Hot!Alabama Getaway

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EatingTheRoad
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/23 08:23:15 (permalink)
Look at that pit, that's fantastic!

The toast looks phenomenal (as does everything else). I was going to ask about the sauce because for whatever reason it just looked "sweet", a bit lighter perhaps.

This is a place I would love to go to. Was this your first time there? What other sides did they have (I wonder if they're as good too)?


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Nancypalooza
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/23 10:11:41 (permalink)
Bob Sykes was wonderful when I had it in 1997 and I think I'm overdue for a visit back.  :)  Especially if a place has terrific green beans.
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buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/11/23 10:26:26 (permalink)
When flying in Wednesday night, I was scheduled for a short layover in Baltimore.  Luck was on my side as the flight was delayed for 15 minutes, allowing me enough time to scarf down a bowl of the spicy crab soup

and crab cake sandwich

from the airport location of O'Brycki's.  The crabcake

itself had very little filling in it, but it unfortunately had a ridiculous amount of shell.  You always expect to get some, but this was just too much.  Still, I was glad for the opportunity to eat here.

Once on the ground in Birmingham, I drove straight to the upscale Hot and Hot Fish Club

I have been wanting to visit this place for years.  Arriving at 9:35, the young guy who greeted me told me he thinks the kitchen was closed for the night.  Trying to hide my annoyance, I told him the website says they close at 10:30.  He said he would go check.  He was back in a minute and escorted me to a table. Whew!  I would have been so disappointed.

The menu here is something that really has to be seen to be believed.  They seem to put a unique, creative spin on lots of more mundane dishes.  One of their signature dishes is the Hot and Hot Pork and Beans.  I was tempted to find out what a $31.00 version of pork and beans was, but after the pretty waitress explained it to me, it sounded like it would be an excellent thing to order.

I started with the cinderella pumpkin soup 

with house smoked salmon and creme fraiche.  The soup was very mild and I was expecting a stronger taste, but the salmon in the middle was incredible.

My entree was the Hot and Hot Shrimp and Grits with Country Ham, Tomato and Fresh Thyme.

The grits were nice and creamy, while the shrimp were plump and fresh.  But the star of the dish was the country ham, whose salty flavor just exploded in your mouth.  This was an excellent dish, which cost $28.00.  I also worked on the warm bread they gave me, but the photo didn't turn out.

A couple of other notes:  the plates and bowls here are heavy, uneven and very distinctive.  I understand they get made special for them.  I believe these are the salt and pepper holders.

Sorry for all the bad photos, but this is one dark restaurant!  They also have a long, oval counter, which faces the kitchen, where you can watch the action. 

It was too late on this night, but on a return visit, this seems like it would be the place to sit.

Hot and Hot Fish Club
2180 11th Court S
Birmingham, AL
205-933-5474

http://www.hotandhotfishclub.com/
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/11/23 10:33:55
#93
buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/11 16:24:02 (permalink)
Okay, now that I am back from vacation, this trip report needs finished up.....

On Saturday afternoon, I met the wonderfully named Roadfooder will_work_4_bbq for lunch at Niki's West.  We weren't supposed to meet until 1:00PM, but she called me at 12:30 to let me know she had just arrived.  Since I was driving around just a mile or so away, I was there just a minute later.  Lynn was waiting for me outside.  Being tall, blonde and possessing a big smile, she was easy to spot!

If you haven't been to Niki's before, this place is a Roadfood classic.  It is a big place, with a long cafeteria line, sits across from the giant produce warehouses and specializes in vegetables with a Greek influence.  This is my favorite restaurant in Birmingham.

We went through the cafeteria line and worked in concert to make sure we covered most of the vegetables, which at Niki's West, isn't easy.  From a menu I took with me, here is their roster of available vegetables:

steamed rice, fried okra, boiled new potatoes, large limas, boiled okra, spinach, rutabagas, broccoli, banana pudding (no, that isn't a misprint), homemade dressing, mixed beans, broccoli/rice, fresh green beans, boiled okra & tomatoes, boiled cabbage, beets, green baby limas, apple cobbler, baby carrots, fresh mashed potatoes, northern beans, pinto beans, english peas, collard greens, zucchini & tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peach cobbler, rice pudding, pasta shells, macaroni & cheese, fried green tomatoes, black eyed peas, corn, turnip greens, yellow squash, stewed tomatoes, bread pudding, stewed apples, cheese grits

Whew!  That is a lot of vegetables to sort through.  Here is what our table for two looked like after we unloaded it from the tray.


