melted guyere cheese ball and a trout thing. I enjoyed the melted cheese ball. DH said the trout was good; I don’t eat seafood. I enjoyed the southern risotto I got for the appetizer. It was topped with mushrooms and squash. DH got the sweetbreads and liked them. The entrees were a mixed bag for us. I was disappointed that the only nonmeat option was an eggplant ravioli. I asked about getting something else but was told that nothing was available. I am not terribly fond of eggplant but will eat it. The ravioli was “ok” but not great. Maybe someone that likes eggplant would have enjoyed it more. The tomato sauce and peppers were odd choices for toppings. DH kept raving about his lamb and the lamb sausage. He said the flavor of the marinade was quite good. The buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomato salad was wonderful. Although I’m not a tomato fan—especially of the variety usually seen at local restaurants--, I ate every one. They were very flavorful and at the peak of season. The mozzarella was very good. I cannot remember what it was topped with, but it was not balsamic vinegar. It was watery but with a nice flavor. DH loved the tomatos, and he enjoyed his “stinky blue cheese” and arugula. We were brought small watermelon-lime smoothie as a palate cleanser next. I like it; DH did not. Dessert was phenomenal. I had the chocolate valrhona cake with mint ice cream. The cake was warm, moist (think “lava cake), chocolately, and delicious. The mint ice cream tasted like fresh mint, and it wasn’t green. DH got the chocolate wafers with vanilla cream and topped with salt. It also included a glass of malted milk.. What a little piece of heaven! Thankfully, DH isn’t a dessert person. I ate one of the wafers. It was not overly sweet, and the salt provided a nice contrast to the chocolate and vanilla. It was one of the best desserts I’ve tasted in a long time The malted milk was good. The final pastries were a lemon brownie (excellent, best of the 3, nice flavor, chewy texture), sugar cookie with blackberry (light, good fruit center), and a chocolate-orange truffle (reminded me of the big chocolate orange ball you can get around Christmas). We really enjoyed the food, and it is a good value for what you get and the quality of food and ingredients.

Service was excellent. We waited about 15 minutes between the apptizers and entrees. We could not figure out why as there was plenty of staff and not many tables seated. Other than that, we were very pleased with the service. We did not feel rushed. Everything was taken care of promptly. Parking is self parking in the common lot that also serves several other restaurants. It can be difficult to find a spot after 7 pm. There is no valet (although I think one of the other restaurants offers it; you cannot use it for Bacchanalia.) Bacchanalia is a fancy, special occasion type restaurant. It is NOT kid friendly in any way, shape, or form!

Website: http://www.starprovisions.com
Pros: Wonderful, fresh food, good value for the price, excellent service
Cons: Parking can be a hassle, odd entrance, noisy
Kid friendly: No! Not at all! This is a very nice “special occasion” restaurant. It caters to adults.

Thrive, 8-1-2009 by Champagnedreams

Ambiance: It was a lounge-type restaurant with super modern decor. It had lots of white tables and chairs with silver accents. I honestly didn't like the look and feel of the restaurant. It was too sterile looking. Also, it was the type of place that should be packed in with people drinking and having a good time. However, it was quiet giving it that empty club feel.

Service: The service was fantastic. We were seated right away. (Though as I mentioned, the restaurant wasn't crowded at all.) Our waiter was always quick to refill our glasses but didn't hover over us at all. He was also helpful with suggestions when we weren't sure what to order. Each course was spaced out perfectly and arrived at the right temperature.

Food: Yummy! I started my meal with the calamari. It was some of the better calamari that I've had in Atlanta. It was tossed with a few roasted red peppers and a nice asian sauce that had a little bit of a kick. DH had the chicken and potato dumplings which were pretty good as well. For my entree, I had the crab cakes. It came with 4 small crabcakes (that were plenty for me) on top of an arugula salad. The salad had just the right amount of dressing and asiago cheese on it. Dh had the steak with red pepper mashed potatoes. The steak was quite tender and the potatoes were delicious! Dessert didn't disappoint either! I had the liquid chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream with raspberry sauce. It was very similar to a chocolate souffle. This was a little piece of heaven. :-). DH had the fried apple fritters. These came on a plate of bite sized pieces that went perfectly with my ice cream that I so reluctantly shared.

Overall, I would definitely go back if I was looking for a place to eat in that particular part of town. The only negative was the traffic getting there and the $5 Valet Parking Fee.

Website: http://www.thriveatl.com/

Social Vinings, 7-3-2009

We’ve been wanting to check out Social Vinings since it opened a few months ago. The food is American with nothing too odd on the menu. There are four menus-salads, small plates, entrees, and sushi. The space is very modern and very dark. It’s separated into two spaces—the bar and restaurant—with a set of glass doors between them. A few more lights in the restaurant would have been appreciated. I could barely read the menu despite natural light shining in through the wall of windows. The bars was very happening on a Saturday night complete with couple making out in the corner and a half naked lady dancing to the live music.The cougars were out in force, but very few guys were to be found.

After having a few different kinds of meals lately, I was not feeling very adventurous. I had the Social house salad-Bibb lettuce, cucumbers, tomatos, almonds, and hard boiled eggs with a white vinagrette. The dressing was good but perhaps just a touch too tart. (a bit too much vinegar??). It was a salad, nothing wrong with it. DH had the crab cake slider, which he pronounced “good.” Remember that DH thinks 3 things of food-Good, not so good but edible, and so bad he can’t eat it. I had the pasta dish described as penne with ricotta, mozzarella, tomato fondue, and arugula. What arrived was penne pasta swimming in a bowl of ricotta cheese with a few small pieces of tomato topped off with melted mozzarella covering the entire top of the dish. I could have gotten it at Olive Garden for $5 cheaper. There was also a very large pile of arugula off to the side on the plate (not in the “boat” the pasta was served in). It was good; there was nothing wrong with it except too much ricotta, but I expected something better. (I still say you cannot get a better pasta for the price than at Figo.) DH had a chicken dish that he enjoyed; it was “good.” I tried a few pieces. The baked chicken was very tender and flavorful. He also had a rather odd, large pile of arugula plopped on the plate. DH also had a white wine recommended by the server, which he enjoyed. I can’t remember what it was. They feature several special wines every month. He also liked his chocolate martini, which I tasted—good. As I’d rather have my extra calories in dessert form than alcohol, I opted for the fried Oreos and vanilla ice cream. The Oreos were coated in a beignet mix. The chocolate taste of the oreo and the beignet was quite good, sweet but not overly so. For something fried, they tasted very light. The ice cream tasted like it came from the grocery store. I would have rather had something homemade.

Service was adequate but very, very odd. Drinks were kept refilled, the food was served at a good pace. We were never waiting on anything. Rather than ask me to take my utensils off of my plate or just bring me new ones, the server took them off of my salad plate FOR ME and put them back on the table. I asked for and received new ones with the entrée. I have a thing for other people (DH not withstanding) touching my utensils while I’m eating. Our server was too casual and kept touching my arm and shoulder. I don’t care for any service person touching me like that (nor would I touch someone with such familiarity if I were serving them in some capacity). I had to remove his hand from my shoulder once when it stayed there for over 10 seconds.. Just odd. The manager or someone that looked like the manager stopped by twice to check on us. He was visible on the floor and was helping the waitstaff.

Overall, it was good. We’ll probably go back to try some of the small plates that looked good since it’s in the neighborhood. The bar seems like it would be a good place for a girl’s happy hour with my friends.

Pros: Easy parking or Valet, good food, happening bar with live music
Cons: Food is just “good” for the price, strange service
Kid Friendly: Maybe during the week or before 7 pm on the weekends. Restaurant and bar have a very mature “bar” feel after 7 pm. We saw one older child maybe 12-13 when we first arrived. No kids menu, no changing tables in the bathrooms. No crayons provided.
Website: http://www.greatfoodinc.com

Aspens West Cobb by KECUSC June 2009
We'd never been to Aspens before, but the menu online and the price (regularly $14.95!) looked pretty appealing, so we headed to Aspens on Sunday morning with no reservation. Because it was Father's Day, the place was packed and our only options were the bar or the hot and sunny patio. We chose the bar. It was a brunch buffet, and was delicious! Much heavier on the breakfast foods than the lunch foods, but everything was done very nicely. My favorites: the made-to-order omlets and these mexican-inspired mini breakfast wraps. And the mimosas, of course! The carving station offered prime rib and lamb, both of which were tasty, too. My first ever experience with two of the three desserts they were serving: beignets and bread pudding. Now I love both! (Third option was key lime pie that DH enjoyed).

I generally expect brunches like this to be much more expensive, so thought I'd post my find for you to enjoy as well. We'll probably check them out for dinner sometime in the near future, too.

Dogwood and Alto Rex by cbjkwedding June 2009

Last night some friends and I had dinner at Dogwood Restaurant to celebrate a birthday. Dogwood is located in the bottom of the Reynolds condos on Peachtree and Linden. First, the staff and service is great. Everyone was so accomadating and made a great effort to make us feel welcome. The menu is kind of a neo-Southern fare. Our party sampled and gave rave reviews of Frogmore Stew, blue crab cake, sweet corn bisque and the sweet tea-mustard glazed baby back ribs. Our entrees were also wonderful; the salmon, chicken breast and lamp chops. Personally, I had the Buttermilk fried chicken breast with braised greens and asparagus instead of mac and cheese. It was the best meal I had in a long while in Atlanta.

I cannot wait to meet DH for dinner one evening. This isn't a child friendly spot. Definitely grown-up sophisticated and romantic. Oh! be sure to check out the John Daly (or maybe Jack Daly) cocktail - sweet tea and Firefly vodka I believe. http://www.dogwoodrestaurant.com/

From there, we had drinks at Hotel Palomar off of W. Peachtree. We went to Alto Rex (terrace level) The lounge setting is open air and has ample seating and a nice fire pits and private cabanas. The bar area was a bit hectic but the servers were very attentive and able to keep our orders coming so we didn't have to go to the bar. One major pro is, the hotel valet is complimentary if you visit the restaurant or the bar/lounge. And unlike going to the newer W's (for example) there was no hassle! I would definitely recommend valet parking as the surrounding area was very sketchy for street parking.

Varasano’s Pizza 5-8-2009

Varasanos is a new pizza restaurant in Buckhead that has opened to much internet fanfare. See their website for some of the hype. I love good pizza and was not disappointed. DH and I started with a spinach salad with vinagrette. It was fine with a portion just big enough to split. We order the house specialty Nana’s pizza (mozarrella cheese, red sauce, herbs) and the Salumi (Italian cured meats, mozarrella, tomato sauce, and olives). I enjoyed the Nanas. The first two slices were nice and crisp with a good char. After the pizza sat on the table for 10-15 minutes, it got soggy although it still tasted good. I gave up on a fork and ate it folded in half. My one complaint is that the pizza should have had more cheese on it. I know the showcase at Varasanos is the crust, but it isn’t the only thing that makes a good pizza. DH liked the Salumi and said the meats had a nice spice to them. I don’t eat red meat, so I can’t comment on it. We split the fried donuts (pizza dough) topped with sugar and served with a raspberry dipping sauce. Heavenly! They were just crispy enough on the outside, chewy on the inside, hot, and delicious. The raspberry sauce tasted freshly made. Just be sure to put a small amount of the raspberry on the donut, or the flavor will overpower the donut. The pizza is good, and anyone that likes a thin crust style “gourmet” pizza will enjoy it. I prefer more of a New York Style pizza. It was good but not my favorite.

Parking was easy with the valet although I prefer to park my own car. Service was attentive and quick. The space reminded me more of a wine bar than a pizza place. It was very modern but comfortable. My one complaint is that the two top table was too small for the two pizzas and our plates. Prices are a bit expensive for pizza. Pizzas start at $10 and go up. The pizzas are not very large, and three people could easily share 2 pizzas. We spent just over $50.

