Dinner Bell Indian Fine Cuisine is a great new place for Indian food

Hidden away from Eisenhower near Sam’s Club in the Shoppes at Bloomfield strip mall next to Serena Wholesale is a one of the best Indian restaurants in Middle Georgia, Dinner Bell Indian Fine Cuisine. The decor is humble and the atmosphere is what you bring with you, but the cleanliness and the food are top notch as well as the service.

Dinner Bell Chicken Seekh Kabab
Chicken seekh kabab is a poultry twist on the normally lamb dish. Photo by Doug Deal.

Since it opened a couple of months ago, I have had the chance to eat there twice, once for the lunch buffet and once for dinner off the menu. The experience for both meals was outstanding. Although I recommend the buffet, which is about $8, this article will focus on the dinner.

Dinner Bell Mango Lassi
A young lassie enjoys a mango lassi at Dinner Bell Fine Indian Cuisine. Photo by Doug Deal.

My wife, my kids and I pretty much always eat dinner together, and this was no exception. Although my children do not like food that is too spicy, we ordered them some mild chicken seekh kebabs with naan bread. My daughter thought the kebabs were too spicy so we had to get her something else, but my son gobbled up two before we knew it. Both absolutely loved the soft freshly baked flatbread. My daughter also wanted her favorite Indian drink, a mango lassi. Of all the lassis I have tried, this one has a stronger mango flavor and was one of the best I’ve had.

Dinner Bell Aloo Tikki
Aloo Tikki is an appetizer of spicy fried potato patties served with chana masala. Photo by Doug Deal.

For my wife and I, we took a break from our usual appetizer of samosas and instead tried the aloo tikki, which is a plate of spiced potato and cauliflower cakes with a bit of chana masala on the side. I prefer samosas, but the potato cakes were a nice change of pace and the chana masala was incredibly tender and perfectly spiced. We ordered the dish medium, so it was not too spicy for me, but Indian food is in general more spicy than most people in Middle Georgia normally eat.

For my wife’s entree, she ordered chichen sag. Anyone familiar with Indian food probably knows sag paneer, which is spinach and cheese, chicken sag simply substitutes chicken for the cheese. I am not a cooked spinach persons, but my wife loved it. She ordered her dish medium and to me it was not what I would consider hot, but to most it is probably where they would want it unless they like hot food.

Dinner Bell Chicken Saag
Chicken sag is similar to sag paneer only it has chicken instead of cheese. Photo by Doug Deal.

My entree was my long time Indian favorite, chicken vindaloo, which I ordered extra-hot. The waitress confirmed my order twice and when it arrived I was delighted at the flavor, spiciness, appearance and quantity. The heat at extra-hot was right at my limit of what I like, just enough to kick of a euphoria of endorphins, but not so hot to be unpleasant. Each bite was as enjoyable as the first and combined with the excellent garlic naan and basmati rice filled me up with half the dish left.

Dinner Bell Chicken Vindaloo
Dinner Bell chicken vindaloo is extremely flavorful, cooked in hot spices and vinegar with potatoes. Photo by Doug Deal.

There are a number of good Indian restaurants in Middle Georgia and we have been regulars at most, but as it stands today, this is my new favorite. I expect to make it to lunch and dinner as often as I can.

Dinner Bell Garlic Naan
Dinner Bell offers a selection of naans and other side items. Pictured is garlic naan which is a great accompaniment to spicy dishes. Photo by Doug Deal.

The  menu is full and has all sorts of options for different tastes. Some of the interesting dishes I would like to try in the future include the mixed grill, the large selection of tandoori items as well as some of the Indian-China fusion dishes. In price, expect to pay about $9-$15 for an entree with an average of about $11 with portions big enough to share. Appetizers run about $4-$7.

Give Dinner Bell Indian Fine Cuisine a try, if you like Indian you should not be disappointed and if you have never tried it before, this is a good place to go as a first timer. The lunch buffet is an excellent opportunity to try an assortment of items to see what you like. Although some Indian food might be daunting to picky eaters, tandoori is pretty much just grilled meat prepared in a brick oven. It is a good introductory dish.

