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Metro Menu Fall 2015

A Publication of

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The only thing missing is you.

Open 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

2200 1st Avenue North 323.8228 www.wineloftbham.com


Metro Menu contents Fall 2015

A Publication of

Joe O’Donnell Editor/Publisher joe@b-metro.com

Cathy Fingerman Assoc. Publisher cathy @b-metro.com Robin Colter Creative Director robin@b-metro.com Lindsey Osborne Associate Editor lindsey@b-metro.com Joni Ayers Marketing Specialist joni@b-metro.com Gail Kidd Marketing Specialist gail@b-metro.com Laura Fash Marketing Specialist laura@b-metro.com Russell Hooks Marketing Specialist russell@b-metro.com Lauren Lockhart Marketing Director lauren@b-metro.com Katie Turpen Digital Editor katie@b-metro.com Photography by Cameron Carnes and Beau Gustafson

Metro Menu is published annually by Fergus Media LLC 1314 Cobb Lane South AL 35205 172Birmingham, B-METRO.COM (205)202-4182 Printed by American Printing Co., Birmingham, AL

Girls’ Night Out...174

The Steel City Supper Club embarks on a progressive-style dinner among Birmingham favorites. Written by Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland Photography by Beau Gustafson

A Dining Experiment...180

The newest way to enjoy a gourmet meal in Birmingham: Dinner Lab. Written by Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland Photography by Cameron Carnes

Comfort on Tap...192

Craig and Elaine Beegle, along with son Todd, work to create the perfect atmosphere at the city’s four On Tap Sports Cafes. Written by Joe O’Donnell Photography by Beau Gustafson Cover Image: On Tap’s Burger. Photo by Beau Gustafson


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Girls’Night Out The Steel City Supper Club takes a tour of Birmingham favorites.

Written by Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland // Photography by Beau Gustafson

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ast October, three of my friends and I decided to start a supper club. We had all gone to dinner several times randomly, but we thought that we should make it more official and organized. After talking about it for a month or two, we finally made a list of restaurants and set a schedule. At last, the Steel City Supper Club was born. The supper club includes some of my closest friends. Amy Kerper is my best friend from college and our Birmingham native and foodie. She coordinates our list and schedules our reservations. Lauren Glisson

is my brother’s longtime girlfriend and now my roommate. She keeps the group up to date with the latest make-up and fashion trends and is always dressed to the nines. Sydney King is my best friend from Dothan, and she is full of interesting anecdotes and medical facts. The last member is me, Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland, and I am also a foodie, as well as the blogger behind the supper club. We are a group of amazing women who like to think we can solve all of the world’s problems over dinner. In order to make the supper club enjoyable and successful, the girls and I have an

unspoken agreement that neither time nor money matter on our nights out. During our special dinners, we undoubtedly order a nice bottle of wine or a fancy cocktail, and we chat so long that we usually shut the restaurants down. We started the supper club for one reason: quality—to have quality time with wonderful friends while eating quality, local food. In July, we changed it up a little and did a progressive dinner. We started with drinks at Carrigan’s Public House, ate dinner at Galley & Garden, and finished with desserts at Café DuPont. We had to be a little B-METRO.COM

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The bar at Carrigan’s

more strategic with our time, but we were all very excited with the prospect of all the good food and drinks we were about to consume. We started our evening out earlier than usual at Carrigan’s; that way we could fit all of the night’s activities in before closing time. When we arrived, there was already a large group of people settling into their drinks after the workday. It is a great spot for young professionals to stop by after a long day at the office. We found the bar manager, Eric Bennett, and he took our orders. As he concoct-

ed our drinks, we were treated to a show, as well as delicious cocktails. He mesmerized us by vigorously shaking the cocktail shakers and not getting our drinks everywhere. It was very interesting to see all that goes into making the various cocktails. We sat and chatted over our drinks for a while, glad that we were together once again. All of a sudden, we realized we were running late for our next spot of the night, Galley & Garden. As we rushed there, we were thrilled to find that they had graciously waited for our group and had our table ready right away.