Pros: Good food , fresh ingredients, cool space
Cons: Valet Parking, expensive for pizza
Kid Friendly: Yes, well behaved kids. No kids menu (It’s pizza!). Ask to sit at a table near the kitchen, so the kiddos can watch the chefs toss the pizza.
Website: http://www.varasanos.com/menu.php

Tin Lizzys Cantina, 5-9-2009
DH and I wanted to go to Six Feet Under but did not want to wait an hour, so we headed next door to Tin Lizzy’s near Oakland Cemetery in the old Six Feet Under location. Tin LIzzies is known for their soft tacos of which there are more than a dozen on the menu. It is a very casual “come as you are” restaurant. We started off with the guacamole, which they say is made several times a day. It was fresh with large chunks of avacados. The chips were crunchy and not greasy. I had the fried chicken taco with crème fraiche. It was very good and very hot. The crème fraiche added a nice taste without being spicy. I also had a cheese quesadilla. It’s hard to kill a cheese quesadilla. The beans and rice were some of the best I have ever had. I would come back just for them. I could not tell what the flavoring was, but I nearly asked for another serving. DH had a fried chicken taco, a BLT taco, and another taco. He pronounced all of them “fine.” Remember that DH is not hard to please if he has hot food on his plate. We did not order anything off the extensive margarita menu.
The restaurant has three spaces-a bar, restaurant, and the upstairs patio. There was live music-a guitar player singing popular songs from the last 30 years. The volume was not over powering, and we enjoyed the music. Service was friendly and adequate. Parking is tight in the lot out front, but there is plenty of street parking available in the area.

Pros: Cheap, good food (try the black beans and rice), fun space
Cons: Small parking lot, not many vegetarian choices
Kid friendly: Yes!
Website: http://www.tinlizzyscantina.com/

L'Thai West, 4-24-2009

Dh and I went to L’Thai West in the West Village tonight. They have another location in Tucker that has gotten rave reviews for a few years. L’Thai serves traditional Thai food that is all (or mostly) organic. They also have a small selection of salads and Americanized Chinese food. This is their “soft opening,” where they are working out the kinks of the service and food. Their grand opening is May 1, and they should have their liquor license by then.

With no alcohol, DH opted for a Thai tea. It was very good, very sweet. I had an unsweet tea with stevia, which is part of their mission not to serve anything artificial. They served a complementary small appetizer of some kind of small noodles in a ball with a light sweet and sour sauce mixed in. It was messy but tasty. For appetizers, we got fried tofu with sweet chili sauce and the L’Thai spring rolls. The tofu was very good, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The sauce was more on the sweet side, which I like. DH wanted more chili flakes. The spring rolls were very small and were served with the same sauce as the fried tofu. They were standard vegetable spring rolls., good but not spectacular. DH got the Ba-Mee Gang-Goong (Curry Prawns Pasta). He said it was spicier than the one pepper rating but good. As always, if it is food, DH usually likes it. I got the L’Thai brown fried rice with tofu. It was very flavorful and light with a nice texture provided by the brown rice. We did not have dessert.

The décor was quite dark. I am not sure how much they changed from the former Japanese restaurant that was in the space. I thought the live orchids on each table were a nice touch. The bar had 2 flat panel televisions that were not on. The booth we sat in was very comfortable. They have two small patios that will be nice in good weather. Our server appeared to be new to waiting tables. He was unsure of a few questions we asked about the menu and had to ask the chef. This is, of course, expected during a soft opening. Service was friendly and attentive.

Pros: Very good food, dishes on menu that are not served in many Thai restaurants, organic, friendly service, nice décor
Cons: Parking a little difficult
Kid Rating: Well behaved, non running around children welcome. Definitely not “Chuck E Cheese” or a Mexican restaurant.
Website: http://www.lethai.com


South City Kitchen 3-15-2009
DH and I went to South City Kitchen in Vinings last night as I had a BOGO (buy one/get one free) entree coupon. DH usually attacks the bread basket but didn't (I'll admit he was feeling very tired but felt better by the entree after having a bit to eat). The corn bread was nearly tasteless until I put a huge pat of butter on it. The biscuits were a little better. (I'll head back to the OK Cafe for my cornbread). We split a mixed salad with balsamic vinagrette. It's hard to kill a bag of lettuce with dressing. It was "fine." I had the pan fried chicken, which was plopped atop a heap of mashed potatoes and green beans. I would rather it have been set to the side and not on top of the rest of the food. The breading was quite good. The chicken was moist but a little lacking in flavor that some ketchup cured. My green beans were cold and got pushed to the side of my plate. The mashed potatoes fared better and were tasty. I couldn't tell if they were fresh or from a box. There were no lumps in them like "real" mashed potatoes. Sunday is BBQ night. There were 3 offerings, a pulled pork, beef brisket, and I do not recall the third. As always, it's hard not to please DH if you put food in front of him. He ate every bite of the brisket and his sides. He was full and took the pork home with us. He said all of it was "good." You could smell the BBQ throughout the restaurant, and it smelled delicious. We got the homemade ice cream for dessert. The vanilla was light and delicious; I could taste the vanilla beans. The pralines and cream was fair; it was a bit dry and had some ice crystals in it as though it sat too long in the freezer.
Service was attentive and friendly. Our drinks and salads came out immediately; the wait for the entrees was a bit longer than I like but not too bad. They seemed to be a bit short staffed with servers despite being less than 2/3 full. There were two people I assumed to be managers helping serve food and refill drinks. SCK isn't on our regular rotation of restaurants. We probably won't go back any time soon unless we have another coupon. I don't think the food is worth what they charge. Everything was "ok" but not spectacular.
Website: South City Kitchen
Pros:Easy parking, well behaved kid friendly (NOT a "kid" restaurant, though), southern cuisine, attentive service
Cons: Food is "ok" but not outstanding for the price, long wait til entree came out

Crepe Revolution, 11-7-2008
Crepe Revolution is a new restaurant in the West Village development in Smyrna. It is on a strange side of the development and is not easily seen. Crepes make up the majority of the menu although they also offer limited entrees and sandwiches. DH had the Crepe Beef Olio with sliced flank steak and vegetables. He enjoyed it. I had a build your own crepe with a variety of grilled vegetables; it was quite good and different from what I was expecting. The pesto mayonnaise provided a nice garnish, or the crepe would have been dry. Several sauces and seasonings are available. Dessert for DH was a bananas foster crepe overstuffed with bananas brown sugar, and caramel. I chose the strawberry crepe with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. I thought the crepe needed more strawberries, or the size of the crepe reduced. We enjoyed both dessert crepes. Parking can be a little tight on a weekend night, but there are two garages with additional parking spaces. Service was attentive but a little green. The owner was seen in the dining room several times and asked us how our meal was. The décor is very dark, and it was hard to see at some points in the meal. Prices were in line with other casual restaurants. With a different concept and fresh food, we will be back.

Enoteca Carbonari
Pros: Fresh food, full bar, casual atmosphere
Cons: Strange parking, food may not appeal to everyone

Enoteca Carbonari, October 2008, by jlh123

We decided to just figure out where we were going to eat when we arrived right before 6pm for the play to start at 8pm. We ended up going to Enoteca Carbonari after seeing it's sister restaurant (Baraonda I think it's called) so crowded and a long wait. We had no reservations at Enoteca Carbonari but they gave us a great table. Very good service, we were pleased with how efficient and quick they were.

I was disappointed in the lack of appetizers. They had plenty of salads but we weren't in the mood for a salad, we wanted a good appetizer, most was just the cheeses, meats, olives and eggplant (which we eat a lot of this type of food at home). So we skipped it and just stuck with our wonderful wine (love their wine list!). I had the filet and my husband had the chicken. The food was delicious and very reasonably priced I feel for the quality and quantity, great sides they came with too on the plate. I've paid double in a steak house for what I ate that night. We'd both order our entrees again. There wasn't a huge selection but we felt they hit the right things on their menu. I'd love to try some of their pasta dishes next time or the lamb. We then ordered an amaretto chocolate cake with gellato. It was good enough but not excellent. I'd try something else next time.
Website: Enoteca Carbonari
Service - 4.5 out of 5
Food - 4 out of 5 (due to the dessert)
Wine - 5 out of 5
Atmosphere - 4 out of 5. We loved it, very cozy just a little too cozy close to our neighbors but it wasn't loud and we loved the darkness of it.

Bone Garden Cantina Review, Nov. 1, 2008
DH and I went to Bone Garden Cantina in West Atlanta on the Day Of the Dead, Nov. 1. It was very appropriate as the décor is based around this Mexican holiday. There are large pieces of skeleton art on the walls as well as a skull riding a motorcycle suspended from the ceiling. DH tells me the latter is a reference to the Grateful Dead. This restaurant is owned by the same company that owns the Vortex. Our waiter gets server of the week. Service was quite attentive, and our server was a very happy person, clearly enjoying his job. He set the tone for a good meal. We started with chips and guacamole, which had fresh avacados, onions, and tomatoes with a small kick. The chips were crispy and thin, not overly thick like at some Tex-Mex restaurants. I got a mandarin orange Mexican soda that I did not care for, but DH liked it and finished it. DH got a pork tomatillo, a corn dish, and something else I cannot remember. He said the pork tomatillo was just spicy enough. The corn was excellent, tasted like it just came off of the cobb. It was topped with crème freche and chili powder. I had the cheese quesadilla with Mexican rice and beans. It was all very good. I liked that rice because it was flavorful but not spicy. The refried beans were vegetarian and dark, not the light beans filled with fat.

Do not go here expecting “greasy Mexican” like most restaurants in Atlanta. The food is more authentic and is very fresh. There was no grease anywhere in our meal. The location is strange, in an office loft complex on Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard. It was very crowded while we were there, but there was never a wait. The restaurant got noisy as it is fairly small with tables close together. Bone Gardens Cantina’s menu says it is “well behaved child friendly.”
Website: Bone Garden Cantina
Pro: Good, fresh food at a very good price, friendly service, easy & plentiful parking.
Cons: Noisy, location hard to find

Home, September 2008 by MrsAtlGatorgirl
DH and I went to dinner at Home for his birthday tonight. I should preface the review by letting everyone know that a friend of ours is the head bartender there, so she did "hook us up" a bit. Other than that, our opinion is unbiased! I couldn't decide between the Green Tomato Gazpacho or the Crab Cake appetizer to start, so we decided to have 2 starter courses. The first course turned into a green tomato course. I had the gazpacho, with cucumbers and horseradish foam. It is finished w/ liquid nitrogen - a really cool affect. I was happy w/ my choice. DH had the fried green tomatoes, which were served w/ a side of ranch ice cream. Sounds odd, but it was actually really good. For the next course, I had the crab cake w/ fennel slaw and aioli. The crab cake was all crab, except for a small amount of seasoning. It was melt in your mouth good! DH had the foie gras w/ buttermilk pancakes and figs. Our friend told us that someone had reviewed it in a local magazine saying "If it was their first day in heaven, this is what I would expect for breakfast." DH was impressed by that, so figured he should try it. He said it was even better than he was expecting it to be. It was amazing. The outside was crisp and the inside was buttery, making it spread easily on the pancakes. For our main course, I chose the scallops w/ brocolli puree and cheddar cheese foam, DH had the pork belly w/ braised greens and a coffee BBQ sauce. The scallops were seared perfectly w/ just the right amount of carmalization. The brocolli puree was a little weird in consistency (think baby food), but went well w/ the scallops and cheddar cheese foam. DH really enjoyed his pork belly, as well. It was crisp on the outside and tender in the middle and very flavorful. The BBQ sauce added to the dish, instead of overpowering it. The greens didn't add any flavor to the dish, DH thought they were there just to add consistency. All of the main entrees are served w/ several dishes of family style vegetables. The veggies vary (as does the menu) nightly. We had sauteed carrots, pickled radishes, tomato, cucumber, and onion salad, and eggplant and tomatoes in balsalmic vinaigrette. My favorite was the eggplant and tomatoes. The eggplant was so soft, it must have been marinating in the balsalmic for hours. DH really liked the pickled radishes. He said they reminded him of turnips, which he happens to really like (not my thing!). I didn't hate them, I just didn't love them! Finally, since it was DH's bday, they brought him a special dessert. It was their moon pie and root beer float. Of course, the root beer float is also finished w/ liquid nitrogen (it's the former head chef's "thing"). It was yummy, but the liquid nitrogen made the cardomom flavored ice cream too hard to eat at first. We enjoyed it, but would probably try something else next time.
Our server was Caleb and he was really good! He was very attentive w/o being in our face. He made sure he answered all of our questions, and recommended a dish when DH couldn't decide w/o hesitation. He was always ahead of the game w/ refilling my water and marking us w/ the correct silverware. The rest of the staff was also very attentive. The hostess was friendly and warm, the manager visited our table, and a server always picked up a dish as soon as we finished with it. DH and I had a great experience and will definitley go back!

