Want Fresh, Fast, and Healthy? Purely is the Place to Be

Being Italian, I had high expectations for the gelato at Purely. Non-traditional soft serve gelato sounded iffy at first. But no lie the gelato was so good I shed a tear. Italy will just have to wait for now.

Dominic Leong, owner of Purely, informed me that he studied the art of making gelato n Rimini, Italy, help start and ran the restaurant chain Pino Gelato (one of their locations is at Hartsfield Jackson Airport) for 12 years, and even modified the soft serve gelato machine himself.

Leong is the ultimate renaissance man. He consults and designs restaurants, as he did with Purely (his baby), creates the innovative menu, cooks all the food, and engages customers with his bubbly personality.

The Midtown Atlanta space has tall glass windows looking out to busy Peachtree Street, bright lime green painted walls with eye catching photos of the food, and exquisite glass chandeliers.

The concept of Purely is like other ‘make-your-own restaurants’ where customers design their own meal in an assembly line style. All the meat and vegetables are prepared fresh daily, and customers have the option whether to create their own concoction or choose from already created specialties. Purely’s food is fast, fresh and healthy, which makes it a perfect lunch spot for business people and college students. What’s more, most meals are under $10.

Even the presentation of the food is stunning. Organic vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, kale and mixed greens are showcased in a glass container so customers are more attracted to eating fresh food.

Diners start by choosing their base in a bowl. They have options of white or brown rice, mixed greens and even gluten free pasta. For tacos and salads, customers choose their protein with options such as slow cooked Mexican style pork carnitas and or all natural Caribbean beef barbacoa. After, adding fresh veggies of your choice, top it off with sauces such as creamy chipotle and sweet chili.

Tacos are served in cooked to order warm Chinese steamed buns, but customers also have the option of a traditional corn tortilla. I tried the braised jerk chicken taco served with kale, and a customer favorite – Asian sesame sauce, topped with grape tomatoes and a sprinkle of shredded cheese. The taco was sweet considering the sauce, but I was expecting more of a kick since it was jerk chicken. I also felt the kale and the lack of sauce made the taco a little dry.

The spicy chicken teriyaki taco with Purely’s signature sauce (like spicy mayo), fresh red cabbage, well-seasoned chicken, the dish was very different though, hitting all the right notes of spice and texture.

Fun fact, Purely’s bowls are 70% decomposable.

Food bowls have become the new hipster food trend of 2018. Specifically, poke bowls, which are often served with raw fish, salad topping and Asian sauces. I created my own poke bowl and added tuna and salmon with spicy mayo, poke sauce, lime juice, mixed greens, cabbage and edamame. With several competitors out there trying to master the poke bowl trend, Purely’s bowl deserves a spot at the top. The bowl made for a light flavor packed lunch.

Bubble tea has never tickled my fancy, but I decided to give it another try by adding strawberry popping pearls (like tapioca but made of real fruit) to my matcha tea. With one sip, I was in heaven! Purely uses oolong tea as the base instead of water which gives it a more robust flavor. And did I mention the matcha powder is imported straight from Japan?

Purely’s biggest hit are the bubble waffles. Bubble waffles became popular in Hong Kong and are a fancier version of the traditional American ice cream waffle only with batter filled spheres, making it look more attractive. I filled mine with matcha gelato and triple berry sorbet, topped with mango and strawberry flavored popping pearls and fresh peaches.

Sorbet isn’t typically my first choice, but the soft serve gelato version of it made the consistency creamy rather than icy. Although bubble waffle tasted like a regular waffle, it was rather soft than crispy, which can be messy to eat.

What Purely is offering is not totally unique, but having the best gelato, teas, buddle waffles and poke bowls – all in a vibrant atmosphere at affordable prices – is notable. I would return to create new combinations using the fresh, healthy and organic ingredients Purely offers.

~ By Daniella Boik, Go Eat Give summer 2018 intern. Daniella is a journalism student at Georgia State University and has a passion for food, books and skateboards. When she’s not writing, she is drafting her ideas while running long distance. Follow her on Facebook 

Gastronomo de Mexico

After it’s grand opening last weekend, everyone is talking about the newest hot spot in town. Located on Peachtree St, close to the Fox Theater, Escorpion Tequila Bar and Cantina is trendy, young and eclectic. The place where Escorpion houses now has seen a few change of hands over the years.

Owner Riccardo Ullio already has successes of Sotto Sotto and Fritti under his belt and a reputable name when it comes to serving good quality food. Although Escorpion offers a cuisine different from Riccardo’s Italian roots, the expectations are still high.

The cuisine at Escorpion can be described as “upscale regional Mexican.” If you are still debating to go, here is what a typical experience at the Escorpion would be like….

It will take you a few minutes to go through the extensive list of cocktails, tequilas and liquors on the drink menu. If you are an adventurous drinker, always looking for new concoctions, you won’t be disappointing. Try the El Chamuco with blackberry and ginger or Pueblo Unida, a spicy habanero salt rimmed lime margarita.

For starters order the chunky Guacamole or one of the many ceviches. The Tuna Ceviche is an interesting treat for the palate and the eyes. Cubed pieces of sushi grade tuna are lost against diced watermelon. Gently seasoned with sea salt and served in a glass, it is a perfect dish on a summer evening.

The cuisine here is described as “regionally authentic” and they truely live up to that. Even though the names would sound familiar, they are not your off-the-mill Tex-Mex dishes that you find at most restaurants in Atlanta. The Cheese Chili Rellenos is  nothing like you have tasted elsewhere. Spicy whole chilis are surrounded by a light fluffy egg meringues, melted Monterey Jack and Corija (Mexican) cheese and a savory tomato gravy. A tablespoon of the combination melts away as soon as it touches your tongue.

The Fish Tacos found here are not for the faint hearted. While the tilapia fillet is deep fried, it is drizzled with a spicy mayo made with poblano peppers that can serve as a nice compliment to one of the fruit infused tequilas.

Chicken Tamale with avocado sauce is just what it sounds like. While the Fish Tacos are on the spicy side, the tamales are bland. There is something for everyone here!

Desserts are not  strong suit here. Both the Flan and Tres Leches are nothing to rave about. Best to come here for a few drinks and enjoy some small plates to keep you nourished. The restaurant has a club feel after dark and is open till late every night (1am on weeknights, 2 am on weekends). There is a lively atmosphere with international music and festive crowds, so stay on and join the dance floor.

Escorpion Tequila Bar and Cantina

800 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30308