Restaurant experiment: Brockett Pub House & Grill

Brockett Pub House & Grill

4522 East Ponce De Leon Avenue at Brockett Road

Clarkston, GA 30021

770-938-1080

http://brockettpub.com

Dave and I were searching for a new place to get wings, and Brockett Pub House & Grill came up when I was browsing Yelp.  We went later on a Friday night, and it was busy but there was no wait.  A welcoming waitress told us we could sit anywhere.  There were a couple of beers on tap and some TVs were showing various sports like a Braves game.  The clientele seemed to consist of locals of various ages and backgrounds.  The wait staff seemed to know several of the customers by name.  All positives.

The menu featured typical pub grub but Dave and I were focused on the wings.  The wings came in a couple of different flavor options.  I ended up with my usual of lemon pepper while Dave had the hot wings.  Ten wings were $8.75, not bad.  We occupied our wait time by watching baseball games on one of the TVs.  After a reasonable while, the greatly anticipated wings made an appearance.

As I saw in a review on Yelp, the wings definitely did remind me of Taco Mac’s offerings, especially with the crispy outside, moist inside, and generous size of chicken.  The blue cheese dressing was homemade, always a plus in my book.  You can request your wings with either celery as a side or fries.  I chose celery, and the stalks were long and fresh.  Dave was complimentary on his wings, though he remarked that hot could have been hotter and that there could have been more sauce in general.  I really liked my wings, and the lemon pepper wasn’t too lemony or peppery.

This time, I was so besotted with the wings apparently that I forgot to take a picture with my camera.  Or that’s the excuse I like to give.  I just plumb forgot.  Oopsie.

What we liked about Brockett Pub was the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, along with the delicious wings.  We’d come back!

Restaurant experiment: Papi’s Cuban and Caribbean Grill

Papi’s Cuban and Caribbean Grill

216 Ponce de Leon Avenue at Myrtle Street

Atlanta, GA 30308

404-607-1525

http://www.papisgrill.com/

Dave, Evelyn, and I decided to check out Papi’s since none of us had eaten Cuban food in some time. So we parked on Myrtle and walked into the entrance. Turns out the doors closest to Ponce are for to-go orders; you have to take the stairs down one floor to the dine-in area. As it so happens, there was a door on Myrtle that we completely missed.  Well, that was confusing!

Even though it was a Friday night, Papi’s closes at 9, and I was a bit concerned since it was after 8, but I shouldn’t have fretted as the place was full of patrons in no hurry to get the heck out. It’s grab-a-table-when-you-see-one, so we stood around for a bit and quickly pounced on a table when its occupants slid out to leave.

Papi’s has a daily lunch and dinner entree.  Since it was Friday, the dinner special was ropa vieja for $8.99 (lunch is $6.99), with black beans and white rice, though they let you sub yellow rice for no extra charge. Dave and I decided to share the ropa vieja and the pork since we couldn’t decide what to get, so why not both? It was funny since pork is available every day as a daily special so I guess all entrees are daily specials? Not sure.

Also Available Daily:
Your choice of Palomilla steak, Ropa Vieja, Jerk Chicken Breast, Pork, Jerk Pork, Chicken or Fish served with homemade black beans, white or yellow rice. -$8.99

I did consider getting a good old Cuban sandwich. I had been on a Cuban sandwich kick even though I haven’t actually eaten said sandwich anywhere yet.

Our waiter wasn’t super outgoing but he was nice. The food did take a while to appear but we chalked it up to the place being pretty busy. As all entrees come with plantains and bread in addition to the black beans and rice, it’s such a good deal! I’m a sucker for a good deal. I love the Cuban-style bread. The roja vieja rocked, and the pork was memorable though adding Papi’s special sauce really kicked it up a notch.  Really soft and falling-apart meat. Yum.

I had a picture of my meal but due to technical difficulties, I can’t post it at this time.  Darn computer.  You’ll just have to use your imagination for now until I can access that photo.

The three of us agreed that Papi’s had generous portions of tasty food at reasonable prices. Viva Papi’s!

Some notes:

  • There were a couple of homeless men hanging around, so just be prepared.
  • Also, Myrtle has rules about parking only on certain sides of the street, so keep that in mind as well.
  • Papi’s has several locations in the metro Atlanta area, but this Midtown one is the only restaurant in Atlanta proper.