The Chocolate Bar, 9-6-2008
We followed dinner at Watershed with dessert at The Chocolate Bar in Decatur. They only serve dessert, alcohol, and a few small plates. I got the Caramel Ganache, which served in two halfs—one warm almost a milk chocolate and a dark, cool chocolate. The chef recommended taking a small bite of each together. The contrasts in taste blended to make a small piece of chocolate heaven. DH got the Oreos and Milk, which was dark chocolate soufflés with white chocolate ganache and milk sorbet. It was very good, quite light and not as chocolatey as the caramel ganache. Dh also enjoyed his cappuchino. The space was small and intimate. This is a bar and is not child friendly. It would make a fun girl’s night out. Service was friendly and prompt. Parking is on the street or in one of the surrounding pay decks.
Website: The Chocolate Bar
Pros: Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate
Cons: Limited Parking

Wisteria, August 2008
DH took me to Wisteria in Inman Park for our 3rd anniversary on Saturday. What a find! I’m only disappointed that we haven’t been there sooner. We started out with the fried green tomato fries with spicy blue cheese dressing. The fries had a nice texture, between a little crunchy and a little soft. DH enjoyed the blue cheese dressing. It was a bit too spicy for my bland tastes. My field green salad with balsamic vinagrette was good. DH got the fried chicken with sweet corn pudding, which was almost more like a corn fritter. I enjoyed the corn pudding more than DH. The chicken was juicy, tender, and delicious. The portion was also huge. I had the housemade ricotta stuffed ravioli with sweet peas and watercress pesto. The ravioli were good and tasted hand made. They could have been cooked for an extra 45 seconds as I thought they were a bit too el dente. The pesto sauce was very good without being overpowering as pesto can be. Desserts were served “small style.” We opted for the 3 dessert plate and chose a cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream, carrot cake with bourbon sauce, and chocolate tart with chocolate ice cream. I’m not normally a carrot cake fan, but this was phenomenal, moist, very flavorful. The chocolate tart was semi sweet and a bit dry. The cherry cobbler was excellent, with a balance of flavors from the crust and the fresh cherries. The wine selection was extensive if you want a bottle but less so if you want a glass. I had a good, sweet Reisling, and DH had some kind of a red.
Service was spot on. We could not have asked for a better server. The pace of the first two courses was a bit rushed, but the entrees and dessert were brought out at better intervals. The price was very good for the quality of food. We got much more here than we would at most nice restaurants in Atlanta for the same price. Parking was very easy in the adjacent lot with the valet. I would not call Wisteria child friendly.
Website: Wisteria
Pros: Excellent food, good prices, excellent service, nice bar
Cons: Noisy

Floataway Cafe, 7-11-2008
DH and I went to Floataway Café after his company gave him a bonus of a nice dinner out. The space is open and fairly casual. Sheer curtains divide some areas to give the diners a bit of privacy. Other tables are in the open in the middle of the walkway. Unfortunately, we were seated at one of those that also happened to be right near the kitchen. This lead to an endless parade of people walking by the table as we ate. It was distracting and felt like we did not have any privacy to talk. Also, the air conditioning ductwork was right above the table. Several times, DH and I got dripped on as the condensation fell. They offered to move us, but we were already half way through the meal and opted to stay. They must have done something because no more water dripped on us.

Known for its fresh and tasteful cuisine, Floataway did not disappoint. DH ordered the pole bean salad with sheep feta cheese, which was delicious. I had the arugula salad with shaved Parmesan cheese and olive oil. The Parmesan was fresh and light. I could not taste any oil and wondered if they forgot to put it on. Sometimes salads with only one main ingredient are overpowering to me, and this was the case. I could only finish half of the salad. It was good but not nearly as good as DH’s pole bean salad. DH got the veal meatballs with potatoes as his entrée. He said it was good. (It’s hard to get more of a description than that out of him when it comes to food.) Since I do not eat red meat, I did not sample it. I had the tagliatini pasta with small tomatoes, fresh garlic, fresh herbs, and oil. The pasta was the best I had in quite a while with a light texture and taste. Although I normally do not eat tomatoes, the small ones were sweet and quite good. The oil complimented the dish and was not overpowering. DH got some kind of espresso cake and ice cream for dessert and really enjoyed it. I had the local blackberry sorbet with brown sugar cookies. The sorbet was rich with blackberry taste, and the cookies were sweet and still warm. They were soft when I bit into them with a nice texture. All the food was fresh, light, and very delicious. The menu changes seasonally, and we will be back later in the year when the menu is different. The unsweet tea infused with vanilla was wonderful, something different on a hot summer night. Service was attentive and unobtrusive. Just a note to parents: This restaurant is not child friendly. There is no kids menu, highchairs, etc., and the atmosphere is very “adult” and somewhat quiet.
Website: Star Provisions
Pros: Delicious, fresh food, casual décor, good service, easy parking
Cons: Some bad tables, a bit hard to find driving

Chops Lobster Bar, June 2008
We also got the $30 GC to the BLRG and ours was for Chops Lobster Bar. We decided on the spur of the moment to go last night. Made reservations for 7:45pm and got there ~7:35. We were seated by 7:45 and I ordered a martini, H stuck with water (he does not drink). My drink arrived quickly and we were really only interested in dinner so we went ahead and ordered. I noticed about 4 tables near us that all had their gold GCs so were not the only ones using them! We both got surf&turf - I had NYStrip and the crab and my H ordered filet & the fried lobster tail. Our food arrived hot and w/in 15 min. Very fast! I don't like lobster (I know, I know) but I finished my crab and my H said "you didn't offer ME any." Damn straight I didn't. It was good! We both liked the added touch of the hot butter and I ordered mac n' cheese and the spinach & mushrooms for our sides. They were good and very hot. We ordered coffees and one slice of the white choc. banana cream pie. The coffee was really good. The pie was fine; sweet and cool and a nice finish but nothing to write home about. The longest wait we had was waiting for the check (odd) and we agreed we were full but not over-stuffed - which is why we didn't order apps or salads. Plenty of good food to choose from and we agreed we'd dine there again.

Pricci, 6-25-2008
My husband and I dined at Pricci, a Buckhead Life Group restaurant. There was a 3-4 minute wait for the valet as the restaurant was very busy on this weeknight. Even though we had reservations, we had to wait about 5 minutes for our table to get set up. Waiting seems to be the main complaint about Pricci. We were seated in a 4-5 person booth that felt cavernous for 2 people but was comfortable. After we were seated, it took a while for our server to come take our drink orders; then it took a while to receive our drinks. The cheese plate came out, and we enjoyed our 3 Italian cheese selections. One was a house-made soft mozerella with a picante sauce that added a little bite to the cheese. Another tasted very similar to a smoked Gouda, and the third was a medium flavored soft cheese. The olive bread was served with a small bowl of marinara sauce with some kind of a ricotta cheese ball in it that was tasty. My caprese salad was good. My husband's Caesar salad was very good, the dressing flavorful and creamy, and the crushed crutons served atop added a nice crunch to the lettuce. He ordered a seafood pasta medley with marinara and really enjoyed it. I had the pasta primavera with marinara. It was a little bland even with the vegetables added. The pasta sauce tasted like it was canned and not fresh. The pace of the cheese course and salad was fine, but we then waited about 15 minutes for our entrees. Our drink glasses went unfilled more than once, an abomination at a restaurant at this price point. Our server was courteous but cool. The runners brought all of the food, and he never checked on us to see how the food was. Having been to Tuscany and dined at fine restaurants over there, Pricci does not come close to capturing the food of the region. I only once saw red marinara sauce used in Tuscany; many dishes are smothered in it at Pricci. I was underwhelmed by the food and service given that Pricci is considered a "nice" restaurant. I've had much better meals at Figo for a quarter of the price.
Website: Pricci
Pros: Large space for parties, trendy Buckhead location
Cons:Strange retro modern decor, wait for the Valet

The Vortex 6-20-2008
The Vortex is an Atlanta institution in Little 5 Points. The big skull beckons you in to eat the burgers and beer they are famous for. This is a great bar, a very eclectic hang out. You never know quite what the servers will be wearing or how they will treat you. Just embrace the diversity of it all—the people, the décor, the music—and enjoy it. Dress is neighborhood casual. The burgers are the best according to all of the meat eating dining companions I’ve been to the Vortex with over the years. This visit, my husband ordered some kind of burger that he really enjoyed. I had the grilled cheese sandwich, a lovely pile of gooey cheese between two slices of thick white bread. I’ve also had the veggie burgers in the past and enjoyed them. Most of the fried things on the menu are quite good. My favorites are the tater tots and the crinkle sweet potato fries, which are just the right balance of crispy and soft. Service is generally pretty quick. If you want to hang out, head to the bar after your meal. Be forewarned, this is an 18 and over restaurant only, and smoking is allowed. Children are not permitted in the restaurant by Georgia state law.
Website: Don’t know
Pros: Eclectic, beer selection, burgers, people watching
Cons: Parking tough on weekends, smoking allowed

US Cafe, 6-13-2008
The US Café in Smyrna is always packed. They serve mostly burgers—beef, turkey, and veggie. There are also a few other items like hot dogs on the menu. On this visit, I had a veggie burger with American cheese. It was quite good. My husband had a turkey burger and enjoyed it. I’ve had the turkey burgers in the past, and they are very good, not from a patty, and juicy. Burgers can be topped quite a few ways.. The fries were hot and crispy as always. The food is not fancy, but is very good and cheap. Orders are placed at the counter, and your name is called when the order is ready. Orders can also be called in for “to go” pickup. Service and order taking by the young cashiers is generally quick and friendly. There are several pool tables available for play. There is also a patio for sitting outside on nice days. US Café is very family friendly. It is a good place to go when you do not want to cook but do not want to spend a lot of money on dinner.
Website: None
Pros: Family friendly, good food, cheap, ample parking
Cons: Limited Menu

Aquaknox, March 2008
by daisy22
We had reservations at 8pm for 6 people but dh and I decided to go early for drinks. They have a great mixed drink list. It had about 10 different drinks on it ranging from tequlia martinis, vodka flavored martinis, gin drinks and other mixed drinks. They chilian margarita martini was really good and I highly recommend it.
We had a little problem with our reservation. Dh and I checked us in at 7:45 when we got there. Then the rest of the party showed up. The girl who booked it went up to say we were all there, and the hostess said they had already seated us. She had to talk to several people to get it straightened out. Well then one of the hostesses tried to tell us that another group of 6 had the same last name, which we didn't buy. The last name of the girl who booked it has a very unique very Lousiana cajun last name thanks to her dh. None of his family lives here, and there is no one else around here with his last name. I don't care if they screw up but don't try to lie to us about it. Anyways, we got sitted at a great table next to the window. If you can try to get a table near the window. They are more seperated from each other and have some great view of Buckhead. Most of us started with the seafood trio. Great appertizer. it comes with 2oz of lump crab, 2oz of shrimp, 2oz of lobster all chilled with a different sauce. If you don't like spicy or mayo ask for the sauces on the side. Then I had the whole fish which was fillet tableside, dh and 2 others got the snapper entree, and one guy got the seafood stew (sorry can't remember what the 6th person got). Everything was delicious. Fish were very tasty but not over done. The seafood stew came with a small whole lobster in it which the guy that got it about licked his plate so I'm guessing it was good. We ended with dessert which we tried the walnut tart, cookies and ice cream, and the peanut butter tart (like a smore). Everything was excellent. The service was outstanding. We had a guy head waiter then a girl assistant waitress. Neither were over bearing but still were extermely good in explaining the menu and keeping drinks refilled. We'll definitely go back again.
Website: Aquaknox