Dinner Bell Sign
Dinner Bell has been open for a couple of months and is located near Sams and next to Serena Wholesale on Eisenhower. Photo by Doug Deal.

The restaurant is open every day except Monday from 11:30 AM – 9:30 PM and is located at 3892 Eisenhower Pkwy in Macon.

For great tamales and tacos, try Tzango Cocina del Mundo

Few things are as traditionally Mexican as the tamale. Tamales are usually savory meat or vegetable filling wrapped in a cozy blanket of masa dough, shielded and formed by corn husks and then steamed to a creamy tender delight. But they can also have cheese or sweet fillings and have been around since the time of the Aztecs.

I have not usually been a fan of tamales, since the ones that I have had have been gritty to the teeth and have been generally poorly prepared and not all the flavorful, this changed during recently when I was lucky enough to take a chance on some tamales from Tzango Cocina del Mundo on Hartley Bridge Road in Southern Bibb County.

Oaxaca Tamale Dinner from Tzango
Tzango’s Oaxaca Tamale Dinner comes with two tamales, sour cream, sauce, and a side crema salad. The tamales are pictured here inside the protective banana leaf wrapper, which should be removed before eating. Photo by Doug Deal.

Although likely out of the way for many who may read this, the extra drive is well worth it if you are craving a tamale. Although pork is usually the filling of choice, Tzango makes theirs with a spicy marinated shredded chicken. You won’t miss the pork. Another change is that they wrap their tamales in a banana/plantain leaf instead of a corn husk. This is a subtle modification, but a good one as it is a little like unwrapping a Christmas present.

You can order them a-la-carte or as a meal of two with sides of rice and crema salad for just $10. They are so good, they inspired me to make my own tamales at home. Mine were also pretty tasty, but it is not worth the effort if you can get the Oaxaca Tamale Dinner at Tzango for a reasonable price.

Tzango Tamale
Tzango chicken tamales are a family recipe. After steaming the masa dough comes out in a dumpling like texture with hints of corn. The slow cooked marinated chicken is extremely flavorful. Be sure to remove the banana leaf before eating. Photo by Doug Deal.

Tamales are not all they have. They also have a delicious selection of tacos, starting with the regular ground beef taco and working up to gourmet soft tacos with ingredients such as steak, marinated pork, shredded brisket, shrimp, chorizo, chicken and fish. For the adventurous they also have ox tongue. I have tried most and for $9 for three, it’s a pretty good deal and quite filling.

Beyond that and other traditional Mexican food favorites, they have a number of dishes that would appeal to those who want something with less carbs. Besides, fajitas, they also have a signature platter which is grilled meat with or without veggies. Also on the middle is pork chops, carne asada (thin sliced grilled and marinated steak) as well Fire Steak, which is a 10oz sirloin topped with spicy peppers and salsa. All of these are fantastic and reasonably price, albeit the sirloin is a bit more expensive that the others.

Tzango Taco
The marinated pork in this gourmet soft taco is perfectly accented with a little cilantro, lime and sour cream. Tzango has a whole selection of tacos for whatever flavor you savor, $3.50 each or three for $9.00. Photo by Doug Deal.

Sandwich or “tortas” are also on the menu and they feature a different one each day, but the waitress says they are all available any day.  Monday, the featured sandwich is the Torta Cubana, which is a traditional Cuban sandwich with shredded pork, cheese and pickles on a Portuguese roll. One of my favorites. For $8, it includes fries and choice of chips, salad or rice and beans.

Lastly, the service has been excellent. They are always friendly and quick to ask if you need anything.

Tzango is open 11-9 Monday through Thursday, 11-10 on Friday, 4-9:30 on Saturday and 11:30-9 on Sunday. They are at 3045 Hartley Bridge Rd, Suite B in South Macon. Their phone number is (478) 784-8858.

 

Get big, delicious and smoked wings at Pig on a Pie

Wings are a dime a dozen, or at least they used to be until they became popular, now the are more like $10 a dozen. Most places do fried wings which are almost always tiny to increase cooking speed and cost. Lately, I have mostly found wings disappointing, and I sometimes question whether they could possible be from a chicken and not a pigeon or sparrow.

PigOnaPieWings
Three types of Pig on a Pie’s pecan smoked wings, mango habanero, bbq and hot Buffalo. Photo by Doug Deal.

