There’s Something About Atlanta That’s Just Not Quite For Me…

8/10 November 2015

After a nice few days away from the hell that is Atlanta, I made my way back from Augusta. Still enjoying that nice dinner from Cadwalladers Cafe, I had a lot of stops en route this rainy Sunday. I meandered my way through the entire state of Georgia and got to my hotel in Midtown Atlanta — right across from the legendary Fox Theatre. Great location if going to a show, but terrible when you’re fighting for parking space in the small garage with stupid drivers in oversized tanks…

I headed out early for dinner, to not hit another parking garage rush, and got to Le Fat a bit early. This is one of the restaurants getting a lot of buzz from Atlanta food bloggers, serving up Vietnamese goodies. They sat me at a table and promptly forgot me… Took me another 10 minutes to even get water or be able to order a cocktail. The service here is all over the place…

With that bad start and a so-so cocktail, I placed my order. I was trying not to ponder all that when my starter arrived, the crispy egg rolls.

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It was actually really good, a good meat combination with some excellent flavourful mushrooms. Too bad it was only 2 pieces. Not soggy, cooked just right. My confidence was up now for this meal. Then with a glass of wine my main arrived, the “shaking beef” which was the dish everyone raved about.

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Well, why? This was a boring beef dish that has nothing special whatsoever. The seared beef was tasteless, the “jus” did nothing for it except allowed me to eat more rice. If I got this at a cheap, local Vietnamese place home in Northern Virginia (where there is a big population) the place would be out of business within weeks… Very disappointing. And not very sizeable for a main (I didn’t have lunch).

I ended up ordering another starter and chilled with a little more wine. Then it showed up quick, as if all the starters are quickly prepared…

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This was the summer roll, another typical Vietnamese treat. These again were excellent, full of flavour with the shrimp and meat, with the right balance of veggies inside. Done very well. Whoever is doing these appetisers is doing a great job. Not so on the main.

The poor service at start and the lacklustre main meant this didn’t do it for me. I can see people liking it if they’ve never had real Vietnamese food. And the starters were indeed excellent even by good Vietnamese restaurant standards. But that main? And the service chaos? Nah. Next…

After a day back in Alabama, after my career-ending day and the sub-par dinner at Central, I was headed back to hell — Atlanta. I made a few stops en route, but the closer I got the crazier the drivers became. Seriously taking left turns from the right lane? Not isolated incident, 3 times in 5 hours of driving! Signs warning drivers of penalties of tailgating…’nuff said… I hate driving here…

I had a late flight out, past 10pm, so went for a leisurely dinner in Decatur, on the other side of the Atlanta metro area. Tonight’s fusion was Korean, at a “Korean Southern Diner” named Sobban. The theme and menu intrigued me. Let’s hope it works a bit better than Le Fat, another of the ethnic places lauded by the food blogs in town. One of the partner chefs was a gorgeous former K-Pop star from what I was told…

It was a simple place, most seatings were outdoor and it was a order at the counter type of place. I ordered a few small plates and a glass of wine and relaxed — and tried to recharge my phone with the crappy external charger that lied about having enough juice to recharge a phone (added about 15% to my battery before it conked out). The food soon started to arrive.

The first was a nice set of deviled eggs. very tasty, love the kimchee on bottom.

1-deviled eggs

Then some good smoked pork belly bun. I got 2 of them. Nice and tasty, the spicy green onion worked very well. The fusion is certainly doing good now!

2-belly bun

Then the last item, the beef mandu. Not bad, though I wish the fillings made a bigger impact than it did. Was rather bland compared to the first 2 items. But a good round of food!

3-mandu

I was still very early for my flight so I chilled out and eventually went to order one last dish and one more glass of wine. People were starting to show up and they started lighting the “outdoor furnaces” for people who can’t handle normal weather…sigh. I asked them not to light the one near me until I leave, or else I’d die…

The food then arrived, and this was the jap-chae.

4-japchae

Unfortunately this did not work at all. It was way, way too sweet, almost like they used some crazy BBQ-like sauce on this. Was almost inedible… Oh, what a shame, it was all going so well… The fusion went too far…

Anyway, for both places it seems when it stayed traditional, especially on the starters/small plates, it went really well — even excellent. But it’s the bigger dishes it fell off the table. Sadly, both a little overhyped in a town not very au fait with authentic ethnic cuisines…

Oh well, that’s that. I headed out and made my way to that glorified bus station named Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Empty security (lightning fast), train with ridiculous heating that would make the people at Schwechat sweat (inside joke for my tweeps), and all the bars packed at Terminal C due to various delays. I guess I won’t be home until way after midnight. Oh well, drinking time…

Le Fat
935 Marietta Street
Atlanta, Georgia

Sobban
1788 Clairmont Road
Decatur, Georgia

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