Reviews

On Tap Liberty Park Bar Neighborhood Gathering 

On Tap Sports Café is overnight success at Liberty Park.  

By Jan Walsh 

Our son, Jordan is home this week and anxious to try our new On Tap. When he was in college and law school in Birmingham, one of his favorite spots was the On Tap Sports Café at Lakeview. He has fond memories of wings, burgers, and beer with his fellow students. 


on tap liberty park wings

On Tap Liberty Park is located just across the street from the Founder’s Gate at 11967 Liberty Parkway. I always have a favorite table at every restaurant that I frequent. So upon arrival, I am focused on (what is to become) “my table.” I request the table that I spotted on our first visit here, on opening night. It is situated upstairs above the bar in front of the diamond paned, English style windows, flanked by two small leather sofas. Great view—plus natural light for food pics. Kev and Jordan grab the side that faces the enormous TV screen. Looking over the beer menu, they discover local brews galore on tap. And I find wine on tap too! 


 

on tap liberty parks pretzel

A guys’ discussion of wing options ensues, complete with memories of On Tap’s favorites from the past, before deciding on buffalo wings, with mild sauce and ranch dressing. We also order a pretzel queso to share. My guys quickly devour the tasty, meaty wings. And we all share the enormous, comforting pretzels. I have not had one of these in years and forgot what I have been missing. 

As entrees, Kev and I split the four-cheese flatbread. And Jordan orders the angus meatloaf burger with tater tots. The scrumptious flatbread is crisp and topped with mounds of cheese and bacon bites. And the meatloaf is not your boring mama’s. The thick meaty slice of meatloaf has a touch of heat, and is topped with a melted cheese, spicy red sauce, and onion ring straws—what a kick! 


on tap liberty park meatloaf burger We also get a tour of the Bourbon Room, which is set to open the following week. One word describes its ambience—Exclusive. This private space’s rich paneled walls surround an English oak bar, lined with a fine selection of whiskies. Leather club chairs flank a chess set, and are centered around leather Chesterfield sofas, overlooking the patio below from another large English style window... Maybe I spoke too soon about my favorite table?

 




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bottega cafe champagne Food Poetry 

Bottega Café’s Couplet: Crabmeat Crostini and Chicken Tortellini 

By Jan Walsh 

After waiting two months for my new Leica Q2, I take it out for lunch at Bottega Cafe. This is not its first food shoot. But I now have had enough practice that I am anxious to use it—rather than nervous to touch it. 



leica q2 food phots Here I appreciate Frank Stitt’s attention to detail in his restaurant’s wine service. If I order Champagne by the glass in a restaurant, I expect it to arrive cold and in appropriate stemware, not in a cheap, thick glass. And at his restaurants I am never disappointed. 

I pair the bubbly with a crostini app and chicken tortellini entrée. The two crostini’s bread is thin and crisp, holding up an array of crabmeat, avocado, corn, tomatoes, and peppers that tower above it. Oh, my, what a dish! Each bite speaks to the freshness of the crab and in season corn and tomatoes. And their tasty textures satisfy the urge to snack and eat something crunchy. 




bottega cafe crab avocado crostini Just when I think I cannot outdo my app with my entrée, I am delighted to see the chicken tortellini salad really is a salad—with lettuce—not just a pasta salad, as I expected. A heavenly dressing is lightly tossed throughout the mix of cherry tomatoes, corn, mozzarella, pink eye purple hull peas, and pasta. The incredible al dente pasta, chock full of chicken, melts in my mouth. Chunks of a marvelous mozzarella add creaminess. And the tomatoes add a juicy acidity—which leaves me wondering what kind of tiny knife is used to cut them in half with juice intact. The earthy peas are a pleasant surprise also, adding additional protein to the dish. And they taste likethey were picked this morning. Their flavor takes me back in time… sitting on my grandmother’s porch shelling these same peas until my palms were purple from the colorful shells. Afterwards she would cook them for lunch along with other veggies from her garden. It is a taste I always recognize verses other field peas. 


bottega cafe chicken pasta saladBoth the crostini and the tortellini are highly recommended!

 

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bistro v fish of the day
Fish du Fab 

Catch Chef Jeremy Downey’s Italian style grouper at Bistro V. 

By Jan Walsh 

Kev and I popped in for lunch at Bistro V. Here I find it difficult to order anything other than the fish of the day because it is always exceptional. So, I don’t.

Today’s incredible version actually exceeds my high expectations. A thick piece of black grouper is nestled atop polenta and smothered in a colorful, Italian red sauce, along with olives, artichokes, and wilted spinach. Its creamy polenta base balances the acidity of the tomatoes, artichokes, and olives—creating a splendid synthesis of flavors and textures. Yet the fresh grouper is not overwhelmed with the sauce and blends beautifully as each moist and succulent flake gets cut and caught up in this divine deliciousness. Chef Jeremy achieved perfection in this dish. Highly recommended! 

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ashley mac's tomato tart
Tasty Tuesdays

Local Tomato Tart is back at Ashley Mac's. 

By Jan Walsh 


Growing up in rural Alabama, summertime was my favorite time of year. There was plenty of iced tea to cool me, and Blount County tomatoes galore to fill me. 

Last summer I enjoyed the Tuesday tomato tart special at Ashley Mac’s. It was a memorable meal. And I am excited to see it’s back, when I stop at the Cahaba Heights location for lunch, on the covered patio. My tomato pie is generously layered with four large slices of dead ripe local tomatoes atop a cheesy, soft, warm tart that melts in my mouth. Highly recommended! It comes with my choice of fresh Garden Salad, which combines a tasty mix of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, purple onion, and croutons, plus one of her famous biscuits. 

ashley mac's iced teaI never get far away from local tomatoes in the summertime. Trips can be planned other times, when tomatoes are not in season… has always been my thinking. So, my summer plans include more Tuesdays at Ashely Mac’s. 

 

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