Paramount

Lately, I’ve taken great pride in writing about hidden hole-in-the-walls. But sometimes, a girl’s gotta follow the trendy hipsters. But not to the kind of place that makes you feel like you are out of place in an episode of Portlandia. Rather, to a place that’s accessible, and whose quality stands on its own. And so, tonite, I bring you Paramount.

This is one of the newest additions to the downtown nightlife scene. I’ve been here a total of 4 times, once at 11pm, once at 9pm, and twice in the past week around 6pm. It is always packed.

This restaurant/bar is an amazing indoor-outdoor space. Tonite, the weather was beautiful. We sat just inside the patio, where we could still feel the breeze. I’ve also sat at the bar, which is beautiful. The entire place, including a huge back room, is filled with vintage arcade games. This gives the place a really unique feel. As Mr Foodie likes to say, it’s the kind of place where, if we found it on a road trip, we would feel like we found something truly unique that doesn’t exist anywhere else and want to tell all of our friends about it.

This is the kind of place where you expect to find good drinks. But the food here is shockingly good. Maybe not so shocking, since these are the El Barrio guys. And regardless of the hour, once ordered, the food arrives quickly, also an impressive feature given how busy the place is.

This post includes photos from the two meals eaten here in the past week-both with a foodie friend who liked it so much the first time she requested to go back a second time. OK, if you insist….

Small plates

First, the Ploughman’s Platter. Delicious bread, smoked trout dip, pimento cheese, sausage, candied bacon, salami, and olives. OUT OF THIS WORLD. Ordered this both times and devoured it both times. I have to apologize because this photo just does not do it justice:

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Sandwiches

They have other main courses-notably burgers and hot dogs-but I’ve always stuck with the sandwiches.

Grilled cheese with gouda, goat cheese, mozzarella, and sundried tomatoes on sourdough. The best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. Shown with fries with garlic mayo. Addictive.

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Then there’s a creation called “Going back to Cali”-chicken, avocado, basil, and lime on sourdough. This is quite possibly the only healthy thing on the menu-and it is fantastic. The combination of avocado and chicken is a bit like a lighter version of chicken salad, and with the delicious bread, it’s perfect.

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And finally, the Fun Guy. Balsamic marinated mushrooms, mozzarella, garlic mayo, and greens. I’m not typically a fan of balsamic vinegar but I wanted something lighter after my recent fried meals (see my last several posts), and wanted to try something new (I had the chicken last time). The chicken is still my favorite (I’m a sucker for anything avocado), but this is also hearty and delicious. Served on thick ?homemade pita bread.

I’m hopeful that this place will continue to be a strong presence in the Birmingham nightlife and and also food scene. It’s off to a great start, that’s for sure.

Paramount on Urbanspoon

La Libertad

La Libertad is a coastal town in El Salvador. It’s also a restaurant in Pelham. Tonite, Mr Foodie and I visited the latter.

This place was quite a find. I don’t believe we have ever had El Salvadorian food before so I must admit, I’m not an expert and I have no basis for comparison. But what we had, we loved. And it was served by a waitress who had a genuine interest in making sure we enjoyed the food, which made for a fantastic foodie experience.

La Libertad can be found-where else-in a strip mall in Pelham. I continue to be intrigued by the quantity of places like this in strip malls…. Where I’m from, anything in a strip mall is to be strictly avoided. Someone, explain this to me. But I digress. I forgot to photograph the outside-a standard Birmingham strip mall neon sign.

Once on the inside-this is a warm, cozy place where mostly Spanish (and in my case, a semester of college Spanish) is spoken. We knew that was a great sign and proceeded with our usual strategy at a place that looks like it is going to be great-order a little bit of everything.

The Menu

So much of the menu looked so fantastic. I like how colorful the menu is, and that there are clear translations:

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After reminding ourselves that we would be back (but probably not for at least a few weeks-Pelham is far-so we HAD to stock up), and with our waitresses’ guidance, we went with the following:

Appetizers and Small Plates

Our pork tamale came wrapped in some kind of paper that I’ve never seen before:

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This was the biggest tamale I’ve ever had, and was stuffed with juicy pork and vegetables. Absolutely wonderful. Here’s a closer look:

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Then a papusa, or homemade corn meal stuffed with, in this case, cheese. This one was oozing a little cheese, mmmmmmm:

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This is delicious if eaten alone, but even better with the condiments they bring-pickled slaw and tomato sauce:

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Then the plaintains. We accidentally ordered two kinds of plantains; the traditional delicious sweet kind:

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And then this. This was quite possibly one of the best things I’ve ever had, and also the richest. Looked like mashed up plantains encasing a sugary sour cream center deep fried and covered with sugar.