Taverna Fiorentina, 2-8-2008
DH and I went to Traverna Fiorentina to check it out after reading about it on Atlantacuisine.com. (I’m a closet foodie, lurker there, and occasional poster). We got there about 7:30 on Friday night, and the small space was packed—tables and the bar were full. The owner was seating and said that it would be about 5 minutes before something opened up. Two 2 tops were seated, and some seats at the bar were available, We opted for that instead of waiting another 15 minutes for a table. Had we known where we wanted to eat before getting in the car, we would have definitely made reservations. The bartender quickly took our order. DH opted for a generic red wine, and I had an unsweet ice tea. For an appetizer, we had the caprese salad. It was good but not the best I’ve ever had. The mozzerella and tomatos were very fresh and serviced atop a small salad consisting of lettuce, oil, and a drop of balsamic vinaigrette. I prefer a little more balsamic on my mozzarella. The bread served was warm, and the balsamic vinaigrette in the oil was one of the best I have tasted in quite a while. I wish they’d used more of it on the salad. DH had the mushroom ravioli and loved it. He said that the flavor was very good and not overpowering. I opted for the penne pasta with a red cream sauce. The pasta tasted freshly made and el dente unlike the mush served at some nicer restaurants, and the sauce was incredible. The flavor was bold, the sauce was not too creamy but still thick. If it weren’t bad table manners, I would have licked the plate. We also ordered a side of grilled eggplant, zucchini, and asparagus. The eggplant and zucchini were fantastic, grilled to perfection in a wonderful Italian marinade, very light tasting. Dessert was a French Vanilla gelato that was as good as any I have had while in Italy. The bar tender was very attentive, and the rest of the service was excellent. Expect to get cozy with other diners as the space is very small and tightly packed. Because of the small space, it was very noisy at times, much like some of the small Italian trattorias I’ve been to. The owner seemed very enthusiastic and welcomed everyone like they were a member of the family. The chef is from France although I did not find anything else out about his background. Taverna Fioentina is a hidden gem; I can’t wait to go back.

Updated: 4-3-2009 DH and I went back to Taverna Fiorentina tonight for the first time in over a year, just after they'd opened. I had was called a variation on a caprese salad with mufallata (??spell) cheese made with cream. A very small piece of cheese was set on 5 leaves of spinach. It was mediocre. At $12, I felt ripped off. DH had a spinach salad, which was bigger only because there were 3 slices of canned beets on it. I don't expect huge portions at a "nicer" restaurant, but more than 5 leaves of spinach and a piece of cheese bigger than a quarter IS expected. DH had a veal marsala that he liked; he said the veal was very tender. I don't eat red meat, so I didn't sample it. I had butternut squash ravioli. It was decent, if not a little boring. The flavor was not as intense as similar dishes I've had at other restaurants. I cannot pinpoint what was missing--maybe some taste or topping that past dishes had that this didn't. There were huge walnut halves over top of the ravioli, which did not work well with the rest of the dish. I moved them to the side and did not eat them. I cannot say the ravioli was bad, just boring. DH enjoyed some kind of a dry white wine the waiter recommended.

Service was VERY spotty. The server seemed to spend all of his time at one four top, ignoring the other 3 tables he had in the room. He stood there one time for 10 minutes chatting. He checked on us twice. If it were not for the other server and the runner, we would not have gotten any food or drink refills. Since the server had taken all of my silverware after the salad, I was served my entree with no silverware. I finally was able to flag someone down to get a knife and fork. It was almost to the point I would have walked over to the serving station myself to get them as my food was getting cold. The runner and server both forgot  DH second glass of wine, which the server comped when he saw that it wasn't delivered. We passed on dessert, opting to head to Brusters instead.

When we arrived at 7:30, there were only 6 tables seated. When we left around 8:30, there were maybe 10. The restaurant has expanded into another room, so it was not as crowded as the first time we went. There were plenty of tables open. There are a few issues that need to be addressed if they want more business. I do not feel we got a good value for our money. I don't care if we spend $15 at a casual restaurant or $200 at a "nice" restaurant, I expect good food and good value for my money. We did not get that tonight. Prices were 30% higher than when we last went; I do not feel the price is warranted by the quality of the food. If they were to reduce prices, we might go back. I'll take my $100 and go to a restaurant with better service and better food.

Ecco, 2-9-2008 DH and I have been trying to get to Ecco since December but have been derailed every time we try to go. We were finally able to make it there. The restaurant is owned by the 5th Group, which also owns the renowned South City Kitchen. The vibe here is decidedly more “ Midtown hip and trendy.” The interior is large and very dark with a lot of wood. Overhead lights are circular with many small lights on one fixture. Parking is very easy in/easy out with the valet. We were seated promptly with our reservations at a table in the middle of the floor. I prefer to sit along the edges. The restaurant was not very crowded when we first arrive at 6:45 but got more so when we at 8:00. Our server was very prompt at taking our drink order. I cannot remember what white wine I had. DH has the house Pinot Gris and really enjoyed it. We had a 3 cheese course with a soft Brillat-Savarin cheese, a Gouda, and a Robiola cheese. The Brillat-Savarin was very mild and spread easily on the the chewy bread, just the kind of cheese I like. The Gouda tasted like most other Goudas I’ve ever had. The Robiola cheese was pungent and too strong for me although DH liked it. DH had the carrot saffron soup; it was quite sweet, creamy, and had a bit too much saffron. I had the Arugula salad with egg. The Arugula and eggs were fine, but the Dijon dressing had a little too much bite for my taste. For my entrée, I had the wood fired pizza with San Marzano tomatos, housemade mozzarella cheese, and basil. The flavors meshed very well together. The basil was not over powering, and the cheese was excellent. The crust was too soft in the middle and very crunchy on the edges. I would have preferred it to be crispier towards the middle. DH had the fettucine with shrimp. He said that it was good but not fantastic. (DH is a man of few words when it comes to food. It’s either great, good, or bad. He will eat almost anything.) We did not have dessert, opting instead to go to Chocolate Pink. Service was very good, quite attentive. The atmosphere was very trendy. Beautiful Midtowners mingled with those of us from OTP. We enjoyed Ecco. I would like to see a slightly expanded menu with an entrée option for vegetarians. The patio looks like it would be fun in nice weather; we plan to return to check it out in the spring.
Website: Ecco

Pros: Good food, attentive service, easy parking, trendy, eclectic wine list
Cons: No entrée for vegetarians, dining room a little too dark in places

Siam Square, 2-1-2008
I receive coupons in the mail frequently for restaurants. I try to use a few of them to save money since DH and I enjoy eating out so much. I've recieved coupons for Siam Square on Windy Hill Road before, but we never seem to make it up there. I am glad we finally did! The dining room is very modern with Thai influences. The restaurant is named after Siam Square, the "Times Square" of Thailand. A large photo of Siam Square hangs on the back wall of the restaurnt. Reds and gold accent throughout. On a Friday night, there were only 5-6 tables seated although more came in as the meal progressed. In talking with several friends that work in the area, it's very much a "lunch place." DH opted for hot tea while I had iced tea. Both were very good, with a hint of a spice we could not identify. We got the fried tofu with plum sauce as an appetizer, quite good. I love tofu in almost any form. The outside was fried crispy with a soft inside. DH had a curry dish for his entree and enjoyed it. He did not say much else about it. The steamed, sticky rice was good. I had the pad thai with chicken and tofu, which is my usual dish when eating out for Thai since I do not like curry or spicy food. The noodles, sauce, tofu, and vegetables were excellent. The sauce was not as sweet as normal, which I liked. My only complaint was that the chicken was a bit chewy. The homemade tea ice cream for dessert was average. Portion sizes were large but not unreasonable. We did not take any leftovers home. The service was very attentive; we were never lacking for anything. The courses were paced well, and the chef/owner came out to see how our meal was and to make sure everything was ok.
Our check was $35 before the coupon and $24 after, quite a bargin. There are several other dishes that we want to try, so we will definitely go back.
Website:None, Located on Windy Hill Rd. in Smyrna
Pros: Easy Parking, Convenient, Good Food, Good Service, Lots of Tofu Dishes

Padriacs, 1-1-2008
We went to Padriacs on New Year's Day, and it was a virtual ghost town with just a few booths filled and a couple of people watching football. I could imagine the crowds on Friday and Saturday nights when I have driven by a packed parking lot. The decor was dark and "upscale bar" like you would expect in the Vinings area. There was medium and dark stained wood everywhere. We started out with the mango avacado salad, which was an average salad. I had a pasta dish with marinara and vegetables. It was quite good; the squash and zuccini went well with the sauce even though it sounds like an odd combination. DH got the Angus Burger. He said that it was a bit better than the average burger. He has enjoyed other dishes he has ordered here more than the burger. We opted for dessert, but they were out of the Caramel Cheesecake that I wanted to try. I was a bit disappointed that the server did not tell us they were out of some desserts before bringing the menu. I opted to buy some ice cream at Publix across the street instead. Service was good and friendly. Two waitresses covered the entire restaurant although I imagine there are quite a few more on regular nights. We will go back to try other dishes on the menu that looked good.
Website: Padriacs
Pros: Nice patio for warm weather, bands on Saturday nights, decor, service
Cons:Small parking lot, out of some items on menu

Blue Moon Pizza, 11-20-2007
My husband and I went to the new Blue Moon Pizza in the West Highlands development in Smryna looking for some good 'za (pizza). Unfornately, what we found here was average. The restaurant was very lively and very loud. There was a mix of couples, college students, families with kids, and groups of friends. It took nearly 10 minutes for the waitress to take our drink order. The prices seemed a bit high compared to the other local pizza restaurants, but Blue Moon prides itself on its specialty pizzas. DH ordered a southwestern specialty "personal" pie (small), and I had one with sun dried tomatos and extra cheese. We each ordered a salad. Both the cesar and house salads were good although my salad was swimming in way too much dressing. This coming from someone that loves a bit more dressing than average on a salad; there was more dressing than lettuce. The artichoke hearts were a good, different ingredient. I noticed that they were used in quite a few dishes and pizzas. When the pizzas came out, they looked really good and a nice size for taking home leftovers. Unfortunately, I was still hungry after eating most of the personal size pizza. To be fair, I much prefer thicker crust pizza. This pizza had an extremely thin crust. The toppings were not the same quality as other pizza places. The cheese was extremely greasy and had a greasy smell to it. It was better after blotting it off with a napkin. DH said that his pizza was just "ok." Some of the ingredients on it were cold, some were hot. It made for a very strange sensation eating it when I tried a small bite. The thing that bothered me was that it seemed like people were being hurried to vacate their tables for the team trivia players. The servers were trying to box up our pizza for us to take it home after we were only finished our first slice. We told the server we would let her know when we were ready for a box. When she came back a few minutes later, she asked if we would be having desert or wanted our check. We were not even done eating! She left the check and boxes. I hate feeling rushed at any restaurant, especially when there are plenty of tables available. Management needs to address this issue. With Bellas and Fellinis so close, I doubt we will go back to Blue Moon. Parking is plentiful but hard to get in and out of if you have to park in the garage.
Website: Blue Moon Pizza
Pros: Kid Friendly
Cons: Strange service, parking

