I am a reasonably intelligent human being who has used public transportation all over the world. So why did I feel like such an imbecile trying to navigate Atlanta’s MARTA? Jet lag perhaps? (You know the time difference between DC and Atlanta is so huge.) No, I think it had something to do with the god-awful signage the brilliant folks at MARTA have decided to put up and perhaps even more because of the god-awful signs they haven’t put up. As you can see from the map above, there are only two lines that make up the MARTA system. Shouldn’t be hard should it? But it was. The London underground is infinitely more complex but it’s superior signage makes it nearly impossible to get lost or even confused on that system. Yet MARTA had me cussing out loud as I changed trains and stepped onto a platform completely void of any kind of information that would have indicated that I was in the right place. The screeching Mariah Carey Christmas music did nothing to improve my mood. Don’t get me wrong, other metro systems have poor signage, but none as worthless as the stuff in Atlanta.
We were in Atlanta this past weekend staying with friends. Happily they took us to a really lovely restaurant (gastro-pub? bistro?) called Cakes & Ale in Decatur. This is the kind of place I wish we had in DC. (Who knows, maybe we do. Although most places in DC seem too crowded, too corporate, too pricey, or too bad.) But at Cakes & Ale all is right with the world. It is a comfortable space, low noise, with really tasty food. The wine list was a little short, but the Oregon Pinot Noir we had darn good (Maysara, Jamsheed Reserve, Willamette Valley, Oregon-2005).
Right off the bat things were really tasty. They put those thin, cracker-like bread sticks on the table which I normally don’t like. But these particular babies were delicious. For starters we had an antipasti plate which was really set off by these amazing pickled cherries, Arancini–little deep fried balls of rice and cheese, and my personal favorite, roasted pork belly with farro, bacon, pecans and kohlrabi slaw. The pork belly was crunchy and melt in your mouth at the same time and the farro was perfectly cooked. I think everyone at the table (except for the vegetarian) coveted the pork belly. I don’t really remember what everyone else had for a main, I think there was gnocchi on the table, but I do remember my delicious cavatelli with sausage and short ribs.
Decatur is too far below the Mason Dixon Line for my taste, but if I had to live in the ATL, Cakes & Ale would be high on my list of favorite places.