Reviews

Starving Here

What’s for lunch?

By Jan Walsh

When the lockdown first started, I had mass quantities of food groceries delivered. But getting food in the house and actually cooking it, soon proved to be too much. Every day there they were—food—just sitting there chilling in the fridge, waiting to be cooked. Fresh farm eggs couldn’t wait to be fried. Potatoes threatened to sprout. And mold married my strawberries overnight.

I soon pivoted to delivery from my neighborhood restaurants. And this works well and will continue the orders. But I only have two neighborhood restaurants here at Liberty Park, Billy’s and On Tap. Next we began lining up at the curb for pickup. We first brought home GianMarco’s and Sol Y Luna for my birthday. And once we got a taste of how well it traveled, we have not stopped ordering curb service since.

Lunch is typically our biggest meal, and sometimes only real meal of the day. So far this week, we have brought in Eli’s Jerusalem Grill, Fig, and Pizzeria GM for lunch. All three of these “Food Warriors” restaurants mastered the curb early in this crisis. So accordingly, all of our food arrived home well presented (not decomposed), warm dishes warm, and cold dishes cold, as prepared. And beyond the curb, I have been in the kitchen with these three chefs: Eli Markshtien, J.P. Holland, and Giani Respinto. So I know how carefully they source their food products, focusing on organic and non GMO—safe, healthy, real food.

Eli’s Jerusalem Grill opens at 10:30 a.m. every day except Sunday, when it opens at 11:00. We often get Eli’s for early lunch, so only difference today was paying over the phone, and popping trunk at the curb verses going inside to pay and take out our own. We bring home a large order of hummus with the freshest house made pita bread, my favorite dish of organic chicken kabob, and Kev’s two, grass fed, beef kabobs with a side of fries. There is no better hummus than Eli’s anywhere, as it rivals the most memorable hummus I ever had in Egypt. And his pita bread is so fresh! I mix the hummus in with the beautiful basmati rice and bites of organic chicken. And I sub the red cabbage salad for the Israeli salad because it adds a tasty texture to the plate. Kev’s grass-fed beef medallions are tender, flavorful, and cooked to perfection. And from past experiences, we knew the fries travel especially well. And today is no exception. I steal several of the hand cut potatoes fried in Non-GMO oil. Eli’s full menu is available at the curb for both lunch and dinner.

View Eli's Jerusalem Grill Profile & Menus

Fig offers a special curb menu for lunch and dinner. It changes a bit each week to add in season sides. You can order and entrée with two or three sides for one person or family style for four to five people. Curb entrees this week include fried pork chop, chicken fried chicken, Cajun roasted chicken, fried shrimp, fried catfish, buffalo wings, and meatloaf. There is also a steak option of Grilled Ribeye, and weekend entrée specials. Kev opted for the wings with twice baked potato and mac and cheese. I ordered the roasted chicken minus the Cajun with twice baked potatoes, collards, and fried okra. Kev’s enormous wings are tender and zingy—but not too hot. He shares a bite of mac and cheese… Oh, my! Never had better. My chicken is a beauty and more than I can eat. But Kev is happy to help and plans to get it next time. The collards are better than my grandmother’s. And I add a touch of sour cream to our already scrumptious twice baked potatoes and eat it skin and all. I have not had these in years but am now inspired to make this at home when I get groceries again. But I must admit that we had a difficult time choosing these sides with so many other options, including squash casserole, butter beans, red beans and rice, mashed potatoes, chow chow potato salad, fried corn, and fresh green salad. Bottles of wine and beer are also available for curb pickup.

View Fig Profile & Curb Menu


We have also ordered Pizzeria GM to go in the past when Kev was out and about. Today I call it in while he is in route, and pay over phone. Peyton comes out to check on Kev and see if he wants anything to drink while he waits. And in no time he is back home. My favorite appetizer is Bocconcini. And every time I order it, Kev shares it. So today I made a new rule and made sure he got his own order. No sharing my bocconcini! These crisp, fried, golden balls filled with mozzarella are beyond compare. We dip in the accompanying warm tomato sauce and fresh basil, which rounds out these cheese balls with a touch of acidity and tomato flavor. For entrees Kev ordered the Arthur Avenue Hero, and I opted for the lasagna. Two pieces of house made bun is loaded with top quality ingredients: salami, mortadella, coppa, provolone, lettuce, red onion, pepperoncini, and tomato in red wine vinegar. It even smells clean and good, and lives up to everything Kev expects in this New York classic! Its tasty house made chips add texture to the dish. And my lasagna Bolognese is excellent. Layers of ground beef, bechamel, Sunday sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan are tucked between the house made pasta—melding together in a spectacular synthesis. Pizzeria GM’s full menu is available for curbside pickup for both lunch and dinner.

View Pizzeria GM Profile & Menu




















Picnic Party

Sol Y Luna packed us a picnic including margaritas!

By Jan Walsh

Not only was the weather beautiful for my birthday weekend, my birthday was sunny too. So, Kev and I picked up Sol Y Luna, poured margaritas and enjoyed lunch—porch picnic style.

We ordered online. And they put the bags in the truck upon arrival. Our bags include Queso Dip, Sol Y Luna Sampler Platter, Salsa and Chips, Chicken and Pork Tacos, and Chicken Chilaquiles, Churros, and Cantina Margarita Mix, tequila, a birthday wish, and a thank you note!

