Winter Restaurant Week BONUS: Rowe's Service Station

FullSizeRender (4)Winter Restaurant Week is officially over, but I have one last meal to write up. Being a blogger for these events has been a really fun experience. I've gotten the chance to connect (or reconnect) with dear friends over delicious meals and eat new meals at fancy joints and old favorites. With all that done, I'm also excited to go overboard on fruits and veggies for the next week or so. As y'all know, I'm all about some rich food, but I need to bring a bit more balance back into my life. But my last meal before reestablishing healthy eating patterns was a great one to end on: brunch at Rowe's Service Station. When Haley and I got there, it was just about full, but we were able to quickly snag a table. FullSizeRender (5)In the interest of sampling as many of the brunch menu offerings as possible, I ordered The Shop Floor, while Haley got the Eggs Concord.

They'd pretty much thrown everything including the kitchen sink onto my plate, and it looked delicious. There was a lot of food on both our plates. Luckily, it's solid, tasty, rich Southern food -- AKA the best kind. The home fries were crispy and tender, the flaky biscuits were topped with rich, chunky gravy, and the fried eggs were salty. What brought it home was the crispy-around-the-edges bacon, sausage, AND country ham: not one, but THREE breakfast meats. Seriously, who can say no to that?

With this post, I relinquish my title of Birmingham Restaurant Week blogger. With that said, I got to be part of the first annual Winter Restaurant Week, and I'm looking forward to seeing what other additions they have in mind.

For more coverage and information about future developments, visit the Birmingham Restaurant Week website.

Winter Restaurant Week: Billy's Sports Grill

FullSizeRender (15)Billy's Sports Grill has been a Birmingham institution since before I was born. With hunting trophies and TVs on the walls, it looks like a place where you can get a solid (and reasonably priced) sandwich and fries. You'd be right: like the restaurant's appearance, the food looks simple, but is delicious. The lunch rush had mostly cleared out by the time we got there. It's been kind of a crazy week, so we took the time before lunch and dessert to decompress. I'd been pretty excited to see what their meal was like: after all, who can say no to a prime rib sandwich?

FullSizeRender (14)It didn't disappoint. Before the prime rib is cooked, it's covered in a house rub, then cooked for several hours. Since it's cooked as a whole, they usually only serve it for catering gigs -- or special events like Restaurant Week. It's labor intensive, but the resulting meat is rich and tender. At lunch, it was served on a warm roll that had been buttered and toasted. A liberal dose of their mild horseradish cream sauce was available to top it, and a salty, dark au jus was served on the side for dipping. Yum.

FullSizeRender (16)The fries rounded out the portion -- not too salty, not soggy, and nicely crisp. According to our friendly and knowledgeable server Brandy, the dinner meal was a slight variation on the theme: instead of a prime rib sandwich, the prime rib was served without a bun, with a tossed salad and broccoli on the side.

My next-to-last Winter Restaurant Week meal was capped off with a warm, dense brownie. Served with a chocolate drizzle and melty whipped creamy, the rich dessert also had chocolate chips hidden within for added decadence. Man, I'm gonna miss this gig.

For more #WRW2016 coverage, check out the Birmingham Restaurant Week website.

Winter Restaurant Week: Bottle & Bone

IMG_1432At Bottle & Bone, the word of the day is always "bacon." Earlier this week, my friend Taylor and I ate lunch at the restaurant and bottle shop in Uptown. I hadn't been in there in almost a year, and saw that they'd rearranged the space, which culled their bottle offerings but opened up more room for tables. IMG_1434For the Winter Restaurant Week lunch, you choose between a half bacon flight and an arugula salad for the appetizer. Since there were two of us, we ordered both. The bacon flight was made up of two or three pieces of three different bacons. All were cooked so that they were nice and crispy (just the way I like it), but the results were different for each.

FullSizeRender (12)Next came the sandwiches. To maximize what we could taste, I ordered the burger with potato gratin, and Taylor chose the avocado BLT with chips. The modestly sized burger came with the standard toppings: cheese, lettuce, tomato, and creamy sauce all on a buttered and toasted bun. Because there was one piece of bacon leftover from the flight, I added that onto the burger. It was tasty, but make sure you're hungry: it's rich and a bit on the greasy side. The potato gratin was also rich, but who can resist potatoes and cheese?

FullSizeRender (13)The avocado BLT was an interesting combination. It was served cold, so the rich and creamy avocado played off the more intensely smoky notes of the chilled (but crunchy) bacon. The mild tomato rounded it out, while the lettuce provided a little crunch to finish it off.

For dessert, the chocolate cookie was a nice, lighter way to top things off. Crunchy edges, white chocolate chips, and a soft center made it a nice way to wrap up the meal.

For more #WRW2016 coverage, check out the Birmingham Restaurant Week website.

