Posts tagged ‘Mobile’

Mobile’s Best Sandwiches

Originally posted at Azalea City Food Blog on May 25, 2009.

In 2007 I did an article for ‘Zalea Magazine entitled An Ode to Sandwiches. It was a tour of some of my favorite sandwiches in the Mobile area. Due to restraints on the page a few of my favorites were yanked by the editor so I thought I would drop them off here with a few of my new favorites.

I’ll start with the Mellow Mushroom at the corner of Old Shell and University. Yeah, I know it’s a chain and as a rule I don’t eat at them but the ‘Shroom has an impressive list of hoagies with the Tempeh being the most interesting offering: Tempeh is unfermented, marinated tofu and it is offered on your choice of French or whole wheat bread with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, Teriyaki, Balsamic vinaigrette, feta, grilled onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and sprouts. The flavors are strong and pungent.

The Roast Duck Panini at the Royal Scam is amazingly decidant while still holding true to the comfort aspect of a sandwich. Along with the duck breast you will find spinach, applewood smoked bacon, Gorgonzola, herb/garlic cheese and balsalmic vinaigrette. Oddly enough, it is not the best sandwich I have had at Dave Rasp’s swanky tapas bar. At one time they offered a vegetarian panini with goat cheese that was hands down the best sandwich I have ever had.

Regency Shopping Center (Airport and University and now Schillenger’s Road) offers two of the best sandwiches starting at Orleans ‘Po Boys which has been kicking out Mobile’s favorite sandwiches for 10 years now. They have award winning traditional ‘Po Boys, but their most popular is not exactly traditional. The Joe Don includes roast beef, ham, Swiss cheese, gravy and LTO. The bread they use is absolutely perfect with a light, crunchy crust and a soft, airy middle.

Fifty yards or so away is La Cucina home of the Tortas Tampiquena which is tailor made for carnivores. This huge sandwich is stuffed with Chorizo (a Spanish sausage), chicken, and a grilled hot dog. They also pile on the cheese, mayonnaise, and LTO.

Looking for an excuse to visit the small Baldwin County community of Crossroads? Stop by the Hurricane Drive-In and try one of the best BBQ pork sandwiches you will ever eat. Thick, tender cubes of slow smoked pork tossed in a sauce that is neither too sweet not too tangy on a large fresh bun. Try it with the world’s best onion rings and a chocolate malt.

The Spot of Tea on Cathedral Square also boasts a healthy list of sandwiches with its two crown jewels being Jeromeo’s Hot Pastramio (pastrami topped with pepper jack, sliced pepperoncini, and Dijon mustard on New York rye) and the best Monte Cristo you will likely ever try.

At the risk of sounding biased, I have to admit that the TuscanWrap at my place, Mars Hill Café, is really tasty. Inside the 12″ whole wheat tortilla you will find homemade pesto mayo, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, grilled chicken and wilted spinach. It is packed with flavor and healthy to boot. It also pairs well with the pesto pasta salad.

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May 27, 2009 at 7:37 am

Review: Gambino Brothers

Originally posted on the Azalea City Food Blog on March 10, 2009.

At first glance Gambino Brothers looks like a great little neighborhood Italian place.  The buzz on Gambino’s is how fun a place it is on Friday and Saturday nights.   However, reality is a cruel bitch.

One Friday night after work a friend and I stopped in to give the place a try.  We both had spied the sign there on Hillcrest Road for many years and the reputation had been pretty good.  Every other restaurant on the block was packed to the gills but Gambino’s was nearly empty.

For those of you who want to gauge a place before trying it check the lobby on Friday night.  There is no reason an Italian restaurant should be slow on a busy Friday unless . . .

The service was neither prompt nor friendly.  In fact, we got the feeling that we were in the way, a nuisance.  There was a definite negative vibe among the staff almost like we had walked in on mom and dad in the middle of a big argument.  When our server brought us the pre-dinner basket of Walmart bread sticks he dropped one on the bar in front of me and said, “you can still eat that,” while picking it up with his fingers and throwing it back in the basket.

My friend had the bruschetta topped with pesto and cheese.  I tried one piece and had to cover up the bitter (and possibly spoiled) pesto with gobs of marinara from my Italian meat feast.  My friend only ate one piece as well.  The pesto had robbed him of appetite.