Across the Street, Old Fourth Ward, 10-28-2007
About 25 of us went here for a friend's birthday party on a Sunday night and had a good experience, one of the best I've had in recent memory for a group so large. The food could best be described as fresh Mexican with a vegetarian twist; it is not the typical Mexican you find so often. In addition to the usual choices of beef or chicken they offer tofu, textured vegetable protein, and beans. The chips were salty, which I liked, but they were a bit too salty for some in our party. I opted for the tofu tacos with rice and beans. The tofu was breaded with cornmeal and then fried. The tacos also had pico, white cheddar cheese, and lettuce. Very tasty! The pico added a nice taste, and white cheddar is one of my favorite cheeses. I really enjoyed the tacos. The rice was average. The beans looked like a lump of black mushed stuff; I tried two bites and stopped after that. The birthday girl had a salad with their specialty dressing and chicken. She ate every bit of it. Almost everyone else enjoyed their dishes. Service was exceptional for a party this large. Drinks were refilled without having to ask, and the servers were able to make several good wine suggestions for the vino lovers. We had two dedicated servers and another helping out. Our party sat in the main dining room, and the restaurant seemed to be doing a steady business for a Sunday night. There are a few tables on the sidewalk facing the street, and there is a back room with additional tables.
Pros: Fresh food, good vegetarian options, friendly service
Cons: Limited parking, homeless guy looking for leftovers on sidewalk

La Parrilla, Marietta Square, 10-8-2007
A few us of go here after bike practice on Wednesdays. There can be a wait sometimes of 10-15 minutes for our group of 5-7 people even on a weeknight. The food is very good for "Americanized Mexican." I've never had a bad meal here. I usually order a combination plate. Tonight I had a bean burrito, cheese enchilada, and chalupa. I do not like the enchilada sauce, but La Parilla will put extra white cheese on the burrito and enchilda instead. The food was hot, good, and plentiful. The mild salsa for the chips is fresh and worth asking for. The guacamole is good but looks like it comes from a can. The Mexican rice is quite tasty and different than most places. There is a good beer selection including the usual Mexican beers like Negro Modelo, and they have a small wine menu. The restaurant is very family friendly, and you will see children of all ages here. One night a week there is a Mariachi band; however, avoid the restaurant that night if you want to be able to talk while you eat. The band is good but very loud. Parking is the worst part as the lot is very small, and you often have to cicle a few times to find a spot. Additional parking can be found on the side streets and a city of Marietta lot about a block away.
Website: La Parilla
Pros: Friendly Service, Food, Cheap, Kid/Family Friendly
Cons: Noisy, Limited Parking

Fresh to Order, Sandy Springs, 10-8-2007
I met a friend for dinner at Fresh to Order in Sandy Springs. F2O is a local chain offering "fresh food under $10." Indeed, everything on the menu was under $10 although it was a bit deceiving. By the time you add protein onto the salads or sides to the main dishes, you can spend $12-15. Like many fast casual restaurants, you order at the counter and the food is brought to your table. Service was prompt at the counter, and our salads came out within 10 minutes. My friend has been here numerous times and got a salad with the Almond Rosemary crusted Chicken Skewers, which she enjoyed. I opted for the Club Salad with chicken tenders and an unsweet tea. The tea was excellent and freshly brewed. They also offered unsweet flavored tea and fresh lemonade. The salad was huge and worth every bit of the $9 price tag. It was very fresh with spring mix, cucumbers, almonds, golden raisins, mandarin oranges, cranberries, and avacado. Being picky, there was only piece of avacado; I would have like more. The balsamic vingerette dressing complimented the salad very well. The chicken tenders tasted like all breast meat. There was nothing pressed or frozen about them. Next time I would like to try one of the main dishes and sides.
Website: Fresh to Order
Pros: Parking is easy in/easy out, Food, Decor, Cost
Cons: A little noisy

One Midtown Kitchen August 2007 by to-be-lam
One Midtown Kitchen. We were greeted very warmly when we arrived, and I liked the restaurant atmosphere from the beginning. It is nice, yet not stuffy, and they have some good lighting too. If you go, reserve a booth, as it will be much more private. DH was in a crappy mood before we got there, but really lightened up after the host chatted us up and gave us a nice booth. The service here was much better than at Dolce, but the food was just okay. We each had (different) salads to start - they were good, but not great. There was a goat cheese appetizer that sounded pretty good, but neither DH or I can have goat cheese - it may be worth trying. For entrees I had the trout and DH had steak frites. My trout entree was pretty good, but I didn't care for DH's steak (it was kind of reminsicent of unflavored brisket). I was a little disappointed in the dessert menu when we first saw it, but my dessert (Kit Kat Bar) ended up being really good - it is served with curry ice cream, which sounds strange but is actually quite pleasant. One thing I liked about this place was the wine menu - they have multiple price points to choose from, so you can get a glass of wine for as little as $5. I think we would go back for drinks and maybe appetizers with friends (you know, if we had any here). I would also maybe give them another chance with the food, just because I liked the atmosphere so much. Oh - the bathrooms here were interesting too. They are unisex (which I find a little gross), and a red light comes on when the bathroom is occupied.
Website: One Midtown Kitchen
Pros: Good Atmosphere, Neat Bathrooms, Good Menu Price Points
Cons: Inconsistent Food

Buckhead Diner, 8-17-2007
DH and I went to the Buckhead Diner tonight for our 2nd anniversary. They do not accept reservations although they have call ahead seating. We went at 6:30 in order to beat the crowds, and there was no wait. The décor reminded me of old train dining cars and was quite neat. Service started out slow; we waited about 10 minutes for our drinks. It got better after the server took our dinner orders. I started out with the tomato soup. It was good, but JCT Kitchen’s is better. The mini corn muffins served with the appetizers were very good. DH enjoyed his homemade potato chips with blue cheese dressing. I was in the mood for something lighter and got a Cobb Salad for my entrée. It was a little bland-iceburg lettuce, avacados, bacon, egg, and grilled chicken. (I opted out of the tomatos and onions, which I don’t like). The homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing was good. DH enjoyed his veal meatloaf. Dessert was the best part. I had a huge vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce sundae. Overall, the food was good but not the best I’ve had at a Buckhead Life Group restaurant or other “better dining” establishments in the city. Service was adequate after starting out slow. The restaurant got quite noisy as more people came in.
Website: Buckhead Diner
Pros: Desserts, Valet Parking, Decor
Cons: Somewhat slow service, food a little plain

McCray's Tavern, Smyrna, 8-4-2007
My husband and I tried the new McCray’s Tavern in Smyrna in the West Highlands development tonight. The décor was dark and very tavern like. There were flat panel televisions over the bar and in each corner, so you don’t miss the game. The bar was fairly large and full. A quick glance at the beer list did not show anything out of the ordinary. The menu had standard pub fair as well as some nicer fish and pasta entrees. We had the spinach and artichoke dip for an appetizer. It tasted like it was straight out of a jar, and the chips were way too thin and had no salt on them. My husband chose the grouper sandwich and said that it was good. I had the linguini marinara. It was ok but a little bland. Again, the sauce tasted like it came out of a jar; there was nothing fresh in it. The salads that came to another table looked good. Service was too quick. We had not even finished our appetizer when the entrees came out. They need to learn how to pace the food a bit more. Our waitress was very attentive, and our soft drinks were always full. It looks like the patio will be fun to hang out on as more people come to West Highlands. Overall, I’d say the dining was average. I’ll forgive the few quirks since they have only been open a few weeks. Still, I’d rather go to Meehans or Marlows if we want good pub food without driving into Atlanta.
Website: McCray's
Pros: Decent prices, nice patio
Cons: Music was too loud, service too fast, average food

Brick Store Pub 8-3-2007
My husband and I have been to the Brick Store Pub several times over the last year and have enjoyed each visit. We always seem to wind up there on a Friday night along with about half the population of Decatur. You have to be prepared to wait up to an hour for a table of 4 or about 45 minutes for a two topper. For beer lovers, there is an almost endless selection including a large collection of Belgian and high alcohol content beers. This is THE place to go for beer aficionados. My husband always loves the wheat beers they offer. The food is very good for a pub and is generally what you would expect to find at a such a place. I like the BS pasta, a pasta dish with a creamy tomato sauce. The fish and chips and chicken and chips are always quite good. My husband had the shepherd’s daughter’s pie when we went this time and liked it. He said that is was a different twist on the normal dish. The décor is dark and very pub-like, which provides for a nice setting for hanging out. Service is generally good and fairly prompt.
Website: Brick Store Pub
Pros: Great beer selection, good pub food
Cons: Crowded on the weekends, lack of parking

Doc Chey's 7-28-2007
I've been coming to Doc Chey's for years. I was quite disappointed when the franchise near me closed, so my husband and I ventured back to the Highlands to the original. Our meal did not disappoint. Doc Chey's is not gourmet food, but it has always been very good. We started with the edamame, our traditional appetizer. It was good, but the soybeans were a bit too soft. They were not as snappy as usual. I had the Chinese Lo Mein with steamed tofu, which was quite good. The sauce has always been one of my favorites. My husband had a tofu and rice dish that he enjoyed. The service was adequate for a casual dining restaurant, and drinks were always refilled promptly. We sat on the patio and enjoyed an usual cool July evening. The prices are still very low for the quantity of food served.
Website: Doc Chey's
Pros: Good food, cheap prices, nice patio

Atlanta Fish Market 7-22-2007
DH and I went to the Atlanta Fish Market Friday night. We were about 5 minutes late for our reservations because of traffic, and it was another 5 minutes before we were seated. We opted to skip the appetizers and get salads instead. DH's cesar salad was good, and my "AFM" dinner salad was good. DH said his blackened Alaskan halibut was an incredible piece of fish and worth the $24 price. I had a good linguini pasta dish without seafood since I can't stand seafood. Dessert for DH was a hazelnut chocolate cake, and I got the toffee chocolate pie. Both were very yummy and very heavy. I brought about half of my dessert home. The service was pretty decent as far as the pace of the courses and drink refills, but our server stopped by a few times to casually chat while we were eating our food. We had to ask him to let us finish our meal before talking. No offense, I was there to talk to DH, not the waiter.

