Tuesday, February 21, 2017

SoHo Social - "The Place You've Been Waiting For"


Prior to opening day I was invited to stop by to get a first hand look at one of the most anticipated restaurants ever to hit the city. SoHo Social is the newest addition to a family of independent restaurants owned and operated by Dave Horn, a local restaurant guru. If you've been to Mudtown or The Ridge, then you will love SoHo Social.

Atmosphere: You know how good it feels when someone tells you to "make yourself at home?" Well this is one of those places. One side of the restaurant features table & booth seating along with a nice sized bar. The other side, which will be my favorite side, features comfortable couch seating, televisions and bistro tables. I wonder if they will allow blankets 😥 ???

The Food: This is one of the most diverse menus I've seen in a while. They have about 9 appetizing appetizers. I selected the Queso dip with a basket of their house made tortillas. SoHo was fortunate enough to hire someone with tortilla making experience. What a lucky break! Although I selected chips, you can opt for tots, fries or sweet potato fries with your queso.
My entree' consisted of the Green Gobbler- a turkey burger topped with salsa verde, crumbled cotija cheese, thinly sliced radish & red onion on a delicious, soft brioche roll. The side dishes were VERY hard to choose from. I had the perfectly seasoned Conecuh Collards, made with local Conecuh sausage and the Southern Street Corn. Two items that I predict with me a gigantic hit.  I also opted  for the Valley Veneno from the cocktail menu. After I was completely stuffed, my server, Kayla, forced me have their featured dessert, two fluffy, delicious, soft chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream between them. These cookies are everything dreams are made of! The cookies are a supplied by a new local company called Cookie Fix. I had the pleasure to meet, Amy Jason, the lovely owner of Cookie Fix. They have an outstanding product as well.

The staff: The staff seemed to all be very customer oriented and helpful. If they continue to maintain quality service standards, this place is sure to develop a reputation that will put them at the top of the "go-to" list when it comes to restaurants & bars.

My overall experience: I cannot wait to return to SoHo Social. They exceeded my expectations during this visit and I encourage everyone to stop by on their opening day, 2/21/17. The fact that they utilize several local suppliers, their service and menu make them a winner in my book.

For more information about SoHo Social
visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sohosocialhomewood/
Follow them on Twitter @SoHoSocialAL
Don't forget your Cookie Fix! Visit https://www.facebook.com/CookieFixHomewood/

SoHo Social is located at
1830 29th Ave S, Ste 160
Homewood, Alabama 35209

Thanks for reading & sharing! 
~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Shhhhh! Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"








The Queso





Wall of Beers

Valley Veneno Cocktail


The Snapper (catch of the day) Picture courtesy of stranger next to me =)



Green Gobbler w/ Conecuh Collards & Southern Street Corn



Local Stuff (1)

(2)

(3)

(4)


Dessert feat. cookies from Cookie Fix

Buy a gift card while you're there!




Monday, February 13, 2017

"Fillin' Up At The Filling Station"





Thanks again to all of those who take time out to recommend all of the awesome places to eat in B'ham.
Lot's of people have been raving about a great little spot on Crestwood Boulevard
called The Filling Station. 
This place has been suggested over and over again. So I journeyed out to try them out to see what all of the excitement was about.

Atmosphere: This is a cozy spot to get together with friends and family. Whether you're looking to watch the game with a cold one or enjoy a meal,  the atmosphere is accommodating to just about every occasion.  There is spacious patio seating, a nice sized bar and lots of tables depending on your preference. Parking was also hassle-free.

The meal: Although I knew I would not be able to finish it all, I ordered the 12 inch, hand tossed Bama Vegetable pizza. This cheesy pie consists of Queen olives, sweet bell peppers, golden mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, grilled artichoke hearts and I had them to add chicken. This was one of the best pizzas I've had this year so far. After a few large slices, I was ready for a box. They also offer a wide variety of appetizers, salads and other entree's along with a wide selection of beers and spirits.

