Out and About @ Cooks + Soldiers

Cooks + Soldiers, Cooks & Soldiers, Gluten Free dining, Atlanta gluten free restaurants

Cooks + Soldiers, Cooks & Soldiers, Gluten Free dining, Atlanta gluten free restaurants

We ventured out the other night to celebrate a recent promotion (woot, woot!), diverting from our usual “celebratory” faves in favor of trying a new place. As you have probably learned, finding a foodie-worthy restaurant that also offers gluten-, nut- and dairy-free options can be akin to finding a needle in a haystack!

Thankfully, Atlanta’s restaurant scene is evolving (and quite quickly, too!), and Cooks + Soldiers is among the trendsetters.

Unique for serving traditional cuisine from the Basque region of Spain, C+S is located on the Westside of Midtown. Its menu is comprised of pintxos, similar to tapas, and asado, meaning “grilled” or “barbecue”, and its name is inspired by the annual Tamborrada festival of San Sebastian in January, during which, for 24 hours, the entire city is awash with the sound of drums. The adults, dressed as cooks and soldiers, march in different companies across various parts of the city. The passion and tradition of the event from which the restaurant takes its name is evident in every detail.

The dining room is reminiscent of a gentleman’s establishment from a different era: warm, rich and inviting, yet subtle and minimalist. Not trying too hard. Just genuine and authentic. The patio is simply decorated for al fresco dining.

Even though the fertile lands of the Spanish Basque region yield many grains, the cuisine itself is not very grain-based, nor is the C+S menu, which made it easy for us to try a variety of traditional dishes . The servers and staff also delivered allergy-free recommendations with flair and whimsy, enhancing the entire experience to a new level. (Never did they offer up a super pricey alternative, either. So refreshing!)

If you’re a wine enthusiast, you must take a look at their wine list! It goes beyond what I’ve seen in many Atlanta restaurants, particularly those wines offered by the glass. We tried a sparkling pinot noir wine, a cava made from the pinot noir grapes, that was unlike any other, as well as a Riesling blend that was simply decadent!

A Riesling blend after we enjoyed our cava!
A Riesling blend after we enjoyed our cava!

 

Gambas y Pulpo, gluten free restaurants in Atlanta, tapas, atlanta, cooks + soldiers, cooks and soldiers
Gambas y Pulpo (sans toasted bread for this girl!)

 

Roasted cauliflower,  Azalorea Erreta, gluten-free restaurant in atlanta
The absolute pièce de résistance. Azalorea Erreta. Cauliflower steak with cauliflower, capers and carrot chicharrón. We ordered seconds.

 

 

Cauliflower ice cream, glue free restaurants in atlanta
Cauliflower ice cream with a gentle sweetness + a hint of anise. Unexpectedly delicious!

From the ambience, to the greeting, seating, and serving staff, to the chef, to the meal, itself, each interaction was a consistently delicious and jovial experience. I would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for a fine, fun place to celebrate a special occasion, entertain clients, or simply enjoy a glass of wine. After such a five-star experience, I’m certainly planning to join them again!

Cooks + Soldiers
691 14th Street NW
at Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30318
Tel. 404-996-2623

Out and About: The Park Cafe, Charleston, SC

I took a little road trip recently to the Holy City of Charleston, SC. One my absolute favorite places in the absolute world (ok, at least among the many places I’ve visited), Charleston hosts, among other things, some pretty fine eateries. From farmers markets’ fresh fruits and veggies to the soulful fare and Southern cuisine on E. Bay St. to local taquerias on King St. (not to mention Shem Creek, IOP and Mt. P, oh my!), there are endless epicurean adventures to be had, particularly on the weekends. Hello, brunch! With my dear soul sister, Ms. Disco Teepee herself, Meggie, leading the way, we took to a cafe in her new neighborhood for Sunday brunch with our close-knit framily in tow.

The Park Cafe, a gem in the Hampton Park neighborhood of Charleston, is just… well…wonderfully… honest. That is the best and only phrase I can use that even comes close to conveying the look, feel and flavors of this place. A come-as-you-are, welcoming hideaway that reminds me of what it felt like when I was growing up and ate lunch at a next-door neighbor’s house on a Sunday afternoon; her mom genuinely concerned that the food we ate was healthy, yet tasty and satisfying, having prepared our meal with care. Not overly casual, nor pushy, superficial or pretentious, just attentive, genuine and familiar, and…honest. As they say, themselves: “At The Park Cafe, we believe that great food isn’t complicated.” #True. Every dish we ordered was made of simple ingredients, locally sourced, and was just superb, as you’ll see! (ALERT: your mouth may water when you see the French Toast.)

One last thing: As we all know, the dining experience is more than just the food quality, isn’t it? Lousy service or rowdier-than-necessary (especially before the first round of coffee) can quickly tarnish the entire experience. No worries on either of those fronts at Park Cafe. From the servers, to the manager, to the clientele themselves (some even four-legged and furry!), the entire experience could not have been more lovely.

