Reviews

A Time, And Place 
 
Savoring the pleasures of dinner at Tasting TBL
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
I must admit that Chefs, Tyler and Jennifer Lyne exploded onto the Birmingham culinary scene under my radar. The couple moved to Hoover in 2020 during the pandemic, after 16 years in New York City. And NYC’s loss is Birmingham’s gain. Both chefs are graduates of the CIA and have impressive culinary educations and experience, including stints at the top restaurants in NYC as well as Japan and Paris. Just like many of us, Chef Tyler is a born and bred Southerner. Having been born and raised in Texas, he did not plan to raise his son without a yard. Thus, a move away from NYC was likely inevitable.  
 

Dupont’s Duet
 
Café Dupont is in chefs’ hands with new owners, Chris and Angela Evans. 
 
By Jan Walsh 
 

Entering Café Dupont’s stately Bar conjures up a Déjà vu experience. I go way back with this café¾all the way to its origins in Springville. Thus, it is natural to recall my long and storied relationship with the restaurant. Yet I am not here for a trip down memory lane, but instead for a fresh start with its new owners and chefs, Chris and Angela Evans. Chris was sous chef at the original location in Springville from 1997 until 2000, and back at Café Dupont since it opened in Birmingham in 2003. Angela was his pastry chef for several years before taking the position of Culinary Instructor at Clay Chalkville High School in 2021. Yet she still makes time to help with the desserts when needed. 

Farm to Pizza
 
Pizzeria GM slices, dices, and squeezes summertime. 
 
By Jan Walsh
 

Before you order at Pizzeria GM, check out the specials on the tabletop menu. Today’s specials include Strawberry and Smoke Bruschetta, Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Salad, Shrimp Bisque, Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad, Chilton County Peach Pizza, and Italian Nachos. See what I mean?

In Full Bloom 
 
Lunch at The Gardens Café features our favorites and in season fare. 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
So much more than a bridal and garden club destination, lunch at The Gardens Cafe, by Kathy G. is always pristine, plentiful, and pleases all. 

Chef’s Pizzeria 

Troup’s Pizza has made a real name for itself. 

By Jan Walsh 

Troup’s Pizza is locally owned and operated by Chef Terrill Brazelton and wife, Ashley. The pizzeria is the namesake of previous generations of Brazeltons, his dad and two grandfathers, all named, "Troup." 

World's Best Eats 
 
Best seats for The World Games are at our restaurants. 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
Birmingham Restaurants welcomes visitors to The World Games 2022. Get a taste of the best restaurants in the Birmingham metro area. No matter which venue you attend, we have restaurants nearby. And we have destination restaurants, which lure many out of towners, who come to Birmingham just to dine. 

 

Where Everybody Eats 
 
Billy’s Sports Grill keeps bringing them back for more. 
 
By Jan Walsh 
 

Billy’s Sports Grill is our favorite Liberty Park eatery. And we are in good company. Whenever Kev asks his lunch groups¾YLDP team and his old friends¾where they want to eat, “Let’s eat at Billy’s” is always the answer. 

Enchanting Evening 
 
Kev and I celebrate our 26th Anniversary at Bocca Ristorante.  
 
By Jan Walsh 
 

Tom and Christina Saab have gotten fine dining right—twice. Bistro 218 and Bocca Ristorante are two of the best restaurants in Birmingham. We dined at Bistro 218 for Valentine’s Day 2022. And tonight, for our anniversary, we choose Bocca Ristorante. 

Under the Umbrella 
 
Bellini’s Ristorante and Bar’s patio is a date night favorite. 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
We arrive at Bellini’s for our 5:30 p.m. reservation. All sidewalk and brick walled patio’s tables are taken by other couples, except our corner table displaying a “reserved” sign. We nestle into umbrellaed table where large rectangular flowerpots line the top of the walls above us, heightening our privacy with vibrant colors and sweet aromas. 
 

First String 
 
Bistro V holds the line on excellence, from lunch through dinner. 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
Bistro V partners are divided only when it comes to football. Executive Chef, Jeremy Downey played on the University of Alabama’s 1992 National Championship Football Team¾and wears his national championship ring in the kitchen with pride. Partner, Emily Tuttle-Shell, who runs just about everything but the kitchen, is an Auburn alumnus. But Bistro V is their gridiron where they team together in pursuit of excellence. 

Mom’s Day Eve
 
I treat my guys to Bottega Café for Saturday lunch.
 
By Jan Walsh

 
I am blessed to have both sons home for Mother’s Day week. Jordan brought Gulf seafood up from Gulf Breeze to cook for us on Mother’s Day. And I take my guys to lunch on Saturday at Bottega Café. And joining us is Ross’ childhood friend Banks Nelson, who is like family too. I had told them all we must be there before 11:00 a.m. because Bottega Café is not taking reservations any longer. So, we arrive 15 minutes before the doors open, and there is already a short line at the gate, which quickly grows down the sidewalk by 11:00. Fortunately, being near the front of the line pays off as we are seated at the round window table, which can accommodate five or six people. And within ten minutes, just as I predicted, the entire restaurant, bar, and patio are packed.

Comforting Classics 
 
Saturday Brunch at Ted’s Restaurant is a fulfilling, family feast. 
 
By Jan Walsh
 

Entering Ted’s is like going back home. Blue and white dishes are displayed above the sideboard adorned with Touloupis’ family photos. Owners, Tasos and Beba Touloupis spot us and warmly greet and seat us... A feeling of deja vu falls over me… Ted’s Restaurant always takes me back to my grandmother’s farmhouse, where she would keep the gas stove on and biscuits warm until I woke. Then I would warm up to the open stove in my pajamas while eating a buttered biscuit with her homemade blackberry preserves. Next Oneonta Mayor, and dear friend, Richard Phillips walks in the door. He is here to meet Kev and me at Ted’s Restaurant for early brunch. 

Everything But Pineapple 
 
Pizzeria GM is our favorite pizza place. Here’s why…
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
At Pizzeria GM there is always something new. Thus, our list of tried-and-true favorites is ever growing. The menu boasts a long list of small plates, salumi and cheese, salads, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and desserts. Sometimes we get wound up in the small plates like ribbons of pasta and can’t find our way beyond the Meatballs, Wagyu Beef Pigs in a Blanket, Bucket of Fries, and the Breaded and Fried Fresh Mozzarella Bocconcini to order anything else. Other times we come here for a sandwich. The GM Burger is to die for, as is the Chicken Parmesan Sandwich. Both are served with house made chips. Our favorite pizza is the Chicken Parmesan—our way with edits of light sauce, extra cheese, Sicilian olives, peppers, and onions. In addition to their specialty pizzas, you may build your own with any ingredients offered on the specialty pizzas, where you will not find pineapple. When Pizzeria GM opened the servers’ shirt sleeves had a pineapple with a red prohibition sign over it—don’t ask. And there are famous pasta dishes from the Respinto Family’s GianMarco’s, including Spaghetti and Meatballs, Fiocchi and more. For dessert the Cannoli and Gelatos are well worth saving room for, although we often can’t. But much like GianMarco’s, it can be a mistake to overlook the specials. And from top to bottom of the menu, there are seasonal dishes. 

Fridays at Fonfon
 
Lingering over lunch at a place we love…
 
By Jan Walsh 
 

Chez Fonfon has long been one of my favorite restaurants. I just love the country French cuisine, authentic antiques, and bistro bustle—all of which speak to me saying, “This is where I belong.” And through the years Kev has also grown to love this place as much as I do. “It’s great to here today, at someplace we love,” he says, just after we are seated. And there is much to love… Chez Fonfon’s servers proudly don the traditional French uniform—black vest, black pants, white shirt and apron—posturing the importance of their role. The authentic, French antique, frosted windows and back door, inscribed with “Café” and “Restaurant,” envelop Fonfon in soft, warm, natural light. Creamy and chocolaty French pastries tempt guests as they walk in the door. And the open bar, decorated with seasonal fruits for hand crafting cocktails, welcomes those without reservations. 
 

Happy Memories 

Another Birthday Dinner at GianMarco’s Restaurant

By Jan Walsh 

GianMarco’s is located at 721 Broadway Street in a Homewood neighborhood. It is a Respinto family—brothers, Giani and Marco and their father Giovanni—owned and operated, authentic, Old World Italian restaurant. We have been dining at GianMarco’s since it opened in 2003. And tonight, we are here celebrating a big birthday of mine. We enter through its separate bar—where the walls are filled with reviews from various publications, including some of my own. 

CEO Recommends

Tonight, we taste favorites of Betsy McAtee, CEO of Dreamland Bar-B-Que.  

By Jan Walsh

Dreamland Bar-B-Que started in 1958 with a dream. John “Big Daddy” Bishop dreamed that God told him to open a restaurant. Today Dreamland Bar-B-Que is known throughout the South for its legendary ribs and sauce. It is served in eight stadium venues throughout the Southeast. And Dreamland Holding Company operates 10 restaurants in the Southeast and ships its BBQ nationwide.

