Posted by: KStrate | January 17, 2009

Dinner and a Movie: Mirko Pasta and Cine

It’s been a while since my last post, but I promise this one will make up for everything. 🙂

Last night, I went with my dear friend, Anna Sexton, for a night of merryment. We started at Mirko Pasta (the Athens east side location) for dinner, and it totally made my day.img_0744

I always get nervous going into Mirko because I’m afraid I won’t get a table. They are always packed, but I am continually comforted by the quick table turnaround. Problem solved.

As Anna and I were waiting in line, we decided what we wanted to order. I also spyed on everyone else eating. It’s kind of fun to watch other people converse. Come on, you know you do it, too.

I decided to order the tagliolini pasta and the Caprino e Pinoli sauce. The tagliolini is a skinny fettucini noodle that either comes in the regular or spinach version. I opted for spinach with the thought it would go better with my goat cheese, tomato, and roasted pine nut sauce. Are you drooling yet?

Anna ordered the whole wheat penne pasta with the Sorrentina sauce (diced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, basil, and garlic), and we both used the bread they brought us to sop up the sauce that was left on our plates.img_0745

Believe it or not, my dinner was only $9.34. I think that’s pretty good for an awesome meal. My pasta was amazing. The noodles were tender; the sauce wasn’t too strong (because I think goat cheese can be overpowering sometimes); it was hot (temperature wise), and it came out quick.

I think Anna enjoyed hers, too. Our plates were clean, and our tummies were stuffed.

Gratzi!

After dinner, we headed downtown to Cine to catch the 9:30 showing of “I’ve loved you so long.” We saved some room in our bellies for the famous pumpkin chocolate chip cookies they have at the bar. If you’ve never been to Cine, you need to go. Not only is it fun, cultural, and cheap, it’s also chill, different, and very reflective of the Athens community. “I’ve loved you so long” is a French movie (with English subtitles, of course) that is playing at Cine until January 22. Here’s the synopsis if you’d like to go. I definitely recommend it!

The pumpkin chocolate chip cookies were, as usual, amazing. If you’d like to have some of your own, you can order them from Dondero’s Kitchen.

So, go to Mirko’s if you haven’t been, and go to Cine if you haven’t been. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

I know this post isn’t exactly breaking news, but I thought I’d write about Two Stories Coffee House anyway.

Located on Lumpkin, right across the street from Earth Fare, Two Stories Coffee House is a lot like your home away from home.

I’m not sure what the owners did to the house, but it has been redone, and each bedroom is a cozy study room, equipped with lamps, chairs, stools, desks, and electrical outlets for you and your friends.

In addition, they also brew some amazing coffee.  Two Stories serves Fair Trade coffee, and they brew it a couple of different ways:

1. Through a ceramic filter that drips right into your cup. That’s right! I don’t know if I described it well, but you pick the type of bean you want, they scoop it, grind it, put it in the filter, and pour hot water over it that drips directly into your cup. Pretty cool!

2. With a French press. I don’t know if you’ve ever had French press coffee, but it so much fun to drink! I’m not sure exactly how it works, but you can either have an individual press or one to share with a friend- that way it doesn’t get as cold as easily! It doesn’t cost extra, either.

3. Through the kind of coffee holder you see in hotels. I don’t know the fancy word for this kind of coffee keeper-warmer, but it’s the kind that you press down on the top- kind of like a pump. You know what I mean? 🙂

Either way, the people at Two Stories are more concerned with community than they are about coffee. Each chair, table, stool, dry erase board, light, carpeted step, lamp and all the other unique objects inside were put in there for a purpose- to foster a sense of community and belonging with its customers.

The people who work at Two Stories are super friendly, and they want to talk to you!

I think my favorite part about Two Stories, however, is how CHEAP it is.

Seriously.

One morning, I got a cup of coffee and a bagel (fresh from Zim’s) for a little over $3.  At Starbucks, it would cost you at least $5.

Either way, I love Two Stories and will continue to go back there. There is a neat little study room upstairs you can reserve, so give it a try! In the spring, I’ll be eager to sit out on the back porch.

Posted by: KStrate | November 22, 2008

Terrapin Brewery: Something Fun to do Over Thanksgiving

Last weekend, my cousin, Will, came to visit me in Athens.  He drove all the way down here from UT, and I really wanted to show him some fun places in Athens.  Will has varied interests, one of them being home beer breweries.  I thought taking him to the Terrapin Brewery would be a fun activity that both of us could enjoy.  I hadn’t been there, either, so it was a first time for the both of us.img_0546

To get to Terrapin Brewery, go West on Prince Avenue, turn right on Chase Street, and then turn left when it basically dead ends (Newton Bridge Road), and the Brewery is down on your left.  It’s in a big, white warehouse.  You have to look kind of close for the sign, FYI.

