Last minute reservation? No problem. Table8 is here!

Earlier in August I participated in a Twitter chat hosted by the Association of Food Bloggers and Table8. The topic of this chat was trends in the food/restaurant industry. Ironically enough, even though Table8 is new to the market I don’t think that this is a “trend” that is going to come and go. Their idea is innovative, in demand and from what I’ve been able to tell, seamless. This is how it works.

The scenario:

Well meaning but clueless husband thinks it’s acceptable to bring his hardworking, foodie wife to a restaurant that wraps its silverware in paper napkins for their 25th anniversary.

As they’re getting ready for their big night on the town, she excitedly is chatting away about all the amazing restaurants she’s read about in Atlanta. Bistro Niko is a classic for such an important anniversary. But maybe St. Cecilia would be a more unique option. After all if there is a type of cuisine more romantic than French food, it’s Sicilian food. She can’t wait to see what surprise he has in store for her.

Suddenly, panic sets in. He hasn’t even put on his blazer yet but he’s sweating bullets. He realizes he’s made a terrible mistake. How in the ever-loving God is he going to get a table at any of these types of restaurants at 5 p.m. on a Saturday night? Impossible.

Enter, stage leftTable8.com. Well meaning but clueless husband signs on and quickly scans through an easily readable list of the most trendy and exceptional restaurants in Atlanta.

Image from Table8.com

Image from Table8.com

Bisto Niko and St. Cecilia both have tables available! At a bargain of $25 he can get them a table for two in TWO of the most in demand restaurants in Atlanta on a Saturday night. But what’s this? The Iberian Pig also has tables available! She’s expecting French or Sicilian…why not take it to the next level and surprise her with Spanish cuisine?! He clicks on the picture of The Iberian Pig and there is all the information he could need: food critic reviews, a list of accolades received by the restaurant and a quick overview of the ambiance which is described as modern and romantic.

Image from Table8.com

Image from Table8.com

Done and done. He reserves the table, sighs a breath of relief and tells her to get excited! She’s going to love what he has planned for her.

There it is. Table8 in a nutshell. There are hundreds of reasons why you may need a last minute reservation, but whatever that reason may be, Table8 has you covered.

Here’s a quick summary of how it works according to their website:

Image from Table8.com

Image from Table8.com

Now you might ask “Do you always have to pay for reservations on the site?” Not at all! If the restaurant is not booked to capacity you can use the site to reserve a table at no cost to you. You are only prompted for a charge of the restaurant is booked solid.

Image from Table8.com

Image from Table8.com

In addition to being an amazing concept for diners, I personally really love the set up of the site itself. Table8 is seamless, sleek and straightforward.

And last but not least, my number one favorite feature on the site might seem random to some of you, but to me it is one more bullet point on the list of awesome that puts Table8 above its competitors: the ability to view the menu (clearly) on the site without having to navigate away.

Image from Table8.com

Image from Table8.com

I can’t be the only one who has dealt with the infuriating menus that restaurants post on their sites that are either not mobile compatible or are just MIA all together. Table8 has taken care of gathering that information for you and putting it in an easily accessible and readable format.

As of right now, Table8 is up and running in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

If you have any questions about Table 8 you can find them on Facebook, Twitter and their website: www.Table8.com. You can also download the app for your iPhone or Android.

What I’m Watching…

“You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true – anyone can cook… but only the fearless can be great.”

Sure, it’s a Disney movie…but it might be one of my favorite food themed movies to date.

Chic Ciroc Brunch

I attended yet another brunch hosted by Eating With Erica Ashley the Brand and Ciroc at Sweet Auburn Seafood – and once again, my experience was taken to the next level!

Beautiful center pieces!

Beautiful center pieces!

Myself and other top influencers were shown to a private room where we were given our first cocktail of the afternoon. Truth be told, I am not typically a vodka person. However, Ciroc has always been a line of vodka that I can rely on to be consistently delicious and top quality. The drinks did not disappoint at all.

Our first cocktail of the afternoon: Ciroc Breeze. Ciroc Peach, Ciroc Pineapple, fresh lemon, sour mix, topped with grapefruit juice.

Our first cocktail of the afternoon: Ciroc Lemonade (Ciroc, lemonade and a sugar rim).

We went right into some amazing dishes that incorporated Ciroc into their recipes. This might have been my favorite course, Crab Stuffed Lemon Heads with Chardonnay Cream Sauce. The crab cake was definitely more crab meat than filling (which can be the worst). What brought this dish over the top was the combination of the chardonnay sauce with the lemon. Grilled lemon is by far one of my favorite things in the world. A little squeeze over the crab cake and POW! Small bite, huge flavor.