Blueprint’s Trinity 
 
Steaming plates, chilly wine, and happy people are Blueprint on 3rd’s recipe for success. 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
Tonight, we dine at one of our favorites, Blueprint on 3rd for our last restaurant meal of Winter 2022. We are greeted and enjoy catching up with both Dean and Brandon Robb. 

Ocean’s 20th Anniversary 
 
Tonight, we celebrate 20 years of food memories at Ocean Restaurant. 
 
By Beau Gustafson & Jan Walsh
 

Kev and I have been dining at Ocean Restaurant since it opened in March 2002. I have reviewed dinners here more times than I can count. Yet we can never get enough of one of our favorite restaurants in the world. 

Crispy Comfort 

Dyron’s Sunday Brunch boasts fried and true favorites.

By Jan Walsh

You won’t find a better brunch than Dyron’s Lowcountry. The menu changes frequently, typically each Sunday. But its style never does. There is usually a farm egg omelet, Southern style big breakfast, French toast or pancakes, gumbo, steak or short rib, biscuits, beignets, and their fried dishes: oysters, chicken, crab claws, and fish.

Staying Power

Bottega Café reopens on 15th Anniversary of Birmingham Restaurants.

By Jan Walsh

As Bottega Café reopens for today, March 1, 2022, I am the first person in the door. With hugs from Pardis and The Staple Singers playing overhead, I hum along, “I know a place, ya’ll… I’ll take you there…” Just being back here is a memorable, instantly uplifting experience.

Lunch and a Movie

Today we pair Sunday lunch at Abhi Eatery and Bar with the movie, Dog.

By Jan Walsh

Just when I have not been to the movies in years, along comes, Dog. Sunday lunch at Abhi at The Summit, however, is a regular thing, as is dinner at Abhi, both here and at Mountain Brook Village location. 

The Feel 
 
Taco Mama’s success happened by design. And we taste it in every bite. 
 
By Jan Walsh 
 

In 2011, Founder, Will Haver wanted to open “a laid back, funky, fun taqueria
 with great tasting, fresh food, and simple approach,” in Mountain Brook, near his other restaurant, Otey’s. And from day one at Taco Mama, they were lined up out the door. Eleven years later Taco Mama has 22 locations. 

Rosé Wine and Roses

Valentine’s Dinner at Bistro 218 boasts aromatic bouquets.

By Jan Walsh 

I made reservations well in advance at Bistro 218 for the Saturday before Valentine’s Day. Afterwards, owner and executive chef, Tom Saab decided to open the restaurant on Monday night for Valentine’s dinner with a special, four courses with options, Valentine’s Menu. Oh, my! He had me at “Butter Poached Lobster Risotto.” Fortunately, by popular demand, this special menu is served this Saturday evening too. 

Sharing the Celebration
 
Tonight, we celebrate Sol Y Luna’s 2nd Anniversary.
 
By Jan Walsh  

 
As Sol Y Luna approaches its 2nd Anniversary, we celebrate it. Opening just two months before the pandemic, restaurant warriors, Jorge and Aimee Castro have made this restaurant a success in the most difficult of times. Seeing Guermo’s portrait on the wall, I expect that he is looking down from Heaven, smiling at their reincarnation of his beloved, original Sol Y Luna. 
 

Tales and Tails 
 
Tonight, we celebrate Kev’s birthday at Ocean’s bar. 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
I offer Kev dinner at any Birmingham area restaurant for his birthday. And he responds, “Let’s go to Ocean’s bar and eat baby lobster tails!” I am not surprised. He often suggests Ocean for dinner, although he claims I am the seafood lover, and he is the meat guy. 

First Dibs 
 
First meal of the year is a fabulous, French lunch at Fonfon. 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
Kev and I venture into 2022 at one of our favorite restaurants, Chez Fonfon. It is literally freezing outside. But as the door and curtain open, we find it warm and welcoming inside the café, where we are greeted by the Stitts. 

New Year’s Eve, Eve 
 
Toasting Loyalty: To the Respinto Family and Schramsberg friends! 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
What to do when your hubby has to watch football on NYE? You reserve New Year’s Eve, Eve. I am obviously not the only one who had to change NYE reservations to the night before. GianMarco’s is booked at 5:00 p.m. Yet our table is waiting. 

Our Neighborhood Grill 
 
Billy’s Sports Grill is our Liberty Park favorite. 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
Billy’s has been a neighborhood favorite since 1979 when it opened in its original, former location in English Village. “Our Billy’s” is located on Overton Road at the 459 Exit to Liberty Park. It is a convenient spot for lunch, dinner, happy hour, and live music on the covered patio for residents of Liberty Park and surrounding Mountain Brook. 

Day After Party 

My family forgoes leftovers and gathers round the window table at Bottega. 

By Jan Walsh 

Beyond blessed to have my family here for Thanksgiving. But how can you top the perfect turkey day? Mid-afternoon meal the day after at Bottega. 

Here’s The Beef

Friday is prime rib night at 5 Point Public House Oyster Bar. 

By Jan Walsh 

5 Point Public House Oyster Bar is famous for their oysters on half shell, baked, and fried. After all, it is the sister restaurant to Ocean Restaurant, situated next door in 5 Points. Restauranteur, George Reis is the owner and executive chef of both. In addition to fish and seafood from across the globe, you can also get one of the best steaks anywhere at Ocean. And I expect that 5 Point will be known for its Friday night prime rib soon. This month Reis started the prime rib as a Friday night early special. It has sold out each week. So, we made reservations for 5:00 tonight. 

With Honors and With Reservations 

Our Heroes’ Sunday Brunch is well planned for Dyron’s Lowcountry. 

By Jan Walsh  

Veteran’s Day week is special for Kev and me. His Youth Leadership Development Program’s annual patriotism events kick off on tonight and last through Monday evening. Congressional Medal of Honor recipients and their families come to town for and are honored at the events. Prior to these events, we bring some of the early arrivals to Dyron’s for Sunday brunch. Like everything about this week, our brunch was well planned weeks ago… with reservations. 

Second to Naan

Bay Leaf Indian cuisine is tried and truer. 

By Jan Walsh 

On our first visits to Bay Leaf Modern Indian Cuisine and Bar, we were experimenting. Now we are discovering. Each new experience of Chef Z’s modern Indian fare (at both this Highway 280 location and the Southside location) outdoes the last. And it is always difficult not to order dishes we have previously had because we now have favorites: Naans, Biriyani, Drums of Heaven, Crab Lollypops, Tandoori Shrimp, Beef Short Ribs, and the any and every soup. 

Common Ground 

Sunday brunch at Galley and Garden pleases carnivores and vegans. 

By Jan Walsh 

The patio at Galley and Garden is common ground for both meat loving foodies and those who prefer plants. There is also live music for all to enjoy and a garden view. 

Our Happy Place 

Pizzeria GM is more than a pizza place. They serve happiness here. 

By Jan Walsh 

There is no place like Pizzeria GM. The kitchen here is Giani Respinto’s playground. The pizzas are hard to resist. But so is everything else… The daily specials delightful. The in-season salads and pizzas are sensational. And the sandwiches tower over their hand cut fries. 

Sharing Sushi

Abhi Eatery and Bar in Mountain Brook is where we roll.

By Jan Walsh 

Abhi Eatery and Bar has two locations, The Summit and Mountain Brook Village. The menus vary by location. And we love both! The Summit location is open on Sundays for lunch, which gives us a weekly option to dine in or carry out. And both restaurants are open nightly for dinner. 

Table for Two

Lunch at Bistro V pleases him and her.

By Jan Walsh

Kev and I have different palates. He likes sweet, pork, and beer. I like spicy, seafood, and wine. But neither of us have to give in about where to have lunch because Bistro V pleases us both…

Lost Time 

Lunch with Mayor Phillips at Fonfon is a time to remember. 

By Jan Walsh 

The past 18 months have stolen much from me. And I feel the need to make up for lost time. Oneonta Mayor, Richard Phillips is like a son to me. He was in the first class I taught as a teacher at Oneonta City Schools. Teachers do have “favorites,” and he was one of mine. And once we found each other, we never let go… always been there for me: baby-sitting, dog sitting, helping start up my two businesses and working with me in both ever since. The two of us always found a way to keep our lives woven tightly together, even throughout the pandemic, when we could not be together as often. 

Southern Hospitality 

Family friendliness is the icing on the fabulous food at Blueprint on 3rd. 

By Jan Walsh 

Blueprint on 3rd is a Robb family, owned and run restaurant. And you feel it as you walk in the door. The Robb family is a loyal bunch who genuinely cares for their patrons, and treats us all like family. Tonight, as we step away from the valet and inside the restaurant, Brandon Robb greets us at the door. He later treats us to an amazing app and checks on us during each course. Meanwhile his father, Dean Robb is in the kitchen cooking due to Blueprint’s chef de cuisine being away on vacation. Even still, he dashes out to greet us at our table with glasses of French sparkling rosé, and he checks back in on us after our entrees arrive. And Dean's wife, Jenny focuses on the front of the house.

Farm Finds

Farmer Noah brings his bounty to my door weekly. 

