Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Birmingham Restaurant Week 2021

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Birmingham Restaurant Week (BRW) 2021 - Winter Edition presented by Spire is set to take place Thursday, Jan. 14 through Sunday, Jan. 31. The 18-day Winter Edition seeks to further support the restaurant and bar industries during a time when it is more crucial than ever. This event will boast to-go and curbside pickup options as well as the traditional, but limited, dine-in options, as health precautions are still being mandated.



From fine dining to down-home cookin’, food and drink lovers with a taste for adventure can enjoy special two and three-course breakfast, lunch and/or dinner prix-fixe menus ranging from $5 to $50 per person – making it easy and affordable for everyone to enjoy a taste of Birmingham’s diverse dishes and sips. BRW 2021 - Winter Edition aims to keep bellies full, restaurants cooking and jobs safe.



BRW is more than eating and drinking, it is about supporting local restaurants and giving people an opportunity to enjoy the South’s most vibrant culinary destination by offering incentives for patrons to revisit their favorite restaurants, bars and food trucks or to experience new ones. With aims to keep guests warm, fed and safe and to allow for al fresco dining no matter the weather, restaurants are making special accommodations to safely serve diners during the winter by offering outdoor high-powered heaters, cabana tents and “igloos” to expand upon outdoor and patio seating. 



According to the National Restaurant Association:

  • One in six restaurants, representing close to 100,000 units, are closed either permanently or long-term, and one in three restaurants will close by year end.
  • In Alabama, the leisure and hospitality industry has accounted for 49 percent of all jobs lost since March.
  • Now, the state’s $9 billion restaurant economy is at a more severe risk as over 75 percent of Alabama’s 8,620 eating and drinking locations are in danger of closing permanently amidst the ongoing pandemic. 
  • With business conditions deteriorating, assistance is critical for the survival of many restaurants as 209,900 jobs could be lost.
  • Twenty-one percent of Alabama operators say it is unlikely their restaurant will still be in business six months from now, if there are no additional relief packages from the federal government.

The Birmingham community should use their voice on behalf of local restaurateurs to support the Restaurants Act that if passed will generate $1.8 billion economic benefit for Alabama. 



Because of the negative effects that COVID-19 had on the restaurant industry, BRW 2020 – held Aug. 14-31 – strived to go above and beyond to make certain that participants saw meaningful results. Post-BRW survey statistics showed a 54 percent average increase in sales for participants vs. recent non-BRW weeks. According to Matt Viscaino, owner of Tortugas Pizza - a first-time BRW participant, the local pizzeria saw a 125 percent increase in sales during BRW vs. a recent non-BRW week. Further, when comparing its sales as a participant in BRW 2020 vs. sales from 2019 during the same time as a non-BRW participant - they saw an impressive 141 percent increase in sales - in a pandemic!



With almost 60 participants, BRW 2020 had a whole new recipe with the new to-go and curbside pickup options. Only locally owned businesses were allowed to participate, and menus included family-style meal options, cocktail kits and to-go alcohol, easily some of the biggest successes of this summer’s event. Giving back to the community has always been an essential component for BRW with more than $75,000 raised for local nonprofits in its 11 years. Organizers donated $2,500 to the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama after BRW 2020 to help aid in its mission to end hunger tomorrow.



Organizers are excited to announce the unofficial list of approximately 50 Winter Edition participants, as applications are still open to allow restaurants, bars and food trucks to register for the event. (See release.) Menus will be unmasked on Jan. 4 on the Eat/Drink page of the BRW website (

Official Hashtag: #BhamRestWeek #BRW2021




Wednesday, October 14, 2020

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things


I get a lot of inquiries about my favorite places to eat. It's hard to pick a favorite because there are SO many awesome places here in the Birmingham metro area. However one of my favorite menu items is the Old Berlin Beer Cheese Soup at Customs Cafe. Served with their house made cheese wafers, it makes for great comfort food. Another option I like is to pair it with jumbo soft pretzels for a game day treat. This has often been compared to the beer cheese soup at Birmingham's infamous Baby Doe's Matchless Mine Restaurant. Customs Cafe's soups can be purchased via dine in, carry out and delivery. They can also be found at area Piggly Wiggly stores. Follow their Instagram page  and watch for details on how to win a large container of their beer cheese soup this week in the upcoming "Free Food Friday" giveaway.

