We celebrated a friend’s birthday at the new Sun Dried restaurant in Marietta, which is located where Café Med and Manny’s Bar and Grill used to be on Sandy Plains Road just north of East Piedmont on Kinjac Road. The restaurant is owned by Chef Alain Njike who specializes in world cuisine and advertises his use of organic seasonal produce and local ingredients, although there was no mention of where he finds his food on the menu. Chef Njike relocated to Marietta from Chicago where he ran a restaurant that closed after only a few months in business.
The restaurant is nicely appointed with some cool African art pieces about the dining room – a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. Although the men’s room was clean and stocked, it was very plain. Once everyone in our party was seated Chef Njike brought out plated appetizers of fried plantains for everyone, a nice touch. They were absolutely delicious – very crispy with a touch of sweet and spice he uses in most of his cooking. My wife and I shared a grilled romaine heart, which was good, and I had one of the grilled scallops, which was perfectly cooked and seasoned. I ordered the grilled chicken with potatoes and asked our server for the chef to “get creative” with it as I really wanted to taste his African flavorings, and my wife ordered the southern inspired shrimp and grits. Both entrees were excellent, perfectly cooked with a really nice spice combination. I had the opportunity to try the blackened whiting that had a compliment of craw fish in a light spicy sauce over the top, which was probably the best blackened fish I have tasted – not buttery or oily like some places but the fish was more “encrusted” in a very spicy ensemble of Chef Njike’s signature flavors. Everyone at the table shared the chef’s wine selections, which were very good, yet they have only one type of craft beer from Oregon (can’t recall the name), which had a nutty caramel overtone – very interesting flavor. Dessert was not offered on the menu, but the table did share a large dish of vanilla ice cream dusted with cinnamon – very good. After our meal Chef Njike visited our table and shared with us his concept for cooking, the basis of his spices, and how he uses some of the traditions of Cameroon in his cooking.
We were one of only three other parties in the restaurant, which seems odd as they have been open now over three months. The service is a bit on the slow side because they had only one server taking care of us and the other parties, and it appeared that Chef Njike was the kitchen staff (he probably was washing the dishes too after we left). The prices seemed consistent with most places of similar quality, $6 to $12 for appetizers and $11 to $23 for entrees. Although my chicken came with a compliment of very rich whipped potatoes, the blackened fish was not served with a starch or vegetable and was $19.
If you like bold flavors and want to try something different, give Sun Dried a try.