By Jan Walsh 

Living an organic life is not easy. But having my own farmer helps. I am a patron of Rora Valley Farms and its Farmship program. 

One Curb, Two Meals 

Eli keeps us well fed with organic, Israeli fare. 

By Jan Walsh 

We dine in on occasion and pick up at the curb often at Eli’s Jerusalem Grill. And over the years, I have enjoyed everything on the menu. I have also been in the kitchen filming cooking videos with Chef Eli Markshtien, where I was impressed by his due diligence to keeping it organic. Everywhere I looked the products were marked with USDA Organic label. 

Al Fresco Escape 

Bellini’s patio is our private, mid-day getaway. 

By Jan Walsh 

Bellini’s Ristorante and Bar is a short, scenic drive from Liberty Park. We go “the back way” down Sicard Hollow, onto Grants Mill Road and over Lake Purdy, to hit Highway 119. And in ten minutes we are there. 

Always In Season 

Dyron’s Lowcountry always serves a bounty of in season fare.  

By Jan Walsh  

Owners Dyron and Sonya Powell are passionate about fresh, local produce as well as Gulf fish and seafood. And it shows. Each of the four seasons, Dyron’s serves farm fresh products, as soon as they come into season: strawberries, blueberries, heirloom tomatoes, truffles, ruby red grapefruit, peaches, okra, root vegetables, farm eggs, soft shell crab, red snapper, royal reds shrimp, yellowfin tuna, Louisiana crawfish, Florida stone crab claws…

Gone Fishing 

I know a great spot to catch fish: Ocean Restaurant. 

By Jan Walsh 

Ocean’s seafood is unsurpassed. From day boat Gulf fish to cold water crustaceans, owner and executive chef, George Reis serves it all. 

Oh, Mama! 

We pair surf and turf burrito bowls with melon margaritas. 

By Jan Walsh 

I am not much of a planner. But when I go to Taco Mama, I have my order ready… because I want everything listed on their colorful boards. 

Beyond Words 

I need a new thesaurus to describe dinner at Bistro 218. 

By Jan Walsh 

If you look up “delicious” in a thesaurus, there are hundreds of synonyms. And you can check off each-and-every one of them to describe dinner at Bistro 218. It has always been so. I have reviewed this restaurant many times over the years, since Tom Saab opened his dream. Each bite of every night has been praiseworthy. And tonight, he continues to wow me!

Craving Wednesday’s Special 

I came for Bottega’s veggie plate. 

By Jan Walsh

Summer brings Bottega’s Vegetable Plate each Wednesday. 

As I make reservations for Wednesday, I can taste the vegetable plates of my childhood. I spent most of the first eight years of my life on my grandparents’ farm, a self-sustaining farm with a cash crop of cotton. My grandfather grew enough food to feed this household all year, as my grandmother canned and froze vegetables, and made jams and jellies from the fruit of the trees. There were Pink Eye Purple Hull Peas, Big Boy and Better Boy Tomatoes, Silver Queen Corn, watermelons, cantaloupes, okra, squash, collards, turnips, cucumber, figs, apples, peaches, and strawberries. Lunch was called dinner. Dinner was called supper. And both meals boasted a table filled with bowls of fruits and vegetables. There was no meat or poultry served except for special occasions when my grandmother would fry a chicken or the annual pig roast. And I never outgrew my craving for a Southern vegetable plate. 

Father’s Day Feast 

Village Tavern is a dad pleaser. 

By Jan Walsh 

One of Daddy Joe’s favorite restaurants is Village Tavern. So, we make Father’s Day reservations for four: Kev, Jordan, Joe and me.  

Silver Anniversary Brunch 

At Birmingham’s romantic restaurant, Galley and Garden

By Jan Walsh 

 Our 25th Anniversary fell on a Sunday. So, the obvious choice is a restaurant known for romance, Galley and Garden. Here they serve a prix fixe menu of two or three courses for Sunday brunch. 

Anniversaries Dinner 

We celebrate our 25th anniversary on Bistro V’s 11th anniversary. 

By Jan Walsh 

Timing is everything. After much consideration and conversation, of where to dine for our 25th Silver Anniversary, we choose Bistro V. Upon arrival we learn it is Bistro V’s 11th Anniversary. Partner and Executive Chef, Jeremy Downley comes out of the kitchen for greetings, anniversary wishes, and hugs. It is so wonderful to see his face again!

What a Pair!

Sip Tommy Spina’s Sicilian wines with GianMarco’s Italian fare. 

By Jan Walsh 

Local defense lawyer, Tommy Spina’s Sam Spina Importing Company has a new release of Sicilian wines. And Spina kindly dropped off the wines at my home for me to taste. Four 2019 vintages include a white, Catarratto and three reds: Perricone, Frappato, and Nerello. 

Pushing Boundaries

Discover amazing new eats at Abhi’s Eatery and Bar.

By Jan Walsh

Abhi at The Summit is one of our favorite take outs for Sunday lunch. Kev and I both have our favorite dishes here that we know travel well. Yet the favorites list evolves because once we try a different dish, it then becomes the new favorite. Today we are dining in for Sunday lunch. So today I rule out ordering a dish that we have ever had before.

Family Favorite

Where to eat when my family comes home? Pizzeria GM

By Jan Walsh

Whenever my “boys” come home, they arrive with reservations, restaurant reservations. Beforehand they each spend much time looking at menus on BirminghamRestaurants.com, while texting back and forth with each other… planning where they want to go eat while in town. At the top of the list is their tried and true, Pizzeria GM. No wonder. Their menu is so much more than pizza that sometimes we must skip their amazing, old school pizzas. Famous dishes from the Respinto’s original Homewood restaurant, GianMarco’s are found on the menu along with other of Giani’s selections of small plates, salumi and cheese, salads, sandwiches, and desserts.

 

Bottega with the Boys

We celebrate Mother’s Day weekend with dinner at Bottega.

By Jan Walsh

I am very blessed to have both my sons, Jordan and Ross, home from Florida, for Mother’s Day weekend. And we choose Bottega for our celebratory dinner.

For the Doughnut

“There’s a food critic in the house!”

By Jan Walsh 

Kev and I ended my birthday week with dinner at Bocca Ristorante. We arrive at Chef Tom Saab’s Italian sister restaurant to his French, Bistro 218, to find a valet and our favorite table waiting. 

Date Night, Done Right

In the mood for romance? Get a table, at Galley and Garden.

By Jan Walsh


Galley and Garden has a reputation for romance. Whether it be drinks at the bar, Champagne brunch on the patio, or popping the question over dinner. But it doesn’t stop here. The restaurant and its private dining rooms are also popular for wedding parties and rehearsal dinners. Thus, it is no surprise that one of Galley and Garden’s most recent accolades is being named “Alabama’s Most Romantic Restaurant,” by Eat This, Not That.

Birthday Bliss

Lunch at Chez Fonfon’s patio lifts my spirits and feeds my soul.

By Jan Walsh

Kev and I arrive for my birthday lunch at Chez Fonfon, coincidentally on the first day the dining room is reopened, April 6. This is a wonderful gift in itself. But not today... Today we have reservations on the patio. And there is not a cloud in the sky, although April 6 is historically rainy. Last April 6, rain was the least of my limitations, as there was not a single restaurant open to celebrate my birthday.

Bottega Al Fresco

Bottega’s patio or my porch?

By Jan Walsh

Nothing beats Bottega’s patio. Yet if you want it to go, Bottega is still offering curb menu, as well as their patio menu, with plans to reopen dining rooms in late spring.

Shared Felicidad
 
Lunch at Sol Y Luna is a fulfilling feast.

By Jan Walsh

Today we lunch at Sol Y Luna, seated at our favorite corner window table. The restaurant’s light-filled, happy ambience makes margaritas a must. Although I aim to try new drinks and dishes each time we come here, the Sol Y Luna Margarita is a memorable cocktail that deserves repeating as are the Guacamole and Queso Flameado.  

Pizza Perfection

Pizzeria GM serves old school comfort food with a cutting edge.

By Jan Walsh

Kev and I made fast friends recently, which is not like us. We met Michelle and David Beasley on their hunt for authentic, period antiques for their antebellum home in Georgia. As fate would have it, we not only share the same taste in and passion for antiques. We all love the South, history, old homes, dogs… and we even agree on politics. Amazing! This week they made a detour, while going home from an antique auction in Mississippi, to meet us for lunch. And Pizzeria GM was the perfect place.

Sensational Steaks, Fantastic Fish

Ocean’s steaks are as awesome as the seafood.

By Jan Walsh

Tonight, Kev and I take our regular seats, in the corner of the bar, at one of our favorite restaurants, Ocean. Lucky us, we have gift cards in hand from our son, Ross! Here we watch the action in the open kitchen and hang out with our bartender pal, Robby Greenwood, who is also the bar manager at Ocean. We opt for his recommendation of food friendly Aimery 1531 Cremant De Limoux Brut. As Robby pours our bubbly, owner and executive chef, George Reis takes a break from the kitchen for a visit. It is great to catch up and fun to watch him take on Chef de Cuisine, Ric Trent’s role tonight, who is off this evening. So, we keep our visit short to let the man get back to cooking.