If you are in the Charleston area and looking for a refreshing, honest-to-goodness spot to savor your Sunday (or any day, really!), Park Cafe should be your g0-to. I am absolutely mandating it be on the agenda for my next weekend in CHS.

Enjoy!

 

Park Cafe Matinee
THE PARK CAFE
An incredible brunch spot in Hampton Park, Charleston, SC!

 

Ambience with fans
THE PATIO
We lucked out with an available table on the patio on a beautiful Sunday morning. I love the fans and lighting fixtures that are au naturel (and a little bit bee hive-y, don’t you think? So fun!)

 

Ambience wall of ferns
THE ICONIC WALL
Many a time photo’d, this wall is quite literally a breath of fresh air. Park Cafe is not a very large place, but the ample natural lighting, man-made illumination and greenery open up the dining room giving it a deceivingly spacious feel. The ambiance is truly refreshing and peaceful , yet lively and fun. (They have plants hanging from the walls and allow dogs outside! Of course it’s alive and fun 🙂 )

 

Cappuccino
Why, A SOY CAPPUCCINO, of course!
As Meggie promised, this was one of the best soy cappuccinos I have ever had. Something about this specific roast of coffee beans and the gentle sweetness of the soy made for a simply decadent first cup. (There was also a second, I won’t pretend.)

 

Meggie Needs Coffee
MEGGIE
Finally caffeinated.

 

Katherine got coffee
YAY COFFEE
It’s hard to say whether my excitement was derived from the Cup o’ Joe or just lingering from an incredible weekend in one of the places on this earth that just makes my heart brim over. …It was really good coffee, though…

 

Puppy 1
SWEET PUPPY #1
You can probably tell by her cautious, yet gentle demeanor in this picture that this sweet pumpkin was not really sure about her Sunday morning adventure, but for us, she was a welcomed surprise. We were not expecting any canine companions that morning, but her arrival made us all smile. Maybe she was just trying to move us along with those puppy dog eyes… after all, we did have a prime spot!

 

Cafe Potatoes
CAFE POTATOES
As a girl who relies on potatoes a good deal as her “go-to” gluten free brunch carb, I must say, I know potatoes. And these potatoes were quiet probably some of the BEST “hash browns” I have had in a very long time. The outside crispy, the inside cooked and soft, not grainy or dry at all. The onion and garlic lent wonderful flavor without being overpowering. Everyone nibbled away at them until we ordered a second serving.

 

Shirred Farm Eggs
SHIRRED FARM EGGS
with Soubise, Soldiers & Parmesan
Shirred Eggs are new to me, and I must say, I was quite intrigued with Lauren ordered them. If you aren’t already in-the-know, this tres chic dish is served with “soldiers” or thin toast slices and is actually baked eggs with cream, herbs and cheese. Unfortunately, I could not take part in this traditionally French fare, but the rest of the table could, and they raved.

 

Toast with Fresh apple Butter
TOAST
Fresh Butter & Apple Butter
Fresh butter and homemade apple butter? It was all I could do not to just sample a little on my spoon! Divine.

 

Veggie Mess
VEGGIE MESS
Farm Egg Scramble, Vegetable Curry, (sans) White Cheddar, Avocado
Although I dare say I could not recreate the curry to a “T,” I will try my hand at a homemade curry veg scramble in the near future as this one opened my eyes (and tastebuds) to the possibility. Peppers, carrots, peas, onions and cauliflower added a sprinkling of both color and texture to this dish. As you see, I opted out of cheese, but I don’t think it took away from the scramble a bit!

 

House Omelet with Arugula Salad
HOUSE OMELET & ARUGULA SALAD
Beech Mushroom, Leek, Brie, Espelette…and bacon
The salad with a light vinaigrette was the perfect substitute for Josh, who enjoyed the freshness of the vinaigrette in contrast to the earthiness of the mushrooms and creaminess of the brie. Of course, he liked the bacon, too 😉

 

French Toast
FRENCH TOAST
Portuguese Sweet Bread, Caramel, Bananas, Pecans & Whipped Cream
Where to even begin with this … Just looking at it, you can easily enjoy not just the beauty of this “French Toast,” but the sinful richness of each mouthful! Let’s just say that, thankfully, Dodd is a good sharer because I don’t think he had a choice when this one hit the table. Bananas, walnuts, a homemade buttery maple syrup, and spongy sweet bread? It’s a wonder he even got a bite at all!

 

Puppy 2
THIS GUY
Oh my goodness, this absolutely adorable creature provided at least 30 minutes of entertainment for us! He was hanging out immediately next to our table, and his zeal for this large stone (that looks like a ball in this picture; however, it most certainly was NOT) was contagious! He played with it as though it was his long-lost toy, and his joie de vivre made us stop mid-bite and just laugh. He was lost in enjoying himself, and so were we!
Oh man, did he make us happy!

 

Friends with Nosh
JOSH, aka “NOSH,” & MOI
With subtle French influence in the menu, I figured I’d sprinkle a little into the commentary (My French is a bit limited!) 🙂

 

Friends with Lauren
LAUREN & MOI

 

Friends Meggs and Nosh
AH, MAIS OUI!
Caffeinated, fed and enjoying our Sunday!

