Monday, August 4, 2014

Amelie's

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My notes on Amelie's, this new French bakery that moved in to the West Midtown neighborhood, are so scattered because there's a whole lot happening here. I kept scribbling more little notes, filling up each centimeter of space in the beloved coffee tasting journal as I absorbed more and more of this coffee shop/bakery.  
Stop into Amelie's around lunchtime and you'll see what I'm talking about. As Anand and I emerged from the back staircase to the busy dining room our senses were on overload! The dining room was brimming with business folk, students, parents and children, and the work-from-home crowd. I reluctantly dragged myself past the tempting pastry case and ordered a soy cafe au lait from the joyous girl behind the register, while A skimmed the lunch offerings and settled on a turkey and brie sandwich with a dark roast coffee. Next, we settled into one of the two remaining tables near the front windows and got to discussing the following topics.

Atmosphere- Again, sensory overload! Pinstripe blue walls, mirrors, eclectic furniture, fireplace, strange statues, interesting chandeliers, you name it! Every bit of the cafe is adorned with some knick knack that falls into the bakery's theme --a cross between French bistro and the Mad Hatters Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland. There's just too much going on. I give Amelie's props for not falling into the standard coffee shop atmosphere of industrial or comfy/cozy library-esque, but in my humble opinion they could scale back a tad. On another note, while we enjoyed the mellow Indie music it didn't fit the theme at all. 


Coffee- We sampled coffee from the two blends that were freshly brewed: Jimbo Java (from Rev Coffee Roasters) and Melange Riche (from Magnolia Coffee Co. out of Charlotte, NC.) We preferred the Melange Riche, me for it's smooth and dark finish, A for it's chocolate notes. A commented that it tasted slightly burnt, but I think that's just him being high maintenance. It was divine! I highly recommend trying it.

Note that their coffee menu is limited to french press, coffee by the cup, and cafe au laits. There are no lattes on the menu, although the friendly barista would probably make you one if you were to ask nicely. Whole bean coffee is offered for sale, which is a plus if you don't want to venture OTP for Rev's beans. 
Apart from the coffee the menu offers breakfast and lunch foods, a variety of teas, sodas, juices, breads, and of course pastries! I'm keeping fit right now, but I'm sure I will be back for these when the time permits.

Service- Service is the highlight of my experience at Amelie's. The staff were so nice and friendly. They will engage you in conversation at the register, offer suggestions, bring your food out to your table, and clean it up once you're finished. They were genuinely delightful and provided a sweet soul to the cafe.


Location- This cafe is situated on the new up and coming Marietta Street and bridges the chic West Midtown neighborhood and Georgia Tech. The area is walkable DURING THE DAY, but is still not the safest area. As more businesses move in (Delia's Chicken Sausage and Figo for example) Amelie's surroundings will only improve. I think this is a great addition to the Westside development. Also, plenty of parking is provided on the side and around back of the building.


Legitimacy- With 3 other locations in the Carolinas and a high recommendation from a friend I would say this gets our legit seal of approval.


Hours- Open M-W and Sun 6am-10pm and R-Sa 6am-11pm


Overall Rating - 3.5 Stars

+ Service, Coffee
- Atmosphere
? Kisses on Thomas Jefferson statue

::by Jaclyn Overall
Amélie's French Bakery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rev Coffee