When they arrived, we weren’t sure what we had ordered. Mr Foodie looked at the plate, looked at me, and said, potato?

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After some dissection…. NOT a potato.

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Main Course

Wow. By this point we didn’t think things could get much better and we weren’t sure whether there was anything else coming. Of course, there was. We had ordered chicken stew-which turned out to be an amazing chicken soup chock full of veggies with a quarter chicken, rice, and beans on the side. Served with 2 homemade ?flour tortillas. Spectacular:

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Beverages

I usually don’t talk much about beverages-I am just more interested in food-but I have to show you this. Mr Foodie ordered this banana flavored soda which was out of this world. I’m sure bananas had nothing to do with the making of this treat, but I don’t care:

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Seeing that I didn’t have anything to drink, halfway through our meal, our waitress brought me some “juice.” When I asked what it was, she told me “mango and other fruit.” It had little bits of pulp (orange, maybe?) in it and was the perfect refreshing compliment to our meal:

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La Libertad, just as soon as I finish working off those plantains, I’ll be back. Give me a few days…..

 

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/45/490589/restaurant/Birmingham/La-Libertad-Pelham”><img alt=”La Libertad on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/490589/minilink.gif” /></a>

Los Pedros

Recently, a friend told me about a taqueria that is his new favorite place to get authentic tacos. When he told me it was on Valley Avenue, in a strip mall in the parking lot behind the Salvation Army, I knew I had to go ASAP.

I absolutely love the fact that they put photos of their menu on the outside of the restaurant. Makes for a colorful facade:

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Menu

Here’s the actual menu: an extremely affordable mixture of the usual tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas etc:

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I went with a friend for lunch, and we had a strategy. Guacamole (of course), one taco each (pastor), and per the waitresses’ suggestion, the chicken quesadilla. In fact, much to my surprise, she told us that the grilled chicken quesadilla was the best thing on the menu. We took her advice.

Guacamole

Look at this. Delivered to the table as fresh avocado, tomatoes and onions. Mixed by us right before eating. No limes were available (assuming this has to do with the international lime shortage we are currently facing). But a squirt of fresh lemon and we were good to go. Amazing. Before and after:

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Tacos

This place is, I think, unique from the other places I’ve blogged about in that they make their own homemade corn tortillas. And they.are. so. good. The pastor had chunks of fresh pineapple in it and is probably now my favorite pastor in Birmingham.

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Quesadilla

I understood why the waitress insisted this was such a good dish. The combination of the homemade tortilla with almost smoky grilled chicken and mild Mexican cheese was unbelievable.

First, the aerial view:

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Now in mouth-watering cross-section:

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I’ve never had a quesadilla like this before-it wasn’t greasy, but it was still very hearty.

The Fixins

This place has a more extensive fresh fixins bar than most: not just salsa but amazing pickled veggies and other fresh toppings:

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And at $20 for all of that including a nice tip-you can’t beat it. Not even on Greensprings.

Rafiki’s Grill

As you know, or can tell by the types of places I blog about, I like all kinds of food, so long as its good. But I gravitate towards places that seem unusual for the area. In a state like Alabama, known for its soul food and BBQ, that typically means food from other countries and cultures. Take that a step further-food served in an atmosphere that transports you to a different continent, and introduces you to new people.

I’ve spent some time in Botswana and in Vietnam. Being away from home as an American “ex-pat” and walking into an American establishment abroad always had a very homey, let’s get to know each other feel. The only way I can describe the vibe at Rafiki’s is this kind of experience here in the US. At Rafiki’s, I talked to people from different places in Africa – mostly Kenya and Zambia – and we all felt at home.

Rafiki’s Grill is, to my knowledge, the only full service African restaurant of any kind in town. (Please, prove me wrong! I would love to try another if it exists.) It is on Valley Avenue, near Gordos and some of the other small restaurants I’ve blogged about. It is Kenyan, and serves a focused menu of Kenyan food. And all of it is homemade, as the waitress bragged to us with a smile.

I’ve been there twice in two weeks and so have had the opportunity to try nearly everything on the menu, thanks to Mr Foodie and two foodie couples who helped me out (they didn’t seem to suffer too much). In fact, everyone I’ve taken there has loved it. One consistent theme in all of Rafiki’s food is quality. The menu is relatively small, but the quality of each dish is top notch. Speaking of the menu:

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As you can see, Rafiki’s has some items that aren’t available anywhere else in town-with their English translations.