We were able to sit on their beautiful outdoor patio and enjoy dining al fresco. The meal started with a beautiful cheese board and a delicious wood-fired crispy flatbread, which came with peaches, bacon, and a balsamic reduction. Not even considering the later cuisine, we would recommend going back just for the flatbread. These two dishes were a great start to a night full of delectable food. Then it was time for salads, and they all sounded so good, we decided to order two of them. We chose their Gratitude Farms Butter Lettuce, as well as their Heirloom Tomato Salad. They were both fantastic, but the Tomato Salad was the overall favorite because of the creamy burrata. The group tries to order several different things, that way we can try as many options as possible. Some nights, though, there is a dish that sounds good to everyone and we have a hard time deciding who gets it. That night the top choice was the sea scallops. Lauren and Sydney won out and got to order this entrée, which intrigued all of us. As Lauren said, “The scallops were cooked to a buttery perfection and I had no trouble

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Scallops from Galley & Garden

cleaning my plate.” If that recommendation doesn’t make you want to go try the scallops for yourself, then I don’t know what will. Amy and I changed it up a little bit, but we both ordered fish. Amy chose the Pan Seared Gulf Red Snapper Panzanella, while I got the Grilled Columbia River King Salmon. Amy said her snapper was, “fresh with a nice texture and cooked to perfection” and, “the arugula, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes were the perfect accompaniments.” I thoroughly enjoyed my salmon, so much so that it reminded me of taking trips to the mountains when I was growing up. Olfacto-

Seared Gulf Red Snapper from Galley & Garden

ry senses are supposed to recreate the most vivid memories and I find this to be true. This dish brought me back to those wonderful trips my family took in the summers and autumns during my childhood to the Great Smoky Mountains. If a dish can do that, then it is amazing in my book! We were having such a good time enjoying each other’s company and our delectable dishes that we once again were running late for our final stop of the evening. We quickly paid our bills, said our thanks, and headed downtown to Café Dupont. By the time we arrived, there were only

Beignets from Cafe DuPont

guests at a couple of tables and they were starting to close down. Regardless of this, they greeted us with cheery attitudes and were very welcoming and helpful. We were given the dessert options, and again weren’t able to narrow them down, so we chose four different ones. We went with two of their regulars and two specials. Their regulars are the Bananas Foster and the Beignets, while the specials we chose were the Blueberry Cobbler and the Blackberry Tart. While I was glancing over the menu, the Blackberry Tart stuck out to me. Blackberries are one of my favorite fruit and I always

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Bananas Foster from Cafe DuPont

love to try different fruit tarts. Sadly, the dish was underwhelming. Even though the fruit and custard were good together, there wasn’t anything too special about it. On the other hand, the blueberry cobbler ended up being the crowd favorite. We all want to take a trip back just to order it again. Unfortunately, since this is a special, it might not be available the next time you head to the restaurant. I’m willing to bet they will have another type that will be just as delicious. Now, it’s time to discuss their top sellers, the regulars. If Bananas Foster is an option on a dessert menu, nine times out of ten, I

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will decide to order it. I absolutely love how I believe we are on the cusp of something the dish is rich enough to satisfy any dessert really great. Our top chefs who already have craving, while light enough to not make you restaurants are creating even more, and newtoo full. My absolute favorite is when the comers are choosing to bring their concepts chef puts on a show and flambés the rum to the Steel City. Therefore, our little supper sauce. Even though that was not the case club will have to go on many years to try out at Café Dupont, the dessert was delicious all of these fantastic eateries, and we are toenough for it not to matter. tally fine with that. The beignets were quite good and a perfect dessert for the New Orleans-themed restaurant, but overall they seemed to not completely measure up. Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious, but we expected there to be a little something to go with them— for instance a Crème Anglaise dipping sauce. If you are looking for a taste of the French Quarter in the Steel City, then this dish and restaurant is definitely for you! Even though Birmingham already has a vast amount of The Girls’ Night Out girls choices for a delectable feast,

