Monday, November 28, 2005


Sunset Grill update

Not too long ago, my fiancee and I both received letters from the Sunset Grill announcing that they'd brought back some of their old favorite menu options. So we thought we'd check it out. The Salads Your Way is definitely back in full force, with even more options that you can add. Sadly, they don't have avocados anymore. The menu doesn't say that these can be added to the burgers like the old menu did, but we asked anyway. As it turns out, they'll put these toppings on burgers, too, for 50 cents each. To celebrate the return of outlandish burger options, I ordered an Italian-themed hamburger with capers, sundried tomatoes, and mozzerella with a side of broccoli. It's great to have a place to go when you want the sort of burger that asking for it your way at Burger King would a really strange look.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Tava's Pizza

Since this is a Greek pizza parlor, I feel compelled to look up a quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. One that seems appropriate is from the father: "There are two kinds of people - Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek." He probably said that on account of Greek food. Sometimes such delicacies as baklava, gyros, and stuffed grape leaves make me wish I were Greek, too. While you can get the first two here, unfortunately they don't have the stuffed grape leaves here. I either have to cook these myself, or make the long drive to Sweet Devil Moon to get these.

It's pretty much unheard of for a Greek restaurant to have bad gyros or baklava. The Greek food here is no exception, prepared well even if it doesn't do much to distinguish it from other gyro places. The Greek salad portions are fairly large here, with the sizes above small probably being intended for sharing. Two people could share an appetizer and a medium Greek salad here and call it a meal.

The pizza's not bad either, even if it isn't quite the Mellow Mushroom. The crust is relatively thin and crispy, with a list of both relatively traditional and Greek toppings. Their Mediterranian Special, for example, has feta cheese (along with mozzerella), tomatoes, gyro meat, and several branches' worth of black olives. They don't skimp on the toppings any more than they skimp on the salad portions.

Tava's Pizza is a good everyday restaurant. It's neither likely to top any charts, nor is it likely to be the sort you'll hear horror stories about terrible food. It's simply a solid choice for when you feel like dining out and getting some decent Greek food without spending a fortune.

4489 Highway 20
Conyers, GA 30013

Monday, November 14, 2005


R L's Off the Square

Have you ever seen a restaurant advertise something as "A taste of Bourbon Street?" Every time I see such a thing, the first thought that comes to mind is, "Has the guy who wrote that menu ever seen Bourbon Street?" Bourbon Street is full of people looking to satisfy a wide variety of appetites, but food generally isn't one of them. I could see a bar saying their beer was a taste of Bourbon Street. But only if they served it to-go so one could fully enjoy the authentic public drunkeness experience of the Big Easy.

You will find no such innane advertising nonsense at R L's. The chef here came from New Orleans, and writing on the menu only describes the care he puts into his cooking. They have no need of inappropriate Louisiana references to sell their food. R L's serves up a variety of authentic Creole food. You'll find the expected crawfish and jambalaya on the menu, and there are also some original creole creations such as The Turner.

The Turner is one of those combinations that sounds unlikely when you first hear about it, but it works. To make one, start by taking some jalepeno and cheese grits. Fry them up into patties that sort of resemble flat, burger-shaped hush puppies. Now stack two of these with three layers of meat. Top it off with a generous helping of meaty, spicy soup, and garnish with shrimp, parsely, and tomatoes. It's definitely not the sort of food you see everyday... but it works so well that you have to wonder why you don't.

This is a fairly upscale restaurant. Expect to pay between $12 and $20 for an entree. However, you definitely get your money's worth. Not only is this top-notch cooking, but the presentation is truly impressive. If the Atlanta Grill served Creole, it might arrive on plates that looked like these.

This is not the sort of restaurant I would compare to Bourbon Street. Instead, it reminds me of an afternoon I spent in Jackson Square, listening to a street jazz band, watching a musician, and looking at a sidewalk art show. R L's is straight out of the part of New Orleans that you could visit and not be embarassed to write to Mom about.

1113 Floyd St. NE

Covington, GA 30014

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Thomas' Country Buffet

It should come as no surprise that the county where they filmed In the Heat of the Night and the first couple episodes of The Dukes of Hazard would have several excellent Southern restaurants. Thomas' Country Buffet is one of my favorites for casual dining, a great place to grab an inexpensive lunch or dinner. At $6 (tax included) for an all-you-can-eat buffet, it's almost as cheap as fast food.

The restaurant occupies half of an old railroad depot, not to mention a pair of converted boxcars. It's easy to imagine how it must have looked in the height of the era of steam trains, as passengers stopped for a brief rest on their way from Augusta to Atlanta. And if you are having difficulties imagining it, the artwork on the walls should help. Decorating the walls with paintings of steam trains, vintage railroad posters, and old railroad logos is a fairly obvious choice.

The food is quite good. The menu depends on the day of the week, and to a lesser extent, the time of year. If you stop in, you can pick up a copy showing their rotating menu. There is always a couple of different meat dishes and a wide selection of vegetables. One vegetable that is not to be missed is their fried green tomatoes; I don't know if I have ever been to a restaurant that prepares these better. These are served weekdays (except for Monday, when they are closed) and on some Sundays. According to the menu, they don't normally serve fried green tomatoes on Saturdays.

For some reason, this buffet has changed hands several times in the past few years. Given how crowded it has been recently, I think Thomas (whose name is pronounced with a long "O") is going to be able to hang onto this for as long as he wants.

4122 Emory St.
Covington, GA 30014

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