We were surprised at how casual and diverse the restaurant clientele was. There were families with small, well behaved children, older couples, and people our age in groups. This is the most casual of the Buckhead Life Group restaurants I've been to. People were in everything from cute skirts to shorts and sandals. Given the quality of the food, we will be back. It would be a nice place to go with another couple or two.
Website: Buckhead Life Group Restaurants

Brio Tuscan Grill 5-4-2007
A friend of mine was right, it is a step above the Olive Garden although I thought barely a step. We started off with the spinach and artichoke dip with flat bread, which was excellent. We cleaned the bowl. The salads were ok; mine had way too much dressing, and I left half of the salad on the plate. I had the Chicken Milanese Pomodoro aka a pressed, formed, and chopped breaded chicken patty over pasta with marinara sauce. For a $15 entree, I expect fresh chicken, not a chicken patty. It was not to my liking, and I left most of it on the plate. The pasta and marinara sauce were decent. My dining companion had a garlic cream and chicken dish, which he described as too heavy. For dessert, he had the bread pudding, which he said was really good. I had the apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. Except for the walnuts (I hate walnuts and picked most of the off), it was good, especially the ice cream melting into the caramel sauce. Service was adequate but rushed. Our drinks were refilled very frequently, which I appreciate. I hate sitting with an empty glass. One thing that I thought was a bit rude was bringing the check immediately after we got our dessert. The server hovered over us until we paid. We tossed some money in the folder, so that we could eat our dessert in peace. Fine dining it's not, but it would be fine as a lunch place or to take those that are not foodies but that want something slightly better than the Olive Garden.
Website: Brio Tuscan Grill
Pros: Good appetizers, parking
Cons: Felt too rushed, servers trying to turn tables over too quickly, did not honor my reservation

House of Chan 4-15-2007
The House of Chan isn't your average strip mall Chinese restaurant. It's been family run for over 20 years. The food was good, different than your average fair. I had the egg drop soup, which was slightly less salty than some versions. I also had the fried rice, which was not as greasy as some; it tasted lighter. My only complaint was that the rice did not have many vegetables in it.. My dining companion had the house special of shrimp, beef, and tofu. I enjoyed a few pieces of his tofu, and the soy based sauce was quite good. Service was pleasant and very prompt. The hot tea that is included with the meal is very flavorful. It is a few dollars more than most Chinese restaurants, but the fresh food is worth the price.
Pros: Fresh ingredients, efficient service, large portion sizes
Cons: Hard to find

JCT Kitchen 1-26-2007
My husband and I went to JCT Kitchen tonight with 2 other couples. We were seated promptly with our reservation. There were not that many people in there when we arrived at 7:30, but it was full by 8:30. The dining room is done in very warm tones with "stainless steel" top tables. My husband had the white bean soup and chicken and dumplings. He said the wine sauce for the chicken was a little too strong, but I liked it. I had the tomato soup and egg noodle entree. The tomato soup was incredible and right up there with the best I've had. The egg noodles were good (made fresh daily) but a little bland; it could have used some spices or just a little something else. For dessert I had the fried apple pie with buttermilk ice cream and browned butter caramel sauce. It tasted very light and was excellent, especially the caramel. Our dining companions all enjoyed their dishes. The service needs a little more polish, which was understandable given the restaurant has only been open a few weeks. When asked a specific question about a dish the server was knowledgable and did not hestitate with the answer. We had to ask for soft drink refills about half the time. The water is served from a bottle that was kept full during the meal. One of our friends did not get his entree with the rest of us because the server forgot to enter it. Without asking, the entree was comped. Our waitress also split the bill after she saw us trying to figure out how to split it ourselves, and each bill was correct when it came out. If they can get the service a little more polished and bring the entrees up to the standards of the appetizers and desserts, this could be one of our new favorite restaurants. The view of midtown and downtown from the upstairs bar was incredible! We plan to go back to hang out on the patio when it's warmer. We are looking forward to going back.
Website: JCT Kitchen
Pros: Wonderful soups and desserts, great view, free valet parking
Cons: Service a little slow but knowledgable
Updated 7-2007 We paid another visit to JCT Kitchen. The food was still very good. I had the rotisserie chicken, and my husband had the lamb chops. I also got the tomato soup, my favorite. The service was a little spotty as our server diappeared for nearly half an hour in the middle of our meal. Twice I had to ask for a drink refill.

Einsteins 1-20-2007
The restaurant was pretty crowded, but we were seated immediately with our reservations. I wasn't crazy about the 2 person booth by the bar, but it was in an out of the way corner and was "cozy" and not too bad. The times I've been to Einsteins in the past the service has been slow. Tonight was an exception. Our server was very attentive. We got the Artichoke & Parmesan dip with tortilla chips as an appetizer. It was served fresh and warm. My dining companion had the Ribeye, which he described as "good." I had the Pecan Chicken Salad with orange balsamic dressing, which was excellent. It was the best salad I've had in some time. The blend of cranberries, oranges, spring mix, and other ingredients worked well together. There was a very diverse crowd including theater goers and neighbors. It seems like a fun place to hang out on a weeknight.
Website: Einstein's
Pros: Atmosphere, artichoke dip, diverse crowd
Cons: Parking is a pay lot across the street, limited street parking, sometimes slow service

OK Cafe 1-5-2007
I love the OK Cafe when I'm in the mood for good, consistant comfort food like mom used to make. I eat there several times a year and have never had a bad meal. The triple cheese macaroni and corn muffins are wonderful as is the turkey platter. Healthier choices like salads are available. The wait can be long on early weekend evenings when the families dine. After 9 pm, I usually get in with no wait. The service is alwasy cheerful and quick. Make sure to top off the meal with a thick milkshake and a half. Website: OK Cafe
Pros: Traditional comfort food, cheerful service, thick milkshake and a half
Cons: Can be noisy, crowded weekend evenings before 9

Sundial Restaurant 12-26-2006
Overall, my dining companion and I were pleased. He liked both red wines he tried, including the house Merlot. My appetizer of sweet potato tortellini was the food highlight of the night. It was simply fabulous. My companion said his grits cake was good. The entree portions were generous, but for the price they should have been. I'd rate the entrees average for taste for "fine dining." I had the organic chicken in chicken au jus with mashed potatos and white beans. The au jus went really well with the chicken and beans, but the mashed potatos tasted a little funny. My dining companion said his seafood dish was average. The service was friendly, attentive, and timely. The view was spectacular! Still, we thought the restaurant was overpriced. I suppose you pay for the view and ambiance. I don't know if we'd go back again for a meal, but we will be back for appetizers and drinks in their lounge.
Website: Sundial
Pros: Ambiance, Good Service, Incredible View
Cons: Average Food, Overpriced

Mexico Lindo May 2006
Mexico Lindo is among the better Mexican Restaurants in Smyrna. The food is fresh and not greasy like a lot of local Mexican restauratns. The pico is really good with a nice blend of spices although the taste is mild. The restaurant is family friendly, and young Latino familes often dine here.
Pros: Cheap, Good Food, Awesome Pico

Bellas Pizza (Smyrna Location) March 2006
Bellas can get pretty crowded. On the weekends we go after 8:00 to avoid the large crowds and kids running all over the place. The thin pizza is excellent, especially the sundried tomato. The salads are large and could be a meal on their own. The garlic knots are to die for--hot little rolls swimming in a sea of oil and garlic! There is a large room in the back that can be reserved for big groups. The service can be average, but this is our favorite local pizza place.
Website: Bellas Pizzeria
Pros: Inexpensive, Great food, Garlic Knots!
Cons: Crowded

Wedding Photos

We got married August 20, 2005 at the Log Cabin Church in Vinings with about 80 family and friends in attendance. It was one of the happiest days of my life! Wedding photos copyright Doug Gravino.

Me and my BM (left) and MOH (right).

DH (middle) and his older brother (left) and younger brother (right)

One of my favorite pictures from our wedding.

Post on Biking
A classic; originally posted on H&F

DO NOT BUY YOUR BIKES AT WALMART, TARGET, KMART, KROGER, ETC!! I feel the need to say this again.


They are not put together properly and are very unsafe!! Go to your independent local bike shop. Look in the Yellow Pages if you don't know where one is. They have bikes starting at about $200-225. The pp did not go to the right shop. You will be assured that your bike will be put together properly and safely by a bike mechanic. The bike shop will also help fit you for a bike and make sure you get the right bike for you. Also, go to 2-3 shops to see what bikes they offer. You might find several brands within your price range. See my bio for more bike buying advice. Brand doesn't matter; fit does. You won't ride a bike that doesn't fit. Most shops offer adjustments to the bike for a year or even lifetime adjustments to the brakes, shifters, and such.

  Post on Biking
A classic; originally posted on H&F

Welcome to cycling! :) Of course, I think everyone knows it's what I love! I really dislike running and can't run because of a chronic back problem although I do enjoy power walking for cross training in the winter. There is something about being on my bike that I love.

The bike--I would consider getting a road bike. It sounds like you won't be riding off road at all, so you don't need a mountain bike with shocks. If you don't want a traditional "drop bar" road bike, look at "flat bar" road bikes. The handlebars are flat like mountain bikes, but the wheels and all other components are the same as other road bikes. The best thing to do is to go to as many local bike shops and start trying out different bikes. I, personally, would go with the traditional "drop bar" road bike for longer distance cycling. I think in the long run you will be more comfortable. Bikes to stay away from: hybrids, "comfort bikes," and triathlon bikes with aerobars. FYI, if you are going to race road bikes, you will HAVE to have a traditional road bike as per USA Cycling rules. For a race ready bike, you will need to plan to spend at least $1500. For a good bike that is a bit more than entry level and will last you longer, $950-1000 is the starting point. PLEASE go to a local bike shop to purchase the bike since it will be your first "good" bike. They can help fit you, and they often offer free tune ups for a year after purchase. I NEVER recommend purchasing a first bike over the internet.

At this point for training, don't focus on a training plan, just go out there and ride longer and faster each time. If you ride 20 miles one weekend, do 25 the next and 30 the next, etc. Do a mix of hills and flats. Do some sprints. Maybe pick a street sign you will sprint and ride all out to. You need to get your endurance up before you should even consider following a training plan. When you are ready, check out the training section of www.bicycling.com for some sample plans. They have some good plans for getting ready for your first century or charity ride (these are NOT races, just fun rides that usually raise money for a local bike club or a charity). Invest in some good cycling specific clothing including shorts with a pad, called a chamois (say sham-waaah in French). Your girlie bits will thank you when you start doing longer distances. Also, get a good jersey with pockets in the back for keeping your cell phone and snacks. Avoid cotton clothing. Cycling clothing is usually synthetic and is made to wick sweat away from your body. For cold weather riding, I recommend a good cycling jacket, arm warmers, good cycling tights (no yoga pants or exercise pants...real cycling tights.), and shoe covers if you live where you will be riding in weather below 45 degrees. A long sleeve jersey is also a must for cold weather. Get some wicking socks from companies like Defeet or Sock Guy. One of the best women's clothing websites is www.teamestrogen.com. Susan and her company are phenominal! Performancebike.com and nashbar.com are a bit more budget friendly. I also like www.rei-outlet.com. If you have a Performance or REI near you, they should have an extensive selection of cycling clothing. Cycling clothing is a bit expensive but will last years. I'm still wearing a jersey I bought nearly 10 years ago (ok, even if I do just wear it under a jacket in the winter b/c it's so out of style).

One other thing that you might want to consider is getting involved with a local bike club. Do a Google search for your city + bike club (ex. Atlanta bicycling club, Atlanta bike club, etc.). Ask local bike shops for recommendations. If there is a women's club, they may offer cycling clinics and beginner rides. Keep in mind that some clubs don't ride as often in the witner, so the clinics and some rides may not be offered until the spring or summer. Of course, other clubs and sometimes bike shops often have beginner friendly rides, too. It's a great way to meet people, learn cycling routes, and get advice.

One last thing, consider joining the women's cycling list. Details are on my website at http://www.southeasterncycling.com. There are also women's cycling forums at www.teamestrogen.com although I'm not too familiar with them.

Clipless Pedals
Posted to H&F on 11-28-2007

Sorry, I have to correct something, so you know the correct terms when you go to the bike shop to look for shoes and such. Ladies, cycling shoes do not have clips, they have CLEATS.

The shoes and pedal system is known as a CLIPLESS pedal system. The cleats on the shoes clip into the pedals, but there is no piece of equipment called a clip.

There are two major kinds of clipless pedal systems--mountain and road. The major difference is that you can walk normally in mountain bike shoes, and they have tread on the bottom to give traction when walking your bike on the trail. The cleats are recessed into the tread. On road shoes, the cleat sticks out, and you walk like a duck. The bottom of the road shoe tends to be very slick. They are not meant for walking (except maybe to run into the bathroom or a store for a water) or riding off road. Within these two kinds of pedals are different brands. Popular mountain bike pedals systems include Shimano SPD, Crankbrothers Eggbeaters and Candys (not Candies), Speedplay Frogs, and Time ATACS. In road biking, the Speedplay X system (or just Speedplays), Look (many different models available), Shimano (different from mountain bike pedals/cleats), and Campy/Campagnolo. Look at catalogs like www.coloradocyclist.com and www.performancebike.com to see the different kinds of pedals and cleats.

Most gyms will either be mountain bike Shimano SPD or Look compatible as they are very popular systems. My gym also encourages people who know how to change out pedals to bring their own. I used to bring my Speedplays.

