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Southern Italian Flare in Birmingham!

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on May 29, 2012

Recently I met some local foodies at Bettola Restaurant, which is located at Pepper Place in the Lakeview District. This quaint, dynamic, & eclectic eatery serves up authentic Southern Italian food. Several of their classic dishes include the signature Neopolitan pizzas that are cooked in a wood-fired Neapolitan pizza oven— which was handcrafted in Naples, Italy and shipped to Birmingham. This oven is capable of cooking a pizza in 90 seconds.

This was my first visit to Bettola and I had no idea what to expect, but let’s just say that I’m so glad that I visited. Upon arriving to dinner, I saw my guests sitting on the outdoor patio and I began to greet each and every one. And as we slowly began to trickle in, the atmosphere seemed to liven up and greatness was being created. On this warm evening, I met a diverse group of people that seemed to be a wonderful reflection of this great city and community of Birmingham. More specifically, my large party consisted of people of different races, ages, occupations, perspectives, and many more various characteristics. Earlier in the day, I was wondering how would I get all of these people to converse amongst each other because I thought that these various differences would be a hindrance, however, I was completely wrong. The conversation just flowed throughout the entire night.

I was amazed to see that the restaurant had assigned just one waitress to take care of 14 people, but she did an amazing job. Our experience was truly personalized by the restaurant and the customer service that we received rivaled that of many others. Everyone started out with drinks, homemade bread & marinated olives (contain pits/seeds). Not long after, the staff surprised us and brought out complementary antipasti’s for the entire table. These antipasti’s included a calamari dish, prepared by the owner especially for us; it consisted of squid, arugula, garbanzo beans, and thinly sliced ginger. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish, but a few other people felt differently about it.

The next antipasti was served to us on a long wooden board, which had prosciutto, capicola ham, house sausage, salame mostrano (salami), two special types of cheese, pickled vegetables, & dried apricots in a housemade glaze. Everyone loved at least one thing from this special dish.

After enjoying the drinks and antipasti’s, I discovered that this was going to be a long night because I still had to order an entree and a dessert, but I definitely wasn’t complaining. For an entree I ordered the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese (pasta) which was made with House-Made Tagliatelle Pasta, Ragu Bolognese, Two-Year Aged Parmigiano Reggiano. This dish was delicious and filling; I would order it again.

Everyone else ordered a variety of dishes, but the main dish that our group ordered were the variety of signature pizzas. For example, here is the Quattro Stagioni which is made with Cotto Ham, Artichokes, Mushrooms, Black Olives.

Not everyone got a dessert, but I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity. So I got the Torta di Mandorle which consisted of Burnt Butter-Vanilla-Almond Cake, Mascarpone Cream, Toasted Almonds. It was scrumptious but there was no way that I could eat it all. The cake was moist on the inside and had a wonderful vanilla almond flavor.

The lady sitting next to me ordered the Torta Cioccolata Warm Truffle Chocolate Baked in Toasted Almond Tart, Espresso Gelato, Toasted Almonds. She really enjoyed this dish and I sampled it; it was good but I’m not a big fan of coffee flavored ice cream and it was really rich.

Overall our entire restaurant experience was phenomenal and I can’t wait to return. The owner and chef James Lewis has definitely created a gem. The prices range from $15-$25 per entree. So I encourage you to visit Bettola Restaurant and sample the authentic flavors of Southern Italy, without even having to leave Birmingham. Grazie!

Bettola on Urbanspoon

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Classic Italian at “GianMarco’s”

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on November 13, 2010

Classic Italian food, in an intimate setting. This is what I experienced at GianMarco’s, when I had two special friends visit Birmingham. They wanted to try a local Italian restaurant, not a chain restaurant, and this was one of the first places that I thought of.

GianMarco’s is located in the neighborhood of Edgewood (near Homewood).

