Welcome to Bhamdining.com! (Site currently on hiatus)
We offer news, reviews, and listings of locally owned restaurants in Birmingham, Ala. Our focus is on the local places, rather than chains. Some site use tips:
- You can browse by food type (Italian, Chinese, Fine Dining, Sandwiches, etc.) using the links on the left.
- Use our Search Restaurant Listings page to search for restaurants in particular cities, on or near major roads, and by terms such as "vegetarian" or "brunch."
- Click on the comments section beneath each restaurant listing to read others' comments or post your own. (Inappropriate posts will be edited or deleted.)
- We're always happy to hear your feedback; click here to e-mail us.
While I love Pepper Place Saturday Market, I don't want to trek all the way downtown every weekend from Hoover to get fresh fruits and veggies. So I recently checked out the Valleydale Farmer's Market, now in its second year. They're located at 4601 Valleydale Road, in a church parking lot near the intersection with Caldwell Mill, each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.
It's not as big as Pepper Place, but also refreshingly not as crowded. There were fewer than 20 booths, a few of them non-food-related crafts and the like, but overall there was a good variety of local produce. I brought home peaches, heirloom tomatoes, burgundy okra, Japanese eggplant, hot banana peppers and more. In addition to fruits and veggies, there also were stands selling goat cheese, Alabama honey, and meat.
There are some chef demonstrations scheduled, although not for every week. Upcoming ones include Hot & Hot's Chris Hastings, Cantina's Guillermo Castro, and Little Savannah's Clif and Maureen Holt.
For more info, visit www.valleydalefarmersmarket.com
Birmingham Magazine's looking for "the best of Birmingham on a bun."
Go to http://bhammag.com/bhammag/food-jul10a.aspx to read about a baker's dozen of great burgers, from old-fashioned traditional at Billy's or Green Valley Drugs to ones with flavorful toppings like the Bloomin' Jalapeno burger at Rogue Tavern or the blue-cheese-stuffed version at Dram Whiskey Bar to the veggie burger at Bottletree. It says to vote on your favorite for the Best of Birmingham issue, but I can't see where you're supposed to do that....
I was kind of surprised that a couple of places that specialize in gourmet burgers, like the new Flip Burger Boutique at the Summit or Baja Burger, was on the list. But I haven't been to either one ...
What do you guys think? Favorite burgers? On this list, I'm personally partial to Chicago Mike's, and to the Kobe beef sliders at Jinsei. For a chain, Five Guys burgers are pretty good (although it's the fresh-made fries there that really stand out) -- and, of course there's always Milo's.
I quickly heard back from the folks at Birmingham Magazine. Here's the link for voting for the Best of Birmingham awards: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/bestofbham2010. And, they say, Flip is actually on the list, but didn't make it on the web due to an error. But they're fixing that.
According to the Birmingham News, a historic 4,000-square-foot building at 201 41st St. South is being transformed into Avondale Brewing Co. and is scheduled to open in late December or early January.
It's the project of Coby Lake (a local real estate agent) and Craig Shaw, who has been brewing his own beers for 15 years and is a member of Free the Hops. Shaw is a member of Birmingham Brewmasters and recently completed an apprenticeship under brewmaster James Ray of Montgomery Brewing Co.
The building dates back to 1885 and has been a bank and a fire station. It most recently was Long Branch Saloon, a popular gathering place before closing in the late 1980s. For brewing, the company purchased a German-made 17-barrel system capable of producing 10,000 barrels per year at full production, according to Bham Wiki, which also reports they are planning the following beers:
- Long Branch Lager, German-style lager
- Avondale Pale Ale, a dark pale ale
- Bottletree IPA, an India pale ale specially made for the nearby Bottletree Cafe
For more information, visit their Facebook page.
Got an e-mail from a reader looking for where they can get a couple of specific dishes, and could use some help answering:
This Hoover resident asks, "Can you tell me where (within a 30 mile radius) they have gazpacho soup on their summer menu and/or where we can purchase some to take home? Also are there any restaurant where we can order Snails in Black Bean Sauce?"
Can anyone help?
Some restaurant and food news that's come across our desk recently:
This coming Friday, July 9, Little Savannah's chef/owner Clif Holt will be cooking up dinner in Monroeville, Alabama, for the "To Kill a Mockingbird" 50th Anniversary. The dinner will feature traditional Southern foods described in the book: collards, turnip greens, cornbread, sliced vine-ripe tomatoes, fried chicken and lane cake. Southern cocktail expert Denise Gee had created a signature drink for the weekend, the "Tequila Mockingbird." For more info, go to www.tokillamockingbird.com.
A new convenience grocery store has opened in the former Gypsy Market space in the 2300 block of 2nd Avenue North downtown. Mamanoes, according to Bham Wiki, is owned by Antonio Boyd, who named it after his mother, "Because if anyone knows, Mama knows." Located next to Baldone Tailors, it carries staples, beer, wine, freshly baked bread and fresh meats from Mr. P's Deli. A covered "pet valet" area out front will be available for shoppers to drop off their dogs to be leashed while they're in the store.
The new cafe at the Birmingham Museum of Art will open for lunch on July 7. Oscar's at the Museum will feature fresh, local food in a "casually elegant atmosphere," according to the museum. It's under the management of A Social Affair, the local company that also caters special events at the museum. Oscar’s also means the return of Sunday musical brunch at the Museum, where the jazz of the café’s previous incarnation will now share the stage with a variety of other genres of live music every month. The lovely veggie photos above are from their website: www.oscarsatthemuseum.com.