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Rev Coffee, situated way out there in Smyrna, has been on our "to review" list for quite a while. Being beyond our tight city limits comfort zone we naturally put off this visit as long as possible. We aren't city snobs but it's painful to have to jump on the highway to get places--ok, maybe we are becoming city snobs. Eventually I caved. A good friend of mine moved to the Smyrna/Vinings area and ever so slightly, yet persistently lured me OTP for a visit. He's not into coffee but offered to help me review Rev during my visit. He is also the inspiration behind the added multimedia in this post. I now introduce you to Jake, previous neighbor, personal technology and luggage consultant, and friend. 
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Atmosphere- Rev is much larger than most of the coffees shops we've reviewed. The inside is a converted garage, similar to how many Fellini's are set up, with big doors permanently fixed overhead, high ceilings, and a concrete floor. The place has a great atmosphere, encouraging customers to linger whether that be with friends stationed outside on the patio in nice weather or inside in the plush furniture, or at the designated work station in the back complete with high-top communal tables and the majority of the power outlets. The place is adorned with art and decor that carries its rustic, yet comfortable theme through to the end. It was pretty busy when we stopped by on a Saturday morning, but the size and openness of Rev disperses the chatter enough to hear the classic coffee shop radio station.
Coffee- Two selections were brewing that morning out of the thirteen Rev offerings: an Ethiopian and Brazilian. A look at the chalkboards in the cafe or the front page of Rev's website will provide you with a nice description of each of these beans, leading the customer to an informed decision for which suits better for the occasion. I chose the delicious and flavorful Ethiopia Kochere, which featured fruity notes of lemon and strawberry paired with jasmine and raw honey. Mmmm deliciousness in a paper cup. The other standard espresso drinks are on the menu also, along with a selection of teas and Italian sodas. Jake is not a coffee person so I allowed him to order a mocha, which he loved. He commented that his mocha was incredible and it would be his new coffee drink of choice. Success! 
Service-  After reading the "Who We Are" section of their website I was expecting A-lister service but then again that may be a little over-the-top so early on in the day. Anyways, the cafe area was well maintained, and the staff was perfectly friendly. The muffin I ordered wasn't warm and they didn't bother to warm it up, but that's not expected so I can't discount them too much for that. I did like that Rev serves their coffee in real mugs if you indicate that you're staying for a while. This could be a step in being more eco-friendly, or it could be to lend a more "homey" feel. In the same manner as Land of a Thousand Hills, Rev offers French-press coffee, served on a tray with creme and sugar on the side. Again, nice touch!
Location- The expansive Rev Coffee lives in Smyrna, so be prepared for a little drive outside of the city. The area is fine and on a quieter section of Spring Road, but there is nothing really around to compliment your coffee experience. Rev shares a large parking lot with a few other businesses, which I can tell the coffee shop utilizes for  both it's burgeoning customer base and beans shipments.
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Legitimacy- They are roasting their own beans (twice a week actually) so the freshness element is there. The coffee shop was full and alive on my visit, and they've been around for at least five years so it doesn't seem to me like they're going anywhere. I like how Rev is in touch with their community, as evidenced by their very own "Silver Comet Blend" of beans, which an added bonus, you can purchase online!
Hours- Open M-F 6-10 and S-S 8-8

Overall Rating - 4 Stars

::by Jaclyn Overall, featuring Jake Houck
REV Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Star Provisions

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I'm especially proud of this coffee spot because it's not quite on Google's radar. You won't find out about Star Provisions' coffee on Yelp or Urbanspoon. No, no. You will have to discover it on your own, just like I did a while back. 
I can't recall what initially drew me inside that chilly Saturday morning after my weekly yoga practice at Lulu Lemon, probably just a healthy curiosity, but once I found myself inside the cute, lively, Eurpoean-esque market, I was delighted to find that fresh Batdorf & Bronson coffee was among the mornings offerings! I remember drifting through the bakery section and then following my nose as it carried me to the source of the espresso smell in the back corner of the market. Lovely!
The chance to compliment my zen session with SP is what now propels me to wake up ever so early every Saturday for yoga.I know that I'll get to cross over the railroad tracks on the Westside Provisions bridge and pop into Star Provisions for the perfect, piping-hot cup of Batdorf & Bronson coffee. Dark roast, please!
Atmosphere - Star Provisions boasts one of my favorite types of cafe atmosphere. Similar to Alon's, Star Provisions is set up as a gourmet market. Shoppers circle the store, browsing the offerings at the individual cheese, meats, and wine sections. They linger at the fresh baked breads in the deli, and stumble upon interesting kitchen and home accouterments on the way. They may even pause to take in the entrance to Bacchanalia, found in the rear of the market and undoubtedly wish they were dining their tonight.

