Krog Street Mar­ket mus­ings

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

“Holy crap!” I an­nounced, “I just spent nearly $30 in a food court.”

“Yeah, well, I just spent $21,” my friend Frank said, point­ing at his sand­wich and fries.

It was Fri­day night. We were tak­ing our seats with two other friends in the Krog Street Mar­ket (99 Krog St.), the 30,000-square-foot be­he­moth of trendy din­ing in In­man Park. Four full-ser­vice restau­rants like Cock­en­trice and Craft Iza­kaya an­chor the ren­o­vated mill, but the cav­ernous cen­ter space houses bars and food stalls. You fetch your food and seek a ta­ble in a gloomy seat­ing area.

Since I last wrote about KSM, a new stall, Gu’s Dumplings, has opened. Please read my lips: Do not bother. The stall is the suc­ces­sor to the fab­u­lous Gu’s Bistro, where some of the city’s best Szechuan cui­sine was served un­til its clos­ing in early March. Ev­ery­one pre­sumed an ab­bre­vi­ated menu of the same spicy food would be fea­tured at KSM.

Not. I vis­ited once, a cou­ple of weeks af­ter its open­ing, and was shocked by the mainly fla­vor­less dumplings, the over­cooked chicken, and the medi­ocre noo­dles. And it was all ridicu­lously over­priced. I’ve had no re­ports that it’s im­proved, so last Fri­day I de­manded that my friends not go near the place.

In­stead we went to Fred’s Meat and Bread and Yalla! I was es­pe­cially anx­ious to try the lat­ter, since I’d eaten at Fred’s once be­fore. Yalla, like Fred’s, is owned by the folks who op­er­ate Gen­eral Muir, in­clud­ing renowned chef Todd Gins­berg.

While the menu has been sim­pli­fied, the dizzy­ing num­ber of condi­ments can still be pretty con­fus­ing. The main deal here is sand­wiches made with ei­ther pita pock­ets or their larger flat­bread cousin, laffa. Think Is­raeli tacos and bur­ri­tos. I mis­tak­enly thought the pita ver­sions would be small­ish, so I or­dered two—one with falafel and the other with kabobs of ground lamb. Overkill. The falafel was won­der­fully crispy—at first. How­ever, it was over­whelmed by condi­ments of hum­mus, labne (a thick yogurt spread with the whey re­moved), tahini, Is­raeli salad (cu­cum­bers, onions, toma­toes, mint) and zhug (a de­li­cious hot sauce of roasted jalapenos and spices). If I were you, I’d or­der an ex­tra shot of the zhug.

The same prob­lem arose with my lamb pita—ac­tu­ally more so, since the kabobs were, not un­ex­pect­edly, oily. It was spread with baba ganoush, the Is­raeli salad, a slice of su­per-thin roasted egg­plant, the labne, and the zhug. Half­way through, I tore away the bread and picked at both sand­wiches with my fork.

Yes, I was stuffed, but there’s more! Fred’s had a spe­cial of a Viet­namese-style sand­wich (banh mi) filled with roasted cau­li­flower, egg­plant, and the usual as­sort­ment of pick­led and fresh veg­gies. It was made on a crunchy baguette, just as it should be, and was fab­u­lous. I took most of it home.

Is it ab­surd that even with a barely eaten sand­wich in my hand, I wanted ice cream? Un­for­tu­nately, Jenni’s is closed tem­po­rar­ily at KSM, so I begged that we go to Zesto in Lit­tle Five Points. As I’ve raved for years, I love the Tof­fee Cof­fee Arc­tic Swirl here and have felt ter­ri­bly de­prived since the con­ve­nient Zesto on Ponce closed. I in­haled the ex­tra-large ver­sion in a flash. And, de­spite all this food, I awoke at 3 a.m. in an Am­bien buzz and de­voured the rest of the banh mi I could not eat five hours ear­lier. I fasted Satur­day, and two days later, at my doc­tor’s of­fice, I learned I’d dropped seven pounds. So there.

Cliff Bo­s­tock, PhD, is a long­time At­lanta food critic and for­mer psy­chother­a­pist who now of­fers col­lab­o­ra­tive life coach­ing, spe­cial­iz­ing in cre­ativ­ity and is­sues re­lated to age tran­si­tion (404-518-4415).

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