THe new summer menu at Chez Fonfon includes favorites such as steak tartare, country pate, croque monsieur, hamburger Fonfon and trout with brown butter, but also summer bounty such as tomato salad, fried green tomatoes with arugula and goat cheese, Lobster "BLTs" for the special of the day on Wednesdays, and pork with corn and peaches for the special on Tuesdays.
Fire restaurant in Mountain Brook's Crestline Village is hosting a grand re-opening party this weekend, Friday June 25 and Saturday, June 26. The restaurant has been closed for some renovations; it was bought by executive chef and Alabama native Steve Luther in March.
Luther continues the original goal of fire, which is to serve fine food in a more casual atmosphere. Armed with the belief that fine foods don’t necessarily have to be “haute” or expensive to be enjoyed, Steve focuses on technique and quality, more so than exotic or whimsical.
The menu, which will change seasonally, features "good American food kicked up a notch." The new menu will feature some things they haven't had in the past like a larger "man" steak, white truffle fries, and the addition of an egg to the croque monseiur to create a croque madame. They are going to eventually add to the brunch menu several versions of eggs benedict, as well as some new dessert items.
The menu still boasts a lot of Southern and New Orleans influences, such as turtle soup, crispy crab claws, shrimp and grits and muffaletta. It also still includes a nice variety of casual and finer dining options; you can enjoy everything from a cheddar burger and fries to filet mignon or braised lamb shanks. Desserts are classics like creme brulee, apple fritters and bread pudding.
The decor is also becoming a little more fresh and urban. The paint color has been updated from a yellow faux finish to a creamy beige. The atmosphere has a little more flow to it. You'll find abstract artwork that resembles "fire" along with more actual "fire" in candles on the tables and on the wall.
We went to Fire once years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it -- incredible braised lamb shank and shrimp and grits, which I see are still on the menu. Our feeling was that this was a great neighborhood restaurant, one we would probably visit frequently if it were our neighborhood. But that doesn't mean it's not worth a visit from elsewhere if you're looking for a comfortable, casual place with some really good food.
This Friday and Saturday, enjoy a special happy hour from 5-7 with drink specials and hors d'oerves. Stay for diner and get a 10 percent discount plus drink discounts for Otey's next door so you can continue the party after you eat.
Check out the menu at www.firebirmingham.com.
I don't know why it took so long for the Pepper Place Market organizers to allow vendors to start selling meats at the popular Saturday morning farmer's market, but I'm glad they finally did.
I noticed several booths selling locally grown meat Saturday, but I stopped at the Boutwell Farms booth, where they were giving out fresh-grilled samples of beef and pork. After tasting the strip, filet and pork kabobs, I knew I must take some home.
I must not be the only one who's happy to see locally farmed meats, because it was only about 9:15 and they were already nearly out. I was able to snag a 2-pound package of pork tips and used about a pound and a half to make kabobs on the grill that night. (The other pieces, too small for kabobs, went into a bag in the freezer for later addition to some stew or curry.) Oh, were they wonderful! So meaty tasting, and tender.
I found out that if you call Boutwell Farms in advance, you can order meat to be picked up at the Pepper Place market (or at the Valleydale Farmer's Market), and I'll definitely be doing that!
Avo and Dram: "This establishment is a welcome addition to the area!"
Niki's West: "Their warm Bananna Pudding is probably one of the best desserts i have ever had!"
Maria's: "The salsa is excellent, almost addictive."
Lovoy's: "... incredibly disappointed with our service."
Surin: "... truly fine Thai dining, without sacrificing authenticity."
Chuck's Fish: A reviewer in April said "We will definitely be back!" But one in May complained of too much salt.
DeVinci's: "Yes they do 'take their time,' but the food is worth the wait."
Iguana Grill: "Great Tamales and I crave the roasted pepper salsa."
Jones Valley Urban Farm and Slow Food Birmingham will host the 3rd Annual Slow Food Fair: “Party in the Garden," this Sunday, May 23, at Jones Valley Urban Farm. Special guest speaker will be John T. Edge, noted food writer and Southern Foodways director.
The event will include a variety of musical acts, food samples, gardening workshops, and a mini Farmer’s Market. Restaurants that are Slow Food Fair partners include Bettola, Bottletree, Brick & Tin, Cafe Dupont, Cantina, Food Studio B, Good People Brewing Company, Jim ‘N Nick’s, Kathy G, Morgan Creek Vineyards, Rojo, Salt Fine Catering, and Trattoria Centrale.
Tickets are $20 and all proceeds benefit Jones Valley Urban Farm’s education programs. Buy tickets online at www.jvuf.org or at the gate. In case of rain, we will move the event across the street to YMCA Youth Center.
Click here for more info.
I recently discovered a joy of a store for those who like to bake and cook -- called, fittingly, Birmingham Bake and Cook. It's in Inverness in the same little strip plaza as Ginza (which is where I was for lunch -- had to indulge my bibimbab craving), and it has that wonderful welcoming, unique personality of a store locally owned by someone with a passion for what they do.
The store is stocked with a lovely selection of cookware, bakeware, knives, kitchen tools, gadgets, appliances, grilling supplies, specialty foods and more. I tasted pink sea salt mined in beautiful stone chunks from under the Himalayas. The owner is happy to tell you about her latest finds, her favorite things, the newest trends (Caribbean blue is the hot color in cookware this year, I learned), and more.
But Birmingham Bake & Cook goes beyond a store, They have cooking classes, demonstrations and events galore, a lending cake pan library and a used cookbook exchange. Some of the upcoming events include a beginners' knife skills class, a no-knead bread class, a summer salads class, the Art of the Sandwich class, and more. I'll definitely be back.
Check it out at www.bakeandcookco.com or look for them on Facebook.