Reviews

50 Favorites 2022- 2023

Birmingham Restaurants Annual Best of the Best Awards Coming in December!

Coastal Roots 
 
Dyron’s Lowcountry is tried and true, yet Chef Brantley always has something new. 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
Dyron’s has been one of my favorite restaurants since it opened in 2009 in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village. There is really nothing else like it. Here, owners, Dyron Powell and wife, Sonya, hit the spot with their niche of South Carolina and Georgia’s Lowcountry cuisine. Southern coastal estuary shrimp, fish, crab, and oysters are abundant here, as are local fruits, veggies, grits, and grains. Dyron’s is also famous for their seafood gumbo, fried chicken, fried crab claws, and “Old Mobile Style” West Indies Crab Salad, not to mention the Beignets and Buttermilk Biscuits. 

Soup, Seriously
 
One Chez Fonfon’s soup du jour leads to another…
 
By Jan Walsh 
 

Not many restaurants take soup seriously. If on the menu at all, most places only offer the one they have mastered, no matter the season. Not Chez Fonfon. There is always a soup du jour on the menu, waiting for you. Be it thin or thick, cold or intercontinental, it will be the highlight of your day. 

Chef Driven
 
Bellini’s Ristorante’s Chef Andrew Hatcher’s fab fare is scratch made. 

By Jan Walsh 
 
Executive Chef, Andrew Hatcher’s earliest memories of food are of his great grandmother’s chicken and dumplings. And no matter how gourmet he gets, you will still find comfort in his fare. 
 

The Big Reveal
 
Tonight, we get a taste of FOOD+Culture’s plans, including its annual festival. 
 
By Jan Walsh 
 

Food is what we all have in common. And at tonight’s launch of FOOD+Culture we learn more about upcoming supporting events and FOOD+Culture’s Festival planned for October 2023. Afterwards the food and cultural festival will be held annually. Here Birmingham chefs, restaurants, food media, makers, growers, distillers, and brewers will have the opportunity to share their cultures, talents, and stories with the world. 
 

Farm to Sea
 
Ocean serves local fruit and veggies with seafood from coast to coast. 
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
We came to Ocean tonight craving seafood. Yet we find so much more. From heirloom tomato salad, sweet pea pasta, fried okra, to blueberry cobbler, owner chef, George Reis brings an abundance of local fruit and veggies from start to finish. And he sources fish and seafood from the finest purveyors from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in addition to our Gulf Coast. 

Southern Coastal Cuisine 
 
Where to take a Napa CIA grad to lunch? Bistro V
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
I recently partnered with Ada Ruth Huntley in my upcoming AuburnRestaurants.com and Auburn Restaurants App venture. When making plans to meet for our first business lunch, I considered that she is not only a former Auburn SAG President and graduate, but also a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, California. I have visited this wonderful place years ago for a wine lecture and understand its rich history and prestigious reputation. So, I could not take her just anywhere for lunch. It had to be a chef driven restaurant. Bistro V’s chef, Jeremy Downey played on the 1992 University of Alabama championship football team and proudly wears his ring while cooking. Yet his co-owner, Emily Tuttle Shell is orange and blue all the way. And she greets us and seats us today at my favorite, corner bar table, in this house divided. 

Bar Night 

Bistro 218 brings back Burger and Crab Cake Sliders at The Bar.

By Jan Walsh 

Tonight, Kev and I have reservations in The Bar at Bistro 218. This French bistro boasts two dining options for dinner to suit your mood and your appetite: fine dining with French classics in the main dining room and casually upscale bar with its own bar menu. And no matter which room or menu you choose, owners and restaurateurs, Tom and Christina Saab offer ever changing, seasonal fare sourced from the best meat and Gulf Coast seafood purveyors, local foragers and farmers, and every ingred

Sunday Funday
 
Abhi Eatery and Bar is now open for Sunday lunch and dinner.  
 