The interior almost reminds me of a “classic mob scene” in New York, specifically the movie “The Godfather”. However, a more modernized version. It’s a white table-cloth restaurant, but yet the atmosphere is casual. The expansive bar is in the small half of the restaurant, and the dining room is in the large half. All of the seats, in the dining room, allow patrons to view the cooks preparing meals in the kitchen.

I was the first person to arrive at our dinner, at GianMarco’s. The host took me to our table, which was in the middle of the restaurant; allowing me to see everyone and everything. Not long after I sat down, our waiter came over and placed a black cloth napkin in my lap, and asked me what I wanted to drink. Despite being at a fine Italian restaurant, I wanted an alcoholic beverage other than wine, something classy & unique, but I didn’t see anything on the menu. So the waiter had the bartender make me a special drink called a “Washington Apple”.

It reminded me of a “Sour Apple Martini” except it was red in color, and had more of a fruity/apple taste. I really enjoyed it, and the waiter made me feel extra special; this definitely gave him some points in my book.

Eventually my friends, from Auburn & Huntsville, arrived. The waiter placed the black cloth napkins in their laps as well, and took their drink orders. When he came back with the drinks, he brought a basket of freshly made warm Italian Bread, a vase of olive oil, and a bowl of salt.

We put a little olive oil on a plate, and sprinkled salt & pepper in the olive oil. This became the dip for our Italian Bread. We enjoyed dipping our fresh bread in this mixture.

Next the waiter took our antipasti (appetizer) and entree orders.

For an antipasti, we ordered the Spinach & Artichoke Dip with Parmesan, basil and crostini.

The dip was served warm, and the crostini (bread chips) were crunchy & salty. I enjoyed the subtle garlic taste of the dip, and I’m glad that it wasn’t filled with too many artichokes; I’m not a big fan of them.

After catching up with each others lives, it was time for our entrees to come out. My friend Katherine, ordered the “RIGATONI AI QUATTRO FORMAGGI asiago, fontina, gorgonzola and mozzarella; simmered in cream with prosciutto and fresh sage .”

She said this dish, itself, was worth the drive to Birmingham. I was so pleased to hear that excellent complement.

Her mom had the “LINGUINE CLAM SAUCE littleneck clams steamed in garlic, evo, white wine and Red chili flake finished with parsley and basil .”

She really enjoyed this dish. Furthermore, she said that his was some of the best Italian food that she has ever eaten.

I kept it simple and ordered the “FETTUCCINE ALFREDO with Shrimp”. I wasn’t in the mood for anything too complicated.

This entree was so delicious, the Alfredo sauce was extremely creamy, the noodles seemed to almost be homemade because of their tender/yet soft texture. And even though there weren’t too many shrimp in this particular dish, they were large enough to make up for the lack of; these shrimp were freshly caught from the Gulf of Mexico. I’m also pleased to say that this whole dish was seasoned to perfection, allowing me to enjoy every minute of it. Even though this was a trite dish, it definitely didn’t have a trite taste. For a special touch, I had the waiter add some fresh Parmesan cheese on top.

Since we were all satisfied with our entrees, we wanted to get dessert but we were each too full to order one per self. So we shared the “APPLE CROSTATA WITH CINNAMON GELATO AND CARMEL.”


It was “bellisimo” at its finest! This was a perfect twist to the standard apple pie with vanilla ice cream. The dessert was served warm with cinnamon gelato on the top and caramel drizzled all over. I must admit that it was really sweet, but we enjoyed every bite.

GianMarco’s was the perfect destination for my out-of-town guests; they enjoyed the ambiance, the impeccable customer service, and the succulent food. I would say that the price point is moderate to expensive, however, what we had was well worth every penny. And if you plan on visiting,  please make reservations ahead of time.

http://www.birminghamrestaurants.com/guide.asp?action=menu&rid=142197

Where The Locals Eat featured blog

GianMarco's on Urbanspoon

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“Michael’s Restaurant”: A modern-steakhouse in Birmingham

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on October 1, 2010

One of the last restaurants that I went to for Birmingham Restaurant Week was Michael’s Restaurant. Michael’s is a well-known steakhouse in Birmingham that caters to the customer who enjoys the taste of high-quality food and impeccable customer service. Michael’s Restaurant is Alabama’s exclusive restaurant for Certified Hereford Beef, which is rated at the top one percent of all beef available today.