Valentine’s Dinner 2021

Tonight, we fall in love with Blueprint on 3rd all over again.

By Jan Walsh 

Kev and I toast Valentine’s 2021 at home before heading off to Blueprint on 3rd for dinner. We arrive to the Pepper Place area restaurant to a valet in waiting. And we are welcomed inside by restaurant supervisor, Brandon Robb, with glasses of sparkling rose.

Tried, and Truly Terrific  

Lunch at Bistro V brings us back for more of his, and more of hers. 

By Jan Walsh 

Bistro V is one of our favorite restaurants. They know where we want to sit without asking. And our favorite table awaits as we walk in the door. The place is packed, as always. Both ladies who lunch, biz lunches, and solo diners are loyal patrons.

Beautiful Lunch

Kev and I enjoy a date lunch at Bellini’s Ristorante.

By Jan Walsh

Bellini’s Ristorante is the namesake of the classic Italian cocktail, Bellini, which means “little beautiful one.” And lunch here today is a beauty.

Diamond Jubilee

Kev chose GianMarco’s for this milestone birthday.

By Jan Walsh


Five years ago, tonight we were celebrating Kev’s previous milestone birthday with a surprise party in GianMarco’s private dining space. It was filled with friends and family, many of whom still rave about it, saying it was the best birthday party ever. And I can recall every guest who was in attendance and every wonderful bite we ate… Thank you Giani and Marco for the memory.

 

New Beginnings 

Welcoming 2021 with NYE dinner and Kev’s birthday brunch at Dyron’s Lowcountry 

By Jan Walsh 

We arrive for NYE at Dyron’s Lowcountry early, in time to hang out with executive chef (and beaming new dad) Randall Baldwin and his beautiful wife Laura. And we finally get to meet their baby boy, Bennett. What a doll! Just looking at those big, beautiful eyes, gives me hope… 2021 must be better than 2020, if only for this precious child. 

Happy Hanukkah Week 

Savor Eli’s Jerusalem Grill potato latkes while they last!

By Jan Walsh 

Eating fried food on Hanukkah is a tradition. It is a commemoration of the oil that burned for eight days, as the Maccabees purified and rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Eli’s Jerusalem Grill is frying organic potato latkes daily during until December 18. 

Holiday Cake

The joy of not baking…

By Jan Walsh

I like to cook. I hate to bake. Cooking can be forgiving. Can taste as I go, adding touches of this and that until my savory dishes taste just right. But not with baking, is too mathematical for me. Precise temps, pre-set baking times, and exact measurements must be followed. Plus, there is a science to baking that most recipes don’t account for, such as humidity, altitude, and atmospheric pressure! Thus, the only cake I bake is a cheesecake. It has no flour, baking soda, etc., so it can’t fall far. And I can get creative with the toppings.

French Kiss

Dinner at Bistro 218 brings us back to life. 

By Jan Walsh 

I miss my life. Many things I took for granted are now missing from my days and nights. Looking forward to has been replaced by fear of what’s next. But not tonight… Tonight, we escape the madness with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants Bistro 218. 

Champagne Brunch 

The Yard debuts delectable, pre-fixe, weekend brunch! 

By Jan Walsh 

The Yard is now offering brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. This well- conceived meal was planned by Elyton Hotel’s general manager, Chris Townsley and executive chef, Chris Moore. The duo wanted uniqueness in both fare and format. Thus, it is pre-fixe price of $30 per person for three courses per person or $40 for same three course offering plus mimosas for two people.

En Plein Air 

Chez Fonfon’s patio is a colorful canvas for Frank Stitt’s French palette.  

By Jan Walsh 

Today we are warmly welcomed to lunch at Chez Fonfon, by both Frank and Pardis Stitt. After a brief visit Pardis takes us to our table on the patio where we catch up further. 

Replicating Success 

Bay Leaf’s second location, on Highway 280 is as awesome as the original.  

By Jan Walsh 

Bay Leaf opens a second location at 5426 Highway 280, Suite 14, in Hoover. It is across the highway from the Greystone entrance, on the hill. 

Rivestimento D’argento 



Bocca Ristorante debuts as the silver lining of 2020. 

By Jan Walsh 

Chef and restauranteur, Tom Saab shared his vision for Bocca with me in 2017—before it had a name.  I shared it with my followers—but only as a rumor, at his request, because the idea was still up in the air. And everyone was as excited as I. We all imagined Chef Saab translating his success at Bistro 218, from fluent French to incredible Italian… 

Haven of Hospitality 

The Yard at Elyton Hotel boasts new chef, cuisine, and service. 

By Jan Walsh 

I enjoy three adventures in eating at The Yard before its reopening. First, I meet new executive chef, Chris Moore over a private lunch in the bar. Next, I am treated to a tasting of the entire, new dinner menu20 something dishes!  And two nights before its grand reopening, I dine at its soft launch opening dinner. Synthesizing these three experiences into one, overall realization: The Yard has evolved into a front burner restaurant for foodies. 

Opening the Gates 

Bottega is now serving lunch and dinner in the courtyard!

By Jan Walsh 

For many years, Frank and Pardis Stitt’s Bottega Café has been a favorite, Saturday lunch spot for Kev and me. We have toasted many of life’s good times with Champagne here, at our corner table. And during the bad times, we were comforted and nourished by Frank Stitt’s cuisine. But for the past six months, as we drove past, seeing its proud, tall, iron gates closed saddened me… 

Perfection, Over Easy 

5 Point pops up the perfect Sunday brunch! 

By Jan Walsh 

Food Warrior, George Reis and his team have been fighting the good fight at Ocean and 5 Point Public House Oyster Bar since March. They continue to pivot with the pandemic, meeting each and every obstacle with new solutions

Surf and Turf, Curbside

Bellini’s claws, beef sliders, burger, and crab salad all travel well.

By Jan Walsh

Bellini’s Ristorante is situated between Jordan’s Shelby County law office and our house. So, when working there, Jordan often treats us to take out from area restaurants. And tonight’s take home dinner comes from Bellini’s Ristorante and Bar, located on Cahaba Valley Road, just off Highway 280.

 

Modern and Upscale 

Chef Z pushes the boundaries of Indian cuisine at Bay Leaf. 

By Jan Walsh 

Tonight, we take a culinary journey to India—via 5 Points South. 

Gracious Hospitality

Village Tavern treats us to a very special lunch paired with craft cocktails. 

By Jan Walsh 

Corporate Executive Chef, Mary Grace Viado Howard’s middle name, “Grace” describes her well. She displays grace in all she does, in good times and in bad, and today is graciously hosting us to a lovely lunch. Although we have picked up at the curb recently, this is our first time back to Village Tavern in the past few months. And it is like a homecoming being here with Mary Grace and team again. 

Foodie Feast 

Eli’s Jerusalem Grill boasts new menu. 

By Jan Walsh 

Today we got lucky to pop in for lunch at Eli's Highway 280 location in Shelby County, just before the statewide mask mandate was enforced. We often rely on Eli’s for organic takeout, even before the curb. I always took it for granted, but no longer. So today having a healthy lunch in their dining room, with no face coverings required, is the joy of the day. 

A Family Favorite

Dinner at Bistro V pleases us all.

By Jan Walsh

Oh, how I have missed dinner at Bistro V. Kev and I had some scrumptious curb meals from here a couple of times lately, but there is nothing like being back to our favorite table tonight—with Jordan.

Culinary Conquest 

Food Warriors at Sol Y Luna conquer whatever comes their way. 

By Jan Walsh 

Jorge and Aimee Castro reopened Sol Y Luna in early 2020. This was six years after the original location closed—and just in time for the pandemic. 

Dads love Frank Stitt’s Father’s Day fare at home.

By Jan Walsh

For Father’s Day weekend we start with Chez Fonfon curbside and finish with Bottega’s Father’s Day dinner to go.

 

All Cylinders 

Pizzeria GM and GianMarco’s are both open for lunch and dinner again. 

By Jan Walsh 

Two of our favorite restaurants are open again! And over the past couple of weeks Kev and I have been to Pizzeria GM twice and GianMarco’s for lunch and dinner. We previously picked up curbside from both restaurants. And GianMarco’s and Pizzeria GM are still offering curb service—with many takers. 

Pizzeria GM's Lobster BLT Special + Lunch Resumes at GianMarco's

By Jan Walsh 

I caught the Lobster BLT special on Friday at Pizzeria GM. Highly recommeended! I will be writing a review of our lunch there and of our recent dinner at GianMarco's next week. That said, Pizzeria GM decided to fly in more lobster, and make the sandwich special go another week! So catch it soon before it is gone. 

Birmingham Restaurants Open. We are there!

Most restaurants are now open on patio, dining room, or both.
 

Life and Loyalty 

Tonight, we are treated to an anniversary dinner by Abhi. 

