what’s not to love? We’re really excited about SEATED,
a no-hassle booking app
that pays decent rewards in return for restaurant reservations
photo courtesy of Seated - used with permission
Me and hubby love going out for dinner, and for many years we’ve been using Opentable.com to make quick and easy online reservations. But Opentable rewards are pretty stingy - usually 100 points per booking which can be cashed-in only when you reach 2000 points for a $10 Amazon gift card (so basically 50¢ per booking). If it wasn’t for the convenience factor, it hardly seems worth it. And when I first heard about Seated, another free reservation app about a year ago, I was a bit skeptical. At that time, users were required to divulge credit card details to verify that they’d actually paid the bill (as opposed to doing a runner). Always cautious about security, I declined to hand over any top-secret financial info. However, I recently received a new invitation which persuaded me to sign up - Seated has removed the credit card requirement, allowing you to simply snap a pic of your restaurant receipt instead.
Seated has partnered with select, upscale restaurants in NYC, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco … and Atlanta. We were very excited to spot some of our local favourites on Seated, and it’s even encouraged us to try some new places too. Admittedly, the app itself is a little glitchy, and navigating the map feature to find restaurants in your area is a bit tricky. To help you out, we have listed some of our Atlanta recommendations below.
Seated helps restaurants attract new business, fill tables and create a loyal fan base by motivating diners to book in advance and remember to show up (don’t worry - the app won’t let you forget). In return for keeping your reservation and meeting a minimum spend you’ll be rewarded up to 30% of your check, which can be cashed-in as Amazon, Apple, Sephora or Target gift cards or Uber credits, and "experiences" such as wine tastings, celebrity dinners and other special events. I’m finding it amazingly quick and easy to upload a photo of my receipt, and I receive my reward within a couple of hours of leaving the restaurant. And all this done so simply on my phone. Splitting the check with friends? Just snap a shot their receipts too, and Seated will reward you on the joint total. Sweet!
While hubby and I don’t usually need any incentive to dine out, it is lovely to be rewarded just for going to dinner. Since signing up for Seated, I’ve achieved “Elite” status within my first month, earned tons of gift cards and received several $20 bonus rewards too. For our latest dinner date, we enjoyed a free Uber ride there and back, thanks to Seated.
As if getting paid to eat out is not rewarding enough, Seated will donate one meal to a child in need via the UN World Food charity in return for every reservation. How great is that?
Special offer: click this link to join Seated and get a $15 bonus on your first reservation
We love to eat out and discover new restaurants, both at home and away.
Here are some of our favorites:
Breakfast in America - the best of British
Breakfast at the Olde Blind Dog Irish pub
There’s nothing quite like a “full English” first thing in the morning, and since moving Stateside, hubby and I have been hard pushed to find anything that remotely resembles a traditional British breakfast from back home. Living in Georgia, we’ve never quite understood the Southern passion for fried chicken or biscuits and gravy as a morning meal, and we’ll happily concede that grits are an acquired taste. We can’t get used to US-style sausages and bacon, and merely suggesting that mushrooms and beans belong on the breakfast plate equally amuses and horrifies our American friends. We daren’t even mention black pudding, for fear of revealing its main ingredient and causing untold distress to the faint-hearted. So you can imagine how excited we were to recently discover an award-winning Atlanta pub where you can get a good old “fry up” all day long - no questions asked.
Ok, so before I go any further, technically it's a Celtic pub and the all-day feast is officially titled “Irish breakfast” - what our good friends Colin and Chris would call an “Ulster fry”. But basically, a big brekkie from anywhere in the British Isles is pretty much the same thing. So, without getting too distracted by the name or regional variations, let’s get our teeth into the juicy details.
One of the Olde Blind Dog's cosy snugs
Craving a taste of home, hungry hubby and I headed to the Olde Blind Dog in Milton early one Wednesday morning. We were greeted by director of operations Geoff Kokoszka, and as we settled into one of the cosy “snugs” (ornately decorated enclosed booths) Geoff filled us in on the history of the pub. It all started in 2009 when a Scottish collector of all things Celtic was seeking a spot to open a bar in Atlanta. He discovered that the suburb of Milton had the largest cluster of Scots-Irish in the state of Georgia. An artisan carpentry company, working out of a local barn, was commissioned to design and recreate the rustic Irish decor.
or is it Mel Gibson?
Today, the pub interior includes exquisite carvings, beautiful woodwork, stained glass and 200-year-old doors. It certainly looks and feels authentic. The owner is also a descendent of William Wallace, which explains the life-size, slightly spooky replica of Braveheart permanently encaged at the pub.
There’s even an interesting story behind the name of the Olde Blind Dog. The owner’s beloved bulldog, Peaches, was rescued from a shelter and had only one eye. Sadly, she passed away two months before the pub opened, but Peaches is fondly immortalized in her picture which adorns the brand logo and the sign above the door.