Birds eye of the delicious crab cake.

Birds eye of the delicious crab cake.

The grilled lemon was an exceptional addition to the dish.

The grilled lemon was an exceptional addition to the dish.

Next we had Petite Filet Mignon with Wild Herb Demi Glaze. Jesus take the wheel. The kobe beef melted in your mouth. It was absolutely to die for.

The asparagus on the plate was cooked in Ciroc!

The asparagus on the plate was cooked in Ciroc!

Last but definitely not least was the Mini Sweet Auburn Seafood Burger made with angus beef, blackened shrimp and topped with Tiger Sauce. Although I really liked the slider, I found the taste of Siracha to be a bit much. Even as a fan of Siracha, I hate to see it used too much in foods that are not crappy take-out. And believe me when I say that this is an item you definitely want to try on their menu. The slider could stand on its own without the spicy Siracha.

For dessert they served us a Sea Salt Caramel Cheesecake Shooter which was actually served in a champagne glass. Thank goodness too. It was so decadent and indulgent that I would have been heart broken if I all I got were a few bites. I didn’t even get a great picture of the dessert because I inhaled it. So enjoy this beautiful shot by Milla Williams of Happily Eating. If you click the picture you will be brought to her review of this event, and her pictures are amazing!

The photo was taken by Milla Williams of Happily Eating, and the dessert: Sea Salt Caramel Cheese Cake Shooter.

The photo was taken by Milla Williams of Happily Eating, and the dessert: Sea Salt Caramel Cheese Cake Shooter.

Dessert cocktail, Peach Dream Creme, made with Ciroc Peach, caramel vodka and half and half.

Dessert cocktail, Peach Dream Creme, made with Ciroc Peach, caramel vodka and half and half.

This entire brunch was an amazing introduction to the Ciroc brand. Not only did we get to sample some amazing cocktails but we got to see how versatile the product is by seeing how Chef Sammy Davis used it in our tasting menu.

Chef Sammy Davis talking us through the menu.

Chef Sammy Davis talking us through the menu.

If you have the chance, swing in and check out Sweet Auburn Seafood and tell them Eating with Erica, Ashley the Brand and Good Eats: Mundial sent you!

Disclosure: I received no monetary compensation for this post. The delicious drinks and food were provided by Ciroc and Sweet Auburn Seafood. It in no way influenced my opinions and views, which are 100% honest and come from my own personal experience.

What I’m Watching…

“JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a quiet yet enthralling documentary that chronicles the life of Jiro Ono, the most famous sushi chef in Tokyo. For most of his 85 years, Jiro has been perfecting the art of making sushi. He works from sunrise to well beyond sunset to taste every piece of fish; meticulously train his employees; and carefully mold and finesse the impeccable presentation of each sushi creation. Although his restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro only seats ten diners, it is a phenomenon in Tokyo that has won the prestigious 3-Star Michelin review, making him the oldest Michelin chef alive. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI chronicles Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world, and as a loving yet complicated father of two.”

What I’m Watching…

“Chef’s Table goes inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world’s most renowned international chefs. Each episode focuses on a single chef and their unique look at their lives, talents and passion from their piece of culinary heaven.”

My favorites? Massimo Bottura and Niki Nakayama. It looks like my culinary bucket list just got that much longer. Enjoy!

Q&A Brunch with Hugh Acheson

Last Sunday I made my way to Midtown to attend a Q&A Brunch with Hugh Acheson. The event was hosted by YP and Erica Key of Eating With Erica as a part of YP’s #MakeEveryDayLocal campaign.

GoodEatsMundial_EmpireStateSouth_Entrance

The entrance to Empire State South.

One of my favorite things about food blogging is the connections we get to make with the community. YP has set out to help facilitate the ongoing circle of (local/community driven) life. When people support local they’re helping business owners support their own families which allows them to continue to provide their community with whatever services they offer. The more you feed local businesses, the more the community reaps the benefits. It’s a win, win.

Empire State South (ESS) is located in Midtown, a hidden gem that is worth the climb. From the website:

Empire State South takes a modern approach to creating authentic Southern dishes, relying on the beautiful foods of this region. A community restaurant that appeals to a broad range, Empire State South is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a to-go lunch program, courtyard bocce ball and an extensive coffee bar.

I love their courtyard and bocce court. It’s so unique to the area and the game is tons of fun. ESS has successfully created an ambiance that gives off the feeling of being at a high end venue while also being completely welcoming and comfortable. In fact, this patio was rated the #3 on Thrillist’s ATL’s 26 Best Outdoor Patios in Atlanta and it’s easy to see why.

