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Douzo and Basho Sushi

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For those of you who have never had a monkfish liver, I’m about to take you on a wild ride. PREFACE: I ate at Basho, and then at Douzo the next day. These are not the same restaurant, just two semi-fancy Japanese restaurants who share an owner (or something like that. In actuality their “Apply to work with us!” forms feature both restaurants’ logos at the top and have very similar vibes so I decided to review both in one post) They hid the TVs!!! Atmosphere: With ceilings chilling at a calm ~14 feet, this place is made for giants. That space is also empty in Douzo, which lets you know the restaurant is kinda expensive (Emptiness is expensive, after all). The same overhead space in Basho had weird barrel frames surrounding lightbulbs. Both restaurants had muted lighting, and allowed in a minimal influx of sunlight from their glass front doors. This place did a lot of things right that most restaurants don’t. Though they had TVs, they were small, and perfectly angled behind

Pelicana Korean Fried Chicken

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Accidentally texted my mom that I ate Pelican chicken after eating here. Also this was a Korean fried chicken restaurant, or a KFC. Environment: I think the concept of a dining hall hiding behind a draped curtain is underdone in the modern restaurant meta. Everyone is running for open-air bullshit and is too afraid to reduce ceiling space cause “we’re too cheap to hide the pipes in the ceiling so you’re just going to deal with it”. Pelicana upends this canon by not only making the ceilings ~8 feet tall, but also hiding the table area at the end of a long hallway that in any other restaurant would lead to a bathroom.  The decor was minimal, but did include a painting of a rooster and a poster that told me to “eat chicken!” I vibed with the music, which was a lively combination of old Kanye/J. Cole type hip hop. We were seated at a booth for 6; being 3 people, this blessing of space can only be a reward from the food blog gods. We ordered an entire fried chicken to split amongst t

Yamitsuki

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Pretend you REALLY want a large, wall-scale mural of early 2000s anime and need an excuse to commission one from a legit artist. You decide that establishing a delightfully nerdy ramen bar in Chinatown, Philadelphia is the best cover. You name it Yamitsuki.    Atmosphere: You kinda REALLY like the look of smooth, light-colored wood. In fact, every wall should look like it could be the floor of a beach house, planks of sanded wood separated by small gaps. Additionally, you decide to trisect your restaurant with solid, standing walls of the same colored wood about chest height. This is a great move because even when full, the guests won’t feel too crowded. Now your guests have a place to sit, but you have nothing to serve drinks in! Luckily the science department of your nearby university bought too many 250 mL beakers recently. You’re in luck, and purchase plenty of surplus Pyrex cups for your patrons to drink from. Nerdy And Cool at an anime restaurant Now, about your mural

Cipriani Dolci

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You know when the only words you can read on a menu are “Daily Recommendation” you’re in for a real treat. Atmosphere: Overlooking the Main Terminal of Grand Central Station in New York (fat name drop intro) is a corner restaurant with its own bar, 4 streetlights, and seemingly no kitchen. Welcome to Cipriani Dolci, a pricey Italian restaurant that has succeeded despite heavy local competition (Little Italy AND New York pizza (and yes, I am counting NY pizza as Italian)). The restaurant’s confined space only further accents the ~4 step height gradient between the bar floor and the other section’s floor. Basically, big height gradients and I loved it. Besides the floor, their custom streetlights do little to affect the mellow yellowed archival light coming from the ceiling mural of the Main Terminal anyway. The view from either area is wonderful, and I think the lateness of the hour was the only reason there wasn’t a large hubbub coming from the floor. The chairs were nice, compl

Carnegie Mellon Dining: Au Bon Pain

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Atmosphere: ABP is a restless intermediary situated near the front of the University Center. I say this because it is located in an indent in the wall, but does not have an open storefront. There are doors on either side, and the place feels like a shotgun shack converted into a store. The tiling and lighting create a tan glow on every surface, and the entire place feels like you’re looking at a slightly oversaturated image. There’s an open fridge on the left containing sandwiches and boiled eggs in a cup, and there’s the famed pastry wall on the right. The store’s middle has two tables with vats of soup and mac n’ cheese, and in the deepest part of the store is the ordering wall.  ABP is always filled with people coming and going, which is why it feels restless. The man eyeing the cookie shelf one moment could be paying and gone the next. Despite this, ABP has a very friendly feeling to it because you know everyone’s name. You reveal it twice, once while ordering, and once

