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Feb 10, 2012 10:41 AM

Birmingham -- Anyone eating anything good these days?

I've been digging El Barrio, especially the verduras tacos, ceviche tostadas and pastor tacos.

What's good out there for y'all? We've been too quiet lately.

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  1. Best things I've had in last couple of weeks... Best was pork, sausage and duck confit white bean cassoulet at Chez Fonfon last Saturday. Honorable mentions to soul pie at Slice, Biettola pizza at Bettola, homemade butternut squash ravioli with crab, corn, sage and Brown butter vinaigrette at Bottega and the Conecuh Pie at Bottega Cafe. Go to Fonfon and try that Cassoulet while it's still on the menu, Wow!

    1. If you have never tried the egg and fried oyster salad at Bottega you're missing out too. It's awesome. Also, its been on the menu for awhile, but I had it recently again, the gnocchi with pork belly and mushrooms at Bettola is great. For lunch shindigs grilled cheese with prosciutto and fontina finished with a little truffle oil and a cup of slightly spicy tomato soup was good.(i love their fries with the NTF sauce too)

      1. I had the Biettola pizza and the duck foie gras sausage pappardelle at Bettola last night. Outstanding. Going to slurp up some pho at Saigon Noodle House later today!

        6 Replies
        1. re: bryantuga

          I second the Pho at Saigon Noodle House....also, try their Spring Rolls (wrapped in rice paper with plenty of fresh herbs) and the Bahn Mi sandwiches.

          1. re: autiger94

            I am a big fan of the Pho No. 1 at SNH, with the brisket, rare beef, tendon, tripe and meatball. Banh Mi #2, the one with the pate, is also much loved.
            Last week I had another fabulous meal at OIlie Irene, an unbelievable french onion soup, sweetbread salad, house-made sausage and burrata with a house-made Sicilian pesto. Great food and great folks there.

            1. re: Big Daddy

              Just read that Ollie Irene is up for a James Beard award. All the good talk must be true. Can't wait to try it.

              1. re: Big Daddy

                That burrata and house-made sausage and pesto sounds awesome.

                I only had an appetizer last night but was it awesome! Went to highlands for a small bite last night and got the roasted marrow bones, served with grilled bread and a parsley, shallot and caper salad. Fantastic small plate!

                1. re: mwr0978

                  Wow, that marrow appetizer sounds good.
                  Yes, Ollie Irene is a semifinalist for a JB Best New Restaurant, six months after it opened.
                  Highlands for Best Restaurant, Chris Hastings and Bettola's James Lewis for Best Chef of South and Nick Pihakis of Jim N Nick's for Outstanding Restaurateur -- all semifinalists.
                  Finalists to be announced March 19, and winners on May 9.
                  For a city of this size to have such a huge presence in the first cut for the Beard Awards is a testament to our restaurant scene and its budding maturity.
                  Nowadays, it's not just Frank Stitt and Chris Hastings, who have done so much to build our reputation. These nominations reflect the new approaches and new ideas -- with the same level of attention to quality, flavor and presentation -- we've been seeing around town at places like Bettola and Ollie Irene.

            2. re: bryantuga

              Saigon Noodle House is our haunt these days. Must have the Bun Laksa Ga (hope I'm spelling that right) - a coconut currynoodle soup with chicken and tofu. We always ask for 1/2 the noodles (that way we get more of the awsomely comforting, healing broth). If Thai coconut soup is too heavy or cloyingly sweet, you will love this. A very light and flavorful touch. Comes with a plate of basil leaves, lime wedges and sliced jalapenos so that you can season it exactly to your taste. The spring rolls are also the best we've ever had (esp. the vegetarian and the chargrilled pork). And we've had a ton of Vietnamese spring rolls since we used to live in little Saigon in Westminster, CA.

            3. We're also enjoying Mix. Amazing bread, sandwiches, great farro salad. (However, the chopping skills have become inconsistent of late - everything in the farro salad used to be perfectly uniformly chopped to match the size of the farro. Last time we had grape halves and whole olives. Maybe new kitchen staff recently?) Also, the absolute best quiche I've ever had in my life. Super deep and custardy. And the crust was different. Buttery and flaky, but ever so much tender than pie crust. Are they using croissant dough as the crust? Not sure, but it works!

              1. I love Birmingham, its a hidden gem. Was visiting over the weekend, and Moe's Original is a normal stop, but this time my son took me to Saws in Homewood. I am of the opinion that Alabama has the best Cue on the planet, and I'm from Tennessee. Well, Saws is the Holy Grail. Hands down the best I've ever had, and I have a 6th sense for finding good barbecue. There was a constant line of 20 or so out the door for over an hour and a half. Its that good.

                Also had dinner at Cafe Dupont downtown. They advertise themselves as a French restaurant, but its anything but. Its a litte pricey, but for the atmosphere, service, and quality and creativity of the daily menu I have to give this place a 10/10. We had a party of 6, and everybody had something different, and we all raved about the food. For example, I had oxtails with pork cheeks and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

                Conversely, we had dinner at The Club in the main dining room the night before. My god, it couldnt get any worse, and they have changed the recipe for their famous Orange Rolls so all in all it was a terrible disappointment.

                12 Replies
                1. re: jtboyd

                  If you think Saw's is good, try any 'cue in Lockhart TX - the real barbecue mecca.

                  The Club's more about view and atmosphere than food. It's a good place to bring a group from out of town when the goal isn't the food.

                  1. re: mahalan

                    Totally different kind of 'cue though, no? More beef than pork.....But I want to go someday.

                    1. re: curej

                      LOL If you can call that barbecue, which I dont.

                      1. re: jtboyd

                        What???? Blacks, Smitty's, Kreuz, etc. do brisket plus many different types of sausages. They are definitely barbecue but to each his own.

                        1. re: Dax

                          Texas ain't in the South. That might explain the barbecue out there.


                          1. re: jtboyd

                            Amen Jtboyd - Texas ain't even near the South. Southwest maybe. Much more Western than anything. Their BBQ is a different bird altogether.


                            1. re: jtboyd

                              Try telling that to a Texan. I'll send flowers.

                              As for 'cue, I was raised in Kansas near Kansas City. Lived near the Oklahoma border. Went to college and grad school in North Carolina. Lived in Texas for a few years. Eaten more than my share from Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and anyplace else I happened to wander through.

                              All that said, nothing even comes close to the 'cue joints of Lockhart. Try it and you'll understand.

                              1. re: jtboyd

                                To just dismiss Texas barbecue unilaterally severely weakens any credibility you might have otherwise had. I think proper pulled pork is one of the greatest things on this earth, but good, slightly fatty brisket is not far behind.

                                1. re: Dax

                                  It's all good as far as I'm concerned. A road trip to Lockhart, would only take 14 hours. You in, Dax?

                                  1. re: Dax

                                    And what does pumping Texas barbecue on the Alabama board do for your credibility?

                                    I personally don't have any use for Texas "barbecue" or Texans with an inferiority complex. Sorry. LOL

                                    1. re: jtboyd

                                      I'm not from Texas. And that works, leaves more barbecue for me.