Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pig N Chik – Atlanta, GA

I heard from two different people that Pig N Chik in Atlanta had great ribs (since word on the street is that I like ribs). My flight didn’t leave until later that afternoon, so A-Wow, Rita, and I hopped on the train and headed North (I think it was north – it was “up” on the subway map, if that means anything). We knew which stop to get off and then we were relying on A-Wow’s GPS to get us to the place on foot. We were fine until we got to the address shown and it was an empty field. We asked some guys at a nearby auto mechanic shop and they said there’s a wings place down the street. We were hungry and tired from walking, so we decided we’d just go there.

Oddly enough, the wings place the gentleman mentioned is in the back half of the building that Pig N Chik is in. Hilarious. We skipped the wings place and went to our original destination.

The inside of Pig N Chik has a sort of Famous Dave’s feel, without the commercialism. Lots of Atlanta memorabilia and license plates and newspaper articles. The customers inside seemed genuinely happy and people were eating all kinds of things. It was making me hungry just watching people. You order at the counter off the huge menu sign, and then they bring it to you when it’s all ready. I went with the half slab of ribs with two side and then 5 wings – I was here to eat both the Pig AND the Chik. Mac and Cheese and also Fried Okra for sides. I also scored an RC. I don’t think I’ve had RC in 15 years – and the last place was at my Grandma’s house in Illinois. Good memories.

The food was out quickly, which we were all thankful for. I dug into the sides. The mac and cheese was decent. Slightly better than average. It had some real cheese in it, but it still tasted a little processed to me. The fried okra, however, was awesome. I really liked it. Not slimy at all and the crunch of both the batter and the okra was music to my mouth. I’d get these again, without question.

The chicken wings were good. Better than a lot of places I’ve been, but not top-shelf quality. They were just above average. Not too saucy. I’m glad I got them though – they helped fill me up and they didn’t disappoint.

Rita also asked me if the carrots had come with the wings or if I had randomly ordered a basket of carrots. Hilarious. Now I wish I *had* ordered a basket of carrots just to freak her out.

The ribs were surprisingly good. Served dry, but there is sauce on the table. The meat fell right off the bones and despite the outside NOT looking like they were going to be anything special, they had a great flavor and bark on them. No gristly nor fat in these at all and I ate them all pretty quickly. I would recommend these ribs to people in the area – it’s just a tad hard to get to for out-of-towners. And the giant slice of white bread on the side is perfect for sopping up any juicy bits you may have dropped.

I’m glad I ate here, especially for the ribs and fried okra. Thanks for the tip, friends and family! And thanks for the awesome copmany and navigational skills, Rita and A-Wow!

Top 5 things about Pig N Chik
1. BBQ Ribs
2. Fried Okra
3. Chicken wings
4. Walkable from the train station
5. Royal Crown Cola

Bottom 5 things
1. Bummed about the mac and cheese
2. Makes me wonder if the chicken wings at the restaurant behind Pig N Chik are better
3. Blue cheese sauce came from a store – at least pretend…
4. Not the easiest place to find since all of the nearby roads have the same name
5. Was bummed to find out I was 2 minutes from my friend Blossom’s apartment AFTER we left


Monday, November 12, 2012

Gladys and Ron’s Chicken & Waffles – Atlanta, GA

D.Rough had heard about this place on television and it came highly recommended on the internet if you wanted southern comfort food. And *I* love chicken and waffles, so I was absolutely down for going here. We had a group of five (not always the easiest to seat in an always-super-busy restaurant in downtown Atlanta) and despite an hour wait to be seated, we made this happen. Huge thanks to my friend Blossom for coming downtown and having dinner with me before her third-shift job started. It’s been too long, lady!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this place, but I wouldn’t have even come close. At the very least, I expected it to be more dive-y, but it was really nice inside. Lots of dark woods and old soul music playing. More “date-night” than “dive”, for sure. Gladys always keeps it classy.

The menu had a lot to choose from, but much of it revolved around fried chicken and southern sides. I was really excited to have chicken and waffles in a southern joint. So I went with that. Choosing sides wasn’t as easy as I had hoped, either. I got the mac and cheese with mine, D.Rough got the collard greens, and we all ended up getting a few to share – fried green tomatoes and jerk chicken egg rolls. And of course, I got strawberry Fanta – because that’s what you do when you eat chicken or ribs!

