Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Check. Raise. Fold. Pit Boss BBQ

I've gotta say - I was downright disappointed with Pit Boss. I've had much worse barbecue, but after reading a pretty gleaming review by a friend and respected BBQ superstar, I have to give it the ole' thumbs down. Located on the back of a convenience store, Pit Boss's location was unassuming to say the least. Thankfully, they have a sign out in front of the convenience store with a remarkable Piggly Wiggly doppelganger mascot otherwise, I wouldn't have found it.

Once you enter the aroma of smoked meat hits you - a very good sign. I placed my order at the counter - a half rack of babybacks (they offer St. Louis as well), mac and cheese, Brunswick stew, and a half pound of pulled pork to go. No, I didn't eat it all in one sitting - well everything besides the pulled pork. That was my first problem with this joint - you can't get a combo with ribs and another meat. It just doesn't exist on the menu. The guy behind the counter recommended I just add on a half-pound of meat and later I realized that just ordering a sandwich would be a much cheaper option. Sigh.
Anyhow, the food came out and it all looked good. Right away, I could see that the ribs were of the smaller variety of babybacks, but I didn't let that get to me. The ribs were moderately tender, but lacked any real smokey or spice rub flavor. Honestly, I hardly detected any. Fortunately for me, their sauce (with a strange orange hue) is really good at Pit Boss so I made due - coating my ribs with orange goodness. Interestingly, as I worked my way to the smaller end of the ribs, they became juicer and more flavorful. Don't ask why, as I've never experienced this anomaly previously.

The Brunswick stew had some really nice spice to it, but the meat was unacceptably tough. You'd think that it would break down even more in stew, but that was not the case.
The mac and cheese was a decent rendition of the classic southern dish, but again, just slightly above average.
I had a couple of bites of the pulled pork before leaving. It was of the shredded/chopped variety and had no flavor whatsoever. Or color for that matter- it was kind of just... gray? I know my picture shows some pink smoke ring, but that came out more with photo-editing than anything else. To my naked-eye, it wasn't there. I brought the pork home with me and the car smelled like baked meat. I don't get it, but it was truly without flavor. I will say the portion was much more than the half pound I ordered but with the quality of que, hardly worth it.

I really had high hopes for Pit Boss and was hoping I could add it into my rotation-it's truly only a 15 minute drive from in town. It just didn't live up to the hype at all. I'm gonna have to give Hambones BBQ (a mere stone's throw away) a shot in the coming months.
Pit Boss BBQ on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Love me! Love me! Amuse! me! Amuse! me!

Down Dutch Valley Road, you won't find a whole lot besides some office buildings, some condos, and the glowing, bat-cave like One Midtown Kitchen. What many Atlantans don't know, is that housed in the bottom of one of the condominium buildings there is a newish French restaurant located down the Dutch corridor called Amuse! (Yes the exclamation point is actually part of the restaurant's name).
Amuse! was started by the owners of Apres Diem and I believe Carpe Diem as well. The location and decor of the restaurant is a little bizarre. I'd say the interior design is certainly feminine and doesn't really appeal to my style/tastes but I've read several praise worthy reviews of their multi-belt fastened curtains (blah). I went for my birthday lunch and I have to say while it didn't blow me away, the food was quite good and a good value.
They start you off with fresh French bread which is of the shiny/small loaf variety and it was qualtiy stuff. I ordered the chicken sandwich described as - wood roasted chicken, robiola, green apple, & onion jam on foccacia. Sounds good doesn't it? And it was, but I felt it had room for improvement. The chicken really didn't carry any "wood roasted" flavor and they gave me a few fatty bits on my sandwich. The toppings, including cheese and apple, were more plentiful than the meat, which always bothers me. The sandwich came with fries, which were freshly fried, although questionably, frozen? It was really hard to tell but they were tasty as well. The sandwich and fries were $8.
The fries actually look better than they tasted.

