Cooks & Soldiers

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I recently took a short trip to Atlanta, first time, and wasn’t 100% sure what to expect in terms of the food scene. I mean, I’m quite familiar with Waffle House, but wanted to, you know, go beyond the land of late night waffles. I got a tip on a few places, and had to check them out. First, I was off to Cooks & Soldiers.

First off, the aesthetic here is wonderful. The space is open, a little industrial, but structured, with fantastic light fixtures. The menu is mainly driven by Spanish cuisine, with some other Mediterranean influence. Everything on the menu sounded incredible, and luckily, the focus is mainly on sharing plates, so, you get to try a number of things.

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First, I had the Hongos Y Setas (coal roasted mushrooms, goat cheese crème fraiche, black truffle). Are you there, God? It’s me, Sprung, and I would like to eat this everyday. Thanks. This was so incredibly delicious. The toast is crisp around the edges, and softened in the middle, soaking up the rich truffle flavor and smear of crème fraiche to cut a bit of that richness. The mushrooms are tender and flavorful, and all together perfection.

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Next, I had the Tortilla Espanola (classic Basque omelette, onion and potato, garlic allioli). Another total slam dunk here. The layers of potato are savory and tender, and the garlic allioli on top adds a creamy richness that compliments it so nicely. It was completely delicious.

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After that, I had the Ratatouille (Piperade, wood grilled squash and eggplant, one hour egg, guindilla). This was a very nice dish, but not my favorite of the bunch. The vegetables were absolutely fresh and delicious, but I would have preferred them to be a bit more stewed, since they were a little al dente to me. The flavors were really nice, but I’m also not a runny yolk type of person, so the egg kind of threw me off.

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Next, I had the Azalorea Erreta (charred cauliflower steak, cauliflower cous cous, capers, carrot chicharron). This was pretty fabulous. The cauliflower’s natural flavors maintained their integrity, and when paired with the creamy and rich sauce that they were laid on top of, it really balanced nicely. I loved the capers with this, adding a bit of saltiness to the more neutral flavor of the cauliflower, and the carrot chicharron was just brilliant.

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Finally, the winner of the evening might have to go to the Pulpo (grilled Mediterranean octopus, guanciale, roasted new potato, fennel, squid ink). To start, visually this was gorgeous. The squid ink here was in more of a substantial sort of puree than I’ve had before, and I loved it. It was savory and spicy and amazing. The charred fennel went really well with the spice of the squid ink, balancing out the bitterness. The octopus was perhaps the most tender octopus that I’ve had, completely melting in your mouth. On top was probably the most interesting element, not noted on the menu, I believe that I was told is might have been a paper-thin taro crisp? It was basically like rice paper, but salty and seemed to have the flavor of a taro root. It was fantastic. 

The Shorts:
Name: Cooks & Soldiers
Location: 691 14th Street NW, Atlanta, GA
The Long and Short: Would I go back? 100%. This menu is amazing, the service is phenomenal. I’m only bummed that I was too full to try their fantastic sounding desserts.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. Try as many items as you can, I’m sure you’ll be delighted by all of it.

Hearth

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The great thing about living in NYC is that there are so many restaurants to try, that you could live here for years and still not get to everything. The bad thing about living in NYC is that there are so many restaurants to try, that you could live here for years and still not get to everything. So, you feel really lucky when a restaurant has been operating for years, so that you can still get a chance to dine there. Thankfully, Hearth in the East Village is one of these places, so, I finally got to check it out.

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This Italian inspired restaurant focuses on seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, served in a casual, yet sophisticated, environment. All of the aesthetic elements give you the feeling of warmth and comfort, paying homage to the restaurant’s namesake. I went in for brunch, and while the menu sounded great, I opted to go for my own build-a-brunch and ordered a couple starters as my main. First, I had their Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs. Now, I’m not a huge deviled egg person, but I love smoked salmon, so, that trumped the former. I really loved these, and if you enjoy smoked salmon, you’re not going to want to eat a regular deviled egg again. They have a really nice balance of the smoked salmon flavor mixed in the creamy and smooth yolk filling. Then, they’re topped with a little piece of crispy fried fish skin, adding a touch of crunch and texture.

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Then, I had the Balsamic Marinated Eggplant Toast with Ricotta and Basil. These little toast bites were amazing. They might look small, but they’re pretty mighty, topped with delicious and hearty ingredients, they make for an excellent part of your meal, or, as an appetizer to share. The eggplant has a fantastic sweet and slightly smokey flavor, completely tender, and a touch of tang from the balsamic. Then, the creamy ricotta adds a nice richness to the toasts, topped with basil for some fresh herb flavor.

The Shorts:
Name: Hearth
Location: 403 East 12th Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Absolutely. The food was awesome and the staff and service was outstanding.
Would I recommend it? Totally. Everything from the ambiance to the service to the food was on point, no disappointments here at all.