The sides came out pretty quickly and were being eye-balled by everyone. The fried green tomatoes came with a delicious remoulade sauce – very creamy and some zip to the sauce which went well with the battered green tomatoes. I really liked these. The Jerk Chicken Egg Rolls were cut lengthwise, and were fine. I expected them to punch me in the mouth with the spice, but they didn’t. It was simply a good chicken egg roll. I also love that the menu says they are “lightly fried” – really? Hahahahaha

The entrees arrived and I was sort of surprised at the presentation. The platter contained a waffle and four chicken wings on the side. They weren’t integrated at all, which disappointed me a little, frankly. The chicken wings were pretty good, though not mind blowing. They were juicy on the inside, but the skin was a little dried out. I thought they’d have some dry rub or seasoning on them, but they didn’t. They were plenty big, so I’m not mad or anything, but I thought these would be game-changing wings. The waffle was just a waffle. I had had one earlier that day for breakfast that was just as good. It was a decent and filling meal, but not one that I’d rave about. If you want me to rave about chicken and waffles, I’ll steer you to the Sunshine Tavern in Portland, OR – THOSE are the best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had.

For our smaller sides, D.Rough’s collard greens were good. I liked them, but again, I thought I’d be raving about them at a southern place. The Mac and Cheese, I WILL rave about. It was fantastic and had TONS of real cheese in it. This was one of my favorite parts of the meal, in fact.

Overall, I had a filling and average meal. Maybe my hopes were set too high or something, but I left feeling like I should be going home and telling people about this place (which I’m technically doing on this blog). Just a little bummed. Full, but bummed….

Top 5 things about Gladys and Ron’s Chicken & Waffles
1. Mac and cheese
2. Strawberry Fanta
3. Fried Green Tomatoes
4. The place is classy
5. No one bats an eye when you order omelets for dinner

Bottom 5 things
1. Really long lines for this place. All the time.
2. Waffles and chicken weren’t integrated
3. Disappointing jerk chicken egg roll
4. Disappointing collard greens
5. The downtown location doesn’t have a bar


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ray’s In The City – Atlanta, GA

D.Rough, Rita and I needed some sushi while we were in Atlanta. We did some google-ing and GPS-ing and figured out we were within walking distance of Ray’s (the downtown location). We walked the three blocks to Ray’s and went in. Inside, there was a large lounge area with a piano player and a serious bar. We told the hostess we were eating dinner and she put us in the dining room, rather than the lounge, so just a little bummed. It was all fine though – nothing to complain about.

Our server Joshua came over to help us out. We knew right away he was going to be fun. I asked about girly drinks and he recommended the Pomegranate Martini. Oh yeah, that’s what I needed. He brought it out minutes later, claiming the bartender was “a little heavy handed tonight” and gave me a full martini glass and an almost full martini shaker. Enough for three more martinis. Three strong and delicious martinis. This is my new favorite place. And an awesome server, to boot!

It was a tough decision on what to order, since everything on this menu sounded delicious. I was surprised the food wasn’t more expensive, including the sushi section. These prices made us order way more than we expected to. Bonus! We thoughts we’d share the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp, D.Rough got the She-Crab Soup, and I got the Cajun Gumbo. (Note, I wasn’t sure if Joshua had a speech impediment and couldn’t say “sea crab” correctly, or if it was actually she-crab. I was seriously cracking up because D.Rough kept making him say “she-crab” over and over. Hilarious.) For dinner, I ordered a rainbow roll and a volcano roll. D.Rough ordered a dragon roll and a crunchy roll, and Rita got a salad with what she thought was some lobster on top.

The appetizery things arrived quickly and we dove into them.

My gumbo was one of the best I’ve had. There was plenty of shrimp and Andouille sausage in it, and there was a fantastic flavor in everything. The heat wasn’t too aggressive and I really liked the vegetables they used in it. Really awesome bowl of soup.

D.Rough wasn’t thrilled with her She-Crab Soup, so she gave it to me. I’m not even a fan of crab-based soups, but I really liked this one a lot. Way more than I expected. It had strong butter and corn flavors and the right amount of crab meat. I’m not sure what part she didn’t like, but I wasn’t going to investigate, since I got to eat 95% of her soup.

The New Orleans BBQ Shrimp was absolutely fantastic. The shrimp were really large and covered in really delicious dry seasoning. The sauce they were in was an awesome seasoned butter BBQ sauce, and there were two Boursin cheese grits cakes that were to kill for. These were worth fighting each other for the last bites.

The sushi rolls were better than average. Maybe not the best I’ve ever had, but there wasn’t anything to complain about, really. The fish and veggies seemed fresh and there were appropriate amounts for each bite (unlike some places that are heavy on ingredients). My rolls were covered in a delicious eel sauce (which D.Rough loves to steal from my plate), and D.Rough’s sushi was cut in a pretty unique pattern and assembled nicely. I really liked my sushi here and it was really exactly what I needed (well, four martinis was what I REALLY needed, but the sushi was needed, as well).