Sorry for the poor quality of the photos, but here is what we ended up with:  stewed tomatoes

collard greens

fried okra

corn

macaroni & cheese

sweet potatoes

fried green tomatoes

green baby limas

green beans

and yellow squash.


There wasn't a loser in the bunch, but the stewed tomatoes (with the breading in them), the corn and the squash being the standouts.  A big thanks to Lynn, since I probably wouldn't have tried the corn or stewed tomatoes without her.

For my main entree, I went with a Saturday special, Cajun catfish. 


It tasted just fine, but truthfully, by the time I took all my photos and sampled all the vegetables, the fish was already strating to get cold.

Dessert was a mixed bag.  Lynn's chocolate cream pie

was delicious, but my coconut cream

was nothing special.  But the disappointment of my entire trip was the banana pudding.  In a previous trip report, I said the banana pudding here (which is one of my very favorite desserts) was the best I have ever had.  So, you can imagine how much I was looking forward to it.  Unfortunately, my banana pudding

tasted gummy and old.  What a let down!

Despite this set back, my meal here at Niki's West was a real highlight of the trip.  And a lot of that had to do with meeting Lynn, who is a really nice person and a lot of fun to talk with.  Here we are

at the end of the meal.   Thanks for the company Lynn!

Niki's West
233 Finley Avenue West
Birmingham, AL
205-252-5751

http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/222-222/nikis-west

post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/12/11 16:31:30
#94
EatingTheRoad
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/11 17:03:43 (permalink)
Wow...terrific. I was laughing my butt off. I love that banana budding is now considered a vegetable....any place with that mindset is my kind of place. I was sure that you would get that but then not seeing it I realized it would come into play for dessert...too bad it didn't hold up to it's pedigree. Good to hear the others weren't bad.

You fish looks good...maybe next time order one for eating and one for shooting

Great report! What did Lynn get for her entree and was it any good?
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buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/11 17:10:37 (permalink)
ETR-
I don't think Lynn got an entree, just vegetables.
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Nancypalooza
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/12 14:21:58 (permalink)
I don't think the pictures were bad at all--what a lineup of monkey bowls!
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mar52
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/12 15:16:18 (permalink)
Reminds me of a Korean meal.  Banchan from Soul.  ;)

Scrumptious!
post edited by mar52 - 2009/12/13 13:21:18
#98
Ahi Mpls.
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/13 16:57:31 (permalink)
 Nancy, When I saw the table picture I exclaimed " Cool, the 12 monkey dishes of Christmas!"    Please tell me, is that corn creamed? or maybe it's the famous Fried Corn that I've heard so much about... Looks delish,all of it.    Me/waves at Lynn, I love putting faces with screen names!! looks like a great time, Dawn
post edited by AHI MPLS - 2009/12/13 17:01:55
#99
will_work_4_bbq
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/13 18:29:23 (permalink)
Niki's was a blast - and delicious too!  BB, the pictures are really great!  (That man has incredible patience and talent in setting up and taking such delectable shots.)  Seeing the write up makes me glad I'll be going to Niki's again soon.  It was fun to meet and eat and have my first "Roadfood" meet up experience with a well-seasoned (pun intended) pro.  Thanks Buffetbuster!

And I'm already planning on going to New Orleans!  Yayy!!!
buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/14 10:32:45 (permalink)
will_work_4_bbq-
It is great to hear you will be joining us in NOLA.

If you go back to Niki's and try the banana pudding, please report back how it was.  I am really hoping that was only a one day thing.
buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/14 13:03:55 (permalink)
I couldn't possibly go to Birmingham without a stop at Pete's Famous Hot Dogs.

Love the two way neon sign!  Located downtown, this just might be the single smallest Roadfood stop. This

is the entire interior, so obviously, there is no inside seating.  No surprise a place this small has a small menu, too.