Appetizers

African turkey sausage (specially imported from a Kenyan sausage factory in Delaware we were told), flavorful and delicious; house-made ground turkey samosas with the lightest flakiest crust I’ve ever tasted on a samosa; and “African salsa,” very refreshing:

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Here’s a closer look at that beautiful sausage:

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And the salsa:

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And served with a smoky homemade hot sauce that goes well with all of the above:

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Here are our fries masala (and if you don’t believe that fries masala are a thing check this out :

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The Main Course

I’m not much into meats other than chicken, beef, or pork, but I understood that Kenyan goat stew is something not to be missed. The restaurant’s owner also has a goat farm near Birmingham where the goats are raised …. I had to try it. This was my first ever experience with goat:

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On my second visit, I was joined by two friends who were goat pros and had several observations. First, goat often has a gamey, bitter aftertaste. Second, goat is typically served full of bones, making it difficult to eat. Neither was the case here. The meat was tender and the stew had a deep flavor that tasted of ?bell peppers and was fantastic. The goat stew here is shown with chapati, thicker and doughier than the Indian version and great with the stew, and sakuma wiki or collard greens, which complimented the stew well.

Next up is the grilled chicken:

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This was extremely juicy and delicious. Was served with pilau rice, which is a spiced rice, and ugali, or cornmeal cooked to dough consistency. Ugali doesn’t have any flavor but has a wonderful texture, and takes on the flavor of whatever you eat it with. Highly recommended with the stew.

Here is some of their delicious chicken stew-brighter flavors than the goat stew, equally as delicious. I ate it with the ugali and chapati, probably my favorite combination:

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The grilled goat was also perfectly cooked, and beautiful. Goes great with the homemade hot sauce. Served with chapati and cabbage:

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Dessert

While we were told that the chocolate cake is also homemade, Mt Kilimanjaro is their house specialty. I will have to find out the story behind this dessert. For now, I was just glad to eat it: bananas, brown sugar, butter, vanilla ice cream:

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This place is a real gem, but not a hidden one. Of all of my Greensprings and Valley Ave finds, this place gets the award for the best signage. You can’t miss it!

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Rafiki's Grill on Urbanspoon}

The Backstory: Sushi Village 2

A passion for sushi

Owen Ou’s passion for sushi began 20 years ago in the kitchen of famed Iron Chef Morimoto‘s restaurant in Manhattan.

Originally  from China, Ou moved to the US as a teenager with his parents.  At age 17, he had just finished school, and recalls searching the internet for a job just “to make some money.”  With no prior interest in the restaurant industry – he didn’t even know who Morimoto was – he landed a job as one of his dishwashers.

This early experience helped shape the direction of his career.

Morimoto recognized Ou’s hardworking spirit and soon began to train him in various aspects of the business: rolling sushi, working in the kitchen, and restaurant management.  And when Morimoto was cooking, “everybody watched him – he creates amazing food.”

Moving to Alabama

Ou left Morimoto and his parents behind in New York to join his sister and brother-in-law in Decatur, Alabama, in search of a lower cost of living.  He worked in his brother-in-law’s Chinese restaurant and other restaurants for another 5 years, which allowed him to continue to learn the business and practice his skills.

Opening Sushi Village

Ou talks fondly of his time with Morimoto and his brother-in-law.  But he quickly adds, “I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant-that’s my dream….my dream has come true.”

With a business partner, Ou opened the first Sushi Village in Gardendale.  He then worked with an agent to help him find a location in Birmingham.  They tried 280 first, but there was too much competition from other restaurants.  Then they settled on the current location in Irondale.  Ou points out that he is the only Sushi restaurant in this part of town, which has helped to drive business.

Building the team

Making good sushi can’t be learned on the job – it requires years of training.  Ou explains that his sushi chefs must train in New York prior to coming to work for him in Birmingham.  Just like Ou, his staff often come from New York looking for a good job with higher wages and a more affordable cost of living in Birmingham.

In fact, Ou and his staff are mostly from the small town of Fu-Jing in Southern China.  While they didn’t know each other there, people back home know of Ou’s restaurant.  This serves as a sort of pipeline for new and prospective employees.  Once here, Ou not only employs them, he treats them like family. Currently, Ou has 2 sushi chefs, 4 kitchen cooks, 2 dishwashers, and 6 servers.

