The Gentleman Gourmand

sharing the best food around

Category: ATL Eatins

John Kessler agrees with me!

Soto rocks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Soto rocks. -The Gentleman Gourmand

John Kessler, the food critic for the Atlanta Journal Constitution has said it before, and is saying it again.

I will merely say that I am grateful to have Soto — one of my all-time favorite restaurants — back in business. -John Kessler

Let’s all say it out loud.

Now that we’re done doing that, you can read Kessler’s review and look at all the pretty pictures. mmm.

(Registration is required, but free.)

A look back

Well folks, you ain’t gettin exactly what I promised, but you will get at least a little bit.

I seem to have lost the spark that got this website started (or maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m now surrounded by 20,000 college age girls…..), but it’s been harder and harder to remember to take pictures during meals, and even when I do, it seems like a chore to write about it. I don’t like that, and if I don’t like it, the writing is poor, and you don’t like that. Now, this doesn’t mean that those of you who have been sending bribes should stop, but I’ll have you know I can’t be bought! (*wink wink* Email me for the new mailing address.)

Anywho, I figured I would start by letting you know about some of the meals that I was able to chronicle during my brief tenure in HOTlanta. First, I had the pleasure of dining at the amazing Bazzaar. The other review is of Harold’s Barbecue, a long time Atlanta institution. My attorney has advised me that I suggest this site be enjoyed responsibly, else it induces astronomic weight gain from attempting to emulate my gluttony.

Hop, Skip, Jump, RUN to Bazzaar!

We pulled up next to the fabulous Fox at around 7, but the crowds had already formed for Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, which made it trickier than normal to get a parking spot. The hostess, upon hearing the name of the reservation, leaned in close and mysteriously said, “Ah, yes, the Babers, I….have a question for you.” I was waiting for a query about this site, or an eGullet post, or perhaps even a question relating to how I managed to stay so lean despite my horrible eating habits. (Foie gras sauteed in Normandy butter? Yes please!) Turns out that she really only wanted to know if it was OK if we sat in the lounge downstairs for dinner, since upstairs was entirely blocked off for a private party. There wasn’t actually an option really, either the high table or the couches. We chose the comfy looking couches.

This decision proved to be a damn good one. We were seated at a coffee table with two armchairs and a couch, located literally an arms length away from the pass. Chef Blais was standing not three feet away from our table all night. My mom thought for most of the time that the Chef was the grumpy lookin guy in glasses in the kitchen, but I knew better. The young, energetic guy who was dressed in waiters clothes was the genius behind all the food.

One thing that Bazzaar allows tables to do that I haven’t really seen anywhere else is to let any number of people at the table order the tasting menu. Now, I’m not sure if they usually do this or not, and I don’t want Chef Blais sending me angry emails, but at least that’s how it was when we went. My dad, Kristen and I all got the tasting menu, and my sister and mother just ordered a la carte. They later admitted that their decision had in fact been a faulty one, but they ended up nibbling on all our dishes anyway. By the end of the meal, we had eaten every since item on the menu at least once, and a few of them twice or three times. (With the exception of the steak for two, which we were informed was just on there for the boring folks.)

The menu is broken up into three parts on a single page. The first four or so are all little tidbits or “micro” plates. These include:

Beau Soleil Oysters
Green Tomato, Speck Ham, Coriander Ice
I thought these were delicious oysters, but the speck ham kind of degraded them in my opinion. I always end up getting a little piece of shell about once every dozen oysters, and it ruins it for me. The ham was fried crispy, and it crunched just like a piece of shell. In two of the oysters I pulled it out thinking that’s what it was. Once I got over that, I enjoyed the combination.

It seems that they have changed the menu since I went, so I wont be able to really give a play by play. Let me name some of the other dishes that were memorable. There was a lobster with blueberries that was amazing.

Prosciutto Ravioli
Whipped Parmesan, Figs, Micro Arugula was the first of the “im-pastas” that we tried. There was no pasta at all; the proscuitto was acting as the ravioli.

The “Scallop Cous-Cous Corn Chowder, Huitalacoche, Dried Hominy, Micro Cilantro” was amazing, and if I remember correctly was another “im-pasta.”

There was no Cous-Cous; the scallop was cut up to imitate it. Brilliant.

The third dish that he did this with was the squid pasta, in which the squid was so perfectly cooked that it really did taste like well made noodles.

Other highlights included Salmon, Bathed in Lime Juice Watermelon, Avocado, Horseradish Foam (I think we got 3 of these.)

Crispy Calamari Exotic Spices, Harissa, Papaya, Spearmint that had an exceptional dipping sauce.


The only dish that I thought was in any way plain was the Chicken Fried Tofu with Inflated Edamame, Sweet & Sour Emulsion. It’s probably because I’m not a tofu fan.


An interesting note is the fact that there was no bread to be found. The “bread” was fried wontons with a spicy chili jelly (that I probably spooned at least a few ounces of into my gaping maw by the end of the night) and an “inflated” soybean mousse type thing that was a good anti-spicy-chili-jelly.

The famous burger with Foie Gras Milkshake was good. The burger was actually good enough that we got two of em.


The cheese course was unbelievably outstanding. Every single cheese had an elaborate accompaniment. Even my dad, a guy who before this year scrunched up his nose at cheese plates ordered and devoured the one here.


The chocolate dessert that came during the tasting menu was good and rich with a delicious shell. The other desserts were phenomenal, but I only got little bites of them, as they were ferociously guarded by my dining companions.


Around the time we were getting dessert, the bar began to fill up with blond models and tanned underwear models, and the bass started booming from the resident DJ’s stand. Even so, the food came out perfectly just as before.


