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Where is chef Peter Chang now?

I understand that chef Peter Chang has left the restaurant he was at briefly in Charlottesville VA, but is planning on opening a new restaurant there in 3-4 months. There have been rumors that, in the meantime, he is helping out his old friend who owns Tasty China in Marietta, GA, which is where I first ran into his amazing cooking. Does anyone know for sure where he's at now?

Apr 20, 2010
iko.iko in Mid-Atlantic

Bellinis Birmingham

My wife and I had dinner this past Saturday night at Bellini’s. The restaurant is quite attractive, and we found the service to be generally very good. For our appetizer, we split an order of Oysters Bellini, a half-dozen oysters topped with a mixture of shallots, pancetta, spinach and Bechamel sauce, then baked. This was very good, as was the bread that appeared to have coame right out of the oven (although it also arrived a few minutes after that at the table behind my wife, where the party came in 5 or 10 minutes after us).

Unfortunately, there were a couple of problems that really took away from all of the good things I’ve mentioned. Major among these was our entrees. We both decided to order the linguini and meat balls in Marinara sauce because we had heard that their meat balls were excellent, and we weren’t in the mood for anything real rich or complex. The meat balls were, indeed, excellent, but the Marinara sauce was another thing altogether – I’ve had Fra Diavolo sauce that wasn’t that peppery! I was literally shocked at how spicy it was. It also had something a little odd in the taste that I couldn’t put my finger on – when I asked my wife if she noticed it, she said that all she could taste was the pepper.

The other problem was with the wait time for the courses. Although we arrived at about 6:05, when there were only about 3 or 4 other tables occupied, we waited about 10 minutes after ordering for our bread and wine to arrive, at least another 10 minutes for our appetizer and at least 15-20 minutes after we finished our appetizer before we got our entrees. By the time we left it was nearly 7:30, the restaurant was almost full, and I could tell that people were waiting MUCH longer than we had. (We decided not to order coffee or dessert because we wanted to get home before midnight.) If that is the normal situation in the kitchen, they have problems.

I called the place on Monday to tell the chef/owner about the Marinara sauce problem. His reponse was that his Marinara sauce used only a very small quntity of red pepper, so this was definitely an aberration, and we shouldn't be deterred from ordering it again. He also said he would certainly discuss our experience with his line cooks to see if something had happened and get back to me. He hasn't as of this morning, so I don't expect I'll ever here from him.

Given our experience, the number of good Italian restaurants in this town, and the fact that Bellini's is not one of the cheaper ones, we won't be going back.

Mar 13, 2009
iko.iko in General South Archive

Bham -- New French Place?

My wife and I had an early (5:30) dinner at Cafe de Paris last night and, for the most part, were very pleased with the food. It was also the first night that they had their liquor license. We had been told when we made our reservation that we could bring our own wine and there would not be a corkage charge, and they honored that commitment without even bringing it up -- a good start.

The amuse bouche sounds like what Dax was served at lunch, except no roe on top. It was quite tasty, and we got 3 apiece, which seemed overly generous if you'd like people to order an appetizer too.

We decided on separate appetizers. My wife opted for the seafood-stuffed pastry, and she had nothing but praise for it. I, on the other hand, ordered the only disappointment of the meal, described as "Salad of Crab and Avocado -- Crab Meat, with Diced Avocado, Peppers and Diced Tomatoes." What it turned out to be was a handful of mixed greens with a light vinaigrette dressing, a single wedge of tomato, no peppers, no crab meat and two light pastry cones, each about 6" long and 1" in diameter at the open end that appeared to be made from crepes. Each was filled with a creamy substance with very little flavor to it at all. It was almost as if someone had forgotten what the dish was supposed to be.