Mojito's

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(We got SUBSCRIPTIONS in the house! Hit the subscribe button if you don't like my blog, smash that subscribe button if you do like my blog. Win-win?) A cozy Cuban cuisinitarium (ok, not a word, but I wanted it to alliterate), Mojito’s is named after some alcoholic drink and serves legit Cuban food in a way accessible to even gringos. Atmosphere: Every time I come here it seems there is construction going on, and while that is nice to see in a university, I’d rather not see restaurants do the same. I went to a restaurant in China where there were only 5 rooms to eat in because everything else had no floor tiling. The bathroom had exposed wiring BETWEEN your feet and the urinal, meaning I could’ve been in for a nasty death… Anyway, Mojitos. A very small area inside, and some tables outside in the back. It nearly rained on us, and we were not in the balcony’d area also outside. Paper covered tables + the foresight to bring a pen meant everyone was kept busy with group activities

Bourbon n' Toulouse

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Surprises make memories stick, and nothing is more sudden and exciting than realizing you’re driving straight into a supercell thunderstorm that has just shut down the entire block of the restaurant you were on a 40-minute drive towards. Fitting that I am listening to Nice For What while writing about a Louisiana restaurant, but more to follow;  Atmosphere: You get there. It looks dark cause the power is out. But they’re still open; there’s candles and iPhone flashlights, organic and harshaficial lights blending so you can at least see what you’re eating. Two baked cashiers, and one girl with a crop top that just displays her hip bones. I think everyone in there was very high. Drinks are free cause the power’s out. The front of the restaurant is traditional glass, but plastered with signs from other local Lexington restaurants, like Chevy Chase, the oldest bar in Lexington (open since 1933). There’s a saxophone in the front window, along with various New Orleans paraphernalia

Tin Lizzy's

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Imagine a wonderful Mexican fusion/experimental restaurant, filled with fun, themed decor and cute tables made of recycled license plates. Now imagine sitting in a wonderful, high-top table, next to people you love. Now, add this DJ who wants to pimp his DJ skills, RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR TABLE. AHHHH. Atmosphere: Good, besides the music (or should I say NOT beside the music). It had a very temporary vibe; something about the light aluminum chairs and the license plate table-top covers that made our meal seem transitory. There was a cyan car door hanging behind the host's podium too. We were elevated on a table which was SO far removed from the booths and the bar that we were nearly out the door. There was a garage door that seemed like it was there just for aesthetics, and a guy playing badly remixed club music to ruin it. Tater tots in a tin Some more tins, but this time with tacos Actual Food: Like a memey type of Mexican/American focus. For an appetizer, instead

Amalfi's Pizza

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Have you ever been to a restaurant where they recreate the environment of their food’s origin? If you’d like to, head on over to Amalfi’s Pizza, where they sacrifice floor space to create the feeling of an Italian alleyway and bedazzle the senses. An enchanted alleyway portal to Italy Ignore my brown friend, enjoy the chandeliers! Atmosphere: This place does not skimp on aesthetics. There are fancy booths with deep cushions, a literal hallway entrance that they have painted and decorated, and these cool trees inside that really give the place a fancy vibe. They even do something about the pipes in the ceiling, disguising it by putting wooden buttresses and a fancy chandelier up, instead of just leaving the roof raw (nobody looks at restaurant roofs :( despite the amount of work that goes into them). I like being in areas with chandeliers when I have semi-heavy disposable objects that I can throw and lodge into them. The imp of the perverse drives my every action when the

Melt

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I will not discuss the intricacies of melts vs. grilled cheeses here, but I will try my best to not use the two interchangeably. We all know how that turns out ( "You people make me sick." ).  Melt is situated on a plain little corner in Avondale, within walking distance of other trendy, delicious restaurants like Saw's Soul Kitchen , Big Spoon Creamery , and Taco Morro Loco (Which I will eat at ASAP), meaning its continued existence says something about its novelty’s ability to bring in customers and its food’s tastiness to make them come back. Atmosphere: Bright and airy. Melt doesn’t have a big sign announcing their name, they just have their food truck with their logo parked out front. There’s ~5 parking spots, kids playing cornhole outside, and the whole building looks patchy and something a DIY dad would build in his DIY Dads Club. This isn’t bad, it’s just their vibe. For instance, there’s a full suit of armor inside, painted a pastel pink. Their waiting a