The Staff: I received OUTSTANDING service from everyone I came in contact with. I opted for a comfy seat the bar, however, everyone who passed by acknowledged me.
It left a lasting impression & I hope that this level of service continues.
My server was friendly, knew the menu and made sure that I didn't go without anything. 😊

Overall Experience: I could see myself becoming a "regular" here. If everyone turns around and yells out "Norm!!! ", that will be me!
The location, food, atmosphere and service makes this place a winner in my book!

Visit their Facebook page & check out their extensive menu by going to
https://www.facebook.com/ThefillingstationBHAM/ 
Follow them on Twitter at @TheFillingSBHAM

The Filling Station is located at 
5524 Crestwood Blvd
Birmingham, Alabama
Call (205) 592-3455 to place an order today! 
 
Thanks for reading & sharing! 
Use the hash tag #RaidBham when posting your food pics. 
 
~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"
Follow me on Twitter @RestaurantRaidr

*Click to view larger image*
The Bama Vegetable (w/ added chicken)



 

Monday, January 23, 2017

"Around The World in A Day At Customs Cafe"



 I'm always excited to try a new restaurant. Having only been open a short time at this location, The Customs Cafe in Hoover is already causing a buzz among people in the area.
Their unique concept is one that will definitely be a great attraction for international cuisine lovers.
After having been located inside of the Hoover library for several years, they decided that it was time to move out into the spotlight. They recently opened a new location on Montgomery Highway.
The Customs Cafe menu features "Home-style Foods From Around The World". This month, they are featuring Cuban cuisine.

Thanks to Kay Carlton for the recommendation! 

Atmosphere: This fast-casual cafe is very nice. There is booth & table seating available. Even though the cafe is so nice it appears that they would have a hostess, orders are placed at the register prior to being seated. I challenge you to resist the delicious desserts just staring at you from inside the bakery display.Our table seats were very comfortable. 

The Meal: I opted for the 1/2 salad, 1/2 sandwich from the "Build Your Own Combo" menu.
 The gourmet chicken salad sandwich was filled with their original chicken salad made with two types of dressing, celery, pecans and spices accompanied by a pickle spear. The 1/2 Frances garden salad is a garden salad with organic mixed greens, shredded cheddar, cucumbers and croutons. 
My lunch companion had a hearty bowl of their featured Cuban black bean soup with Custom Cafe's cheese wafers. She also had the Polish stuffed cabbage casserole. Inside this dish you will find a  cabbage leaf stuffed with ground beef, light bell peppers, tomatoes, "secret spices" & rice rolled tight, topped with a flavor packed tomato sauce. This dish was accompanied by a generous helping of red skinned mashed potatoes and a warm roll. This is not a spicy dish (opinion).
After all of this deliciousness, we shared a HUGE slice of their key lime cake. This was a great ending to an amazing meal. 
 
The Staff: Everyone was friendly from the front of the house to the kitchen staff / chefs who brought out our meals. You can't get much better than this. 
 
The Overall Experience:  I cannot wait to go back. Their service and food combined with their atmosphere makes them a winner in my book. 

For more information on Customs Cafe or for catering, please visit their website at 
They are located at 1845 Montgomery Highway 35244
 

Thanks for following and sharing! 
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
#RaidBham
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You" 
Half gourmet chicken sandwich,  half salad

The Polish Stuffed Casserole w/ mashed potatoes

Key Lime Cake

The Cuban Black Bean Soup w/ cheese wafers

Monday, January 16, 2017

Capers on Park Avenue "Offering Soul Food With A Flair"


If I had a dollar for all of the times, I've been asked, "Where's a good meat & three restaurant?" I'd be a millionaire. Well maybe not a millionaire, maybe a thousandaire. Ever so often a new name will be added to the list. This year, I can say with confidence that Capers on Park Avenue definitely holds a spot near the top of the list. Step inside of the old Bluff Park elementary school and you will find a re-purposed building. The building is now occupied by Artists on The Bluff , an art center that caters to artists and art students from all over. After viewing the wonderful art displays, my nose led me to a meeting with Chef Jay Roberson, owner & operator of Capers.

Chef Jay, while extremely humble & personable, has a highly impressive resume. After being educated under the tutelage of Chef Joseph Mitchell at The Culinary & Hospitality Institute at Jefferson State, he went on to become a highly sought after chef. He's worked at the prestigious Summit Club downtown, Riverchase Country Club and the city of Pelham. He and his wife Lynne are now currently operating Capers.
Since  they'd been highly recommended several times, I decided to stop in to see what all the fuss was about.

