Restaurant experiment: SriPraPhai Thai Restaurant

SriPraPhai Thai Restaurant

64-13 39th Avenue

Woodside, NY 11377

718-899-9599

http://www.sripraphairestaurant.com

I’ve been wanting to try SriPraPhai for a couple of years.  It’s one of the most reviewed NYC Thai restaurants on Yelp, and it’s gotten notice from the Michelin guys as a Bib Gourmand in prior years.  Sea Thai now has the most Yelp reviews but I’ve never been there, seems too clubby for me.  Greg was totally game to go to SriPraPhai and since it wasn’t a Wednesday (they’re randomly not operating on Wednesdays), we showed up about an hour before they closed and were seated promptly.  People were still coming in after us which was a positive sign.

Service at Thai places can be a little iffy.  Let’s just say that attentiveness and friendliness are not hallmarks.  They didn’t seem interested in moving the two of us to a better table, oh well.  Hello, aisle.  The menu was huge like a diner and of course resulted in me taking a lot of time to decide what I wanted.  Greg was dismayed that they only serve certain soups UNTIL 5 PM.  I mean, really, what?  I kinda wanted soup since it was a chilly evening.  Finally I settled on the Crispy Egg Noodles.

N-8 Crispy Egg Noodles (G, S)  $9.50
Topped w. shrimp, chicken, bamboo shoots and mushrooms

I’ll admit that this seemed like a pretty Chinese dish to order at a Thai restaurant, but that was fine with me.  I loved the subtle crunch of the yellow noodles here and there.  I described it to Greg as a very comfort food dish, and that was exactly right.  Nothing too exotic or bizarre.  More than fair portion size too.

 

sripraphai

The bathroom was out of toilet paper when I paid it a visit.  Tsk tsk.

Cash only!

Restaurant experiment: Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under

437 Memorial Drive Southeast at Wood Street Southeast

Atlanta, GA 30312

404-523-6664

http://sixfeetunderatlanta.com/locations-hours/grant-park

Six Feet Under is not a themed-restaurant based on the HBO series of the same name.  Too bad since I love that show.  It however does have to do with death, as the restaurant is located right across the street from the Oakland Cemetery.  I suppose some people would be creeped out by this, but I thought it was rather cool.  I haven’t been in Oakland but it’s a historical site and looks very lovely.  I suggested this place for meeting up with Virginia and Nate since it was new to me, had a unique setting, and was suitable for the pescatarian in our group.

Since it was a Saturday evening, Six Feet Under was jam packed with bodies waiting to be led to the tables.  I was trying to be all undertaker there but that didn’t work.  Anyway, the wait was supposedly 40 minutes, but Nate’s phone was texted in about 20, just as we were wetting our whistles at the adjacent Octane.

Our party of four was seated upstairs which was excellent considering the mild clear weather.  On the open-air roof deck, you can take in the Atlanta skyline while chowing down on your delights from the ocean.  I sipped on the cheapest margarita available ($7.50?), which I thought was generously-sized, pretty pleasant, and plenty strong enough for me.  Our server was nice, and she even brought me a plate of lemon wedges for my water.  You can see that in the photo below, along with the margarita and my salad entree.

Six Feet Under 001 resized

  • Cajun Shrimp or Salmon Salad

    Fresh spinach topped with bacon, red pepper, cotija cheese, scallions, avocado & our homemade sweet cajun dressing. Top it off with your choice of grilled cajun shrimp or salmon.

    12.5

I mistook “sweet cajun dressing” to not be that spicy, but I was wrong.  I guess I ordered the wrong thing since I’m not a spicy lover, but I will say that the salad ingredients were fresh, and there was a fair amount of salmon in the salad.  Everyone else seemed pleased with his/her entrees.

I can’t resist dessert, so Dave and I decided to share this:

Six Feet Under 003 resized

  • Mom’s Chocolate Mousse

    Homemade chocolate mousse, whipped cream & oreo crumbles.

    5.95

This wasn’t anything fancy, but boy did it go down easy and fast.  Yum.  It did kind of remind me of the Jell-O chocolate instant pudding mix but I mean that in the best way because I used to love that stuff as a kid.  I’m getting all nostalgic now.