My mom, and dining companion, had "baby lettuces, peanuts, crispy onion, wood roasted peaches, & 40’s blue." This salad was excellent and like a good salad should be, a great combination of ingredients (even if they did go overboard with the onions). Also it was $7.
The dinner menu looked *AMUSING* (had to do it) with some more traditional French items coming into play and some more serious prices to match. For the quality of food, the prices are unbeatable for lunch. Conclusively, Amuse! is a welcomed addition to the Midtown lunch rotation, I just hope they can really hang in their odd-ball location on Dutch Valley Road.

Amuse on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Got 5 On it! - Lunacy Black Market

For those of you who don't get the title, it's a throwback to the Luniz, who wrote "I got Five on It."

Today I had four sandwiches and two sides for just over $6. The sandwiches were all cooked with gourmet combinations like soy/ginger/sesame pork, braised beef with roasted red peppers and ricotta, chicken with spinach, tomato and goat cheese, and crispy mushroom with chunky tomato sauce. The sides were both hand cut fries and sweet potato fries. So how did I get all of this for $6?

1. A friend and I split all of it.
2. While the sandwiches are literally under $2 each, they're slider sized. To the point where it's pretty difficult to divide them in half.

And from this point forth, any sort of gourmet slider, will now be called a "tapas slider." I don't care for tapas. At least, not what Atlanta has to offer in that realm. Eclipse di Sol/Luna and Loca Luna are OK, but not my favorite spots. I think I'm in the minority of Atlantans who typically get excited at the thought of small (and sometimes Spanish inspired) plates. This being said, Paul Luna, from Local Luna and Eclipse Di Luna/Sol fame has made it over to the more gritty part of downtown for his new sandwich shop - Lunacy Black Market.

Housed in an old storefront on Mitchel Street, LBM has been converted into a loft like space with inviting couches and fold up chairs and tables. The digs are comfortable but a little too empty/echoey. The owners and their friends were seated casually when we strolled in and I unfortunately felt too uncomfortable taking pictures of the food while we were there, in front of the owners.

The sandwiches, while small, are good and a good value. None of them were outstanding, but they were all decent renditions of tapas sliders (the bread was really the best part of each sandwich).

1. Braised Beef/Roasted Red Peppers/Ricotta - Hard to screw this up. Tender, flavorful meat but the ricotta wasn't particularly noticeable.

2. Asian style sesame/soy/ginger pork - Nice pieces of pork, but very under seasoned. I only got one bite (out of the two that half a tapas slider allowed) that tasted remotely of soy or ginger.

3. Chicken/Goat Cheese/Spinach - tasted just like those ingredients combined with no other additional flavors. For white meat chicken however, it was particularly moist.

4. Crispy Mushroom/Chunk Tomato Sauce - this was the most surprisingly good one of the bunch. Mushrooms aren't my favorite, but these were really good and the sauce was very flavorful as well.

5. Fries - While housemade/cut, these were pretty boring. The texture wasn't nearly crispy enough and the salt and pepper was minimal. These are thicker cut than most fries, but not quite steak fries. Also each fry was haphazardly cut so that the doneness level was different in each.

6. Sweet Potato Fries - These were terrible. The oil wasn't hot enough and they weren't fried enough. On the menu they're called Crispy Sweet Potato Fries but these were a soggy mess. Also a little bit of cinnamon, brown sugar, and paprika could go a long way on these. But still very, very soggy.

The price is certainly right at Lunacy and that was probably my main attraction. If I was returning, it would still be it's selling point to me. I'm not sure how this place will fare (apparently they have been doing well on weekend nights), the food is good but the location really puts it out of the way for most people seeking this type of food. Additionally, the parking is very minimal on Mitchel Street and most people coming from in town will probably be uncomfortable in this area. If it were in Buckhead or any northern suburb, they would be guaranteed success with throngs of middle aged women flocking for dainty tapas sliders.

I have to say it's wonderful to have new and enthusiastic business owners on this side of town, but it's growing at an alarmingly slow rate for a successful business to thrive. I wish the best of luck to the folks at Lunacy Black Market!

Lunacy Black Market on Urbanspoon