To narrow in on the coffee tie to Star Provisions I have to first set you up with some history. The coffee was once sold in the the back pocket of the market by a little, sweet, old woman... but those days are long gone. The coffee station has transformed. Now the coffee shop is it's own entity, a separate shop located outside of Star Provisions, directly on the left from the front doors and vended by a snooty foreign man, which is permissible as it adds to the atmosphere.
There are multiple places to sit down and Star Provisions can hold an impressive amount of people. Seating options include long, community-style tables inside as well as tables all along the exterior walls overlooking the Westside district and JCT's courtyard. 
In my opinion, coffee at Star Provisions is best enjoyed in the company of friends as the busy market is not so conducive to work, study, or solo theoretical contemplation on the complexity of life. SP will most likely be busy, but not overwhelming or loud. The last time I was there was around lunchtime on a Saturday and I had to admit that they handle the volumes of people that were visiting quite well. Be careful not to stop in on Sundays though as they are closed.

Coffee and Legitimacy- The coffee sold at SP is Batdorf & Bronson, which makes sense as the B&B roastery is only about a mile down the road. They have always had a light roast and dark roast ready to serve and it has always been fresh. Other espresso drinks are always on the table. I ordered a macchiato on my last visit and it was exquisite! The option to buy beans is also available, as well as numerous other coffee tools and accessories. Star Provisions is connected to one of the two 5-star restaurants in Atlanta so you know quality is a serious factor, which gives SP our "legit" stamp of approval.

Service - The shop is well maintained and the staff are normal-to-friendly, except for the new barista man. He's not much of a chatter, which is fine because I would rather him channel that energy into my drink! As this market is tied with Bacchanalia all the staff wear aprons, a nice polishing touch.

Location - The Westside Provisions District in West Midtown is a wonderful place for the Star Provisions coffee shop. It's pedestrian friendly yet there's plenty of parking. Westside Provisions offers so many great eating and shopping options and it's sorta picturesque with the bridge and the white lights in the trees that they keep up year-round.


Overall Rating : 5 Stars

:: by Jaclyn Overall
Star Provisions on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 28, 2014

Good Karma Coffee

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We trekked all the way over to Avondale Estates to check out Good Karma. It wasn't quite worth the trek. The first time we visited was last summer (hence the tank top in the photo below) and I hoped that with my re-visit this week I would see some improvements, particularly with the interior design. No improvements made. But read on because Good Karma has some redeeming factors, ahem the food!

Atmosphere - The interior of Good Karma felt so incomplete, and the exterior doesn't do much for attracting customers either. It seems like they started with some good development efforts and then half-way through opened up shop and never finished. However, the employees add a warm and inviting element that lends this shop a nice, neighborly feel. You're sure to always find a seat and are invited to stay as long as you like. You'll find friends here eating and people working on their laptops. 
Coffee - It's Counter Culture so you know it's good. I'm always happy to see a familiar name when I visit new cafes I'm not too sure about. The coffees we ordered were excellent and Good Karma is always serving up a dark roast and a light roast. I'm grateful for the option, although, let's be honest, I always choose the dark.

Service - They've got a nice laid-back vibe here. Friendly staff will bring your food and drinks to the table, greet you when you come in, and check on you as you dine.
Location - It's hard to drive from midtown to Avondale Estates without passing a handful of great cafes on the way. If you're already on that side of town then I think Good Karma could be a nice, low-key place to frequent. Avondale Estates seems like a small town in the middle of nowhere when actually it's not that far from downtown Decatur. 
Legitimacy - Good Karma has a good thing going with its small but solid breakfast and lunch menu featuring a gluten-free bakery. A must order is the vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom waffle with warm agave nectar. It's really really good and can be topped with chocolate chips or blueberries. Yum! These waffles are both pretty and tasty...down to the very last bite.
Overall Rating : 3 stars
::by Jaclyn Overall
Good Karma Coffee on Urbanspoon