Hot and Hot -- first visit
Hey, guys, thought I'd share a wonderful dinner Friday night at Hot and Hot Fish Club. It was our first trip there, and I have to say, I was pretty wowed. Since I love reading these myself to know what to try, here's a short review:
Husband and I had 8:30 reservations, which we felt pretty luck about since we called on Wednesday. A bit worried as on first entry the restaurant smelled, well, funky -- perhaps too much ammonia in the cleaner? For a place famous for fresh seafood, it made me a little nervous. I tend to be a bit too sensitive about such things, but my husband noticed it too. Fortunately, when we were seated in the inner room -- the same room as the open kitchen but not at the chef's counter -- it wasn't noticeable.
The service was excellent, as others have said. Our waiter, (who was almost identical in voice and manner to a friend of ours) was very friendly and ebullient. Lots of telling us we made the best choices -- which I suspect he says to all the diners! We started with the charcuterie plate and the sweetbreads on McEwan's grits. OMG, the sweetbreads were spectacular, I think the best thing I ate all night. Bit of confusion on the charcuterie plate -- the runner who brought it and the waiter identified some of the vegetable items differently. No biggie. The pork rillettes were incredible -- not salty at all, very meaty without being greasy. Husband loved the duck mortadella (not my favorite); the head cheese was rich and smooth and yummy; and the fois gras torchon was out of this world. The veal tongue, on the other hand, was awfully chewy. Kind of thickly sliced, too -- wonder if that could have saved it. The lardo consisted of two tiny, fried bits, pretty forgettable, to be honest. The pickled cherries, on the other hand, were amazing! One note on the charcuterie -- it comes with some yummy, oily, cibatta toasts that are delicious but might overpower some of the items. The regular french bread in the bread basket was a better option for some, so ask for some if you go that route.
Mains: I went for the breaded venison chop with roasted venison leg, root vegetable gratin, collard greens and red wine jus. The waiter said it was delicious IF not overcooked, and suggested medium rare. I said sure, and it was quite rare, which was fine because I generally like my meat bloody. It was also very, very tender, mild and delicous -- the leg especially. I was afraid the chop would be chewy and it wasn't; the first couple of bites seemed a bit salty but then that passed. The collards were thinly shredded, barely cooked and were spectacular, especially in the jus. The gratin -- I think rutabega and celery root -- was sweet and not too heavy with cream.
Husband had the scallop and royal red shrimp risotto. The head-on shrimp were nice, but there were only two, which seemed a bit skimpy. The scallops were overpoweringly salty. We're not usually sender-backers, but when the waiter asked how everything was, we pointed out the saltiness and he immediately apologized and asked if if was OK if, instead of replacing the entire dish, he just had the kitchen sear off a couple more scallops. Which came out, even fatter and juicier than the first, in a few minutes. They were still quite salty (I thought dry pack scallops are supposed to be less so?) but not as acridly so. And we were very impressed with the way it was handled.
Unfortunately, we were so full and tired, we decided to skip dessert, but next time I want to try the doughnuts! All in all an excellent meal with a few home runs and a great, relaxed atmosphere.
Hot and Hot Fish Club
2180 11th Ct S, Birmingham, AL 35205
In my limited experience, most places that serve Royal Reds only serve a few of them with a course, although at Hot and Hot prices, 2 is skimpy. How many scallops came on the original order? I was there last week and thought my cassoulet main was a good-sized portion but it was a little on the bland side (which is unfortunate considering the prices).
Hastings was in residence too.
Dax, I'm pretty sure it was two scallops, two shrimp. Granted, they were quite large, and the replacement scallops were enormous. It wouldn't keep me from going back because the overall experience and meal were so good. And the venison, on the other hand, was almost too huge a portion. I didn''t finish it and still couldn't handle dessert, and I'm a hearty eater (though the appetizers were on the heavy side). I do think it's funny that the only seafood dish on this fish-focused restaurant was the weakest link!
I wonder, also, whether a place of that caliber would mind if I just did two appetizers so I could have room for dessert? I've done this a mid-range restaurants, of course, but has anyone tried it somewhere like H&H? Especially since it seems that more and more often the appetizers present more exciting options.
H&H is not really seafood-focused, per se. The name is a bit misleading, as it comes from the name of Hastings' great-grandfather's mens' club (I think I have that right). I would say that they are known as much for their wild game dishes as they are for the seafood dishes.
I have seen people order two apps there instead of a main, so I don't think they would have any problem with you doing that. You really miss out if you skip dessert there; the doughnuts are excellent, but my absolute favorite is the chocolate souffle with creme anglaise. I almost never end a meal there without the souffle.