When asked what the most important thing he learned from Morimoto was, Ou doesn’t hesitate:  “teamwork.”  He explains that in a sushi restaurant, everybody does their own job, and everybody helps each other — a philosophy that he has brought with him to his own business.

Building the business

Sushi Village has a loyal following of repeat customers, who come back again and again, and spread the word to their friends.  This, along with the restaurant’s location, has helped to make it popular.

And of course, there’s the menu.  Ou’s experiences at several restaurants have allowed him to create a menu that includes recipes he has used before, and some that are new.  Ou’s favorite roll on the menu is the Snow Mountain roll, which came directly from Morimoto’s menu.  He asked me mine, which is the Sushi Village roll; this is one of Ou’s original creations.

Next steps

Ou is working to train others to open other Sushi Villages franchise locations….. stay tuned!

For more information

Check out our original Sushi Village 2 post!

 

Sharks Fish and Chicken

Last year, a co-worker brought amazing fried chicken to a work baby shower that was reportedly from a chicken shack in a gas station. Sounds good to me.

From what I can tell, Shark’s is a mostly Southern chain with several locations in the state. This location is attached to a Sunoco on Greensprings:

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Mr Foodie and I headed to meet 2 friends there on a weeknight. Once inside, it is apparent that essentially everything on the menu – meat, veggies, pickles-is fried. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never been to a place like this before-it was like being in a breaded and oil covered parallel universe. I was mesmerized.

Turns out, one of my two friends had gotten the dates mixed up and had ALSO shown up the night before. When I started to tell her how sorry I was that she came all this way only to leave with an empty stomach-she recommended the fried shrimp…. And told me she was glad to be back for a second night in a row. Now that’s dedication to fried food.

We soon saw why she was willing to make the pilgrimage twice. There are numerous ways to order food here. A la carte or in a dizzying array of combos:

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We all ordered something different and shared. My friend who was back for the second time opted to order 3 sides for her meal, and the rest of us got combos, so we all got to taste lots of deep fried things.

It’s hard to write very distinctly about all of the food we ate, so I’ll just summarize. Everything tastes juicy and deep fried. And delicious. Everything goes well with either ketchup, hot sauce, and/or ranch, which are plentiful:

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And the service is friendly and funny. After an hour of us plowing through the food, when I went back for more ranch, the guy cooking the food said-are you guys still here?? To which I replied, did you see what we ordered??

And so here it is, the deep fried photo montage, in no special order:

Fried green tomatoes:

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Fried pickle spears:

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Hushpuppies (the sweet cornbread-y kind):

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Now in cross-section:

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Corn nuggets, shrimp, chicken, and catfish:

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Corn nugget in cross section:

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Wings, catfish, and seasoned fries:

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Now for the non-fried bits.

The salad, defined loosely:

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The bread:

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If you are reading this from north of the Mason-Dixon Line, do not, I repeat, do NOT, try to determine what Wonderbread is doing in this photo montage. If you’ve spent the last few minutes wondering whether I was going to photograph the Wonderbread-you are definitely from ’round here.

In summary, at Shark’s, you get what you came for-fish and chicken. You can’t get much more genuine than that. And while I’m pretty sure I just un-did about a month of what my statin and running routine have been trying to accomplish, it was worth it for the very genuine, very homey, very deep fried (have I mentioned that?) experience.

Sharks Fish and Chicken on Urbanspoon

Kool Korner Sandwiches

There is a full service Cuban restaurant in Birmingham. I repeat, there is a full service Cuban restaurant in Birmingham.

How did I miss this??!

For the past 2 years, people have been telling me I should check out Kool Korner Sandwiches. There was just one problem-I hate sandwiches. For about 5 years, when I was a teenager, my doctors thought I had a gluten allergy. This was before the days of relatively good gluten-free products at regular grocery stores. As a result, I didn’t eat sandwiches for many years, and never really cared about them once I began eating gluten again. (Pizza is another story, as you may know from my recent posts about Post Office Pies and Reyes Pizza.) So when people told me that Kool Korner has a great Cuban sandwich, that wasn’t compelling enough to draw me to the restaurant.

However, one of my awesome foodie friends who accompanied me to the now temporarily closed Miami Cafe had their Cuban sandwich and, along with her hubby, was in search of another. So, off to Kool Korner we went. It is located in Vestavia, across the highway from the movie theater, in – you guessed it – a strip mall.

Once inside, I realized what I had been missing. This is not a sandwich shop. They have sandwiches including a Cuban sandwich but also have other Cuban food including soup, tamales, empanadas (which were sold out), and their Saturday nite special-meat, yucca, plantains, and rice.

