So I know it’s been a while since I updated but last week was absolutely crazy at work and then my parents came in on Thursday to visit me for the weekend (and bring me some furniture)! And like any recent grad/young adult knows, your parents coming means an excuse to eat lots of great food without having to pay for it. I’ll give you a quick overview of our food tour of Birmingham.
Flip Burger: Thursday night we ate at Flip Burger, a modern burger boutique that originated in Atlanta, founded by chef Richard Blais (you might know him as the winner of Season 8 ‘Top Chef All-Stars’). I ordered the Butcher’s Cut burger, topped with bleu cheese, caramelized onions, soy truffle vinaigrette, frisee, pickled shallots and red wine jam. It was absolutely delicious. The combination of flavors was unexpected, but phenomenal. I might just have to update my list of Top 3 burgers to include this one. We also ordered the fry sampler to split as our side. It included house-made french fries with smoked mayo, vodka battered onion rings with beer mustard, and sweet potato tots. The sides were good on their own, but the sauce really made them.
Urban Cookhouse: I had plans to take my parents to a food truck for lunch on Friday, but it was cold and rainy so we just decided to grab lunch in downtown Homewood since it’s only a few minutes from my office. Urban Cookhouse is a great little lunch spot for sandwiches, wraps and salads. They use all local ingredients and have some great Southern dishes. My favorite is the chipotle braised pork sliders (which my mom ordered and absolutely loved) but this time I branched out and tried the Urban Cowboy. It was like a spin on a philly cheesesteak, made with lime-marinated steak. It was good, but a little difficult to eat without a fork and a knife!
Nabeel’s: Of course I had to take my parents to Nabeel’s since it’s one of my favorite places in Birmingham. I wanted them to see all the Birmingham has to offer, from the down-home Southern places to the family-owned ethnic restaurants to the chic, trendy restaurants. Nabeel’s is owned by a Greek family and the food tastes like it’s straight from your grandma’s kitchen. My mom ordered the Moussaka and my dad and I got lasagna. Everything was delicious. The lasagna was similar to Italian lasagna but had a distinct Greek feel with the oregano-seasoned beef and lighter tomato sauce.
We also split the chocolate cake, cannoli, and Greek custard for dessert. My favorite was the custard because it was so light and sweet. We met the owner after our dinner and found out that his wife’s family is from the same town in Italy that our relatives are from! He was such a nice man and even told me that if I ever missed my mom’s cooking, I could come to Nabeel’s and they would take care of me.
O’Carr’s: My aunt introduced my mom to this place years ago when my mom would visit her in Birmingham, so my mom requested that we go here since she believes they have the best chicken salad she’s ever had (and she is VERY picky about her chicken salad). In fact, they sell 2,000 lbs. of it a week. It definitely is some of the best chicken salad, but I think what really makes it is the presentation. O’Carr’s slogan is “eat by color” so each chicken salad plate has a fruit from each color on the color wheel you’ll find on your tabletop. It’s also served with a variety of crackers, which makes each bite different.
Ocean: I have been dying to go to Ocean from the moment I got to Birmingham, and Saturday night I finally went. Specializing in seafood, the trendy restaurant in Five Points was recommended to me by numerous people claiming it’s the best restaurant here. Their lobster pot pie is on the list of “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” (I’ve now had 6) so of course I had to try it. And it definitely did not disappoint. It was baked in an individual skillet and the creamy sauce it was in tasted like a lobster bisque, but it wasn’t heavy at all. It had huge chunks of sweet, sweet Maine lobster, peas, carrots and mushrooms. It was huge, and I’m not going to lie, I ate the entire thing. And the lobster pot pie wasn’t the only star of the dinner. To start off, our waitress brought us crostini with a Greek salad-inspired bruschetta. It was a yummy, light way to start our meal. My dad was the only one who got a salad with his dinner, and it was topped with fried feta that was to die for. Think: classy fried mozzarella bites. We even asked if we could order it as an appetizer (for next time) and the waitress said it’s not listed as one but we could ask for it. My dad ordered the wood grilled red grouper, which was so fresh and had an authentic wood-grilled taste. My mom ordered the pot pie as well, and my little sister got the filet mignon that she says was the best steak she’s ever had!
Of course we had to try the desserts since the food was so good. My mom got homemade ice cream in three flavors: peanut butter-banana-caramel, Bailey’s, and Godiva. My little sister and I split the coconut dessert which included a coconut ice cream sandwich, coconut cream pie, and coconut macaroons. And then my dad got the white chocolate bread pudding. Everything was delicious and it was hard to choose a favorite!
Over Easy: We went out for breakfast Sunday morning before my parents left to go home to a popular, local breakfast/brunch spot. I ordered the fruity standard which came with 3 banana pancakes, 2 eggs and bacon. My dad and I both agreed the pancakes were some of the best banana pancakes we’d had. They were fluffy on the inside, slightly crunchy on the inside, and had a great, natural banana taste.
Overall, it was a great weekend with lots of great food and I’m so glad I got to see my parents!