Old Berlin Beer Cheese Soup

Next Up...... 

Anytime I've ever eaten a quail dish, I'm usually hungry immediately afterwards unless I order an appetizer prior to the main course. I recently ordered an incredible entree featuring bacon wrapped quail over savory cheese grits, sprinkled with fresh greens. Just to be on the safe side, I ordered an appetizer of their Redneck Rockefeller oysters. These oysters on a 1/2 shell are baked & topped with collards under a bed of a creamy warm cheese blend. It was VERY filling. 
 For details or to make a reservation at SoHo Standard, visit

Redneck Rockefeller Oysters

Bacon Wrapped Quail Over Grits 

Thanks for reading & sharing! 
~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Seasons 52 Rosé All Day, All Summer Menu

Rosé is the drink of summer ― perfectly refreshing when the days are long and temperatures keep rising. Even in 2020, rosé continues to be among the fastest growing wine category. Seasons 52 is celebrating all things rosé with the return of Rosé All Day, All Summer, a curated menu that celebrates the favorite summertime wine, complete with rosé cocktails.

Here are the details:

·         Now through Sept. 14, guests are invited to come in and sip popular labels by-the-glass, such as Vanderpump Rosé and Jansz Brut Rosé, as well as the signature Rosé Lemonade and Rosé Sangria.

·         Pair with Season 52’s new summer menu, highlighting peak season ingredients in dishes like the new street-style Wood-Grilled Corn Wheels and Roasted Corn & Bacon Flatbread, to make the most of the warm weather.
Roasted Corn Flatbread
Wood Grilled Corn Wheels 

·   For those looking to partake at home, guests can purchase rosé by the bottle to go, along with the summer dishes. To provide guests with a cocktail option for home, Seasons 52 is sharing the recipe for its wildly popular Honey-Lavender Sangria, featuring Royal Post Rosé, which can be purchased by the bottle.

Rosé All Day Summer Array

Seasons 52 is located at 245 Summit Blvd. in Birmingham. For more info, visit For more information about what guests can expect dining at Seasons 52, click here.

Honey Lavender Sangria

Honey-Lavender Sangria
Inspired by Rosé All Day, All Summer event at Seasons 52
·         3 oz. Royal Post Rosé
·         1½ oz. honey-lavender syrup
·         1 oz. white cranberry juice
·         ½ oz. lemon juice
·         3 oz. club soda
·         1 lavender sprig
·         1 lemon wedge
·         Pour rosé, syrup, juices and club soda over ice and stir.
·         Garnish with lavender sprig and lemon wedge.
Tools Needed:
·         Wine glass
Makes 1 cocktail.

Thanks for reading & sharing! 
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Mellow Mushroom Takes a Trip Through Time for Way Back Wednesdays

You may have heard of #throwbackthursday, but Mellow Mushroom is introducing "Way Back Wednesdays".  Every Wednesday, starting now – September 2, Mellow Mushroom will offer the Way Back Wednesday meal package for only $19.74 – in honor of the year Mellow Mushroom was founded.

The Way Back Wednesday package includes one small cheese pizza, one small pepperoni pizza, and choice of pretzel bites or a regular Caesar salad.  The offer is good for online orders only and can be placed at

“The Way Back Wednesdays meal package is a nod to the brand’s evolution,” said Anne Mejia, Vice President Brand Development.  “At 46 years, Mellow Mushroom is going strong.”

1974 was the year Mellow Mushroom first opened for business.  Since then, the brand has expanded to 21 states and 178 locations.  Each Mellow Mushroom restaurant is unique, incorporating custom artwork from local artists, and often celebrating the brand’s history. 

Visitors to the brand’s web site are often delighted by the Do Not Touch button, taking guests on a trip through time to the restaurant’s first website built in 2001.  Games, cartoons and other original website features are available for longtime Mellow fans to relive, and new guests to discover. 

Birmingham locations include: 
920 Inverness Corners
Birmingham AL 35242
Phone: (205) 981-9914
1200 20th Street South, Suite 100
Birmingham AL 35205
Phone: (205) 212-9420

For more information about Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers and to view the full menu of munchies, salads, pizzas, calzones, hoagies and more, go to, follow on Instagram @MellowMushroom, like on Facebook at, or follow on Twitter @MellowMushroom.

