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Oct 9, 2008 12:49 PM

Birmingham Surprises

Hello there fellow Birminghamians. Just joined the board and wanted to start more discussion about what food in Birmingham has actually surprised you. Like "Wow that's good!" Maybe "Why does everyone else like this so much?"

I grew up in Birmingham, and have lived most of my life within an hour drive of it, so I'd like to know what others think of the city, and what other people who've lived here as long as I have think about food in Birmingham.

I haven't been surprised so much lately, but I do remember being pleasantly surprised the first time I went out to Standard Bistro in Mt. Laurel a couple of years back. I believe it was the fall, so I had to order the braised veal shank. It was simply the most delicious version of this entree I've ever had.

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  1. Welcome to Chowhound DJJJMBY. Birminghamians on the South board are reasonably active, so you may want to peruse the following and advise your thoughts:

    With that said, I was very happy with some recent meals at Jinsei and Hot and Hot. Spendy, but well worth the calories and perhaps cost (especially when someone else is picking up the tab). I think about some of the Jinsei dishes with frightening regularity.

    1. Unfortunately, the downturn of the economy has begun to limit my forays into pricey eating. So lately, I've experienced nothing mindblowingly decadent and over the top (e.g. pork belly or truffle butter). I do dream occasionally about the lobster pot pie at Ocean. I miss it's flavor and texture. Perhaps with the price of gas going down (ever so slowly), I can make a return trip and indulge a little.

      To address your question "why does everyone else like this so much?", I feel this way about Hamburger Heaven. Overpriced, smallish hamburgers that tauts their special sauce that I discern as nothing but a ketchup & mustard mixture. They have good onion rings & milkshakes, but it's certainly not destination dining.

      1. I think the last place that really surprised me was La Dolce Vita in Hoover. I know its been around, but I just went there in May. I was blown away. The service was wonderful, and the atmosphere great. And the food....very very good.

        4 Replies
        1. re: LisainBham

          I was pleasantly surprised by a dish at Makarios in Five Points a few weeks ago. So surprised, in fact, that I thought about the flavors the next morning, afternoon, evening and just about every day since. Time to go back this week. It is their lamb gallaba (spelling) ordered zesty with hummus. I've never had this dish else where, so I can't compare it. Very intense can't-get-enough flavor. As crazy as it sounds, I would liken it to middle eastern fajitas. Tender pieces of lamb cooked in zesty sauce with vegetables. This is on top of a bed of hummus, so you roll up the mixture in pitas, at least that is what I did. Really amazing dish. And for $12 I think, you can't beat the price. It also comes with lentil soup and rice.

          1. re: eatyourveggies1

            OMG that sounds wonderful! Do you know if that dish is offered for lunch and dinner?

            1. re: sheilal

              I believe they offer the same menu throughout the day. Report back if you try.

            2. re: eatyourveggies1

              I just had the lamb gallaba for lunch today. It is very good. I've had a few different items from Makarios and have been fairly pleased each time. It's a great little place for lunch.

              I'm not sure if anybody has ever mentioned this on here, but The Rucker House down on South Side does a once a month "Jazz on the Porch" that is a lot of fun. It is the first Thursday of the month. It is $5 cover and they have a great little menu that you can order from. Very good food and the prices are ridiculously cheap! $4-$7 for dinner! They have a jazz band that plays in the garden and an optional $5 wine tasting as well. They have a cash bar also, and by cash I do mean cash. They don't take cards, so be prepared. If you scroll down just a bit you will see the add for "Jazz on the Porch" and a sample menu.

              One more thing, make sure and make a reservation for a table as it fills up very quickly. They've been doing this for quite awhile, but my first one was in June and I haven't missed another one since.

          2. I was recently pleasantly surprised by (and blogged about) a lunch catered by Capers Comfort Foods, a small meat-and-three place located in an Alabaster gas station. Best meat-and-three I've had this side of the mountain.

            One place I think doesn't get the recognition or buzz it deserves is Satterfield's in Cahaba Heights. Chef Haller Magee does some innovative and delicious dishes that are a nice change from other restaurants in town. The only reason we haven't been recently is with an open kitchen, it's a little warm for our likes in the summer. As soon as cool fall weather gets here, we're there.

            4 Replies
            1. re: bhamdining

              The menu for Satterfield's definitely looks great, perhaps for the next expense account dinner.

              1. re: Dax

                For non-expense-account nights, they have wine specials on some nights during the week and a fun appetizer menu in the bar on Wednesday nights (with live music). Great bartenders, and great chef's counter when in the dining room. My favorite meal there is still braised rabbit and homemade pappardelle dish from a fall or two ago.

                  1. re: Dax

                    From home page of Satterfield's site:

                    Wednesday night is Tapas Night in the bar with a special menu of “small bites,” all-night happy hour and live music from Glen and Libba.