Michael’s Restaurant has been around for 55 years, and the steaks, seafood, and service only get better with time. Over the years, many sports stars and celebrities have graced Michael’s with their presence and autographs. The original Michael’s used to be located in Downtown Birmingham, however, today there are two locations. One location is outside of the Galleria Mall.

The other location is inside of the Aloft Hotel in Homewood. Both locations offer on-site party planning, catering, and a private dining room.

I would consider the Homewood location to have a modern-sophisticated flair. The theme is very versatile because it is appropriate for business meetings, parties, dates, and just casual dining. I would feel comfortable being casually dressed and just sitting at the bar watching a football game.The color palette for the restaurant is bright earth tones and this is reflected on the walls, in the decor, and on the booths.

The funky tiled bar is large, well-stocked, and gives one plenty of breathing room. It is also located in between two flat screen televisions.

I met a friend at the Homewood location, inside of the Aloft Hotel. I made reservations, earlier in the day, for 7:00pm ( I would recommend making reservations before you arrive). Stefan was sitting at the bar when I arrived, and once he closed his tab, the waitress took us to our table which was next to the bar, but it overlooked the entire restaurant. The focal point of Micahel’s Restaurant is the spectacular illuminated mural of the Birmingham skyline, which was taken at sunset atop Red Mountain. And I had a good view of this mural.

The waiter came to our table and told us about the house specials and the Birmingham Restaurant Week menu. Of course, we didn’t know what we wanted to eat yet, but we did order a bottle of the Maso Canali Pinot Grigio from Italy, which had a sweet, sharp, and bitter taste. I enjoyed it!

We ordered three appetizers, the first was the “Seared Rare Tuna Sushimi”. It consisted of Ahi Tuna seasoned and served Rare with Asian Slaw, Ponzu Soy, and Wasabi Créme Fraiche. This was my first time ever having this dish, so I didn’t know what to expect, however I was pleased. The Ahi Tuna had an excellent soy flavor, but sometimes my nose would be overwhelmed by the strong taste of the wasabi. (strong wasabi is a good thing)

The next appetizer was the “Pepper Pot Calamari” which was fresh Calamari fried and tossed with Cherry, Jalapeno, and Pepperoncini Peppers served with a housemade cilantro and basil dipping sauce. The only obvious peppers in the dish, to me, were the Jalapenos which were not spicy; it seemed like they had been soaked in vinegar. The calamari was fairly large and I ate it with the jalapenos, this created a delicious sweet/spicy flavor on my palatte.

The rest of what we ordered came from the Birmingham Restaurant Week Menu. Here it is:

First Course: “Jumbo Blue Crab Claws” – Fresh jumbo Blue Maryland Crab Claws lightly dusted and Flash Fried served with the housemade Cocktail Sauce.

When we originally, placed this order, the waiter said that they had ran out of the crab claws, and I became disturbed because I love crab claws. However, a few minutes later he came back to the table and said that a fresh shipment had just arrived from Maryland. I was excited to hear this! Another way that I could tell the crab claws were fresh, was because the meat slid off of the claw easily. Oh, by the way, the crab claws were excellent and I really enjoyed the cocktail sauce. It had a sweet taste that I couldn’t get enough of.

The second course came with the House Salad which is a mix of iceberg, romaine, and spring mix. Topped with cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, fresh shaved Parmesan cheese, and spiced pecans. The house dressing is a roasted shallot and feta vinaigrette.

I enjoyed this salad so much that I ate it throughout the night, instead of sending it back before the second course arrived. It was simply delicious, and I enjoyed all of the sweet flavors.

Second Course: “Filet Mignon” – 9 oz Center Cut Filet.

