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Meat and Potato Kitchen and Bar restaurant review, Johns Creek

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Fast-casual dining seems to be today’s trend in restaurant concepts. In a typical scenario, fast-casual spots present a variety of ingredients that customers combine as they choose. Think places like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Here’s the million-meal question: Can restaurants successfully create a hybrid concept? Say, a buffet at a bistro or fast-casual choose-you-own-ingredients in a fine dining setting?

Review by Jenny Turknett

Review by Jenny Turknett

There’s a new restaurant in Johns Creek attempting just that. At Meat and Potato Kitchen and Bar, guests design their own entrees from a list of meat, sauce and potato options. Restaurateurs Khalid Raji and Jamal Sahri created this model based on a popular selling dish at one of their Washington, D.C., restaurants: short ribs with the choice of sauce and potato gratin.

Though sporting a fast-casual concept with a hotel-esque dining room, the restaurant is one of few upscale dining options in John’s Creek. The bar, a hot spot for locals, features pianists playing tunes, occasionally with jazzed-up backup tracks and vocals.

“Moon River” will float along in the background as you peruse the wine list with many familiar names but little information (no vintages or other details). If you talk wine with your friendly waiter, he’ll be quick to point out the Duckhorn Merlot ($107), the most expensive option on the menu. “It goes with everything,” he says. And it probably would pair well with beef and potatoes. I didn’t find out.

The restaurant serves Braveheart beef from the Performance Food Group’s DNA-tracing Black Angus product line. The program was designed to allow traceability for verification of brand and quality claims. Meat and Potato orders 21-day, wet-aged steaks and dry-ages them in-house for another 14 days.

The New York strip ($26), though slightly past the medium-rare I ordered, was a nice specimen, juicy and well-seasoned. For my sauce, I initially waffled between the garlic-shallot and red wine sauce. In the end, I settled on a well-balanced shiitake cream whiskey sauce with a sweetness akin to sherried she-crab soup. Yet, after a bite or two, I pushed it aside. A good steak needs no sauce, at least not a sauce-boat full.

Marinated hanger steak with chimichurri (All photos by Becky Stein)

Marinated hanger steak with chimichurri (All photos by Becky Stein)

The hanger steak ($21) takes an overnight dip in a sherry vinegar, garlic and herb mixture. The resulting beef sports a sickly grey pallor and a smacks of a sweet and tangy marinade. (Where’s the beef?) The chimichurri sauce I selected provided no aid, a silver vessel flooded with two-thirds oil, one-third herb mixture minus the garlic sharpness I craved.

The seasoned rack of lamb ($29) earns “best dish,” cooked to temperature with its juices creating a natural sauce, a better pairing than the dried-cherry gastrique recommended by our server. The gastrique, much like one of those syrupy pancake sauces they serve at breakfast dives, worked better as a topping for the sweet potato brulee I chose as my potato. The baby-food smooth sweet potatoes with a sugar crust morphed into a Thanksgiving casserole with the gastrique.

The sweet potato brulee scores points for creativity. Other potato options include a potato puree (devoid of texture and in desperate need of salt), a traditional potato gratin and house-cooked crispy herbed and salted fries.

In keeping with the theme, the coconut curry mussels ($18) come with fries. They spill from a silver cup, nestled deep in the matching silver bowl of mussels in a spicy Thai coconut-curry sauce. The fries arrive with a dipping dish of aioli, but I prefer to run them through the silky sauce of ginger, lemongrass, coconut, Kaffir lime, red curry paste and fresh shellfish stock.

Citrusy hamachi ceviche (All photos by Becky Stein)

Citrusy hamachi ceviche with corn nuts

Pescetarians can also participate in the restaurant’s build-your-own-dish gimmick with salmon ($21), monkfish ($22) and shrimp skewers ($20). Or there are options including the hamachi ceviche ($10), a molded round mound of firm-textured chopped fish bound with a citrusy yuzu juice and studded with cilantro. A corn nut topping adds crunch and novelty.

End your meal on a sweet note with treats like ice cream from High Road Craft or the oversized square of tart and not-too-sweet key lime pie ($8) with fresh lime zest and coconut-flavored whipped cream.

