Here’s the next chapter in the infamous saga.
Seriously, though, I cannot recommend following along while listening to me read enough. There’s a whole song joke you’ll miss out on if you just hear me dryly reference it.
Also, apologies for when my voice gets soft in places. Still working the kinks out.
I’ve long been a fan of Jenny Trout’s recap work. For some time I’ve thought about pouring some of this love into audiobook form. Now, at long last, I have done this very thing. Jenny, being the fantastical goddess that she is, has given me permission to make recordings of all her recaps. There’s a bunch of them so I’d better get busy. Seriously though, everyone should go read her recaps. They’re amazing. Also, she often includes pictures so while you’re listening to my audio you should also be following along on her recap so you don’t miss any jokes.
So here’s the thing about my trip to Atlanta…
The most I saw of it was this:
Bright lights, big city?
Er, yeah, I didn’t go anywhere. I did not see the sights and the few times I traveled to restaurants outside my hotel I took the sky bridges and they pretty much erased the need for walking around the city. There was also the fact that I was alone most of the time, which is not an ideal travel state when in a strange town while simultaneously being short and female with a funny hat. The few times I wasn’t alone something would come up and no sights were seen.
But I did have some culinary experiences I can share with you! Learn from my triumphs and devastating mistakes, people.
If you’re ever in Atlanta here are the places to seek out and the places to avoid.
The Downtown Atlanta Hilton
Seeing as I spent the majority of my time in this hotel it’s no surprise that I got familiar with all their restaurants.
Trader Vic’s is delicious and great fun. Be sure to order a scorpion bowl. The waitstaff was all very friendly and accommodating both times I went down there. They really want you to have a good time. So if you like Polynesian food and atmosphere this is the perfect place to spend an evening.
Nikolai’s Roof was also a very positive experience. The restaurant is at the top of the hotel so even though some yelp reviewers apparently thought the decor too antiquated for them, I don’t see how you could complain about the amazing view. When I was up there we were able to watch a storm roll in, surround us and just pour rain. It was stunning. At the time Nikolai’s also offered a reasonable prixe fixed menu with three courses but I don’t know if that’s a regular feature. If it isn’t then you’re likely in for an expensive night. However, considering how delicious our food was, I don’t doubt it would be a fair price. For fans of French and Russian cuisine, this is the way to go.
The last restaurant in the Hilton I have to mention is Southern Elements on the ground floor. I wasn’t expecting much but I was blown away by the chicken pot pie. It was ludicrously delicious. Seriously, just pop over there and have the chicken pot pie.
If you’re in the Peachtree Center food court and are looking for a cheap meal, I would head for Gibney’s. It’s not the most spectacular food I’ve ever had but it’s certainly not bad and for the price I was more than satisfied. Very good for a quick, convenient lunch.
This place reminded me a lot of BJ‘s here in California. The menu is also similar but with a Southern twist. The prices are pretty good and the food savory. Although the breading on the fried chicken wasn’t to my taste, that’s more of a personal preference than a criticism. The meat itself was mouthwatering. By the by, if you like Shiraz you should definitely go sample their McWilliams. It’s probably the best I’ve ever had.
This place is tied with Nikolai’s for most expensive but if you’re planning on spending a lot of money on one meal while you’re in Atlanta, I’d definitely choose Aria. The restaurant is lovely, quiet and very classy. It felt like an upscale home more than it did a restaurant. The waitstaff was fabulous here, attentive and eager to please. Everything I tasted was divine. The oyster dish in particular was inspired. I’d never had fried oysters before and now I don’t know what was taking me so long. Looking for a decadent night on the town? This is the spot for you.
And now, finally, the disaster restaurant. Oh dearie me.
First of all I’d like to say that it is entirely possible this place was experiencing a bad night when I went there for dinner. Any of the restaurants I enjoyed so much in Atlanta could completely underwhelm someone else while White Oak would delight them to no end.
That said, allow me to share my tale of woe turned to frustration and then slight hysteria.
The first sign that this was not going to be a great dining experience was when my cocktail made me want to be physically ill. I’ve had drinks that I didn’t like much but my mindset is, “This is a learning experience. I will finish this drink and remember that I don’t like this combination in the future.” I intended to do that with the Blood & Sand I ordered, a drink I’d been dying to try for a while, but I simply could not bear it. It felt like I was swirling rancid dirt in my mouth. I do not know what on earth about this drink combination made it taste that way but it was revolting. I traded it for a Bramble and was quite a bit happier. Still, the Bramble was only ‘meh’. I was simply too relieved not to be drinking the Blood & Sand anymore to care.
The group ordered their food and bad sign number two came rolling over. Absolutely everyone’s dish was cold. Everyone except me sent theirs back but I decided to persevere with my lamb because it was at least slightly above room temperature so if I ate quickly I would be able to get it down before it hit stone cold levels. Under most circumstances if I think something is cold I’ll send it back. That night I happened to be starving and didn’t want my lamb to be overcooked. The other person who ordered lamb and sent it back to be warmed did get it back overcooked so I don’t necessarily regret my decision.