Pastry experiment: Dominique Ansel Bakery [home of the infamous Cronut!]

Dominique Ansel Bakery

189 Spring Street between Sullivan and Thompson Streets

New York, NY 10012

212-219-2773

http://dominiqueansel.com

I don’t normally write about bakery experiences, but this was too special to pass up.

Last Friday, I waited three hours in the cool overcast weather to obtain Cronuts™.  Yes, they are still quite popular.  Lily and I arrived around 7:40 AM and were not actually purchasing said Cronuts until 10:40 AM.  Yuck.  My feet, legs, and back were all angry at me for the rest of the day.  A woman who worked for Dominique Ansel would periodically come out to count the people in the line and make announcements regarding how many croissant-donut hybrids were left.  She even served us warm free mini-madeleines once.  Free!  In NYC!  There was even a line bouncer.  I was wondering that that man in dress slacks was doing, loitering on the sidewalk.

Once the bakery opens at 8 AM, they only let in 15-20 people at a time for Cronut purchasing.  The line was very slow because people can buy other things once they get inside.  Each Cronut is five bucks, and you can get two.  Being the glutton that I am, I got two because I felt like I deserved them after that grueling test of endurance.  The bakery sells lots other appealing desserts but I had my eyes on the prize.

Glazing the Cronuts:

cronuts being frosted

Placing Cronuts into happy meal boxes:

cronuts placed in happy meals

The infamous Cronuts:

cronuts

The verdict?
Incredibly delicious.  I love passionfruit so the April flavor of “Passion Fruit Caramelia Chocolate (with cocoa nib sugar)” was so simply perfect.  I didn’t taste much chocolate at all, mostly tart passionfruit.  There’s filling inside the pastry, tucked between some soft layers, but not too much.  I’m totally getting a churro vibe too.  I’m a sucker for things rolled in sugar.  They were so scrumptious that I ate both Cronuts even though I thought I should save one for later but decided against it since it might get all banged up, and I didn’t want to lug that happy meal box around town.

Would I wait three hours again for Cronuts?
Heck no.

How long would I wait again for a Cronut?
30 minutes.  I felt really stupid waiting three hours for a donut but hey, it was a yummy donut and made for a good story later.  Waiting in long lines is all a part of NYC.

To top it off, Dominique Ansel was shut down in the afternoon of that very same day for a mouse infestation.  Uh…

Restaurant experiment: Post Office Pies

Post Office Pies

209 41st Street Street betwend 2nd Avenue South & 3rd Avenue South

Birmingham, AL 35222

205-599-9900

https://www.facebook.com/PostOfficePies

Laura, Joni, and I were looking forward to checking out Post Office Pies, the newest member of the Saw’s family.  It’s located between garbage alley (what Laura and I use to refer to the alley with dumpsters in it) and Avondale Brewing Company.  As we happened to come on a Saturday night of the opening weekend, the place was packed.  Families, young adults, older adults, you name it.  The three of us looked over the brief menu and then ordered at the counter.  We decided to get salads and then split the swine pie.

The next challenge was finding a place to sit.  All the tables were occupied, sadly.  At least with a trio, we could spread out and focus on a section of the big open space.  Amazingly, three spots at the bar opened up, and we pounced on them, just in time to thwart some young women from scoring these chairs.

Brussels Sprout & Kale Salad

  • Fresh herbs, Bacon, Red wine vinagrette

  • 8.00

The salads came out promptly.  Joni and I shared a Brussels sprout and kale salad.  This was no joke; it was plenty of greens for the two of us.  I should also warn folks that this thing is rather spicy, and this isn’t mentioned on the menu at all.  Mmm, bacon.  I love Brussels sprouts so this was worth eating, though I had to suffer through a bit of a burn.