By Jan Walsh

If nothing else, it is times like these, we all learn who our friends are. The shutdowns and stay at home orders made panic easy—in our echo chambers of worry and fear. Our survival instincts kicked in, asking, “How will we (my family and my business) survive this?” At a time when family, friends, and business buddies have been literally shut out of our lives, we can forget how “we” got where we are in life and who helped get us here… Thus, at times such as these, the focus should not be on ourselves, but on the survival of others. Who needs me now—and how? 

Better than Ever 

Dinner at Galley and Garden is incredible, from start to finish. 

By Jan Walsh 

This afternoon, we dine at Galley and Garden for dinner. They reopened a few nights ago with dinner service starting at 4:30. They have also started wine events again on the patio. The next event is a Summer Rosé Celebration on June 11 at 5:30.

Blueprint on 3rd reopens. And I am first in the door.

By Jan Walsh

I have not been to a restaurant in more than two months. And it has been 56 years since I have gone this long without dining out… When I was seven years old, after I moved from my Grandparents farm, I started eating at restaurants daily.

40th Birthday Dinner 

Jordan chose Abhi for his special birthday dinner. 

By Jan Walsh 

lans keep pivoting for my family’s special occasions. We originally planned to take the whole family to the new Abhi in Mountain Brook Village to celebrate Jordan's 40th birthday. But with current status, we decided not to have Ross fly home, just stay safe instead. Jordan is in driving distance. So Abhi treated him to an at home feast!

Mother’s Day Weekend

We feasted on Ocean and Ovenbird, family style with Jordan.

By Jan Walsh


We had big big plans for Mother’s Day 2020. Jordan’s 40th birthday is May 23. So, we planned one big celebration for the family. Plan B… I will not allow Ross to fly yet. But Jordan lives a drivable distance. So, thankfully he makes it. On Saturday, we feast on a spread of Ocean Restaurant’s Mother’s Day menu—including by special request, baby lobster tails! As soon as we dip the succulent tails in hot butter, I know all is right with my world this weekend.

Feast this week’s curb finds with your eyes.

By Jan Walsh


Alabama restaurants will be allowed to open on May 11 with restrictions. So, this is my last curb review, with the exception of Mother’s Day weekend finds... If only the Governor could have opened one day earlier, we would have celebrated at our favorites. Sigh.

Many restaurants remain open, offering curbside to go and area delivery.

By Jan Walsh 

As long as Birmingham Restaurants member restaurants are open and open for curb, I will be there and will be ordering curb and delivery! 

Starving Here 

What’s for lunch? 

By Jan Walsh 

When the lockdown first started, I had mass quantities of food groceries delivered. But getting food in the house and actually cooking it, soon proved to be too much. Every day there they were—food—just sitting there chilling in the fridge, waiting to be cooked. Fresh farm eggs couldn’t wait to be fried. Potatoes threatened to sprout. And mold married my strawberries overnight. 

Lunch & Dinner Delivery

Ordered Billy’s Sports Grill online and delivery to my door.

By Jan Walsh

This week Billy’s Sports Grill added online ordering option. You can pay online and get curbside pickup, of food and alcohol. Or if you live in Liberty Park, you can get your lunch or dinner delivered to your door, with contactless delivery. 

More than six years after closing its doors, Sol Y Luna rises again. 

By Jan Walsh 

Restaurants come and restaurants go. But most never make a comeback. Sol Y Luna is not most restaurants. The original Sol Y Luna was founded and literally crafted in 1998 by greatly beloved and forever missed, Guillermo Castro. And when it closed the doors in Lakeview in 2013, loyal patrons, such as myself, grieved its loss just as they had its owner, “Guermo.” Tonight, I am also honored to be at the first seating of service at the new Sol Y Luna in Mountain Brook Village’s Lane Parke… I feel his presence in this place. 

Birthday Dinner

Kev’s birthday wish? Dinner at GianMarco’s.

By Jan Walsh

Memories are precious. Four years ago, we enjoyed a big birthday that celebrated seven decades of Kev’s life here at GianMarco’s. It was in their private dining room, filled with family and friends who surprised him with their presence, not presents. They are all gifts in his life, including those who have passed since.

A Christmas Tradition 

Bottega Café was this year’s choice for a memorable holiday lunch. 

By Jan Walsh 

Richard Phillips is more like a son to me than a co-worker. I was his first client after earning his graphic design degree at Auburn. He has since designed every logo and website that I have developed. And he is the content manager for my portfolio of commercial restaurant and legal websites—in his spare time of practicing law. Yet we go much further back than adulthood. I was his sixth grade English and writing teacher at Oneonta City Schools. 

After Hours

Forgo the business lunch. Meet up for drinks and apps at Galley Bar instead.

By Jan Walsh

Recently a business lunch meeting got rescheduled twice, before we decided to forgo lunch. We are both just too busy. So, we met instead for Galley Bar 1930 drinks and Vino apps instead. The Galley Bar side of Vino opens at 4:30 p.m. So, it is a perfect spot to meet after work, especially if you can pop out of work a bit early.

 

 

 


dyron's lowcountry country sunday brunch Toasting the Timing 

Sunday Brunch at Dyron’s Lowcountry now serves mimosas before noon.

By Jan Walsh

Dyron’s Lowcountry has one of the best brunches around. And thanks to a new Mountain Brook ordinance, they now serve alcohol on Sundays before noon. The ordinance passed this summer and allows restaurants and grocery stores to begin service at 10:00 a.m.

blueprint on 3rd calamari Recipe for Success 

First Anniversary Dinner boasts the best of Blueprint of 3rd. 

By Jan Walsh 

Tonight’s first anniversary dinner begins with a prayer. And ends in a toast. And in between we discover new, highly recommended dishes at Blueprint on 3rd. 


 

bottega cafe bar lounge Favorite Table 

Bottega Café adds lounge seating and moved my table.   

By Jan Walsh 

We always arrive before Bottega Café opens in order to get “our table,” in the right corner window. So many memories of lunch right there with Kev. We have romanced, celebrated, and problem solved over lunch and handcrafted cocktails or bubbles. Yet as we valet, I see my table is gone. In its place is a new lounge area with airy, rattan and wicker furniture. I get it. Here guests can wait comfortably for a table, while sipping their choice of beverage, or nibbling on an app. But where’s my table? No worries, I look to the left and there it is in the front window alongside the entrance. Whew! Same good light, nice little corner. We have found a new home here. 

chez fonfon jumbo asparagus salad Power Lunch 

Never underestimate the ladies who lunch at Chez Fonfon. 

By Jan Walsh 


Chez Fonfon is a favorite lunch spot for both business and pleasure. And today I am here for some of both with a biz friend. We catch up, sharing the latest happenings in Birmingham’s restaurant scene and best practices of driving internet traffic to restaurant clients. 

 

Cider, Coconut, and Curry

Discovering new dishes at Abhi Eatery and Bar

By Jan WalshSometimes I get into culinary ruts. I find delicious dishes at a restaurant, and on the next visit, I stick with the tried and true. But today I am not going to order my “go to” favorites at Abhi—well, maybe just the momos. Otherwise I am discovering new options.

 

 

 

 


​​​​​​​Little Bit Country 


Galley and Garden’s Country Ham Benedict satisfies my soul.

By Jan Walsh

I love farm egg Benedicts. No matter which bread or protein, I am in.

And for those of us who grew up eating country ham, Galley and Garden’s Country Ham Benedict takes us back… Atop a warm, halved buttermilk biscuit, are thick, generous slices of country ham, fresh spinach, poached farm eggs, and house made hollandaise. The yolk runs down, onto the salty slices on first cut. And bite after bite, this comforting dish brings a down home deliciousness to the table. It is served with an arugula salad and potato hash.

dyron's oysters

Captain’s Catch 

Enjoy fresh seafood from Gulf Coast fishermen at Dyron’s Lowcountry.  

By Jan Walsh 

I went fishing once, when I was four-years-old. On my first cast, the line got caught in a tree. I fretted that the worm was afraid of heights. That was my last attempt at catching a fish. 


blueprint on 3rd wine dinner Inaugural Wine Dinner

 

Blueprint on 3rd’s first wine dinner benefits TumTum Tree Foundation.

 

By Jan Walsh

 

This weekend is TumTum Tree Foundation’s Wine Auction Weekend 2018. The Foundation enriches the lives of Alabama’s children who face life-altering and life-threatening illnesses. Over 29 years, TumTum Tree Foundation has donated over $11 million to Alabama children’s charities. And the TumTum Tree Wine Auction is the longest-running charity wine auction in the United States devoted to raising money for children’s charities.

galley and garden salmon burgerFoodie Burgers 

Galley and Garden’s lunch burgers please beef and seafood lovers. 

By Jan Walsh 

Today I am lunching with my dear friend, Laura Calloway to celebrate her upcoming retirement from the Alabama State Bar. And we ladies have saved our appetites for this—and not here to order dainty salads. 
 

the gardens cafe les dames eventA Feminine Affair  

The Gardens Café host private event for Les Dames d’Escoffier. 