Deconstructed Key Lime Pie was delish.



The last thing that I need to discuss was the waitstaff. The level of service we received was far above what I am used to. The lounge was pretty eclectic, and the waiters were in T-shirts, but were still exceedingly professional. I feel absolutely horrible now, but it’s been too long and I can’t recall my waiters name. However, he was the most informative, most interesting, and most actually caring server I have ever had. We exchanged stories about Italy (we had both just been to Sorrento), ideas about food, quips about other restaurants (“Oh yeah, they do that at Trio.” “You’ve been to Trio? “Nah, just read about it on eGullet.” “Oh, eGullet? Chef Blais reads that all the time.” Et cetera). The single most impressive thing about him, though, was the fact that it was only his third or fourth night there, and he knew every single menu item down cold. I mean, dead cold. I would ask really obscure things like “Oh, what temperature was this cooked at sous-vide?” and he was all over it. Other than Nelly at Uni in Boston, this guy was the best server I have ever had.

The title says it all. If you can, get to Bazzaar as soon as possible. Hop, jump, swim, run, fly, drive, hopscotch, whatever. Go!

Cheap, Tasty ATL Eatins

I decided to finally write about, and post my list of top 10 ATL cheap, tasty food.
Without further ado…

1) Pho 79

This place is some of the cheapest Vietnamese food in Atlanta. While places like Nam are upscale and expensive, you can eat just as well for about $5 per person at Pho 79. I personally recommend the Spring rolls and the Basic Pho (beef stock soup with lots of tasty garnishes). Another favorite of mine is the thin sliced beef with chilies and onions.

2) Au Rendez Vous

The owners of Au Rendez-Vous are originally Vietnamese, recently Parisian, and now Atlantan. They serve French bistro style food for dirt cheap prices. It’s $13 for 2 courses (and its BYOB). The bouef bourgignoin is particularly delicious.

3) Publix Subs

If you haven’t tried one, do yourself a favor and go. They kick the crap out of Subway, Blimpie and any other chain sandwich shop. For $7 you can grab a large sandwich and a drink (or anything else you want, since you are in a grocery store…). My personal sub of choice is Cajun Turkey, Honey Ham, Provolone cheese, mayo, mustard, extra onions, lettuce, oil, extra vinegar and oregano. Most people don’t know that
you can request ANYTHING from out of the deli cabinet. Take advantage of this.

4) Tacqueria del Sol

Delicious tacos, cheap. That is all.

5) Pig-N-Chick

Really good ATL BBQ. If you want more info, check out John Kessler’s review.

6) Daddy D’z

Now this place, I crave whenever I’m out of A-town. It’s a tiny little place with good ole down south service. Your Coke (or iced tea, because you really shouldn’t be drinkin anything else) will come in a Styrofoam cup, and your food on a plastic plate. The food that’s on it is without a doubt going to be delicious. Once I asked where they got their cookies from, and my server yelled to the cook, “yo, whered these here cookies come from?” The reply? “Oh, my mom baked em yesterday.” Doesn’t get much better than that. Make sure you ask for the spicy sauce (which isn’t spicy, but is better.) Also, the cornbread is excellent.

7) Sons Place

Great cafeteria with amazing fried chicken and other “soul food”ish stuff, like okra, rice and beans, etc. All delicious. (And if I do recall, iced tea and water are the only available options.)

8) Fellinis

Where else can you get two large slices of excellent, thin, crispy pizza for under $5? My point exactly.

9) Hashaguchi Jr.

We used to eat here on a regular basis, but stopped going when other options popped up. I hadn’t been back in probably 5 years when a friend of mine told me it was one of his favorite places for lunch. We ended up going, and while it’s certainly not the best sushi in town, it is certainly a good deal. For lunch you can eat for $10 quite easily, and leave full. The rice bowls are very good as well (I haven’t ordered it for myself, but I pick what I want from my companions.)

10) Waffle House

See previous post.

Must…have….waffle house……graghhh…….

For those of you not familiar with the term Waffle House, let me explain. Waffle House is the place people go after 2 AM when you have been out all night, and need some good down south greasy food. The food isn’t classy, but damn, it’s good. They even have the best fountain coke anywhere, ever.

I always order one of two things. I either get a triple order of their famous hash browns (the shredded, not the cubed kind), scattered, smothered, covered and chunked. (For those of you not down with the lingo, thats smothered with onions, covered with cheese, and chunked with ham.)

If I don’t get that, I get the Texas Cheesesteak Plate (Texas cause they use good, thick Texas toast, which soaks up all that good grease), and a double order of hash browns, in the same fashion as I get in my triple order.

Always with a Coke. And a smile.

Now, Waffle House servers are a tricky bunch. Sometimes young college girls lookin to make some money, but usually it’s older, black women who call ya “suga” and “hun” and are quick with their wit. More than once I have had servers who not only knew my name, and my order, but would also know exactly what was goin on with me. “Hey there hun, looks like you’ve had a rough night. Here, lemme getcha yah Coke.”

It’s the best.

Did I mention that it’s dirt cheap?


And amazingly delicious?


NOTE: Do not, under any circumstance, use the mayonnaise that they give you. It is there so they know what your order is, NOT to consume.

Soto, an old review with new info.

I wrote this review about Soto long ago, just after they closed:


This is the sushi timeline of the Baber family:
Growing up in Atlanta, my loving parents taught me to enjoy sushi at an early age at the (at the time) far away Hasaguchi restaurant. We then moved to Hasaguchi Junior, when it arrived at Lenox, and we stayed there for a while.

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