Ahh, Birmingham Restaurant Week. You came and went too quickly.
For 10 glorious days, restaurant-goers in one of the fattest states in America could gorge themselves on much better food.
We were still giving ourselves diabetes, but a much higher class of diabetes; the kind of diabetes that knows which fork to use first in restaurants like Bottega and makes snide remarks about English majors.
For $30, $20, or $10, average Joes could wander into the finest restaurants in Birmingham and walk out stuffed with three courses of goodness. Here's part one of the rundown on my extended week of gluttony:
Part of the reason I'd never been there is because it's in Mountain Brook, the suburb designed to make sure everyone who didn't actually live within the city limits would never find the place they were looking for, and if they did, they certainly wouldn't be able to find their way back out again. It's how they keep the riff-raff out.
Anyhow, I'd heard so much about the cheese dip at La Paz, that I decided we needed a bowl for the table, even though the Restaurant Week deal included an appetizer called Chorizo Poblano Queso Fundido. I'm still not entirely sure what that was, but by the time I'd finished both of those things, my entire entree went in a to-go box. Thankfully the albondigas (pork & beef traditional meatballs, tomato chipotle sauce, potatoes, cramamelized onions, avocado, and queso fresco) were delicious for lunch on Monday.
Saturday, Michael's Restaurant: After an afternoon spent sweating more than our body weight at Sloss Furnace and trying to replace the lost water with barbeque at Stokin the Fire, the trivia team ventured out to Michael's in Homewood for even more meat products.
The Michael's $30 deal included in theory, a choice between fried crab claws and crab cakes with fried green tomatoes as the appetizer. In reality, however, they were out of the crab claws, so we all had the cakes. They were delicious, but have you ever had bad crab cakes? I'm guessing no.
For the main course, we got to choose between scallops with a vegetable risotto and twin bleu cheese steak medallions served over potatoes. Some of us were tempted to order the scallops until our helpful server set us straight: the steaks are where it's at.
I am so glad we listened. The medallions were incredible. I ordered medium rare and that's actually how the steak came out, which is also rare. The slightly melty bleu cheese on top of a really flavorful steak was an outstanding addition.
The dessert that came with the deal was supposed to be bread pudding, but since they were out of that too, we settled for some kind of a ridiculous chocolate cake that was better than any breadpudding I've ever had.
After that, we all immediately retired to our respective homes to pass out into inescapable food comas and dream of brunch the next day at Cafe de Paris. Sadly, I'm not ready to tell you about that yet, since it's 2 a.m. and I've already written 500+ words on the first two nights, you'll have to wait a bit longer for details on the rest of restaurant week. The follow-up is coming soon, I promise.