Friday, June 17, 2011
5500 Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd., Dunwoody, GA www.alisonsrestaurant.com
Last Sunday night Kyle, my grandmother and I had dinner at Alison's restaurant in Dunwoody. The first thing you need to know about this place is that if you want to eat there, you better be looking for it - it's practically hidden back in a shopping center with only a small sign indicating it's presence. Once you get there, you'll find ample parking, a moderately sized patio and an indoors dining area. The second thing you need to know is that this is a relatively new place - it was opened last November by an English woman (Alison, of course), who was actively managing the restaurant on Sunday night. When she came by our table to inquire about our dinners, I was pleased to give her a positive response.
Grandmother and I both ordered one of the evenings specials, a penne pasta with scallops and shrimp in a Cajun sauce. This was outstanding. The penne was cooked al dente, the sauce was was great - strong flavors of sherry and heavy cream. There were plenty of scallops, but only 2 shrimp (same for both me and Grandmother). Normally restaurants will skimp on the scallops instead, so I'm not sure if Alison's was having a shrimp shortage or what. Nevertheless, the scallops were not overcooked (a common mistake at somewhat inexpensive seafood restaurants), the sliced mushrooms were plentiful, and the sun-dried tomatoes were pungent notes. Normally I steer clear of entrees with sun-dried tomatoes, because they often overpower all other flavors, but there were just enough in this case. I finished most of mine, and took half of Grandmother's home. When I ate it 2 days later it was just as good, a near miracle with delicate seafood. The dish far exceeded my expectations, and only cost around $13.50.
Price is one of the good traits about Alison's. No dish on the menu is priced to empty your wallet. It's not super cheap like Buford Hwy or anything, but it's definitely reasonable.
Another plus - a Georgia winery, Blackstock, has several offerings on the wine menu. Blackstock's good reputation is growing, and I'm happy to see that Alison's is getting in on the local action.
If only Kyle's filet mignon would've been as great as the pasta. The meat itself is about the same quality as you'd find at Longhorn - not as good as Ruth's Chris or Stoney River, but priced less at $18.69. It was cooked as ordered. The main issue we had with it is the size - it's only 6 ozs. Now, unless you're a 14 year old girl, this probably won't be enough meat for you. Fortunately it comes with two sides, which will prevent your stomach from growling after you've cleaned your plate. Kyle thought the mashed potatoes were very creamy, but when you order steak, you're hoping the main course will be a little more substantial. (Alison's does offer a 12 oz Ribeye for $16.99, but once you've got filet in your mind, ribeye just won't cut it.) The other side he chose was the spaghetti with marinara sauce, which wasn't anything special, but wasn't bad either.
Another negative is the decor. It's sort of 1980's - the colors, the booths, the carpet, and those God-awful vinyl table covers. Some plain white linen tablecloths would go a long way towards improving the appearance of this place.
That being said, I never value decor over quality of food, and I'll sit in that crappy booth in front of that sticky table cover any day for that seafood pasta.
Verdict: Better than expected. Give it a try next time you're in the neighborhood.