Things definitely changed for the better when our entrees arrived. They, and the accompanying sides were absolutely delicious. My wife ordered the Mediterranean style snapper, which turned out to be two nice size fillets served in a sandwich arrangement with ratatouille-style vegetables in the middle and on top. For sides, she ordered the rice pilaf and the braised cabbage. I chose the Atlantic grilled mahi-mahi, which was not grilled (the server pointed that out when I asked how the dish was finished), but was lightly coated in bread crumbs and pan sauteed. It was a generous portion, and was served much like my wife's snapper, two pieces of fish with ratatouille-style vegetables in the middle and on top. This was just fine with me. I ordered the same sides as she did. Now, you should know that I am a big fan of all kinds of fish, as long as it is fresh, but my wife is quite partial to shellfish, and doesn't order fin-fish that often. Be that as it may, we each spent the rest of the meal commenting on how much we loved our entrees, both agreeing we would order the same thing again in a heartbeat. The sides were also excellent, with a combination of spices in the flavoring in each case that was somewhat unusual to our tastes, but which we both really liked.

For dessert, we decided to split a piece of "bread pudding." I put that in quotes because it was like no bread pudding we ever had in New Orleans (and we've had lots there), nor anywhere else for that matter. It was, however, very good and of a size that made it nice for sharing.

The bill, including two cups of coffee, but no liquor, came to about $78 before tax and tip, which we thought quite reasonable for the quality and quantity of food we had received.

As to service, I would say it was adequate, but nothing super. We did, however, observe a young man waiting on a few tables near ours, and were extremely impressed with his manner, his knowledge of the menu, his willingness to make suggestions, etc. Next time we go there (and there will be a next time soon), we will definitely try to get him as our waiter.

One more comment, and that is on the restaurant's popularity. The space (formerly occupied by Los Angeles restaurant) is not small, but by the time we left at about 7:30, it was pretty much full. We happened to drive by there this morning about noon, and it seemed to be almost 3/4 full for brunch. If you're planning on going, therefore, you want to be sure to make a reservation. It looks like this could become one very popular place.

Feb 08, 2009
iko.iko in Central South

Bham area - Let's talk barbecue

I don't see how there can be this many posts without someone mentioning Tin Roof on Valleydale, just east of I-65 (right behind the Popeye's). We've eaten there several times, having had ribs, chicken and pulled pork (you can get it either pulled or chopped)and always thought the food to be excellent, the portions generous and the prices quite reasonable. My wife and I have eaten BBQ all over the southeast, and we have no hesitation in nominating Tin Roof as one of the best in town.

They offer a variety of sauces too, including a NC-style, which is what I have always preferred, and a SC-style that was the first I ever tried that made me understand why some people swear by it. (Every time I had tried SC-style sauce previously, it was just way too mustardy for my taste, but this was more restrained on the mustard and had a nice spiciness to it as well.) They also make a quite decent Brunswick stew, available by the cup or bowl. You can find the menu at:

http://www.birminghammenus.com/tinroo...

Among the side choices, they offer a baked sweet potato -- something we really enjoy once and awhile as a change from the standard baked beans, fries and/or cole slaw (and they offer both creamy and vinegar cole slaws.) The green beans are very good too, but we couldn't recommend the deep-fried corn on the cob. They also have a decent selection of bottled beer and Newcastle ale on tap. I'm sure they serve dessert as well, but we never made it that far -- In fact, we usually end up taking something home.

Feb 06, 2009
iko.iko in Central South

Bham - 280 area

I've read several posts recently talking about how good Salvatore's pizza is, so my wife and I decided to give the Inverness location a try this weekend. We were rather disappointed to say the least. The basic crust wasn't bad and the sauce was decent. I would have liked a bit more cheese, but the real problem was the sausage.

We are purists when it comes to pizza, having been raised on Chicago thin crust pizza made by any of several neighborhood mom and pop pizza parlors. We'd order a plain Italian sausage, or we might add onion, mushrooms or black olives (but never more than one additional ingredient). We still order that way, which means that the quality of the sausage is paramount to us.

The sausage at Salvatore's might as well be hamburger for all the taste it has. If there are any herbs or spices in that sausage, they certainly didn't affect the taste much. Even the texture was wrong. The store-made Italian sausage from Publix is far tastier, and, of course, the Italian sausage from Fresh Market or Whole Foods is much better still.

Among local pizza places, the sausage that Tortugas uses on their pizzas, which we understand comes from Chicago, is definitely the best around. And the rest of their ingredients pass our test as well. We prefer their deep-dish pizza to their thin crust, but either beat anything else we've found around town.