 

 

Restaurant experiment: De Mole

De Mole

45-02 48th Avenue at 45th Street

Woodside, NY 11377

718-392-2161

http://www.demolenyc.com

I don’t get Sunnyside/Woodside.  I thought De Mole was in Sunnyside, but the website says it’s in Woodside.  Go figure.  Anyway, Greg and I decided to check this place out since it was convenient, and neither of us had been there before.  And it got great reviews on Yelp and elsewhere.  We arrived later in the evening  so we were seated promptly.  The place is very cozy and inviting, with dim lighting.  I remarked that it had a date vibe to it.

We were waited on by a man and a woman.  They were both nice and friendly.  The meal started off with complimentary chips & salsa.  The chips were thick and crunchy with lots of salt.  The salsa had a milky look to it.  Good start to the meal.  Okay, I have to say that details will be scanty since it’s been nearly two months since I’d gone to this restaurant.  I know, I’m terrible.  Well, better late than never I guess.

De Mole chips & salsa

After much internal debate, I decided to go with the pork torta ($6.75) as my main which the waitress assured me was a popular option.  Considering the size of this massive sandwich, the price was very reasonable.  I love Queens for reasonable eats; your food dollar definitely stretches further here than in Manhattan.  The pork was soft and full of flavor.  There was kind of a kick but nothing that would have caused me to tear up in pain.  A bit messy but no matter.

De Mole torta

Greg decided that we should cap off the dinner with some dessert, and coconut flan ($4.00) was his choice.  You know, I’d never considered myself to be much of a flan enthusiast, but I’ve been coming around on the custard-y stuff as of late.  I really like coconut too which helped I’m sure.  This flan had a wonderful consistency and was sweet but not disgustingly so.  Apologies for the washed out pictures; it was quite dark in the restaurant, like I mentioned.  Lovely presentation.

De Mole coconut flan

My dessert was a strawberry milkshake ($3.50).  Notice the twirled detail on the straw!  It was fine.  This milkshake was a little more water-based than milky.  Mmm, strawberries.

De Mole strawberry shakeGreg and I really liked the atmosphere and edibles served at De Mole.  It definitely has a family-run vibe, not sure if it’s family-run but that’s how it feels.  Tasty and filling Mexican food.  Greg and I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Restaurant experiement: M. Wells Dinette

M. Wells Dinette

22-25 Jackson Avenue between 46th Avenue and 46th Road

Long Island City, NY 11101

718-786-1800

http://magasinwells.com/mwells.html

http://momaps1.org/about/mwells

Back in 2011, three separate groups of friends told Dave and I about M. Wells in Long Island City and were raving about how way amazing it was.  That’s certainly a positive sign.  I had also read about the establishment in Time Out.  Naturally, I put it on the list of places to check out.  Alas, it was not meant to be.  The  day I planned to go, I was sick, and that was my last shot since I was leaving NYC.  Later I heard that M. Wells closed down.  R.I.P.  I shed a tear since I thought I would never get to try M. Wells, the one that got away.

Eventually, M. Wells was reborn as M. Wells Dinette in MoMA’s PS1.  I was very happy to hear this since I could finally realize my dream of eating at M. Wells.  Because I’d never been to PS1 either, I figured I could kill two birds with one stone.  I roped Amy C. into this museum-meal hybrid excursion.  I met up with her and her son Nico for a nice lunch right when the museum opened.

Since PS1 is housed in an old school, the Dinette takes up one big classroom.  All of the tables are long desks, and there are chalkboards, and the menus are in composition notebooks.  Cute.

The menu was divided up into charcuterie, starters, mains, and desserts.

The waitress suggested the jambon Paris for Nico, basically ham and a baguette with mustard and cornichons on the side.  I tried some ham and thought it was tasty.  I’m not used to dining with toddlers so it was an interesting experience!  I wouldn’t have thought this place would be kid-friendly, but I saw a baby and some other young children.

For starters, Amy and I shared the veal brains grenobloise ($13) and the chicken liver mousse ($11).  And what is “grenobloise,” you ask?  I had no idea but just wanted to try veal brains.  Some internet searching (thanks, Wikipedia) tells me that

A dish prepared à la Grenobloise (in the Grenoble manner) has a garnish of small croutons along with brown butter, capers, parsley, and lemon.

That’s the plate on the upper right.  I loved the seasoning on it.  Unfortunately I cannot tell you more about it but it reminded me of the stuffing that I eat on Thanksgiving that features oysters and I believe has poultry seasoning and bay leaves.  Interestingly enough, I likened the taste and texture of the veal to oysters.  Amy and I both really ended up liking this; I think I had suggested getting it, but Amy concurred.

The dish in the lower center was the chicken liver mousse.  You know, it actually looks pretty similar to the veal.  The mousse was buttery.  I told Amy it was like eating a stick of butter.  So in a starter-off between the brains and the mousse, I’d give the win to the brains.