Since there were 3 of us, we basically ordered the whole menu, minus the empanadas, and still only spent $10/person: Sorry for forgetting to photograph the menu-next time!

First, the Galacian Stew, a traditional Cuban white beans and pork stew. I neither like white beans nor pork, but this was fantastic-great ratio of ingredients and extremely flavorful:

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Then, the much anticipated Cuban Sandwich:

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Great mixing of salty and meaty flavors. Let’s look under the hood on this one. Ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on delicious Cuban bread.

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Then, the tamales. On the outside they look like your usual tamales:

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But on the inside, I’ve actually never had one quite like this before: pieces of pork throughout.

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Much more subtle than the usual tamale, but rich and delicious. Especially with some hot sauce.

Now for the Saturday nite special. The meat was tender and flavorful, plantains were sweet, and the yucca was yucca-starchy and buttery. Absolutely wonderful.

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This was served with beans. Although usually I want nothing to do with beans, these were richly flavored and more like soup than straight up beans. Wonderful in combination with the rice, meat, and plantains:

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Sitting by the register was a box of guava and cream cheese pastries, made that day. We had to try them. Check this out:

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Now in cross-section:

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A light, flaky, delicious fruity croissant.

By the way, have you noticed that everything is served on paper plates and in styrofoam? This isn’t a fancy place-the food is the main attraction.

Kool Korner Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Taipei 101

I’m going to keep this simple. There’s a place on Greensprings called Taipei 101. The exterior of the building prompted Mr Foodie to exclaim “let’s not get the sushi until we see the inside.” Once on the inside, we met a die hard Taipei 101 fan who told us (as did the waitress) that the sushi is where it’s at. And at $7 for two regular rolls and $13 for 2 special rolls, the prices are (maybe frighteningly?) cheap.

But fear not. The sushi is incredible. On our first trip, we had two special rolls: the mango paradise roll (top-fresh mango and shrimp tempura) and the volcano roll (bottom-California roll with baked seafood on top). Great flavors, not too much rice filler – basically a fantastic experience:

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We were intrigued and had to return to double check our first impressions before blogging. This time, tiger roll on top (tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and whitefish with fried “dynamite” inside), and a rainbow spider roll on the bottom (fried soft shell crab with crab salad). Just as good:

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As we continue to try more rolls, we will report back. But so far, so good.

Taipei 101 Sushi & Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Post Office Pies

You know a neighborhood has arrived when it has a brewery, a top rated BBQ joint, and now, a pizza place that merges them both.

When we moved to Birmingham in July 2011, we had heard that something was afoot in Avondale. I remember going to the building that would become Avondale Brewery and getting an impromptu tour. Just eight months later, after we had taken many more formal tours through the brewery, we went to Saw’s on its opening night. Saw’s in Avondale has since been, in my opinion, the best overall BBQ in town. So when Post Office Pies was slated to open under the direction of 2 of the Saw’s guys, we were excited.

A few months ago, we drove by and noticed some activity in the old Post Office building. We stopped and found out that Post Office Pies was open briefly, just for a few hours, to test out some recipes. What a beautiful space – a large, open room with brick walls and a beautiful brick oven as the focal point. We got a margherita pizza – just cheese, tomatoes, and basil – and it was great. We couldn’t wait to return when the restaurant was fully operational.

So this week, we went back, this time with a friend so we could order more. The menu now featured numerous pizzas, and a few delicious sounding salads:

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Ordering is done at the counter. We decided on ordering a margherita pizza again, this time adding mushrooms, and the swine pie. I usually try to eat relatively healthy, but for the sake of the blog, I really wanted to experience a pizza that would showcase the best of what both Post Office Pies and Saw’s have to offer. I have to assume that Post Office Pies sources its meat from Saw’s – where Saw’s serves pulled pork, Post Office Pies’ swine pie has bacon and pork sausage. Similarly, the kale and brussel sprout salad also comes with a healthy dose of bacon-so we had to order that too. Post Office Pies also serves a fantastic selection of Avondale beer-but this is a food blog, let’s stick with that.