I would like to preface by saying I didn’t expect anyone to be there. It was a cold, wintery day (a perfect one for beer-drinking), so I don’t know why I didn’t realize there would be over a hundred people already in the place!

We walked into the tour door, showed our IDs, and bought our tickets.  One glass (a custom Terrapin one that you get to keep 🙂 ) is $8.  You also get eight tickets that go with it.  In the warehouse, about two-thirds of the space is used for brewing, and one third is used for entertainment.  img_0549

When Will and I left the gift shop/reception/ticket area, we walked into the warehouse.  Again, I had no clue that so many people would be there, but I was so surprised to see about ten, ten-person tables and many other smaller tables scattered about and FULL of people!  There was also a cornhole game that was obviously occupied.

Here’s how the ticket process works: there are six beers on tap.  Four of them are worth one ticket, and two of them are worth two tickets. So, technically, you could drink eight beers for eight dollars.

I think that’s the best deal in town, don’t you think?

So, Will and I headed to the bar, ordered the brew, gave the man our ticket, and sat down for a while to hear the live band that was playing (doesn’t this story kep getting better??).

Next came the tour.  We were in the first group to go (which was good because we thought the tour guide kept getting tipsier with each one.)  First, we learned about the history of the company outside by the grain silo.  Then, we were taken inside and learned about the brewing process and everything.  Maybe Will can comment about all the brewing details, but I don’t know enough to make myself sound intelligent about it.img_0566

After the tour, we stayed around for an hour or two.  No, we did NOT finish all of our tickets because we had plans to see the 007 movie afterwards.  I guess I should talk about the beer, since we didn’t have any food.

I think my favorite brew is the SunRay wheat, but Will really liked the Big Hoppy Monster (one of the higher alcohol level beers).  I think beer always tastes better when you’re in an atmosphere like that.  It’s fun to sit with people you wouldn’t usually see, in a warehouse, in your coats (because there’s not really any heat).

When we left, we hit up the gift shop to buy a T-shirt (Will bought two.), and then headed out.

If you’re a student, a semi-permanent resident, or whatever, I hope you’ll be sure to visit the Terrapin Brewery.

I’m sure some of you have been there before. Tell us about your experience!

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

Posted by: KStrate | November 13, 2008

Taqueria del Sol is Open for Business!

I found out from my friends at Jackson Spalding that Taqueria del Sol has officially opened in Athens!  They actually posted about it on their blog, Athens Inbox.

I’ve never been to Taqueria del Sol, but I’ve heard it’s amazing.  All the Jackson Spalding employees in Atlanta this summer told me how much they’re obsessed with the place.

From what I can tell, Taqueria del Sol is known for its tacos.  On the online menu, it offers Memphis, brisket, fried chicken, carnita, fish and veggie tacos.  It also looks like the JS people had cheesburger tacos that day, so who knows what will be on the special of the day menu?

Have any of you been to a Taqueria del Sol before?  I’m planning on taking my cousin there this weekend, so expect a Dawg Food post comin’ right up!

Posted by: KStrate | November 11, 2008

Harry Bissett’s on a Friday Night

This past Friday, I ventured to Harry Bissett’s with about 26 of my closest friends.

Yes, it was a large crowd, but I think our experience at Bissett’s was one of the best I’ve had.

Our reservations were for 8 p.m., but we didn’t get seated until around 8:30.  It didn’t really matter because all 8 million of us hung out in the front by the bar and chatted until it was time to follow the hostess into the dining area.

We had two tables: one that sat about 20 people and the other that sat around 12.  OK, so I guess there were around 30 of us, but that’s a minor detail.

All of us were dressed up for a formal that night, and we wanted to eat at fun, easy-going Harry Bissett’s before boogie-ing the night away at The Classic Center to the band Super T.

My date, Tommy, and I sat at the smaller table which actually worked out really well.  I liked being able to talk to everyone at the table without having to scream or pass a note.  Our waitress, Jennifer, was AWESOME.  She was in for a good time, and she treated us just like adults.  Sometimes I get annoyed when waiters and waitresses treat me like I’m a 13-year-old on an ice cream date, but I can understand the horror stories from bad clients.

Either way, Jennifer was awesome.  She came and got our drink orders and came back a little later to get our food order.  I had the blackened fresh catch, mahi-mahi, with green beans and collards.  Tommy ordered the trout with a side salad and…shoot…I can’t remember what his other side was.

