Archive - August, 2015

Stepping back

For nearly six years Roots in Alpharetta has brought Alpharetta and the surrounding community compelling content on news, politics, technology, restaurants and general stuff. At least I hope it’s been compelling content. That’s always been the goal. It’s taken a great deal of time to research and write the articles you find here each week. It’s been well worth the effort, a very rewarding experience.

Unfortunately I need to cut back on my blogging schedule and frequency. Why? I simply don’t have as much time to devote to writing. My work schedule is changing and I’m spending more time working from home. This means my time in Alpharetta is less than it used to be. I’m not walking the beat like I used to.

Additionally there are concerns in my Forsyth County community that are extremely pressing. There’s a role for me to fill here, I’m just trying to figure out exactly what that is.

This doesn’t mean goodbye Roots, just a little less. It means that you might not always find a fresh article when you point your browser here on Friday mornings. I hope my readers understand because I value your feedback and contributions to the discussion. You’re the best and you’ve made this a lot of fun.

Miss Mary’s Ice Cream Crankin’ – Sunday, August 30

Crankin-logo1-300x225The Drake House provides transitional housing for homeless women and their families. Their small facility in Roswell stays full almost year round. They do tremendous work.

They also host one of the most unique food festivals in our area, Miss Mary’s Ice Cream Crankin’. We don’t often post events to this blog so you know this one is worth your time and a few of your hard-earned dollars. The cause is certainly worth it. Volunteers from the business and faith communities make some amazing homemade ice cream and offer samples. For a donation of $6 you get all you can eat. There are also activities for kids and families. For more information visit www.missmarysicecream.org. The event starts at 2:00 but we suggest you arrive early before the product melts in the hot August sun.

What: 11th Annual Miss Mary’s Ice Cream Crankin’. A fundraiser to benefit The Drake House.
Where: The Roswell Square
When: Sunday August 30 from 2:00 to 4:00
Cost: $6 per person, $20 per family

Alpharetta Restaurant News – August 2015

It’s been quiet in the restaurant news department this month. Either the pace of new restaurants is slowing or I’m been derelict in my restaurant sleuthing duties.

5d3b5e_9309835518f64dd796b24dfb04c32b9d.png_srz_p_334_129_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srzLending credibility to the derelict argument is the fact that I completely missed reporting on The Nest Cafe. This coffee and sandwich shop has been in the works for a while now, planning an opening at Alpharetta Lofts. They’ll join Real Chow Baby at the condo development on Canton Street. It’ll be interesting to see how restaurants do here considering it is a block or two off the Milton Avenue main drag. And while I hope both Mugs on Milton and Nest make it, I don’t think downtown Alpharetta can support two indy coffee joints.

Speaking of Mugs on Milton, their new Crabapple location is now open. Also coming to Crabapple is a second location for fishmonger Kathleen’s Catch. Their original location is on Medlock Bridge Road in Johns Creek.

Demolition has started on two projects that should bring new restaurants or perhaps a Starbucks or two. The former Tilted Kilt building on Windward will become a small stripmall with a Starbucks drive thru. And demo and grading has begun at The Atwater, a series of small shopping centers adjacent to Avalon. They’ve been tight lipped about the retailers and restaurants planned here, but something tells me Starbucks might make the list. Expect a new trend to emerge in town where the chain closes older stores in favor of these newer locations with drive-thru lanes.

We’re hearing rumors that another growler store closure may be imminent. I’m not ready to publish the name until the closure is confirmed. The implosion of the growler fad is nearly complete.

Restaurants Coming Soon

Donut Theory – Promising doughnut shop opening bear Bite on Kimball Bridge Road.
Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs – Expect an opening very soon on Highway 9 in Milton.
Ceviche Taqueria & Margarita Bar – Opening on Milton Avenue in downtown Alpharetta next to 2B Whole Bakery.
Varasano’s Pizzeria - Coming to the back entrance of North Point Mall. Opening delayed to Spring 2016.
Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina – Also delayed or stalled. Announced opening on Windward in the former Uncle Maddio’s space.
The Real Chow Baby – Stir fry joint coming soon to downtown Alpharetta.
Windward Tavern – Building in the former Cinco’s on McGinnis Ferry near Publix.
Moctezuma Mexican Grill – Mexican concept to open in Milton in the original Bobby G’s location.
Tacos on the Run – Small taco restaurant on Jordan Court near Costco.
Black Walnut Grill – New free-standing restaurant to be built at Windward and North Point.
Anabella’s Table – Mom and pop French joint coming to the former Cosmic Deli location on Windward. Expect another slow buildout.
Flavor Juicery – Juice bar opening near Bite on Kimball Bridge.

The Bowl, Modern American Cuisine

Attention, Alpharetta. A restaurant has opened that’s not a burger, pizza or cupcake place. Quick, gather your battered palates and head down Old Milton to The Bowl, which is located in the former Wok and Chopstick location. The main thrust of The Bowl is “Korean style bowls, with a collection of cultural influences”. While I am not an expert on Korean food, I do know what tastes good. The Bowl tastes very good.

The BowlI have yet to have eaten anything here that wasn’t filling and satisfying. While I have stuck primarily to the bowls themselves, The Bowl does have several entrees to offer. Meatloaf, herb chicken, crab cakes, soups and salads round out the menu. Be aware, the lunch menu is quite a bit larger than the dinner menu. The portions may be larger at dinner, but some of my favorite lunch items aren’t offered at dinner.

The bowls come with your choice of white or brown rice or egg noodles with vegetables mixed in. On my first visit I ordered the beef stroganoff bowl over noodles. The meat was crazy tender and was combined with a mushroom sauce, onions, broccoli and carrots. Each bowl comes with a roll to sop up all the juice, which I did.

My wife had the crab cake dinner. We were told that the crab cakes were one of the best selling items on the menu. It wasn’t bad. Not the best she’s ever had, but better than a lot of crab cakes that use Miracle Whip or something along that line as a binder. Note I did say, “it” was good. The crab cake dinner came with one large softball sized crab cake. Odd. The corn succotash and spinach that come with it were very good and complimentary.

I will also recommend the spicy pork bowl. It’s a whole pig’s worth of pork belly cooked with chili pepper and mixed with veggies over rice. I wish they had chopped it up before putting it in the bowl. Each piece was too big and unwieldy on it’s own. The spice level was just right, and by just right I mean way up there. Delicious.

This may sound like a 100% positive review, but alas, there are problems. While the food has been outstanding, the experience has been less than stellar. The lunch procedure and dinner procedure are opposites, which can be confusing. At lunch, you order fast casual at the counter. At dinner, you sit and are waited on. As I pointed out before, the dinner menu is smaller than the lunch menu.

The service has not been up to snuff either. At one point a manager or owner was having a “this is how this place is run” discussion with an employee at the front desk in full view and sound of the dining room. It was awkward for the diners. And in our last visit, an appetizer we ordered was forgotten. When I brought it up to our waitress, we were told flat out that no, we had not ordered it. Not good.

I’m hoping they can get these issues worked out and soon because I am willing to fight the Old Milton traffic to get at this food, but not if this is how The Bowl is run. Straighten up guys. You have a good genesis here, help it grow.

The Bowl, Modern American Cuisine is located at 4000 Old Milton Parkway, Suite 200.

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