I ordered my Filet Mignon medium well, and was very pleased. I don’t speak the “steak language” yet, but I do know a good steak when I taste it. My Filet was very tender, juicy, tasty, seasoned, succulent, and satisfying. Heinz 57 and A1 Steak Sauce was definitely an afterthought; I didn’t need them at all. The Filet Mignon also came with Parmesan Mashed Potatoes that were homemade and served hot. I could tell they were homemade because the potato peel was still on pieces of the potatoes. The potatoes mixed with Parmesan cheese complemented my steak well. It seemed to have been only a hint of Parmesan cheese in the potatoes but it was just enough. Even though I only had the 9 oz Filet, it was still enough for me to have leftovers.

Third Course: “White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bread Pudding”


The bread pudding had pecans in it, it was served warm, and topped off with housemade whipped cream & a sweet tasting strawberry on the top. I definitely enjoyed the bread pudding and it complimented my dessert drink ( a White Russian) very well.

While I was basking in all of this wonderful food, I couldn’t help but enjoy the mixture of R&B/Rock music playing throughout the restaurant. This was a small element, but it helped to cap off my delightful and delicious experience at Michael’s Restaurant, that particular night!

Lastly, I would like to congratulate Pennington Pribbeneaux (General Manager) of the Michael’s Restaurant in Homewood, because his restaurant was voted in Bham Best as the “Third Best Steak in Birmingham”!

http://www.eatatmichaels.com/index.php

http://bhamrestaurantweek.com/

Michael's Steak and Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Posted in Steakhouse, Upscale | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sol y Luna: A Tapas and Tequila Experience

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on September 18, 2010

“Sol y Luna” (Sun & Moon) serves gourmet Mexican cuisine, specializing in Mexican-style tapas and tequilas. It is located in the heart of the Lakeview District, and it was my dinner spot on Thursday night. I enjoyed the company of two friends, Chuck and Kathy. They are awesome people and we had a wonderful time together.

The ambiance of “Sol y Luna” is quaint, casual and reminds me a restaurant in Spain. In my opinion, there is nothing Mexican about this place. The theme, decorations, and the waiters all reflect the Spanish culture. Even the idea of “tapas” originated in Spain. “Tapas” are appetizers or small plates.

I didn’t discover the outdoor patio until later in the night; I thought it was just another dining room. The feel and decor, of the patio, allowed me to feel like I was inside, yet outside. It’s hard to describe, but I enjoyed the elegant and authentic Spanish feel.

I arrived at “Sol y Luna” and my friends were waiting for me at a small quaint table, which was in the front window of the restaurant. It was a nice table located near the bar, and allowed us to see everyone as they walked or drove by. While sitting here, we ordered drinks. Chuck and Kathy had Corona beers, and I had the “Tamarind Margarita”. Tamarind is a fruit that is native to Africa and Asia, but is currently grown throughout Mexico and South America; it is unlike any fruit in the United States. Most importantly, this drink was relaxing, tasty, sophisticated and had somewhat of an exotic flavor.

Eventually, we moved to a larger table, in the back, for dinner. Our waitress was a woman from Venezuela, who knew the menu well and offered her opinions on what we should order. I’m glad she did that, because I had no idea where to start! For an appetizer we had the “Sol y Luna Sampler” which was a combination of plantain chips, nachos, sweet potato fries and homemade fresh guacamole. Can I just say “delicious” and “simple”! One of the reasons I really enjoyed the guacamole was because of its consistency. All of the chips were made in-house, and each chip complimented the guacamole well.

After we finished the appetizer, we decided to order our entrees. Kathy got the “Salmon Roulage” seared with sesame seeds with julianne cucumber and poblano sauce.