 
There were a few other people ahead of me and the owner took all of our orders at the same time.  When he addressed me, he called me sir, but did it in a business like manner.  I did ask the owner, Gus Koutroulakis

if I could take his photo.  He didn't seem happy about it, but did crack a joke about him maybe breaking my camera.  I had hoped he would look at me for the photo, but he just kept working, making hot dogs.   When he asked me where I was from and I told him Pittsburgh, that seemed to break the ice a little as he told me about his BIL from Canonsburg, PA.  Gus has been here since 1948!
 
My order was for a hot dog "all the way" and a special.  Because a lot of hot dogs all the way were ordered, I got this dog first, ate it while standing there and didn't get the special for a good ten minutes later.  No matter, this gave me time to soak up the Roadfood atmosphere. 
 
The "all the way dog"

features a Zeigler wiener, topped with onion, mustard, sauerkraut and a homemade sweet sauce, all on top of a steamed bun.  An excellent combination!  The special hot dog 

features the classic Greek-style chili. To drink?  A Grapico.  I took the special outside and ate while leaning over a garbage can. 
 
Pete's Famous Hot Dogs
1925 Second Avenue North
Birmingham, AL
205-252-2905
 
http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Review/6261-6403/petes-famous-hot-dogs
 
I also ate at a Sneaky Pete's and a Hamburger Heaven.  But my photos from those place are lacking and neither one was particularly interesting anyway.
NYPIzzaNut
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/14 13:12:51 (permalink)
I remember the Sneaky Pete's in Jasper AL during my time down there in the 70s, which has since closed - good but nothing to right home about.
Ort. Carlton.
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/15 00:35:45 (permalink)
BB,
   This was worth the time it took me to root through it! Many thanks for a great, great post!
   As for the scrambled dog, Lieutenant Stevens was a kitchen boy where it was created, Firm Roberts' Cafe on Old Cusseta Road in Columbus... this was before WWII. He refers to himself as the progenitor of the dish, but is not its creator! (He must've had high school Latin!)
   Scrambled dogs are on menus eastward to Nu-Way Weiners in Macon, Charlie Joseph's in LaGrange, and Piggy Park in Thomaston, just to mention three. And there are at least 15 or 20 places that serve them in Columbus, although The Dinglewood (it was indeed named for a neighborhood, which was in turn named for an estate) is considered the mother lode.
   Many thanks.
      Hurriedly, Ort. Carlton in Athens, Georgia, which is bereft of scrambled doggery. Snif.
EatingTheRoad
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/15 07:49:31 (permalink)
Very nice. That "All the way dog" looks fantastic....glad to see it was tasty. Gus seems like a great guy...and since 1948, that's incredible. I would trust him more than anyone to know how to make a good dog.

I love the menu board: "Our complaint manager is Mrs. Helen Waite. So if you have a complaint go to Helen Waite. Smile"   ....also, if you eat 12 dogs your 13th is on the house! So how'd you do on that?
hatteras04
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/15 08:16:07 (permalink)
I've been waiting for the pics from Pete's.  My wife and I stopped in in April on our way to Atlanta from Memphis and our special dogs were great snacks.  Gus was an extremely polite gentleman especially to my wife.  He made sure to take care of her first and seemed very concerned about whether she was enjoying her hot dog (she loved it by the way).  We did not get to spend nearly enough time in Alabama and after reading this thread I see that we need to go back.

Great report.
buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/15 08:32:59 (permalink)
Ort-
As always, the breadth of your knowledge is incredible.  I'm beginning to think you might hang out at a library or something!

 
hatteras04-
Meeting Gus was a bit of a strange experience.  There is no doubt he is a polite man and was never unfriendly.  But because he was always bent over, looking down, he would ask a question, addressing someone as sir and then the crowd would look at each other and try to figure out who he meant.  I know I replied once when he meant the question for someone else.  Still, an overall first rate Roadfood stop.
hatteras04
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/15 09:10:37 (permalink)
buffetbuster 

hatteras04-
Meeting Gus was a bit of a strange experience.  There is no doubt he is a polite man and was never unfriendly.  But because he was always bent over, looking down, he would ask a question, addressing someone as sir and then the crowd would look at each other and try to figure out who he meant.  I know I replied once when he meant the question for someone else.  Still, an overall first rate Roadfood stop.


