marre and allen shrimp and grits Magic Grits

The Gulf Shrimp and Grits at Marre and Allen are phenomenal.

By Jan Walsh 

I am not easy to please when it comes to grits. Like Mr. Tipton in the movie, My Cousin Vinny, I believe, “No self-respecting southerner uses instant grits. I take pride in my grits.” But unlike Mr. Tipton, I know that the laws of physics do not cease to exist when it comes to cooking grits. It takes time for water to soak into the grits. And thus “entire grit eating world,” and I among them, knows it takes 20 minutes to cook. We also know you have to start with great grits because you can’t overcome what is in the bag. They should be organic and hopefully local. And the grits at Marre and Allen Bar and Kitchen passes that test. Theirs are McEwen and Sons certified organic. 

And to answer Attorney Gambini’s question to Mr. Tipton, “Were these magic grits?” Yes, they are. Chef Chad Schofield serves a generous bowl of these golden, creamy grits topped with plump and succulent, Alabama White Shrimp, rounds of Conecuh sausage, and an amazing house made succotash of yellow corn, sweet peas, tomatoes, and green onion. The dish is bursting with flavor and full of palate pleasing textures. Never had a better shrimp and grits, and I will be back for more of this magic. 

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. 

Looking at the menu again tonight, we are tempted by exactly the same dishes as before, until I see Thursday’s daily special, Diver Scallops in Brown Butter. So, we do three of the same dishes as last time. But tonight, I catch the scallops, a decision I shall not regret. Six large, plump scallops float on a bed of brown butter sauce and organic, yellow grits, and are topped with local greens. The first cut proves the delicate scallops are cooked to perfection, glistening inside, and firm yet quivery on the outside.  And the first luscious bite is an eye closer. Never had a better scallop! Enhanced by its rich, nutty, brown butter sauce, and accompanied by its creamy grits and crisp greens, this scrumptious plate is a synthesis of succulent flavors and a balance of delicate textures. Make reservations for Thursday night at Blueprint on 3rd when the scallops are the daily special because they are indeed very special. 

bistro 218 crepes Where’s the Crepe? 

Bistro 218 serves authentic French crepes for lunch. 

By Jan Walsh 

Looking for French crepes in Birmingham? You may look far and wide because they seem to be MIA from most local, French restaurants’ menus. But not at Bistro 218. 

My husband Kevin is a crepe enthusiast, both savory and sweet. And he has long loved Chef, Tom Saab’s lunch crepes at Bistro 218. Saab changes the fillings to fit the seasonal ingredients. And today Kevin discovers a new one—Chicken and Mushroom Crepes. The delicate crepes are filled with pasture raised chicken and local mushrooms, and are enhanced by a sherry cream sauce, Bermuda onion, and haricot vert. This scrumptious and delightful dish is light and fulfilling, satisfying his craving and big appetite for this French dish. 

Bistro 218 serves lunch Tuesdays through Fridays in the Bar side, from 11:00 until 2:00. And from the looks of today’s packed house, I recommend lunch reservations. 

stonehollow csaSummer Bounty 

Stone Hollow Farmstead’s Summer CSA is now in season. 

By Jan Walsh 

I love getting my weekly basket of goodness from Stone Hollow Farmstead. It is never the same. This summer’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) basket often includes a variety of peaches, tomatoes, blackberries, blueberries, new potatoes, beans, peas, onions, peppers, beets, squash, okra, lettuces, goat cheese, fresh bread, their own canned food products, and their other gourmet foods. I also add on optional shares of cow’s milk, drinkable yogurt, hen eggs, chicken salad, and fresh flowers. And I make many meals of each basket: vegetable plates, chicken salad sandwiches, tomato and cheese salads, and omelets with a side of roasted potatoes, onions, and peppers. 

CSA is a vital program to our Alabama farmers, including Stone Hollow Farmstead. It supports them year-round with a source of income they can count on, via a consistent and lasting relationship between a farm and its customers. Customers become members of the farm’s CSA by paying an annual or seasonal fee for the farm to deliver a share of their harvest. This recurring, sustainable income guarantees the farm financial support, and helps family farms to remain in business by covering some of their production costs and providing famers with income to invest in equipment, fencing, new animals, seed, feed, processing costs, additional land, and more.

Stone Hollow Farmstead is family owned and operated organic and Non-GMO farm in Shelby County. Deborah Stone founded the farmstead in 1999 with her husband, Russell, and daughters Fallon and Alexandra. Hundreds of goats and chickens, and a few jersey cows pasture as nature intended. Stone Hollow Farmstead produces an array of goat cheeses, honey, specialty foods, botanicals, cosmetic extracts, and cosmeceuticals. 

Stone Hollow Farmstead products are available at The Pantry by Stone Hollow

Sign up for remaining Summer or Autumn CSA now at

Abhi Kathmandu turkey burger Kathmandu Burger 

Abhi Eatery and Bar makes a mean turkey burger.

By Jan Walsh

I know... It’s difficult to order anything other than Abhi’s famous momos and incredible sushi. But just try the turkey burger. 

I first had this burger before Abhi Sainju opened his Abhi Eatery and Bar at The Summit. He invited my family and me in for a first taste of his evolving fare. We were expecting momos and sushi. But to our surprise, he wanted us to try his new burger as a taste test, and for feedback. We flipped over it and have been ordering it in the restaurant and for takeout ever since. 

The Kathmandu Burger is made of turkey and Abhi’s magical blend of spices and is served with fried green beans. The thick, juicy patty overfills its locally made bun and is topped with red onion, and local tomato. And it completely satisfies my craving to bite into a bun because I can live without beef, but not without a burger. Abhi’s menu evolves so if you don’t see it or any other dish you know him for, just ask if they will make it for you.