Post Office Pies 002 resized

Swine Pie

  • Tomato sauce, Pepperoni, Pork Sausage, Bacon

  • 16.00

Hehe, if you look at the photo below, the pizza definitely looks handmade.  We had to wait a very long time for the pie to emerge, and we were starving and going insane and stalking the runners with our eyes every time one walked remotely near out table.  I should add that a table miraculously opened up and we were able to snag it.  There’s just something nice about being able to put your feet on the floor.  Something odd I noticed was that the little numbers that you place on your table so that your order can be brought to you have the number only on one side.  That doesn’t seem very efficient but what do I know?

I didn’t keep track of time so I’m not sure how long it took for our swine pie to trot on over to our table.  Maybe an hour?  Granted, Post Office Pies was quite hopping, but that was still a bit extreme.  We gobbled up the slices like there was no tomorrow.  I really liked the crust…from where we were sitting, we had a good view of the dough room which featured giant mixers and the like.  The nice things about this crust were that it wasn’t too salty and was soft and bready, but not doughy or undercooked.  The toppings however were a little scanty, so Post Office Pies could certainly beef (ha) them up.

Post Office Pies 004 resized

Needs a little work, but I’ll cut them some slack since they just opened.  A return visit is certainly in the cards.  If you’re a fan of Avondale Brewing Company, Post Office Pies sells their beer, or you can just walk a few feet and get beer from the brewery.

Restaurant experiment: Over Easy

Over Easy

358 Hollywood Boulevard near Highway 280

Birmingham, AL 35223

205-639-1910

http://overeasybham.com

Brunch!  I haven’t had you in a while, and it feels so nice to meet again.

Despite the drizzle, Over Easy [not a chain!] was not in want of customers.  Laura, Joni, and I had to wait a little bit to be seated, so in the meantime, we enjoyed complimentary coffee and assessed the dining environment.  Lots of white and a modern sleek look but in a retro way?  Families, young adults, a mix of a crowd.

I went with my standard brunch dish, the Classic Eggs Benedict, for $7.99.  This included one side and I picked grits.  Over Easy serves McEwen & Sons blue corn grits which Joni and I noticed on a TV in the restaurant showing Over Easy ads.  They looked like some sort of blueberry pudding, we agreed.  Naturally, I had to get these grits.  The menu has a lot of classics and all your favorites like pancakes, huevos rancheros, omelettes, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast sandwiches.  But no boozy breakfast drinks.

The plate was so large!  It made me falsely believe I would be hungry later.  But no.  I was quite satisfied at the end.  I did visit the McEwen & Sons website, and I learned that blue corn grits have lots of protein which helped I’m sure.  And Hollandaise is just so rich.  And as you can see, there was lots of it.  I would have liked it more lemony but what can you do.  I do applaud the fact that there was lots of it.  And the grits were buttery but not obnoxiously so.  I didn’t have to eat again for a long time after consuming this plate.

Over Easy 005 resized

Service was fine but nothing extraordinary, more on the minimalist side.  Both Laura and Joni agreed that their meals were return-worthy and recommend-worthy.  Joni’s oatmeal pancakes were outstanding and Laura loved her breakfast bowl, the OE, and her biscuit side.  Come early though!  By the time we left around 10:15, folks were milling around outside.  Yes, we were quite pleased with Over Easy.

Restaurant experiment: Homewood Gourmet

Homewood Gourmet

1919 28th Avenue South, Suite 113

Homewood, AL 35209

205-871-1620

http://www.homewoodgourmet.com

Homewood Gourmet is a little unassuming establishment in a shopping center on the corner of Highway 31 and 28th Avenue South.  When Laura and I arrived for dinner one evening, the place was empty but people drifted in and out as we dined.  You order at the counter and then take a seat; your food items are then brought to you.  The menu has mostly salads, soups, sandwiches, and sweets.  The man manning the counter was very welcoming and very patient while we took our sweet time deciding.  Eventually I decided what I wanted, the beef & blue sandwich.  It’s described as “warm sliced beef with sauteed onions and blue cheese.”  It was $8.25 and included my choice of side.  Oh decisions, decisions!  I took long looks at the sides in the refrigerated display case and pondered.  Finally I selected the Israeli couscous, which also included “roasted seasonal vegetables, lemon, and fresh herbs.”  Laura had the chicken salad plate with fresh fruit ($9.75).  It includes homemade banana bread which I sampled a bite of.  It was fine, but I’m probably letting my indifference towards banana bread color my opinion of it.

