Thursday, November 06, 2003

Cap'n Ken recommends ...

I spent lunch today at one of the best unknown stores in Atlanta. It's a place in Marietta called Restaurant Solutions that's primarily a restaurant supply shop, but is open to the public and sells all sorts of kitchen stuff ... dirt freakin' cheap.

As with much of my culinary knowledge, I owe this discovery to one Alton Brown, whose Good Eats show on Food Network is a staple on the DVR timer list.

Alton is from Atlanta and shoots at locations all around town. He's featured Restaurant Solutions on a couple of episodes to demonstrate that you can save a lot of cash buying high-quality gear at restaurant supply stores. As far as I can tell, Restaurant Solutions is the only commercial supply store in Atlanta that's open to the public.

The store is a tiny shop way out in BFE, kind of near Dobbins. It took me several lunchtime scouting trips to actually find the place the first time. I suggest MapQuesting before trying to get there.

They sell standard kitchen gear like pots and pans, work bowls, spoons & spatulas, etc. along with odds and ends used by restaurants that might be cool in a home kitchen. And if you're in the market for something like a commercial deep fryer, school-lunch trays by the dozen or chef's jackets - you can't go wrong.

Did I mention it's all super cheap? I think that's because restaurants wear out and break things so often. Plus, when you're shopping in the store - most of the restaurants have stuff delivered - you get an additional 15% off the marked price. Supersweet.

I've been out a few times to browse and pick up an item or two, but with us settled into the new place now, the kitchen gear purchasing is getting serious.

Here's my take from today's visit:

• Two heavy-duty aluminum 1/2 sheet pans (baking sheets for you novices)
• A big-ass (18 x 24, I think) antibacterial cutting board
• Pro-quality Teflon omelette pan - to go with the bigger one I bought a couple weeks ago
• Big stanless-steel colander with base and handles
• Medium stainless-steel colander with base and handles
• Two stainless-steel "dredges" (things to shake spices out of)
• Pro-quality pizza cutter
• Fry pan splatter screen

My total outlay, including tax, for this haul - $57.89. A quick online comparison suggests this stuff would run about $145 at a regular Bed & Things type store.

Now, there are a couple of quirks about the place. First off, they have no cash register, much less a computer system, so everything is written up on little triplicate-copy order sheets and totaled by hand. I see this as somewhat charming, but patience is a good thing to have. They're also only open 9 - 3 on Saturdays and closed on Sundays, so unless you can get there at lunch during the week, the hours are limited.

But - especially if you have a new kitchen you want to fill with new kitchen goods - the little hassles are really worth it.

Did I mention how cheap their prices are?


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