 

 

Out and About: True Food Kitchen, Atlanta, GA

True Food Kitchen Buckhead, anti-inflammatory dish, spaghetti squash, Buckhead restaurant, vegan restaurant Atlanta, Vegetarian Restaurant Atlanta, gluten free restaurant atlanta
TRUE FOOD KITCHEN
A new addition to the Buckhead scene!

Weeknight Girls Nights are always a blast, but they’re even better when they take you to a new restaurant! A last-minute change in plan brought us a new epicurean adventure: True Food Kitchen.

Many restaurants connect food with bringing people together, soothing our souls through comfort foods, or providing the backdrop for celebrations, but very few eateries put two and two together when it comes to serving foods that also empower our bodies to be strong and healthy, which is exactly True Food Kitchen’s value proposition to its patrons. All dishes are intended to support a healthy body and soul with combinations of anti-inflammatory ingredients “that can help people achieve and maintain optimum health over their lifetime.” (In truth, I am not 100% on board with dairy being included on a menu with this rationale since dairy can cause inflammatory responses, but it’s a slight digression that doesn’t detract from True Food’s unique offerings.)

In fact, True Food Kitchen identifies so deeply with healthy, balanced living that its staff is comprised solely of active lifestyle enthusiasts. It’s a job requirement! How cool is that? And being an enthusiast myself, it was encouraging to see that the restaurant’s values resonate so strongly with us Atlantans, indicated by a full patio and bar area. Whether for young couples, retirees, rowdy gals after work, happy hour partakers, or post-workout diners, the casual allure and affordable, guilt-free fare had a wide-appeal.

Overall, the ambiance, wait staff and cuisine were delightful, and we will certainly be returning to try more of these dishes, cocktails and natural refreshers! If you’re looking for fun, laid-back dining  for your next night out, definitely give True Food a try!

Inside 1
The interior dining area is reminiscent of a European bistro with its minimalist, laid-back decor, but with a warm wooden floor, ceiling and other furnishings that add warmth and coziness for a welcoming ambiance. There are also live plants that are interspersed throughout, which add an air of freshness inside and on the patio.
Inside 2
The inside bar had a local feel with a hint of French bistro despite being part of a restaurant group with locations across the country. The blackboards with chalk designs that lined the far wall were a lovely touch to reinforce the feel of a homegrown experience.
photo 2
Although True Food does offer cocktails, the Natural Refreshments are just as popular. You have to love a restaurant with coconut water as a hangover cure on the menu!
photo 4
We had to give a few of those Natural Refreshers a try. And, of course, H2O always playing a lead role in the hydration situation. 🙂
photo 2
Pomegranate Limeade
The most interesting & talked-about Refresher was the Pomegranate Limeade of lime juice, evaporated cane, pom juice & chia seed. This mocktail is one of the most popular (as seen by multiple tables sprinkled with them!), but texture of the chia seeds certainly took the girls a little getting used to. Needless to say, they are now chia seed converts.
photo 3
AUTUMN INGREDIENT SALAD
The Autumn Ingredient salad, made of Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Squash, Mulberry, White Bean, Pomegranate with a Horseradish Vinaigrette, was delish. The vinaigrette was kicky and very clean tasting with a hint of apple cider vinegar. The pom seeds added a great texture and a nutty sweetness to the winter veggie salad we enjoyed as our first course.
Chicken, tandoori, lentils, mint, almond, roasted chicken
ROASTED CHICKEN TANDOORI
Beluga Lentil, Greek Yogurt, Sprouted Almond, Date, Mint, Turmeric & Lemon
The chicken was delicious, very flavorful and refreshing. To see lentils so closely resembling beluga caviar was new to us, and I know I certainly found them to be kind of whimsical! The dish was a table-pleaser, and the portion large enough for each of the girls to try without putting too much of a dent in Shauna’s dinner.
photo 4
SPAGHETTI SQUASH CASSEROLE
(Sans) Fresh Mozzarella, Organic Tomato & Zucchini
Although this dish does come with Mozzerella, yours truly requested no Mozz, but nothing was lacking. The dish really didn’t need it. I loved the addition of the zucchini to the spaghetti squash, which added a welcomed al dente texture to the softer texture of the squash. The sauce was basil-icious with just enough garlic to be noticed, but not too much as to overwhelm the overall flavor of the dish. (Some Italian dishes can be too garlicky, particularly lighter fare, so as to compensate for other paltry flavors. Not so with this one!)
photo 5
WILD MUSHROOM PIZZA
Roasted Garlic & Taleggio (gluten free crust available!)
According to the girls, this pizza was to-die-for, and from where I was sitting, it is no surprise! It smelled and looked absolutely divine. It had just the right amount of mushrooms to be earthy, but not too shroomy. The taleggio cheese and garlic complemented the shrooms for a rich flavor, and the crust was crisp, but still chewy. I think this dish was the fave!
The Ladies
GIRLS NIGHT OUT
All of us showing off our premier memberships in the Clean Plate Club at True Food Kitchen! 🙂