Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The 2015 Gumbo Gala Cook Off


It's that time again folks! #GumboGala2015
Gumbo lovers everywhere will unite on April 18, 2015 to have a taste of unlimited samples of some of the best gumbo in the state. The Gumbo Gala draws large crowds annually and all for a great cause. It is a fundraiser benefitting the residents of Episcopal Place, an affordable housing apartment community that serves 148 seniors and disabled adults who live on restricted incomes. 

There will be great live music, children's activities, games, art and much more!!!!!
I had a blast at last years event and will not pass up the opportunity to attend the popular Birmingham annual fundraiser.

The Gala has a great new site location having moved from Sloss to Region's Field.

Early Bird tickets are now on sale!
If you can't make it to the event, go to their website to make a donation. It would be a huge help for people in need.

Volunteers are also needed for #GumboGala2015. There are still several opportunities available.

Don't forget to get your (reasonably priced) official 2015 Gumbo Gala T-shirt.

Check out pics from last years Gumbo Gala. GumboGala2014

Follow Episcopal Place https://twitter.com/Episcopalplace
Follow Gumbo Gala https://twitter.com/GumboGala
See you at #GumboGala2015!
Thanks for reading,


Monday, March 30, 2015

Paramount Birmingham- "On the Corner of Great Food & Good Fun"

After having began as a trendy yogurt shop in Birmingham's metro area, Paramount has been repurposed as a popular restaurant with a tantalizing menu. Following up on several recommendations to check out the new concept, I was pleasantly surprised to find an awesome spot with growing popularity and great hours right in the middle of downtown.

Atmosphere: We were greeted almost immediately. We loved the atmosphere. Plenty of seating, a great view of the T.V. along with a fantastic window seat. Well, pretty much every seat is a window seat. There was not a huge crowd but the restaurant was busy on this particular day. The dining room was not too loud or uncomfortable for us. Surrounding the bar in the rear of the restaurant were several classic video games. Yep, this is going to be a regular spot for me.

The Meal: We shared the "Wings, Wings, Wings" selection from the "Share It" menu. We opted for the sweet barbecue flavor. These wings were extremely tender with a flavorful glaze of barbecue sauce on the outside. For my entrée I chose the grilled cheese sandwich- a warm, melted blend of cheddar, goat & mozzarella cheeses with a  spread of tomato jam on perfectly toasted sourdough bread. The side dish of sweet potato chips was an amazing kick to this already delicious sandwich. My dinner mate decided on "The Standard"- an option from the "quarter pound dogs" menu. An all beef hot dog, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, a pickle with a savory horsey sauce & cheddar cheese. To top it off with a sweet treat, I had the Buffalo Rock ice cream float.
YES...... YES, I did. What a meal!

The service: Although our server had only been on the job for three days, she gave us fantastic service and was highly accommodating. No complaints in the service area. 

The Prices: To say that I was happy with the food prices here would be an understatement. The shared menu features appetizers starting at only  $3.99. My entrée was $6.99 and my dinner companion's entrée was $ 5.99. It doesn't matter how much the Buffalo Rock float was.... some things you just have to buy no matter what.

Room For Growth & Improvement: Continue to focus on server development. Structure a new advertising campaign focusing on the fact that you are one of very few restaurants open on a Sunday in Downtown Birmingham. People looking for options in the area need to know that. Get your servers to mention the fact that you have gift cards available before the check arrives or maybe feature gift card availability on a printed table tent. That would be an excellent upsell.

Overall Experience: Any place that offers Buffalo Rock ice cream floats & a Mortal Kombat 3 video game could easily turn into my second home. Look forward to my return!!!!

For more information on Paramount Birmingham please visit their website
Follow them on Twitter @@ParamountBham
Like them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/paramountbirmingham

Wings, Wings, Wings!!

The Standard Quarter Pound Dog

Buffalo Rock Float =)
The Grilled Cheese w/ Sweet Potato Chips

Monday, March 23, 2015

EVENT: The Alabama Asian Cultures & Food Festival - Save The Date!

I am super excited about this event to say the least!! Several months ago I read about this festival and immediately put it on every last calendar in my possession. My fascination with Asian culture started when I was very young. One of the things on my bucket list is to travel there. However, until I get to that bucket list entry, I will get a chance to experience the Alabama Asian Culture & Food Festival right here in Birmingham. On April 11, 2015, The Zamora Shrine Temple in the Irondale community will host the annual cultural fest. People from all over will have the chance to experience Asian themed, music, arts & crafts and my favorite.... FOOD!  This will be an educational event for the entire family!

I love this excerpt from the organization's mission statement:

"Encouraging interactions among different cultures through education and artistic and cultural programming will promote diversity, and international understanding and friendship."

This helps to promote the purpose of events such as this.

Aside from sampling the highly anticipated cuisine, I am looking forward to the performance by the Japanese Taiko Drumming troupe, Matsuriza.

There will be everything from an Asian sales bazaar, an Asian fashion show,
a geographical display sponsored by National Geographic and MORE!!!!

For your convenience, there will be an ATM on site.

Tickets for this annual event will be only $8.00 for adults over 18.
$5.00 for teens 13-17, military veterans & college students with ID.
Children 12 & under are FREE!!!!!!!

For more information, please visit the Alabama Asian Cultures Foundation website at http://alabamaasiancultures.org/
*There are still more slots for Asian food vendors!
Please contact bina.fleck@gmail.com OR click here to be one of the  Asian Food Vendors

Click here to volunteer

See you there!