By Jan Walsh 

Les Dames d’Escoffier, Birmingham Chapter welcomed new members this week at The Gardens Café by Kathy G. Located at Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the cafe was the perfect place to have this annual event. 



bluepint on 3rd scallops daily special Scallops Special

I shall never forget the scallops at Blueprint on 3rd.

By Jan Walsh

Kev and I are back at Blueprint on 3rd for the second time. In the meantime, we have raved to friends and family, word of mouth in person about this place, and I have on social media since our first visit.

chocolate taco magic city chocolate challengeChocolate Taco 

And the winner of the Magic City Chocolate Challenge… 

By Jan Walsh 

 

 

It was my pleasure to judge the 4th Annual Magic City Chocolate Challenge last night. The event was held at Regions Field in the Diamonds Direct Ballroom and benefits Disabilities Rights and Resources, drradvocates.org. Here local chocolatiers and pastry chefs competed as we tasted and judged which dish would be named Birmingham’s Best Chocolate. The event also included live music, a silent auction, free non-alcoholic beverages, and a cash bar. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Turf

Chef Randall Baldwin cooks a mean steak at Dyron’s Lowcountry.

By Jan Walsh

Tonight, we celebrate Jordan’s birthday with a family dinner at his choice of restaurant—Dyron’s Lowcountry. And we have a feast of fish and seafood: crab salad, trigger fish with shrimp, red snapper with crawfish, and fried flounder. But when Kev saw Randall’s ribeye on the menu. He could not order anything else. We had this dish for New Year’s Eve one time, and it was one of those memorable meals that you always hope to relive. And tonight, he did.

 

 

abhi deep fried momsMoMo Madness 

Abhi has an expanded menu with six momo dishes, including fried! 

By Jan Walsh 

Years ago, I fell in love with Chef, Abhi Sainju’s momos on first bite. His house-made Nepalese, turkey dumplings are simply and consistently divine. Today he serves them at both of his restaurants: Mo:Mo: at The Pizitz and at his Abhi Eatery and Bar, located at The Summit.  

 

Marre and Allen dessertsDine and Stay at our restaurant-hotel properties. 

Marre & Allen Bar + Kitchen is located inside the Birmingham Marriott and features chef driven, locally sourced and inspired fare. And The Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa in Birmingham is sure to tempt the most discerning palate with fine dining at Brock's restaurant.

 

pizzeria gm Respinto family opens second Homewood restaurant, Pizzeria GM. 

By Jan Walsh 

Giani, Marco, and their father, Giovanni Respinto are opening their second Homewood restaurant. Pizzeria GM is located at 600 Oak Grove Road. The family is building on its success as it also owns and operates GianMarco’s Restaurant and GianMarco’s Wine on Broadway. 

lobster roll at Bistro VOn A Roll

Another lobster “Food Find,” Bistro V’s new Lobster Roll! 

By Jan Walsh 

I have been craving lobster lately. I do love it anytime. But this time of the year, when winter is waning, and hints of spring are wooing, my palate is ready for lighter fare. And just in time, Bistro V rolls out their new Lobster Roll. We have ordered it twice already for takeout—carried out well—and look forward to having it in house as well. 

 

Ocean’s celebrates 15th Anniversary and a new culinary quest. 

By Jan Walsh 

Photography by Beau Gustafson
 

Ocean Restaurant celebrated its 15th anniversary in March 2017. Executive chef and owner, George Reis paid tribute to former chefs and bartenders by featuring them as guest chefs and bartenders during the week-long celebration. But after the celebration and shared memories, there was no looking back for Ocean Restaurant. Reis immediately rolled out an exciting new menu. And this is only the beginning for this restaurant, as it aspires to elevate its cuisine, creating cutting-edge seafood dishes you won’t find anywhere else in town.
The Bar at Bistro 218 pairs a casual menu with lush libations. 

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson 


One of my favorite restaurants is Bistro 218. Here chef Tom Saab sources the freshest, highest quality, local and regional Non-GMO products and prepares each one to its fullest potential. It is also a favorite of many who live and work in the neighborhood and beyond. So, when he expanded next door and opened Bistro 218’s Bar, he doubled our pleasure. We enjoy The Bar at Bistro 218’s more casual ambiance and menu offerings. 

Pair Cantina Tortilla Grills’ enchiladas with local brews.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Cantina Tortilla Grill has been serving fresh Mexican fare for more than 10 years. The recipes were created by its founder Guillermo Castro. And his brother, Jorge Castro carries on his tradition today whipping up chicken and cheese enchiladas for us.

Eli's kabobsEli’s Jerusalem Grill serves healthy and heavenly kabobs.

 

By Jan Walsh

 

Photography by Beau Gustafson

 

Eli’s Jerusalem Grill is an organic restaurant located at 4673 Highway 280 and Pizitz Food Hall. Chef Eli Markshtien serves grass fed beef, organic chicken, lamb along with falafel, homemade pita, soups, salads, desserts, organic wine, and organic beer. Eli's also uses Non-GMO oils. 

 

 

abhi seared tunaAbhi Sainju dreams of Kathmandu at Abhi Eatery and Bar.

 

By Jan Walsh

 

Photography by Beau Gustafson

 

Abhi Eatery and Bar’s owner and chef, Abhi Sainju fulfills his dream of opening his own restaurant and shares his passion for Asian cuisine in every dish.


 

Bistro 218 builds on its success, expanding next door.  

By Jan Walsh 

Photography by Beau Gustafson 

Birmingham’s downtown restaurant scene just got a little bigger. In December 2016 chef and owner of Bistro 218, Tom Saab expanded by adding an adjoining bar into the space next door—doubling the seating capacity. Saab originally opened Bistro 218 in November 2012. 

Highlands Bar and Grill oystersEnjoy oysters three ways at Highlands Bar and Grill.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

The dinner menu at Highland’s Bar and Grill leads with oysters. Frank Stitt’s Oyster Bar line up boasts in season oysters, from Alabama, New England, and Prince Edward Island. They are served raw by the half dozen, on the half shell and cooked—three ways.

Taco Mama margaritas From heat to sweet Taco Mama’s margaritas have it all.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Taco Mama has a motto of “Stay hungry, and be thirsty.” But no one is hungry or thirsty for long at Taco Mama. The menu offers build your own tacos, burritos, burrito bowl, nachos and quesadillas, taco and burrito baskets, and an array of specialty, handcrafted margaritas.

Eli's Jerusalem GrillEli’s Jerusalem Grill serves healthy, organic fare.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

What is a man to do when he cannot find a place to eat? When Eli Markshtien, and his wife, Laurel and family, moved to Birmingham he could not find an Israeli restaurant. So he opened his own and began cooking his grandmother's recipes—solving the problem and also fulfilling his dream of his own Israeli restaurant.

ocean restaurant butter poached lobsterOcean’s Butter Poached Lobster melts in my mouth.

By Jan Walsh 

Photography by Beau Gustafson 


Ocean recently completed a lovely remodel of the restaurant. But one thing that has not changed at Ocean is its wide net of fresh seafood cooked to perfection.

highlands wineHighlands Bar and Grill uncorks some lovely new wines.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


I have my favorite seat at the bar of Highlands Bar and Grill. If I shared it here, I might never find it open again. But the bartenders know. And they know that I arrive early in order to snag it.  Today as I slip into my seat at the bar—which opens before the restaurant—there is a staff wine tasting of Grassroots wines beginning in the dining room. Highlands’ Beverage Director, Matt Gilpin and the bar staff invite me to come over and taste with them. So I jump off my stool at the chance to be part of this behind the scenes event.
bellini's cheesecakeBellini’s divine dinner offerings include popular chef features.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Bellini’s Ristorante has satisfied foodie appetites in Hoover since 2008. Located at 6801 Cahaba Valley Road off Highway 280, Bellini’s is open for lunch and dinner on Monday through Saturday.
galley and garden game henPair hard cider with Galley and Garden’s cider braised game hen.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

I love a good apple cider. And with Galley and Garden’s new Sunday brunch and dinner menu, I am doubly pleased. Here I can have my cider and drink it too with the Cider Braised Duncan Farm Game Hen and Hard Cider.
dyrons winter mix grillPair Dyron’s Winter Mix Grill with Satsuma Old Fashioned.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Ward Halliday is a new face at Dyron’s Lowcountry, as bartender and front of the house manager. But he is a familiar face to many from his nights behind the bar at all of Frank Stitt’s restaurants.
the wine loft port Taste 10, 20, 30 and 40-years-old ports at The Wine Loft.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Tonight I taste 100 years of Quinto Do Portal ports with Mike Dunnavant, the proprietor of The Wine Loft of Birmingham. Port is a fortified wine. Fortified wines are made by adding grape spirit or brandy to the winemaking process. In port, brandy is added before the wine has finished fermenting. Port is traditionally served at the end of a meal with dessert especially chocolate or cheese. It can also be enjoyed as an after dinner drink or even as an aperitif or with a cigar in front of the fireplace.