By Jan Walsh 

 
Sunday lunch at Abhi Eatery & Bar is back by popular demand! When the Abhi at The Summit location closed, taking down its Sunday lunch, many of us were disappointed. So Abhi came to our rescue… opening Mountain Brook Village for lunch to satisfy our Sunday appetites! 

Petite Phenom 
 
Corporate Exec Chef, Mary Grace Viado celebrates 20 years at Village Tavern.  
 
By Jan Walsh 
 

If Chef Mary Grace Viado were a dish… What would she be? Her petite appearance and gracious hospitality are much like a canape, perhaps a caviar scallop. Yet her pretty smile and sweet personality are more like a dessert, such as her own warm butter cake with fruit and ice cream. Yet underlying this dainty demeanor, there is a CIA education, a world of experience, a passion for research and development, and a boss lady. Thus, Viado is not a dish, she is the talent who develops them all. 

Ladies Who Lunch 

Likeminded businesswomen meet for lunch at Bottega Café. 

By Jan Walsh 

Today I am meeting with another local businesswoman for lunch. She is new to the city. So, I arrive and secure the table needed at Bottega Café for a private business chat, which will also lend natural light for food photos. My guest arrives just as I am settled in with glasses and camera unpacked.  

 

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Special of the Day 

Catching Chez Fonfon’s Lobster and Shrimp BLT for Lunch

By Jan Walsh 

Kev and I love lobster, and can never find enough of it, especially for lunch. So, we look forward to the annual roll out of Chez Fonfon lobster rolls! Today we show up as the doors open to continue our annual tradition of catching Wednesday’s Specialite du Jour: Lobster and Shrimp BLT. Both Frank and Pardis Stitt are here today. Frank waves as a media photographer is setting him up for a photo with food. We are seated at our favorite corner, window table, and settle in with seasonal cocktails of Peach Bellini and Watermelon Margarita. As we sip our drinks, Pardis stops by for a visit, and we chat about the latest local food scene happenings. The bellini is a beauty, made of hand squeezed peach juice and sparkling wine, thus voluptuous in body, peachy in flavor, balanced and not sweet. And the margarita is a lovely mix of watermelon, tequila, and lime, in which the juice of the melon dominates, as it should. 
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Private Restaurant 
 
GianMarco’s private events are back!
 
By Jan Walsh 
 

One of the many good times we missed over the past two years are private events at GianMarco’s Restaurant. I had Kevin’s surprise birthday dinner party in the former event space a few years ago. And it could not have been a better night, one of the best of our lives! With their event pro, Courtney Fitzpatrick’s assistance, I selected the menu from among his favorite dishes at GianMarco's, wines we love, and an open bar. She helped me select the size of the floral arrangements from my choice of Piggly Wiggly Floral. And I sat back with no worries, other than he might find out before his birthday. 

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.  
 

Looming Large 

Tasting TBL is our newest member. And Frenchies is up next!

In 2020, NYC’s celebrated chefs, Tyler and Jennifer Lyne made Hoover their home. And their supper club, Tasting TBL is the newest Member of Birmingham Restaurants + App (profile under development). Meanwhile the Lynes are also underway with a new French restaurant, Frenchies, in the former Rucker House location in Southside. Frenchies will have service from breakfast until late night, as well as boasting a patisserie, delivery, catering, private events. The couple also has plans for an upscale steakhouse, like none other. It will be located downtown Birmingham, in the previous location of a meat processing facility, Armour and Company, on 1st Avenue North. Both future restaurants will also become Member Restaurants of Birmingham Restaurants. We have so much to look forward to! And Auburn fans will be delighted to learn that Chef Tyler will be the inaugural chef-in-residence at 1856. This is the new teaching restaurant in the Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center at Auburn University, which we have all been eagerly anticipating for too long. 

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?

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. 

Birmingham Restaurants App 

Launched!

Download at App Store or Google Play. 

