Sunday, June 24, 2012

Soft Opening @ Cola's Restaurant

20120620 Colas 05 Mural

Please keep in mind that this is NOT a full review of Cola's.  C and I attended their soft opening last week and believe that it is only fair to do a full review once they officially open. I simply want to post some photos and give everyone a little sneak preview of whats in store. (Grand Opening: TBD)

Cola's ( is a spacious restaurant with a sweet location on Assembly Street right before Gervais. This is the fifth restaurant opened by the owners of Jeff Balish and family (they also own one of our longstanding favorites, Garibaldi's in Five Points) .
20120620 Colas 01 Menu

The Good - Location, Presentation, Appetizers
  • The location is prime.  We parked on Assembly with no issues.
  • The space itself is beautiful.  Exposed brick, high ceilings, and a LONG bar.
  • I'm a HUGE fan of appetizers, and often find them more interesting than entrees.  Cola's was no exception.  I went with the Shrimp Dumplings.... absolutley wonderful (see pic of half eaten portion below) I would have liked a little kick in the dipping sauce, but that's a personal preference.
  • Only downside of appetizers... C has a shellfish allergy so his choices were limited.
20120620 Colas 03 Dumplings

The Bad
"Bad" is a bit harsh, but you get where I'm going.
  • Not sure if the menu is final, but best I can describe it is seafood heavy, non-seasonal, American, with Asian dishes sprinkled throughout.
  • Re: Non-seasonal.  Craig ordered the braised shortrib with grits and gravy. While the rib was extremely tender, it's just not what you expect to find on the menu when it's 90 degrees outside (and to be really picky, needed a bit more salt).
The Ugly
The one big issue we ran into was the bar, and what we assume was a lack of experience.  The good news is that can certainly improve with training.

Below is a pic of my cucumber lemonade and C's "glass" of wine.  We're still not exactly sure what happened, but C's arrived in what appeared to be a cordial glass. When we questioned if these were the red wine glasses they would be using at opening, our server said yes, because it was an "import."   First, the wine he ordered was a cuvee from California, and second, even if it was an import, $9 for a 2oz pour?

20120620 Colas 04 Cocktails
Our guess is something was lost in translation at the bar.  Maybe port and import?

At the end of our meal our very friendly server (Piper) informed us that "we were right" and the manager took the wine off the bill.  While it was appreciated, that wasn't the point.  We gave feedback not for a free glass of wine, but because we're foodies and want them to be wildly successful.

I felt disappointed that the manager didn't at least pop by.  When I think of a soft opening, I think of a restaurant looking not just for guinea pigs, but looking for constructive feedback.  We were one of only a handful of tables, but never saw a manager, an owner or chef.  No survey, no questionnaire, not even a request for our email address for a newsletter or how we could connect on social media. 

[Maybe we've just been spoiled by places by Terra (@TerraSC / Facebook: Terra) and Baan Sawan (Facebook: Baan.Sawan)... where attention to detail and care regarding customer experience is simply amazing]

Overall, I think Cola's has HUGE potential.  We'll certainly be back, and hope to soon have a new restaurant to add to the usual rotation.

Duh. Griddle Stirfry.

Ever have a breakthrough "duh" cooking moment? Well that happened last week when I pulled out our griddle to make a beef and snow pea stirfry.

C makes a mean breakfast, and up until now the griddle has been in breakfast-only mode.  Not any more!

Give it a try!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Korean Roasted Pork Ribs

20120122 Pork Ribs

I headed to the supermarket with a plan to make Korean style short ribs for dinner, but was thrown a curve when the short ribs were no where to be found. So, after standing in the meat department for way too long, I decided to stop making the staff feel uncomfortable and just grabbed a pack of pork baby back ribs. While not what I originally planned, what resulted was pretty good.

1 rack pork baby back ribs, divided into two pieces

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
dash ground ginger

½ cup honey
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 scallion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper seeds

In a small bowl, mix together marinade ingredients. Wash pork and pat dry. [Note: I prefer to take off the tough membrane on the back of the ribs. If you haven't done it before, here's a short video demonstration I found on YouTube.]

In a gallon ziplock bag, rub marinade all over rib racks, massaging them well. Refrigerate and allow ribs to rest with marinade. (Ours went for almost 6 hours, but I'm sure more or less would work.)

20120122 Pork Ribs 01

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line roasting pan with tin foil (If you haven't tried the new "non stick" foil, this is a great recipe to try it with).

20120122 Pork Ribs 02

Roast ribs for 50 minutes. While ribs are baking, in a small bowl, make the sauce by simply whisking together everything on the list.

Once ribs are cooked, remove from oven and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, cut racks into individual rib pieces.

Increase oven temperature to 500. Brush sauce onto each rib, coating fully. Return ribs to the oven, cooking for 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce begins to caramelize. Continue basting with sauce and flipping ribs until sufficiently coated.

20120122 Pork Ribs 03