Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cafe Sababa Mediterranean Grill (Dunwoody, GA)

4639 N Shallowford Rd, Dunwoody, GA 30338, T: 678-705-8268



We stumbled upon Café Sababa by accident, as we were kind of lost and in need of Mediterranean food. It is a fairly small restaurant in an unassuming small strip mall with several ethnic restaurants. When we arrive, around 12.30 on a Wednesday, the place is packed. When we leave, a bit over half an hour later, it’s almost empty. But people still come in regularly to pick up take-out orders. The menu is a mix of a Greek, Jewish, and Lebanese dishes, including kabobs, schnitzels, salads, and shawarma. All the personnel, including the owner, are incredibly nice and helpful.



M. has the Sababa salad and the Falafel Platter. The Sababa Salad ($4.25) is their take on the Sopska Salad of the Balkans, and is deliciously fresh and tasty. The Falafel Platter ($10.50) included five small falafel, fresh but a bit too dry, delicious baba ganoush, good humus, and a delicious salad (Sababa without the feta). It comes with soft pita tips. I get the daily spcial, which is a highly recommended special lamb sandwich ($9.50): shaved lamb meat with caramelized onions and a Harissa-aioli sauce on a ciabatta roll. It is a big mess of deliciousness. The meat is very tender and doesn't have a too strong lamb taste. It comes with fries, which are prefab, but perfectly crispy.



VERDICT: 93/100 
Sababa is a little gem. A small gyros/shawarma place of very high standard. I wish they would move to Athens!

Flip Burger Boutique (Atlanta, GA)

664 NE Highland Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30306, T: 404-815-1127
 


Flip Burger Boutique is part of the hipster upscale burger explosion, but takes it a step higher, with a fairly fancy setting, and a full-service restaurant. It is the idea of top chef Richard Blais, which started with one location in Atlanta, Georgia, and now has two more locations in that city and one Birmingham, Alabama, location. I visit the Poncey-Highland location in Atlanta, which looks very smart. All ingredients are natural or organic and the menu is seasonal, always changing, and always including original haute cuisine burger options.



I start with the Merguez Corn Dog ($8), which comes with Harissa Mustard. It has the real merguez taste, which I haven’t had outside of Belgium and France, even though the sausage looks different. It tastes better as sausage than as corn dog, even though the corn batter is pretty light and tasty, as is the dip.



I follow-up with the Trio ($13): a sampler of three "miniatures burgers": RBQ, Butcher's Cut, and Fried Chicken. The RBQ is a (little) burger with pulled brisket, coleslaw, RBQ sauce, and smoked mayo. It is a delicious combination of burger and BBQ. The Butcher's Cut is a (little) burger that comes with caramelized onions, soy truffle vinaigrette, frisée, pickled shallots, and red wine jam. Well prepared, but has a bit too strong Asian taste to it – this could be different with the crumbled may tag blue cheese, which normally comes in it. Finally, the Fried Chicken is a (small) piece of Southern chicken fried beef, b+b pickles, and spicy dukes mayo. It is nicely battered and fried and has a spicy taste. Finally, I get some Housemade Potato Chips ($5), which comes with abita rootbeer onion dip – the chips are really thin, crispy, perfectly salted.



VERDICT: 90/100
Flip is very pricy, but also very tasty. It is a great place to take burger-loving friends for a nice dinner.

The New Moon Cafe (Aiken, SC)

116 Laurens St NW, Aiken, SC 29801, T: 803-643-7088
 
 


The New Moon Café has three locations: two in Augusta, Georgia, and one in Aiken, South Carolina. We visit the Aiken one, which is an adorable little cafe in the cute downtown. It has a small terrace in front, a relatively small quaint front room, and a larger extension in the back. Most customers this summer Sunday are related to USC Aiken: (retired) professors and students. It also seems a favorite spot for recreational cyclists. It has great coffee, breakfast, and lunch selections.



I choose the Lumberjack Breakfast ($6.29): a big heap of scrambled eggs, a sausage patty, and two big slices of toast. It is both delicious and filling, the perfect breakfast. M. has a large Breakfast Parfait ($3.99), which includes coconut, fresh granola, and berries. There is not too much yoghurt, but it tastes very sweet, but nice. We also get a Cinnamon Role with chai icing and a Peach Muffin ($2.09 each). The first was a bit dry, but not too sweet, the second very moist, but not with a very strong peach taste.



VERDICT: 86/100
The New Moon Café is a very nice breakfast place for such a small town. Great atmosphere, good food.

Sweetwater Bar & Grill (Lake Wylie, SC)

4582 Charlotte Hwy, Lake Wylie, SC 29710, T: 803-831-1788

 


Sweetwater Bar & Grill is a sports bar in a weird spot on the outskirts of the small town of Lake Wylie, South Carolina. It is quite large and has the classic sports bar food staples, but with a huge selection of flavors for the chicken wings and tenders. We stay for a while, as we are one hour early for a World Cup game we want to watch.



