Lobster Lovers

Valentine’s dinner at Ocean is quite a catch.

By Jan Walsh

Where to go for Valentine’s dinner? It depends. We try to share the love and vary it each year. Most often we also like to check out the Valentine menus and Valentine specials being offered before we decide.

This year we chose our favorite corner of the bar at Ocean. Romantic minds must think alike because Ocean had to open 30 minutes early tonight to accommodate the demand. Executive chef and owner, George Reis greets us on our way in and shares that it was the most people the restaurant has ever had!

Bar manager, Robby Greenwood starts our evening with a bottle of Sancerre. And he knows we are going to begin with the nightly special of Baby Lobster Tails—as we always do. We watch as chef de cuisine, Rick Trent grills these babies over hickory wood and coats them with George’s secret “the love” spices—while sporting red hearts headgear. The familiar aromas of our favorite tails arrive along with the pink, perfectly curled, succulent babies that we dip in butter and devour.

Tonight’s special, Valentine entrees include Lobster Thermidor, Grilled Monk Fish, and a 14-ounce Ribeye. I have my eye on the lobster but see shitake is included, and I am allergic. So, I ask if the ingredients are already mixed. Robby checks with the kitchen to confirm they are. But suddenly out walks George saying he is going to cook a lobster for me, and make mine without the mushrooms. Wow! Ocean has always been accommodating to allergies. But I would never expect this especially on their busiest night ever. Kev is tempted by the lobster but also by the steak. We both know that you can’t get a better steak than at this seafood restaurant—not even at a high brow steak house. Yet expecting I won’t be able to eat all of my lobster, he decides to add turf to my surf.

Elegant and inviting, I fall in love on first bite of this creamy, textured, stuffed lobster dish. It floats atop a divine, zaatar roasted cauliflower that I can’t stop nibbling. And is drizzled with a tasty green tahini. Highly recommended if you can catch it on a special night. Here’s the beef about Kev’s man-sized meal… 14 tender, juicy ounces of hickory grilled, ribeye is cooked to order. It has the perfect fat ratio to flavor it, plus a dollop of rock lobster compound butter to melt over the top. The steak is accompanied by delightful dumplings of pommes dauphine potato puffs and fresh, grilled asparagus.

It would not be Valentine’s without sharing dessert. So, we end the evening with a dreamy dessert of red velvet pot de crème.

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Grilled Goodness

Lloyd’s Restaurant is all about the food. 

By Jan Walsh

Restaurants don’t last 83 years without really good food… I never cease to be amazed at the novices who open a new restaurant and know little about food. They fret over location, often overpaying. And if unsuccessful, they frantically spend mega money marketing “the place” with radio ads. People always ask me, “Was it good? They never ask, “Was it pretty? Do you like its concept? Did you hear their radio ad?...

Lloyd’s Restaurant has sat on this spot in Highway 280 since 1978 after Eli Stevens bought it from Lloyd Chesser, who had founded Lloyd’s in 1937 in Chelsea. And Stevens already knew a lot about food and this restaurant when he bought it. He previously worked with his father in their family business Home Baking Company, delivering bread to Lloyd’s three times weekly. Since that time, Stevens has seen a lot of restaurants come and go on 280—restaurants without great food. Lloyd’s Restaurant had it right all along... it is all about the food.

We arrive to smiling faces and are told to sit wherever we’d like. I spot Fried Oysters and Shrimp Basket and Pacific Snapper on the daily specials’ chalkboard. That snapper might as well have my name on it. Kev orders the pork chop. We order both grilled, although the chop and snapper are also offered fried. They both come with two sides. And when I order yams, Kev asks, “What is a yam anyway?” Seriously!

Kev’s thick, generous chop was cooked to perfection—white throughout its inside, while maintaining its tender juiciness. His fried green tomatoes are golden and crisp on the outside and meaty on the inside. And his broccoli casserole is unlike any other with the ratio of rice and broccoli in every bite without the typical creamy base.

My snapper is a big catch! And it is glistening with grilled goodness. On the first bite of this delicate fish, our server asks, “Is it good, darling?” I have never had a better piece of fish—and grilled perfectly! The freshness and quality tell their fish tale in every bite of this pristine, delicate fish. Highly Recommended! The collards are scrumptious as are the yams. So, I encourage Kev to try the yams by telling him they are sweet. He takes a small bite, is surprised that he likes them, and ate the remainder of whole portion. Once I learned that the Pacific Snapper was to be the special all week, I sent Kev back for take out twice. And I am happy to report that it travels very well. They loosely wrapped the fish in foil, inside the carry out box, which maintained its juices.

We end on more sweet notes of house made desserts. The pie is a piece of whipped heaven. And the banana pudding is a dream, just like my grandmother used to make.

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Restaurant Revival

More than six years after closing its doors, Sol Y Luna rises again.

By Jan Walsh

Restaurants come and restaurants go. But most never make a comeback. Sol Y Luna is not most restaurants. The original Sol Y Luna was founded and literally crafted in 1998 by greatly beloved and forever missed, Guillermo Castro. And when it closed the doors in Lakeview in 2013, loyal patrons, such as myself, grieved its loss just as they had its owner, “Guermo.” Tonight, I am also honored to be at the first seating of service at the new Sol Y Luna in Mountain Brook Village’s Lane Parke… I feel his presence in this place. Read More

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