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.

Opium

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Ok, so, after you get over the awkward choice of names for an Asian restaurant, Opium in Ipanema is a great choice if you’re looking for Asian cuisine from many of the continent’s countries. The aesthetic here is clean and sleek, and the food ranges from sushi, to noodles, to curry.

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To start, I had a drink. No, not Oolong or Green tea, sorry. I went for a typical Brazilian cocktail, a Caipirinha (cachaça, sugar and lime). I’ve had these before in the States, but ended up drinking quite a few of these in different spots around Brazil. You know, research, you have to see who’s making them best. Opium’s was pretty good, not too, too sweet, but a bit strong. Success. 

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Next, I ordered Miso Soup (soy paste, tofu, seaweed and chives). A very standard Japanese starter, pretty hard to mess up, and this one did not disappoint. 

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Then for my entree, I ordered Phat Ma Maung Him Ma Pan (braised shiitake mushrooms and vegetables in a mild sauce, covered with toasted cashew nuts, pineapple cubes and coriander with jasmine rice). I really liked this dish a lot. It was different from other stir fries that I’ve had, this one on the sweet side with a really nice glaze. The veggies were really bountiful, I loved the crunch from the cashews, and I especially liked the raisins that also added that natural sweetness. 

The Shorts:
Name: Opium
Location: R. Farme de Amoedo, 34 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
The Long and Short: Would I go back? Yes, I really liked my food and there’s really something for everyone. 
Would I recommend it? Yes, and, the Ipanema Plaza Hotel is conveniently adjoined to the restaurant, so, you can kill two birds with one stone  (ugh, I really hate that phrase…so violent).