However, she didn’t like the “fishy taste” of this dish. So she sent it back and got the “Shrimp Cocktail”. The presentation was the first thing we noticed, once it arrived; it was served in a tall martini glass. At the bottom of the glass was lettuce, in the middle was a homemade cocktail sauce (reminded me of cocktail sauce and salsa), and the shrimp were on top and on the side of the glass. On the plate, surrounding the martini glass was a colorful array of nachos. Kathy really enjoyed the shrimp cocktail. I sampled this dish, and couldn’t resist the taste of the homemade cocktail sauce; it was unique and had somewhat of a sweet flavor. It was unlike any cocktail sauce that I’ve ever had.

Chuck had the “Beef Tenderloin Medallions” served with Chimichurri sauce and Yucca strings. He also got a side of the refried beans. He enjoyed this entree, but he really kept talking about how good those beans were.

I had the Jumbo shrimp “diabla”, chipotle pepper and grand marniere sauteed over roasted garlic sweet mashed potatoes. My initial reaction was, “This is too spicy”; however, I got used to the taste and started to enjoy it. It tasted and seemed like everything had been prepared earlier in the night, and the cooks just put everything together when it was time for the food to go out. Furthermore, I wasn’t crazy about this particular entree; it was satisfactory. But I will commend the cooks on presentation.

For those of us who are price-conscious, the appetizers range from $8-$10; tapas range from $10-$17.

Our experience at “Sol y Luna” was festive and fun! I enjoyed the company, conversation, and most of the food. This is a wonderful place to relax and catch up with friends. Also, don’t forget to checkout “Sol y Luna’s” special menu for “Birmingham Restaurant Week”!

http://www.birminghammenus.com/solyluna/

One more thing, check this weeks Birmingham City Scene, for a special article about “Birmingham Restaurant Week”!

http://bhamrestaurantweek.com/

Sol Y Luna on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bars, Date Night, Downtown Eats, Mexican, Upscale | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A Taste of the Mediterranean in Homewood!

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on August 2, 2010

Last Saturday I ate dinner on the Mediterranean coast! Lol, not really, I ate at “DoDiYós”, a Mediterranean/Greek restaurant in Homewood (Soho Square), but it felt like I was in the country of Greece. “DoDiYós ” is a distinctive destination for fresh, seasonal flavors from every country that touches the Mediterranean Sea. You’ll find authentic Greek dishes as well as foods from Spain, Italy, France, Turkey, the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East. One of the owners is George Sarris, who owns the “Seafood Market” in downtown Birmingham.

I met my friend Kellie for dinner. I arrived at the restaurant about 7:00pm and it was packed; luckily I found a parking spot near the front door. I wanted to do valet parking, but there seemed to be only one person working the valet booth, and he was parking another car. Anyway, I walked into the restaurant and did not expect to see what I saw. In the waiting area, there is a huge beige canopy that drapes from the ceiling and it resembles a tent. This is what divides the waiting area from the eating area.

A number of exotic colors, rich woods, handmade textiles, intriguing antiques and collectibles grace this unique restaurant that has a variety of seating. The whole feel of the interior of “DoDiYós” seems to have a Greek nautical theme. Also there is a lively tapas bar, a fresh market and even a small souk.

The market is pictured below, and here you can buy dishes off the menu “to go”, or you can buy an array of other Mediterranean foods.

The small souk is pictured below, and in this area you can buy a variety of Mediterranean spices and goods.

The hostess took me to the table, where Kellie was waiting on me.  And as we walked, I saw that the restaurant was filled with people.

Finally, I made it to the table and saw Kellie. Before we ordered food, we had to take a little bit of time to reminisce because we haven’t seen each other since May 2009. At this time, a waiter brought us some fresh baked bread and hummus with a side of olives. The “Hummus” consists of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon, cayenne pepper, and olive oil. The bread was warm, soft, and good. The “hummus” had just the right amount of consistency and also a great taste; however, we didn’t eat that much of it.

Eventually, our waiter introduced himself and gave us a brief overview of the restaurant; he knew his stuff! We started off with drinks and appetizers. Kellie got the “Raspberry Mojito” and she fell in love with it. The raspberry and mint complimented each other very well she said.