In The News 

WVTM 13 Features Birmingham Restaurants App! 

 

 

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. 

 

Birmingham Restaurants App 

Get sneak peek. Launch this week!

How To Order Online? 

Visit Restaurant Profle.  

Click Order Online Link.  

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. 

Weekly News & Events 

Wine & Dine Weekly is our newsletter, which has been published since 2006 in partnership with BirminghamWine.com. Originally it was Wine Weekly until we launched Birmingham Restaurants in 2007. You many sign up on our Homepage to receive Wine & Dine Weekly via email. 

 

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.

Birmingham Restaurants App
 
Coming soon to Apple App Store and Google Play!

By Jan Walsh 
 
To celebrate our 15th Anniversary, we are developing and launching Birmingham Restaurants App! Soon you will be able to download it from the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

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.

15 Fulfilling Years
 
Birmingham Restaurants celebrates 15th Anniversary!

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson and Jan Walsh 

On March 1, 2007, I launched BirminghamRestaurants.com. An unintentional pioneer of the local internet, I became back in the early (www) wild, wild, web days, when most businesses did not have a website—including restaurants. When we launched, Twitter was less than a year old. And Facebook had become a public site less than six months prior.
 

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. 

Coming Soon!

Bottega Cafe reopens March 1, 2022. 

Just like old times, Bottega Cafe will not take reservations after it reopens. New hours will be Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. 

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. 
 

It's Back!

Everybody loves Valentine Hotline

Valentine Hotline is an subscription newsletter that sends new Valentine's menus and specials to your inbox as they are published. 

 

Chef Partner 

Blueprint on 3rd names new partner. 

Owner, operator of Blueprint on 3rd announces new business partnership with Executive Chef, James Huckaby. Chef Huckaby has served as executive chef since it opened and has contributed much to the success of the restaurant.

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. 

50 Favorites 2021-2022

Awards will be announced January 1, 2022!

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.  

GianMarco's Kylie Needs Help 

Kylie is our friend and a familiar face at Gianmarco’s. 

In 2020 while expecting twins, Kylie learned that she had a brain tumor. Unfortunately, they could not perform the operation to remove it at that time because she was pregnant. Kylie’s beautiful twins were born three weeks ago. Before her scheduled surgery, she collapsed and was rushed into emergency brain surgery to remove the tumor and relieve the pressure on her brain.

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. 

Silver Anniversary Brunch At Birmingham’s romantic restaurant, Galley and GardenBy 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. Maître D’, Stan Reynolds seats us at our favorite table and treats us to glasses of Tribaut Brut Origine Champagne and has our favorite sparkling water chilled tableside. Thank you! We toast our special day with Champagne and cornbread. Be still my heart. As starters we select Heirloom Tomato Turnover and Summer Corn Bisque. The savory turnover is a warm, golden pastry filled with heirloom tomatoes, parmesan, and feta, topped with pesto and balsamic glaze. And the bisque is also incredible, briming with fresh, roasted yellow corn and a pop of poblano peppers. Don’t let summer slip away without enjoying these in season apps. Stan introduces us to the new General Manager, Jessica Lindell. And afterwards Chef Vicky Rutledge stops by...

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.

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.

 

Food Warriors 2021

Birmingham Member Restaurants overcame 2020, surviving into 2021.

By Jan Walsh

A year ago, my only complaint about restaurants in Birmingham was that there were too many new openings. Our “food city” was drawing new restaurants at an unsustainable rate, cutting the pie of Birmingham metro’s restaurant market into too many small pieces. Yet I predicted the strong would survive. Little did I know how strong they would have to become to survive the year.

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. 

Thanksgiving Menus 

The joy of not cooking Thanksgiving!

Thanksgivings at Galley and Garden are a tradition for many. And in 2020 the legacy lives on. Galley and Garden will be open for Thanksgiving. Chef James Boyce has a special pre fixe price, three course, Thanksgiving Menu.