And, for those that aren't aware of it, Tortugas location just off 280 (across from Wal-Mart) is less than a mile from Salvatore's, so you don't have to sacrifice quality for convenience.

Jul 07, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Birmingham, AL - Graduation Dinner

I believe it’s about time I commented on Standard Bistro, which is one of my wife’s and my favorite places to dine in Birmingham. We have been eating there at least once or twice a season for about 3 years now, since shortly after we moved here from New Orleans. I mention the New Orleans connection because living there for almost 10 years raised our expectations for food, service and value to levels that are hard to find almost anywhere else we’ve been. I can’t count the times we’ve dined at an attractive restaurant but found the food to be simply boring, ate at a restaurant with good food but received very indifferent service, or had excellent food and service, but portions so small that we left hungry in spite of having paid dearly for the meal. I don’t mean just in Birmingham, either, but we’ve certainly had those experiences aplenty in our town.

One place where that has not ever been the case is Standard Bistro. Alan Martin is the most under-rated chef in Birmingham IMHO. He is absolutely passionate about using only top quality fresh ingredients, preferably locally produced. He then prepares them in such a way that their flavors both blend and stand out in exciting ways. No matter how many times we order the same fish or the same cut of meat there, the preparation, the sauce and/or the sides are forever changing, depending on what’s available. The word “boring” is thus one that never enters our minds, but the word “delicious” always does.

The restaurant itself is very attractive, with plenty of room between tables, so you don’t feel cramped for space. The wait staff are true professionals, a rarity at all but a handful of restaurants in this town (including some of the supposedly very best). They not only understand their jobs and perform them very well, but they are also familiar enough with the wines the restaurant has available that one can definitely feel secure in their recommendations for what to drink with that wonderful food.

I don’t want to mislead anyone, though. The Standard Bistro is not a cheap restaurant. Expect to spend around $55-60 per person for 3 courses, plus drinks, tax and tip. However, I would argue that it is a “bargain,” in the sense that you walk out feeling you have received real value for your money. Chef Martin’s creativity and the overall quality of the dining experience at Standard Bistro frequently have us discussing various aspects of a dinner we ate there for days afterwards (and neither of us leaves hungry either).

Yes, it’s a little bit of a drive for those of you who don’t live in Inverness or Greystone or one of the other communities off of 280, but if you’re not willing to drive a little for an experience this good, you’re not much of a Chowhound. On the other hand, if too many people read this and decide to give it a try, we may find it becoming difficult to get a dinner reservation there ourselves, so maybe you should just continue visiting your old favorites in Southside/Highlands, and we’ll just keep on enjoying what we’ve got.

Jun 29, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Bham - 280 area

The suggestion of the Black Pearl in the Colonnade said it was a "decent" Chinese restaurant. I'd up that several notches personally. Their Hot and Hot Fish entree is a particular winner, and their special Hot and Sour soup is excellent, and plenty for 3 or 4 as an appetizer, or it would just about make a meal for one, at a very reasonable price. I've tried Wan's (also highly recommended by several local Chowhounds, and close to Mudtown and Satterfield's), and while Wan's has a nicer atmosphere, I've found both the food and the service at Black Pearl to be better. Prices for both, as I recall, are comparable, and a bargain for the quantity and quality of the food.

Jun 26, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

2 Very Different Experiences in Birmingham AL

The rabbit was their main claim to fame at their NOLA-area restaurants; the seasoning is just perfect! It was so popular there that you had to be certain not to show up too late for lunch, or they might already be sold out for the day.

The crawfish corn soup has always been a winner as well. My wife had it last time we were there and was very pleased. We also tried the crawfish rolls, which were quite good, but unless you plan to make them your main course (and you almost could), don't order them as an appetizer unless you're going to split them between at least 2 people (we split them among 4, which was plenty given the size of the rest of the meal).

I agree that their gumbo is not the best I've ever had, but it's certainly respectable. I understand from a friend that Jubilee Joe's makes a very good gumbo; I need to get by there and try it.

The muffaletta could benefit from a bit more olive salad IMHO, but otherwise, I think it's pretty darned good.