I’m a nosy person, so I saw some other plates on our table: shrimp scampi, fried oysters, another pasta, the surf and turf, creole egg rolls, and cedar plank salmon.  Needless to say, it all looked REALLY good.

I also ordered a bottle of chardonnay to go with our fish, and it was very good.  We all had one of those “just over 21” discussions about wine and how we really don’t know what we’re doing most of the time when we order.  I think it would be cool to go to some sort of wine tasting/school here with some friends so we can all learn together.

I guess we got out of there around 10:15 or so.  Our meal didn’t take too long to come out, and everything I had was good.  Warning!  The collards are spicy, so watch out!

Posted by: KStrate | November 7, 2008

Shokitini Karaoke: the best night of my LIFE

I still don’t understand the social phenomenon of karaoke.  What IS it that makes us fearless, despite our nasty singing voices, horrible dance moves, and blatant “you!” points at all of our friends.

Seriously.

Despite my misunderstanding, I. LOVE. KARAOKE. 

So, last night, my friend Jenny and I decided to host a Disney-themed karaoke party for all of our friends in the Arch Society at Shokitini.

Shokitini, a local sushi restaurant on West Clayton, has three karaoke rooms: small, medium and large.  A note: if you want to reserve a room, SERIOUSLY listen to the lady when she tells you how many people the room can sit.  I thought the room was going to be big with a karaoke stage, but it’s so much better.

They are small, but they have huge booths for everyone to sit in and TVs on the front and back of the rooms.  That way, you don’t have to turn around and look at the screen when you want to face your friends.

It makes you look more like a karaoke baller.

Apparently, karaoke is really big in Asia, too.  I think I knew that before, but I guess I forgot.  Three-fourths of the song book had Korean songs.  Of course, we stuck to the small English section, but the TVs would show Korean music videos/soap operas/something like that in the background when our songs would play.  At one point, a bride was trying to drive off a cliff. It was interesting.

I actually forgot to order sushi, but many of my friends decided to order.  It was awesome.  The waitress came to our room, and gave us menus.  You write your name on your menu and then give it to her.  She brings your sushi up to you, and you don’t even have to pause your song!

Now, I know you’re wondering what we sang.  Here is just a sample of the musical delights (sorry if these choices make some of you feel old).

-KC and Jojo: All my Life

-Backstreet Boys: I want it that way

-Celine Dion: It’s all coming back to me now (This was sung by all the girls in the hiz-ouse.  We all agreed it was the most therapeutic thing we’ve ever done.)

-Dixie Chicks: Goodbye, Earl

-Lynrd Skynrd: Sweet Home Alabama

-Neil Diamond: Sweet Caroline

-Mariah Carey: All I want for Christmas

-Britney Spears: Oops! I did it again.

If these don’t make you happy, I encourage you to go to Shokitini and see what kinds of songs you can find and BELT as loud as you can.

We left karaoke feeling like we’d been to a concert.  Our voices were gone; our adrenaline was rushing, and we were TIRED.

The medium sized room was only $40 an hour, so we ended up paying around $115 for a two hour rental with tip.  It was a pretty dang good deal for how much fun we had.

Here’s the reservation line if you want to call: 706-206-6800.  Dianne will answer the phone, and she can hook you up.

Has anyone else been to karaoke at Shokitini?  Tell us about your experience!

This past weekend, my Dad came in for UGA’s homecoming, so we decided to sample a good assortment of Athens delights.

Friday night, we were scheduled to have reservations at The National at 7:30 p.m. at a table outside.  It was raining, but we walked to the restaurant anyway to eat dinner.  When we got there, the hostess said, “well, it’s raining. Do you still want to eat outside?”

Of course we said no.  Then, she said they wouldn’t be able to fit us in until 9:30.  We asked where all the other people were who had reservations outside, and she said they called and cancelled because it was raining.

There are two sides to this argument.  One one side, the restaurant’s side, they thought it was my job to notice it was raining and call to cancel our dinner.  On my side, I thought it was their job to call ME and say, “Ms. Strate, it is raining outside, and your table is out there. We won’t be able to fit you in the inside dining room until 9:30. Would you like to wait longer, or would you like to cancel your reservation?”

I think The National should have called me and asked.  Good thing we were able to go to Casa Mia and get a table right away.

What do you think they should have done?

Posted by: KStrate | October 16, 2008

Some good posts to come…

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to give you a heads up and let you know I am eating at The National on Friday night and Farm 255 on Saturday night.

So, be sure to check back on Monday or Tuesday to see what my experience was like! Happy Homecoming!

Posted by: KStrate | October 8, 2008

For all my Tennessee kin.

