Surin – aahaan tai

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It was a chilly night out in ATL & we were ready for some heat & hot food so off to Surin of Thailand we went!

Located on Highland Avenue, the restaurant is right in the middle of the fun on a weekend.  Surrounded by other restaurants & pubs, parking can be a bear.

From the minute we walked in, we were hit with the warmth of the restaurant.  Being out in Atlanta on one of the coldest nights of the winter, the heat felt great! 

The restaurant is quite large with a good size bar area, the first thing you see, & walk right into when you enter.  They are in need of a hostess stand since you walk in & just wait and hope someone comes to seat you.  Since it was Saturday night, the restaurant was slammed so the only table to hold us all was near the back, close to the kitchen.  & apparently the back exit, that made it very cold.  Apparently, the door was opened a lot so the cold air just rushed in & the heat disappeared. 

Now I must say it’s been a while since I’ve had  Thai and I’ve been craving it for a while so welcomed the opportunity to try this new place with my crew.  Coconut soup was ordered to help us warm up again.  I haven’t tried this soup at Thai restaurants before so this was a first & not a good one!  While everyone loved the soup, I didn’t.  Too much coconut for me, in fact that’s all I tasted.    Couldn’t taste the mushrooms, scallions, or cilantro.  I had to pass.  But kudos to the way it was served…check out the picture.

We decided to order a few plates & just share:  Thai noodles with chicken, chicken fried rice, egg rolls, and cashew nut noodles with chicken.  Boy did we have lots of food…the portions are family style so be careful about ordering lots of plates. 

The egg rolls were crispy, as I like them & served with a tangy sauce, they weren’t bad.  The fried rice was delicious with veggies & chicken though not a lot of heat.  Thank goodness I asked for the extra hot sauce so I could add to everything.  Bland food doesn’t do it for me…something everyone knows 🙂 The noodles were cooked well & had a little heat.  I just added some more to kick it up a notch!  The chicken was bland so I ate around it.  I enjoyed that they served the peanuts on the side so you could add as you liked.  The veggies:  baby corn, carrots, zucchinis added to the flavor.  The cashew nut chicken again was not to my liking.  Too bland & the taste of cashews with the other flavors didn’t mix well.  The fried rice was definitely the dish of the night, everyone finished it quickly.  The other fav appeared to be the cashew peanut chicken.  And the soup was hit, almost all gone!

After eating so much, there was no space for dessert.  Thought I did want to try some mango ice cream, in warmer weather of course. 

Service was ok at best.  While the rest of the group has visited on many occasions with attentive waiters, we didn’t experience it that Saturday night.  Could it have been because they were busy, perhaps but they often are on weekends and that’s when the others had visited.  We constantly had to ask for everything, from refill of drinks, to silverware, to napkins.   And being seated by the cold doors was not a good idea on our hostess’s part. 

Not sure I’m a fan of this place but I’m willing to give it another try…on a warmer night.

 

 

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Cafe Nirvana! Under new management – Grand Opening May 3

ImageCafé Nirvana – 521 Lancaster Hwy Pineville, NC

I remember when this “Indian Fusion” restaurant opened up close to Ballantyne.  In fact, it prompted many new Indian restaurants in the area but they were the first.

Always a good atmosphere, good service, & good food.  Unfortunately, as the economy tanked, so did this place.  Revolving door with staff & the food/service suffered.  Bar…what bar…all they had available near the end was beer/wine…if you were lucky enough to go there when they had any.  And then vacant for months.

It’s been ages since I’ve been back but just couldn’t resist when I drove by recently & saw the Open sign.  I was surprised to see it empty but it was a little early for dinner, close to 6.    But the service was great as I remember it.  And the food was just the way I like it, Hot Hot Hot!    Paneer 65 was definitely a good dish, with just enough sauce and heat to set your tongue on fire.  And gone are the days when you looked at your plate & went “where’s the food?”  This dish was more than enough for two to share.  Dosa is my weakness…and Mysore dosas are the best so of course I got that.  Nicely served to a crisp brown color, stuff with spicy masala.  More than enough to feed me.  The samabar a little different than my usual taste but flavorful.  Just needs a little thinning out. 

Clearly, the new management has made the difference in this place.  It helps that the new owner already has a successful restaurant at Myrtle Beach & the new manager is ready to bring the “spice” back in the place…in food and fun.  While Café Nirvana is going through lots of changes, they are all good.  The bar is gonna be back up soon and the “fusion” in the name restaurant will be reflected in a new menu.  And a few fun activities will draw the crowds in.  The Grand Opening is May 3 so make sure to stop by and try it out.  You will not be disappointed!

 

Authentic Mexican….or it was supposed to be!

Not professional at all...when you make changes don't use Whiteout!

Not professional at all…when you make changes don’t use Whiteout!

1900 Mexican Grill & Tequila Bar in Southpark on Park Road is hidden away in a nice shopping area. Full of other restaurants like a sub shop, Portofino’s& Harris Teeter, nice busy location.

I was first introduced to this place by a friend who absolutely loves it! And the only Mexican restaurant she’ll eat at in the area so thought it must be great.

On the first visit, it was extremely busy. In fact, we had to ask about our orders 3 times. 2nd visit, it was dead….hmmmm. When you walk in your surprised at the size of the restaurant because from the outside it looks like a hole in the wall. But I’ve learned through the years, those are the best places! The menu has a little of everything Mexican but what was nice is that it tasted authentic! You can tell when a restaurant has just warmed up some store bought food and when they’ve actually cooked it fresh. The taste of the sauces was nothing like you’d find at a fast food place. But I must say, either the chefs changed from my first or second visit or the chef was having a bad day.