Jun 11, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

2 Very Different Experiences in Birmingham AL

I've been back to New Orleans Food and Spirits three times now since my original post, twice for lunch and once for dinner. You should understand that this is totally unlike me; I NEVER go back to a restaurant that frequently in a short period of time, no matter how much I like it. The reason for the exeception in this case was my desire to share the experience with as many people as possible. Each time I went back, I had 2 or 3 newbies with me, and each time they all loved it.

On my second visit, I finally got to try the smothered rabbit (available only for Thursday lunch), and it was every bit as good as I remembered from New Orleans. Probably my second favorite thing on the lunch menu (available every day) is the deep-fried crab-stuffed eggplant topped with shrimp in a cream sauce and served over pasta. The rabbit is $11.95, and the eggplant is $9.95. Both come with a nice small salad first, and they make a terrific remoulade dressing for it too.

I was a bit disappointed by the beignets the first time I was there, but they've gotten better each time since. I still haven't tried their bread pudding, which is supposed to be very good.

Oh, and best of all, they have New Orleans own Abita Amber beer on draft. If you want to enjoy a real neighborhood New Orleans restaurant without the hassle of a 5 1/2 hour drive, this is the place for you!

Jun 07, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

2 Very Different Experiences in Birmingham AL

I had two very different experiences last week at relatively new restaurants in Birmingham.

On Thursday, a friend and I went to lunch at New Orleans Food and Spirits in Vestavia Hills. I was excited to try the place out because, according to their website (http://www.neworleansfoodandspirits.com/ ), it is run by the third generation of a family from Houma, LA who also have 3 restaurants in the New Orleans area, one of which was only about a mile and a-half from my house when I lived there.

The menu appears to be the same as what I remember from the New Orleans operations, and the food we had measured up wonderfully also. Their New Orleans restaurants are not elegant gourmet palaces, but more neighborhood places to get red beans and rice, a muffaletta or po’ boy, a bowl of gumbo, shrimp and sausage jambalaya, etc. They are open for lunch and dinner, and every weekday they have a lunch special, which is generally priced at $8 or $9, and includes a nice salad with a choice of homemade dressings.

The Thursday lunch special is white beans and rice with your choice of catfish, a pork chop or smothered rabbit. My friend opted for the pork chop, which was immense, and he said it was almost as good as a steak. I really wanted the rabbit, since it was a favorite of mine in New Orleans, but I just wasn’t hungry enough (it runs a coupe of dollars more, but is a full half-rabbit), so I chose the catfish. It was very fresh and flavorful, with only a light breading. For dessert, we split a plate of beignets, which were very tasty, but not quite airy enough when compared to those at Café du Monde.

Service was friendly and efficient. We spoke briefly with one of the managers as we were finishing our meal (he was hustling just as much as the wait-staff to see that things moved along smoothly and no diner was in jeopardy of running over his/her allotted lunch hour). He had previously worked for a number of years at one of the New Orleans area locations, and told us that many of the ingredients they use (for example, the French bread from Gambino’s) was brought in from New Orleans.

The place had a very comfortable vibe, with Cajun music playing on the sound system. It was also surprisingly busy for having been open only a short while. It was heartening to see that offering good food and service at a fair price seems to work as well for them here as it does in New Orleans. Certainly, my friend and I agreed that this was a place we needed to return to at our next opportunity.

One other thing – as we were leaving, we noted that, on the back side of the restaurant, there was a large covered patio, that looks like it would be a very pleasant place to dine when the weather is right.

Now on a completely different note, let me tell you about a place I won’t be returning to. The name is Crustasian Bistro and Bar. It’s on Helena Rd. just a few hundred feet off of U.S. 31. My wife and I stopped in there for dinner last Friday about 6:45 PM.

Although they serve food, this is apparently really more of a bar. In fact, the entire time we were there, not a single person came in to eat a meal – only a few guys to sit at the bar and drink a beer. The ambiance is about nil in restaurant terms, but there is a dance floor, a place for a DJ, a karaoke machine and several pool tables at the back of the place.