Meat and Potato Kitchen and Bar, which opened in June, has a few kinks to conquer. Namely, reconciling the mix-and-match concept with a fine dining setting. Perhaps it would be wise to leave the pairings to the kitchen.

MEAT AND POTATO KITCHEN AND BAR
5710 State Bridge Road, Johns Creek, 770-814-7255

1stars5Food: A twist on a steakhouse with combinations of meat and potato dishes.
Service: Friendly and very chatty
Best dishes: Rack of lamb, coconut curry mussels and fries
Vegetarian selections: Few options: salads and penne pasta.
Price range: $$-$$$
Credit cards: All major credit cards
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-11:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10:30 p.m. Sundays.
Children: Better not
Parking: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: No
Noise level: Low
Patio: Yes
Takeout: Yes

ratings_key_febUSE

28 comments Add your comment

Chris

September 13th, 2012
11:37 am

I wish I had two more arms, so I could give this place four thumbs down. The service was, frankly, embarrassingly bad and the food was disappointing and confusing. Thank the gods I have more options in Johns Creek.

Beer Geek

September 13th, 2012
12:04 pm

I checked the menu and although they have an extensive wine list, there is no beer list. Am I to assume the beer selection is tasteless macros? If so, I refuse to patronize this place, as I do with any restaurant that considers it\’s self upscale, but has at best, a mediocre beer list.

Jeff A. Taylor

September 13th, 2012
12:46 pm

If 35-days of aging do not impart a depth of flavor to cut, I have assume something went wrong. And I’m with beer geek — too many fresh local brews out there that pair wonderfully with food to dally with outlets who are stuck with the old treble retail wine list profit center. Pass.

Ken C Whyte

September 13th, 2012
4:12 pm

I am a fan of Jenny and read her critiques with pleasure, but I hope that she gives this restaurant another try. I need to say I am a fan of this restaurant and am just a patron and not a friend. This restaurant has potential to be what is needed in our neighborhood , it is comfortable, pleasing and very welcoming. The food is great and is not cookie cutter ” I can get this anywhere” food. The service staff is knowledgeable without being stuffy or arrogant. I have met the owner when we have visited and he is accommodating and always asking us what we think and how he can keep us coming back. The idea of picking a steak, potato and sauce is rather appealing and the way it is presented is very tasteful. In my opinion if you rely on the say of others without at least trying it then it is very much your loss. As per Jenny I agree the lamb is outstanding, the mussels are exceptional and I foresee this restaurant as being the place for Johns Creek neighborhoods to seek out.
On a personal side note, if you are focusing on the fact that they didn’t have YOUR beer or you don’t like what beer they serve, you would do better at a Taco Mac with 200 beer selection. Thank you for not giving the gentleman two more hands either, that in itself would be embarrassing. Bon Appetite!

Beer Geek

September 13th, 2012
9:46 pm

@ Ken

Your snobbish perspective is sad. Just because I like beer, I am relegated to Taco Mac? The numerous styles(hundreds) of beer makes it perfect for food. More restaurants need to understand that, of suffer the consequences that more people are like me who choose to go elsewhere. There are several places that feature great food and great beer…….Just not enough.

intellibird

September 13th, 2012
10:50 pm

Beer Geek, nice name. As a lover of your despised “macros” I frankly think you need to look in the mirror if you want to see a SNOB. Ken, on the other hand gave a very intelligent review AND managed to politely rebuff your thoroghly asinine one.

Michael

September 14th, 2012
2:45 am

Hey Jenny. There are two buffet restaurants in Snellville you should check out. One is John Boys, the other is Baby Janes. They are Korean owned but cook some really good southern food/ vegetables. On Friday John Boy’s has all you can eat whole fried catfish., Baby Janes has catfish fillets. IMO their veggies are a little above Golden Corral & Piccadilly. The selection is not as big & changes each day. Baby Janes has some incredible fried chicken. Prices are very reasonable. Hope you will rate them.

Jenny Turknett

September 14th, 2012
3:53 am

Ken, I appreciate hearing your perspective. This one was a challenge because I really did have some nice experiences there. But in the end when I looked back at each of the dishes I had, I just didn’t think they earned the second star, which indicates consistency.