The couscous was like little dots of wonderful.  I really liked this side and was glad I went with it.  There’s a bit of dressing on the couscous to add flavor and interest.  Sort of like vinaigrette dressing, not sure exactly what it was.  The sandwich was also quite good but I thought it was a tad small.  And there could have been more blue cheese!  It appeared that the blue cheese had been mixed into a sauce-like sauce.  The menu informed me that all the grilled sandwiches are on Homewood Gourmet’s very own fresh bread which was very impressive.  The bread was slightly sweet and almost like a croissant, not your mass-produced hamburger bun, that’s for sure.  Baked with love!  All in all, Laura and I were very pleased with our dinner, and a trip back was certainly in the cards!

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Restaurant experiment: Taco Mac

Taco Mac

573 Main Street at Lindbergh Center

Atlanta, GA 30324

404-574-5813

http://tacomac.com

Dave and I seem to want wings 90% of the time, so he suggested we go to a Taco Mac since I’d never had their wings before, and they are supposed to have some of Atlanta’s best.  Sounded like a plan to me!

We ended up at this location since we happened to be close by.  It was a Sunday evening, and we were kind of early, so it wasn’t too crowded yet but definitely got busier as the night went on.

The folks working the hostess stand (is there another term for this?) were very welcoming, and one guy ended up being our waiter.  There’s one big main seating area, and there was also another space upstairs that seemed smaller.

Dave wanted some nachos since he was starving, so we went with the Nachos All the Way to start.

Nachos All the Way
Our fresh, homemade tortilla chips topped with award-winning T.MAC chili, black beans, seasoned beef, pickled jalapeños, Cheddar Jack cheese, fresh shredded lettuce, fresh tomatoes and onions. Served with a side of all natural sour cream and our fresh, homemade salsa.

These were pretty good.  I’m not a huge nachos person, but nachos are basically nachos, just with more of less stuff.  The pile, er, mountain, of nachos was generously sized, though some chips were more decked out with toppings than other more naked chips.  I could see noshing on this mountain with some buddies while watching the big game.  As we weren’t able to demolish the Mount Nachmore, the server kindly boxed up the appetizer and even threw in some extra chips.  That was really generous.  I should add that they bring out a small carafe of salsa which I thought was funny but good since it’s nice to have more salsa than you need.

For wings, I selected a single (10 pieces) of signature buffalo wings with lemon pepper rub.  There are eight flavor options, including “Death.”  Taco Mac also has boneless and roasted buffalo wings options.  You can also get extra sauce or even order all drums or all flats, for extra charges, of course.

SIGNATURE Buffalo Wings
Fresh, bone-in wings tossed in your choice of our signature T.MAC wing sauce. Always cooked to order and served with choice of creamy Blue cheese or house ranch dressing and crisp celery or french fries.

Mmm, they were really tasty!  And quite large, I must say.  Strong lemony peppery taste.  Crunch exterior, moist interior.  And hot too.  I got celery as my side; you can either get that rabbit food or French fries.  Wanting to at least pretend to be healthy, I went with the celery.  I slowed down and wasn’t able to finish the whole order of chicken delights, probably since I ate those nachos earlier.  Plus the wings were getting cold, so we just had them boxed up.

I noticed that our server seemed to be hustling with the family of five sitting next to us.  The three kids needed special cups, coloring page and crayons, etc.  Hope they gave him a good tip.  It seems odd to bring children to a sports bar, but I did see a fair amount of offspring.  And there is a kids menu on the menu.

I forgot to take any pictures, maybe I was distracted by all of the televisions blaring various sports events.  But do we need more TVs showing college lacrosse than the Winter Olympics?  C’mon now.  Who the heck wants to watch college lacrosse?

If you’re wondering about parking, you get three hours of parking in the adjacent deck with validation, and they validated our ticket at the hostess stand, before we were seated.

Writing about wings makes me really want some wings!