Atmosphere: Capers is a very nice, quaint cafe. There is a very impressive art display on one side of the seating area & lots of windows allowing in natural light. The restaurant can accommodate a  moderately large seating capacity. There are lots of people who appear to be regulars possibly from the area.

The Meal: I had the BBQ Pork Loin: A very hearty portion of smoky flavored, sliced pork loin, a blend of fire roasted veggies accompanied by the most insanely delicious mac & cheese I have ever had. (please don't tell my mom I said that) I would walk a mile for this creamy, cheesy mac & cheese. Don't forget, a cafeteria style meal is never complete without delicious, fresh baked corn bread. They also offer the option of fresh house made rolls. I boxed up half of my meal because I was nudged into having a slice of Capers' infamous Chocolate Chess Pie. OMG! This is a must have.

The Staff: The staff was amazing. Everyone from the front line servers, to the cashier and kitchen staff were very pleasant. To see the kind of passion, preparation and dedication that goes into making a meal happen at Capers makes me proud to do what I do.

Overall Experience: I love this place! The staff was super! My meal was outstanding and I shall return as soon as possible. Caper's serves a wide variety of meats, veggies and even select seafood dishes.

If you are looking for a great meat & three restaurant with comfort foods done right, stop in to visit Chef Jay, Chef Harold and their staff at Capers on Park Avenue in Bluff Park. If you are looking to have a meal catered or a place to take your large group for a great meal, contact them at
(205) 637-6766. 
Like them on Facebook by visiting their page Facebook.com/Capers-On-Park-Avenue
Capers on Park Avenue is located at
571 Park Ave
Bluff Park, Alabama.


Thanks for following me as I #RaidBham

~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
All original. 
All the time. 
Est. 2009
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"



Try a slice


So much to choose from

Comfort food





The ever changing daily menu

Add a  little dash of something flavorful

Chef Harold Simmons (L) Chef Jay Roberson (R)

Rolls in Progress



Monday, October 10, 2016

Thank You... From The Bottom of My Bowl!



Back in October of 2009, I began sharing my dining experiences with many friends, family members and co-workers who wanted the inside scoop on many of the places I frequented. Over the years,  I've followed the notable food and wine columns in The Birmingham News and other reputable publications. However, after searching for something with more "Average Joe" dining experience based reviews, I saw a need to start The Birmingham Restaurant Raider concept.

Thanks to your suggestions & feedback, the popularity of The Birmingham Restaurant Raider has grown beyond my expectations. I'm so thankful to know that my dining experiences have been read by people locally here in Birmingham, nationally and in other countries.

I frequently receive messages from people traveling in to Birmingham asking for suggestions. I remember checking twitter notifications before bed one evening last year at around 10 p.m. and found a couple leaving an event & needing to find a restaurant that was open that time of night. Fortunately, we were able to find something they could enjoy on a late Friday night. I knew then that the show must go on.

This started out as a tiny little side hobby where I could put my experiences in one place instead of repeating these great stories multiple times. Then it grew into my passion for helping generate exposure for restaurants especially small businesses & family owned restaurants with small advertising budgets.

This is not about me or increasing my personal popularity, but about the servers, chefs, dishwashers, short order cooks and busboys who work hard every day in order to give YOU great dining experiences here in Birmingham, Alabama.

Thank you for your readership, support and for supporting the restaurant owners of The Magic City.

~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Anonymously Raiding a Restaurant Near You"







Thursday, September 22, 2016

EVENT: Taste it ALL at the 2016 Breakin' Bread Flavor Festival


Hey You!

It's time for the 2016 installment of Breakin' Bread... "A Local Flavor Festival" presented by Birmingham Originals.
This year's event will be held at Birmingham's historic Sloss Furnaces downtown Birmingham.
The event will take place on Sunday September 25, 2016 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m..

Come taste UNLIMITED samples of the most  amazing culinary creations by some of Birmingham's most talented chefs. The proceeds from this event will benefit the Woodlawn High School Urban Farm, a partnership between Woodlawn High School & the Jones Valley Teaching Farm (501c3).

