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A Bright Star Shines On-100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die

A late Tasty Tuesday post. Megabite # 37 or 65 on my countdown.  The Broiled Seafood Platter at Alabama’s oldest restaurant, The Bright Star Inn.

About 35 minutes or 21 miles from Birmingham I arrived in Bessemer, Alabama. I learned that this city is named the “Marvel City” for the rapid growth it once saw as a steel boomtown. Having seen steel and mining business thrive and disappear, this Bright Star has shone since 1907.

brightstarsign.jpg

Not just any restaurant, The Bright Star is a historic Alabama landmark designated as Alabama’s oldest restaurant.  Since 1925, the Greek/Greek-American Koikos family has owned this restaurant and it is said that they pride themselves with an emphasis on outstanding service and superior cuisine.

brightstarmen

From a 25 seater to 330 seat restaurant, something continues to be done very very well here.

brightstarsign

The back side of this sign -Alabama’s Oldest Restaurant

Serving surf and turf in a classic environment. Love historic preservation.

I also found several Greek dishes, which were very tempting but I was into playing my 100.  I ordered the broiled seafood platter,  a sample plate of customer seafood favorites: broiled snapper with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and oregano. Lobster and crabmeat au gratin made with parmesan cheese, a roux of butter and flour, whole milk, sherry, eggs, white pepper and paprika. Shrimp, oysters, scallops with drawn butter on the side.

Other food that I tasted.

Here are a few interesting things that I learned with my visit.

  • I learned that fresh seafood shipped from the Gulf Coast directly to this restaurant on a daily basis and that there is a fish processor on site, who for 33 years has ensured the consistency of the fish. Outstanding. I love my Gulf seafood!

 

  • In 2010, The Bright Star and Mr’s Jimmy and Nicky Koikos were awarded The James Beard Foundation Awards of Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. That’s is like a rock star getting a Grammy Award.brightbeard
  • A few other other accolades line the walls; named as top three restaurants in Birmingham by Birmingham News readers choice, Voted as having the best steak in Alabama by The Cattleman’s Association, recognized by CNN.com as one of America’s best historic restaurants. Fried Red Snapper Throats (what even is this?) 100 Dishes to Eat Before You Die by Gun and Garden magazine.  And there are more.brightaward
  • Although there are so many prestigious awards, It is said that one of the two owners will be on the premises overseeing the staff of 90. Among the 90, many are long term employees ,with average of about 7 years. That is something to be very proud of.  I would love to work there myself!

MEGastars **** 4

Seriously, I am now Gulf seafood lover/convert, huge fan! For a very tasty seafood platter, served with Alabama pride and Alabama food in Alabama’s oldest restaurant. Right on!

MEGatips:

  1. Snoop around a bit.  I did. The restaurant is loaded with great photos, awards, magazine articles.
  2. Alabama Fan? Check out the football shrine. Badger fan/Packer fan-totally respect tradition. brighstarshrine
  3. Interested in historical preservation.  The restaurant has many interesting nods to the former days.  Such as, signs depicting the types of marble, classic ceiling fans, awesome tile and the mirrors.
  4. There is a full bar on premise.
  5. There are interesting dining alcoves and rooms for groups. brightstarcubby
  6. Of course, try this dish.  Bring a friend. I regret not trying theRed Snapper Throats picked by Gun and Garden Magazine. 

    This MEGabites and MEGastars description is found at the bottom of each post. If you are new to my 100 Dishes in Alabama escapade, this may be helpful.  *100 Dishes to eat in Alabama before you die is a compilation of food to chow down on Bama style. Thanks to Tourism Alabama, www.alabama.travel my Alabama bucket list just became a little easier. I am going to have some fun while making my way like Ms. Pacman, in yet another state that I call home.   You too may pick up the brochure at Alabama Tourism stops or download the alphabetical brochure that begins in Abbeville and ends in York. From the little old diner to the white cloth joint, it is an opportunity to explore and experience pride in the food from restaurateurs who are dedicated to local food with some Alabama style. From the local BBQ cook to James Beard recipients, you too will take a culinary trip across scenic and historical Alabama. From this list, I select visits based on convenience of location and they are in no particular order. I already have a few favorites and perhaps when I finish this list, I will rank my favorite dishes.

    I use a 5 MEGastar system. I am not a food critic, just Meg, a curious traveler, with an interest in trying different foods and sharing my two cents on my experience. I try to follow my star system so that I may be fair to the wonderful dishes on this list.

    • *meh food. Just wasn’t good. Maybe the food came from a can. The place was not one that I would want to send someone to show pride in Alabama.   This has happened to me a few times and it is a difficult write.
    • ** passable – the food was ok and above happened but the place or vice versa
    • *** good but not outstanding or unique
    • **** Very tasty dish AND meets one of the definitions set forth by Alabama Foods/Tourism, of local food and/OR highlights Alabama Pride.
    • ***** I actually died, went to heaven and came back when I ate the dish. OR, something is very unique, something you cannot get anywhere else

 

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