Michael, thanks for the suggestions. My dad has been looking for a place that serves whole catfish since Rio Vista closed. I’ll have to take him to John Boy’s.

Nazan Yar

September 14th, 2012
5:58 am

Ugh this restaurant sounds like it is different for the sake of being different. It just sounds like a strange concept. I guess that is why I choose to live closer to town, after growing up in the Johns Creek area. So there are no vegetables whatsoever other than parsley?

yuck

September 14th, 2012
6:59 am

Let’s be honest; this place is housed in the same place that a diner, a Chinese place, a Rio Bravo, an Italian themed steakhouse, and finally some other kind of joint I frankly can not remember what it was, and really, now a meat and potatoe bar????? In the same parking lot is a Japanese place, a Waffle House, a Tilted Kilt, a Twisted Tace, a tapas bar, and health food bowl place of some sort and now a new Italian place (and across the street some other Rouge Place steakhouse and Table 191 or whatever it is called; There is a lot to choose from; after having watched all these places be remodeled and open; the only one that is consistent is the Waffle House!!!!! I would enjoy a nice place to eat in this area and not have to break the bank; I am no fan of curried anything or a place that calls itself a meat and potatoe bar. You can get that at Waffle House (meat and potatoes that is- and be honest, at some point everyone has ordered meat of some kind and hasbrowns from Waffle House!!!!!). Where is the place to eat that has good food, good service, good atmosphere, good times? Someone needs to cater to us that like to eat out, but understands that a $45 Fried Chicken dinner (recently reviewed Buttermilk) ain’t it nor is the Meat and Potatoe Bar??!!??!! No wonder so many places have flopped in the same bulding as Meat and Potatoe bar; there is no gimmick when it comes to serving good food!!

Likes food

September 14th, 2012
7:03 am

Well Yuck,,,,, you are correct; so many places have flopped in that location; I too will not break the bank when it comes to eating out. Let us not forget that Stoney River is across the street from this place and ocassionally when we all splurge, that is where I would rather have meat and potatoes from; some place that has a reputation for better steaks and they need bot be drenched in any sauce; after all the reviewer said it best; no steak needs marinade of anything….. I will pass on this gimmicky place, because that is what it is. I would rather eat at Twisted Taco and that ain’t saying much!

Bill Kenwright

September 14th, 2012
9:13 am

Dined yesterday lunch at Meat and Potato.1st visit and was surprised at how beautiful the inside is.Had the Beef Stew and my business associates both had the Seafood Stew.Nice salads and prompt and friendly service.Look forward to taking my wife for Dinner soon.Read some of the other comments and all I can say is that every place deserves a chance.

Beer Geek

September 14th, 2012
10:31 am

How am I a snob because I prefer a better beer selection? Ken suggested if I want beer, to go to Taco Mac which has a below par menu. What if I want a fine Belgian Quad with a steak? How does that make me a snob?

As far as the Despised macros…..Yeah. They only brew beer to make a fortune, not to make great beer. From way back when Fritz Maytag bought Anchor, to Ken Grossman starting Sierra Nevada to Brian Purcell in the soon to be opened Three Taverns Brewery in Decatur……Their goal is to produce quality beer. It’s a passion and an art. There are some of us who appreciate it and feel second class to macro snobs like you. Calling me a snob is unwarranted. I never ridicule those who prefer a different brand of beer. If it makes you happy, I am happy.

Finally, the blog author failed to address this concern and instead chose to discuss cat fish restaurants. How about it Jenny……What’s your take on the lack of higher end craft beers in restaurants?

Wayne

September 14th, 2012
2:10 pm

We’ve eaten there twice so far and will go back many more times. The food is consistently excellent, the service stellar, and the owners friendly and interested in your experience. I think it’s a three star place. Along with Viande Rouge and 141, Johns Creek finally has some great dining options. And Beer Guy – you need some help – your paranoia is showing!

sansho1

September 14th, 2012
2:41 pm

“What if I want a fine Belgian Quad with a steak? How does that make me a snob?”