5 point public house oyster bar oysters George Reis opens 5 Point Public House and Oyster Bar.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

5 Point Public House Oyster Bar is a casual, beer centric, chef driven menu, oyster house. It boasts a raw bar of fresh, Gulf Coast and Chesapeake Bay area oysters alongside local pub fare and a wide selection of craft beers, including local brews and keg-style wines on tap.


vino crab claws Linger over a Mediterranean dinner on Vino’s pristine patio.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography Beau Gustafson


Birmingham boasts some lovely restaurant patios. But none are quite like Vino’s.  This open air space has no hedges, fences, or walls. It is a white scape of space with white pebbles underfoot and small white lights in the tree branches above its candlelit tables. Tonight Kevin and I are meeting friends for dinner with no plans to do a review. But after dinner I knew that this special dining experience had to be shared.
bottega cafe sip and purr cocktail This Bottega Café cocktail is home grown.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Bottega Café’s cocktail menu boasts local flavors. Topping off the list is “Sprout and Purr,” which includes a cold pressed juice—Quench, by Sprout and Pour. Quench is a nutritious blend of romaine, mint, apples, celery, pineapple, and parsley.


Bottega Cafe farro saladBottega is a national landmark and a local favorite.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Bottega Restaurant has been a Birmingham favorite for 27 years. The restaurant is the fine dining side of Bottega, situated on the right hand side, of the historic Bottega Favorita building. Its owners, Frank and Pardis Stitt, refer it to as “The Dining Room”. But we diehard patrons call it, “Big Bottega,” distinguishing it from what we call, “Baby Bottega,” Bottega Café, the Stitt’s casually upscale, Italian influenced eatery on the opposite side of the building.
Galley and Garden snapper Get a taste of Galley and Garden.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Galley and Garden opens in the redesigned Veranda on Highland building, at 2220 Highland Avenue South. Boyce Restaurant Concepts’ chef James Boyce along with his wife and partner, Suzan are co-owners with Ed Hardin. Boyce’s Southern influenced, modern Cali-French inspired cuisine is served Monday through Saturday for dinner, and for Sunday brunch.  
 

clyde may whiskeyClyde May’s Whiskey is the official State Spirit of Alabama.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

People have been making illegal moonshine in Conecuh Ridge of Bullock County, Alabama for generations. Farmers used excess crops to make illegal whiskey. And apparently they still are. Four illegal stills were shut down in 2014 as this went to press. It was here that Mr. May spent his life in pursuit of perfecting small batch whiskey.
Bottega Cafe late night pizza Two of Frank Stitt’s restaurants now offer late night specials.

By Jan Walsh


Both Bottega Café and Chez Fonfon now have late night specials from 9:00 until 10:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays. And we recently caught both of them on two separate weekends.
Bistro 218 snapper sancerreSancerre is lovely match for Bistro 218’s red snapper.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


The Alabama red snapper season is one to catch. We did just that and paired this beautiful fish with a bottle of Domaine Vincent Delaporte Sancerre 2012.
Chez Fonfon lamb daubeChez Fonfon calls me for lunch, dinner and late night. 

By Jan Walsh 

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Chez Fonfon is more than a bustling, French bistro to me. Having a love affair with all things French, it is my familiar way of escaping to the country that I most love to visit without ever leaving town. Chez Fonfon’s French Provencal food, French wines, and French ambience embrace me, and I them. 
Billy’s Sports Grill brings home New Belgium brews!

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


The wildly popular Fat Tire is here in Birmingham! Both Billy’s Sports Grill locations, English Village and Overton, have these brews on tap and by the bottle. And at Billy’s English Village you can take it—or any other of their home draft beers—home in 32, 64, or 128 ounce bottles.
Bistro V has a swank new bar and specialty cocktails.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Where better to celebrate Valentine's Day than in a brand new bar?

Jeremy Downey recently expanded Bistro V with a new bar. The bar space doubled the size of this chef driven restaurant with both bar seating and table seating. This stylish bar space has bamboo flooring and ceiling, comfy love seats, leather chairs, soft Edison lighting and tables of rough hewn wood.
Dyron’s fried oysters and crab claws make perfect appetizers.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


The fried crab claws at Dyron’s are an addiction of mine. I attempt to order them even when they are not listed on the menu. And so far I have always succeeded in having them fry up an order as requested. Accommodating such requests is fitting of the low-key attitude that Dyron and Sonya Powell have achieved at Dyron’s Lowcountry.

Pair Zin with Steak Au Poivre at Village Tavern.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Tender steak, creamy potatoes and a big, red wine make a classic meal. At Village Tavern, this classic is fulfilled in a pairing of Steak Au Poivre and St. Francis Zinfandel, 2009.

Have your pick of in season veggies at Ted’s Restaurant.

By Jan Walsh

Photography By Beau Gustafson


There is nothing more satisfying to this Southern belle than a fresh vegetable plate. As a child I helped my grandmother pick veggies—okra, squash, corn, turnips, pink eye peas, tomatoes and more. Then I watched as she cooked them—incorporating decades of expertise.
I fall in love with Bistro 218 at first bite!

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Downtown Birmingham now boasts another fab, fine dining restaurant. Bistro Two Eighteen incorporates local and regional food products with the culinary styles of traditional French Bistro and modern American. The restaurant opened in November 2012, at 218 20th Street North. And tonight is my first experience.
I ate every dessert on Bellini’s menu.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Bellini’s has a talented, new pastry chef, Amber Croom. She has a new dessert menu. And today I met her and tasted them ALL during lunch: Affogato, Bananas Foster, Bread Pudding, Gelato Flight, Key Lime Panna Cotta, Malt Chocolate Cake with Adult Milkshake, Red Velvet Cheesecake, and Tiramisu.
GianMarco’s celebrates a decade of fine dining excellence.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


It is difficult to believe that I have been dining at and reviewing GianMarco’s Restaurant for 10 years. Seems like yesterday that I had my first dinner here. Kevin and I shared Marco’s Four Cheese Torta appetizer, and entrees of Tuscan Style Grouper and Spaghetti with meatballs and sausage. Tonight all three of these dishes are still on the menu. Indeed, not a lot has changed at GianMarco’s during the past decade—because the Respintos had it right from the beginning. Still family owned and family operated GianMarco’s remains one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. They serve the highest quality Gulf seafood, delicious meats, and authentic Italian fare with portions that are substantial but prices that are not.
Highlands Bar and Grill celebrates 30th Anniversary!

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


On November 21, 1982 Frank Stitt opened his first restaurant, Highlands Bar and Grill. And Birmingham’s transformation as a culinary gem began. The restaurant set the benchmark for Birmingham restaurants and began an evolution of the city’s education, appreciation and sophistication of both food and wine—one winemaker dinner at a time. And while Birmingham had some great restaurants before Stitt’s, today we have many more because of him—including his four restaurants and all the chefs who worked with Stitt before opening their own eateries.
GianMarco’s wine bar and retail shop draw wine savvy patrons.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


GianMarco’s Restaurant has long had one of the finest and most flexible wine programs in Alabama. Brothers Giani and Marco Respinto own and operate the restaurant, and offer more than 300 select restaurant quality wines on the wine list. Wines are offered in servings of three ounces, six ounces, quantino, and by the bottle. And the price point for each and every wine is very competitive.
Ocean’s new wine cellar houses fine, old ports.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Port has a history of being the wine that men drank while smoking a cigar—after the women had left the room. That was then. Now women drink wine alongside the men at the bar. And I recently had the pleasure of tasting Warre Vintage Ports with George Reis, executive chef and owner of Ocean and 26. These ports are a recent addition to the wine list at Ocean and 26. And another recent addition to Ocean—its wine cellar—provides a space for the restaurant to lay down some older bottles, such as the Warre Vintage Ports.
Make a meal of this popular appetizer at Billy’s Sports Grill.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


If you love nachos and seafood, Billy’s Sports Grill has an appetizer that you will
want to make into a meal.
Explore Zinfandel with three Ravenswood Zins: Sonoma, Napa and Lodi.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


I had dinner with Joel Peterson when he was in Birmingham a few… (gulp) years ago. Where does time go? Recently when his Ravenswood County Series arrived at my door—for tasting and consideration—I was reminded of the evening with the Godfather of Zin.
Dreamland’s pork spare ribs are good to the bone.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Why the name, “Dreamland”? John “Big Daddy” Bishop opened his first Dreamland Café in Tuscaloosa in 1958—the same year Bear Bryant started coaching at the University of Alabama. Big Daddy was a brick mason who wanted another income to support his family. So he prayed for guidance. And legend has it that God told him in a dream to build a café on the land next to his home. And Big Daddy did just that. Since that time Dreamland has opened several locations in Alabama and Georgia, including our own Birmingham Dreamland.
Chill on Bottega’s patio with handcrafted martinis.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Bottega Restaurant and Bottega Café each boast their own private, hedge-lined patio. Massive iron gates serve as entry to both. And in the spring yellow Lady Banks roses burst with color and aroma—draping the water fountain on the restaurant side. But no matter the season, when weather permits Bottega’s patio is the place to be.