Unpacking our stash, I really like the paper containers. Even still, I must transfer to real plates for this occasion, and because Sol Y Luna fare is just too special to eat from containers of any kind—picnic or not. And their margaritas? They deserve Baccarat. And there is enough margarita mix and tequila for margaritas tonight and many more evenings.

Kev toasts my birthday with a cling of glasses. We dip an array of chips: yellow corn, blue corn, and sweet potato into the cold guacamole and warm queso and munch on apps until they are gone. And we drizzle salsa over Kev’s tasty pork and chicken inside their fresh, soft tortillas and my chicken chilaquiles. Kev’s pork taco proves to be his favorite ever. And my chicken chilaquiles are amazing. Layers of hand shredded chicken, roasted serrano tomatillo, and Chihuahua cheese meld together atop blue tortilla chips. This warm, cheesy, crunchy goodness just makes my birthday! Highly recommended! Imagine that we both found new favorites, which we otherwise might not would have discovered, were we not doing curb pickup.

Kev lights a candle in my churros. I make a wish and blow it out. And we have another round of marvelous margaritas with our delicious, warm, chocolatey, fried dessert.

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Compleanno Fine Settimana

GianMarco’s ensured my birthday weekend was a happy one.

By Jan Walsh

This year my birthday was on Monday. So, we decided to celebrate early on the weekend when the seafood is fresher. But all the restaurants dining rooms are closed. So where to go for dinner. Our porch, of course.

Typically, it rains on my birthday. But this year when I could not go anywhere anyway it was beautiful. So, Kev and I bring in the folding table and bistro chairs. And we set it with his mother’s Irish linen tablecloth, my Grandmother Copeland’s crystal and silver, and our antique Meissen china. Voilà! Now for the food… I reached out to GianMarco’s and ordered dinner with a text.



We select three apps: Marco’s Cheese Torta, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, and Fresh Fried Mozzarella Bocconcino. I asked if the Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad was in season yet, in hopes of a birthday miracle. They said it is not. So, I order a Caesar. And for entrees, Kev opts for the Niman ranch Double Cut Pork Chop Valdostana with a side of roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and I order one of my long time GianMarco’s favorites—Pan Roasted Gulf Grouper. I also order a side of Rigatoni Quattro Formaggio (mac and four cheeses)—just because it is my birthday. And we chose desserts that we expected would travel well: New York Cheesecake with strawberries and Flourless Chocolate Torte.

Soon afterwards Kev pulls up to GianMarco’s and popped the trunk, while The Staple Singers and I waited on the porch with a glass of Champagne. Giani comes out and waves at Kev. They put dinner in the trunk, and Kev races home, with both of us fearing it would not be warm by the time he made it to Liberty Park. But we were pleasantly surprised. Dinner was not just warm. It was still hot! Steam came out of the grouper container when I peeked inside. True to Giani’s philosophy—“People wait for pasta. Pasta doesn’t wait for people.” And when I opened my salad, it is not a Caesar. It is my miracle salad—tomato and mozzarella.

We feast on the cheese dishes: salad, torta, and bocconcino and the generous bag of bread, while keeping the warm entrees and crab cakes contained and in the bag. Melted mozzarella oozes from its crisp, golden ball. We slather the layers of mascarpone, parmesan, pesto, and tomato of the cold cheese torta on the slices of fresh bread. And the tomato salad—the first tomato we have had this season—is ahead of its time in texture and flavor.

We share the two crab cakes with our entrees. Kev’s chop (topped with a white wine, sage butter sauce) is moist, tender, and simply divine. It is accompanied by a perfect parmesan risotto. I close my eyes on my first bite of grouper and imagine that I am in the restaurant, which is easy to believe—as it could not have been better. This hearty cut of grouper floats on a bed of potato and is smothered in the same tomatoes, white wine, caper berries, garlic, onions, and olives it was roasted in. I love this synthesis of Italian flavors that have melded together while roasting. Highly recommended!

I should not have been concerned about the travel because even the ice cream for my dessert did not melt on the trip nor while we ate. Kev lights the birthday candle on my chocolate cake with ice cream. I make a secret wish and blow it out.


View GianMarco's Profile



















 

Porch Picnic

Celebrate spring with dinner delivery from On Tap Sports Cafe.

By Jan Walsh

Last year, I was delighted when On Tap Sports Cafe built a restaurant in my Liberty Park neighborhood. And during these times of being locked in, I am grateful.

Tonight, we order online from On Tap, and chose ASAP and contactless delivery. And soon afterwards our cold dish arrived cold and hot dish arrived hot. I opted for their Old Time Club with house made chips, and Kev chose the Mini Cheeseburgers with fries. The enormous club is piled high with turkey, ham, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. I separate the two halves into four in order to get a bite on it. Even still, I cannot eat it all. So, tomorrow’s plan for lunch is all set. This cold, crunchy and meaty meal is made for a spring dinner on our porch. And Kev’s beefy sliders are layered with thick, juicy beef patties, melted American cheese, tomato, onion, ketchup and mustard, with pickles on top. Even the fries traveled well. We could make a habit of this.

On Tap Sports Cafe at Liberty Park is currently offering curbside and delivery on Wednesdays-Sundays, from noon until 8:00 p.m. They have a curbside menu, but full menu is also available. Also available for curbside pickup is their alcohol menu, including growlers, wine, and both large and small bottles of liquor. Their other locations of Inverness and Fultondale are open daily from 4:00 until 8:00 for curbside and delivery. The Galleria location is temporarily closed during the emergency.








View On Tap Sports Cafe Profile & Menus