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Posts from the ‘Dine Local’ Category

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.

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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.

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

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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

 

A Sunshine Daydream In A Bite-100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die-Orange Pineapple Ice Cream at Trowbridge’s of Florence, AL

Two-fer Tasty Tuesday- Orange pineapple ice cream at Trowbridges MEGabite #34 or #68 on my countdown. Due to my recent schedule, I need to play some catch-up. This is my first ever two-fer Tuesday post and I thought that I should stay with an orange theme.

Trowbridge’s is a wonderful local restaurant located in downtown Florence, the classic soda fountain shop is known as the oldest operating business that is still located in it’s original location in Florence.

Every city on the whole earth should have such a happy place in their downtown!

Every city on the whole earth should have such a happy place in their downtown!

Began as a creamery in 1918, this recipe was developed right here in Alabama. Although the ice cream is no longer made on site due to demand, this dense ice cream filled with flavors of bursts of orange cream and pineapple. Not too chunky, it was deliciously smooth and perfectly blended.

A taste of sunshine in every single bite!

A taste of sunshine in every single bite!

With the classic soda fountain interior, it is a small and bright place that still brings a smile to your face. A place where they are know for quick service with a friendly smile. I found this proclamation to be true.

Awards galore!

Awards galore!

Although I am not originally from this area, nostalgia must be heartfelt for the many generations of people who have passed through these doors. Steps away from the beautiful campus of University of Northern Alabama and with grilled cheese for $1.50 and hot dog’s for $2.00, I can imagine that many locals and students alike have been making memories since 1918.

I give Trowbridge’s 5 MEGastars:

****for a very tasty dish

*The coveted fifth star for a wonderful stop in a place that serves Alabama food, meeting the criteria set forth by Tourism Alabama with Alabama recipes and truly served with a friendly smile. I really enjoyed this stop and I highly recommend a visit for a dish or cone of this ice cream. Who knew that there was a place where you could get a sunshine daydream for $1.20.

MEGatips:

  1. Stop in for a visit. Open daily from 9:00 am -5:30 it is a great place for a bite.
  2. Do not miss this ice cream!
  3. Check out the homemade soups, pimento and cheese sandwich and the olive and egg. Love it!

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.

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 and establishments that have been chosen for 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 always a difficult write for me.
  • ** 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

Out Of This World At Cosmo’s Pizza-100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die

Tasty Tuesday, MEGabite #31/71 counting down. Gourmet Pizzza at Cosmo’s. 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die.

Cosmo’s is located in the 5 Points area of beautiful Birmingham, Alabama. Surrounded by interesting building’s,a gorgeous fountain by a renowned artist and fantastic restaurants.   Cosmo’s has a kick back, whimsical, colorful feel to the place; the kind of style that one often finds near Universities. You know the type; hipsters, artists and freethinkers. It is not surprising that the menu hold interesting and creative choices.

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I visited on a Sunday afternoon. It was super fun to find live music and gaze upon the great looking brunch dishes that were placed on nearby tables. There were pitchers of mimosas and bloody Mary’s flowing and a bloody Mary fixings bar. I almost had a difficult time having pizza since the gourmet brunch and sandwich dishes looked really appetizing and creative. Brunch is served from 10-3 and there seemed to be a mix of customers having brunch, pizza and other dishes.

groovy

groovy

The pizza menu is a pizza lover’s dream.  I am a pizza lover. It may be my favorite food.  I loved that there are options for all pizza lover’s tastes; red sauce, yellow sauce, pesto sauce, crusts that are hand tossed white or wheat. You may order small, medium, large and pizza by the slice. However, Cosmo’s is known for their creative pizza toppings and the toppings menu. With many fresh and interesting items that are not standard at chains and even gourmet pizza restaurants. With items such as; Cajun chicken, alligator, eggplant, zucchini, Tasso ham, smoked gouda, pine nuts, fresh garlic, fresh tomatoes, artichoke hearts, to name a few.

The “100 Dishes” is a Signature Pizza. I ordered two-signature pizzas from the menu so that I might try a few different styles. One of the pizzas was called Rock and Roll and was cooked with red sauce, cheese, black olives, mushrooms and sausage. Cheesy goodness, yum!

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The second pizza was also off of the signature menu and was called The Soprano. Cracker thin crust with red sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil, and a sprinkle of Parmesan. I really loved this crust. It was crispy with a buttery taste. YUM! As you can see, the toppings and especially the fresh mozzarella were a bit sparse.

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I enjoyed the music, the menu and liked the pizzas. However, I had one of the most unusual and worst customer service experiences that I can ever remember having. I prefer to frame my own unique opinion and never read reviews of restaurants before I visit and work on a write up. Because I was so shocked by my long wait and service experience, I read reviews after my visit and noted that other folks had the exact same experiences that our visit held. Out of peace and courtesy towards another human being, I do not want to get into great details; clearly there are issues present. What I will say is that we had to guide each step of our visit; seating, ordering, drink requests, check etc. and that we waited 70 minutes for our pizza.   Like, dude, where is my pizza? If you are interested in the other issues, you may read Yelp or Google reviews.

MEGastars: Because the meaning of cosmo’s is the sum total of everything, I give them 3 MEGastars.

** for great tasty pizza.

* for handcrafted crusts and local ingredients.

Because the service issues appear to be longstanding, I am withholding another star. I have no problem recommending trying this fun restaurant with a wonderful menu, but I might encourage you to read current reviews before you visit and practice peace, love and patience. I wish that I could make it all better in Cosmo’s land.  Aliens Perhaps? IDK

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.

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 can not get anywhere else.

MEGatips:

  1. Please do read the reviews before you go and/or go with patience and peace.
  2. They have a fantastic brunch menu.  I was nearly bewitched by those choices.  Playing “The 100” Go on a weekday so that you are not tempted. Loved that brunch menu and cool music.
  3. Post Office Pies has some awesome pizza.  Located in a historic building, they have brick ovens, are speedy, courteous and professional.  I felt the pulse of Birmingham there.
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