If you’ve had a similar experience, you should give Pig on a Pie in South Bibb a try. Of all of the wings places I have gone, they are among the best. Since they slow cook the wings in a smoker, they are huge and moist. The flavor goes beyond the sauce of your choice, the pecan smoke penetrates the meat all the way to the bone.

The flavors available include the normal ones like Buffalo in hot or mild, bbq and teriyaki, but also more unique flavors like Carolina gold, honey mustard, Bourbon, sweet red chili and my favorite mango habanero. Mango habanero is probably too hot for most people, but if you like a little heat, the sweet fruity flavor cannot be beat. I would put those wings up against any in town.

PigonaPiePizza
Pig on a Pie large cheese for the kids. We recommend the meat extreme, but don’t forget the bbq pizza. Photo by Doug Deal.

Sizes range from 10 for $9.99 to 20 for $18.49 and 40 for $35.49 and if you are throwing a party they have 100 for $86.90. Keep in mind that these are larger than the microscopic wings that you might get elsewhere. There is actually meat to bite into and not just a bone to scrape it off of.

For those that aren’t into wings, they also make a serviceable pizza. I say serviceable because it is by no means gourmet, but if you are throwing a party and want some large reasonably priced pies, you will get a good deal here. We like the “meat extreme”, which is regularly priced at $16 for a 14 inch. It feeds our family of four (two elementary school children) nicely.

PigonaPieOutside
Pig on a Pie is a small restaurant that has limited dine-in as well as pick up and delivery. Photo by Doug Deal.

Even if pizza and wings aren’t your thing, they also have ribs and pulled pork as well as various salads, calzones and “pizzasandwiches”. All is good quality, so every can find something they’ll like.

There are also specials for those looking for a great deal on their website which change from month to month. In October, they had $2 off any pizza with a 20 piece wing order. With the big games of the Fall coming up, it’s a nice value. To order for pick-up or delivery, call (478) 781-3430.

Tommy’s serves freshly made donuts, breakfast sandwiches and lunch

Tommy's Donuts
Chocolate and glazed with sprinkles are just two of the types of freshly made donuts available at Tommy’s. Photo by Doug Deal.

I have not been a big fan of doughnuts or “donuts” as some places call them. Not because the idea of a sweet fried pastry doesn’t appeal to me, but because the mass produced options are often so bad. Krispy Kreme, for example, seems more like a puffed up ball of sugar similar to cotton candy rather than actual food. Dunkin Donuts seem to be mostly stale, but more like food at least.

Tommy's Outside
Exterior view of Tommy’s. Photo by Doug Deal.

If you are looking to get away from the big chains and try some freshly made doughnuts from a locally owned business, I highly recommend Tommy’s at 5580 Thomaston Rd #20 in South Bibb County off the Mercer University exit of I-475.

My family have made it a tradition to stop their while we wait for my son’s guitar lesson at the Greenwood School of Music to complete. Last Saturday morning, he specifically asked for us to get him a chocolate doughnut from Tommy’s and despite the relative closeness of Chik-fil-a and others, it was worth the extra drive.

Tommy's More Donuts
Boston Creme Pie doughnuts, how could you go wrong? Photo by Doug Deal.

For the kids, we got the aforementioned chocolate, but for our daughter, she wanted the red velvet cake. Both were bigger than they could eat, fresh, moist and delicious. Previously, I have had their Boston cream pie doughnut (probably my favorite type of doughnut in the world) and an apple fitter, but this time, I decided on a chicken, egg and cheese on a french toast bagel, while my wife got a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit.

People will spend money at McDonalds or some other breakfast place and settle for mediocre meals, but if you want to support a local business and have an excellent meal prepared by people who care, give Tommy’s a try.

Tommy's Inside
Interior view of Tommy’s. Photo by Doug Deal.

They are also open for lunch and have various $5.99 lunch specials daily as well as hamburgers and other standard lunch fair. For those who want to take home dinner, they also have a selection of cold family sized takeaway meals at a reasonable price.

Their hours are 6:30 AM – 5:30 PM Monday through Friday and 6:30 AM – Noon on Saturday. Their menu is available online and they also have a Facebook page. Catering is also available.