Step up and join the Slice family on our patio for Birmingham’s best pizza and brew. B-METRO.COM

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A Dining Experiment

Dinner Lab is the newest way to enjoy a gourmet meal in Birmingham. Written by Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland Photography by Cameron Carnes

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op-up dinners are a fairly new concept to the restaurant world, but that didn’t stop former Birmingham resident Paco Robert. He and his foodie friends decided to jump into this idea headfirst. The inaugural dinner was in August 2011, where 18 guests were served in New Orleans. Dinner Lab was started in hopes of diversifying New Orleans’s cuisine and allowing sous chefs to get their moment in the spotlight. The twos and threes of the top restaurants around the country are able to test out their ideas on a willing crowd and have the diners give feed-

back to help them grow. The location for their first dinner was chosen as a result of a happy accident. Their plan was to host the event in an existing restaurant, but when the site fell through, they had to quickly come up with a backup plan. After receiving permission from a real estate agent, they set up shop in an abandoned mill. This helped form the idea of hosting the events in unique, unconventional spaces and truly made them a pop-up restaurant. Since then, they have hosted events in airplane hangars, art galleries, theater stages, and even boxing gyms. As long as the space

has electricity and running water, they will consider it for one of their events. The second dinner, during March 2012, was held in an old New Orleans brothel, and about 75 guests attended. Robert had a near fatal accident while preparing for the event, which helped the partners come to the decision of hiring additional staff. Over the next couple of years they tested out their concept in Austin and made the move from CEO Brian Bordainick’s home to an office. In July 2014, they unleashed Dinner Lab private events, hosting for Google, as well as Solange Knowles’s “White Wedding.” B-METRO.COM

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Dinner Lab has become a nationwide dining experience with more than 30,000 members in 33 cities. On April 18, Dinner Lab had its grand opening event for Birmingham. The dinner was held in a closed-down Goodyear Tire Warehouse near I-65. Once they got up and running, they have had two dinners a month for a few months now. In Birmingham, it cost $125 to become 182

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a member. Once you are a member, you will receive emails regarding information about the dinner’s menu and time. If the menu intrigues you, you can then purchase a ticket at a cost of $50—$60, which includes around five courses and drinks. The day before the event, you will receive another email with the dinner’s location; it’s a surprise until then. Your name will be on the list at the door,

and then you are welcome to grab drinks at the bar before being seated. The tables are set up in a communal style to help “promote lively discussions and new friendships.” This will definitely be a night of a lot of firsts for Southerners. Guests are given score cards and asked to rate each course on creativity and taste, as well as if they would order it in a restaurant


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and if they would change anything about it. After the meal, they can answer questions on the evening as a whole, like “How would you rate the serving temperature?” and “How comfortable was the space?” This not only gives the chef opportunity to grow, but also

the Dinner Lab staff. Robert was quoted saying, “The diners love it because they essentially get to play critic for the night. Usually with a comment card, the industry standard is it gets filled out about 2.5 percent of the time. Ours is more than 98 percent. People

love to fill it out. We can’t make the comment cards big enough.” I was privileged to be in attendance of their event on July 30, which was held in the Stephens Science Center at BirminghamSouthern College. A science center was

