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.
The James Beard Foundation has announced its list of restaurant and chef semifinalists for the 2010 James Beard Foundation Awards. The final five nominees in each category will be announced on March 22, and the winners announced at the foundation's annual gala on May 3. Several Birmingham entries on the list:
- Outstanding Restaurateur, Nick Pihakis from Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q
- Outstanding Chef: Frank Stitt, Highlands Bar & Grill
- Outstanding Restaurant: Highlands Bar & Grill
- Best Chef, South: Chris Hastings, Hot & Hot Fish Club
Mark your calendar for Swine and Wine Sunday, March 21. Little Savannah restaurant will host the second annual fundraiser for Jones Valley Urban Farm.
The pig roast and dinner at Jones Valley Urban Farm features chefs Clifton Holt of Little Savannah, Chad Schofield of Little Savannah, Tom Robey of Veranda on Highland, and Stephen Stryjewski of New Orleans, LA.
Vine Street Imports hosted by International Wines will provide wine for the event with Good People Brewing and Birmingham Budweiser providing beer. Lou Wamp & Swing Shift will perform live bluegrass music. The event will begin at 4:30pm and ends after dark.
Tickets are $50 at the door, $45 in advance. Children are welcome; 10 years old and under are free. Tickets for children ages 11-15 are $20. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.littlesavannah.com or at Little Savannah Restaurant and Bar, 205.757.6428.
Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday this year, a day of the week when most fine-dining restaurants are usually closed. But many local restaurants have decided to have a special Sunday dinner for Valentines. Two we've gotten announcements from in recent days:
Veranda on Highland will be opening up Sunday evening, February 14, for dinner reservations. They will begin seating at 5pm with a special Valentine's Day menu, featuring dishes such as smoked salmon stuffed crepes, crawfish & corn bisque, filet mignon, grilled lobster tail with smoked jalapeno beurre Blanc and shellfish risotto, white chocolate bread pudding and praline cheesecake. The cost will be $50 per person plus tax and gratuity for a 3 course meal. Veranda will be open for its normal Sunday Jazz Brunch from 11-2 p.m. as well. Click here for more info.
Little Savannah in Forest Park also has special Valentine's weekend plans. Bring your sweetheart to dinner Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. Both the regular dinner menu and a special 5-course tasting menu featuring dishes such as Oysters Rockefeller and Tenderloin with lobster tail and blue crab hollandaise will be available on Friday and Saturday nights, while only the 5-course tasting menu will be available on Sunday night (5pm to 9pm). They also will open Sunday for Valentine's Day Brunch with extended hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Some other restaurants that are open for dinner on Valentine's Day are 26, Bottega, Avo, Brocks at Ross Bridge, Jackson's Bar & Bistro, Fleming's Steakhouse, John's City Diner downtown, Ocean, Satterfield's, Shula's, Village Tavern, and The Melting Pot. Bellini's is offering a special Valentine's Day brunch.
Reservations are definitely recommended for these restaurants.
Za Za Trattoria downtown has changed its name to Trattoria Centrale. As Bob Carlton reports, the owner of another pizza place in Montgomery has trademarked the name "Sa Za" (with an "S" instead of a "Z") and plans to franchise, possibly in Birmingham. So even though the spellings are different, to avoid any confusion and potential litigation down the road, Za Za's owners have renamed their place Trattoria Centrale.
Carlton also brings us yummy news of soft-shell crawfish at Veranda on Highland. After two years off the menu, chef Tom Robey has found another supplier for the tasty critters. Each appetizer order features four large fried softshell crawfish, mirliton avocado slaw and smoked jalapeno butter for $12.50.
Robey will also be the featured chef at Birmingham Bake and Cook Company in Inverness for February. On Monday, Feb. 8, he will prepare Jumbo Louisiana Brown Shrimp on a Griddled Cheese Biscuit with a Smoked Jalapeno Beurre Blanc and an Herbed Merliton Cucumber Slaw, and Seared Long Island Duck Breast on a Smoked Crimini Mushroom, Tasso and Sweet Potato Hash with Bourbon Honey. 6:30-8:30; Cost $25. Call 980-3661 for reservations.
