So Wednesday night was the kickoff party for “Birmingham Restaurant Week”. This is the first time that Birmingham has ever had such an event, and me, being a passionate foodie is loving every minute of it. I’m so glad to see my city of Birmingham, joining the leagues of major cities who also have these events, such as Chicago, Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles. Go B’ham!
I attended the party which was held at the Hotel Highland Conference Center, in Five Points South. There was a red carpet, leading guests to the main conference room, where participating restaurant vendors were setup throughout. This event attracted some of Birmingham’s “Who’s Who” (in reference to people and restaurants), and I’m thankful to have received an invitation. Furthermore, the conference room was filled with guests mixing, mingling, and sampling.
Once Nick and I checked in, we began writing, tasting, mingling with the chefs/managers, and taking photos of the food. This was almost like heaven to me! About 16 of the restaurants, that are participating in “Birmingham Restaurant Week”, were in attendance, allowing guest to sample their special menus that will only be used for “Restaurant Week”. Keep in mind that even though most of the restaurants have a special menu for “Restaurant Week”, you can still order off of the regular menu and pay the regular prices.
Below are the list of vendors that participated in the kickoff party. (For more info, about these restaurants, go to http://bhamrestaurantweek.com/ )
La Cocina offered “Crab & Shrimp Queso” with a colorful variety of nacho chips. For dessert we sampled the Lemon Cello Sopapilla. I didn’t try the queso dip but Nick enjoyed it. I really liked the desert, it gave me an unexpected cinnamon flavor that combined well with the lemon flavor.
Jinesi is a Japanese restaurant, and they offered fried rice cakes, that were topped off with spicy tuna, caviar, scallions, soy sauce, one jalapeno pepper, and sesame seeds. I didn’t think I would like this, but after one taste I was hooked ( I want one now). They are small but I needed a fork and knife to eat it.
Brannon’s is an Irish-Southern infusion restaurant, and they had several dishes for guests to sample. One was called the “Grace O’Malley”, (similar to a sandwich) and it was sourdough bread, ham, and pimiento cheese. Another item was “Mrs. Lovett’s Meat Pie” which consisted of minced beef and onion with black pepper in a pastry crust. And for desert they had the “Truly Scrumptious Cupcake” which was a strawberry cheesecake cupcake with a white chocolate center and a cream cheese frosting, topped with white chocolate pieces and a fresh strawberry.
Maki Fresh is sushi restaurant, and they served the “Crunch Crunch Roll”, “California Roll”, “Spicy Tuna Tartar Roll”, and Edamame. The “Crunch Crunch Roll” is my favorite because it had pieces of fried shrimp in the middle.
Rojo serves American and Latin cuisine. They allowed guests to sample their “Chicken & Cheese Quesadilla” which was wrapped in a red quesadilla. Other samplers were nachos & salsa, and “Jalapeno Poppers”.
The J. Clyde is a Hot Rock Tavern and Alehouse that served up “Fried Green Tomatoes”. The staff gave guest plenty of knowledge about different beer brews; they were very informative!
Mafioza’s, an Italian restaurant, had a “Gouda” and “Drunken Goat” cheese tray, along with bread sticks and “White Bean Hummus”, and their famous meatballs. I really enjoyed the hummus and “Drunken Goat Cheese”, which is goat cheese that is soaked in wine until it is ready to be sold.
Nabeel’s Cafe & Market serves authentic Mediterranean dishes. This includes their classic “Moussaka” which is made with eggplant and ground beef with Bechamel sauce, a splash of tomato fondue and Kefalograviera cheese. It almost tasted like lasagna, but not really.
Ted’s Restaurant is a meat ‘n’ three. They served “Squash Casserole”, and keep in mind that I don’t like everyone’s squash casserole, but this one was amazing. They kept it hot and it tasted just like it came fresh out of the oven, despite the fact that it had been sitting out for at least three hours. Also on the table they had a nice vegetable arrangement.
Dodiyo’s is a Mediterranean restaurant that served a desert entitled “Honey Creme Caramel”. It reminded me of “Creme Brulee”, however, I didn’t like it because it was too rich and had somewhat of a burned taste. But I must admit that the cook did a great job with the presentation.
Veranda on Highland serves southern cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. When I visited their table I felt like I was in New Orleans because of the chef’s accent, festive energy, and the “House Made Boudin Balls” that he served up, with Jack Daniels Creole Honey Mustard. The Boudin was exceptional, I’ve had it before (at another restaurant), but it didn’t taste this good!
Good People Brewing Company provided the drinks for this evening affair. They served beer, water, and Jack Daniel’s products.
Dreamland BBQ offered the “Dreamland Smoked Sausage” which was soaked in the famous “Dreamland BBQ Sauce”. The sausage was good, but it didn’t have an extraordinary taste, to me! They also had their famous “Banana Pudding”, and words can not describe how excellent it tasted.
Century Restaurant & Bar is an upscale eatery where a staff of professional chefs provide a learning lab environment for culinary and pastry arts students. They served a “Hazelnut Pear Financier” with roasted caramel cinnamon ice cream and warm cherry compote. The presentation and taste of this dish was excellent!
Cosmo’s Pizza served a “Fresh Basil & Fresh Mozzarella Pizza”.
Jim N’Nicks BBQ served their famous biscuits.
Thanks for the photos Nick, check him out at: www.niklayman.com