Reviews › Casual Fare

Heart and Soul
Dean Robb is happily in the house at Blueprint on 3rd. 
By Jan Walsh 

I have never been to Blueprint on 3rd when restaurateur, Dean Robb was not here. Tonight, he is behind the bar, serving tables, visiting with guests, and simply enjoying the heck out of himself. Five years ago, Dean and his family opened Blueprint on 3rd. Kev and I were guests for the family and friends’ night and attended opening night. And at the time I wrote that I had never seen an opening as smooth. Blueprint ran like a well-oiled machine from the start. But there is nothing mechanical about this place. It started and succeeded from the heart and soul of Dean. His big, generous smile makes all feel welcome. His blue eyes see every table, at once. His generous hands are often full as he helps staff serve guests. And his personality plus is the cherry on top! 

Monday Merriment 
Case of the Mondays? Vino has the cure. 
By Jan Walsh 

I always have a case of the Mondays. Even as a young child, heading back to the classroom, after a weekend of free play with my friends and dogs, made me sad. Nowadays I “work” most weekends (dining out, reviewing restaurants). And this lends itself to working as little as possible on Monday. 

Oodles of Joy

Chef Frank Stitt’s secret ingredient is unmeasured joy.

By Jan Walsh

Years ago, a local chef asked me privately, “Frank’s restaurants are always filled… How does he do it?” I paused and replied, “Joy.” He looked puzzled and changed the subject. But it is still true today. I have seen the joy in his kitchen for cooking demos and as he stops by for table visits… Whenever Chef Stitt talks about food, his eyes light up and a smile comes across his face. From his delight in a simple, spring asparagus to the pleasure of making fresh pasta, he is immersed in food and finds joy in his life’s work. 

Captivating Cuisine 
Bay Leaf’s intriguing Indian fare and cocktails spice up our lives. 
By Jan Walsh 

Today Kev and I lunch at Bay Leaf Modern Indian Cuisine and Bar. In the heart of 5 Points South, Bay Leaf is located at 1024 20th Street South, Suite 101. Its colorful big neon sign proudly welcomes us inside where we are warmly greeted and seated in a large and lovely window banquet, by General Manager, Pintu Sarmah. 

Coffee Cultures 

Wakey up or wind down at The Red Cat’s three locations. 

By Jan Walsh 

Need a morning caffeine fix, a bite of breakfast, or a leisurely lunch paired with cocktails? Head over to The Red Cat. The Red Cat has three locations: Pepper Place, Railroad Park, and UAB Highlands. 

Shared Happiness 
Gather the family for a farm to table feast at FoodBar.  
By Jan Walsh 

Tonight, we bring our son Jordan here for the famous (off menu) burgers. But we bite off much more… 

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Primo Brunch 
Bocca Ristorante breaks some eggs in sell out Italian Sparkling Wine Brunch. 
By Jan Walsh 

Ever wonder what Chef Tom Saab would do with brunch? You are not alone. Bocca Ristorante took a crack at Sunday brunch and sold-out all reservations in less than an hour, without even sharing the menu! And I was the first reservation. 

Colossal Crustacean Catch

Lobster and Shrimp BLT at Chez Fonfon just got bigger!
By Jan Walsh 

Every summer one of our favorite lunches is the Lobster and Shrimp BLT at Chez Fonfon. Yet this summer, Chef Frank Stitt and team offer their biggest catch ever, with more pink protein and less bread.

Sweet Home, Bottega

We have yet another reason to pop into Bottega CafĂ©. 

By Jan Walsh 

Today at Bottega, we are welcomed by two old friends. This vintage pair of concrete pillars are new to Bottega’s courtyard. But they are old friends to us. Just as they proudly flank the courtyard here, they formerly escorted guests into our dining room, for two decades. Recently, as we began to downsize our oversized antique collection, my friend, Bottega’s artistically gifted, Chad Miller adopted them for the restaurant’s courtyard. And his artichokes atop are the classic, finishing touch, and spot on. What a talent!