Creamy delights

What's next, sushi-flavored ice cream?

It's been one of those weeks. Between illness and Independence Day, it was impossible to get to a significant restaurant this week. So, I'm dumping the mailbag here, printing your feedback and catching up on a few restaurants I've visited but not reviewed in recent weeks.

Summer heat has arrived and that means ice cream is on our minds. My favorite in recent years has been the ginger and honey-fig flavors at Jake's. Lately, I've become fond of any of the nut flavors at Hank's in Grant Park.

I thought the fetish for really weird flavors - white pepper, for example - had passed until I visited Cold Stone Creamery at Ansley Mall one evening last week and discovered a new one, wasabi-ginger.

When I ordered a scoop of the stuff, the guy behind the counter got very excited. "You are the first person to order this," he said.

That, I soon concluded, was because other people are smarter than me. Since I'm so fond of Jake's ginger ice cream, I was expecting the bright green stuff to taste something like green tea ice cream enlivened with ginger. A hint of wasabi, I presumed, would turn up the sting of the ginger. It was going to be fabulous, this ice cream made with sushi's classic accompaniments.

Not five minutes later, I was surreptitiously dumping the stuff in a garbage can out of view of the nice guy at Cold Stone. Oy. The predominant flavor is processed wasabi, with the ginger hiding well in the background. The wasabi, not green tea, imparts the color. Maybe this stuff would taste good on frozen fish sticks, but not in a waffle cone. ...

By the way, there have been some changes in the Jake's stores. The original store on North Highland Avenue has closed, as has the College Park location. The Emory Village store has moved to the corner of North Decatur and Clairmont roads, and the Decatur store is moving from Church Street to a location beneath Eddie's Attic. The Midtown store on Piedmont Avenue and the Peachtree Hills locations (across from the Treehouse) report no changes. ...

I've long attempted to like Cowtippers. The patio is a pleasant space, but I've never had a steak there I liked much. Every time I've written anything negative about the place, I've been attacked as "pretentious."

So I was nervous about visiting last weekend with my friend Jeff. Instead of ordering a steak, I ordered a burger, as did Jeff, and I'm happy to say it was primo - black Angus beef cooked just right. Fries were state-of-the-art, too. Jeff ordered a brownie with ice cream, chocolate syrup and whipped cream in a goblet large enough to serve up the head of John the Baptist. He complained that it was a bit soupy, as he consumed all but two bites.

So, I hope someone from Cowtippers will call and accuse me of being down-to-earth now. …

Several readers have written, after reading my essay on barbecue, to ask exactly which restaurants I do favor, since I wasn't gung-ho about Harold's. That depends on my mood. It's a usually a tie between Daddy D'z in Grant Park and Rolling Bones on Edgewood Avenue. (And if I'm up for the drive to Roswell, I like Swallow at the Hollow.)

If I'm in the mood for brisket, Rolling Bones is the only game in town. By the way, evening service there, which I complained about recently, has improved somewhat. Nonetheless, one of the manic counter people gave me chopped pork instead of brisket during a recent visit. Also, the restaurant has a chronic problem keeping chicken on hand.

For ribs, I still like Daddy D'z best.

Fat Matt's is one place I recently visited and found woefully lacking. What is the deal, wrapping a to-go order of barbecued chicken in paper and throwing it in a bag? Ugh. I also ate in recently and found the ribs way too fatty. And nothing could be weirder than sitting in the dining room there, completely alone, while a blues band rocks out at full volume.

Readers writeMatt Rahman, owner of the defunct Mazza, wrote to explain that his exotic restaurant did not close, as I surmised, because of an excess of belly dancing. Instead, he says, its location between Buckhead and Sandy Springs was the wrong choice. He may open a new concept elsewhere, but supplied no details. ...

Nancy Piera wrote to bemoan the closing of Bien Thuy, long my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in town. A sign at the restaurant says it will reopen as a new café, but I've been unable to determine whether the former owner, Suzanne, or her sister will be involved. (Suzanne moved back to Vietnam, leaving the restaurant in her sister's hands.)

Nancy's son gets the award for most fanatical fan of Bien Thuy. He and his wife actually moved to the neighborhood so they could walk there for dinner. ...

Betsy wrote to describe a bizarre experience at the Patio in Inman Park - one I've had myself. When her party showed up at the restaurant, they were chastised for not having reservations, despite the interior dining room being almost empty. Nonetheless, they were seated on the patio. When three friends showed up and asked for the table next to Besty's, they were told it was reserved. But two hours later, when Betsy departed, it was still unoccupied.

Betsy later contacted her friends about their experience: "They related that their server had good-naturedly told them to take their time in perusing the menu, but, when checking back the final time, asked if they were ready, 'because the kitchen closes in four minutes.' They placed their order, and in the following 20 minutes witnessed at least five other parties being seated at empty tables on the patio."

Leave Cliff Bostock a voicemail at 404-688-5623, ext. 1010, or e-mail him at cliff.bostock@creativeloafing.com.??

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