Monday, July 12, 2010

The Ultimate Sandwich - Kool Korner (Alabama)

Lately I've been trying to come up with a list of the best things I've eaten in Atlanta. A couple of items topping out the list are the Lime Parfait from Bacchanalia, the ricotta dumplings from Serpas, and even the beef rib from Fox Brothers. On Saturday evening, one bite facilitated the climb of a new item to the top of the list. That bite was of the classic Kool Korner's Cuban sandwich.

OK, slow down. I know most of you are thinking, "Wait, didn't Kool Korner close up shop in 2008?" And the answer to this is a simple, "Yes." However, few Atlantans know that shortly after closing in Atlanta the owner, Ildefonso Ramirez, set up shop in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. I'll spare you the details but the story is right here.
On Saturday, a group of Atlantans made a pilgrimage out to the new location of this legendary Cuban establishment to feast on what has been touted as the best Cuban sandwich in all the land. I was fortunate enough to reap the benefit of their 6 hour round trip by having two sandwiches hand delivered to me by a good friend. Thank you sir, you're a gentleman and a scholar.

When the hand-off was made in a Candler Park parking lot, I might as well have been buying smack. The aroma coming out of the bag of cold sandwiches was instantly addicting. I rushed home and popped these bad boys (they travel surprisingly well) in the oven at 200 degrees for 25 minutes and they came out crispy, melty and what I imagine it's like fresh off the press. My buddy got the Mojo on the side (smart thinking) and we reapplied the sauce to the sandwich which was the equivalent of hitting it with the defibrillator.
As soon as your teeth make it through the crispy, homemade exterior of the bread and continue through the rest of the ingredients, you know it's on. The flavor combination is insane. Yes, I've had a Cuban and yes they were good, but not like this. After her first bite, Kins turned to me and said, "This is made with love." We were pretty quiet for the rest of the meal. I couldn't have put it any better myself - the sandwich is sublime. While the pork seemed minimal to me, it didn't get at all overpowered by the ham or other ingredients. Frankly, I'm doing the sandwich a disservice by even trying to describe it. Addictive is a perfect descriptor; within 5 minutes of my last bite, I was already jonesing for another.
As a nice surprise my friend also through a pastelito de guayaba in the bag for us too. At only 85 cents this pastry is the deal of a life time. The size of an oversized scone, the pastry was gold brown and layered with delicate flakiness. It was stuffed with cream cheese and guava spread and so delicious that it gives a big middle finger to all of Atlanta's bakery offerings.

So, was it worth the trip? Do you even have to ask? If a pilgrimage's definition is a long journey or search of great moral/spiritual significance, then yes, this is the Cuban mecca.

Kool Korner Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yeah! Burger - Too Easy - Meh! Burger

You all know the story, Shaun Doty opened a burger shack. If you've read my reviews, you know how tired I am of burger places in Atlanta. Even Paul, from Panos and Pauls opened one (Burger Club).

OK, first things first - the name. In the planning stages, they originally wanted to call it Good Burger. Was the name "Yeah! Burger" supposed to be a step up from Good Burger?!?!?! Honestly, Bobby (Flay's) Burger Palace (yes it's a real) is a better name.

My understanding is the lines here have been outrageous, but we went for lunch on a late Saturday and experienced no wait at all. The feel of the restaurant is surprisingly corporate. Like a, "Haven't I been here before," corporate. Then, after sitting down and waiting for the food, Kins realized that it essentially looks just like Farm Burger. And man is she right. AND the concept, grass-fed and organic is exactly the same too.

So how did Yeah! stack (pun intended) up to the competition? The burgers are fast-food style - meaning that you can't order them to temp, that they come as a double stack and that the flavor of the actual beef is somewhat neglected. In short I thought it ranks under most of the new burger places. The patties were dry. Crumbly almost. The toppings were nice, including some homemade BBQ sauce and thick sliced bacon. The buns were kind of the star - both H&F wheat (really good) and white.

The fries and onion rings were both fresh and good. Fries could have stood to be a tad crispier and o-rings a tad less battered. But good, A- efforts.

The chocolate shake kind of sucked. It's made with soft serve. I could go on and on about how it's impossible to achieve shake greatness with soft serve but will spare you. Essentially the proper texture can't be reached. The shake also had that disodium phosphate aftertaste that McDonalds shakes have.

In terms of value, I paid over 30 bucks for two fast-food burgers, two sides, and a shake...

Lastly, for those who compare it to Flip Burger up the street, get a clue. If you go to Flip Burger and order a beef burger, you're missing the point entirely. The creativity and flavors shine on non-traditional burger patties and both the fries and shakes are outrageously better than Yeah!'s. And by the way, Flip Burger's beef burgers are still better that Yeah!'s. I'll save this rant for another review.

If you're in Atlanta and want one great burger, this is not your stop. If you are in Atlanta and want two great burgers, this is also, not your stop. I know I use the term meh far to often, but Meh! Burger.

Yeah! Burger on Urbanspoon