Made for Sharing
Avondale Common House’s hummus and warm pita pleases all.
By Jan Walsh
The first year of being in business, especially the restaurant business is the most difficult. And Avondale Common House has made it to their one year anniversary milestone. Just one year ago, Kev, Jordan and I sat at this same table at Avondale Common House when William and Ellen Rogers dream of their own restaurant had just come true. It was a fun and delicious night. We enjoyed taking selfies of us with the happy couple and getting the first taste of chef William’s new fare. A stand out sharable dish that night was the black-eyed pea hummus. I share my first taste of the new restaurant, here. Read 2017 Review from our archives.
Tonight, we find a new shareable fave as this week's "Food Find" in their Classic Hummus. The bowl of thick, golden hummus is topped with a lovely arugula pesto. And the fresh warm, plump pita points just make it. The large portion looks like more than we can eat… but it does not taste like it. We dig in spreading spoonfuls of this delectable dip onto the pita and devour every bite. And it pairs well with their craft cocktail, Strawberry Smash, also highly recommended. Congrats and cheers to William and Ellen!
Bang Bang and Bubbles I discover a new wine and new app at Vino and Gallery Bar 1930. By Jan Walsh
I love to make an evening of apps and bubbly at Gallery Bar 1930. And love it even more in springtime when we can sit on the patio, or inside on their enormous comfy chairs, with the doors open—bringing the outside into this peaceful, serene place lined with botanical oil paintings.
We typically order an array of fried apps: crab claws, fritto misto, potato latkes, as we do tonight. I have no fear of ordering fried foods because the Rabiees, Al and son, Matthew, use organic sunflower oil. Tonight, Matthew suggests a new crémant from the South of France, Prueté de Silex, which pairs well with not only our usual order but also an unexpected and undiscovered app. And Al appears with hugs and an order of a dish he wants us to try, Bang Bang Cauliflower. We first discovered fried cauliflower here in their fritto misto. It is incredible. So, we are eager to taste this kung poa version.
The Bang Bang plate is filled with golden florets of cauliflower, smothered in a red chili sauce, and topped with scallions and sesame seeds. Each crisp, tender bite boasts lovely, complex flavors of sweet, sour, and spicy, within deep layers of red chili.
And yet this incredible synthesis is achieved without overpowering the natural essence of the vegetable. Bang! Just like that, Bang Bang Cauliflower has a new spot at the top of our fave Vino apps list.
Bananas Foster French Toast Newk’s Eatery, downtown, got my week off to a scrumptious start. By Jan Walsh
I get a sneak peek tasting of the new scratch made breakfast at Newk’s Eatery before it launches. Today is Monday morning, before breakfast begins to the public on Thursday, April 19. And what a way to start the week—with mimosas and sparkling wine!
Newk’s Eatery downtown is the only location serving breakfast. And it is served daily from 6:30 until 10:30 a.m. at 611 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. South. The new
Breakfast Menu is extensive with something for everyone: baked French toasts, oatmeal and yogurts, scrambles with cage free eggs, croissants, sandwiches, muffins, and a variety of sides.
We pair the bubbly with Bananas Foster French Toast, Farmer’s Market Scramble, and a Ham, Egg, and Cheese Croissant. All three dishes are delicious. Yet our favorite of the bunch and Weekly Food Find is the bananas foster. Two thick pieces of Parisian bread are topped with bananas foster cream cheese and sliced caramelized bananas. Dollops of house made whipped cream crown the dish that is drizzled with pure maple syrup. Flavorful notes of banana, vanilla, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a hint of nutmeg synthesize in this delectable dish. Who needs New Orleans when I have Newk’s?
Surf and Turf Bistro 218’s seafood and steak make my birthday special. By Jan Walsh
This year for my birthday dinner, I choose Bistro 218. And our table awaits with a “Happy Birthday” card from Saab and Bistro 218, holding our reservation, verses a “reserved” card. This is “vintage” Tom Saab—authentically discerning down to the smallest detail.
As usual, tonight he is found in the kitchen cooking. Saab’s cuisine is consistently outstanding, in his choice of the finest organic and Non-GMO products, ever-evolving selection of menu offerings, and execution from product to plate. Thus, one entrée choice for dinner at Bistro 218 is never easy. Tonight’s difficult to choose among offerings include duck confit, shrimp risotto, Louisiana redfish, Lamb chop, sea scallops and more…
Among the specialties, we choose Tenderloin Medallion and Jumbo Gulf Shrimp, which also becomes my “Weekly Food Find.” The thick beef tenderloin arrives atop a bed of potato gratin and veal glace. The tender beef is cooked to perfection, allowing its delicate beef flavor to shine through. The gorgeous gratin adds a creamy slice of toothsome comfort to the steak. Alongside the beef and potato, is a slice of roasted tomato and three enormous, pink, perfectly curled shrimp, which float above wilted spinach. Succulent in both texture and taste, the shrimp balance the plate with a splash from the sea.
Everything on the plate is splendid, including the accompaniments and garnishes… More than just an accompaniment or added color, Saab’s wilted spinach is marvelous. It literally melts in my mouth and bursts with just picked, local freshness. And his roasted tomato is divinely distinctive—both earthy and fruity. I honestly would come here for a plate of the spinach and tomato!
Bistro 218 is located at 218 20th Street downtown Birmingham and is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday nights. It also has a separate bar with its own lunch menus, which is also open for dinner on the same nights and is open for lunch Monday through Fridays. Pork Schnitzel
It’s back at Highlands Bar and Grill!
By Jan Walsh
Chef Frank Stitt has brought back a popular dish from Highlands Bar and Grill’s past—Pork Schnitzel.
Just the word “schnitzel” sounds scrumptious. It also brings out my German heritage, tempting me to order it. But we are here tonight for our son, Ross’ birthday. And given both he and Kevin order it, I refrain and order something else. But afterwards as entrée envy overcomes me, my fork tends to gravitate to their plates, for a few bites.
They both chose the optional fried farm egg, which makes a lovely and tasty crown atop the thin, tender cutlets. The savory pork is lightly battered and golden brown on the outside, white and moist on the inside. It is served over Anson Mills Grits with watercress and an incredible, complex, creamy Pommery mustard sauce.
If you love the chicken scallopine at Bottega Café and love pork, this dish has your name all over it.