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Hamburger

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Fried Olives

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definitely one place where I never expected to be eating a delicious five-course meal. The guest chef was Russ Bodner, whose menu was inspired by his time working at Anthos, which was a Greek, Michelinstarred restaurant in New York City. His menu, “aimed to elevate the flavors of the Mediterranean and bring new life to a well-respected restaurant of the past.” He has worked at Lake Martin for five summers at SpringHouse and Kowaliga. I believe it was about time for him to be in charge, and he did not disappoint. From tuna to basil ice cream, every course was delicious and had a unique take on the Greek influence. For the first course, Bodner paired a lightly seared tuna with dehydrated feta and orange vinaigrette. I really enjoyed how he took a traditional cheese like feta and changed things up by dehydrating it and giving it a new texture. This dish was paired with a Grüner Veltliner from Austria, which was a drier white wine that complimented the sweetness of the vinaigrette. For the second course, Bodner put a southern spin on a Greek dish by pairing crawfish with fantastic ricotta dumplings. It was such an interesting twist and I recall wishing I had an extra serving of it. Now, for the third course, I definitely had to step outside of my comfort zone. I like to think I’m an adventurous eater, but this dish had me questioning that. The chef prepared smoked octopus with pickled shallots, mushrooms, coriander yogurt, and frisée. While it wasn’t my favorite dish of the night, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. So here’s to you, Chef Bodner, for getting me to try smoked octopus for the first time! The fourth course was my favorite savory dish. The chef prepared a perfectly slow roasted leg of lamb with bulgur trahana, baby onions, grilled okra, and harissa. I don’t usually choose lamb when eating out, but I will definitely be more likely to consider it now because of this dish. Now for the pièce de résistance, it was time for the fifth and final course. As someone with a major sweet tooth, I was waiting for this all night. We had tsoureki shortcake with basil ice cream, white balsamic, strawberries, and yogurt. It was hands-down my favorite dish of the night! It was like a sweet version of bruschetta and was the perfect ending to a wonderful, Greek five-course dinner. I can say without a doubt that this was one of the most interesting and unique evenings I have had dining out in Birmingham. You will be missing out if you don’t try out Dinner Lab for yourself. Become a member to be in the know about one of Birmingham’s newest culinary trends!


Why Local Food Matters

The word “local” isn’t some throwaway marketing term used to drum up feelings of nostalgia. It’s a word that’s alive and very much in today’s vernacular. “Local” is the tie that binds our community and it’s at the heart of the Birmingham Originals, the association of locally owned Birmingham area restaurants. Passionate individuals developing locally owned and operated restaurants, each with its own unique flavor and flair, propel Birmingham’s robust food scene. Whether upscale or down-home, these restaurants are driven by a desire to offer top-notch dining to homegrown patrons and visitors alike. The Birmingham Originals believes an energized and independent restaurant community makes our city a better place to live—and not just because of the food. The dollars spent in local restaurants stay in Birmingham, providing economic growth, which, in turn, allows local restaurants to support, among other things, vital local charities and cultural programs.

Birmingham Originals AVO (205).871-8212 2721 Cahaba Road avorestaurant.com BELLINIS RISTORANTE & BAR (205) 981-5380 6801 Cahaba Valley Rd Ste 106 ourbellinis.com BETTOLA (205) 731-6499 2901 2nd Ave S BISTRO V (205) 823-1505 521 Montgomery Highway Suite 113 bistro-v.com BOB SYKES BBQ (205) 426.1400 1724 9th Avenue North bobsykes.com BOTTEGA (205) 939-1000 2240 Highland Avenue South bottegarestaurant.com THE BRIGHT STAR (205) 424-9444 304 N 19th Street thebrightstar.com CANTINA (205) 323-6980 2901 2nd Av. South Suite 110 188

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cantinabirmingham.com CENTURY (205) 458-9611 2021 Park Place North centurybirmingham.com CHEZ FONFON (205) 939.3221 2007 Eleventh Avenue South fonfonbham.com CONTINENTAL BAKERY/ CHEZ LULU (205) 870-7011 1911 Cahaba Road chezlulu.us CULINARD CAFE (205) 802-1200 ext 1502 488 Palisades Blvd culinardcafe.com dg (205)-871-3266 2837 Culver Road danielgeorgerestaurant.com FOODBAR (205) 876-8100 3156 Heights Village foodbarbham.com HOMEWOOD GOURMET (205) 871-1620 1919 28th Ave. South, Ste 113 homewoodgourmet.com