Local and regional foods shine in Dyron’s cuisine.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Dyron’s Lowcountry you can’t miss the chalkboard that is front and center. It boasts the local food purveyors with their products served on the menu. This tribute provides both well-deserved recognition and speaks to the authenticity of Dyron’s lowcountry cuisine.
I’m hooked on Ocean’s catch and George Reis’ cooking.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


I love seafood—crab, oysters, scallops, shrimp, grouper, snapper, lobster and more. I like them wood fire grilled, steamed, baked, pan seared, or Southern fried. And Ocean’s offerings and preparations are as vast as the sea—serving only the best quality seafood from every continent—prepared as desired. So what is not to love?

Chez Fonfon’s simple grilled fish is simply delicious.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

When lunching at Chez Fonfon, I arrive early. Today I open the place at 11:00 a.m. because I know that by 11:30 there is typically not a table left. And by noon the bar will likely also be full.

Ted’s Southern cooking serves a loyal following.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

You can’t miss Ted’s Restaurant. It is located at 328 12th Street South with the large, original “Ted’s Cafeteria Restaurant” sign on the corner. Recent updates to the interior make lunching here more appealing. But it is not ambience that draws the crowds. We go to Ted’s for a taste of what busy Southerners miss—but have no time to cook—fresh meat and three, home style fare.

Highlands Bar and Grill celebrates 29 years of excellence.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

On November 21, 1982 Frank Stitt opened his first restaurant, Highlands Bar and Grill. With monies raised from his cooking classes and from his mother mortgaging her home, Highlands opened to rave reviews. And 29 year later, patrons and media are still raving about this French inspired Southern restaurant.

Galley and Garden's wine cellar is filled with legendary wines.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

My favorite table at Galley and Garden is the chef’s table in the wine cellar. Here vintage, first class—and first growth—wines are displayed under lock and key, in wine cabinets with antique bronze screens in this 1,500 bottle capacity cellar. And above these racks are personal wine lockers of VIP patrons. 


Enjoy awesome food in a casual mood at Billy’s Sports Grills.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Billy’s Sports Grills offer terrific food, comfortable ambiences, and friendly service.


In 1979 the original Billy's Sports Grill opened as a bar and small kitchen serving simple sandwiches in Mountain Brook’s English Village. Billy's Chicken Sandwich quickly became the signature dish. Also immediately popular were Billy's Famous White Sauce and Hot Mustard Sauce. In the years that followed, Billy's menu expanded to include signature sandwiches, salads, wraps, steaks, and most recently fresh seafood for lunch and dinner.

bellini's handmade pastaBellini’s Cheese Ravioli is a plateful of comfort. 

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

It is believed that ravioli was invented as a means to use left over food and originated in Liguria, Italy. Thus the original name—Rabiole—means bits and pieces, odds and ends in Genoese dialect.  Agnolotti is a variation from Piedmont, which are cut into rounds.  

Day and night, locals love to dine at GianMarco’s Restaurant. 

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

GianMarco’s Restaurant is undisputedly one of the most popular restaurants in the Birmingham metro area. Yet hunger alone is not what draws locals here. Instead it is an appreciation—and a craving—for an Old World Italian cuisine and dining experience that GianMarco’s consistently achieves. Due to its popularity, dinner reservations are needed. But if you crave their authentic Italian—and have no diner reservations—show up for lunch, as we did today. 

My favorite beef tenderloin tacos just got bigger! 

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

A longtime favorite dish is the Soft Tenderloin Tacos at Village Tavern. Tender bite sized tips of beef tenderloin overfill three warm flour tortillas—in this dish found on the appetizer menu. The tacos also include shredded lettuce, a luscious lime crema, hot salsa and fresh guacamole. Bowls of the creama and salsa are served on the side for those who want to add more. In addition to the beef tenderloin taco, options of fresh fish and chicken soft tacos are also available.

Bottega Cafe is an institution among locals.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Frank and Pardis Stitt’s Bottega Cafe is one of my favorites for lunch, cocktails and dinner. And I am in good company. Local “movers and shakers” are among the cafe’s steady clientele.

Ocean consistently serves the best of fish, prepared to perfection.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

For seafood lovers, such as myself, Ocean is the place for dinner. Ocean starts with the best quality fish from every continent and prepares it to your preferences.

Highland’s Bar and Grill hosts Thomas Keller dinner and book signing.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Celebrity chef Thomas Keller visits Birmingham. He is hosted by Frank and Pardis Stitt for a dinner and book signing—for his latest cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home—at Highlands Bar and Grill.

Highlands Bar and Grill is rich in history and deserving of accolades.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Jason Wallis

In 2009 Highlands Bar and Grill was a nominee for James Beard’s top honor, our nation’s most outstanding restaurant. How can I follow such a rave review? I can’t. Yet I can share my own dining experience tonight—and my knowledge and experience of this restaurant and its cuisine developed over many years as well as tonight’s dining experience.

GianMarco’s family, food and experience bring diners back for more.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

GianMarco’s is a cult restaurant. Regulars would like to keep this small Italian, family owned and family run restaurant all to themselves. But—good or bad—foodies tend to dine and tell their dining experiences. Thus they soon find themselves boasting about their lunch or dinner at GianMarco’s to family, friends and co-workers, only to find them at the next table the following week.

Ocean’s wide net of offerings touches all continents and satisfies many appetites.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

To say that Ocean is a “seafood restaurant” is an understatement. This upscale, restaurant’s cuisine draws flavors from every continent. On the menu are fish from the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, Pacific and the Mediterranean. And in the kitchen, executive chef and owner, George Reis uses spices and techniques from the countries that surround these waters.

Chez Fonfon's Chocolate Pot De Creme is a pure pleasure.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

I have never had much of a sweet tooth. I can easily say, "No" to most desserts. But at Chez Fonfon the first thing I see each time I enter the door is dessert. Fresh baked tarts, a towering cake and other specialties of the day line the antique, wooden server and the small, white marble-topped table beside it.

Bottega celebrates 20th anniversary and debut of the restaurant's cookbook.

By Jan Walsh


Bottega Restaurant has much to celebrate. In 2008 the restaurant's interior underwent a remodeling that retained the integrity of its architecture but updated its ambience. This same year, executive chef Frank Stitt was awarded the national distinction of being one of five chefs to receive a James Beard Nominee for Outstanding Chef. And Stitt's new cookbook, Bottega Favorita, which debuted in Birmingham in November, will become available in bookstores nationally on January 1, 2009.

Billy's Bar and Grill opens second location, Billy's On Overton.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Every neighborhood needs a Billy's. Liberty Park, and nearby Mountain Brook area residents, just got one. Billy's On Overton is the brother restaurant to Billy's Bar and Grill in Mountain Brook, a longtime neighborhood favorite of many who live, work and shop in English Village. Satisfying the need for an upscale sports bar and grill, the new eatery on Overton opened its doors in April 2008. Those of us who live in the area have watched, waited and been looking forward to this for months.

GianMarco's cheese ravioli is both large and light.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Ordering lunch or dinner at GianMarco is always a dilemma. But no matter what I order, it is consistently delicious and always arrives hot with steam rising from the plate. And this always reminds me of co-owner, Giani Respinto's line, "People wait for pasta. Pasta does not wait for people."

Chez Fonfon is classically French and absolutely excellent.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Excellence is easy to observe and difficult to replicate. Frank and Pardis Stitt replicate excellence without replicating restaurants. Each of their eateries (Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega, Bottega Cafe, and Chez Fonfon) has its own identity, style, cuisine, and standard of excellence. With each dining experience comes a renewed respect for the Stitts. Being a bit of a Francophile, Chez Fonfon satisfies my appetite for French bistro fare and French wine.

Village Tavern's Birmingham location is home to the company's corporate executive chef.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Mary Grace Viado is the corporate executive chef for the eight Village Taverns across the United States. As corporate executive chef for the company, it is Viado's job to create and execute recipes.

Billy's Sports Grill's Santa Fe Salad is big on flavor.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Billy's Sports Grill in English Village is a family-owned, neighborhood pub Located in English Village. They offer an extensive menu featuring appetizers, grilled burgers, steaks and salads. And the Santa Fe Salad is a favorite for those who want, not just a salad, a meal.

Explore the depths of Ocean's diverse offerings.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Ocean celebrates its fifth anniversary. And patrons continue to discover fresh, new pleasures from its extensive menu. Ocean is locally owned and operated by executive chef, George Reis.

 

Highlands Bar & Grill transcends time and exceeds expectations.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Convinced that Alabama would support a restaurant with "southern soul and Provencal flavors," Frank Stitt raised money teaching cooking classes, his mother mortgaged her home, and Highlands Bar & Grill opened November 21, 1982. Stitt quickly became Birmingham's celebrity chef and put the city on the culinary map.

 

 

Family owned and operated, GianMarco's serves the finest authentic Italian fare.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Less than three years ago, GianMarco's opened in Homewood and quickly became a neighborhood favorite. Soon afterwards, recommendations of their authentic, Italian cuisine and treat you like family service brought diners from far beyond the neighborhood. And today brothers, Giani and Marco Respinto and their father Giovanni's restaurant is a small, "Italian" landmark for Birmingham area diners.