Omnivore - Readers have their say

One review, one worry, one rant

Steve Harper of Alpharetta writes to report on a meal at one of the city's best gastro-pubs:

Thought I'd drop a quick line about the excellent meal I had at the Porter Beer Bar in Lil Five Points last night...a meal as unhealthy as it was delicious.

I started with the duck rillette special appetizer...rich, toothsome shredded duck topped with a crust of strawberry preserves and served with toast points...absolutely wonderful!

I tried the entree hamburger from the regular menu. What struck me was that each element was clearly made with great care: the pickles tasted homemade; the delicious soft red onion had been marinated in something slightly sweet; the red pepper and garlic roll actually held together; the burger itself cooked to perfection. The garlic fries were not half bad, either. (A lady at the table next to mine kept exclaiming that fact with her mouth full.)

I finished with the carrot cake dessert special — a deconstruction of the typical, with the thick, nearly sour, cream cheese icing served beside the cake. Sprinkled atop the (ubiquitous) oblong of vanilla ice cream were a few tasty flakes of fried carrot, and diced pecans added a nice crunch. A lot of fun to eat.

I shouldn't review my meal at the Porter without mentioning the beer. If you're into that sort of thing, this place is heaven. I had a sampling of the Golden Belgians on draft, and chose the LaChouffe to drink. (They have an overwhelming list to ponder.)

Service was excellent and attentive.

Not an inexpensive place to eat, depending on what you order, but, last night, actually worth the money.

I've had nothing but great food here myself. Check out their website for regular weekly specials....

Say it isn't so: I've received my first complaint from a devoted foodie about the expansion of La Pietra Cucina. I've only been once since the change and although I preferred the smaller, virtually makeshift dining room, I did not find the food changed at all. This reader writes:

Renovation not to my liking but I can get past that. But food was not as good. Oily, flavors muted, bread old. I was a big supporter and hoped for consistent results after expansion but was disappointed tonight. Have you any other feedback-did we just hit an off night?

I'm hoping it was an off-night. Anyone else found changes there? (You can, by the way, see pictures of the new space on Foodie Buddha's website.)....

A bit of a rant: A reader recently inquired about a rather obscure ethnic restaurant. It was recommended to her by a friend who grew up eating the restaurant's particular type of food. I always appreciate these tips, but I've been recommended this restaurant before. I visited it several years ago and thought it was dreadful.

A lot of people seem to presume that if, say, a Mexican or Indian native likes a restaurant specializing in his heritage's cooking, it must be "authentic"  and "good." The fact is that ethnicity may confer knowledge about a culture's food but it doesn't automatically confer good taste (or talent in the kitchen).

Obviously, too, factors beside the food itself attract everyone to their favorite restaurant. An Indian friend insisted I accompany him to his favorite restaurant a few years back and I could not believe how awful the food was. Toward the end of the meal, the owner of the restaurant came to our table and, of course, he turned out to be a pal of my friend. Also, the place was patronized by some of his co-workers.

"So you really like the food here?" I asked my friend.

"No," he said. "It's my favorite restaurant, but not my favorite food."

That actually makes complete sense, especially where neighborhood restaurants are concerned. /end of rant.

(Photo courtesy of the Porter Beer Bar website)