Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Hot(-lanta) Platter

In my opinion, the only thing better than dining out at a hot new restaurant, is dining out at a hot new restaurant on a weekend getaway. And what better place to check out hot new eats than Hot-lanta?! A great friend of mine lives there and was kind enough to take a pal and I out for a few tasty eats and treats. Our Friday evening dinner at Antico Pizza definitely didn't let me down. J.V. talked it up big time. In fact, he referred to it as "The Best Pizza in the UNIVERSE!!!" I was curious to see if it would live up to the his hype. When it comes to pizza, I am no critic. I pretty much love it all, with the exception of Louisville's Mr Gatti's and Little Caesars (excuse me as I gag a little just thinking of them). These two are not even in the same galaxy as the authentically celestial pizza at Antico.

We all shared two large pizzas. The Diavola (photo below) - topped with supremely spicy Italian peppers, pepperoni, and mozzarella. I must confess that this one made me sweat, and I liked it (you know I like it hot).

The other pizza was a sauce-less one called the Pomporini (see photo below). It included cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic, and basil,. The tomatoes were gigantic and juicy, just the way God intended them to be. As I took a bite into one of these little darlings, it almost tasted like there was sauce on the pizza. The fresh and light taste of tomatos was a lovely compliment to the spiciness of the Diavolo.

FYI: Antico is BYOB. You can order your food at the counter upon entering and then find a spot to sit. There are two dining rooms with large wooden picnic style tables, so be prepared to possibly make a new friend or two as you dine among strangers. We found a spot at a table in the larger room which was next to the kitchen and we were able to watch the cooks hard at work, tossing the dough etc.

Overall this was a very cool choice for dining out with a few friends and it got me excited for my upcoming trip to Italia. That's right, the Holladay Platter will be heading across the Atlantic for a two week adventure this coming Fall!! Antico felt like a little preview of the pizza that I'm sure to taste in the Eternal City (please allow me to daydream for a moment...). Okay now back to Atlanta, not only was the pizza  Uh-Mah-Zing, it was ready in a flash. The next day we were delighted for leftovers (toaster oven style), along with a few other gluttonous meals.

When people ask me what inspires me to write this blog, I always answer by saying, "The Sun in my Belly". Just kidding, that's actually what Picasso said when asked what inspired him to paint. It's also the clever name of our Saturday brunch spot. This artsy neighborhood cafe has an edgy rustic atmosphere with a very casual and comfortable vibe. Unfortunately, the wait on our food order was quite long. Fortunately the wait staff and management were very apologetic. I went for "The Hangover" breakfast. Even though I didn't actually have a hangover, this platter was right up my alley. The cheesy potatoes were my favorite part. I also adored the Sriracha chili sauce and avocado topping on the fried egg. The sausage and biscuits were okay. I would've liked the biscuits with cheddar cheddar cheese, but they were a bit cold.
J.V. enjoyed his breakfast panini as he informed us that Atlanta is known for having the best Pimento Cheese. I've never been a big fan of pimento, but I got the chance to try the pimento on Kristen's breakfast sandwhich and I have to say that it was my favorite part of all three platters!! It was extremely creamy and tangy with just a bit of sweetness.

Overall we were happy with our brunch and left the table with bellies full of the sun!! Saturday evening entailed a full on food fest. With a list of "Tapas Tips" that we got from a friend, we headed to Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant.

It was a chilly and rainy night. Barcelona was offering covered outdoor seating on their front patio with no wait, so we went for it. This might not sound very appealing but it was actually a delightfully cozy and intimate atmosphere. The lighting was nice and soft. There were blankets available for use at each table and heat lamps around as well. It sounds like the perfect setting for a romantic dinner for two. Leave it to my crowd to shake things up. We started by ordering a pitcher of champagne sangria. Why not?

Next, we ordered about six different tapas. My favs were the crispy and creamy Empanadas, the savory and spicy Patatas Bravas, and the mouth-watering Hanger Steak, which included a truffle sauce I would gladly die for. As for our other selections, I had mixed feelings  I liked everything just fine, at first bite, but felt like the seasoning was a bit overdone on many of the tapas. For example, the mushrooms were cooked great and had a nice goat cheese topping, but someone must have stubbed there toe while adding the sage because it completely overpowered the other flavors. I noticed the same issue with our Chorizo with Figs plate. I really liked the chorizo but the balsamic and sherry glaze was waaay overdone.

One might think that we stopped there. No sir / mam. We continued our platter by adding on succulent garlic Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp), as well as a few forgettable tapas, and some pretty good cheeses (with bread of course). Overall, we enjoyed our experience here. I'm not raving about it, but I'd recommend trying it out if you're in the area. The service was good and the atmosphere was cool. Then again, take a pitcher of champagne sangrias and a few old friends with stories to share, and you'll have an amazing dinner anywhere you go. The rest of our night can be summed up with two words "Bourbon Slushi". That's all you need to know.

(Aww, my bourbon baby... I'm such a proud mother)

Before hitting the dusty trail, we saddled up and headed down the road to a charming little market and eatery called La Petit Marche, which means "The Little Market". They have a variety of breakfast and lunch options which you can order at the counter. I pondered over a breakfast sandwhich or pancakes that JV gushed about, but ended up with a Basil Chicken and Pesto Panini. It was perfectly crispy yet soft with just enough basil seasoning. The pesto was also right on the money, not overpowering the taste of the plentiful chicken. I tried a bite of Kristen's Veggie Panini that was filled with beautiful sun dried tomatoes, shrooms, tofu, and cheeses. The side of pasta salad was actually my favorite part. In fact, it might be the best I've ever had... the balsamic dressing included a sesame ginger zeal that perfectly complemented the fresh feta cheese, plump cranberries, and scallions that were mixed about. This gourmet deli boasts locally sourced ingredients with grocer gift items and cheeses lining the shelves. The atomsphere has a quaint country feel with a bit of an international vibe, evident in the menu as well. I would love to hit this spot again on my next trip down.

The next time you want to enjoy a hot new restaurant in a hot city, take my tips and head to Hot-lanta. Until next time, LIVE TO EAT!!

P.S. The Holladay Platter will be celebrating it's one year anniversary next week. Can you believe it's been a whole year?! Where does the crazy time go??? Anyway, watch out for a few special guest bloggers in the next few weeks and please, try to contain your excitement.

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