Devlin's

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I’ll be upfront with you. I don’t remember this restaurant. Me and my squad arrived in Boston, MA on below freezing night and, being used to Alabama weather, our brains immediately kicked into survival mode. There was no time to notice the hypnotically large Citgo sign, nor to appreciate the extensive, heated bus and train system that saved us from death and allowed us to find the nearest restaurant that was A. heated and B. not sketchy. Welcome to the neighborhood pub of Brighton, Devlin’s Restaurant. Atmosphere: Cozy. Pretty dim lighting with fake candles that were actually LEDs. I don’t mean like “look into your date’s eyes and feel time slip away” dim, I mean “I cannot see my date’s eyes” dim. They do have some nice fire-pillar-tornado things from the indoor pictures on their websites, but I can’t confirm that personally. Their tables were wooden, I think, and were easily forgettable. Their cups were kinda funny, like stout wine glasses. They had a thick stem and were stret

Mugshots

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A gritty name for a gritty place - just kidding it’s in a very nice, clean strip mall, right beside a wonderful boba tea place(I used to think strip malls had to have strippers in them for some reason). Mugshots invokes mental images of carnal food and offers huge burgers and cups. Atmosphere: Woody and raw. I don’t know how much control restaurants have over their interior decor in a strip mall, but it looked very different from any other store in the same strip mall. The tables were highly polished wood, almost looking like the preserved bread they show off during the advent month at the front of my Baptist church (They baked a loaf ~17 years ago and completely laminated it with some kind of food laminator and it’s still on display. But it’s grossly shiny and I’m terrified that it’s lasted this long). Bad wood texture. Also the wooden booths didn’t have padded seats, what’s up with that? I think it’s a BASIC requirement for booths to have padding. The brick was “raw” but fake s

MDM Noodles

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Chinese food in an area surprisingly sparse in good Chinese food, MDM Noodles offers good seating and a calm environment to recover from tiring events with a nice steaming bowl of wontons. And noodles, of course. Atmosphere: The first thing you see is an ice cream cart modified to hold boba tea additives. Boba pearls take about an hour to cook, and must be done before the customers arrive or they will just have the tea that the pearls belong in. Past the protective wall of boba are the seats. On the right is a mix of booths and chairs, which is standard enough. But in the middle is an elevated counter top like the one McDonald’s usually has. Love me some elevated seating. Everything is wood and fantastic, doesn’t feel like its faking anything. There is a huge Chinese quote on the right wall behind the booths along with a picture of some noodles. Sadly, I cannot read Chinese, but I am sure it is deep and poetic in ways untranslateable. It is cold outside this time of year, a

Athan's Bakery

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Lemon on the left, 2 color on the left Athan’s Bakery is a quaint and teensy storefront that hides a large amount of beautiful pastries and cream and anything else you’d expect out of a bakery and more. Their old-fashiony open-air space make me realize I’ve used the phrase open-air too much for it to mean anything, but they beat their nearby competitor Daniel’s Bakery by being open on Sundays and being cozier. Atmosphere: Huge space above the tables. Yea I think I just failed to come up with a synonym for open-air. The storefront itself is plain glass, and my group actually passed by it without noticing that we had passed it the first time, even though I had noticed it before. In the mornings it is hard to find. Once in, there is a loooong glass display of pastries and chocolates and a big blackboard with prices for other things like coffee. On the left wall there is a big table with glass cake dishes that aren’t filled with cake. I wasn’t sure if they were sample plates or

Big Spoon Creamery

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Legs pictured with the Blackberry Bramble are not mine.  Simple homemade ice cream in a minimalist building painted white located next to a street which had a deadly drive-by shooting not more than a week ago, Big Spoon has a grapevine lattice which only grows christmas lights of warm color and plenty of seats to sit and talk it out. Atmosphere: A wide open space outside near a bike shop adds an element of handyman to standing in penguin circles huddled for warmth. This mechanicality gives a feeling of just finishing a project at a big tech company and enjoying lunch with your friends. The inside is white, with a constantly changing menu. The workers are all visible, and like any store, allow tasting. The tasting occurs on wooden spoons which can flex back and forth with an amazing max angle before they break. Actual Food: Making your own ice cream sounds amazing considering the amount of variety and the texture you desire can be precisely engineered. Also, calories you