The menu came in the form of two laminated sheets of paper. One was primarily bar snacks, like buffalo wings. The other had a couple dozen entries, all at the same price of $7.95. Each entry consisted of the name of the dish above a photograph of it; there were no other descriptions on the menu, so you had better know what Mongolian beef, for example, was. Most of the entries were Asian in nature, but there were also a hamburger and fries, two hot dogs and fries, and spaghetti with meat sauce.

We had been given a $25 credit to the place from a local radio station, so we decided to order a serving of pot-stickers, an order of Mongolian beef and an order of General Tso’s chicken. None of the food was bad, although the chicken was not the least bit spicy. I would rate it all as solidly mediocre.

May 14, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Atlanta, Marietta, Tasty China. Full Report

My wife and I drove over from Birmingham to Atlanta to attend a concert last night. The location of the concert was only about two miles from Tasty China in Marietta, so we decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about.

We arrived about 5:30, just as the only other couple in the place was finishing their meal. I am sorry to say that, when we left about an hour later, no one else had sat down. I hope it was just a slow evening, because this is a place that MUST survive.

We were immediately greeted by a woman who must have been the owner. As described in the post above, she is a bit pushy, but she also made two great suggestions for our entrees, and she also volunteered information about the food when it was served and talked to us later about how to tell authentic Szechuan cooking (see below).

We began our meal with an order of the cilantro and fish spring rolls, since they had been mentioned favorably several times in earlier posts. They were unlike anything we had ever had before. The consistency of the cilantro was almost like spinach, and the cilantro taste was not all that strong. Definitely a winner.

For one of our entrees, the owner suggested pork with bamboo shoots. This was definitely on the spicy side. The flavor was excellent and the portion size was enormous. I forget the exact cost but it was somewhere between $8 and $9. We both ate a lot and still brought home about 1/3 of it.

For out other entrée, we requested something a bit less spicy, with shrimp. She suggested salted pepper shrimp. This dish was priced at $11.95, and must have had a dozen very nice-sized shrimp in it. Remembering the immediately preceding post, we indicated that we hoped the shrimp would not be too salty. She said that she would tell the chef to go light on the salt, and we, in fact, heard her give that instruction to him when she went back to the kitchen with our order. This dish turned out to be similar to one we have had at other Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants, where it was called salt-baked shrimp. There were several differences in the preparation at Tasty China, however, that made their version stand out. First, the shrimp had been peeled; previously, we had always been served this dish with the shells still on the shrimp. Deep-frying the shrimp with the shells on makes eating them that way perfectly acceptable, but we did enjoy them more without the shells. Second, the shrimp were served on a bed of dry-fried cilantro topped with lightly sautéed diced onion and thin slices of jalapeno. Because this was to be our mild dish, we immediately set the jalapeno slices off to the side, and what remained was superb. This time, the cilantro taste came through more, and it (along with the onion) was a very tasty accompaniment to the perfectly fried very fresh shrimp.

The owner explained that the look of this second entrée was designed to remind one of a shrimp net as it was lifted out of the sea, with not only shrimp, but seaweed and bits of oyster or clam shell in the mix as well. We agreed that it did indeed have that look.

As we were finishing up, the owner told us that there were three characteristics of true Szechuan style cooking that we should always look for: oil, spiciness and salt. However, she was also quick to add that any of these elements could be adjusted to suit a diner’s preference. Certainly, in our case, we found none of the dishes over-salted at all. As far as the oil component is concerned, they note on their take-out menu that, for a slight extra charge, they will use olive oil to prepare a dish (I don’t remember if that was also indicated on the dine-in menu).

My only regret about last night’s dinner is that it’s now going to be difficult to do without Tasty China’s food on a regular basis; while there are a couple of decent Chinese restaurants in Birmingham, we have nothing that can compare with Tasty China. We’re going to have to figure out a way to get to Atlanta more often, and we need to bring others with us as well, so we can try more dishes. We’d really like to have a go at the hot and numbing beef rolls and the dry-fried green beans with ground pork and garlic mentioned in an earlier post, as well as to see what other dishes the owner suggests.

