Review: Fruttela Brings Frozen Yogurt to Inman Park

It’s hot out. Really hot. The kind of hot that makes you stupid and nonfunctional. The kind of hot that makes being outside seem oppressive. The kind of hot that demands frozen treats.

But it is also Bikini Season, and so too many poorly selected frozen treats can have unhappy ramifications. Enter Fruttela. Fruttela opened up in June of 2011 in Highland Walk and brings the tangy frozen yogurt trend to its corner of Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward. Open daily at 11 AM and closing at 10 PM Sunday-Thursday and 11 PM on Friday and Saturday, Fruttela offers self-serve yogurt in flavors ranging from (not so) plain vanilla and chocolate to exotic fruits like soursop and passion fruit. It’s also only 25 calories per ounce, fat free, and made with 100% organic milk!

So today in the heat, we headed over to pick up some froyo. The helpful cashier offered us samples of yogurt flavors to decide what we wanted. I decided on coconut, which sounded tropical and delicious. I then proceeded to top my yogurt with some of the fruit from the self-serve topping station (and with choices like fresh blackberries, papaya, kiwi, mango, blueberries, pineapple, and raspberries, I’m not ashamed to admit I went a little nuts). Yum!

My companions went with vanilla and chocolate, and went nuts with the candy toppings (including tiny peanut butter cups! OMG!) None of us spent more than five bucks, and we got a massive amount of tasty, cold goodness. We sat outside in the ample seating area and enjoyed a brief respite from the summer heat in the shade, listening to the sweet dance music pumping out of Fruttela. After a bit, we felt refreshed, and ready to continue with the day.

As I’ve mentioned, Fruttela also has a really fantastic FourSquare promotion, with 10% off for the Honorable Fruttie Mayor of Fruttela. So, you know, you should probably go there and get on that. Also, they just announced that banana flavored yogurt will be coming soon. Yeah, I may have to become the Fruttie Mayor myself. Thanks for the delicious, Fruttela.

Eyebrow Threading and More at Browbar in Inman Park

I was gifted by my dear sainted father with many things: good budgeting skills, a quick wit…and lots of hair. The last one has always been frustrating; though my eyelashes are thick and dark, well, so are my eyebrows. They need constant maintenance in order to look presentable. Though I’ve been waxing them for years, when Browbar opened up in the North Highland Steel building in Inman Park, I decided to go check out their threading services. Threading is a traditional Persian, Arab, and Indian method of hair removal that is becoming more popular in the U.S., especially for those of us with sensitive skin. Threaders use a special method of rolling a twisted cotton thread over areas of unwanted hair, which pulls a linear grouping of hairs out at once, making it more precise than waxing and quicker than tweezing.

At Browbar, practitioners offer threading services for the entire face, depending on where you might have undesired hair. I booked a combination brow clean-up and upper lip threading with Jasmin, who was friendly and very quick! She didn’t over-thread my brows, but brought out a natural arch quickly and relatively painlessly. The upper lip threading was even speedier and got rid of that little bit of unladylike hair (thanks, Dad) that had always bothered me. I was also happy to receive a punch card that will get me my fifth brow threading free!

Additionally, Browbar offers a full face and body waxing menu for men and women. I noticed that they were offering a weekly special on Brazilian waxing for only $35, and the staff told me that they regularly run promotions like that that get sent to their email list. Their services also include eyelash extensions, eyelash and eyebrow tinting, makeup application, and signature organic facials. The full menu of esthetic services is available here.

The boutique setting is pretty and comfortable, and they carry product lines like Karuna Skincare that are otherwise hard to find in Atlanta, as well as pretty jewelry and scarves in the front. Parking is convenient and free in the retail parking lot belonging to the N. Highland Steel building, which is especially nice when you’re just in and out for a service in fifteen minutes.

Anyway, my brows are looking great, and I’m actually looking forward to the next time I stop in to Browbar to get my caterpillars tamed. Thanks, Jasmin!

Review: Lunch at the Hill Street Tavern in Downtown Atlanta

Hooray! Hill Street Tavern has opened for business!

Though we’ve heard tell of their “gigantic steaks” around the dinner hour, we went by for lunch yesterday to check the place out. The space is comfortable with warm lighting and big comfy booths that can easily fit a group of six. The bar is expansive and inviting as well, and you can sit in view of a television or away from it, as you so choose. Awesome, because one of my biggest pet peeves are places where TVs assault you in every direction.

The waitstaff was friendly and welcoming, making sure our beverages came promptly. The beer selection was excellent, so one of our number chose a New Belgium Fat Tire. They have over 20 draught beers available, so it’ll definitely be a great place to hit up after hours.

We glanced over the appetizers and found the idea of bbq pulled pork potato skins too irresistible. When they came, they were covered in black beans, succulent pulled pork, and the house-made barbecue sauce, with fresh and crispy cabbage slaw on the side. We devoured them. Amazing.

Hill Street Tavern offers a daily blue plate special, and yesterday it was a smoked quarter chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans. Two of us ordered that, while the others were convinced by the burger, made with meat ground in house, served with fries, and reportedly, “huge.” Everyone at the table had a substitution or special order, and these were all handled with aplomb. The burgers didn’t disappoint. And the chicken special was fantastic, smothered in a sort of mustard/peppercorn barbecue sauce that managed to be unusual while still being delicious.

We’ll definitely be coming back for dinner and a pitcher of draught at this pub that offers more than the usual pub fare. All in all, the restaurants and retailers at the Pencil Factory Flats & Shops are looking more promising by the day…and more delicious!

