Thursday, May 19, 2016

REVIEW: First Watch "The Daytime Cafe That's Here to Stay"

Prior to their 5/20/16 opening day, I was given an opportunity to visit a brand new restaurant with an interesting concept. Critically acclaimed First Watch is a restaurant that embraces the idea of creating a variety of award winning menu items from the freshest ingredients. All menu items are cooked to order and let me tell you, my taste buds were completely impressed! They begin each day by slicing fresh fruit and preparing their scratch-made French toast batter. They also offer beverages such as their Sunrise Select coffee, Sparkling Pellegrino,  herbal & fresh brewed teas, milk & a great Juice Bar menu.

First Watch is located in the space previously occupied by The Egg & I which closed a while back. Although their menu consists of a large variety of breakfast and brunch items, they have several lunch options such as sandwiches, salads prepared using an organic blend of mixed greens
and the 2 FOR YOU lunch specials consisting of a 1/2 sandwich, 1/2 salad or a cup of soup.

I decided to bring 2 long time supporters of the Birmingham Restaurant Raider, Jan & Barbara to help me with tasting a few different dishes from their impressive menu.

I tried the Chicken Salad Melt- An open faced sandwich containing all natural white meat chicken salad, blended with apples, raisins & celery served on grilled artisan whole grain bread w/ tomato and a slice of my favorite cheese, Monterey Jack.

From the Omelet menu, Jan ordered The Works- A delicious omelet comprised of cage free eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, house-roasted Crimini mushrooms, onions, fresh diced tomatoes, a blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses topped off with a dollop of sour cream.

Barbara had the Roast Beef & Havarti from the sandwich menu- delicious roast beef piled onto Parmesan-crusted sourdough bread finished off with lemon dressed arugula,  Horseradish Havarti, house roasted onions, tomatoes and a side of horseradish sauce.

All three dishes were accompanied by a side of mixed greens with a perfectly blended house made lemon vinaigrette dressing.

We also each tried a cup of their fresh brewed, smooth Sunrise Select coffee.
This would pair well with any of their breakfast and brunch dishes.

If you are looking for a quality meal made with fresh ingredients, stop in to First Watch.
More locations coming soon!

First Watch is located at
4741 Chace Circle
Hoover, AL 35244
Hours : 7:00 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.

Be the first to receive exclusive offers by signing up for their Sun eClub.
Follow them on Twitter at @First_Watch 
Use their hash tag #FWHoover
Like them on Facebook at

Use the hashtag #RaidBham to win monthly gift cards to local eateries!

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

*Click on photos to view larger images

Each table is stocked with a bowl of liquid coffee creamers in a variety of flavors

A tall glass jug of chilled water and a coffee pot for the table

The Chicken Salad Melt

The Roast Beef & Havarti

The Works Omelet

Fresh Sunrise Select Coffee

Outdoor seating available

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

REVIEW: Shiki Thai & Sushi "Experience Contemporary Taste"

I always love taking a trip to SOHO. There you can find several of the city's most popular shopping spots, bars and a variety of specialty stores. I stopped in to check out a place called Shiki Thai & Sushi after I received a recommendation or two or maybe even three.
My lunch companion and I both have pretty similar taste in cuisine, so this was a win-win situation. Even if you are not a fan of sushi, the menu, has something for everyone. 

Atmosphere: Very, very nice. This is a contemporary, chic spot. The restaurant sits on the corner of Hallman Hill East street in Homewood. There are large windows which give diners a great view of the hustle and bustle of South Homewood. You will find the sushi chef hard at work at the sushi bar  which is placed just to the right of the entrance. There is also an awesome outdoor seating space perfect for those "awesome weather" days. They also have outdoor heaters strategically placed outside during chilly or fall evenings. Overall the ambiance did not disappoint. 

The Meal: Since this was our first visit, we decided to try several dishes. We each started out with a bowl of Shiki's coconut soup. This creamy concoction was an instant hit. I challenge you not to put the spoon down and drink it. It's very hard not to. Our appetizers consisted of a delicious order of traditional Thai crab angels and Crispy Rock Shrimp: Lightly battered shrimp, fried and served with a sweet and spicy creamy sauce. From there we moved on to try the Pad Thai: Thin rice noodles, pan fried with chicken, shrimp, scallions, bean sprouts, egg and crushed peanuts. We also tried the Shiki Catfish: Boneless catfish fillets fried and served with a Thai ginger soy sauce served with a scoop of perfectly steamed white rice.
How could we visit a new sushi place and NOT have sushi. Impossible! We tried the Rock 'N Roll sushi roll: eel, avocado, cucumber, topped with smoked salmon, sesame seed and eel sauce. We also enjoyed the Rainbow Roll: Shrimp, crab stick, cucumber, green onion, topped with tuna, yellow tail fish & smoked salmon.

The prices: I found the prices to be in sync with most all traditional Thai restaurants that I've visited. Although we visited at lunch, they do have an all day menu with a wider variety of choices. The sushi rolls actually cost more than the lunch entree's we had. The catfish entree' cost $9 and the Pad Thai was $8. Not too bad.

The staff: The staff was great! We received lots of attention, but not too much hovering. We received appropriately timed refills, friendly service and the server knew the menu very well.

Overall Experience: I absolutely cannot wait to go back to Shiki Thai & Sushi! There were several items on their menu that I wanted to try. The dishes weren't too skimpy and the flavor was outstanding! Hat's off to the chefs and sushi creators!

Shiki Thai & Sushi is located at:
300 Hallman Hill East. Suite 109
Homewood, AL 35209
Phone: (205) 783-5222

Mon - Sun:11:00 AM - 02:00 PM
05:00 PM - 09:00 PM    

Follow them on Twitter at @Shiki_BAL
Order on line and Pick up

Follow the Birmingham Restaurant Raider on Twitter @RestaurantRaidr

Thanks for reading,
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider 
"Anonymously Raiding a Restaurant Near You!"
Thai coconut soup

Crispy Rock Shrimp

Thai Crab Angels

Shiki Catfish

Pad Thai

The Rainbow Roll

The Rock 'N Roll Sushi Roll
The Patio