May 14, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Birmingham Corks and Chefs

Not 100% on point, but certainly related -- I just want everyone in town to know that there is a new Birmingham-oriented wine blog that started up a couple of weeks ago:

http://blog.al.com/wine-sublime/

Beverly Taylor, the author of the blog, has traveled extensively in the wine country of both the U.S. and Europe and has judged a number of wine competitions here and abroad as well.

One of her objectives is to provide an up-to-date site where those who are interested can find out about local wine tastings, wine dinners, wine classes, etc. For example, she has a posting yesterday morning with information on Corks and Cleavers.

It's well worth checking out.

Apr 24, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Mexicali - Birmingham

Since I live in Inverness, Mexicali is fairly close by, so I gave it a try last night. I would call it very standard Tex-Mex. The only meats on the menu are beef, chicken and shrimp, and the dishes available are pretty much the same as what you can get in dozens of "Mexican" restaurants throughout the Southeast. [Actually, the word "dozens" is based solely on my personal experience -- the true number is more likely in the hundreds, at least.] It's a lot like going to the Mexican analog of a "Chinese" chop suey restaurant.

Apr 17, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Birmingham - Favorite "cheap" eats/dishes?

Made my first visit to Que Huong a few nights ago, and was not impressed. I moved here from New Orleans about 3 1/2 years ago. We had a Vietnamese place just across the river in Gretna that was quite similar in menu, price and ambience. However, the food at Que Huong doesn't compare to what I used to get there.

We started with an order of goi cuon and one of cha gio. The goi cuon were OK, but they were all vegetables -- no shrimp, despite the description on the menu, and the peanut dipping sauce was very bland; thankfully, there was chili paste on the table. The cha gio were a lot better; the dipping sauce, though, tasted like fish sauce straight out of the bottle.

For my main dish, I had a large bowl of pho tai. It was definitely weak tasting, and there was no evidence of cilantro in it at all (and none among the optional items brought along with the soup). There wasn't very much meat in it either, although the quality was good. My companion had a dish with shrimp, chicken, a variety of vegetables and flat wide noodles (I forget the name). I tried a bit; again, it was OK, but I've had a similar better dish at Surin.

I certainly don't feel the need to go back there again.

Apr 17, 2008
iko.iko in Central South

Crawfish in or near Lafayette, LA

I'll be heading over to Lafayette, LA for Festival International in about 10 days. We always enjoy the music and always try to gorge ourselves on boiled crawfish sometime over the course of the weekend. Last time we were there, several years ago, we were told the place to go was Gator Cove, and it was pretty darn good. Does anyone have a current report on it or a place in or near Lafayette that you think is better? If so, what makes it better?

Apr 16, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Birmingham - Favorite "cheap" eats/dishes?

There are at least a half-dozen places named Habanero's in the phone book. Is it a chain? Does the food differ much from one location to another?

Apr 14, 2008
iko.iko in Central South

Best ceviche in Birmingham, AL?

What restaurant serves the best ceviche in or near Birmingham, AL? How pricey?

Apr 13, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Anyone been to Sirenas Seafood Grill in Birmingham?

Actually, that was one reason I was interested. I haven't really found any place for consistently good ceviche in Birmingham. One of my favorite New Orleans restaurants, RioMar, usually has at least 3 different varieties on the menu, or you can get a sampler of all 3. Wish there was something like that here in Birmingham! Think I'll start a new topic on the subject of ceviche in Birmingham...

Apr 13, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Anyone been to Sirenas Seafood Grill in Birmingham?

I happened to run across a section of the Bham News from sometime last summer recently and there was a review of it. Of course, like 95% of their reviews, the place got 3 stars, but the description of the food made it sound decent. However, I have never heard of it either. Dax seems to be up on all of the Maxican restaurants around town. Maybe he can fill us in...

Apr 10, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Birmingham Pizza

I grew up eating Chicago pizza -- not the deep-dish style, which I didn't encounter until I started college, but a hand-tossed thin crust that was not at all crispy. [Sounds a bit like the description of Davenport's.] Just about everywhere I went up there, the pizza was cut into little squares, because it was so loaded with cheese, sauce and sausage. It could be a bit on the gooey side, yes, maybe even tending towards soggy at times. But, oh was it flavorful! And when you ordered sausage pizza, you got real Italian sausage (mild, and with a definite taste of fennel) and LOTS of it. I've never found anything to equal that kind of pizza (or sausage) anywhere I've been in the South (and I've been lots of places).