M. Wells three plates

The main course of leg of lamb with mint ($29) then made its entrance.  The key word here is green!  The veggies, especially the peas, tasted very fresh.  The lamb was soft and scrumptious.  Mmm, fiber and protein.

M. Wells lamb

Naturally, I wanted to cap off my experience at the Quebecois diner by having dessert.  There were a couple of options; I can remember the pineapple upside down cake and the banana maple creme brulee which is what I ended up selecting.  It might have been the weaker part of the meal.  Don’t get me wrong, it was good but maybe I thought it would be more creamy and more maple-y but the banana was the strongest note, and I like bananas the least out of those ingredients.  Oh well!  It was still sweet and nice.

M. Wells creme brulee

I was reading The New York Times review for M. Wells Dinette, and the critic mentioned how this place works so well with the nature of the museum it’s in and also the trendy neighborhood.  I would have to agree.  The only downside was that it’s a little pricey.  Not a super veggie-friendly place either, in case any vegetarians were considering going.  I loved telling friends later that I ate veal brains and seeing their reactions!

After all that heavy food, Amy, Nico, and I strolled around the hallways and peeked into the galleries.  The art was very random and strange.

Restaurant experiment: Twenty Six

Twenty Six 26

1218 20th Street South between 12th Avenue South and 13th Avenue South

Birmingham, AL 35205

205-918-0726

http://oceanbirmingham.com/26/

This will be a bare bones write-up since I came here for work reasons.

So I guess the restaurant’s name can either be spelled out or written in numerals.  I’ll just use numbers since that’s faster.

26 is related to Ocean, a restaurant that I have not patronized.  26 is apparently the younger sister/brother with more of a hipper, trendier vibe which I also read as less expensive.  Um, yes, perusing the Ocean online menu, there was an entree in the low $40s for dinner while the entrees for dinner at 26 go up to the low $20s.  The website lauds the decor which I found fine but nothing that I would especially make a mental note of so I could expressly write about it here.

After utilizing the valet parking, our party strolled into 26 and waited for a bit in the bustling bistro to be seated.  Six of us were squeezed into a circular table.  I will say that it was pretty tight seating overall in the joint, NYC-style I suppose.

I decided to get the freshly brewed mango iced tea for $2.  It didn’t mention being sweet, so was I in for a big surprise when I took a big initial sip.  Should’ve known, it is the south after all.  Aside from the sugar, it was fine.  I do love me some iced tea.  And free refills, yay.

The table decided to start off with an appetizer which was a smart idea for reasons I will go into later.  Since the truffle-scented French fries with ketchup made in-house were known to be popular, we got those.  For $5, not bad.  They were okay though I will say I grabbed my potato sticks after everyone else had picked up theirs, so mine were a little small and soggy.

Eventually the waitress came over and explained that our food would be delayed due to the computer system going down.  Oh great.  But we put on brave faces and pretended like it would be nothing.

Time goes by.  Lots of time goes by, and it seems like everyone else in the restaurant is getting his/her food without any problems.  I didn’t look at my watch since any time it showed was only bound to frustrate me.  I was soooooooo hungry.  We were all guilty of eyeing every platter than came out of the open kitchen, hoping it was destined for our table.  After probably something like an hour, plates were set down at our round table though we became conspiracy theorists and decided that the staff probably lost our order.

I had ordered the mac and cheese.  You can get either the basic mac and cheese or a deluxe version that was more elaborate.  Since I was not footing the bill, I went all out and ordered the special of the day which consisted of shrimp, Andouille sausage, and spinach.  There is also a side salad.  The default version is $12 so I guess the special is a few dollars more.  This was so rich but very good.  I don’t remember much about the salad so it was fine but the piping hot gouda, while cheddar, and bechamel all were like a delicious creamy symphony.  And 26 doled out a respectable portion of sausage and shrimp.  The sausage, to my relief, was not incredibly spicy.

A memorable lunch, to be sure, though not in the way 26 would have liked!

Restaurant experiment: Cafe 52

Cafe 52

5129 43rd Avenue at 52nd Street

Woodside, NY 11377

718-424-0250

Greg and I were on the prowl for a decent breakfast in Sunnyside.  He wasn’t too enchanted with his usual diner options so we decided to try something new.  My trusty Yelp app suggested Cafe 52 as an option, along with some other joints.  The both of us were actually trying to go somewhere else but couldn’t  find it so we ended up at Cafe 52.