We start with the Appetizer Special ($10.99): 4 Wings (Smokin' Hot), 4 Buffalo Bites (Sweet Chili Thai), and 1 Quesadilla. The wings are quite meaty, well prepared, though comes with little sauce, which is not too hot, but has a nice after-zing. The buffalo bites are chunky small chicken tenders. The quesadilla is "surprisingly yummy for such a small thing" and "well-packed with cheese" (according to my wife).



We follow it up with more Buffalo Bites ($8.99): 5 Honey Habanero and 5 General Tso. Both are chunky, thick battered, and tasty, but not very spicy. I later get the Three Alarm Burger ($7.99): a half-pound burger, blackened, with chili, hot sauce, jalapeños, lettuce and tomato (I ask for no pepper Jack cheese). I have them with Buffalo Chips. The burger is pretty stacked, a bit dry (not medium as asked), but has a good kick – it has a bit of an odd taste to it, as if there is cheese in it. The chips are Burger King like, crunchy but not that flavorful. M. gets the French Dip ($8.49) with French fries. The sandwich didn't look that good, but was actually very tasty, in part because of the good au jus. The fries are BK-style.



Verdict: 84/100
Nice sports bar with good food and broad selection of beers.

Buffalo’s Cafe (Athens, GA)

196 Alps Rd #49, Athens, GA 30606, T: 706-354-6655
 


Buffalo’s Café is a regional chain of sports bars with fifteen locations in Georgia, one in California, and one in Doha, Qatar. The menu is a mix of classic American and TexMex fare – hence the self-reference as “Southwest café.” I come to watch a World Cup game and start with a Taster ($7.99): six quite small chicken wings tossed in fairly little "Scorchin'" buffalo sauce. Not remarkable.




I later get the Chicken Tender Platter ($10.99): breaded chicken tenders with curly fries, coleslaw, and garlic bread. I substitute curly fries with homemade chips. The tenders are quite thin and thinly battered. They are bit dry, the batter is bland, the honey mustard sauce is ok. Chips are fresh and ok. Coleslaw is bland, garlic bread buttery but quite tasty.




VERDICT: 75/100
This was the second time I visited Buffalo's Cafe and both times the food has been between bland and ok.

Fatz Cafe (Athens, GA)

4115 Lexington Rd, Athens, GA 30605, T: 706-425-8780
 


Fatz is a regional chain with some 50 locations in the Southeast, combining regular American staples with more traditional Southern fare. They have a large menu including burgers, seafood, and chicken & pasta. On this late Saturday evening the clientele is very old and very white.


The little rolls that they start you off with are fresh and greasy. Oddly enough they taste more like zeppole than like bread. I order a combination sample ($11.99) of baby back ribs, chicken tenders and onion rings, which here are called: calabash, ribitizers and onyum straws (what?!). I choose to have the ribs grilled rather than fried. They are still quite fatty, but fall of the bone and have a decent BBQ sauce on them. The tenders are small but pretty good. The onion strings are mostly batter.



VERDICT: 83/100

Very decent experience and the little rolls will bring me back, even though it will take weeks to get all the grease of my hands.

The White Tiger Gourmet (Athens, GA)

217 Hiawassee Avenue, Athens, GA 30601, T: 706-353-6847



White Tiger Gourmet is one of Athens’ unique restaurants. It is a small BBQ joint housed in a shack in a posh residential area of town. With a cult status and erratic hours, you are often confronted with either a closed door or a significant line. As I arrive at 5.55, five minutes before opening on a Friday summer night, there are already three sets of people waiting. In the two years I’ve lived here, I have only been here once; or, more accurately, I've been here six times, but it was open only once.



I am hungry and decide to have two sandwiches and no sides. The BBQ Pork Sandwich ($6.50) is basic: smoked pork on a kaiser roll with homemade sauce. The big onion roll is packed with a chunk of tasty moist pulled pork with a relatively light and thin sauce. Definitely the best pulled pork sandwich I’ve had in Athens (which is not know for its BBQ, however). After that I started on the dish that White Tiger is best know for: the Bacon Cheddar Burger ($7.50). It is a half pound burger on a kaiser roll with bacon, field greens, tomato (normally it comes with cheddar, which undoubtedly gives it an even better flavor). While the bun and burger are a bit dry, the bacon at times chewy, and the mayo sparsely applied, the big burger tastes almost as good as it smells (which is outrageous).



VERDICT: 90/100

As is the case at all BBQ places in Athens, the best dish is not BBQ. Still, White Tiger is absolutely worth the hype and frustration. I’ll be back soon!