Wednesday, April 2, 2008

An amazing meal makes the bad one go away

I'm actually getting ready to go a vacation soon, so I've been doing very little real cooking. I'm an adherent of the "food stockpile" method of grocery shopping, so when I leave town for a few days, I'll stop buying groceries beforehand to eat up some of what we've got. I'll talk more about that in future posts. All this means to you is that there will be a plethora of restaurant reviews to start this off.

Anyways, last weekend we tried two new restaurants. The first was Ola!, a Brazilian style steakhouse. The second was Veranda, a new Greek restaurant in the area. In fact, both are in the same shopping center, on Alpharetta Highway. My husband, Jimmy, had seen Ola! in his travels around town and thought it was worth a try.

At a Brazilian steakhouse, you can expect a certain pattern. There will a buffet of some sort and there will be vast quantities of meat. Frightening amounts of it. Ola! had these things, but the quality was very poor. The pitiful buffet was full of overcooked items, that were either cold or dried out. They'd obviously been sitting out too long. The meat was adequate. Instead of being brought to you on skewers and carved at your table, you had to go to a counter and ask for what you want from a posted menu. I found most of it to overcooked and poor cuts. The chicken thighs, a cut that does well with longer cooking times, were the best choice on the menu. It was all you can eat though, which accounts for the shortcuts taken on the food. The better Brazillian places are much more expensive than Ola! was.

Service was almost nonexistant. Our party was the only one there for quite awhile, and we still had trouble getting our drink orders and later, refills. I've been in McDonald's that had better decor. I ended up picking through my food, not finishing a few things. I'm trying to make a point these days of not eating just for sake of eating, which means putting aside that food that doesn't bring me pleasure or necessary nutrition.

We were there with friends, and I think we all felt that sense of quiet disappointment you feel after a bad meal. Sure, your stomach is full and the company was good. But are you satisfied? Not at all.

One of my eating companions, George, is Greek and had immediately noticed Veranda across the parking lot. We'd been missing a good, sit down Greek restaurant in our area since Mythos closed about a year ago and he beelined on this as a possible replacement. Some of us decided to be brave and try something new again.

We were not disappointed.

Desserts and drinks at Veranda were incredible. I had Galaktoboureko, a dessert made of custard sandwiched between two layers of phyllo dough and a cucumber martini. That more than made up for the terrible dinner we just had. We also noticed they offered a tapas menu of traditional Greek foods and immediately resolved to have lunch there the next day.

Saturday lunch was every bit as good as we expected. It was one of those meals that sort of ruins you for food for the rest of the day. Not because you're too full to eat, but because you are so satisfied with what you ate. I don't recall each dish we ordered, except for the grilled octopus. I have never touch octopus in my life, but after hearing the rave reviews from George, and my husband assuring me I'd enjoy it, I tried it.

Amazing. Fork tender and smoky. It melted in my mouth like fine seafood, but absolutely no fishy flavor. I would recommend it to anyone.

Anyone want to go back with me?

Veranda Greek Taverna in Roswell

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