Recently a young man who is currently a sophomore at Georgia Tech emailed me and asked me to name some of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta. I only had 10 minutes right then to reply back, and below is exactly what I came up with…unedited! $’s indicate how pricey it is. Given more time, the list may look a bit different, but again this is what came to mind in 10 minutes:
Do you ever get intimidated by the daunting task of trying new restaurants around your town, knowing where to start in finding them, and most importantly what to order when you get there so you get a true taste what the chef is most proud of?
The Basics: Dine Tampa Bay is a two week event from August 3rd-17th that allows you the opportunity to visit over 100 of the bay area’s top award winning restaurants and enjoy a prix fixe, 3-course meal that includes some of their signature dishes.
Price: $25, $35, $45…you choose
It’s So Easy: The Dine Tampa Bay Website makes this adventure so much fun, and the over-organizer in you will definitely appreciate the user-friendly search criteria available. You can simply pick a price, choose a restaurant, and reserve your table…all online. Or you can even narrow things down by cuisine and neighborhood.
It’s easy to view the menus and a map for each restaurant. That will come in handy if you decide to sleep in your car and spend the two weeks trying every restaurant, needing to chart the most efficient course. That would be an admirable goal indeed!
Whether you enjoy one or all, let me know here or on Twitter where you went and what your thoughts are!
Here are Sample Listings from 3 of My Favorites:
13164 N Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL, 33618
(813) 962-6936 | Website $25
I used to live on Melting Pot fondue when up in Ocala, but Tampa is where it all started! Includes a salad course, 3 choices of meat fondue, and your choice of chocolate fondue including my favorite the Flaming Turtle. Menu
170 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701
727-827-2927 | Website $35
Cassis American Brasserie serves up “Continental Comfort Cuisine” in a vibrant, friendly atmosphere. Chef, Jeremy Duclut, revisits American classics with an innovative twist, and flavors his cuisine with subtle elements from his traditional French training. Since I lived nearby the town in Provence that is the namesake for this restaurant, I had to include it. All of their food is simple yet unique…I’m looking forward to starting with the cantaloupe soup with crispy Prosciutto de Parma. Menu
2900 Bayport Dr., Tampa, FL, 33761
(813) 207-6815 | Website $45
Oystercatchers is located on the shores of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and has one of the best brunches in town and is where we had our engagement party! For this package though, I would suggest the fresh catch blackened with one of their signature sauces like a fruit chutney, and don’t forget to finish it off with one of the best Key Lime pies in Tampa. Menu
Question: Which Dine Tampa restaurants would you like to try?
My recent post about a brand new bakery and cafe in Tampa called Mikey’s and their nicely made Pain au Chocolat reminded me of the most authentic French patisserie that I have been to in the United States. It happens to be in Atlanta! Douceur de France is tucked into the hills north of Atlanta and is famous in those parts for so many reasons.
The owner, Luc Beaudet was born in the Poitou region of France, learned how to cook from his mom, and she inspired him to pursue a formal training in the Art of Patisserie. After earning his degree, Luc enrolled in “Les Compagnons du Devoir du Tour de France”, an organization dedicated to touring France and Europe to learn the pastry techniques unique to each region. He helped open La Madeleine French Bakery in Atlanta and then in early 2000 he started Douceur de France.
I could go on and on about how they must use the same ingredients and water from France, because just the scent when you walk in transports you to a cafe in France. Not some ritzy, nose stuck up in the air, you stupid American get out of my restaurant kind of cafe. This is the kind of place you would find in the South of France. (I’m partial to the south because I am a southerner here and have a theory about the north and south of most countries) It’s the kind of place you want to spend all morning with friends, enjoying a scrumptious breakfast or brunch that isn’t limited to just your typical French breakfast of a croissant and coffee, and makes you feel warm all over. The fact that their first location was in a nice little house tucked up in Marietta confirms that they knew how to appeal to down-to-earth Atlantans!
The only care you will have when walking into this emporium of delicacies is choosing which pastry to start with. The fruit tarts, cookies, and petits fours all give the pain au chocolat a run for its money. Or you can just get them all.
Luc, if you ever feel like having a place to perform your magic closer to the beach, Tampa would be ready!
Check out their blog for updates about their menu and other fun Atlanta events.
Mikey’s Cafe and Bakery
When we were leaving Velo Champ yesterday, I noticed that a little bakery had popped up next door. Mikey’s had a window-full of wedding cakes that looked like contenders for yet another Food Network reality show. But down in the corner sat a bottle of Cheerwine…and that is what made me stop and go inside.
We had our 18 month old with us so once we were in the door there was no turning back. Mikey’s is a charming bakery cafe with an elaborate display case and lots of antique accessories that were so appropriately well placed that I might have thought that we stepped back in time for a minute…back to a Seminole Heights soda fountain in the 30’s or 40’s. In actuality, I found out they just opened last Wednesday! Our son walked right up to the case and insisted that he must partake.
Much to my pleasure, there was a semi-familiar sight. Many of the gourmet concoctions resembled French pastries. After living for a few months in the south of France, I grew an addiction to Pain au Chocolat. Sure enough there on the bottom rack my little son was pointing right at them. Well done my boy!
Of course these did not feign to be authentic…just amazingly good as the ribbons hanging from the case attest to. There was a label announcing that they were chocolate croissants. And that they truly were. Unlike their French twins, they didn’t leave anything to the imagination as they were oozing out the sides with chocolate. In fact, after ordering one (served warm) I determined that it was 50% chocolate at least. Yummy, and the flakiness/tender thickness of the rectangular croissant was almost right on.
My wife and I determined it was time for lunch and promptly ordered their Southern Philly on Cuban Bread. And watch out Geno’s…this cheesesteak was gooood! What makes it Southern I suppose is the thin spread of delicious peppercorn ranch dressing that compliments the juicy roast beef, green peppers, onion, and provolone melting in your mouth on that fresh soft cuban bread.
Did I mention that they also had two shelves of pies (including a gooey pecan) which means I am going to have to bypass the chocolate croissant next time? When I return, I’ll try one of their homemade soups too, like Tomato Basil or Chicken n’Dumplings. Their laid back and helpful staff were friendly and professional making me want to find another good excuse to return to the Seminole Heights neighborhood again soon.