And I got the “Lemon Basil Martini”. The fresh lemon juice wasn’t too sour, but was tangy enough, and there was just the right amount of basil in it. Oh, it was so good!

For an appetizer, we got the “Shrimp Saganaki”. It consisted of feta, fresh steamed shrimp with tomatoes, dill and kalamata olives. It was served on a tarnished brown platter with cubes of loaf bread. You are supposed to eat the bread and the “Shrimp Saganaki” together, but we couldn’t do that because it was the same bread that we had earlier, and we had enough of it already. This dish was authentically Greek, and I can’t compare it to anything American, but it was satisfactorily delicious.

After we ate the appetizer, the waiter took our entree orders. Since the entrees came with a salad, we ate that first. The salad consisted of your standard “Romaine Lettuce”, carrots, and a lite vinaigrette dressing. We could barely taste the vinegar in the salad dressing; however, we could taste the olive oil. Overall, the salad was ok.

Ok, here comes the big moment! The entrees eventually came out and we were both pleased with how our food was presented. Our entrees were covered when the waiters brought them out, and once they were placed in front of us, both waiters lifted the covers simultaneously. This act, definitely gave “DoDiYós” a plus in my book, lol!

Kellie and I ordered, the “Classic Moussaka”. It has layers of eggplant, potatoes, and ground beef beneath saltsa besamel. Ya’ll this dish was so good! The way that it looked, reminded me of lasagna, however, the taste was nowhere near lasagna. I could taste all of the ingredients, plus a nutmeg/cinnamon flavor. Words can’t describe how good this dish was! Kellie enjoyed this dish as well.

Now, ya’ll know that we had to get dessert! So we shared the “Frozen Summer Trio”. This dish allowed us to pick three flavors of sorbet, so we got the peach yogurt, strawberry wine, and lychee. All of the flavors were good, but my favorite was the strawberry wine. Kellie said that this flavor tasted “sexy”, and I must agree. I never had a dish that tasted “sexy” before, but this captured “sexy” in all of its forms. The way it looked, tasted, and the after taste was just pure “sexcellent”. It had the perfect blend of sweetness and wine flavor. I can’t explain anymore, just try it, lol!

“DoDiYós” really provided us with a wonderful unique Mediterranean dining experience. From the interior decor, customer service, food, and market offerings; overall everything was outstanding. This is the perfect place for those who have adventurous taste buds, and also for those whose taste buds are less adventurous. There is something on the menu for everyone and all of it encompasses the Mediterranean flavor. Oh did I mention that you won’t break the bank either!

http://www.dodiyos.com/index.php

http://www.sohosquare.info/

Do Di Yo's on Urbanspoon

Posted in Greek/Mediterranean, Upscale | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

B. Smith’s

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on July 13, 2010

The last restaurant that I visited, in Washington DC, was “B. Smith’s”. B. Smith is a pioneer in the lifestyle industry, whose talents and expertise span a wide range of specialties. In my opinion, she is the “African American Martha Stewart” because they are both known for being excellent cooks and crafty individuals. Smith is a respected expert in affordable-yet-elegant living and she brings style to everything that she does. For nearly a decade, she hosted the nationally syndicated/cable lifestyle television show “B. Smith with Style”.

Smith extends her lifestyle expertise as the owner of three successful “B. Smith” restaurants. Her longtime establishments include those on Restaurant Row in New York City, Union Station in Washington DC, and Long Island Hampton Village of Sag Harbor.

Mom and I had about an hour to spare, while at Union Station, before we started our “DC Duck Tour”. So we decided to have a lite lunch at “B. Smith’s”. We entered through a secondary entrance, which was the bar area; it looked like a medium sized parlor. Then we turned the corner, and became awestruck at the beauty of the interior of the actual restaurant portion. It is a grand Beaux Arts style dining room with 30-foot ceilings, chandeliers, and turn of the century elegance. It is a national landmark and has been called one of the most beautiful dining rooms in America.

