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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Phish Phood Café

$-$$

$-$$

So, there you are, driving through suburban Roswell in your eco-friendly hatchback, 12 minutes into an epic guitar jam, when your head snaps to the strip mall on Woodstock and Holcomb Bridge Road. Dude … does that say Phish Phood Café?

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

But before you throw on your old “Summer Tour ’96” shirt and a splash of patchouli, be warned: This “Phish” has no relation to the jam band, nor is it a rogue one-trick-pony Ben & Jerry’s shop.

Rather, this cafe in Roswell is the evolution of chef and owner Dave Fast’s faith-based catering service, Phish Phood Event Services. The name is actually a reference to the fish-like Christian symbol, the ichthys. However, before the non-religious among you scoff, nothing about the atmosphere is preachy. Save for spying a cross or two on the wall, the Phish Phood experience is really about the food.

Known as “Chef Dave” to regulars, Fast brings over 25 years of industry experience to the new homegrown fast-casual restaurant, including stints with the Buckhead Life Group. Opened originally as a breakfast and brunch spot last October, Fast quickly listened to the feedback from patrons clamoring for a dinner menu. Over the first few months, he phased out breakfast, now serving it only during the consistently packed brunch service on Sundays.

Grilled Korean BBQ flank steak served over a bed of ginger rice with sauteed edamame.(BECKY STEIN/special)

Grilled Korean BBQ flank steak served over a bed of ginger rice with sauteed edamame.(BECKY STEIN/special)

Fast’s menu goes far beyond a few heady veggie burritos and grilled cheese. Instead, you find an eclectic blend of international cuisines. On one visit, as our food reaches the table I realize that our meal for four includes Southern, Korean, Thai, Creole, Greek and Cuban inspired dishes. While Fast’s range of influences spans the globe, when they intersect on the same plate the contrasts are often subtle. The end result isn’t quite fusion, but definitely not traditional.

Thai blueberry wings

Thai blueberry wings

An order of flash-fried Thai blueberry wings ($8.95) doused in a blueberry-infused sweet Thai chili sauce is a perfect example. Aside from being nearly irresistible to order out of shear curiosity, the fruity glaze with just a hint of chili is mild enough to please heat-sensitive palates, but unique enough to satisfy most wing fanatics. You’ll be hard pressed to find a wing like it in town. But if you must feel the burn, you want the try to spicier Sriracha hot wings ($8.95).

For some Southern comfort food in overdrive, try the Pig & Grits ($8.95), swapping out shrimp for a nest of smoked pulled pork served in a bowl of grits. The grits can be a little on the bland side, so be sure to start this dish with a swipe of your knife through the fried egg draped over the top, soaking the pork in runny yolk. Grab a buttered toast wedge and soak to your heart’s content.

The Ricky Ricardo ($8.95), their take on a Cuban sandwich, gets a few Euro-American twists with slices of melted Muenster cheese, smoked pork loin, sweet honey ham, and spicy dijonaise mustard. These tweaks may not make for a reinvented Cuban, but they make for a tasty one. Fast stays closer to the traditional with the Zorba ($8.95), a perfectly acceptable gyro sandwich, adding only a hint of key lime in the tzatziki sauce.

Perhaps the biggest mishmash of cuisines, incorporating aspects of Cajun, American and Mexican influences, are the Blackened Phish Tacos ($11.95), melding blackened tilapia, chipotle salsa, jicama slaw, key lime, cilantro, and dirty rice.

By far, the most frustrating yet flavorful dish has to be the Bulgogi Beef ($12.95) The Korean-inspired flank steak comes paired with sautéed edamame and a side of ginger rice. The steak arrives cooked to the requested medium, and the spices work well. But at first glance I spot a fatal and hopefully isolated flaw — the beef arrives sliced with the grain.

Any enjoyment of the flavors is overwhelmed by the growing soreness in my jaw as I gnaw my way through the unnecessarily tough meat. Oh, what I would have given for a turn of the knife against the fibrous flank steak — the difference would have been profound. Perhaps the choice is intentional, but I have to believe that such a fundamental lapse in technique is just a momentary one for someone with Fast’s years of industry experience. Or, at least, I hope so.