In case you didn’t know, I’m originally from Morristown, Tenn., about 45 minutes from Knoxville (UT).  So, that means on Friday and Saturday, all of my family (cousins, friends, parents, sister) and other UT students will be migrating down South to God’s country. 🙂

Now, I’m not going to talk about the football game because that would just be mean.  This post is to help visitors find their way around Athens and not look lost.  I wish a nice Gator would do this for the Georgia/Florida, but I know there’s no such thing as a nice Gator. So, I’ll just throw that wish away.

Where to Eat on Gameday:

There are many yummy places where you can grab some gameday grub, but I’ll just name a few.  Most of them are located in our downtown area (Broad, Clayton, Washington, College, Hancock, Jackson, Lumpkin, Hull and Thomas Streets).

  • The Grill: This is a famous favorite for Dawg fans.  It’s a diner that’s open 24 hours, and they serve everything from pancakes to french fries with feta dressing to hamburgers to grilled cheeses.  It’s located on College Avenue right near the Arch.
  • The Mayflower: If you like family style breakfast places, this is the place to go.  The Mayflower has been owned by the same family since my Dad was here in the 70s.  Go in there and get some homemade sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, or whatever you feel like eatin’.  It’s on Broad Street to the right of the Arch if you’re looking at the Arch from downtown.
  • The Bluebird Cafe: This is also a town favorite. I will say it is vegetarian, but don’t let that scare you.  I think Bluebird has the best omlettes and biscuits in town.  It’s on the corner of Clayton and Thomas Streets, across from The Classic Center.
  • Five Star Day Cafe: I actually had Sunday brunch here last week.  Five Star Day is so yummy. It very much reflects the character and personality of Athens. It’s on Broad Street right across from North Campus- near Starbucks (which also has breakfast stuff, but you can go there if you want to get a heart attack from a muffin).
  • Mama’s Boy: This is a little farther from campus, but it’s worth it. Mama’s Boy is actually owned by my cousin’s friend, and it’s famous for the breakfast. I like to call it upscale soul food.  You can go and get biscuits and gravy, but it will no doubt have a fun garnish or something else culinary on the side.  Try it!
  • Harry Bisset’s: Now we’re getting classy. Harry Bisset’s is a cajun/bayou restaurant that continues to be a crowd favorite. Many of my friends’ parents won’t come to Athens unless they promise to eat here. On Saturdays, they’re open for brunch at 11:30, but they reopen for dinner at 5:30.
  • For dinner after the game, I’ll just make a list and link to the Web sites.  If you have a question about one, make a comment on this post, and I’ll try to answer it ASAP.

Transmetropolitan, La Dolce Vita, Porterhouse Grill, East West Bistro, Speakeasy, Casa Mia, The Last Resort, The Grit, Copper Creek, The Basil Press, Farm 255

Where to watch the Game if you don’t have tickets:

I know a bunch of you probably won’t have ticket, but no matter!  You could go to:

  • Buffalo Wild Wings: I know you have one of these on the Strip, so I don’t need to explain it.  It’s on Hancock Avenue, towards the back of downtown and near the Hilton.
  • This new Irish pub on the corner of College and Hancock.  I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s really cool!  Lots of TVs.
  • Sideways bar: on Broad Street, near the corner of Broad and Jackson, has a cool upstairs porch
  • Sand Bar: lots of TVs, Jack and Coke icees- can’t get much better than that.
  • Honestly, I don’t know why I’m listing all of these.  Any bar you go to will have the game on, so just find one that looks fun.

Where to go at Night:

One of my favorite parts of Athens is its nightlife, and I want you to enjoy it, too. 🙂

**An important fact**

ALL the bars in Athens are 21 and up unlike Knoxville.  That means, it’s not 18 to enter, 21 to drink.  If you’re not 21, you’ll have to find something else to do.

However, if you are 21, you’ll be wonderfully entertained until 2 a.m. when the bars close.  I don’t want to make suggestions on where to go because there are so many options!  Click here to get a full listing of all the bars.

Where to Park:

  • Unlike UT, Dawg fans don’t tailgate in parking decks.  That’s mostly because we don’t have a huge deck right beside the stadium, so we have to spread all over campus.  I’ve grown accustomed to this tradition, and I really like it!
  • You cannot park in any of the campus decks.  Most of those are reserved for people who have a pass.
  • Parking downtown is what most people do.  If you get up at the crack of dawn, you can get a parallel spot or a regular spot on one of the DT streets.
  • There IS a deck available on College Avenue where you can park.  Lots are also available all over downtown (you’ll have to pay $15-$20 on average). There are some opportunities behind downtown where some big lots are.
  • If you do decided to tailgate on North Campus, I would suggest dropping off your stuff first and then go park.
  • Also, wear sunscreen. The away section faces the sun, and you’ll wake up Sunday “hurtin’ real bad” if you don’t lather up.  Sunglasses can help, too.