Winter Restaurant Week: JoJo's on Broadway

FullSizeRender (4)When I was a kid, my across-the-street neighbor and I would ride our bikes down to Lag's Eatery for chocolate milkshakes. Although Lag's has since closed, what took its place is JoJo's on Broadway, a family-owned and operated restaurant. Most of Joe and Zelda's recipes are -- or are adapted from -- recipes their parents used in their own restaurants years ago. It's a little fancier than Lag's used to be, but it's still super-accessible food in a casual setting. FullSizeRender (5)The Restaurant Week meal offers a LOT of options. For the soup and salad course, I ordered the New England clam chowder and my friend got the grilled romaine heart. The chowder was creamy, with chunks of clam and tiny bits of veggies that don't get in the way of the creamy soup. The romaine heart was grilled to a crisp and topped with their dad's blue cheese dressing.

Then came the starters. The jerk chicken appetizer was smoky grilled chicken with creamy, spicy jerk sauce. It's hard to describe exactly how good the result of these simple ingredients was, but they came together well and were still really good cold. I will be coming back for more of that (and the Reuben. Apparently the Reuben is amazing). FullSizeRender (10)Next up was the entrée. Both of us opted for the shrimp pesto pasta, which was more creamy than basil-y, but was deliciously rich. By the time the main course came out, we were having a blast: the music was all '90s and early '00s, and the company (and service!) was excellent.

FullSizeRender (11)Though the pie doesn't come with the Winter Restaurant Week meal, it's definitely worth checking out. The chocolate pie was like chocolate pudding on pie crust in the best way possible. I'm not huge on coconut pie, but my friend really liked it, and the texture was nice. Our mutual favorite was the key lime: tangy, not too sweet, and lacking the mouth-coating fattiness of most key lime pies. To quote Arnold, I'll be back.

For more #WRW2016 coverage, check out the Birmingham Restaurant Week website.

Winter Restaurant Week: Galley & Garden

IMG_1411Winter Restaurant Week has been a seriously nostalgic time for me. Yesterday, I visited Galley & Garden for the first time for lunch. Six years ago, my first experience with Birmingham Restaurant Week happened in the same building when it was called The Veranda. Since I was last inside right before they closed for renovations, lunch gave me the chance to marvel at all the changes in the building. A window into the kitchen really lit up the bar area, and the whole space seemed lighter. That's not even to mention great service (thanks, Max!), and really good food.

IMG_1406As for the meal itself, the Faroe Island salmon was the first up. Accompanied by a lightly dressed butter lettuce salad topped with a brown butter vinaigrette on the side and roasted veg, it looked just about as good as it tasted. There were a couple brussels sprouts in the mixture, but I could've eaten a whole bowl -- they were slightly charred on the outside, but sweet and soft on the inside. The fish was cooked to a perfect medium (by my inexpert estimate), seared to a lovely crisp on the outside and warm and tender when you cut into it.

IMG_1414Then came the dessert. As most Southerners can attest, every bread pudding is a little different. Galley & Garden's was deliciously divided -- the pudding portion was soft, with crispy apples, a Granny Smith apple compote and a touch of rich chantilly cream on the side. I was almost full before dessert, but it was worth it. Man, my job can be awesome.

For more #WRW2016 coverage, check out the Birmingham Restaurant Week website.

Winter Restaurant Week: Jim 'N Nick's Community Bar-B-Q

YUM Jim 'N Nick's has been a constant in my dining life since my family moved to Birmingham. Over the last 18 (!!!) years, their cheese biscuits have been a constant through job changes, breakups, and moves. On one particularly memorable night, I ordered a twelve pack and ate them all in between tutoring sessions.

Luckily, every meal begins with a basket of them, including the Birmingham Restaurant Week lunch and dinner specials. They're slightly sweet, with crunchy, browned cheese on the outside and melty pieces on the inside.

FullSizeRender (14)The biscuits were quickly followed by the bar-b-q chips -- the app for the lunch special. These kettle-style chips were lightly dusted with a tangy, lightly spicy flavoring and accompanied by a blue cheese dipping sauce. The creamy sauce offset the spice of the chips, and balancing each bite. There weren't any left when we got up from the table.

The deviled eggs -- the app for the dinner special -- could be next to the dictionary definition of "deviled egg." The filling was creamy with little bits of crunchy pickled goodness, and the whites were perfectly cooked.

IMG_1399Then came the entree. On a cold day like yesterday, the mountain of mac and cheese topped with pork (or the meat of your choice) was filling. The side salad added a nice lightness, and with the vinaigrette, it also provided a lovely, slightly acidic counterpoint to the heavy loaded macaroni and cheese.

For more #WRW2016 coverage, check out the Birmingham Restaurant Week website.