My dinner was better.  The meatballs were good, the veal Parmesan was overcooked but edible, the Italian sausage had clearly been cooked hours before but used anyway and finally the chicken Parmesan was actually a pre-cooked, frozen piece of processed grilled breast meat.  The marinara was good with ample tang from red wine vinegar and sufficiently covered up the many bad flavors on the plate.

I cannot recommend Gambino Brothers to anyone.  Poor service aside, I simply cannot endorse Italian food that does not taste like homemade.  Perhaps the staff can rally and turn the place around but for now it is obvious they have lost interest.

Gambino Brothers
873 Hillcrest Rd.
Mobile, AL 36695
251-344-8115

March 17, 2009 at 8:28 am

Review: Neighbors Seafood & Chicken

Originally posted on the Azalea City Food Blog on March 9, 2009.

I have been living on the south end of Mobile County now for two years and I finally made it over to Tilman’s Corner to try Neighbors Seafood & Chicken.

Friends and family both have long applauded this local staple and for good reason.  I found the atmosphere a little sterile but the food more than made up for it.  Though I was dining too late to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat catfish and flounder I did order a seafood combo with both fish plus fried oysters to boot with o-rings and red beans and rice.

I expected two fillets, one of each fish and three oysters along with the obligatory breaded onions so prevalent these days and a spicy mix of Louisiana long grain rice and red beans.  Quite reasonable for the price.  What arrived was what the Italians call frutti di mare, the fruit of the sea.

There were two catfish fillets and three of flounder.  Also hidden under the catfish were the three oysters, no wait four!  Make that five perfectly fried oysters.  The fillets were fresh and crispy.  The red beans and rice did not stand up to the rest of the meal; they tasted like canned beans and steamed rice with no seasoning.  The onion rings, by contrast, were the stuff of legend – the real deal.  Also underneath the fried bounty was a small handful of fries, presumably there to absorb any extra oil but they were consumed regardless.  The plate was accompanied by two hush-puppies and a solitary fried crab claw.  I do not know if the claw was a fortuitous faux pas or lagniappe but it I do know it was yummy.

The service was prompt and amiable and as asserted above the food was terrific.  I will defintely put this on my list of quality spots.

Neighbors Seafood & Chicken
5830 Three Notch Rd
Mobile, AL 36619
(251) 661-1365

March 13, 2009 at 8:22 am

Review: Hurricane Brewing

Originally posted on the Azalea City Food Blog on March 7, 2009.

In the past few months I have twice found myself dining (and drinking) at Hurricane Brewing Beer and Bistro. My first visit was with a date and my latest was with a friend. Both times I have left fulfilled.

Firstly, micro-brewed beer is very good. From Blvd. Wheat in Lincoln, NE to a frosty pint from the Gerst Haus in Nashville to the super delicious Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale crafted at Mississippi’s Lazy Magnolia Brewery I’m a sucker for a good mirco-brew. Hurricane’s is an excellent destination for my craft brew cravings. Acorrding to their web site, “Featured beers are Projected Path Amber; Floating Car Blonde Ale; Storm Surge Stout; and Insurance Adjuster Pale Ale,” but I am more found of the Storm Surge Stout and the Tropical Wheat Advisory.

And the food? Pretty good, too. So far I have tried the French Dip, fried shrimp, an oyster po-boy but the most notable dish so far was the Pub Mac & Cheese ($6.95). There is a reason why this dish keeps winning awards, it is a truly soulful casserole of cheese and noodle. Add sausage for another $2, it’s worth it.

The vibe at Hurricane’s is hip and relaxed with tattooed bar keeps and quirky servers galore. Plus it’s right in the middle of all the action. See for yourself.

Hurricane Brewing Beer and Bistro
225 Dauphin Street
Mobile, AL 36602
(251) 445-2544

March 11, 2009 at 7:20 am

Festival Time on the Gulf Coast

Originally posted on the Azalea City Food Blog on March 1.

This weekend kicks off the annual deluge of festivals, most of which focus on food, that happen along the Gulf Coast each Spring.  I love this time of year, I really do.

First up is the 20th Annual American Cancer Society Chili Cook-Off on March 9th, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. in Bienville Square, downtown Mobile.  I have competed and simply gorged at this festival a number of times and it’s popularity continues to grow.

8th Annual BBQ Championship and Hog Wild Festival at the Fair Grounds kicks off Mar 13th, 2009-Mar 15th, 2009.  Lots of BBQ’d pig, need I say more?  Join over 70 local and national competitors as they compete for big money while raising a little for the good folks at United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile.