About Mellow Mushroom
Mellow Mushroom was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1974 and today operates in 21 states under the name Home-Grown Industries of Georgia. Each Mellow Mushroom is locally owned and operated.  For over 40 years, Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers has been serving up fresh, stone-baked pizzas to order in an eclectic, art-filled, and family friendly environment. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

SoHo Standard "Superior Cuisine. Superior Class"

The expansion of the SoHo area is never ending. Upgrades, openings and restructuring are apparent whenever you visit the area. We recently visited the new SoHo Standard Kitchen & Bar and were pleasantly surprised by the menu, the concept and all they had to offer. 

Atmosphere: SoHo Standard is a contemporary/casual little spot with an upscale flair. The clientele seemed to be a slightly "white tablecloth" crowd for lack of a better term. There are ample amounts of tables including bistro tables. There is a well-stocked bar inside with a wide selection of spirits to suit just about every taste. This is a very quaint atmosphere. There is also a very spacious outdoor area with bar stools and outdoor string lights, perfect for a spring night of socializing.  

The Staff: Our server was outstanding. He was patient with us as we studied the menu. Everything sounded REALLY good. He was friendly and very accommodating. All of the staff members around us appeared to be personable.

What we had: All of their menu items are described as one word. We had the "DIP" appetizer: a melted mozzarella and goat cheese blended dip, with smoked tomatoes and pistachio pesto. There were also cloves of garlic blended in to this warm, cheesy concoction.  It's served with bread for dipping. Next time I get this dish I'm getting everyone their own. Definitely don't want to share this next time, LOL! The first entree' was the "CRAB": Gulf crab cakes on a mound of creamed collards and shrimp maque choux. 

This dish was bursting with flavor. The crab cakes are definitely a winner. Entree' number two: The "STEAK": Cuts of filet, cooked (medium) of course, accompanied by gnocchi mac & cheese, verde, and instead of the okra, I got a serving of their perfectly cooked and seasoned collards. Cutting into this filet was like cutting into butter. The tenderness was magnificent. One of the best meals I've ever had. 

Overall: SoHo Standard can easily turn into one of those places that I'd highly recommend to out-of-towners, clients and couples looking for a perfect date night spot. Enjoyed it!! 

For more information about SoHo Standard, please visit

Thanks for reading & sharing! 
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider™

Friday, January 31, 2020

Tre Luna "Contemporary Dining At It's Best"

Travel down Stadium Trace Parkway and you'll run into a "new-ish" retail plaza called Brock's Gap in the Hoover area. One of the highlights of the area is the Tre Luna Bar & Kitchen. I've heard fantastic things about it so I decided to sneak in with a co-conspirator & raid the place. 

Atmosphere: The environment here is quite appealing. The lighting was perfect for this Italian themed eatery. The space is definitely adequate enough to handle a large hungry crowds without making each table feel crowded. The noise level was not bad even with the moderate crowd on this particular night. They also have an incredible outdoor area that is well lit with overhead string lights, bistro tables and a wide open area to accommodate parties, meetings or social groups. 

The Staff: After having arrived at our reservation time, we were greeted by the friendly hostess and quickly seated. Our server, Jessica, greeted our table with enthusiasm. She was very knowledgeable about the menu and convinced us to have their daily specials. 

Beef Carpaccio

What we had: We started out with a shareable appetizer, the Beef Carpaccio: paper thin sliced beef, topped with capers, horseradish sauce and shaved Parmesan reggiano. My dinner mate opted for the "Fish Of The Day" feature which was a perfectly grilled grouper. This fish was accompanied by a serving of roasted potatoes & romanesco broccoli. If you've never had romanesco before, it's pretty much what happens if a stalk of broccoli and a stalk of cauliflower got married and had baby vegetables. It was crisp, delicious and all topped with a light butter sauce. (click images for larger view)
Grilled Grouper

My entree consisted of another daily special, which was the "Squid Ink Seafood Pasta": a generous bed of perfectly cooked pasta dyed with squid ink, topped and surrounded by roasted cherry tomato halves, jumbo shrimp, jumbo scallops and calamari. The flavor of this dish was amazing. The serving size was pretty large so at least half of it went home. I also had a half dozen Bombolini (Italian donuts) for dessert. These came with chocolate & whiskey caramel dipping sauces.