The place wasn’t too full when Greg and I plopped ourselves into a table by the window (it’s seat yourself), but then it filled up during the course of the breakfast.  The service was reasonably attentive but lessened some, correlated with the number of diners I guess.

Greg and I decided to get omelettes/omelets.  I’ll use “omelettes” since that is how Cafe 52 spells the word on their menus.  Originally, I wanted the same one that he wanted, but I have some weird thing about getting different entrees (unless I’m really dying to have it), so I swapped out the veggie.  I ordered the “Greek Omelette” with feta and tomato for around $6.  What a great price for NYC!  Ah, I love Queens.  Greg’s was the “Florentine Omelette” with spinach in for tomato.  The menu informed us that the meal is made with three eggs and comes with toast.  However, it doesn’t say anything about home fries, but as you will see, home fries came with our omelettes.

Greg didn’t want toast so he had requested no toast on his plate.  I believe he had asked for more potatoes instead, but guess what happened?  He got toast and I didn’t.  Well, easy enough to fix.  I simply grabbed his triangles.  Case closed.  He also ordered an espresso and deemed it incredibly strong.  And there was a vast quantity of it too.  I’m no coffee drinker, but doesn’t espresso usually come in those tiny cups?  I had a sip and definitely felt some hair popping up on my chest.

We passed the time by staring at a cute old (he had a grey muzzle) chocolate lab hanging out on the sidewalk while his owner dined in the restaurant.

Cafe 52 resized

I liked the home fries but Greg seemed less enchanted.  Too oily, he said.  Yeah okay, but I did think they had a pleasant seasoning.  And they weren’t hard as rocks.  I hate undercooked potatoes.  The omelette was fine and what you’d expect.  A reasonable amount of tomatoes and feta.  The thing is, we could have easily made this in our own kitchens.  Let’s just say we weren’t dazzled.

Cafe 52 should use fancier bread!  But then again, maybe the price would go up.  I ate about half of the Wonderbread before deciding I had enough carbs.

There was nothing wrong with Cafe 52; it’s a solid option for the Woodside/Sunnyside [Sunnywood?] area.  Greg and I didn’t feel like it was anything out of the ordinary, but it’s certainly not awful.  I’d give it a Yelp rating of 3 stars.  If I lived in the area, I would go back to sample the array of sandwiches and burgers.  A safe and economical breakfast choice.

Restaurant experiment: Boka

Boka

9 Saint Marks Place between Second and Third Avenues

New York, NY 10003

646-678-5796

http://bokanyc.com

I knew I had to have Korean fried chicken while in NYC, and I roped Lisa, a fellow KFC enthusiast and connoisseur, into obtaining some with me.  She recommended Boka as she’s had a positive experience there.  I’m glad she had been before since the restaurant had no signage whatsoever and looked so dark I thought it was closed.  It’s located super close to my old favorites, Yakitori Taisho and Oh! Taisho.  Asian bar food alley.

Since it was still on the early side, Lisa and I were seated promptly, though we did notice that the place filled up quickly.  The service was pretty good; I seem to remember that there was a rotating cast of various waiters and waitresses.  Since only eating  chicken as a  complete dinner seemed a little too crazy even for me, the two of us decided to split the Vege-Feasta Pancake ($6.95).  I patted myself on the back for this wise choice because after all, it did contain vegetables!  Scallions, carrots, and onions, to be exact.

The pancake was great.  I’m a fan of scallion pancakes, so this was just up my alley.  I don’t think there’s too much you can say about these sorts of things.  Maybe it could be crispier, but it was a nice big size so that’s a plus.  No skimping on the veggies.

As for the hallowed fried chicken (ugh, I keep typing friend chicken), Lisa and I concluded that we should do the medium combo which included 3 drumsticks and 6 wings for $12.95.  Boka’s online menu doesn’t detail the fried chicken for some reason but I cobbled that info together from Menupages and from staring at my photos carefully.  At any rate, the drumsticks were an odd number which made it harder for two people to share.  Odd.  Since I’m a spice wimp, our flavor was soy garlic though the hot flavor is also available if you’re into that.

boka resized

Lisa was asking if I liked KFC drumsticks or wings better (all of the wings were the little drumsticks), and after extensive trials during this dinner, I decided that the wings were better.  While the meat on both sizes is hot and moist, I feel like the flavor penetrates to a greater extent in the wings.  Does that make sense?  Maybe I’m just making that up.  At any rate, the skin is sturdy and way crunchy, due to the double frying.

Boka hit the spot.  Satisfactorily sated, Lisa and I ventured to Broadway to see a play!