restaurant review

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse-Phipps Plaza

Gnocchi Carbonara, Davio's
This gnocchi from Davio’s…HEAVENLY!  Melt in your mouth does not begin to describe the texture.  The gnocchi virtually disappears moments after touching your tongue.  The sauce was carbonara with pork, beef and veal, delicious.

Phipps Plaza in Buckhead, GA is a super fancy mall with lots of high end shopping.  It’s also home to Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse a fantastic restaurant with some of the best service (more…)


Chicken and the Egg-restaurant review


Recently my family and I visited Chicken and the Egg. Tucked back into a nondescript strip mall in Marietta GA, Chicken and the Egg is a large but cozy space that’s designed with soft colors and rich wood tones.  Once you enter the restaurant, you walk past the well stocked bar (which, on that day, held large punch dispensers of sangria; a wine room is located behind the bar) and step down to enter the main dining room.


We were there during brunch hours and Chicken and the Egg has an extensive brunch menu. From the “before brunch” portion of the menu we ordered fried okra. The tasty okra had a fairly thick but still crunchy cornmeal coating and was served with a grainy Creole mustard sauce.


The okra got us off to a good start, but we were all looking forward to our main dishes. My son ordered the FGT (fried green tomato) BLT with a side of fries. The sandwich was served on buttery, toasted challa with thick sliced bacon, shredded lettuce and zesty pimento cheese. This huge sandwich with it’s tangy, crisp fried tomatoes was the best dish of the bunch. The fries were great, too. My son said they were some of the best he’s had and who is a better judge of French fries than a 12 year old boy?


My daughter ordered the veggie omelette with two sausage links and a biscuit. The open faced omelette was beautiful with fresh, bright tomatoes, sauteed spinach and mushrooms. I’m not sure, but I believe the sausages were made in house. I’ll have to check on that and let you know. What I do know is that sausages were plump and delicious. The biscuits at Chicken and the Egg are fluffy tasty goodness.


Hubby ordered the Southern cast iron scramble with eggs, rustic, skin on roasted potatoes a biscuit on the bottom, gravy coating the top and bacon…well it was supposed to have bacon. Unfortunately the bacon was M.I.A. and we had to ask the server to bring some. It was quite a manly dish and he enjoyed it. The eggs were cooked well, nice and fluffy, the chunky potatoes were seasoned nicely and the bacon was delicious.


Now to my meal.  First let me preface this portion of the review by saying that when I see corned beef hash on a menu I’m going to order it, guaranteed. I get excited about corned beef hash, maybe more excited than I should be. Unfortunately every time I order it I’m disappointed and this was no exception. ( BTW I apologize for picture quality. My phone and I just could not get this right)
The potatoes were slightly underdone giving them an unpleasant texture. There was little corned beef and it was was ground so very fine that there was nothing bite into. I couldn’t taste much corned beef at all.  The menu specified onions, peppers and garlic in the dish, but none were visible. It could have used a spin in a skillet as well.


We finished with an order if donuts which were on the “before brunch” menu but the kids just couldn’t get behind the idea of having donuts before the meal. I was shocked by this development, so much so that I find it hard to put into words. The order contained three donuts ( one chocolate one vanilla and one strawberry) and each was large enough to cut into four pieces to share.  Sorry I don’t have a picture of the donuts but they were so good I couldn’t get a pic before they were gone. It was a fun and tasty way to end the meal.

Our server was pleasant but a bit clumsy and forgetful (no sorghum butter for the fluffy biscuits, long wait for him to return to the table) which doesn’t bother me much but annoys my husband.  He was friendly and knowledgeable,  with time he’ll probably get better.

Over all the food was good but the restaurant has the potential to be great.  They use fresh, local ingredients and their passion for quality is apparent.   I hope to get back to Chicken and the Egg soon for the fried chicken at their family style Sunday supper.


(almost)The most pleasant day, at Serenbe

Great start to our day at Serenbe.  Driving up a gravel road to the village.
Great start to our day at Serenbe. Driving up a gravel road to the village.

I had been looking forward to visiting Serenbe for months.  The idea of  this sustainable community with great architecture and farm to table dining is the perfect way for a chef (me) and an architect (him) to spend the day.  The skies opened up and dumped buckets of torrential rain on us during our nearly hour and a half long drive, but thanfully once we arrived at beautiful Serenbe the skies cleared up nicely.  I made a 6:15 dinner reservation at The Farmhouse at Serenbe but  we arrived at about 4:30 that afternoon so we could take a walking tour of the village.

We drove past the Inn and the Farmhouse restaurant and parked near the more densely built village with shops.  I’m so jealous of this walkable community, I’d love to walk from my home to a gallery or coffee shop to meet friends.  Density has its benefits.

