As I said in my entry for Panahar in Atlanta nearly a month ago here on Road Tips, I let my colleague Todd come up with the places where we were going to eat while we were in town for the annual CEDIA Expo this past September. Todd wasn't too adventurous as we ended up eating at three of the same places we ate at during our visit a year ago - One Star Ranch for barbecue, Atlanta Fish Market for seafood (actually, the guys from Cambridge Audio picked that place again), and Bones for steaks. I just wanted to do an update as to how all three restaurants fared in our return visit.
Our first night in Atlanta was the evening we visited One Star Ranch again (see my previous entry here). Everyone was overly impressed with the barbecue there last year, as was I. We had a group of 10 of us that visited One Star Ranch this year, up from the six or so that went last year. And it was just as good as it was during my first visit a number of years ago with my friend Eric Van Fossen who turned me on to place, and as it was last year.
Last year, I had to order two dinners just to get a taste of the brisket and pulled pork. This year, our waitress (who was very good and overly helpful) suggested that I get the pork ribs appetizer and then a meal of my choice. I ordered the beef brisket along with the pork ribs. It was perfect, exactly what I wanted. I got a side of their baked beans and the Brunswick stew - a "low-country" soup that features chicken, pork, potatoes and other veggies in a thick and rich brown sauce that is a favorite of the coastal areas along Georgia and South Carolina. Of course, we had to get three or four orders of One Star Ranch's sinfully great onion rings, as well. It was all very good.
Also last year, I lamented that I didn't have a camera to take a picture of one of the big-assed beef ribs that One Star Ranch is so famous for. Now that I have a camera phone I was able to get a picture of one on a plate. Realizing that a shot of a couple on a plate may not be the best perspective of the size of the ribs, I got one of my colleague Ian holding one the beef ribs, as well. It's literally bone-in steak.
But One Star Ranch was, indeed, very good again. Fun place, great service and one of the culinary highlights of our trip to Atlanta.
For the second year in a row, the guys from Cambridge Audio took us out to dinner at the Atlanta Fish Market on Saturday evening (see my previous entry here). Last year, I ordered the blackened red snapper that I wasn't overly happy with. However, Paul Masson from Cambridge Audio had ordered the blackened halibut last year and it was great. I had it in my mind that I would order that on this trip.
I wish I hadn't.
The halibut was not very good on my visit. I got a side of pureed sweet potatoes and a bowl of their seafood gumbo to start. Unfortunately, the gumbo and the sweet potatoes were the highlight of the meal. Once again, I don't know if the halibut was overcooked or what the deal was. But it didn't taste very good.
What I should of gotten was this - the special that evening that included shrimp, lobster and soft crab. About four or five guys got the special and they declared it out of this world. I did have a bite of the shrimp from one of my colleagues and I almost started to cry. I damn near ordered another dinner for myself.
OK, so my two visits to Atlanta Fish Market weren't very good. I was telling my friend Eric that I was disappointed in my meal once again. He said that while the Fish Market has reached the "venerable" stage in regard to its standing among other Atlanta area restaurants, just being "OK" seems to be the standard review he hears from people who have been there. It could be that the Atlanta Fish Market has literally "jumped the shark".
On to our last night in Atlanta, the great and also venerable steak house, Bones. (See my entry on Bones from last year here.) I will say that Todd hit a grand slam homer on this one this year. He arranged for us to have a private dining room in the lower level of Bones - a wonderful little place where we could talk business, laugh at stuff and devour large amounts of beef in our own little world. We had two young men waiting on us dressed in their white jackets, white shirts with black ties and black pants.
We all shared sides of mac and cheese, sauteed mushrooms, truffle butter mashed potatoes and Bones' great onion rings. My boss, Daniel, picked out some great wine and the meal was just an overall hit. Bones is simply one of the finest steak houses I've ever encountered in my travels.
We did also eat again at Fogo de Choa, the Brazilian steak house in Buckhead one evening, as well. But there's really nothing to add to my experience there (Read my entry from last year on Fogo de Choa here). It's good and dependable. And I always overeat when I go there.
With CEDIA moving to Indianapolis next year, it will probably be a long time before I get back to Atlanta to try any restaurants. If I do make it back, I'll stay away from the Atlanta Fish Market and probably Fogo de Choa (if I'm in the mood for Brazilian steak houses there's a Fogo in Chicago, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Kansas City - all places that I travel to on a regular basis). But I would crawl back to Bones and happily make a stop at One Star Ranch. I'll certainly have fond memories of my visits to those two places.