MF Sushi (Inman Park) – Why Do I Keep Going?

I sometimes question why we keep returning to restaurants. Is it the food…the service…the panache? Or just a relentless desire to prove they can do better. MF Sushi is one of those restaurants that you know can do better, yet they cannot seem to get out of their own way in one or aspects of each visit.

The latest two issues were the host(ess) and the size of the nigiri. On the last visit we were punished with the rear room and they told us we needed to request the sushi bar room when we reserve. This time I did, not only specifying the room, but also stating I did NOT want the back room. When we arrived, they immediately took us to the rear room, while the front room had only one table occupied. We politely asked to be seated in the room we requested.

The server this time was top notch. She knew the menu, was polite, the food arrived as expected and she was pleasant throughout. The food was very good, but the size of the nigiri was minuscule, borderline embarrassing. The scant amount of wasabi confirmed the chef was punishing us for something. Was this the result of our desire to eat in the room as requested? Do not know.

While the food was excellent, the overall experience is making it difficult to return.

St. Cecelia (Buckhead) – Reaffirmed as Fantastic

Our latest visit to St. Cecelia confirmed my earlier opinion that it is one of the best restaurants in Atlanta and our last visit was an anomaly. The meal and service were fantastic.

Let’s start with the space, one of the prettiest around, with 25-foot ceilings, romantic lighting, banquettes, tables and a private room on the second floor. You can choose from two dining areas, either near or away from the bar and open kitchen.

We started the meal with a Large Salumi and Cheese platter, which included Prosciutto di San Danielle, Cacciatorini and Calabrese meats, plus Manchego and Thomasville Tomme cheeses. Included on the platter were honeycomb, fig mostarda, and gnocco fritto. The large was true to its name with three piles of meats and enough cheese segments to pair with the meats. The cured meats ranged from the mild prosciutto to the spicy calabrese and addind a bit of the honeycomb created a delightful sweet-spicy combination. I would have liked little more honeycomb, it was really good.

BurattaWe followed the meats with the Burrata, served with strawberries, atop crumbled pistachios and two thin slices of sourdough bread. While the meat-cheese platter was abundant, the burrata dish was scant. It was more the burrata was one of three components versus the center-staged star. The three items together created a wonderful flavor-texture delight.

Pasta w SeafoodFor my entrée I ordered the Squid Ink Mafaldini with Calabrian chilies, charred calamari, clams, and shrimp. Mafaldini is best described as the curly edges of the lasagna noodle. The dish was delicious and the amount of seafood was focused on the calamari and shrimp with a few clams added, which I was fine with. The pasta did have a bit of a zip to it from the chilies, which I really enjoyed.

My wife ordered the Spaghetti Grosso, a simple pasta with San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and smoked ricotta salata. While the pasta was great and the sauce rich in flavor, it was a little on the salty side.

ArtichokesFor side dishes we enjoyed both the Asparagus with almonds and the Artichokes with salsa verde, the latter being our favorite.

Service was spot on from beginning to end.

I am back to recommending St. Cecelia as a great restaurant in Buckhead.

ABCV (NYC) – Vegan Nirvana

ABCV is a Jean George vegan restaurant attached to ABC Kitchen. With a few communal tables in the front, a long bar on one side and a smattering of tables in the rear, securing a reservation is tough and having people leave at a socially responsible time is even more difficult. We waited over 45 minutes past our reservation time as the campers at our assigned table refused to leave.

Once seated we ordered most of the menu and enjoyed all of the dishes. I would never have guessed that I would write a review of the food at a vegan restaurant with such superlatives, but it was one of the best meals of my life, the flavors and textures exploded on the palate and the creativity of the kitchen was overwhelming.

Dishes are designed for sharing, so you can experience the vast varieties of culinary creativity. Some of the dishes I would recommend are:

Lasagnette

The lasagnette with ramp pesto, asparagus, oyster mushrooms, ricotta was our favorite. The earthiness of the mushrooms and ramps and the sweetness of the asparagus were softened with the richness of the ricotta. Fantastic

The group also loved the fire roasted white yam, coconut yogurt, tamarind, tandoori masala. I never would have guessed this combination would be so sweet, and the balance from the tamarind and tandoori masala was great.

Morel wontons, lemon broth, green peppercorn, fava beans, spring garlic. This simple presentation was mild and delightful.

For some rich, deep flavors, order the dosa with smoky eggplant, tomato chutney, coconut yogurt, cilantro.

Salad

A refreshing option was the strawberries, sugar snap peas, avocado, ice wine vinaigrette, basil. It was an example that the chef was fully capable of creating a pleasant, versus bold combination.

Cauliflower

The Roasted cauliflower with turmeric-tahini and pistachios was another surprise. The cauliflower offered a moistness I have not experienced from roasting this vegetable and it was elevated with the coating of the turmeric-tahini.

Lettuce Cups

The most fun dish was the avocado lettuce cups, with toasted cumin, serrano and lime, and peppitas. The challenge was to use your hands or use a fork and knife. I opted for the former and it was a challenge with bites number two and three. We all loved the variety of freshness and spice.

While the evening started very rough with our wait for the table, management finally understood their missteps and brought a few dishes and ensured our server was overly pleasant during the first three-fourths of meal. Our original server’s shift ended at that point and her replacement was not in the same league. So, the beginning and the end were very rough, but the meal itself was spectacular.

Fox Brothers BBQ – Minority Opinion…I was Disappointed

Menu

I know I am in the minority and this is not what most people say about Fox Brothers BBQ, but I was pretty disappointed. I was really excited about the prospect of enjoying what many have described as the best Q in Atlanta, and as we waited in the parking lot for our table, the visuals of the plates going by and the smells that permeated the entire area raised my hopes.

Lopez

Immediately after being seated we ordered the Lopez and the Fried Pickles. The Lopez was tater tots smothered with brisket chili and cheese. There was barely any chili on our serving smothered, suffocated and overwhelmed the tots; it broke the rule more was not better. On the other hand, the fried pickles were pretty good, but they were extremely salty; you had to dip them in the ranch dressing to soften the saltines6. I will rate the Lopez a 2 and the pickles a 7.

Ribs and Pulled Pork

Onto the main event…we ordered a Combo Plate (chopped brisket and sausage) and an Everything Plate (doubling up on the ribs and pulled pork).

Sausage & Brisket

Ribs. Of the smoked items, the ribs were the best. A good amount of seasoning and the smoking created a great crust and fall off the bone preparation made these very good, but I was not a big fan of the seasoning. Dipping the fall off the bone meat into the BBQ sauce lessened the overwhelming seasoning. I give the ribs a 7.

Pulled pork. This was very inconsistent. While I really liked the first bite, the second was incredibly disappointing. There was no smokiness in the latter and it was similar to biting into boiled pork. I immediately went from a believer to a nonbeliever. This is rated a gentlemanly 4.

Brisket. Let’s start with the portion size, ridiculously skimpy and a slap in the face to all BBQ lovers. My guess is 2 ounces. After tasting my portion, it did not bother me that much as one forkful was enough. Again, there was little smokiness to the dish. I’ll be generous and give it a 3.

The best of the sides was the mac & cheese. This was delicious, a creaminess that was fantastic, the shells were cooked perfectly and the cheese melted to great lusciousness. The M&C deserves an 8.

The other interesting side was the Frito Pie, chili, cheese, onions inside a Fritos bag. It was both fun and tasty, and for a side a good option. I give it a 7.

Service was great. Our serve ensured we ordered enough for the three of us and kept our sweet tea glasses full. Best art of the meal and deserves a 10.

Overall, I was expecting greatness from Fox Brothers and was very disappointed.