Reviews

Dinner Date

Marre & Allen Bar + Kitchen debuts divine dinner dishes.

By Jan Walsh

Tonight, we escape it all with a mid-week dinner break at Marre & Allen Bar + Kitchen. The restaurant is located at the Birmingham Marriott, which is a very short drive “going the back way” from our home at Liberty Park. Our Sicard Hollow route takes us onto Blue Lake Road before getting off at Highway 280 just before the red light for the hotel.




Marre Allen has a new menu that we are excited to try, especially the items reserved for dinner only. We start with cocktails. All the starters are new, and I could make a meal of them. We opt for Ahi Tuna Poke, Boom Boom Shrimp, and Mediterranean Hummus. This Hawaiian tuna poke (poh-kay) is a lovely and light salad of raw marinated tuna mixed with avocado, English cucumber, sesame soy glaze wakame salad and is served with fried wontons. The two-dredge, panko shrimp is golden and crusty on the outside and succulent on the inside, with layered spices throughout. The shrimp encircle a tasty serving of crunchy, acidic Napa Slaw. And the hummus is topped with roasted red peppers and olive oil and comes with Kalamata olives and grilled pita.




For entrees we select Angus Beef Filet and Mesquite Sea Salt-Crusted Chicken. And we pair our entrees with their extensive selections of wine and beer. The steak is cooked to order, melt-in-the-mouth tender, and is served with marvelous Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and scrumptious roasted Brussel sprouts. The Joyce farms chicken is a beautiful bird—a seared to golden, moist French breast. It is served with crisp, flavorful roasted carrots and same mashed potatoes as the steak.

 

 

 


And we share a divine Baked Apple Galette for dessert. It is served hot with a scoop of ice cream. I place the ice cream on the flaky, buttery pastry, atop its caramel glaze, and it melts into the bubbling baked apples inside. Glad we made room for dessert. Highly recommended!

 

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Endless Effervescence

Galley and Garden’s Sunday brunch now boasts free flowing bubbly.

By Jan Walsh

New at Galley and Garden: pair the purchase of a Sunday brunch entrée with free-flowing mimosas and sparkling wine for $10 per person.

Today Kev and I get an early start with 10:30 a.m. brunch reservations at Galley and Garden. I order sparkling wine. He orders mimosas…. And throughout brunch the refills arrive in fresh, appropriate Champagne stemware with thin rims. Am I dreaming?

 

We pair our bubbles with Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast and House Pimento Cheese and entrees of Slow Braised Angus Beef Short Rib and Beeler’s Uncured Ham Benedict. We have long loved executive chef James Boyce’s stuffed French toasts. Yet it never gets old because the stuffing changes with the seasons. Fall brings this pumpkin filled sandwich, topped with sliced almonds and finished with powdered sugar and a delightful cinnamon maple syrup. I am a pimento cheese addict. And Galley and Garden’s creamy, pimento cheese of cheddar and roasted red peppers, is among the very best I have ever tasted. Has just the right bite.

Kev’s melt in the mouth tender short rib offers deep layers of divine beefy and earthy flavors. The short rib is served atop a thick, tasty bed of red flint grits, and is topped with arugula, and roasted tomato. My benedict’s two poached perfectly farm eggs are served on slices of Beeler’s uncured ham and beautiful biscuit. On first cut the orange yolk oozes onto the ham and a buttermilk biscuit for the perfect bite. Rounding out this deliciousness is a generous portion of comforting potato hash.


No need to skip dessert when the bubbles are still pouring. So, we split a decadent Warm Chocolate and Caramel Cake, served with house made ice cream, hazelnuts and chocolate sauce. This dessert makes a sweet ending to our endless bubbly brunch, proving all good things really do end. But there is always next week.

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Departing Dinner

Ross chose Bistro 218 for his special, going away dinner.

By Jan Walsh

Ross is relocating to Boca Raton tomorrow. I am excited about the next chapter in his life, but I also miss him already. To celebrate his last night in town, dinner is at his restaurant choice—Bistro 218. Chef Tom Saab stops by for a visit to catch up on Ross’ plans.


We toast the move with classic cocktails and signature libations.
The menu is everchanging at Bistro 218. Tonight, Ross spots the Charred Spanish Octopus starter on the menu, as he had hoped. And he reminds me of the night he and I ate here before attending a musical, when he had the octopus. Kev also opts for one of our tried and true favorites, Maryland Style Crab Cakes. And I select the Fried Green Tomato Salad.

 

The octopus is even better than remembered, in its squid ink aioli, accompanied by chorito Romesco. Two crab cakes are served floating in a beautiful white wine butter sauce—the dish with a rich creaminess. They are golden on the outside and plump with fresh crabmeat on the inside. My fried green tomato salad is a stack of lettuces, corn, onion, and dressings that delight the palate with its memorable synthesis of crunchy textures and fresh flavors—perhaps the best fried green tomato dish ever!

 

 

 

 

Bistro 218 Octopus For entrees, Ross asks if I have ever had the duck confit. I remind him of the cooking video my team at Birmingham Restaurants did of this dish and how much I raved about it. It takes Saab three days to prepare this dish. View Cooking Video Here. Kev spots his favorite steak, a ribeye, on the menu. And I ask our server to choose for me between the scallops and the snapper. He says the snapper arrived this morning and it is gorgeous. Ross’ Duck Confit Breast is crisp, rich, mellow and comes with fingerling potatoes and haricot verts in veal glace. Highly recommended for both duck lovers and those who have never had confit. Kev’s Cast Iron Delmonico Cut Ribeye also makes the highly recommended cut. This generous steak is cooked to order of medium plus. It arrives topped with a blue cheese butter that melts onto the beef adding a layer of creaminess to each tender, juicy, bite. It is accompanied by broccolini, garden tomato, purple potato, and fried onions. I would come here for the fried onions, by the way. Saab’s attention to perfection and special unexpected touches, such as the onion, places Bistro 218 in a league of few restaurants. My succulent snapper is pan seared and plated with patty pan fall squash, carrot, sweet corn relish, and topped with pea tendrils—a lovely dish.


Bistro 218 Ribeye

For our final course, we share a delectable Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee and a comforting Gateau Basque of cherry and pastry cream, paired with almond ice cream. I am sad to see this night end. We have so many good memories of this place. And, tonight makes another.

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