Monday, November 09, 2009

Muss & Turners : Atlanta

Update Dec 21 - This was my fiancé's and my last meal on my Atlanta apartment hunting trip and together with the L1000000 taco truck, one of our faves.





The BURGER - Grilled Riverview Farm's Grass fed beef burger with roasted poblano pepper, melted Cabot cheddar, red onion and house-made cilantro mayo on a challah bun - The burger was juicy, but flavor-wise the poblano chili and the cheddar cheese were the main focus. And because of that particular combination, it kind of had a slight Mexican flavor. Pickle was not a side-note, not too much vinegar flavor (Is this a half-sour? I don't know my pickles), but a perfectly crisp texture.



Berkshire Pork Chop - Cornbread stuffing cake, butter braised kale - Oof, nicely done pork chop. Juicy on the inside, nice grilled/salty taste and texture to outside. (I've previously wondered why steaks are so adored in the U.S. Well if steaks were like this everywhere, I'd understand.) Lovely cornbread, flattened to a 1/4 inch thick patty, with a savory, almost-broth like flavor. Kale nicely done.



Watou Tripel, Belgium - St Bernardus' original tripel recipe brewed at the original brewer... Sweet and thick with a spicy finish - fruity and flavorful - Asked the bartender/waitress to suggest a Belgium beer and this was what she recommended would pair well with the pork chop. It was a bit lighter and slightly fruitier than I would prefer if I was drinking a beer alone, but it did pair very well with the pork.



Peanut butter Cookie & Brownie - Asked for both to be put into oven for a little bit. Brownie had a more gooey texture throughout, kind of like right after you pull brownies out of the oven and they're all goopy and liquidy inside. I liked the cookie much more, it having just an ideal cookie texture: a nice crunchiness to the outside, a chewy softness on inside, the crunch of nuts on top, all combined with the granular texture of peanut butter. Taste-wise, pretty damn excellent too, with that nice natural lingering flavor that a good peanut butter cookies have. Yum!



Yum. I should mention that service was quite friendly this time as well, in that it seemed like the people there really enjoyed and cared about what they were doing. And while the food was not 5-star mind-blowing, that respect and care for the ingredients and proper execution of the cooking showed through in every aspect of our meal. I can't remember where I read that the owners were considering moving Muss & Turners and recently decided not to, but I'm selfishly happy that they chose to remain, since my current place is a few minutes away from M&T.

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I recently found myself in the Atlanta area for a little less than a day. I had an open dinner free, so I stopped by a place called Muss & Turners, an artisanal deli /pub with an emphasis on local produce and making their own ingredients.

I must admit that if I was just going by their website, it's a bit chichier than I would usually go for.  And even when I stepped into the place with my usual t-shirt and jeans, I felt the same pang of "oh god, this is a suburban yuppie place" panic that I get when stepping into Williams Sonoma or a Whole Foods.  (Sorry if you like those places, there's just something about them that triggers a visceral reaction from me.)

However, after a glass of wine and being in the company with a few more lively co-diners /drinkers at the bar and the laid-back bartender and owner, who were taste-testing a few sample beers, I started to relax a bit.  Also, the food certainly helped too...

Pork Sobu The freshness of the ingredients was refreshing. It was a house-made pescadorre (sp? a wide pasta noodle), with pulled pork, the pork I believe from New Orleans, some tomato bits and a cheese that I can't quite recall the name of.  The pulled pork had a good earthy flavor to it.  Perhaps it could have been even more tender, but it was satisfying.  The pasta was decently cooked, although I admit that the house-made aspect was pretty subtle and I'm not sure I would have caught it had I not known beforehand.  I think the most interesting part of the dish was the somewhat shrill cheese, which had the texture of a rough, slightly chalky mozarella, but without that wide aftertaste.  All in all, the dish didn't quite come together as memorably as at my recent dining experience at L'Angolo, but the fresh ingredients were quite evident, a large quibble I have at most places.

After finishing dinner, I couldn't resist and picked up a couple of cookies to go.

Dark Chocolate ginger Cookie - More on the dry and dense side.  A nice thickness, about 1/2 inch.  As for flavors, I like pretty dark chocolate and thought the chocolate could be darker and more complex.  There's a noticeable "ginger" flavor, it tasting more like candied ginger than fresh ginger with its natural and fun kick.  But the ginger flavor it did have worked well to tamper down much of sweetness of the chocolate.  All in all, it wasn't bad, but the flavors feel toned down and strike me as pandering to suburban yuppies with less adventurous palates.  Eating it just made me imagine what rich, dark chocolate and feisty fresh ginger flavors combined in a cookie would taste like.



Oatmeal Raisin
Smells like a blend of spices and butter. A nice chewy, moist cookie.  A slightly strange after-texture, a lingering dryness on top (probably the oats), yet a slight oilyness on the bottom. Flavorwise, it was better than the average.  The oats tasted more natural and there was a decent blend of spices.  Like the dark chocolate ginger, I could have used a bit more personality and adventurousness in flavor, but it wasn't bad.



Critiques about yuppiness aside, I had a fairly solid dining experience at Muss & Turners, which was a particularly refreshing change of pace from the airport and other on-the-go meals that marked the rest of my travels.


Muss & Turners
1675 Cumberland Pkwy SE # 309 Smyrna, GA 30080-6361 (Map)
(770) 434-1114
www.mussandturners.com

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