Hot and Hotter
Hot and Hot Fish Club V2 opens at Pepper Place.
By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
I built my home twice. The first one taught me what else I needed, and what I did not. It took living in it and then building the second version of it to get it perfect. So, I relate to Chris and Idie Hastings’ opportunity to keep what worked from the original Hot and Hot and expand on it. And tonight, at the pre-opening party, we celebrate Hot and Hot’s past, present, and future.
The only thing lacking in the new Hot and Hot is complacency. Both the ambience and the cuisine have evolved, while maintaining their culinary brand, which took 25 years to build. Multiple Alabama architects and interior design teams collaborated on the new space that includes a chef’s counter and open kitchen, with the same look feel as the original.
I have sat there many times. In 2016 I reviewed Hot and Hot in USA Today: “10 Amazing Chefs Tables You Should Know About.” So, seeing the new chef’s counter for the first time was a special déjà vu moment for me. The new restaurant boasts large windows, exposed brick galore, 17-foot upholstered banquette, Greystone Italian marble tabletops, locally sourced hackberry wood, a private dining space, and a bar with a boat frame floating above it. Version 2 of Hot and Hot Fish Club’s new space seats 120 guests verses 80. And the patio is much larger too.
The family business grew to V2 also with their son, Zeb Hastings working alongside his dad in his new role as sous chef. And Zeb’s wife Molly Hastings serves as manager of operations. Alongside new creations, past favorites are kept on the menu—Whew! Chris and Jeb’s new menu offers fresh pastas inspired by Idie’s Italian family recipes and R&D Kitchen Small Plates: crudo, noodle bowl, vegetable, cheeks, and old school
Starters on the new menu include tortolini en brodo, ricotta-and pork-stuffed pasta, pate en crout, and fish in a fish in a fish.
Among the main courses are one of my favorites, Southern bouillabaisse with spicy tomato rouille and a rich saffron broth; chicken fried steak prepared with wagyu beef, collard greens, fingerling potatoes, fried chicken skins and buttermilk gravy; braised rabbit and duck dumplings with saffron pappardelle pasta and Parmesan cheese; B. Rosen Farms lamb foreshank with sweet potato puree, farro, black garlic, toasted pecans and jus; pork and beans with cracklin’ cornbread, white beans, collard greens and chow chow.
And save room for Elton’s chocolate souffle, Meyer lemon meringue tart, and Hot and Hot doughnuts with blood orange glaze and coconut crème filling.
Tonight, we taste a variety of scrumptious small plates and toast with beautiful wines with their family and friends. Tomorrow, January 23, the Hastings debut the new Hot and Hot Fish Club to the public. And the best of Hot and Hot is yet to be.
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