The host took us to our table, and our waiter came to introduce himself and the specialties of the day. One thing that really stood out, about the waiter, is that he greeted us by our last name. I have never gone to a restaurant where the waiter greeted me by my name; I thought that was so awesome and genuine! All of the staff was formally dressed and the waiters wore a formal uniform. The whole atmosphere seemed expensive, comfortable, and classy.

Mom and I had previewed the menu before-hand, so we already knew what we wanted. Furthermore, we ordered the “Thai Spiced Wings” and the “Cajun Seasoned Fries”. While we were waiting on our food to come out, the waiter gave us a basket of mini biscuits and mini cornbread muffins. Both items were served warm, but my favorite were the mini cornbread muffins,  because they had somewhat of a sweet flavor.

Eventually, the food was served and the “Thai Spiced Wings” consisted of six nice size chicken drummetts that were grilled and topped with a sweet chili sauce. They had a sweet Thai taste, which was excellent. The “Cajun Seasoned Fries” were large cut fresh pieces of potato that were fried and seasoned with Cajun spices. The first batch of fries we had were not hot, so we sent them back and got another batch of hot fries. They didn’t taste amazing, but they were doable.

Once I finished that course, I was full but I still wanted to try a dessert. So I asked the waiter what the most popular dessert was, and he told me about the “Bourbon Street Bread Pudding”. This is what I ordered, and it was served with a warm caramel creme sauce on top. The dish itself was ok,  not as good as he cooked it up to be. I have had much better bread pudding before.

If I had to rate “B. Smith’s” from 1-10, 10 being the highest, I would give the restaurant an 8.5. The atmosphere seems to date back to the Victorian era and it is simply beautiful. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about B. Smith and her endeavors. Lastly, I think the food is good but not great. Many people probably go eat here, just so they can say that they have gone to “B. Smith’s”. However, if you are ever in the area, I recommend that you go try it and develop your own opinion!

http://www.bsmith.com/restaurant_dc_menu_s.php

Posted in Upscale, Washington DC | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Funky “Twenty Six”

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on June 24, 2010

Monday night I went to “Twenty Six” for a friend’s birthday celebration. “Twenty Six” is located in the heart of Five Points South, between “Ocean” and “Mellow Mushroom”. This restaurant probably has the most modern atmosphere in Birmingham. It’s almost like your eating in a contemporary art museum that allows you to be loud and comfortable. I would define the food style as an eclectic mix to cutting edge comfort food; the menu also has somewhat of an Asian twist. Furthermore, you should know that parking can be difficult, so they have complimentary valet parking in the front to ease your worries.

There were about 10 people in our group, and we had a wonderful time! Everyone started by ordering appetizers. I got the “Blue Crab Crusted Fried Green Tomatoes”, it consisted of fried green tomatoes with blue crab meat on top. The blue crab tasted like it had been mixed with mustard. This dish tasted alright. In my opinion, the fried green tomatoes were a little too greasy but I did enjoy the blue crab meat, and the presentation was awesome.

I didn’t order an entrée because I was still full from lunch, earlier that day. However, the rest of the group ordered a variety of things from the menu; for example, the birthday boy had the “Wood Grilled Baby Lobster Tails ” which consisted of six half lobster tails, cooked in a wood-fired oven. It also came with chopped potatoes, green beans, and carrots. He said that the lobster tasted so exceptionally well that there was no need for the butter sauce that came with it!

“Twenty Six” is also known for their sushi, so many people in our group ordered that as well. And they all gave it rave reviews. I’m not sure of the names of the other dishes, that the group ordered, but I do have the pictures below.