Here's an easy way to support the Cahaba River Society. Go to Nabeel's Cafe in Homewood on Wednesday, Feb. 3, between 10:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m., and enjoy a Mediterranean-inspired meal. When you pay your tab, mention to the cashier that you support the Cahaba River Society, and 10 percent of your tab will be donated to CRS.
Even though my day job (which has me traveling quite a bit) and an active first-grader limit the amount of time I have to do reviews or even blog posts as often as I'd like, Bhamdining.com has a life of its own, thanks to our restaurant-loving readers. Here's a sampling of some of the recent reader review comments we've had on the site:
Mr. Chen's, Hoover: "...by far the best Chinese place I have found in Birmingham..."
Bambinelli's, Mountain Brook: "When you order off the vegetarian list on the menu (and you really care about it being meat free), please be especially careful."
GianMarco's, Homewood: "I highly recommend the seafood risotto."
Surin West, Southside/Five Points: "Surin is a favorite in my family."
DoDiYo's, Homewood: "The decor was unique and the atmosphere was buzzing yet comfortable."
Miss Rosemarie's Special Teas, Inverness: "... bland, overpriced and very small portions for the money."
Blackwell's Pub, Cahaba Heights: "nothing original about this place or food."
Saigon Noodle House, Cahaba/Inverness area: "much better than the other two [Vietnamese restaurants] we have in town."
Gordo's Market, Birmingham/Homewood: "Wonderfully authentic tacos that one would find in Tijuana or SoCal."
Now that we've been enjoying the high-gravity craft beers that are the fruit of the "Free the Hops" group's four-plus years of lobbying labors, the group is turning its attention to laws about brewing in the state. Here's how Free the Hops President Stuart Carter explained it in an e-mail I got this morning:
For the 2010 legislative session, we will be introducing the Brewery Modernization Act. Now that we can buy some of the greatest beer from around the world, we think it's time to make it easier for Alabamians to make some of the greatest beer in the world. Unfortunately, there are only four breweries in Alabama, and half of those aren't allowed to serve you beer.
The two breweries that are allowed sell their beer on-premises - Hurricane Brewing in Mobile and Montgomery Brewing - are lucky enough to have met all the requirements for opening a brewpub in Alabama. Such a license is only available in a handful of counties, and then only if located in an historic building. Even after meeting those (and more) requirements, they're not allowed to sell their beer outside of the brewpub.
The other two breweries in Alabama - Good People in Birmingham and Olde Towne in Huntsville - have more freedom on where they can open and sell. However, the current law effectively cuts them off from the beer-drinking public. Many breweries outside of Alabama offer brewery tours with samples and/or a tasting room where you can try their beer on-location. Alabama's breweries are not allowed to do either.
Is it any surprise that Alabama has only four licensed breweries while Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee share over 70?
The goal of the Brewery Modernization Act is to take the complicated, restrictive and multi-tiered brewery licensing law and turn it into a more simple law. As intended, the result will be:
1. No more distinction between "distributing breweries" and brewpubs. There's just "breweries."
2. Breweries can sell their beer on-premises and/or they can sell to a wholesaler. So Olde Towne and Good People can continue doing what they're doing PLUS they can open up a taproom or brewpub at their location. The Montgomery Brewpub and Hurricane Brewing can continue doing what they're doing PLUS they can start bottling or selling draft beer at other retailers.
3. Breweries can open in any wet county, don't have to be in an historic building, don't have to have a restaurant, and don't have a cap on how much beer they can brew.
4. Breweries are specifically allowed to offer tours with samples.
5. Breweries are specifically allowed to participate in beer festivals.
With the current state of the economy, shouldn't we be making it easier to open and operate a small business in Alabama?
We expect the bill to be drafted very soon and introduced into the legislature next week. The best way to keep up with the bill and know when it's been drafted and introduced is by keeping an eye on the Free the Hops blog or follow Free the Hops on Twitter.
Birmingham is becoming known for its dining scene. Our local chefs are among some of the best in the country. But what about their favorite wines? The organizers of the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Ball would like to find out.