I hope all of this information helps!  It will be fun to see everyone this weekend, and I hope Athens and Dawg fans are nice to you. 🙂

Oh, and Go Dawgs.

Posted by: KStrate | October 7, 2008

Farm 255: the best restaurant in Athens

OK, it’s a strong statement, but I believe it.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures to document my wonderful experience at Farm 255, but I’m hoping I can paint pictures with words for you.

If you don’t know the history of Farm 255, its namesake is due to the restaurant’s farm right outside of Athens where little piggies, chickens, cows, veggies and other things are grown.  In other words, everything served in the restaurant is either grown on the “Farm” or another local Athens farm.

Such a cool concept.

Farm is located on West Washington Street, right behind Clocked.  I would really like to ask someone about the building it’s in.  The ceiling is lofted, and it almost has a barn-like feel.  The colors inside are warm; there are pictures of the farm; and the day’s harvest is drawn on a chalkboard to the right of the front door.

A side note: there is a picture of a pig that I could NOT take my eyes off when I was eating.  I swear. It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Look for it when you go.

I went to eat at Farm with my parents, Tom and Kelle.  We made reservations, so we were immediately seated when we came in.

It didn’t take long for a server to bring bread to our table and ask for drinks. The kind of bread (they have different varieties) we got is made from the leftover hops at Terrapin Brewery, so it’s kind of sweet. I think it’s the best bread I’ve ever had. Holy cow.

Mom and I ordered a wonderfully delicious cucumber and pomegranate martini, and Dad ordered a gin drink. Their cocktail menu is extremely interesting.  I think it’s the most diverse menu I’ve ever seen.  Take a look.

Since they raise everything on the farm, they serve what they’ve got.  That means it is a very seasonal restaurant with not as an extensive menu as, say, Applebees.  Never fear, Dawg Food fans.

There were about five entrees listed on our menu, but it was nice to know Mom’s chicken wasn’t shot full of steroids and hadn’t been in a freezer for a couple of months.  I wonder what the “animal turnaround” is.  Maybe one day from the farm to the table?  That’s a question I will have to ask them.

For an appetizer, we ordered a cast-iron raclette. It was a little cast iron skillet with a slice of melted, strong, oh-so-pungent-but-wonderful French cheese in the middle, and was accompanied by homemade pickled okra and green beans.  I had never had pickled green beans, but they were fabulous. The skillet also came with little toasties to put the cheese on.

If you partner the pickles with the cheese, the vegetable balances the pungency of the cheese.  You’ll like it. Trust me.

For dinner, I ordered the vegetable plate; Mom ordered the chicken, and Dad ordered the spaghetti bolognese (bow-long-ney-sey).

I’ll let them describe it to you:

veggie plate
Full Moon eggplant caponata, pink-eyed pea salad, grilled Full Moon okra,
hummus & lavash, heirloom sweet potato fries   15

Full Moon pork & lamb bolognese
cappellini, Grana Padano    16

Full Moon pasture-raised chicken
grilled half chicken, sweet potato purée, Alice’s green beans, grilled okra   21

Um, I will say it was the BEST veggie plate I’ve EVER had.  The hummus was a little garlicky, but everything else was so incredibly fabulous.

Mom said it was the best chicken she’s ever had. It seriously fell right off the bone. At one point, she wasn’t eating her food, and Dad and I went right for her plate at the same time. Apparently she wasn’t done, so she smacked both of our hands. I’ll never do that again. 🙂

Dad’s pasta was amazing.  I was so puzzled at the large amount of meat in the spaghetti, but it was very light in your mouth. Does that make sense?

It was so, incredibly full of flavor. You could taste each spice, and I don’t think it needed (or had) a sauce. The oil and juices from the meat were enough.

A comment on the service: they are sooo nice!  I’ve said before that it’s hard to get good, friendly people to serve you in Athens, but our waitress was, truly, the NICEST waitress I’ve had in Athens. You know those people who are just genuinely caring and, well, nice?  Yeah, that was her.  So, thank you for making our experience even better than it was!

Guys and gals, I will have pictures another time because I know I’ll go back to Farm. I have also heard from reliable sources that the Sundee (yes, I said Sundee) brunch is the best in town.

Moral of this culinary story: Try Farm. Come back. Tell us what you think.

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