Rita’s was the most unexpected dish. She got a very generous portion of salad, which she said was really quite good, and then instead of having small pieces of lobster in the salad, she got a broiled lobster tail. Hilarious. She ended up looking like the fancy one at the table (not that she isn’t), by ordering the baller dish of the night. Well done, Rita.

Overall, a fantastic dinner. We got to sit looking out on the streets of Atlanta and watch the hilarity walk past. Tons of good food and Joshua was hilarious. I’d recommend Ray’s to anyone, and I Think next time I’ll even try one of their steaks!

Top 5 things about Ray’s In The City
1. New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
2. Serious martinis
3. Cajun Gumbo
4. Sushi – all of them
5. She-Crab Soup

Bottom 5 things
1. Didn’t get to sit in the lounge
2. Slight confusion on the lobster tail
3. N/A
4. N/A
5. N/A


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Perkerson Park Disc Golf Course – Atlanta, GA

I was in Atlanta for the 2012 Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Championships, so I thought I’d bring some discs and check out the local courses. I didn’t have a car, so I was at the mercy of anyone else who wanted to play some disc golf with me. Thankfully, there were three other folks interested in playing. Killsbury Doughboy, Garrison Killer, and Crop Dustin and I piled into Dustin’s van and drove a couple of miles to the course.

The course was installed in 2012, so it’s got some breaking in to do, but honestly, the course is quite awesome. Maybe not as awesome for new folks, but for me, I loved it and woudl recommend it highly, especially if you can't get out of Atlanta proper to play one of their many other courses. I’ll give you the overview: There are a couple of 800 footers through this 50-acre wooded park in South Atlanta. Thankfully, half of the course is maneuvering through super tall massive oak trees and the other half is through more narrow forest, but with obvious fairways. Excellent use of elevation and tricky pin placements (without being mean). There is a large creek that flows through the entire course and it comes into play often, but in a reasonable way. There are a couple of sticker bushes to avoid if you get off the fairway and there was a surprising amount of trash on the course, like it used to be a city dump or something. It looked like they were slowly cleaning it up, but we found all kinds of tires, baby carriages, playpens, clothing, broken glass, glasses, metal bars, and a random football helmet (thankfully with no head inside).

The course is fairly well marked out with signage, but it also looked like they had just had some sort of university tournament recently. So there were signs on trees and posts. But just to be sure, find the map on the PDGA.com site and either print it out or have it on your phone. It saved us a ton of time, especially finding the first hole.

Just for comic relief, I’ll explain how three of us ended up taking a beating.

On hole 1, you walk up the side of the hill and throw off a 30-foot cliff over the water. Crop Dustin thought he’d see how steep the cliff was, when he lost his footing and suddenly disappeared from our view. There was enough of a slop on the hill that he didn’t drop straight down, but he scuffed his calves up pretty badly as he slid down. Thankfully, he ended up laughing about it, even after he lifted his pant legs to show us the damage.

On #11, the 400 foot hole has a nice open fairway with a creek on the left. The creek has 4 foot high sheer rock walls, and plenty of rocks in the bottom of the creek. Killsbury Doughboy throws his shot over the creek and decides the bridge by the basket is too far to walk and come back to his disc. He slides down the rock wall onto the rocks, turns to us and says, “getting down here is the easy part.” He then takes one step, slips on the wet rocks and ends up on all fours in the mud and water, absolutely cracking up at the timing. Hilarious. Although, he had a brand new shirt on that will now require some laundering.

On hole 18, you get to throw 800 feet with the carnivorous creek on your left again. I throw a couple of awesome shots, but don’t’ see where my final shot lands. We searched for about 15 minutes before giving up. I thought I’d check out the creek from the bank. I took a bad step and slid off the rock wall, as I fell, I reached out and grabbed a branch. Unfortunately, the branch wasn’t attached to anything, so I dropped into the creek on my side. Sadly, where I fell was entirely rocks. I got some bad bruises, but nothing was broken, thankfully. Only one disc lost - that's a win in my book.

So as you can tell, the course can be a little tough to navigate. But I firmly believe it is worth it. I had a great time playing (it helps that I played really well) and my foursome was hysterical to play with. The bonus of the day was that someone found my lost disc later that afternoon and through a couple of emails, brought it to my hotel in downtown Atlanta. Southern hospitality at it’s finest. Thank you, Jacob Lawson from Atlanta! Much appreciated!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Vina – Richfield, MN

I was excited to check out this Vietnamese restaurant neither Trash nor I had been to in Richfield. We had some business to discuss and we met for lunch. It’s a small little place, but it has mirrors on the inside that make it look much larger than it is.