While the missteps were few, the poorly sliced flank steak was egregious, but without ordering the dish a second time, the benefit of the doubt may be in order. Looking beyond that, Phish Phood Cafe provides a unique menu of affordable and freshly prepared dishes, and should certainly be a frequent stop for those in the neighborhood.

PHISH PHOOD CAFE
11255 Woodstock Road, Roswell, 770-587-4474
2stars5Food: American and International fusion
Service: eager to please
Best dishes: Thai blueberry wings and Pig & Grits
Vegetarian selections: A few salads and a veggie wrap
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays
Children: welcome
Parking: ample
Reservations: no
Wheelchair access: yes
Smoking: no
Noise level: moderate
Patio: yes
Takeout: yes

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14 comments Add your comment

LoanYouAThesaurus

June 21st, 2012
6:55 am

A lot of the critique comes across as ambiguous. No review of the service or presentation either really, both of which can make or break a dining experience

Billy

June 21st, 2012
3:36 pm

This is writer is clueless. The restaurant is great. It is an inexpensive place for great food. I liked most of what they said, but it is at least 4 starts.

ThisPlaceRocks!

June 21st, 2012
4:40 pm

PPC is well worth the drive from where ever – glad they are in our neighborhood! And I’m sure if Chef Dave knew you had an issue with your Bulgogi he would have offered to prepare another or something else! You didn’t even mention the Bob Marley, it is a one of a kind.

SophyB

June 21st, 2012
6:02 pm

Service from Chef Dave and his crew is always awesome. They go out of their way to make sure you are happy with your food, so I’m sure they would have fixed up your flank steak. I have never had a bad dish here. The Bob Marley flatbread sandwich and homemade potato chips are very tasty indeed!

SophyB

June 21st, 2012
6:05 pm

Oh, and the location in the article is wrong. It’s not at Woodstock Rd and Holcomb Bridge – the intersection closest to Phish Phood is Woodstock and Crossville Rds (Crossville becomes Holcomb Bridge on the other side of Alpharetta Hwy, so you get a pass).

Tom

June 21st, 2012
6:43 pm

I’ve had the Bulgogi Beef – and it’s so tender it melts in my mouth. It’s always a challenge to get this cut of steak tender, so perhaps Jon just got ahold of a poor attempt. The two times I’ve had it, it was incredible – both in taste and texture. Don’t be turned away by that one negative in an otherwise great review.

Jon – go back, order the steak again, and be prepared to edit this review!

Tom

June 21st, 2012
6:47 pm

The pricing Jon gives is inaccurate. He says $ – $$. One $ is under $15, not including drinks. This describes every dish on the menu. You’d have to go up to $25 to get to $$. So it’s just one dollar sign.

James

June 21st, 2012
10:01 pm

The BEST flank steak I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve eaten it many times. It’s a great escape from eating dinners with the kids. Great date night meal. Very affordable. My wife and I are happy to have such a find!

Paula

June 21st, 2012
10:52 pm

I visit Phish Phood just about every day and I have never had bad experience. The service is amazing and they are a team that honestly care about their guests! No one has commented on the fact that Chef Dave will change up his dishes a bit to meet his guests dietary needs. The soups, salads and sandwiches are amazingly flavorful and well worth the trip! A great place to eat and get to meet some awesome people.

Debi

June 21st, 2012
10:55 pm

They serve the biggest and best grilled chicken Cobb salad ever!

W

June 21st, 2012
11:48 pm

Is there a shakedown street?

Leslie

June 22nd, 2012
8:09 am

As a rule, I am not a lover of beef. I however, love, love ,love the beef bulgogi here. It is so good that I have a hard time ordering anything else. The crispy bits in the ginger rice that accompany the beef are outstanding. On a recent visit my husband and I shared the antipasto with vanilla dressing, another standout. GO!!!

NomNomNomATL

June 22nd, 2012
8:44 am

I don’t see any Goo Balls for dessert? And where is the String Cheese Poutine?

Aaron

June 22nd, 2012
4:18 pm

I’ve eaten my share of Bulgogi Beef from many different Korean BBQ restaurants, and Chef Dave’s beats them all. The service at Phish Phood deserves two thumbs up. Keep up the good work!!