Photo credit: Olde Blind Dog Irish pub
Geoff told us that his regulars consist of many expats as well as long-term locals, who all love the traditional Irish food, and of course the famous Irish stout. He was keen to point out that Guinness gets special treatment at the Olde Blind Dog; it is stored separately and kept at a constant temperature to ensure it pours warmer than less prolific beers, while staff are carefully trained how to pull a perfect pint of the precious black stuff. Naturally, hubby insisted on sampling a glass, purely to confirm all this is true.
And just then our breakfast arrived. Two large plates loaded with real back bacon rashers (all the way from Ireland), bangers made specially by a local butcher, proper Heinz baked beans, fried mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, three eggs and optional black or white pudding. All this was accompanied by a thick wedge of freshly baked Irish soda bread, warm and crumbly, with creamy Kerrygold butter of course. Decent soda bread in the US is almost as rare as a crock of gold or even a genuine shamrock (the three-leaf variety, not those four-leaf imposters that crop up every Paddy’s Day), and this was among the best I've ever tasted.
breakfast for two
Irish soda bread and a cuppa
We cleared our plates and washed everything down with a lovely cup of Twinings English breakfast tea. That our young server instinctively knew our tea should be hot (not iced) with milk (not cream) was a refreshing change which made us feel like we were briefly back across the pond.
The final verdict: this hearty pub breakfast ticked all the right boxes and was the perfect way to start our day.
As we were leaving, Geoff reminded us about the Olde Blind Dog’s twin pub in Brookhaven, actually a bit closer to home for us. We can’t wait to visit that one too. Based on our experience at the Milton location, hubby and I are happy to testify that the Olde Blind Dog serves up the best big British (Irish) breakfast in Atlanta.
As the traffic zooms along Highway 9 in Sandy Springs, most drivers have no idea that an extraordinary little restaurant is quietly tucked away from the busy road. Hubby and I discovered Emidio’s purely by chance when we moved to the area. Since we got in on the secret, this fabulous hidden gem has become a firm favorite with us.
Located off the beaten track in an unassuming strip mall (that’s what Americans call a row of shops, not some dodgy dive - for the benefit of my Brit friends!), Emidio’s is nextdoor to a dance studio and a furniture store, where the driving licence (Georgia DDS) office used to be. Not quite where you’d expect to find exceptional Mediterranean cuisine, but that all adds to the quirkiness of this unique little restaurant.
Enjoying dessert with Barbara & Paula
The atmosphere is so laid back, old school and charming that, in these hectic days, it’s verging on quaint. Visiting Emidio’s feels like stepping back in time while taking a mini-trip to the Med. The mood is distinctly Euro-style too; as Maria always reminds us when we arrive, “There is no rush. Sit, relax, and enjoy your evening.” It has been known for us to leisurely linger for three hours over dinner and drinks, much to the surprise of our American friends!
Owners Joe & Maria
Family is a big deal at Emidio’s. The restaurant is owned and operated by the aforementioned Maria and her husband Joe, with son Danny waiting tables or helping out in the kitchen. And the atmosphere is so warm, welcoming and friendly, you instantly feel at home - almost part of the family too.
Joe and Maria hail from the Portuguese island of Madeira, before living in Britain for ten years. From Jersey, UK they moved to New Jersey, USA and finally to metro Atlanta, where they opened Emidio’s six and a half years ago. Joe is also executive chef, and when he’s not conjuring up new creations in the kitchen, is often out mingling with diners or chatting about football (soccer) over a drink at the bar. Dining room decor features a framed (and famed) number 7 shirt signed by Madeira’s very own Cristiano Ronaldo, which was a gift to the restaurant.
Football fans - cheering on Portugal in the World Cup
And the food? Well, everything is freshly prepared from scratch, and cooked just how you like it. The menu features authentic Portuguese, Spanish and Italian dishes. Some of our favorites include Caldo Verde soup, Cataplana - the traditional seafood stew of Portugal served in a classic copper pan, sizzling Lapus mussels, and salmon in Joe’s fab champagne sauce. Oh, and the Portuguese dessert cake "Bacon from Heaven" is to die for (excuse the pun). There’s an impressive wine list too, although my first choice is Maria’s homemade sangria, which is loaded with fresh fruit so it must be healthy, right?
Cataplana - Portuguese stew
Linguica portuguesa sausage
sizzling Lapus mussels
Toucinho do Ceu (aka Bacon from Heaven)
Chef Joe busy in the kitchen
Monthly buffet lunch
And on the first Sunday of every month, Emidio’s offers a wonderfully relaxed and casual buffet lunch to celebrate Portugal’s culture and cuisine.
Unlike some of the trendy eateries downtown, you won’t encounter a waiting list to get a table or a line halfway down the street, and that’s the beauty of being beyond big city limits, in the suburbs of Sandy Springs. Emidio’s is off-radar for many Atlanta restaurant-goers, but like other lucky locals, hubby and I struck gold when we discovered this little treasure in our own neighborhood. So shhh, don’t tell anyone. Although, on second thoughts, some secrets are too good not to share.