It’s important that you know “Twenty Six” has a special menu on Monday nights, so if you go to the website you will not see the same menu that my party ordered from on Monday night. Next, whenever you go to eat here be ready for some good food in a fun and funky atmosphere. The prices are on the high-end but keep in mind, that you don’t have to order everything on the menu!

http://www.twentysix26.com/

Posted in Asian, Bars, Five Points South Finds, Upscale | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Welcome to Thailand: “Surin West” Edition

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on June 23, 2010

“Surin West” is a staple in the city of Birmingham, Alabama. The restaurant is known for attracting diverse people under one roof and it’s also known for getting many people outside of their comfort zone, when it comes to food. This Thai restaurant specializes in making various types of sushi along with many other authentic Thai dishes. “Surin West” has two locations, one in Five Points South and the other on Highway 280.

Earlier this week, I went to the original location in Five Points South. This is my favorite location because it transports me to the exotic land of Thailand upon entering the front door. The design, decor, drinks, and food all scream Thailand! I went in the middle of the day when it was not busy. Basically, it was like my friend and I had the whole place to ourselves; VIP style, lol! I was very thirsty when I arrived, so I ordered water. However, I wanted something else to drink besides water, and I didn’t want the standard American beverage in such an exotic atmosphere, so I opted for the “Thai Tea”. Now let me be honest, this is a drink that I will have to get used to because it is very very sweet and it seemed like it was made with milk instead of water. Furthermore, it was ok; let’s just say I drunk more water than tea!

For my entrée I had the “Thai BBQ Chicken” and it came with a bowl of  “Coconut Soup”. Ya’ll, the food tasted great. I wish I could think of another adjective to describe it, but that’s all I can say; I was speechless! The “Thai BBQ Chicken” consisted of a half piece of chicken marinated over night in Surin’s BBQ sauce and slow roasted to perfection then char-grilled Thai style; served with shrimp fried rice. This dish also came with a sweet & sour dipping sauce and I used it for my chicken and rice. The sauce was so good that I ended up ordering one more! Since this was my first time having “Coconut Soup” it took me to a new level, meaning that I want more of it. The soup was white, garnished with two pieces of mushrooms and had a creamy texture; the taste was poignant and good. And at the bottom of the soup, were a few pieces of tofu.

I sat in the restaurant for almost two hours, just basking in the atmosphere and the food. My experience was wonderful! I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who loves Asian food and who wants to be whisked away to a foreign land without ever leaving the city.

http://www.surinwest.com/

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Posted in Asian, Business Friendly, Date Night, Five Points South Finds, My Favorite Lunch Spots, Upscale | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bottega’s

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on March 16, 2010

Today was cloudy and dreary outside, but inside my life the sun was shining as bright as ever. I met up with a friend who is helping me find a nice suit to wear to my aunt’s huge birthday party, next week. My friend is a designer who just moved here from Denver, so she took me to some hot spots in town to find a cool outfit. Of course you know I got hungry during the process, so we decided to have lunch at “Bottega Restaurant and Cafe”.

Upon arriving on the front patio, of the restaurant, I felt like I had been transported to some chic European town. The hostess sat us in a prime location to people watch and enjoy the view. I’m so happy to almost always get great seats in restaurants. Our waiter was knowledgeable about every item on the menu because I asked numerous questions since I wasn’t sure what to order. FYI:  When I go to a restaurant, I can put on a show because I like to know the waiter’s favorite menu items, how things are prepared, what’s popular on the menu, and other things; my guests are always entertained by me! Ultimately, I got the Spaghetti Bologonesse and my friend got the Bottega Burger. We both enjoyed the entrees, and for desert we ordered the Pecan Coconut Cake covered in a vanilla sauce. All of this food was so good, simple as that!

Frank Stitt is the owner of this restaurant and he is a home-grown world renowned chef, so that explains why the food is exceptional and why there is so much attention to detail. The customer service was excellent and was complemented when one of the waiters opened the door for us to leave the restaurant. I’ve never been to a restaurant where the workers run to open the door for someone to enter or exit, lol! This experience filled my VIP Treatment meter to the max today and I am so happy.

Furthermore, if you want a classy European experience filled with good food and quality customer service, go to Bottega, and you will probably see me there!

http://www.bottegarestaurant.com/

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