As for deep-dish style pizza, I think Tortuga's does a fairly credible job. [I'm closest to the one off 280, so that's where I get mine.] They use decent sausage, although like everywhere else I've been, they're much stingier with it than what I was used to. Their thin crust is OK, but it's still a bit too crispy for me; I definitely prefer their deep-dish.

Apr 10, 2008
iko.iko in Central South

Anyone been to Sirenas Seafood Grill in Birmingham?

It's supposed to be on Oxmoor, west of I-65. I'm told it's a Mexican seafood restaurant.

Apr 10, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Ten best things to eat in New Orleans

Got to include Oysters Alvin from Bon Ton; I've actually dreamt about them, they're so good!

Everyone always talks about the Turtle Soup at Mandina's but their Oyster Artichoke Soup is pretty darned good as well.

I'd also nominate the Sunday Brunch at Begue's as the best buffet brunch for the money ANYWHERE -- an amazing variety of excellent food!

Apr 04, 2008
iko.iko in New Orleans

Birmingham - Hotdogs? Hot damn!

It's always been Pete's for me; guess I'll have to give Gus' a try.

Mar 31, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Asheville's Best Restaurants

It was definitely a "mom and pop" operation. The husband was the chef and the wife handled everything else the night we were there. It is very small, as Mustard Girl indicated -- probably doesn't hold more than 2 dozen at the most. It's a bit out of the way, yes, but actually fairly easy to get to after you've been there once.

We had a late, and very good, lunch at Rezaz one day, and then an excellent dinner at the place the following evening. Unfortunately, it's too been too long to remember any specifics, but I know we were both quite satisfied that the chef knew what he was doing.

Mar 28, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

What happened to Cuban Grill 280 in Birmigham?

Never tried a sparkling wine with sushi, but I love a good chilled sake. I've particularly enjoyed Tozai Nigori Voices in the Mist Sake from Vintage Wine Shoppe at home (w take/out sushi from Fresh Market -- not much variety, but decent for what it is). The sake selection at restaurants I've been to around town hasn't been all that terrific, so I usually end up with a Kirin or a Sapporo.

Mar 28, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Dinner options near Cumberland Mall in Atlanta

Thanks, DeeCee, but based on comments in another thread, I think we've about settled on Tasty China in Marietta. In fact, it sounds so inviting that we wish we were going over there sooner.

Mar 28, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Asheville's Best Restaurants

No one has mentioned Stone House Market on the Old Leicester Highway. My wife and I had a wonderful meal there in December of 2006. Is it no longer there or just no longer memorable?

Mar 28, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

What happened to Cuban Grill 280 in Birmigham?

Thanks. We'll have to try it again. We only went once with friends who had suggested it and weren't all that impressed. We just ordered off the menu, and I honestly have no recollection of what we had. My concern with ordering omakase is that you can set yourself up for a fairly serious bill if the sushi chef wants to play it that way. I usually wouldn't do it until I knew the chef a bit.

We are BIG sushi fans. So far, the best we've found in town has been at Ginza on Valleydale, which is convenient too since we live in Inverness. Do you have other suggestions (anywhere in town)?

Mar 28, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

What happened to Cuban Grill 280 in Birmigham?

Dax and Big Daddy, thanks to you both. I've sent an e-mail to a woman I know on the paper who's into the food scene to see if she has anything to add, but it does appear that Cuban Grill is a thing of the past. I'll probably see her at the wine tasting at Vintage on Friday afternoon, and will ask her again then if I don't hear from her earlier.

I live in Inverness, so the trip wasn't that big a deal for me. In fact, that and Black Pearl are two of the best options close by.

Mar 26, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive

Atlanta foodie scene

Thanks, Dax. It's only a bit over 6 miles away, so that works out perfectly. Biskuit had suggested reading the thread on Tasty China, which I did, and that pretty well sealed it for me. Unless something happens to prevent it, that's where we'll be going.

Mar 26, 2008
iko.iko in General South Archive