In starting a new year, I can’t help but look back at all of the amazing foods I experienced in 2019. Our state doesn’t make the top lists for much, but we certainly have some great food. Here is my round up of some of the most over-the-top dishes The Magic City offered to me this past year!
The Seafood Tower at Ocean
You aren’t truly a Birminghamian until you’ve gotten familiar with Ocean, locally owned and operated by executive chef George Reis. No matter what new restaurants spring forward, Ocean remains one of my top favorites over the years. The Seafood Tower is just that: a tower of oysters, spicy peel and eat shrimp, marinated mussels, and Maine lobster, topped with a cumin remoulade mignonette cocktail dipping sauce. We always spring for the add-on of Alaskan King Crab. The whole shebang sets us back about $100, but we leave absolutely stuffed with some of the freshest and best seafood available. No need for a formal dinner here (although we love their dinner menu too). Visit the Raw Bar during happy hour and enjoy enough seafood to have you dreaming of the shorelines over a couple of glasses of chardonnay. You’ll find the bartenders make great conversation and you can watch the tower being constructed right before your eyes. Visit Ocean’s Website for more information.
The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar’s Deliverance Roll
The Southern-Style BAR-B-Q-SHI (see what they did there?) is made up of pulled pork, caramelized onion and BBQ sauce, wrapped in soy paper and potato strings then flash fried. This immaculate dish is topped with housemade bacon coleslaw chives, and a whirlwind of fried potato strings. The Cowfish’s ‘burgushi’ fuses American style with Japanese sushi style fantastically. To sum up this dish: it is North Carolina bbq in a sushi roll. Read more about The Cowfish on their website.
Perry’s Pork Chop
Pay attention when a Texas steakhouse says its signature dish is pork. A recipe perfected over four decades, Perry’s Pork Chop is rubbed with a secret blend of seasonings, cured, roasted, slow smoked, caramelized, finished in the oven and topped with Perry’s herb-garlic butter, and carved tableside during dinner service each evening. The three-rib Perry’s Famous is a “seven-finger” cut, which is a butcher’s measure that hearkens back to the meat shop the Perry family opened in 1979. The server carves three distinct parts, advising diners to start with a rib, move to a cut Perry’s calls the “eyelash”–a small hunk of dark marbled meat–and then try the loin. The massive dinner portion leaves plenty of leftovers, even for the hungriest of diners, and rings in at around $42. If you are looking to try it for less, Perry’s iconic Pork Chop Friday lunch begins each Friday at 10:30 am and lasts until 4 pm with an amazing special: A lunch-cut portion of Perry’s Famous Pork Chop served with whipped potatoes and homemade applesauce for $16. Read more or make reservations on Perry’s website.
Diver-Speared Lionfish at Little Savannah
The Fresh Gulf Lionfish diver-speared by the guys at Southern Skin Divers Supply stole the show at our dinner at Little Savannah. Serving Lionfish is something of a culinary feat, as their spines deliver a venomous sting that can last for days and cause extreme pain, sweating, respiratory distress and even paralysis. Lionfish venom glands are located in the spines on the top and the sides and the bottom of the fish and can sting you even after the fish is dead. But no worries, the chef at Little Savannah takes care to remove the spines prior to serving. Not only did this entree make an immaculate presentation, but it was absolutely delicious; flaky, buttery filets, expertly flash-fried and served over roasted potatoes and charred tomatoes and green beans. Lionfish has a white, flaky meat that is similar to snapper with no red (blood) line in the flesh. The Lionfish is only available at certain times, so call ahead to make sure they have a few! Find out more about their menu on their website.
The Corndog at Carrigan’s
This is not your father’s “state fair” corn dog. This is a gourmet, hand breaded concoction that is made from fresh ingredients and creates an impressive display over cocktails. The corn dog arrives on a plate with a generous helping of fresh cut fries. Served in a similar style to Mexican Street Corn, Carrigan’s menu describes the corn dog as: street-style, hipster ranch, guajillo ketchup, cotija, cilantro. Read more about Carrigan’s on their website.
The Mile End Platter at Mile End Deli
The Mile End appetizer platter is perfect for sharing! Two platter options are available at this Jewish deli: The Eli (think lox and cream cheese) and The Mile End (think meat and more meat). We have tried both, but here is pictured The Mile End: a large platter of corned beef, smoked turkey, and brisket slices served alongside rye bread, an assortment of pickled vegetables and two mustard varieties. This dish alone was more than enough for two people to share and every single item on the platter is house-made and delicious.
Sushi for Two at Okinawa
A local favorite for Homewoodians, Okinawa Sushi & Hibachi Steak House serves sushi, hibachi, sashimi and tempura dishes. The Sushi for Two Platter includes a variety of sushi and sashimi and is elegantly displayed, complete with flowers. Look over their menu on their website.
And finally, something sweet!
Cotton Candy Milkshake at K&J’s Elegant Pastries
This one certainly doesn’t fit into the New Year’s diet trends. The cotton candy milkshake, topped with sprinkles, a cupcake and more, can satisfy the sweet tooth of a whole family! K&J’s Elegant Pastries, located in Alabaster, serves milkshakes in 14 different flavors that include the K&J Original, Strawberry Shortcake Crunch, Strawberry Cheesecake, Ultimate Oreo, Birthday Cake, Cotton Candy, and Salted Caramel. See some of their other over-the-top milkshake offerings in this article by al.com. For more information, call 205-663-4827 or visit www.kjselegantpastries.com.
We can’t wait to see what bizarre foods 2020 has in store! Have an idea? Shoot us an email! We would love to hear about some of the city’s secret gems we are yet to experience!