The menu has a severe lack of Vietnamese dishes on it, so I decided to order the Pho. Sadly, they were out of Pho on the day we went, so I got stuck scrambling through the menu for something else. I went with the Hot and Spicy Chicken – sometimes, that’s got a Vietnamese feel at many places, so I thought that would be safe. Trash got the Mock Duck with Fried Potatoes and Onions. Basically, the menu is a standard Chinese restaurant menu, from what I can tell.

There is only one lady working the entire dining room, so you have to maneuver to catch her attention, or she’ll blow past you. She’s perfectly friendly, just overwhelmed, from all appearances.

The food showed up and looked just fine. Trash’s dish was oddly half hot and half cold. The fake meat was steaming and piping hot, but the fried potatoes were not just room temperature, but actually cold, as if they had come out of a refrigerator or cooler. Very weird. The flavor was really quite good though, both the mock duck and the fried potatoes – I was kind of surprised by that,. They gave her plenty of rice to pair with it and she ended up eating most of it (and I helped a little bit).

My hot and spicy chicken was decent. No complaints, other than it could have had more flavor. I was happy the chicken wasn’t fried bits, and the sauce on it was about average. The fried rice was pretty standard, but the egg roll was really quite good. I was glad it came with the lunch special and I got to try it. It had a very nice crisp on the shell without being greasy (feeling or tasting).

Overall, I’d give the place a thumbs down for their Vietnamese selection, especially since they were out of Pho, and give the flavor of the food we did get a simple meh.

Top 5 things about Vina
1. Egg roll
2. Really nice server
3. Flavor of the Mock duck with fried potatoes
4. Have a vegetarian portion of the menu
5. Lunch specials

Bottom 5 things
1. Cold potatoes
2. No Pho
3. Very few Vietnamese dishes on the menu
4. Average food flavor
5. Just one server


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Baldy’s BBQ – Lakeville, MN (Bar-B-Quest 2012 Semi-finals!)

As the Bar-B-Quest nears its end, the excitement is building more and more. Western Division super-contender Baldy’s is up against Q Fanatic to go to the Finals against C.G. Hooks in the Eastern Division. We’ve been to Baldy’s numerous times – both for this competition and for fun – and have had awesome ribs there. This time was no different.

Here’s the quick review:

Low-Vee, HotGirlsBrother, and I all got the combination platter. It comes with a half slab, a pile of pulled meat, and two sides. Additionally, we ordered a pint of baked beans, and a pint of potato salad. And because they are some of the best fries in the area, we got a basket of fries to split. Finally, of course, there’s beers to be had here, so we got a bucket of mix and match stuff.

The sides are pretty awesome here.

The cheesy corn bake is incredible EVERY time. This time seemed more fresh than usual and more liquidy, which was fine by all of us. Also, it looked like there was ham instead of bacon mixed in this time. Didn’t matter – still awesome.

The coleslaw was good – one of the better ones in the challenge. No complaints at all on this slaw.

The potato salad still surprises me. I’ve never really liked it until now and, having had it a few places since then, I think Baldy’s is the best I’ve had. Big chunks of potato, just the right amount of pepper. Perfect.

The baked beans are really good here. Maybe not my favorite of the quest, but still up there near the top.

The fries are seriously the best in the area. They’re double-fried and the have some sort of beautiful dust on them to season them. All three of us fight over them when we come here. Dang it, these are fantastic!

The ribs are really why we’re here, though. Fantastic flavor on these, especially with the rub they put on them. You get to add your sauce (they have a few) and we all seemed to like the sweet sauce over the original, though Low-Vee liked the gold (mustard) sauce on her fries. There was a lot of meat on these bones, and most of the meat fell right off the bone. This go around, the meat was a little tougher to get off the bone. You could still get the bones clean, but you had to work at them. Still, the meat was very tender and flavorful, without being fatty or gristly.

I got the pulled brisket on the side and really liked that, especially once I hosed it down with the sweet sauce. Really tender brisket always makes me happy and this didn’t disappoint.

Overall, Baldy’s is still one of the best (if not THE best) in the area. Q Fanatic is going to have to put on a good show to beat out Baldy’s for the win in the Western Division. I’m looking forward to it, but really there’s no loser in this battle. Baldy’s is pretty impressive and I look forward to hitting this place up anytime I make the drive to/from Illinois to see my folks.

No top 5 for this one, since it’s been reviewed before. The bracket hasn’t changed since we finished up the Eastern bracket, but I’ll post it anyway, so people know where we’re all at. Things are getting down to the wire!!!