Thanks for reading & sharing this post!
~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider

Click to view larger image

Monday, March 16, 2015

REVIEW: Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen

Two things that  Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen is famous for, the tremendously long wait times and their world famous seafood. Over the years I've heard so many people rave about their experience at the infamous seafood giant. Many of them of course had to visit Pappadeaux locations outside of Birmingham until recently. Since opening their doors several months ago off of Highway 280, the restaurant has drawn huge, impressive crowds. I'm sure their sales volumes are higher than expected.

*While I typically don't review many large, chain restaurants, there are over a dozen people that wanted to know what I thought of this particular restaurant.

Atmosphere: Upon arrival, I was impressed with the landscape and the outdoor seating. The outdoor seating area was quite comfortable and would be an awesome place to eat in good weather. We were told that we would have a 45 minute wait. We decided to wait it out while listening to the awesome live band near the bar area. We could see that is was very crowded which increased the noise level. I would normally leave a restaurant if the wait at dinner time is longer than 20 minutes, but we both wanted to have the experience. I've seen other reviews of Pappadeaux where people have waited close to three hours to be seated. I personally don't have the tolerance for that. Only my mother's home cooked meals deserve that kind of patience.

The Meal: From the "hot appetizers" menu, I had the frog legs with fries. The appetizer contained a generous portion of meaty frog legs, I was quite pleased with this choice. My entrée consisted of the seafood platter: A beautifully presented combination of catfish fillets, shrimp, blue crab cake, stuffed shrimp & stuffed crab on a bed of fries. My dinner companion had the grilled half chicken: A 1/2 chicken, marinated in garlic & rosemary, accompanied by a serving of red mashed potatoes & sautéed spinach. I really hate to say it, the grilled half chicken was the star of the evening. They did an amazing job with the flavor of this dish.

The service: Our service was outstanding! Although there were large parties in his section, he still managed to give us great service with a great attitude each time he stopped by our table. We definitely felt comfortable leaving a generous tip due to his professionalism.

The prices: The appetizer was $10.95, 1/2 chicken entrée $19.95 & the seafood platter was $26.95.

Room for growth & improvement: There are a tremendous amount of on-line reviews about this restaurant. While it's impossible to please everyone, if I were the Pappadeaux management, I would make it a point to address all of the less than favorable  reviews by developing a solution to each issue. "Try" to impress each and every customer that comes in, after all you have a reputation to uphold as being a leader in the seafood world. There are other seafood restaurant leaders already firmly planted  in the Birmingham market that you WILL be heavily compared to.

Overall experience: The entrée I had didn't match the rave reviews I'd heard or read. Maybe I went in with insanely high expectations. I loved the frog legs and the service. I might visit this restaurant again in the future and order something different.  The chicken should not have outshined the seafood where seafood is the specialty.

Have you been to Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen? What was your experience? Leave your comments below the post or send an email to restaurantraider@gmail.com or a comment on twitter @RestaurantRaidr.

Frog Legs.... Sorry Kermit, but I couldn't help myself.

The Seafood Platter

The grilled half chicken dinner

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Big Flavor at Little Italy's Pies & Pints

*If you cannot read this email, click here to view the full version of the site http://birminghamrestaurantraider.blogspot.com/

There is nothing worse than receiving a restaurant recommendation then you get there and the restaurant doesn't live up to the hype. A happening new pizza joint called Little Italy's on Birmingham's Southside was suggested, over and over ...... and over again. I was told that the pizza was outstanding. I absolutely had to taste it for myself. On this particular visit I met with the founder of Discover Birmingham, to do some brainstorming. When we arrived, it was revealed that he was a regular there. That definitely worked in the restaurant's favor.

Atmosphere: This is a moderately sized eatery with ample booth & table seating, a sizable bar with additional bistro tables. There are televisions mounted for sports lovers. The restaurant was very clean, organized and appeared ready to receive lots of hungry pizza enthusiasts. If you are looking for an after work spot, I'd say this place is worth suffering through the Southside parking maze.

The Meal: We started out with the ridiculously delicious fried ravioli appetizer with ranch & marinara for dipping. This was my first time trying fried ravioli and definitely will not be the last. The main attraction was a large chicken veggie specialty pizza. This is one of the most amazing pizza's since the invention of pizza! It had just the right blend of cheese, fresh veggies and even the crust was flavorful.  Some pizza restaurants do not do enough to nurture the flavor of the crust. My taste buds were extremely happy!

The Service: We received great service on this particular night. Everyone we encountered was both friendly and accommodating.

The Prices: I was very impressed by the menu & prices of all of the dishes. Appetizers are $2.99 & up, salads range from $3.99 to $7.99 including Greek salads. They also have a great selection of pasta dishes starting at $9.99. Pizzas are of course priced by size & a little extra for added toppings. Their prices will definitely not break the bank at all. Quality food for reasonable prices is something a food enthusiast can appreciate. Especially if you're splitting the tab.
Get $2.00 off all appetizers (excluding wings) between 5 & 7 p.m. daily!

Room for growth & improvement: Even though Little Italy's is new to the 5 Points South area, I would strongly suggest a great marketing campaign to promote growth & visibility. This is right in the heart of a college community.
When the growth spurt hits... remember to maintain QUALITY.

Overall experience: I loved the atmosphere, the service, the prices and the taste.  This is a spot that I would recommend for after work meetings or a simple dinner with friends & family.

For more information about Little Italy's Pies & Pints visit their website at

"Like" them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/littleitalysbirmingham

Follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/5pointspizza

Fried Ravioli

Chicken Veggie Pizza