The view of the bocce court, facing Peachtree Street.

The view of the bocce court, facing Peachtree Street.

While a group of bloggers and YP contest winners sipped on mimosas and bloody mary’s, the staff at Empire State South brought out brunch. The set up was serve yourself. Plates and boards full of perfectly plated food were set up on the bar and on high top tables. It was a food bloggers dream to be honest…the presentation was absolutely stunning.

Beautiful brunch presentation.

Beautiful brunch presentation.

Beautiful brunch presentation.

Beautiful brunch presentation.

The most amazing french toast!

The most amazing french toast!

Better yet, the food itself was also impressive. We were treated to breakfast sandwiches of scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage served on delightfully fluffy biscuits. Scrambled eggs done right are the equivalent of Loch Ness monster sightings. No one will believes you when you tell them you’ve seen it, but once you see it for yourself…your life is changed forever. Head over to ESS if you want the Loch Ness monster of scrambled eggs. Promise. 

The best breakfast sandwich I've had in months.

The best breakfast sandwich I’ve had in months.

Yogurt served with house made granola, home fries, shrimp and grits…it was enough to make any breakfast lover weep tears of joy.

Yogurt, granola and blueberries.

Yogurt, granola and blueberries.

The lovely display of the yogurt and granola.

The lovely display of the yogurt and granola.

The man of the hour Hugh Acheson joined us in the dining room while we ate. He thanked us all for being there and gave a short speech about Empire State South, the food scene in Atlanta and why he decided to partner with YP for this event.

GoodEatsMundial_EmpireStateSouth_HughAcheson

Hugh Acheson speaking to the group at the #MakeEveryDayLocal brunch.

Personally, I find the idea of “celebrity chefs” sort of weird. I have had too many experiences eating some Food Network or Bravo rejects food and going “Really? This is it?” or worse even, meeting them in person and finding that their heads were so far up in the clouds, it was as if they forgot why they started cooking to begin with.

Hugh went right ahead and stomped on my worries and fears. He was delightful, engaging, happy to be there and happy to talk to us about the things he’s passionate about. I loved his no bullshit approach when it came to addressing Atlanta and its growth in the past five years.

He was so lovely and kind! Thank you Hugh!

He was so lovely and kind! Thank you Hugh!

He made it a point to acknowledge that Atlanta has finally stopped with the weird obsession to be something its not and has become comfortable with its perception by others as the “new South.” It’s no surprise that as soon as Atlanta accepted that, what happened was an influx of amazing new local businesses and restaurants.

And for the first time ever, I heard a chef – a white male chef – a white male chef who competed on and then went on to be a judge for Top Chef – say, essentially, that misogyny and sexism in the industry is not only rampant but complete BS (I’m paraphrasing, but…you get the idea). I almost jumped out of my seat. I have conducted so many interviews and have asked this question directly to both women and men in the industry and was usually greeted with cautiously guarded answers or flat out “it’s not a problem.”  The honesty was refreshing and appreciated.

A very excited Tweet from the event!

A very excited Tweet from the event!

When asked about social media, his answer was surprising. He is pretty active on Twitter and Instagram. Although he understands how it can assist his brand and businesses, he prefers to use it as a means of personal expression. Going to his timeline, you won’t see a barrage of RT’d links to his restaurants – you’ll see tweets that give you a glimpse into the person he is (whether you like it or not).

Last, but most definitely not least, what I loved the most was the newest initiative to bring home economics classes to schools that, you know, actually teach kids something. Instead of learning how to make mac and cheese from a box, or instant biscuits he wants this program to teach kids about fresh food, teach them how to cook meals from scratch, teach them how to read a lease, teach them how to open a bank account: life skills that will actually benefit the students in the long term.

Selfie with my signed copy of The Broad Fork!

Selfie with my signed copy of The Broad Fork!

Somewhere in the Q&A session, Hugh said something that I think is reflective of the kind of person and chef he is. It also hit me right in the gut, especially in light of my recent life decision – and it’s how I want to end today’s review:

You don’t go six feet into the ground regretting the time you spent in the kitchen with your family.

No, Hugh…you definitely don’t.

I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to #MakeEveryDayLocal with Hugh, Erica and the folks at YP!

To learn more about *all the things* check out the following:

#MakeEveryDayLocal
Hugh Acheson
Eating With Erica
The Broad Fork
Empire State South

The Broad Fork can be purchased online. Check out the link above.

The Broad Fork can be purchased online. Check out the link above.