Sadly I was still hungry.
Imagine my delight when the manager came over to offer us free desserts to make up for our experience. This mostly happened because the woman who ordered the fish got it served to her cold twice. Awkward. The awkward levels increased even more when the dessert she ordered arrived cold, too.
Now, with regard to flavors, I will say that everything did taste quite good. With one exception. If you ever do decide to go to this place I would like to warn you away from the warm chocolate pudding. I’m sure you can guess the actual temperature it was but it was also pretty unappetizing. It arrived in a tiny jar, which was problematic as the woman I was sharing it with had expressed our intentions to split it to the waiter and he didn’t bother to warn us that the portion was miniscule. Visually it was deeply uninspired and the flavor did not make up for it.
It annoys me when chocolate desserts go wrong. Come on, people, it’s chocolate! You have to really put in some effort to make it unappealing.
Unless you have a chocolate allergy or are one of the few who don’t like chocolate at all. Probably all chocolate desserts look like this pudding thing did to you guys.
To cap off this three hours of waiting for food only to have it arrive cold, they managed to muck up the checks as well. At that point all of us were laughing because it was either that or set people on fire so they could learn a valuable lesson about what hot food should feel like.
At long, long last we escaped the White Oak Kitchen, happy that we had made it out before any of our party died of old age.
So yeah, not a great time.
Well… okay, it became a great time despite itself because of the company. With the way we were laughing you’d never have known how miserable our experience was.
And that’s my Atlanta post! It basically evolved into a restaurant guide. I feel bad that I didn’t have more wacky adventures out in the city to share.
Oh! On my way to the liquor store I saw a woman passed out drunk in a parking lot. Does that count as a wacky adventure?
Yeah, I won’t hold my breath waiting for the Atlanta tourism board to call with a job offer.
It seemed like a nice town, though.
Well hey, their airport had pretty decent food and I don’t think you can ask for more than a meal in a terminal that doesn’t make you regret knowing that food exists.
Two thumbs up for Georgia!
About eight years ago my family started a tradition of going to the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach every summer. It’s very fun, although I will admit that the first time I went I wasn’t really sure what the point was. People recreating art by dressing up in costumes and standing still sounds a little bizarre out of context. The pageant is nearly impossible to describe because without seeing it you can’t truly understand what’s so marvelous about it. The show presents living, breathing masterpieces and it’s completely beautiful.
We went about a week ago and it was many different kinds of fun. That isn’t to say there were no hijinks. The fact that Mom accidentally spent an hour watching rocks play in the ocean barely makes the short list.
I have to admit that I lied in the title of this post. I did not, in fact, fall on my face. What did happen, on one of the busiest streets in Laguna so plenty of people could see, was that my flip flop caught the edge of a high curb as I was stepping up and I went down like a flailing ton of bricks. First I came straight down on my left knee then somehow my right leg must have twisted around and impacted slightly sideways because that’s where the bruise manifested. Finally both hands hit the pavement and I saw The Hat eject himself from the situation. He was lucky I didn’t leave him at the hotel after that little display of ‘loyalty’.
Then again, maybe he knew he was going to spend most of the pageant smothered in my lap and barely seeing any of the art.
I guess we’ll never know.
So the rest of the day included a side of stiff knees and occasional limping. However, that was hardly going to bring me down (aside from literally) when after two years I’d managed to secure reservations at Nick’s. It’s a smallish restaurant and always incredibly busy so getting in for dinner was a challenge. But I eventually prevailed.
The aunts and Mom all had the blackened halibut sandwich while I ordered the salmon. The sandwich was declared delicious by all and I was thrilled with my salmon. Here’s a picture!
Oh no! Someone ate all my food before I could take the picture. How terrible. Well, at least you can see the remains of my blood orange cosmo in the background.
Yum. Now I want a drink.
Hm, what was that? Oh. Apparently The Hat wants to know how that’s different from any other time of day. Hardy har har.
And he wonders why I keep buying other hats.
Well, that about wraps it up. Delicious dinner, great show and beautiful Laguna Beach to stare at for a couple of days.
Oh, whoops, forgot about the werewolves. On that note I shall end this post with a conversation between one of my aunts and my Mom.
Aunt: I don’t really watch the Newsroom.
Mom: Oh, it’s great! It’s like the West Wing but with swearing.
Aunt: With what?!
Aunt: Oh! I thought you said it’s like the West Wing but with werewolves.
Me: BEST. IDEA. EVER.
P.S. One of the tags WordPress is suggesting for this post is ‘drug rehabilitation’. Thanks a lot. The highlight of my day is being judged by a website.