It probably helped that we were the only 2 in there.  It was about 5:00 on a Monday evening.  And I wouldn't all him a real warm fuzzy guy, just very polite and eager to meet our needs.
buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/15 10:48:40 (permalink)
hatteras04-
That is a real good description of Gus.  He juggled a lot of people while I was there and got everyone taken care of quickly and efficiently.
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/15 14:54:35 (permalink)
when I went to Pete's, I got there about 11am.  The sign said they opened at 11...but no one was there.  About 11:15, Gus arrived in his station wagon, unlocked the front door, looked at me and said, "would you help me unload my station wagon?"  So, there I was, grabbing boxes of hot dogs and bags of buns out of his wagon, and bringing them in.
buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/15 15:08:09 (permalink)
planojim-
Nice story!  Did you get a free hot dog out of it?
EatingTheRoad
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/15 18:37:21 (permalink)
planojim, that's great!  ..and yeah, what buffetbuster said, did you get a free dog?
oDey in LA
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/30 21:51:15 (permalink)
EatingTheRoad

Man that Bogue's Country Scramble looks awesome! How come you didn't get some sweet rolls to go?

That's so cool that you ever their first customer ever!!! They better save that bill and frame it

I'll looking forward to the peachiness from Durbin Farm Market...too bad about Heaton Pecan Farm, I love me some peee-caaans.


Some Southerners call them  peee-caaans (guarenteed to make kids giggle). The rest of us call them  Peh Cons. Grew up on a rice and cotton farm in Arkansas and we had many pecan trees along the creek (not crick) banks.
 
Old Dog of Crooked Creek
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2009/12/30 23:05:22 (permalink)
Nu-Way in Macon GA, among others in the south, serves a pink-exterior wiener. IIRC, it's from how its cured.
 
A friend in Tuscaloosa told me Dreamland was sold a couple of years ago and the food has gone downhill. I used to travel to Birmingham quite a bit and ate there a lot. I have another friend who drives a truck and picks me up a jar of sauce whenever he stops at one.
kaazz
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2010/07/12 02:04:54 (permalink)
We visited the Bright star about 2 weeks ago and were so excited about it.  We were absolutely severely disappointed.  The crab claws were the tiniest I've ever seen.  The lobster, crab augratin had the nastiest texture (kinda like and uncooked potato dumpling), the seafood platter we got everything was bland.  My friends found pork in their bread pudding and we had oregano in ours.  I can cook way better than that - and won't be wasting money there again.
buffetbuster
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2010/07/12 08:53:49 (permalink)
kaazz-
Welcome to Roadfood!  So sorry that you and your friends had such a poor meal at Bright Star.  This is a surprise to me and was the exact opposite of my experience.

So, where in Birmingham do you recommend Roadfooders go for a good meal?
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2014/04/09 19:12:55 (permalink)
Cliff, I've been reading your report and taking notes in preparation for a trip to Alabama next year. It appears that Pete's has closed. Sorry I won't have a chance to give it a try.

Although, now I'm finding Gus's hot dogs and I wonder if they reopened. I think Gus who owned Pete's died, but maybe someone reopened if with his name?
post edited by Davidsanders - 2014/04/09 19:31:08
BigEd3
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2014/04/12 17:59:08 (permalink)
Gus's Hotdogs on 4th Ave North downtown has been around since the late 1940's. The current owner has had it since 1997. The hotdogs are very similar to  Pete's Famous.   
Davwud
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2014/04/15 12:10:47 (permalink)
Davidsanders

Cliff, I've been reading your report and taking notes in preparation for a trip to Alabama next year. It appears that Pete's has closed. Sorry I won't have a chance to give it a try.

Although, now I'm finding Gus's hot dogs and I wonder if they reopened. I think Gus who owned Pete's died, but maybe someone reopened if with his name?

To where in Al are you headed??
Davidsanders
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Re:A few days in Alabama 2014/04/15 16:03:51 (permalink)
I don't really know yet, it's at least 6-8 months away. I thought I would hit some of the spots in Birmingham and Mobile, and move on over to New Orleans. But we'll see.

Davwud

Davidsanders

Cliff, I've been reading your report and taking notes in preparation for a trip to Alabama next year. It appears that Pete's has closed. Sorry I won't have a chance to give it a try.

Although, now I'm finding Gus's hot dogs and I wonder if they reopened. I think Gus who owned Pete's died, but maybe someone reopened if with his name?

To where in Al are you headed??


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