Yes, it was March Madness & perhaps the chef was busy watching the games then paying attention to the quality of the food. The salsa was totally bland, even the extra hot sauce didn’t make it better. The chips were great but what to eat with! I, as always, changed up the order. Taken without hesitation but delivered with nothing but green peppers…burrito with beans/green peppers..not all that great. Rice was ok but very dry & again bland. Hot sauce needed to make it taste good. The Carne Asada looked good and plentiful. The lunch date enjoyed it without complaints.

I’m on the fence on this place but will give it one last try to see if it’s really good place!

BrickTop’s – Semi Fine Dining

biglinkBrickTop’s – Semi fine dining…..

BrickTop’s, off of Morrison Blvd in Charlotte, NC, is a good place for formal business meetings. It’s also what I’d call a fine dining restaurant, for lunch that is.
Located in the heart of the shopping center, you can’t miss this restaurant as you turn into the parking lot….as they say Location Location Location! With several restaurants in the Southeast, the brand is certainly growing.
With friendly staff to greet you to your table, to the well informed waiters & waitresses, this restaurant runs like a well oiled machine. And I enjoy eating at a place where the staff knows each and every dish’s ingredients and can make recommendations based on your flavor pallet.
I’ve visited BrickTop’s only at lunch and it always seems to be a little busy but not totally full, which is great for meetings. The dining area is split up between the main dining room and bar area with tables and spacious booths. In the bar area, you’ll be greeted by beautifully hanging chandeliers to light up the area & to create a great ambience. If you’re seated in the main dining room, enjoy the view from a nice large round booth in the middle of the floor. It’s a great spot to be to view of all the food coming out from the kitchen. This was the perfect seating for my first trip a few weeks ago to BrickTop’s. It was helpful for us to see the food to help us all decide what to have!
The lunch menu is small but carries the basics i.e. appetizers, salads, fish, and chicken and ribs. The appetizer to try is deviled eggs and sugar bacon. It’s touted as the restaurant’s house specialty & I agree! Served in a plate of juicy, flavorful bacon with a side of hot sauce. Now, a fan of bacon I’m not but the crispiness and taste of the bacon is just delish especially when it’s paired with the eggs and hot sauce. The spinach & artichoke dip is ok, nothing to rave about. If you order the creamy spinach as your side, it’s the same thing. The margherita flatbread is quite nice with the Italian burrata and tomatoes. Basically a pizza but with better cheese and fresh tomatoes and very fulfilling. The parmesan crusted chicken is quite nice too. The chicken is juicy and cooked just right with a little lemon drizzled over it to add to the taste. My only one comment on it would be about the dry noodles served with the dish. There is no sauce and the noodles have no taste. I ordered a side of pesto to add which was quite good. Being a starch lover, I had to order the side of fries with the chicken and they were yummy. Flavored well & cooked evenly, these shoe string french fries couldn’t be resisted by anyone on the table. The dessert menu is small as well but has the basics i.e. chocolate, cheesecake, banana pudding, bread pudding. The Chocolate Chip was served in its own hot skillet with vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce but it’s a hit and miss. The first time I had this dessert it was delish but on a second visit today, the cookie and the sauce were very sugary. The only thing I liked about it today was the ice cream. The warm bread pudding, described as “better than my mom’s pudding” is quite good. But I’m definitely going to try their hot fudge sundae next time!

Awesome Mexican…Pacos Tacos

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Hidden off of Morrison Blvd at Southpark, a Mexican treasure exists…Pacos Tacos!  Unfortunately, positioned in the wrong place in the shopping center, but what a find.  Those of you from the Charlotte area will recall this place formerly as Manzetti’s Tavern.  I found this place when I met up with an old friend to catch up over a good meal.  Just as the former restaurant, once you walk through the doors, you’re hit by a large bar stocked full of everything.  The dining room is large & open with a festive decor.  The menu is large, with authentic Mexican food and spirits.  And the kitchen is certainly not backed up with tickets.  Our food, ordered during rush hour lunch time with a full restaurant, was out very fast.  And sizzling hot!  TAnd plentiful…..plates are large & packed with food!  Go here with a large appetite.  Chicken fajitas are must try.  The meat is sizzling when served.  And lots of sides to fix a yummy meal.  Pick your choice of beans & go for it.  Chicken enchiladas are great too & again plentiful!  The service is fantastic too, just like the food! Definitely coming back again to enjoy maybe even dinner.

 

 

Where Not to Go for Calzones

To say I’m a cheese lover, is an understatement. I can eat almost anything with some good cheese on it. I found Lorenzos (http://www.lorenzos-pizzeria.com/) a few years ago on a girls night out at the nearby Sports Connection. We needed a little fuel before and after the fun.

Lorenzos was slammed, with chatter and the smell of good food, especially pizza. It was then that I found my fav calzone place. Being a calzone lover for years, it was hard to find a good place that knew how to make just right.

So yesterday, when I was craving cheese of course, I stopped by Lorenzos. But after having a bit of what was my fav, I was sadly disappointed. Not only did the calzone not look pleasing, bread that looked like it wasn’t even cooked, the cheese stuffed inside looked aged….in a bad way! When warmed up, it totally fell apart. The bread was almost rubbery & the cheese was just a block of cheese!

It appears that Lorenzos will no longer be my fav….for calzones. Now they still serve a decent slice of pizza but truthfully I can get that anywhere!

Bye bye Lorenzos….. 

J