Sunday, April 25, 2010

Part Time Buffet: Fresh Air BBQ, Athens, Georgia

Fresh Air BBQ is better known as a regular barbecue restaurant, popular with carry-out customers especially, but the Athens Tech location has a lunch buffet on Fridays and Saturdays. In addition to Fresh Air's signature barbecue and stew, the buffet includes ribs (on Thursdays) and fried shrimp (on Fridays) along with other typical southern food staples. My favorite is the yellow squash casserole, which I ate too much of last time. The total price comes out to $9 with tax and drink included.

While the shrimp is very good, they only offer small packets of cheap tartar sauce, but an inventive diner can likely find a way to compensate with the pickled cucumber slices at the salad bar, among other possible solutions. Also, the restaurant really doesn't make its own sauce, so the flavoring on the ribs will taste very familiar. Neither of these should be deal-breakers for the buffet connoisseur as there's plenty else to make a well-rounded and satisfying meal. I just wish they offered the buffet more than two days a week.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

No. 1 China, Crawford, GA

Crawford, GA finally has a Chinese restaurant, No. 1 China, from the family that has also opened locations in Comer, Danielsville and Statham. It's also the only restaurant in all of Oglethorpe County to offer a buffet, although the carry-out menu offers a much larger selection of items that can be made to order on demand.

I have arrived at a Saturday routine where I close my store in Lexington at about 4 pm and then head over to No. 1 China to eat. This is because, as I discovered recently, the food made for the dinner crowd is made around this time and set out soon after, so it's the most opportune time to enjoy everything while it's hot and fresh, and before many people come in.

There isn't really much to say about the place to distinguish it from other under-$10 Chinese buffets, but there's something to be said for dependability, definitely. Broccoli lovers will appreciate that it always has a good texture at No. 1 China, whether from the chicken and broccoli or the steamed seafood and vegetables, the latter of which is probably the closest thing they have to a signature dish. Also, the sweet and sour soup is some of the best in the greater Athens area, and there's also a soup made with seafood that I like very much.

As I've indicated, I'm a regular customer. I think you'll find it's worth a try the next time you're going anywhere on that stretch of US 78.