Monday, December 31, 2007

Pascal's Bistro, a well-known Peachtree City secret

On this last day of 2007 some friends and I met for lunch at Pascal's Bistro in Peachtree City. What a yummy way to say goodbye to this jam-packed year!

We beat the crowds who will be coming to celebrate New Year's Eve by going for lunch. Usually there's a crowd, but we didn't arrive until 1:30 p.m. so things had slowed down enough for us to find a quiet table to talk. We overstayed our welcome, sitting and yakking long past the time they closed their doors for lunch to prepare for dinner.

Tonight will be a busy night for restaurants. It sounded like Pascals will be non-stop through midnight! If anyone happens to pop onto the County Cuisine before leaving for dinner (doubtful as it's almost 6 p.m.) be sure to have one of their chocolate martinis. We didn't imbibe at lunch, but remembering the last one I had at Pascal's, it was hard to pass up the temptation!

Today I enjoyed whole wheat pasta with spinach, broccoli, shrimp, garlic and mushrooms. I tried three of their four lunch buffet sauces, marinara, Alfredo and clam. Usually I divide my pasta in half and have one sauce on each side. Trying for three sauces wasn't the most brilliant thing I've ever done, but it was still excellent.

I am rather picky about my clam sauce. I snub my nose at the runny, tasteless (or too salty) batches that come from most restaurant kitchens. Pascal's was wonderful. I wish I had skipped the Alfredo and marinara completely, although both are excellent.

During the lunch hours, Monday - Friday and Sunday from 11 - 2 p.m., you'll be able to eat your fill at the Pasta Buffet Lunch. The cost is only $7.99 for adults, $4.99 for children. A bargain at any cost, the pricing is extremely reasonable. They serve your choice of 14 different meats and vegetables, 4 types of past, 4 different sauces, Caesar salad and garlic bread. Drinks are separate.

They close from 2 to 5 each day to prepare for dinner. And what a dinner you can expect! Plan for a culinary treat. I could make a meal from the appetizers alone! Seafood Cocktail, made with shrimp, crab and scallops, Calamari, Crab Cake, Baked Brie and Beef Carpaccio join some expected standards on the appetizer menu.

The biggest problem I find at Pascal's is choosing which of the many entrees to try! Groper Imperial sauteed with sherry butter and topped with fresh lump crabmeat, Baked Flounder stuffed with a jumbo lump crab cake and baked with two shrimp in a creamy saffron sauce, Steak au Poivre, Grilled NY Strip Gorgonzola, Braised Lamb Shank, Sauteed Organic Chicken Breast Marsala, Mustard Crusted Pork Tenderloin and many other tempting dishes temp the palette.

All are served with vegetables or other side items.

One thing I've always found when eating at Pascal's Bistro is that they are very accommodating. I am one of those fussy eaters who can have a server sweating before I allow them to leave. I pity the server who has to remember all of my little switches from fried to baked or stuffed with that instead of this!

They may roll their eyes when they get back into the kitchen, but if they do I've never even had a vague hint when they waited on me. The service is always top-notch, professional and they are always gracious.

I've been saving the best for last. Their desserts. I would highly recommend trying to save a bit of room for their Creme Brulee, Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie or Bourbon Apple Tart. For those who steer away from sugar, be sure to give the Splenda Creme Brulee a try!

The old saying that you get what you pay for isn't quite true at Pascals. You get more than you pay for at this outstanding independent restaurant. Expect to pay from $5 - $11 for your appetizer, from $12 - $25 or $26 for the entree and in the $7 - $9 range for dessert. They offer a set menu option during weeknights, Prix Fixe, that includes appetizer, entree and dessert for around $24 (definitely a bargain).

Whether you opt for the pasta buffet lunch or the more elegant evening fare you'll savor every moment.

They are located at Westpark Walk on the corner of Hwy's 54 and 74 (on the corner opposite the Avenue). The restaurant is tucked in on the backside of Westpark facing Hwy. 74.

To find out more visit or call 770.632.0112.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Yorkshire Pudding

I grew up in England. One of my favorite early memories is of Yorkshire pudding. It's only good with brown gravy and roast beef, or at least that's how we ate it when I was younger. I don't eat red meat any longer, so it's been many, many years since I've had Yorkshire pudding. I may have to try this recipe again and eat it with some honey or jam (as many in Great Britain will... they also add other ingredients to jazz it up a bit). A lot of people prefer onion gravy rather than traditional brown gravy.