For the annual Heart Ball, organizers would like the best chefs in town to donate a bottle of their favorite wine. Not the best or the favorite wine carried by their restaurant, but their own personal favorite. Chefs are asked to sign the label and include a note as to why it's their favorite. What makes that particular brand and variety special? For example, was it a wine they had on their first trip to Italy? Or perhaps, it's the wine they used to celebrate a significant event like an anniversary.
All the bottles of wine will be grouped together and auctioned off at the March 6, 2010 Heart Ball, the American Heart Association's signature black-tie event attended by the city's top business leaders, physicians, and philanthropists. All participating chefs and restaurants will receive recognition at the event. Frank Stitt has already donated a bottle.
All inquiries and donations should be directed to Janis Hagen, Heart Ball Co-chair at 907-9115 (cell).
For more information on the Heart Ball in general, click here.
As of this afternoon, Little Savannah still had reservations available; call 591-1119. The special New Year's Eve dinner menu is $75 per person, or $100 with selected wines, and includes an Amuse Bouche, a choice of first course including a "BLT" with smoked pork belly and arugula and Alecia's tomato chutney, soup and salad, or a plate from the sea; choice of second course with black cod, lamb chops or veal tenderloint with sweetbreads; and a choice of dessert. There's also a New Year's Eve bar menu, no reservations required, with treats like shrimp and grits, grilled prime sirloin, and sesame crusted Apalachicola oysters.
Daniel George has a special New Year's menu, featuring a first course of cream of black-eyed pa, pulled ham hock and turnip green soup; a second course choice of duck tamale or salmon tuna fuse; a third course of warm fall vegetables or mixed herb salad; a main course of roast venison or Mero seabass; and for dessert, hazelnut bread pudding or key lime cheesecake. Cost is $85 per person; call 871-3266 to see if there's any space left.
If you want more choices, Satterfield's New Year's Eve menu offers five first course choices, from gumbo to baked oysters to foie gras; and five main course options, from lobster to lamp shank to dry-aged Wagyu steak. Plus delicious desserts. $75 per person, call 969-9690.
Mudtown is once again having its annual New Year's Day Brunch from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Everyone who comes in for brunch will get the obligatory collard greens and black-eyed, a southern tradition said to bring luck in the coming year. There will be Bowl games on the TV's and Bloody Marys and Mimosas from the bar.
From Birmingham News' City Scene, Alec Harvey has entertainment suggestions here, including Dafe de Paris, Dyron's Lowcountry, John's City Diner, Satterfield's and Veranda on Highland; and Bob Carlton has more dining suggestions here.
There's a hole in the wall that's getting a lot of buzz at the Target Plaza on Hwy. 280: A Vietnamese restaurant called Saigon Noodle House. We haven't had a chance to get there yet, but from what we've heard in person, by e-mail and online, it's a winner.
Saigon Noodle House opened in April and offer five different kinds of five fresh spring rolls (also known as summer rolls), plus fried egg rolls, Vietnamese sandwiches (called Bahn Mi), soups, stir-fries, and, of course, noodles.
"The Saigon Noodle House comes highly recommended from Birmingham News reporter and ace dining detective Eric Velasco, who has already eaten there a half-dozen times since it opened last month," wrote the Birmingham News' Bob Carlton when he wrote about it in May.
Thirteen reviews on www.urbanspoon.com give it high ratings. You'll also find the menu here and some photos from happy customers: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/45/1436650/restaurant/Cahaba-Inverness/Saigon-Noodle-House-Birmingham
And you can read what Chowhounds have to say about it at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/611613.
The address is 4006 U.S. 280, Suite 108. The phone is 408-1800. We're definitely planning to give it a try. Sounds like the perfect un-Christmasy food to enjoy the week after!
Daniel George restaurant, a popular neighborhood restaurant in Mountain Brook, will open for weekday lunch starting Monday, Jan. 18. Lunch will be served 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; lunch menus will be available on their web site starting Jan. 5. No reservations will be needed.
Another change effective Jan. 18 will be Monday night dinners; previously the restaurant, like many locally owned dining establishments, was closed on Mondays.
And if you're looking for dinner on New Year's, dg has a special five-course prix fixes menu for $85 per person.