HOT AND HOT FISH CLUB (205) 933-5474 2180 11th Court South hotandhotfishclub.com THE IRONDALE CAFE (205) 956-5258 1906 1st Ave N irondalecafe.com IZ CAFÉ (205) 979-7570 2514 Rocky Ridge Rd. everythingiz.com THE J CLYDE (205) 939-1312 1312 Cobb Lane jclyde.com JACKSON’S BAR & BISTRO (205) 870-9669 1831 28th Ave S jacksonsbarandbistro.com JOHN’S CITY DINER (205)322-6014 112 Richard Arrington Blvd N johnscitydiner.com JOJO’S ON BROADWAY (205) 877-8058 903 Broadway St. jojosonbroadway.com LITTLE SAVANNAH (205) 591-1119


NABEEL’S CAFE & MARKET (205) 879-9292 1706 Oxmoor Road nabeels.com OCEAN (205) 933-0999 1218 20th Street South oceanbirmingham.com

SLICE (205)-715-9300 725 29th Street South slicebirmingham.com SOL’S SANDWICH SHOP & DELI (205) 244-7657 2 20th St N #120 solsdeli.com TED’S RESTAURANT (205) 324-2911 328 12th Street South tedsbirmingham.com

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Comfort on Tap Craig and Elaine Beegle, along with son Todd, work to create the perfect atmosphere at the city’s four On Tap Sports Cafes. By Joe O’Donnell // Photography by Beau Gustafson

C

omfort and beer sort of go together; like sports and food, or sports and television. Or sports and all three. All of these great combinations merged in the mind of Craig Beegle to create his baby: On Tap Sports Cafe. There are now four of them in the city, dispensing a more than healthy dose of tele192

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vised sports, high-quality food, and great beer from locations in the Galleria area, Inverness, Fultondale, and Lakeview on Birmingham’s Southside. “More than anything you want something that feels comfortable, a place you’d like to come with your girlfriend or your buddies to hang out for a couple of hours,” says Beegle when describing the characteris-

tics that make On Tap really work. Creating the right atmosphere, knowing which games to have on the big screens, navigating the Alabama and Auburn seating and viewing arrangements: These are just a few of the things the Beegle family has had to master to create a successful restaurant business here in Birmingham. “We like the feeling of a pub. We always


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want to be a little different than anything else available. We try to find the beer and the food that will make our place a real destination,” Beegle says. Beegle’s career did not start out with sports pubs in mind. He worked in finance in the aerospace industry, including a long stint with Lockheed Martin in Louisiana. “I had always wanted to run something. When I had a chance to leave my job in the aerospace industry, I was looking around for something to do that would satisfy that goal. I always loved sports, always been a big fan. I have even coached in the

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past, for example,” he says. The search for his next job led him to Birmingham and the purchase of On Tap Sports Cafe in 2006. That decision has been an excellent one for his family, he says. Elaine manages the back of the house, everything from payroll to marketing; and their son, Todd, is deeply involved in the opera-

w h a t’s

I make this a better place to be? That, to me, is the key,” Beegle says. In that pursuit, he pores over the stats and numbers that always lie at the heart of a successful business. “My customers stay here for a few Craig, Elaine, and Todd Beegle hours,” he says. “We do about half and half in revenue between beer and food. The criteria tions end of the restaurants. ”I go out and I use is how to blend the food and the beer try to spend all of the money,” Beegle says. to create a really great experience. Staffing Actually Beegle seems to spend a great is very important. We make sure all of our deal of time in deep analysis of what makes servers understand our beer selection. Our his restaurants work and how they can cooks are critical. We are always looking for work even better. “When you want to have that item that makes us a little different.” a good company, you have to measure the things that will lead to your success. How do

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