You might find me silly to love food as much as I do, but honestly, I can think of very few things which I love more (previous posts might claim otherwise). On a recent trip with Ginger to Birmingham, Alabama, I was on my own for an evening and decided to hit the town. Now, please let me take a detour and discuss the importance of scouting restaurants in new cities. As this was my first trip to Birmingham, I did a little internet research, found my destination and was not disappointed. A little research prior to travelling will not prevent all mishaps, but you sure can try!
To my excitement, the research paid off as I dined at Hot and Hot Fish Club’s chef counter in Birmingham’s Southside. I will be forthright, and tell you that you will absolutely love this restaurant.
Resting in a sea of amber lighting, and surrounded by handmade ceramic bowls holding the evening’s mis en place, the chef’s counter was exquisite. Here one can watch the various menu items prepared with care, while feasting on your own fabulous meal.
It is interesting to be a young, southern, woman dining alone. I must confess that I while I am not opposed to dining alone, it simply does not happen too often. In my moment of independence, I was able to enjoy my other favorite hobby, people watching. One group in particular could not understand my reason for venturing out alone and called me “brave.” I now laugh knowing it was anything but brave. Perhaps gluttonous? I joined in on much of the conversation around me and even met a former fashion executive who worked for the Gucci Group, but returned to her home in Birmingham to teach.
My first course included the popular menu item of tomatoes, but this was anything but ordinary. The stacked tomatoes rested on a bed of fresh peas, corn, and were accompanied by apple wood bacon, fried okra and a chive aioli (the recipe is now available online). After the tomatoes, I feasted on a mixed greens salad with a cherry dressing, for which the benevolent chef adding a piece of foie gras at my bidding. Mind you, during the entire experience I also paired each course with a new wine or cocktail.
The foie gras was simply a tease as the piece de resistance, the oven roasted young chicken with chanterelle mushroom risotto, parmesan cheese and truffle oil was delectable. My evening was complete with the ice cream trio, but now I wish there had been room for the pistachio glazed, blackberry jam and chocolate-orange glazed donuts.
The food soared above the mundane and ordinary to reassure me that the 2008 James Beard nomination for chef Chris Hastings was well deserved, and hopefully will encourage you on your next trip to visit Birmingham and Hot and Hot Fish Club.
On my next visit, I hope to stop by Hot and Hot Fish Club to partake in their seasonal menu, and perhaps even grab some of the summer selections of pickled okra and boiled peanuts at the bar.