Tommy's Menu
Tommy’s menu board. Be sure to also try their cold food takeaway items, like the pimento cheese dip. Photo by Doug Deal.

Which Wich has a lot of options for lunch

I am not normally a sandwich person and am usually dissatisfied with the standard Subway style sandwiches you get from most places. Even worse are the cold cuts on sliced bread places which basically charge you for something you could easily make at home. Also, since food is something I enjoy, there is just something unsatisfying to me about wasting a meal eating a mere sandwich.

Which Wich - Macon
Which Wich is located across the street from the Emergency Departent of the Medical Center and shares a building with Dunkin Donuts. Photo by Doug Deal.

Sometimes, though, a good sandwich can hit the spot, especially for lunch and especially when in a hurry. Once place to consider is Which Wich. It’s a chain, which is not usually the type of restaurant we cover, but there is a such a large gap in the options for local quick service sandwich places in Macon, that we’ve made an exception.

Across from the Medical Center and next to Dunkin Donuts, the restaurant offer a large selection of sandwiches (over 40) and several options for bread, toppings, meats and cheese. For those who like sandwiches served on bread but want to cut back a little, they have a “skinny” options which is a regular roll with the middle scooped out. This removes a bit of the calories and carbs from the sandwich, but still gives the sensation of eating a real sandwich.

Which Wich Menu
Which Wich has a large menu of sandwich divided up into 10 categories. Each category has its own bag from which you record your selections. Photo by Doug Deal.

The sandwich sizes start with a 7-inch and include a 10.5-inch and a 14-inch. The 7-inch is a fairly large portions, so most people will find that acceptable and the 14-inch is perfect for sharing. For those who want no bread at all, they will also serve the sandwich in a bowl as a salad or inside a lettuce wrap. If you choose a bread, you also have the option of having it toasted as a “hotwich” or not as a “coldwich”.

Cheese options include the usual like cheddar, Swiss, American and provolone, and also include mozzarella, blue, pepper jack and Parmesan. Different sandwich allows for differing amounts of cheese and most sandwiches allow you to double the cheese for a $1.00 or the meat for $2.00 on a 7-inch.

Which Wich Counter
You sandwich is prepared while you wait by the specifications you marked on your bag when you placed your order. No need to stand around and repeat your request to three different people. Photo by Doug Deal.

There are also a number of dressings available, starting with your basic mayos like regular and spicy, and mustards like deli, yellow and Dijon. But there are also several more exotic options like Balsamic vinaigrette, Buffalo, ranch and pesto. Toppings can be chosen from lettuce, spinach, tomato, pickles, onions, mushrooms, avocado, sliced egg and many more. Pretty much anything you might want on a sandwich is available.

When confronted with so many options, it is easy to get a bit mixed up and leave something out, which is where one of their innovations comes in. If you don’t order online, which is highly recommended, you select what type of your sandwich you want from 10 different categories. After selecting the appropriate numbered bag, you mark your selections in pencil and the crew uses that as their guide in preparing your sandwich. If you leave something off, the cashier will ask you about it and fill it in at the register. This greatly reduces errors and in the few times I have been there, I have not been on the receiving end of a mistake.

Which Wich - The Wicked
The Wicked is a meat lovers dream, having pepperoni, ham, roast beef, bacon and turkey. It also comes with three kinds of cheese of your choice. This is the 7-inch and is big enough for almost anyone’s lunch. Photo by Doug Deal.

The restaurant is on the small side, like most sandwich places, but if you hit the off peak times, there is rarely an issue with finding a table. Generally, I have gotten mine to go and you are usually in an out before too long.

My current favorite sandwich is The Wicked, which is a meat lover’s dream with turkey, roast beef, bacon, pepperoni and ham. It is also served with your choice of three kinds of cheese. The 7-inch was more than enough for lunch and comes in at $7 plus tax for the sandwich only and $10 for the sandwich with chips and drink. It’s a bit more pricey than Subway, but not too much more and the quality AND quantity make it worth the extra money.

There is only one location in Macon, 860 Forsyth St. Ste. 102, Macon, GA 31210, but another is listed as coming soon at Mercer University.