Review: The Beignet Connection Serves Up Creole Delights in Intown Atlanta

As previously covered, we’ve all been waiting with bated breath for the opening of the Beignet Connection at the Pencil Factory Flats & Shops. This Creole restaurant serves Nawlins-style cuisine in a beautifully lush space located conveniently in the heart of all that’s happening in Atlanta’s intown. This weekend, your intrepid blogger and two associates headed down to the Pencil Factory to check it out.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but we hit the spot up around lunchtime. Service was friendly and prompt, bringing water and a proper chicory-infused café au lait to the table. The coffee was perfect, milky and delicious with that richness that comes from the chicory inherent to Creole-style caffeination.

The menu is expansive with something for every palate (perfect, because one of our company is pregnant and another is gluten-free). It was hard to pick: gumbo or shrimp Creole? Jambalaya or etoufee? Po-boy or muffuletta? After hemming and hawing, we made our selections. Pictured below, the jambalaya, reportedly “incredible.”

I had the shrimp Creole, a food that I grew up eating (albeit prepared by my non-Creole mother). It’s one of those meals that goes directly to the brainstem where memory is stored: rich, hearty, comforting, with just the right amount of savory spice. The shrimp were fresh and succulent, and the sauce was so good that it took great wherewithal to avoid licking remnants off the plate.

Of course, a restaurant called “The Beignet Connection” begs the order of those particular treats. Much like a doughnut, these puffy pastries are glorious fluffy pockets of fried dough, in this case served with a dusting of powdered sugar. It took some impulse control on the part of my dining companions to let me get this picture before they tore in to the plate of beignets:

Ever since Huey’s closed, Atlanta has been aching for a high-quality Creole restaurant. With its expansive and delicious menu, reasonable prices, and comfortable ambience, The Beignet Connection is filling a void that we are so happy to see filled. It’s not a question of if we’ll be back…it’s a question of when.

The Return of Caramba Cafe: Part Two

Last week, we covered the much-anticipated reopening of the beloved Caramba Cafe in its new space at the Pencil Factory Flats & Shops. This week, we got to cover it in more depth…that is to say, we got to eat and drink there on its one-week anniversary. Blogging isn’t so bad, huh?

We came by for lunch and were impressed with the chic, modern layout of the new space. Not only is the new bar super-cool and ready to stand up to the demands of the margarita-demanding throng, but the whole place feels much more open and comfortable. Above, see as the inimitable Mia shows off their fantastic new bar before making me one of her locally-famous margaritas. She told me how excited they are about the new space, how great the location is, and how supportive their old fans are about this move up in the world.

Best Margarita in Atlanta

While we were there, we watched as old and new fans of Caramba filed in for lunch at the bar and the many cozy tables; most of the crowd seemingly couldn’t resist the call of the Mia-rita, and who can blame them? It might be cold outside, but this combination of fresh lime juice and your choice of tequila will warm you right up. Hoo boy!

Best Atlanta Chile Relleno

Of course, we weren’t just there to imbibe mid-day, although the complimentary chips and salsa were an awfully good accompaniment. The menu looked delectable with all the traditional Mexican favorites just aching to be ordered. One of my dining partners ordered the huevos rancheros and some extra hot sauce from Mia’s mom, our waitress. Neither the eggs nor the incredible, spicy habanero salsa that came back disappointed. Both my other dining partner and myself were intrigued by something on the “lighter” menu, a chicken- or cheese-stuffed poblano pepper smothered in red sauce and cheese, with beans and rice on the side. We both pulled the trigger on chicken and were very impressed. This was one tasty chile relleno!

Of course, there is a downside to food this delicious and margaritas this tasty for lunch…after getting back to the office it was hard to talk about anything else. So, be forewarned, if you want the best Atlanta Mexican food, come on down to the new intown, but you might just lose a few hours in bliss. YUM.

Review: Nick’s Food to Go: Downtown Atlanta’s Amazing Greek Joint

Nick's Food to GoDid you know that just a block from Pencil Factory, in a fairly uninspiring painted brick building, exists what many think to be the best Greek food in Atlanta? Nick’s Food to Go is one of those places generally only known to the seasoned, tried-and-true intowner: no tables, wait for your food in the dining room or parking lot, but oh, is it worth it! From their celebrated gyros to their cult-inspiring pastitchio (Greek lasagna), a favorite of Atlanta chef Kevin Rathbun, Nick’s serves one of the best quick meals in all downtown.

I haven’t been in quite a while, despite being a long-time fan of the place, so I headed down last week for a quick lunch in between errands. Just my luck: the special of the day was moussaka, my favorite. Their version of the sautéed eggplant, tomato, and ground meat casserole is covered in a perfect white sauce and baked to a bubbly perfection. The lamb is delicious and the spices are perfect. The Greek salad I had to accompany was crisp and tasty. Sure, eating this kind of decadent food in your car in the middle of a blustery December isn’t the most elegant way to spend your lunch break, but is it ever worth it!

Nick himself is a riotously funny man with an alternating friendly/grumpy demeanor who nonetheless takes his food very seriously. He and his wife Eleni have been serving their glorious gyros and other offerings to Atlanta since 1994. Their prices are incredibly reasonable, making it one of those lunches that make your brown-bagging coworkers weep with envy.

Here are some insider tips for eating at Nick’s: Don’t substitute, don’t ask for things on the side, and don’t make too many special requests. Like many old-timers set in their ways, Nick is sweet, but if you throw a monkey wrench in his system he’ll let you know! Just let him make his food, and you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to eat carefully: you will end up covered in tzatziki. And be sure to call ahead in the summer, or else you might catch the restaurant during the family’s fabled month-long Greek vacation: that is to say, closed.

Mmmm…I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!