3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
4 tbsp. oil

Note: some people use three eggs.

Beat flour, salt, eggs, milk together until very smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. Refrigerate 2 hours or longer. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Measure oil into 8 x 8 x 2 inch square glass pan. Heat for 2 minutes. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes. Do not open door. Serve immediately.

Your Yorkshire pudding should be puffy and irregular in shape when it comes out of the oven. After a few minutes it will settle a bit. The outer crust should be tender yet crisp, while the middle should be softer and somewhat custard-like.

Another alternative way to cook the pudding, and a more traditional method, is to put it in a large pan under your roast as it's cooking. It will catch the drippings from the roast and will add flavor. And yet another way some make the pudding is to catch the drippings from the roast and use them instead of regular oil.

Add sausage and it's known as "toad in a hole.'

Some will make bake their pudding in muffin tins to make individual puffs.

Left overs can be frozen if you cover tightly.

If you've never tried Yorkshire pudding you may find that it becomes a staple. It's easy to make and very versatile.

Effective December 1: New food service regulations

I just stumbled across this press release and thought you might be interested in it. I had noticed a form on the drive thru window when I stopped for a drink recently, but didn't pay much attention. When visiting restaurants I will be taking a look at the most recent inspection to see how they rate. I remember working with a restaurant on a project some years back. Fantastic food. Great people. But boy did they get zapped when they were inspected. I had to stop eating there, mainly because they were irritated at the rating rather than deciding they'd straighten up their act.

They didn't last very long, despite the great food. Word gets around and attitudes matter.

Here's the release:

After months of preparation and training, new food service regulations approved earlier this year by the Georgia Department of Human Resources are set to take effect December 1. With the new regulations, restaurants will receive a form that includes both a letter grade and numeric score. These forms, along with the two most recent restaurant inspections, must be visibly posted within 15 feet of the establishment’s main entrance and on drive-thru windows. The changes to Georgia’s Food Code were modeled in large part after the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2005 Food Code.

"These changes will provide a unified system of inspection and grading for Georgia’s food service businesses," said Stuart Brown, M.D., Director of the Division of Public Health. "For months, we have conducted statewide trainings to ensure standardization across the board. It is now time to put our efforts and these changes to the test."

Food service inspectors began using the new inspection reports, as well as the forms that have been used for the past 10 years, in July. Early usage of the forms gave health inspectors and restaurant personnel an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new inspection requirements while still using the previous form and process.

The Division of Public Health worked closely with a broad group, including the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA), restaurant personnel, physicians and citizens, to implement the new food service regulations.

For more information about the State’s new food codes including a sample of the new inspection form, please visit:

Onyx Restaurant Closes

Well, another restaurant, Onyx, closed their doors.

Recently Johnny Carino's closed.

For those who aren't familiar with either restaurant, they were located in Fayetteville. If you drive down Hwy. 85 from the center of town toward the Pavilion, the building shells are both on the left.

Carino's surprised me. It seemed to have a fairly good crowd and the food was great.

I'm going to have to go out and see what I can find out about the closing. Could have been a company thing, could have been a local problem. They did fairly well when they opened, but then other restaurants, closer to the Pavilion opened. Possibly the other's took just enough of their crowd to ultimately cause them to tip over too far to recover.

I'll let you know what I find.

I never walked through the doors of the Onyx. I heard the food was great from everyone who sampled their fare. However, I also heard portions were small and prices were high. In the finer restaurants, portions usually are smaller. You're paying for quality and are expected to sit, relax and enjoy slowly, savoring the various tastes. You're paying for an experience.

I love jazz. Good food and jazz would normally have me sitting at a booth regularly.

The location is horrible. Shoney's couldn't make it. Hooters couldn't make it. No one likes to go out to eat and then have to take their life in their own hands to get out of the restaurant. If you know the area then coming in the back way, and leaving the same way, isn't a problem. However, for the general public, trying to find that one little hole between the traffic merging from Hwy. 314 onto Hwy. 85 while you sit in the turn lane blocking all those behind you who want to turn left at Hwy. 314 is nerve wracking to say the least.

I don't know of any restaurant that could be successful in that location if Shoney's and Hooters couldn't make it. Maybe a new restaurant named "Enter at Big Lots" might last a bit longer.