Mobile’s 8th Annual Luck of the Irish Celebration is on Mar 14th, 2009.  Downtown Mobile will feature fun for the whole family.  First a 5k run, then an Irish Stew and Corned Beef and Cabbage Cook-off in Bienville Square and finally a St. Patty’s Parade. There will be live music and Irish dancers throughout the day and a large children’s area.  This event benefits the Exchange Club Family Center for Child Abuse Prevention in Mobile.

The month closes out with the The Festival of Flowers (March 25 – 29th) which is acknowledged as the premier flower and garden event of the greater Gulf Coast.  Of particular interest for foodie’s is the Designer Tablescapes – fun and fancy table settings are a perennial favorite of Festival visitors.  Tablescapes will again feature an all-new collection of exquisite combinations of table settings, art, linens, glassware and flowers.  The event will be held on the grounds of Providence Hospital in West Mobile.

There is plenty to do across the bay as well highlighted by the 57th Annual Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival the weekend of March 20 – 22.  In addition to artwork from roughly 250 exhibitors, live local entertainment will be going on throughout the three-day event and classic festival foods will be served up. It all takes place on the streets of beautiful downtown Fairhope, Alabama. Festival hours are 10 am – 5 pm daily and there is no admission charge.  This thing is huge!

Make a double header out of the that third weekend with a side stop at the Barbecue and Blues Cook-off at Heritage Park in nearby Foley on the 21st.  Categories include People’s Choice (Baldwin’s Best Q), Best Sauce, Best Ribs, Best Shoulder and Anything “Butt.”  The event is to raise moeny for South Baldwin Chamber Foundation.

 March 28 plays host to the Elberta German Sausage Festival (Spring edition).  As usual there will be plenty of German sausage & sauerkraut, plus continuous entertainment for adults and children, and 250 arts & crafts booths. Other scrumptious foods will include German style filled cabbage, potato salad, goulash, red beans & rice, hamburgers, hot dogs, BBQ sandwiches, ice cream, popcorn and peanuts. There will be baked goods as well as arts & crafts for sale at the festival. The sausage festival is a town fund-raiser, spearheaded by Elberta’s Volunteer Fire Department in 1978, whose proceeds are used for improving not only the fire department, but the town as well.

I think I need a nap.

March 3, 2009 at 7:00 am

Must-have Cookbook!

Remember those old word problems we all hated in school – a train leaving New York and a train leaving Denver – that kind of thing? Here’s one – what happens when a train leaving Juárez and a train leaving Baton Rouge meet for lunch in Houston? Amigeauxs: Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine – that’s what.

Why Mexican/Creole Fusion? We don’t know. Who first thought of Asian/Italian? At least both Mexican and Creole have their roots in Latin language countries, uh we think. Actually they are a natural mix because of their common spicyness. Peppers are a main ingredient in both cuisines as are onions, garlic, rice and good times.

January 30, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Black Friday Got Ya Blue?

Originally posted on the Azalea City Food Blog on November 19, 2008.

Next Friday is the day that retailers live for, Black Friday.  The notorious moniker is somewhat misleading as it isn’t truly a day of tragedy (save the isolated tale of grandmothers duking it out over an Xbox at the local Walmart) but rather the busiest shopping day of the year.  Images of Betty Rubble and Wilma Flintstone chanting, “Duh, duh, duh, dut, duh, duuh, chaaarrrge it!” before heading to the local malls enter my mind every time I think of America’s fixation with spending money on this day.  Already my sister is giddy at the thought of rifling through the ads in the Turkey Day newspaper.

Well, this coming Black Friday I would like to personally invite you to escape the crush at the mall for a while by lunching a short distance a way at Mars Hill Cafe.  We’re located at 5025 Cottage Hill Road next to B&B Pet Stop.  Our staff is ready to help you unwind with a sampling of our healthy new American cuisine like the Santa Fe wrap or our incredible sweet potato hash browns.  Remember, Fridays are turkey queso days.  Fast becoming the most popular soup in the Mobile area, my turkey queso soup is the talk of West Mobile.  And you know you can’t resist the key lime pie.

Lunch at Mars Hill Cafe is the ultimate holiday experience as every meal you buy helps feed the needy.  At the MHC our goal is to donate every last penny of profit to worthwhile charrities like the Salvation Army and the Bay Area Food Bank.  Think of it as the ultimate two-for-one sale.

Love wins,
Chef Stuart Reb Donald

November 20, 2008 at 12:30 am

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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