Squid Ink Seafood Pasta

Overall: Tre Luna got it right. The atmosphere combined with the food & service puts them on my list of favorite places. 

Fore more information or to view the menu, please visit

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

Monday, January 6, 2020

"Support The Roverchase Foundation Contest"

Hey Birmingham! 

A new year is a great time to start new habits such as charitable giving. To celebrate the beginning of our 11th year, we'd like to start a new tradition. We will periodically partner with a local charity to boost donations with a delicious incentive.

During the month of February, make a donation of $50.00 or more to The Roverchase Foundation by February 29, 2020 and be automatically entered to win a $100.00 gift card to Highlands Bar & Grill

All donations will benefit The Roverchase Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals with medical disabilities obtain life changing, professionally trained service dogs.
Donate by visiting Click the DONATE button at the top of the page. 

According to the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, service dogs can assist with lots of critical tasks including the following: 

Service Dogs Basic Tasks

  • Answers when someone’s at the door by pulling a lever.
  • Brings or retrieves stuff to its owner, such as the mail, medicine bottles or any other items.
  • Barks, summons or alerts someone in the other room, for the owner who cannot get to them.
  • Helps his owner get around, or get up from his seat, or climb the stairs at the home or in public establishments.
  • Be his owner’s steady support, in case he experiences an imbalance while doing activities.
  • Carries medicine and other provisions for his owner in a specialized back pack.

Service Dogs Tasks During Emergencies

  • Brings the phone to his owner to call 911 or a relative.
  • Knows how to bark at a speaker phone to signal for emergency.
  • Interrupts or tags its owner during a trigger or psychiatric occurrence.
  • Alerts other people when its owner is in distress.
  • Leads other people to its owner, who could already be down on the floor after an episode or a suicide attempt, especially in cases of depression and mood disorders.
  • Alert its owner in cases of fire or burglary attempts.
For more information about the Roverchase Foundation, contact them at

*Contest ends 02/29/2020 at midnight. Winner will be announced 03/03/2020 after a random drawing. This contest is solely sponsored by The Birmingham Restaurant Raider. Highlands Bar & Grill is not affiliated with this contest. 

Happy New Year!

Times flies when you’re having fun!
In October of 2019, we celebrated a milestone, the 10th anniversary of the Birmingham Restaurant Raider brand.  
Here's a little history. In October 2009, the concept of “The Birmingham Restaurant Raider” was developed. The inspiration to begin this fun & exciting journey came from a friend who owned one of the largest pop-up supper clubs in Atlanta. He gave me one good piece of advice, “be original”.
At the time of conception, I did an extensive search to see if there were any independent food review sites in Birmingham. Other than the Birmingham News and a handful of notable local magazines, there was definitely an opening for this type of media. I started out by publishing content using Constant Contact, a mainstream email marketing tool that allows information to be delivered with a polished look to a large number of email recipients. After several months of this, a decision was made to transition the content to a blog.
Fast forward to 2019, the city now has a large amount of new food blogs and other social media platforms that focus on Birmingham's outstanding cuisine.
Anonymity has allowed me to go out and see what it’s like to experience dining out as an “Average Joe” and report these findings to consumers and food enthusiasts.
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider has also allowed me countless opportunities over the years to attend local and regional festivals, offer media and in-kind sponsorships, partner with national brands  and even have a hand in the planning and development phases of many events including wine paring dinners. 
I've had the extreme pleasure of developing long term relationships with restaurant owners and independent chefs as a business consultant “free of charge”. This is always a welcomed gift to the business owners who are looking to implement marketing campaigns or simply fill tables. I’ve been blessed to have a career in business for many years so I figured I’d pay it forward. 
Overall it’s been a great pleasure interacting  with social media followers and blog readers locally and worldwide.
This full time hobby has led to the development of a great brand, business relationships and meeting some of the GREATEST people to ever have a beer or a meal with!
Thanks SO much for reading and being around just as we've crossed the 10th “Raider-Versary”! 
We look forward to reviewing new spots and promoting more giveaways! 
Let's eat our way through this 11th year!
Bon Appetit!
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
Est. 2009

“Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You”

Friday, August 30, 2019

Nino's Italian Restaurant "The End of An Era"

My first experience dining at Nino's Italian Restaurant several years ago was incredibly memorable. Mostly for 2 reasons; the overwhelming smell of garlic and Walter Caron. 