This years impressive list of participating restaurants includes:



   
Tickets are $35.00 for general admission and $99.99 for VIP tickets.
General admission tickets include unlimited food sampling and 2 drink tickets.
VIP tickets include unlimited food sampling, drinks, access to the executive lounge area and gift bags.
Want to bring the kids? Kids 12 years old and under will have free admission and access to unlimited sampling and kid friendly beverages. There will also be a children's area.

There will be live music by singer/ songwriter Raquel Lilly , music group Winston Ramble and Heath Green and The Makeshifters! You don't want to miss these exciting homegrown acts. 

To purchase tickets, go to https://birminghamoriginals.instagift.com/breakin-bread

*Birmingham Originals is composed of independent restaurant owners who banded together to form this popular coalition. 

Check out photos from a previous event http://birminghamrestaurantraider.blogspot.com/2014/10/if-you-missed-itbreakin-bread-re-cap.html#links

Fore more information visit the Breakin' Bread 2016 website  http://www.breakinbreadbham.com/
Follow the Birmingham Originals on social media:
Twitter @BHAMOriginals
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/breakinbreadbham/

If your hands aren't too full remember to use the hashtag #BreakinBread in your social media posts.
Thanks for reading and sharing!
Follow me as I #RaidBham @RestaurantRaidr

~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"  
http://birminghamrestaurantraider.blogspot.com/
 

*Click photo for larger image*

Monday, August 15, 2016

FEATURE: "Travel In To Tropicaleo"




Hey! How'd you like to visit Puerto Rico? In case you don't quite have the cash to run out to book a flight, just stop in to the Crestwood Tavern now through August 31st to experience one of the
FINEST Puerto Rican / Caribbean menu's in the city of Birmingham. I, along with several other local food, beverage and lifestyle "influencers" were guests of the owners of Tropicaleo at a recent exclusive tasting event.

Gabriel & Isabel Marerro have taken the city's food culture by storm. Not only are they bringing authentic island flavor to Birmingham, but they are doing it with incredible passion. Tropicaleo offers gluten free & vegan options without sacrificing flavor and quality.

It was a pleasure to find out that they are helping the local economy by using local sources including:
Urban Food Project 
Continental Bakery
D'Agostino's Sausage Empire 
Wholesome Soda Company
And Wabi Tea Co

Hurry! You can visit Tropicaleo at their temporary location at Crestwood Tavern through the end of August.  The permanent location will be located in Avondale near the 4400 block. They are looking to make the transition sometime in November.

They are also participating in  Birmingham Restaurant Week 2016! Check out their amazing food at a special price while you can.
http://www.bhamrestaurantweek.com/restaurants/Tropicaleo

Gabriel & Isabel along with Chef Orlando, spent time speaking with our group about the preparation of each dish. We had an amazing afternoon tasting all of the wonderful dishes prepared by the staff.

If you would like more information about Tropicaleo or take advantage of their outstanding catering service, please visit  https://www.facebook.com/tropicaleobham/

Look out for the team at local upcoming food festivals as well.

As usual, THANK YOU for reading and sharing these experiences as I #RaidBham

~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"  



STOP BY FOR SATURDAY BRUNCH

TRY AN ORANGE LIME OR GINGER ALE SODA BY WHOLESOME SODA COMPANY

START OFF WITH AN ORDER OF WARM, DELICIOUS MOROVIS BREAD

THE EL CUBANO

THE LA TRIPLETA SANDWICH
Click to view larger menu image

THE LA TRIPLETA W/O BREAD (THE UN-SANDWICHED VERSION)



THE DAILY SPECIAL- THE VEGAN CANOE: EGGPLANT FILLED PLANTAIN

MUFONGO RELLENO W/ LOCAL ARTISAN CHORIZO

Top off your meal or dip your bread into this HOT VINEGAR... cured for up to 3 months.

DELICIOUS SEASONAL CHEESECAKE W/ A DRIZZLE OF NUTELLA

THE TROPICALEO TEAM (L-R) GABRIEL, MARIA ISABEL & CHEF ORLANDO