30 Restaurants in 30 Days: The Wrap Map
For those of you who followed this blog’s “30 Restaurants in 30 Days” project last month, we now offer a Google Maps mashup that shows where all the reviewed restaurants can be found. And because my editor asked me to make a few concluding remarks on the project to go with this very handy map, I offer these:
The best laid plans:
- failed when I announced I was planning to visit 30 restaurants in November on the first of that month and then had only have 29 days left. Um…oops? I made up for it by reviewing two ramen noodle restaurants — Blue Fin Sushi and Umaido – in a special twofer.
- also failed when I decided to visit the Busy Bee Cafe (a restaurant I’ve always liked a lot) on the day after Thanksgiving. I figured it would make a nice bookend to my somewhat critical look at Mary Mac’s Tea Room early in the series. It turned out the Busy Bee was closed on that day, so I drove around until I found a restaurant that was open. West Egg Cafe: perfect!
I was hoping, but never got the chance, to get to:
- Home — the Buckhead spot where Richard Blais was cooking when he was riding the wave of his “Top Chef” star turn. I don’t hear much about it anymore.
- The Hil — I so enjoyed talking to Hilary White about tomato sandwiches for column last summer that I’ve been dying to try her Serenbe dining destination. Boy, that place is far.
- Tofu Village — A Korean restaurant in Marietta that this guy loves. Handmade tofu? I’m in.
- The Majestic — I’ve lived here for 12 years and never been. The thing is, I want to go at 2 a.m.
- The Lobster Bar – I haven’t been in years, but remember thinking this facsimile of the Grand Central Oyster Bar in Buckhead was a cool space. I’m wondering if it has achieved groovy hideaway status yet.
- McKinnon’s Louisiane — A restaurant that has been in business for more than 35 years is doing something right. I’d love to find out what precisely that is…
In some ways the biggest surprises were:
- Joël Brasserie, which has been through so much and yet somehow seems to have found its groove. I think that $39 four-course menu may be the best gourmet deal in town. A couple of choices for each course might make it even better.
- Umaido, which I had visited once after it opened and liked well enough. Now, it makes a bowl of ramen I dream about. I wish there was a wormhole connecting downtown to this noodle shop’s location in Suwanee.
Judging by coments and page views, readers really seem to want more information on:
- Mexican food. Seriously. The posts on Taqueria la Oaxaquena, the Original El Taco and Nuevo Laredo Cantina — three radically different restaurants — got more people talking that just about anything. Well, except this. Oh, yeah, and this.
Dining with subscribers who entered a contest to join me:
- Was seriously fun. I really enjoyed meeting Patti Parker, Claudia Ledwich, and Mike and Ellen Garver. I feel like they beat 1000:1 odds to win the dinner and ended up with a karmic consolation prize in me. I hope you all appreciated the company and conversation as much as I did.
Compared to five years ago, when I last dined on the job:
- What used to be a $150 meal for two is now a $100 meal for two. Restaurants everywhere are figuring out ways for customers to keep the price down with sharable plates, nightly specials and less expensive options. I also think a lot of the $100 meals today are better than the $150 meals were in 2004.
- Serious small restaurants are opening everywhere.
- Waiters used to offer sparkling or still water; now they at least give you the option of tap before you have to ask for it. I consider that progress.
Once again, the map can be found here.