After being in business for 10 years, the famous local eatery has decided to close it's doors. As an Italian food lover, it's been one of the most amazing food adventures I've had during my decade of writing as the Restaurant Raider. Everything from "greet to eat" is / was always a pleasant experience there. 

During my recent visit, I reflected on the review I did on Nino's back in 2011. To walk in and not see Walter definitely gave me an empty feeling. His personality was HUGE and he filled the walls of the restaurant with a great big burst of life. His passing several months ago definitely left a void in the restaurant's atmosphere and I'm sure in the Caron family. 

Side Salad

We stopped by this week to get one last experience at Nino's prior to the official closing date of August 31, 2019. It was beautiful to witness a packed house full of people eager to have one last dinner at this community landmark.
Cheese Bread Appetizer

What we had: We started out with a couple of side salads with house made creamy Italian dressing, topped with shredded cheese. No meal is complete without a shared order of their famous warm cheese bread with a side of their delicious, authentic marinara sauce.
Garlic Bread

It was hard to pick my last meal, but I ended up with the Chicken Parmigiana: breaded chicken breast topped with tomato sauce and melted Mozzarella cheese. My dinner mate had a huge serving of their Gnocchi with chicken topped with an incredible pesto sauce.

Chicken Parmigiana, Spaghetti w/ Marinara Sauce
Nino's was and will forever be one of those places that had the total package: the menu, the atmosphere and the personalities that make up a great dining experience.
Gnocci w/ Chicken topped with Pesto Sauce

Thanks to the Nino's family for the great service over the years and as they say in Italy,
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You" 
Est. 2009

Friday, March 15, 2019

Exploring The City With Birmingham Taste Tours

Launched in September 2018, Birmingham Taste Tours founder Annie Reynolds brings the food tourism trend to The Magic City.

The food tourism trend has begun in the metro Birmingham area. 
Walking food tours have been a source of entertainment and education for locals
and tourists alike for years in other cities. Previously voted one of  Zagat’s 30 Top Food Cities , Birmingham was the only one not utilizing walking food tours as an economic stimulator and (let’s face it) a really fun way to eat the city. Birmingham Taste Tours currently offers a walking food tours.  
The Downtown Tour: a 3 hour guided walking, food, drink, and historical tour of the Downtown neighborhood. Customers will sample 4 to 5 eclectic tastings from our most authentic, locally owned restaurants.
They will hear about Birmingham's  culinary history and culture and the people who helped shape it.

The Downtown Brunch Tour: On the Saturday brunch tour you will visit at least 3 restaurants and our local food hall to sample many traditional southern brunch items. You’ll be given the opportunity to indulge in classic brunch cocktails as well.   

The tour will consist of a discuss about the ongoing revitalization of Birmingham and specific new developments that are currently underway. Learn about Downtown’s history and its expected growth in the coming years.

This 3-hour tour will take you within a 1.5-mile walk of some of the popular streets of Downtown, where you will find locally owned shops and weekend neighborhood markets as well. The goal is to leave the food tour participants with the impression that Downtown is no longer just a weekday destination.

 It's Nice To Have You In Pepper Place Tour:
Enjoy this newly appointed Entertainment District and bustling Farmer’s Market on this 2 1/2 hr walking tour. Guests will enter several local eateries and sample both food and beverage tastings along the way. You will also hear from local farmers and artisans at the market and be able to purchase directly from the vendors. $10 worth of market tokens will be included in your tour ticket to use as you wish. You will hear the history of Pepper Place, taste what it has to offer, and see the neighborhood’s new and exciting growth!

The goal is for the tourist to feel comfortable adventuring throughout the city while getting a taste of local cuisine. Quite simply, it is a way for a tourist to become a local in 3 hrs.
Locals will hear fun stories of Birmingham they may not have heard before and have the opportunity to eat at several of their favorite restaurants in one day.
At Birmingham Taste Tours, guests get more than just a meal. They get a memory.
For more information about tours, please visit their website at and also look for them on Instagram, Facebook and

If your restaurant/business would like more information about becoming a partner, shoot an email to

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