Not to gang up on you, but…seriously? I think it’s time to own your snobbery. It’s not like it’s the worst thing in the world — pretentious people are determined to try new things, and some of that experience filters through to the rest of society. Where would we be WITHOUT snobs? Anyone who remembers the dining scene in Atlanta 30 years ago should be arranging a parade for snobs right now.

Teresa

September 15th, 2012
12:38 pm

26 bucks for a hanger steak?

Teresa

September 15th, 2012
12:39 pm

Come to Vittles on S Cobb Drive in Smyrna you get prime steak for less cooked at it’s best, besides I don’t know about certain cultures making steak n potatoes in the south..jus sayin

Teresa

September 15th, 2012
12:41 pm

on this site this eatery gets 1 star so there you go

BTB

September 15th, 2012
1:52 pm

In reading the comments to this blog, I realized that each negative commentor so far has not even set foot in the establishment. I have vistied, ordered, drank a good beer and had a great meal. Although initially skeptical because of the building’s track record and the overly simplictic name, I will go back many times. The lesson to learn here is to not bash a place on-line that you haven’t visited in person. Beer Geek, I too find the beer selections in the vast majority of establishments lacking but you could have called M&P K&B directly to ask what their current selection was before negatively and hypothetically commenting. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Beer Geek

September 15th, 2012
2:25 pm

@ BTB
OK…..I raised the question that since I did not see a beer list on the menu, was the selection that of large macro brews? I never did criticize this restaurant, just the concept of finer restaurants not offering a better selection. Since you were the FIRST to say yes, they have good beer, you answered the question I posed earlier. If you were to better comprehend simple discourse, you would see I did not bash this place. It would be nice if they listed the beer selection on their web site.

I don’t know why so many of you are looking for a fight. I don’t know why the blog author could not answer this earlier.

i have eaten here

September 15th, 2012
4:11 pm

and it is GROSS!!!!!!!! The previous posters are smarter than I was- DONT EAT HERE!

nina

September 15th, 2012
4:36 pm

“What if I want a fine Belgian Quad with a steak? How does that make me a snob?”
Love how Beer Geek gets attacked for this. If someone says a nice California Cabernet Sauvignon then ALL would be well. God forbid people drink other things.

Beer Geek

September 15th, 2012
7:26 pm

Thanks Nina.

BTW, I love Cabernet

Scott Anderson

September 16th, 2012
9:54 am

Gave John Boys buffet several chances with my money. Food is horrible waste. If you can find 4 things half way decent off the buffet consider it a gold mine.

The only thing you will find at John Boys in Snellville is food poisoning. It has some of the nastiest food buffet you could ask for.
Do yourself a favor. Drive by and keep on going.

Comparing their vegtable to Golden Coral is night and day.

Scott Anderson

September 16th, 2012
9:55 am

Beer Geek you are some redneck beer swiller with no class.

Head down to Hooters. You know you want to.

Stay out of restauants with some class.

loser

art

September 16th, 2012
11:11 am

All the beer comments and shameless plugs for other restaurants aside, I fail to see how this place competes with the likes of Moe’s and Chipotle. First of all, it doesn’t sound all that fast nor all that casual. Of course even the so-called finer places in town have long ago thrown out any semblance of dress code simply wanting to get more butts in chairs. Secondly, a place where entree’s are squarely in the $20-30 range is not “fast casual”. There’s nothing at either aforementioned “competitor” that approaches these prices. Further, any decent restaurant in ATL will be happy to substitute a different potato dish or even a different starch entirely for what’s on the menu. I fail to see the novelty. Go get your favorite beer or wine, your favorite cut of beef and have a great meal at home on your deck or patio while enjoying this great early fall weather.

Huh?

September 16th, 2012
9:20 pm

“…steak for less cooked at it’s best…”

“…a place where entree’s are squarely in the $20-30 range…”

Question: Does the apostrophe add perceived grandiosity or is it simply the public school system?

Edgewood Adam

September 17th, 2012
2:02 pm

Only in Alpharetta errrr I mean Johns Creek would someone be ridiculed for wanting a decent beer. This is why you can not have nice things. What a joke of a town.