Toe clips are the "cages" that hold your feet onto the bike when you wear tennis shoes or other non-cycling shoes in spin class. They are also called "top clips." Hence, the term clips.

The term clipless pedal came about because they was no clip (toeclip/toecage) necessary to hold you shoe onto the pedal. The cleat clicks into the pedal.

You can certainly use a tri shoe for road biking and a road biking shoe for triathlons. Most roadies find that tri shoes don't get tight enough for the sprints and hard/slow/hard efforts that road racing does vs. the steadier effort of the road portion of a triathlon. Tri shoes are made to get in and out of quickly. Not necessarily the case with road shoes and their straps and ratchet systems.

has a lot of good information on shoes and pedals, including shoe fit.

Post on Gel Seats, Shorts, and Shoes for Spinning
Originally posted on H&F

1. Gel seats are evil. They can create pressure points and create saddle sores. Invest in a good pair of cycling shorts with a pad available at your local bike shop or mega sports store. The pad is called a chamois (say Sham-waaaah. It is a French word). They are put in bike shorts to save your bum from being rubbed raw. Some places also carry cycling shorts made for spinning that have a thinner pad. If you have to have "spinning" shorts, you can also try tri shorts made for triathletes. Spinning shorts are basically the same thing with a higher price tag.

For spinning, you don't "need" shorts, especially if you do only one class a week. After a few weeks, your butt will get used to it. Avoid wearing cotton underwear or thongs. Wear wicking undies. Cycling shorts are meant to be worn commando--no undies.

2. You don't need cycling shoes. (Cycling shoes, not spinning shoes. They are called cycling shoes.) Clipless pedals are used as they are more efficient than toe clips (aka those funky straps). They allow more power to be transfered to the pedal. Plus, stiff soles cycling shoes combined with clipless pedals transfer even more power. They also allow you to be smoother in your pedal stroke. Buy the shoes and cleats (cleats go with clipless pedals to hold the shoes into the pedals) at your local bike shop. They will help you install the cleat correctly. Incorrectly installed cleats can cause knee problems.

Post on "Help! I can't sleep!"
Originally posted on H&F

Don't try to treat this on your own. According to my sleep specialist, most things on the market available over the counter geared towards falling asleep are gimics.

1. Talk to your doctor. Have him check your thyroid and do a standard panel blood test to rule out something hormonal, vitamin deficiency, etc. Have your doctor do a full physical as well.

2. If your primary care doctor cannot find anything, get a referral to a sleep specialist. They can work wonders. The specialist may be a neurologist or a pulmonologist or other specially trained sleep doctor. Most likely you will undergo a sleep test to see if you have sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder (related to but NOT restless leg syndrome. They are different.), or another sleep disorder. The test is usually done at a hospital or sleep facility and is generally covered by insurance. There are many non drug therapies available to treat sleep disorders. I know a few of the ladies on this board that use them in conjuction with their doctor's supervision.

I finally had to see a sleep specialist and am so glad I did! I now sleep 7-8 hours a night rather than 3-5. For me, the best thing was a drug therapy that I take each night (non hypnotic. It does not work like Lunesta, etc.)

In the meantime, start good bedtime habits. Avoid ALL caffeine after 3:00 pm. Yes, that early!! If you need coffee after that, have a decaf. Make sure you go to bed and get up within 15 minutes of the same time every day, including the weekends. If you nap, limit it to 30 minutes and never after 4:00 pm. Avoid a big meal within 2 hours of bedtime, a snack is ok. Avoid acidic foods like sodas and citrus fruits. Don't smoke within an hour of bedtime if you are a smoker or better yet, quit! Wear loose and comfortable clothing. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable and quiet. Use the bedroom for "love activities" and sleeping only. Do not watch tv or read in the bed.

Post on Bicycle Helmets
Originally posted on H&F

Cute is the last thing you should look for in a helmet.You are wearing a helmet to protect yourself against injury, not as a fashion accessory. Buy a cute cycling jersey instead.

Fit is the most important. I would highly recommend against a skate helmet for cycling. Each type of helmet is made specifically for a type of sport. Skate helmets are known as "multimpact helmets" designed to take the many hits of skateboarding. Cycling helmets are "one impact helmets" designed to take one hit and save your life on a bicycle. Cycling and equestrian helmets are designed for one use--one fall, and you replace them. The styrofoam absorbs the energy of the fall, allowing your brain to slow before it slams into your skull. That slowing can prevent or lessen a concussion and brain injury. Equestrian helmets are designed to take a fall from 5-12 feet off the ground and withstand a kick from a horse. Cycling helmets are designed to be crashed at 30 mph from a height of 4-7 feet. Skateboard helmets are meant to protect different areas of the head than a cycling helmet. Each sport has its own type of helmet for a reason. Buy a cycling helmet. This is a good link:


Like running shoes, get fit for a bicycle helmet at your local bike shop. All helmets sold in the US have to meet a minimum standard. A good helmet starts at about $40. Why not get the $10 one? A more expensive helmet will fit better, have a better retention system, and often will have better airflow (important, so you don't get too hot in the summer). I'm not ashamed to say that I'll pay $200 for a good fitting cycling or equestrian helmet that I know I'll only get about 3 years out of. You can get a nice one for about $40.

http://www.helmets.org is an eye opener, too.
Here are a few recommendations for women's specific helmets:

FIT NOT CUTE...........

One thing I forgot to add is be sure to wear your helmet. A helmet in the closet does you no good. I had a really bad fall about 3 years ago that would have put me in the hospital without a helmet. I was taken out during a race at 30 mph and landed directly on my head after flying head over heels a few times. I was able to walk away with just some road rash and a slightly banged up bicycle. A slow fall can also cause significant injury, so wear your helmet any time you ride. I don't care if I'm just riding to my mailbox, I will never, ever get on a bike (or horse) without a helmet.  

Help! I'm chafing and the girlie bits hurt!

No wonder you are tired!! That's quite a bit of climbing. Your body is probably rocking and moving more when you are climbing than when you are on the flats. Sore girlie bits has to do with pressure and friction. Even with the best chammy, you can get "poppies" as I call them, little saddle sores, zits, or hot spots. I almost always have some kind of poppie with as much as I ride--even with a saddle that fits, good shorts, and chammy cream. It's just part of being a cyclist.

Do you use a good chamois cream? I like Chamois Butt'r (http://www.pacelineproducts.com/Default.aspx); You can also get it at rei.com. A few months ago I discovered Sweet Cheeks. Sweet Cheeks is made by a local cyclist (http://www.the-sweet-project.com/). I LOVE the stuff. Some people swear by Bag Balm that you can get at most drug stores. It's petroleum based, very messy, and hard to get out of shorts. I don't care for it.

Just one last thing, which you probably already do...wash your shorts between every wearing. Never wear dirty shorts. Dirty shorts are a breeding ground for bacteria Change out of them as soon as you can after you ride. Bring a change of clothes for the drive home, preferably cotton or wicking undies and loose shorts/pants. Let everything air out. Also, you can wipe the girlie bits with a baby wipe or towel after the ride to help dry things out.

I haven't ridden my bike in 10 years! What do I do?

Take your bike in for a tune up up at the local bike shop. It should cost about $50 for a basic tune up. Some shops will do a free "safety check" and recommend things from there. For a basic tune up (probably what they will recommend), they will check and adjust the brakes, front and rear derailleurs, check tire pressure, and check parts for wear and tear. Any parts you have to have replaced like tires or brake pads will be an additional cost. It's kind of like when you take your car in for an oil change. The oil change is $20, but it's another $10 to replace your air filter if you opt to do so. You will also need a helmet that fits. The local bike shop will help you with that. NEVER ride without a helmet!

As far as riding goes, the shop should be able to tell you how the shifters work. Don't expect a full lesson on how to ride, though. Google your city + bicycle (or cycling, biking, bicycling, etc) Ex. I'd Google Atlanta bicycling clubs. Find out if your local bike clubs or teams offer beginner classes or clinic. Google "Effective Cycling," it may be offered in your area.

As for now the best thing to do to get in shape is just ride. Ride and then ride some more! Do different kinds of rides--flat one day, hilly the next. Try to push yourself hard up the hills. Don't worry about any kind of a training plan. Just riding will get you into shape.

Post on Finding Cheap Workout Clothes Nov. 2009

There is a post every so often about where to get cheap workout clothes. The usual places are Marshalls, Kohls, TJ Maxx, Walmart, Target, etc. I have another one for you--your local thrift store. We have tons of Goodwills around Atlanta, and I love shopping there when I get the time. Two particular stores seem to have workout clothing regularly. I tend to find long sleeve stuff in the winter and short sleeve stuff in the summer. Sometimes it's like today, other times I can stop by a few times and buy nothing. If you have TIME AND PATIENCE, you can sometimes find good things. What doesn't fit and is in great/new condition I will often buy to resell and pay for what I keep.

Among my finds today:

--Never worn fleecy long sleeve women's Giordana Cycling jersey in my size. Super nice! I'm keeping it!

--New Pearl Izumi long sleeve cycling jersey (too small, will resell)

--Men's short sleeve Sugoi mountain bike jersey (ie loose fit. Will resell. Too big for DH)

--Brand New Champion long sleeve hoodie in my size. Keeping.

Total (which included several other things I bought): $20 even

I also saw TONS of long sleeve running tops from Hind, Mizuno, Nike, and Prospirit. I passed by them; the Goodwill stores around here always have them.

Recent finds include Under Armor capris, short sleeve new Canari cycling jersey, Performance brand workout tops, Trek cycling shorts.

Tips: ALWAYS wash the clothes before wearing them; maybe wash them twice. Check condition carefully for big pulls, holes, stains, etc. If it's stained, it's well worn. Leave it on the rack. I will only buy pieces that are in great condition/new. Don't buy running shoes there; they are well past their useful life unless you are using them to do yardwork.

What Do I Need to Know About Indoor Trainers Dec. 2009

The major types of trainers are:

1 . Wind--cheap, noisy, not recommended by anyone. If you live in a condo or apt. your neighbors will want to hit you with a wet tuna fish if you if you buy a wind trainer.

2. Mag (Magnetic)--ok, nothing wrong w/them.

3. Fluid--provide the best resistance and best "road feel" (although nothing feels like riding on the road or trail other than being outside). Some have an adjustable resistance unit. Most expensive. Will last forever.

Good brands include Kinetic (aka Kurt Kinetic), 1Up, Tacx, Cycleops, and others. You can read reviews at www.roadbikereview.com under the trainer section. I have a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine. I've had it for about 3 years and have no complaints. Wait, my only complaint is that it is really heavy, but most trainer are. I had a Cycleops fluid trainer before that for about 7-8 years; a friend is still using my old trainer.

Don't forget to buy a "slick" for your mountain bike rear wheel. Slicks have no tread; they look like a fat road tire. You don't want to put your knobbie tire on the trainer. It will be VERY noise and will destroy the tire. Buy the cheapest slick you can find; you don't need a good one.

Also consider buying a "block" to put under your front tire. Any bike shop or catalog that sells trainers will have blocks to go along with it. They run $10-25. If you have wood floors, you will need a mat to put under your trainer. I've been beating on this one for about 7 years:


If you have wood/tile/slick floors, do NOT just put a towel down. You could damage the floor and will slide all around while riding. You NEED a mat. If you have carpet or an area rug that is backed with rubber grip, you will be fine. Get an old large towel like a beach towel and put it under the trainer and rear wheel to prevent any grease/tire bits/etc. from getting on the rug.

After all that, you can get DVDs to work out with. My favorites are www.spinervals.com. Trainright.com also has some. This is my favorite book of trainer workouts:


More on Trainers Jan. 2010 What kind of bicycle trainer should I buy?