We sat down and within a few minutes the salad arrived. The kale and brussel sprouts are both raw. The brussel sprouts were cut in relatively thin strips, and the kale in medium sized pieces so as not to be overpowering.
The dressing was amazingly light, In contrast to the small but thick cut pieces of bacon that just melted in my mouth. Amazing. Look in the lower left corner for the pork:

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Then the pizzas. The crust was doughier than thin crust, but certainly not deep dish. Really delicious. On the margherita pizza, the fresh tomatoes and basil really shone. Even better than the first time:

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As for the swine pie-definitely the right choice. This pizza’s focus is on the meat. Salty and delicious, and like all their pizzas, topped with delicious fresh basil:

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It may surprise you to know that pizza isn’t typically my favorite thing-despite my very genuine, glowing posts about Reyes Pizza and Slice, and now Post Office Pies. But what I’ve realized is that when you combine really great dough with other high quality ingredients, it can be an incredible foodie experience. And what makes Post Office Pies unique from the other great places in town, in addition to the unique dough, is one of those high quality ingredients-the pork. Again, I’m assuming it comes from Saw’s (probably a good assumption), but wherever it comes from, Post Office Pies produces a really winning combination.

Post Office Pies on Urbanspoon

Silvercoin Indian Grill

First off, this post is dedicated to my wonderful foodie friend who has much more experience with Indian food than I do. Her knowledge of Indian food is nearly encyclopedic. She deserves credit for helping me figure out the names of some of the foods shown here, and for introducing us to Silvercoin when we moved to Birmingham!

Often, when I mention that I have a restaurant blog, an early question that arises is, what is your favorite Indian food in town? Although I do really love Taj and have blogged about it, and also love Mughal and the Sitar in Tuscaloosa (both on my “to blog” list), I have a special place in my heart for Silvercoin. While I have my favorite dishes at Taj, everything I have ever tried at Silvercoin is incredible. And, it is served with such grace and kindness, especially from the owners (I think), a man and woman who check on you from time to time between courses, make conversation, and above all give the place a homey feel.

This post is a mash-up of two trips to Silvercoin-so that you don’t think we are this piggy!

On our most recent visit last week, when we arrived, there was a bit of a wait for a table. While waiting, we ran into some friends and began trading insider information about favorite dishes. We all agreed that the masala dosa, a crepe filled with spiced potatoes and nuts, is a must. Another dish that I love but had not tried at Silvercoin was chicken briyani, spiced rice that in my experience is often served but hard to perfect.

We also saw this sign and took it as a sign:
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When they located a table for us, they didn’t like the cleanliness of the floor beneath it so in a flurry of motion they moved the table halfway across the restaurant for us. Everyone in that section of the restaurant laughed-that’s service!

When you are seated, you immediately get a basket of fresh papadum and mint and tamarind chutney . Light and great for snacking. My understanding is that these are heat dried rather than fried.

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We always order a mango lassi at every Indian restaurant. The cardamom flavor was prominent but not overpowering; it was frothy and very refreshing.

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Then, the carrot pickle. Very spicy. We ate a little bit on its own, which was good, but not as good as when combined with the food we ordered. We put it on and in everything, and it made everything that much better.

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Next, the dosa. This is the only place I am aware of in the Ham that serves these. Please, let me know if I am wrong! These are impressive, partially because they are so large and perfectly triangular! When they come out of the kitchen, everyone turns to look:

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What in the world is going on inside this thing? Fold in the corners and flip it over to look under the hood:

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Surprise! Potatoes, spices, and nuts!

It is served with coconut chutney (which I poured all over it-just rich and fantastic). And sambar, which has a strong tamarind flavor and we also used liberally:

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Chicken tikka masala. Always a classic-although not exactly 100% authentic, we always order it because when done well, it is so good. Always a winner at Silvercoin. Rich but not overly rich, thick tomato broth, a little spicy (at our request).

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Chicken briyani, our friend’s suggestion. The best I’ve had in town, and among the very best I’ve had anywhere. Also spicy at our request, with a complex blend of delicious spices.

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We doused everything with raita – cuts the spice slightly and adds additional creaminess.

20140406-101448.jpg We were still sweating at the end of the meal-we enjoy a good sinus cleansing and this meal provides that. (The food can also be made mild, or even spicier, by request.)

Now for dessert. The last time we went to Silvercoin with my Indian food expert friend, my eyes drifted to the “Silvercoin brownie special,” which the menu reports is served in a “sizzling pan.” I was having a craving. I’m human, alright? The owner heard us having a discussion of the questionable authenticity of eating a brownie at an Indian restaurant, and she explained. On her last trip to India, she ate dinner at a hotel where they served this for dessert. When she ate it, she knew she had to bring it back to Silvercoin. That story did it for us-we had to try it. It did not disappoint. Just look at this photo:

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Now that’s a good way to end a blog post.

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