This little guy greeted us on our way in
This little guy greeted us on our way in
Serenbe has a fantastic variety of architectural styles and materials
Serenbe has a fantastic variety of architectural styles and materials
My Architect Husband checking the details at Serenbe. I love the way the combine  materials
My Architect Husband checking the details at Serenbe. I love the way they combine
materials. Corrugated metal and brick side by side, beautiful.
LOVE this bridge as part of the house. This was our families favorite Serenbe home
LOVE this bridge over a dry creek bed as part of the house. This was our family’s favorite Serenbe home
Beautiful modern home
Beautiful modern home
Front garden, no lawns at Serenbe
Front garden, no lawns at Serenbe
another pretty front garden, this one on a slope.
another pretty front garden, this one on a slope.

I could stroll through these streets for hours looking at the beautiful front gardens at Serenbe.  The mature, slightly overgrown greenery keeps the walkways shaded making a cool, pleasant journey.  The kids wanted to explore the trails that wound through the community so we descended a stairway behind a courtyard.  It was BEAUTIFUL…and humid,  I was sweat glistening like a rose covered in morning dew when we climbed the stairs out of the trails.

Strolling through the trails on a humid day at Serenbe
Strolling through the trails on a humid day at Serenbe
walking the trails before dinner
walking the trails before dinner

We stopped in at the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakeshop during our stroll.  The kids each got brownies and my husband got a cinnamon roll.  I didn’t get anything because I knew I was going to order dessert after dinner.  There were no raves about the treats, so I didn’t feel bad for skipping them.  I purchased a jar of muscadine preserves to bring home from Blue Eyed Daisy, I’m looking forward to tasting it on some biscuits, maybe with a little country ham.

fresh cupcake at Blue Eyed Daisy
fresh cupcake (or is it an ice cream sundae?) at Blue Eyed Daisy
A neighborhood cat
A friendly, neighborhood cat
reclaimed can art at one of the shops
reclaimed can sculpture at one of the shops
can art close up
close up of the can “leaves”
I took this picture on the drive down the gravel road from the village back to The Farmhouse
I took this picture on the drive down the gravel road from the village back to The Farmhouse
oops...we went beyond that point
oops…we went beyond that point

And now finally to dinner at The Farmhouse.  After our little  hike I was SO ready to relax with bottomless mimosas (YES, that’s right,  I said bottomless) and munch on some fried chicken. Fried chicken that none other than Martha herself claims is “The Best”, high praise indeed.

The restaurant is BEAUTIFUL, not overdone, not kitschy  just lovely.  Like the rest of Serenbe we just felt so good being there.

Love this idea, candles and plants on upright logs in the fireplace
Love this, candles and plants on upright logs in the fireplace. I am SO stealing this idea

Dinner looks good.  The chicken is golden and plump, the collard slaw looks bright and fresh.  The beans are whole which is a good sign that they are not overcooked.  The spoonbread  looks fluffy and inviting, not weepy or runny, all good signs for a wonderful meal.  I was excited until I dug in.  I really wanted to like it, but…

Serenbe's fried chicken, collard slaw, three bean salad and spoonbread
Serenbe’s fried chicken, collard slaw, bean salad and spoonbread
Serenbe's fried chicken
Looks good, doesn’t it?

It wasn’t bad.  That’s the best I can say about it.  I cut into the chicken to take a bite expecting a bit of crunch from the light coating, but there was nothing.  I expected the chicken to have the deep rich flavor of a family farm raised chicken ( check my Chicken Challenge post on family farm vs factory farm raised chicken here  )  that got to peck and scratch in an open pasture, ( I mean, we ARE dining in the Farmhouse, after all) but there was none.  I hoped for some seasoning, some herbs, SOMETHING…there was salt and only salt, not too much, but just salt.  The chicken was moist, and that was good, especially for a boneless chicken breast.  This meal made me sad.  It wasn’t bad, it was just sad.

While the kids and I all had the fried chicken, my husband ordered the country fried steak so I got to taste that as well.  It was tender and slightly more flavorful than the chicken…I think they added a bit of black pepper to this. Again there was no crunch from the coating, just a bit more of it.  A cheese souffle was offered as the vegetarian entree, but none of our family chose it for dinner.

The sides did not help much.  The collard slaw was the best of them, fresh and tender collard greens with julienne carrots and an insignificant dressing.  The spoonbread was bland and the  bean salad was, well… bland.  Again, nothing was offensive , nothing tasted bad it was just bland, boring and yes, sad.  These three sides were the only ones offered on the streamlined menu.

We ordered two strawberry cobblers for dessert, the kids shared one and my husband and I shared one.  Each came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. The “cobbler” consisted of a dense, gummy sweet dough on the bottom, cooked sweet strawberries on top of that (sad) dough and then the vanilla ice cream on top.  No crispness at all to the crust and some cooked strawberries, it’s like they didn’t even try.

Dinner was a bit of a let down after a beautiful day.  If we return to Serenbe it will be on a Saturday so we can enjoy the farmers market, art galleries and other shops. We’ll bring a picnic lunch.



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