If you can afford it, buy a fluid trainer. They are the quietest and provide the best resistance and feel. Next down the list would be a mag (magnetic trainer). Stay away from wind trainers. They are very noisy. For a budget, consider buying Ascent trainers (the www.nashbar.com house brand), Travel Trak (www.performancebike.com house brand), or Minoura. If you really want to spend big bucks and get a good trainer, look at the Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and the 1Up. Both run well over $300. The Kurt is a better trainer with a more realistic road feel and better power curve, but it weighs in at about 20 pounds. The 1Up is lighter but not as "real" feeling. I bought the Kurt Kinetic 3-4 years ago, and it's held up really well. Despite being hauled around for races and windtrainer classes, it's like it is new. You can read reviews about trainers at http://www.roadbikereview.com.

You'll also want a "wheel block" to put under your front wheel to lift the bike up. They run $15-25. Don't use phone books as they can cause your bike to shift around. Also, use an old tire when your bike is on the trainer. Trainers ruin tires by shredding the rubber. I have an old wheel that
is my "trainer wheel" with an old tire on it. If you are really on a budget, look on craigslist or your local cycling forums for a used trainer. It's not like a bike where you have to find one that fits. If you decide to buy used--if it looks really banged up, dinged up, and dented, stay away from it. Also, see if you can take your bike and try it first before buying.

What Tire Do I Run On A Trainer?

It's just the tire (not the wheel or the tube). Trainers work by putting pressure on the tire with a flywheel. The pressure and flywheel destroy tires. By using an old tire, you will prevent your good tires from getting destroyed. You can see if your local bike shop has an old tire you have have or buy for a few dollars. There are also several tire companies that make a trainer tire that supposedly last longer than a regular tire on the trainer (google bike trainer tire to find them). I've been using the same old crappy tire on my trainer for about 5 years. I used it on the road before that. YMMV.
You will also want to put down a towel or mat under the trainer. Even with an old tire, rubber flakes will fall off of it the first few times you use it. The towel or mat makes it easy to clean up. It will also prevent grease and sweat from getting on your floor.

Bike Saddle Advice

Bike SADDLES, not seats.

When it really comes down to it, saddles are VERY personal. You may need to try a few to find one you like. I'll let you in on a little secret, too.....women don't have to ride a "women's" saddle! Despite my huge backside, my sit bones are pretty narrow. Women's saddles are generally way too wide for me, and I feel like I'm sitting on a bench instead of a bike. I ride a "men's" saddle.


My advice is to find a bike shop and try out a few saddles. Some shops will even have some demo saddles for you to try or may offer a generous return policy if the saddle does not work out. Don't limit yourself to just women's or just ones with cutouts. Not everyone likes cut outs. I hate em. (There is no scientific evidence that bike saddles will hurt you in any way unless you crash and land on it...the cut out theory got started when some men observed that their "junk" went to sleep. That can also be cured by standing up occasionally.) You don't have to get a saddle that is really padded with springs and gel and ribbons and flowers and teddy bears to get one that is really comfy. Good saddles will provide minimal to subtle padding and a good support structure. The Gobi that I use is simple, has just a little padding, and the "wing flex," which gimmick or not, seems to make a comfort difference to me.

Specialized dealers have a device know as the "arse o meter" that can measure your sit bones. They recommend Specialized saddles based on the measurement. There are many that swear by them.

Terry saddles are very popular and come in many different models. www.terrybicycles.com. Some saddles are pretty expensive but will last for years or a lifetime if you don't ride that much. I will drop $200 on a good saddle. The Terrys are more affordable than some.

Other things to do: Get a good pair of padded cycling shorts. Much more on that in my bio. Also, invest in some good chammy cream or chamois cream. Don't use Vaseline as it can encourage bacterial growth and is impossible to remove from clothing. Buy something made specifically for cycling. Just a word of warning, buy something WITHOUT menthol in it. It will make certain body parts burn. I know that some people like it, but if you are having problems, then menthol or other "cooling" ingredients will only make it worse. My three favorite non menthol kinds are: Chamois B'utter by Paceline (widely available at many bike shops nationwide), As Master (I think this is a southeastern regional product), and Sweet Cheeks (made locally here in the ATL, my absolute fav., very hard to get.)

More on saddles: http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/2011/04/on-female-anatomy-and-bicycle-saddles.html

Discounted Cycling Clothing Posted on 10-17-2010

There is no one store for discounted cycling clothing.

I recommend subscribing to the mailing lists for the following companies. They all have really good sales from time to time:
www.teamestrogen.com (I've been a customer since it was a really small company! They have great sales.)
On rare occasions these sites will have discounted clothing:
Also, check the racks of your local bike shops from time to time at season's end. They often have clearance sales on clothing.

Mountain Bike Lights Most "good" mtb lights start at around $250. Serious lights go for $400++. Avoid anything that is a "commuter" light or a "road" light. Also, avoid any light that has the batteries within the lighting housing (these will often be AA or maybe C alkaline batteries). For serious night riding, the battery will be separate from the light; these batteries are all rechargeable, and the light systems will come with a charger. I can tell you that you will NOT find a light that is good for off road riding for $30-75. It just doesn't happen unless you want to tape a few flashlights to your handlebars. The Magicshine Special gets rave reviews on our local mtb forums as a great light for the price for those that want to do some occasional night riding. http://www.geomangear.com.  It's about $90. You'd be best off having a handlebar mount and a helmet mount. Having said that, I have a Jetlite helmet light that I really like. I don't have a mtb handle bar mount, and for as much as I night ride, I don't want to invest another $200-300 in a light. I'm half tempted to buy a Magicshine myself but will wait til I see one on our after dark mtb group rides in Dec. You will probably also want a "blinkie" for the rear of your bike even if you are mountain biking. I like the ones from Planetbike that are widely available online and from REI for about $25. There are other brands that are good for about $20.
Great info here: http://reviews.mtbr.com/blog/category/lights-shootout/  Also, PLEASE check with the trail coordinator/land owner/local mtb trail group to make sure the trails you want to ride are open after dark. Many parks close at dusk.

Trainers Posted on 10-27-2010

Ah, stationary trainers. Really, the bane of every cyclist's winter training program.
Trainers come in 3 main varieties. All are pretty heavy, but they collapse for easy storage and transport.
Wind: Noisy, cheap (did I mention very noisy?). Not worth it.
Mag or Magnetic: Better, the feel isn't as realistic. Some guys say they can't get enough resistance with it. Moderately priced.
Fluid: The best and most expensive. Very smooth feel, some have adjustable variable resistance. I've had 2 fluid trainers. My first one I had for 10 years and then sold it to a friend.

Trainers are one thing you can usually safely buy used or online. I'd check craigslist and the local cycling classifieds. If you want a new one and don't want to spend more than $200, look at the Travel Trac fluid trainer from Performancebike.com. I know a few people that have it and really like it. There is a review of it here. Do NOT get their Asent/Ascent brand; in this case super cheap is super crappy. Other than the Travel Trac, the price jumps up to $300+ for a good fluid trainer. I really like the Kurt Kinetic that I have. It feels smooth, and it's easily adjustable. My bike is easy to put into it and take off. My old trainer was a Cycleops Fluid Plus, and it was fine, too. (Sorry, it's hard to get excited over trainers...) 1Up makes a trainer that is a bit lighter if you plan to haul it around. IMO, spending more than $400 on a trainer is useless unless you never ride outside (now why would you not ride outside when the weather is nice??). Also, unless you are using a Power Tap or other fancy gizmo, you don't need anything but a basic trainer. Minoura makes some good Mag trainers. I've never used them but have heard good things.

If you plan to mail order, sign up for some catalog mailing lists. Trainers sometimes go on sale in Nov. or early Dec. Alternatively, some sites may offer free shipping, 20% off one item, etc. You might have to wait a few weeks for a special that peaks your interest.
You can find reviews here:  http://www.roadbikereview.com/pscTraining/Trainers/PLS_1663crx.aspx

I also recommend getting a "block" to prop your front wheel up on. It's worth the $20-25. All of them are good and durable. Your rear tire will get destroyed on the trainer as the trainer completely wears the rubber down. Buy a super cheapo tire to use on the trainer. I saved an old tire from my road bike and use it on the trainer. (Ok, so I really have a dedicated trainer bike...) I also recommend getting 2-3 cycling DVDs to keep from getting too bored. Some trainers will come with a DVD. Spinervals.com is my favorite. Trainright.com has some, too. Trainright just came out with some new ones that I haven't seen. You can also Google "cycling trainer workouts" or use spinning podcasts.

H&F Fitness Badges from raynes https://sites.google.com/site/hfbadges/home

Buying a Bike by Susie D. I was in the same boat earlier this spring. I am a swimmer turning-triathlete this year, training for several sprint tri's this summer. I had a Trek hybrid bike, but wanted a road bike to train and race on. Cutting to the chase, I splurged big and bought a Specialized Ruby Comp, which I adore. It's a carbon frame road bike with Shimano 105 components. I really, really love riding it. But leaving that aside, since what I bought isn't really that helpful to you..I started by visiting lots of different bike shops. I looked at Felt, Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, Scott, and Fuji. I also talked to tri- and cyclist friends, some of whom were really helpful and some of whom weren't. To wildly overgeneralize, my friends who had come into tri's from other sports (swim/run) were really helpful, probably because they had (recently) asked some of the same kinds of questions. My cyclist friends were not. Many of them were not big on "why." For someone new to the sport, "just trust me" isn't very compelling. It might be right, but it's not compelling. With things like components, I wanted to hear practical things, like "an advantage to 105s is that you can reach to shift both up and down when you're in the drops, which you can't really do with Tiagra shifters," not just, 105s are "better," "last longer," are "more readily upgradable," etc., which were hard for me to put into context and place a value on when buying a new bike.

I rode everything I could. I tried bikes with Shimano Sora, Tiagra, and 105 components, SRAM Apex and Rival, and I tried carbon and aluminum frames, etc. It turned out that I have strong preferences (and expensive taste); I really liked the carbon frame. Most of the LBSs that I went to only carried 2 or so major brands, so I had to do some driving and try to remember each bike as well as I could. Some people are component people, and some are frame people. Since the frame is one of those things that you can't really upgrade without... buying a new bike, I decided to splurge there.  Most people told me that 105s were the lowest you want to go with components, for a wide variety of reasons. It was tempting to cheap out a little, but in the end I preferred them in addition to the reasons people gave. It also turned out that I didn't personally care for SRAM's double tap shifting system. Fitting by a professional fitter was probably the biggest part. Definitely worth the money spent. I can't really describe it, but it makes the bike feel like an extension of me, rather than a thing I'm riding. Much more enjoyable. He also helped me pick a bike that he would be able to fit to me with aerobars if I decide I want them later. In splurging on this bike, I pretty much decided that even if I adore tri's, there will be no dedicated tri bike in my near future (after how much I spent on this one). I'm ok with that, partly because I just love it that much, and partly because I don't know whether multisport races will be a big part of my future after this season or not. I do expect to keep cycling.

Bike Rack Advice

I could not have said it better than this post on a bike forum

What Kind of Bike Is This?

Road bike-Has "drop bars" (think Lance Armstrong). It is designed to be ridden on the road in events like road racing, centuries, long distance riding, and well, anything to do with the road. It used to be that all road bikes had a long and low "aero" position, but that is not true anymore. Skinny, slick tires that roll very easily on the road. Light weight.

Hybrid-has a more upright position. Tires are usually wider. Generally comes with a big squishy gel saddle that may have springs. Good for running errands and riding with the kids around the neighborhood. Generally in the "weighs as much as a tank" category.

Tri bike: It looks like a road bike but had an aerobar set up on the front, so that triathletes can go fast. Is not recommended for all around road riding. It's specific to triathlons and time trials.

Mountain bike: Ridden on mountain bike trails, singletrack, dirt, fireroads, etc. Has a shock in the front (aka a hardtail) and maybe in the rear as well (aka a full suspension). May be a singlespeed, 29ner, 26ner, or about 6 other varieties. Wide, knobby tires.