No Need to Hide From Hyde Park

If you are up to date on our blog, and I expect that you are, you will know that actual Valentines Day for us was spent playing trivia. If you are one of the few who didn’t read that post, you can enjoy HERE. We decided to celebrate a day of romance a few days later at Hyde Park in Birmingham. We first saw Hyde Park when we happened to be in Birmingham for other reasons. The place was intriguing, nestled in a strip, near the Birmingham Theater, boasting prime steaks and seafood. We checked out their online menu and although the menu didn’t have prices listed (your first sign that it is going to be a pricey night) we decided to splurge and try it out.

We made reservations in advance, for a very early dinner as we wanted to beat the dinner rush. We are finding more and more that we seem to be becoming those crotchety old people who want to eat early so they don’t have to deal with the masses of annoying people. We are enjoying the spoils of “early bird specials”. Those old people are on to something! I must say although we are eating like old people, we are still super young at heart and still pretty hot. LOL

We started our dining adventure with cocktails, Omar ordering his classic Tanqueray Martini, up, with 3 anchovy stuffed olives. I stuck with my classic Tanqueray and Tonic, with just the right squeeze of lime.

We were pleased to be offered a complimentary amuse bouche, which is a fancy french word that translates as “uber fancy food served very tiny.” Actually it translates as “mouth amuser”, designed as a small bite to show off the chef’s skill in blending and creating flavor profiles and is typically served before your order is taken. The manager brought a small sampling of their crispy tuna sushi roll, with an avocado crema. I am not a sushi lover and try to steer clear of raw fish, but this one bite was delicious.

As we haven’t been eating as much as before, we decided to split an entree and get some accompaniments. I ordered a Caesar Salad that I assumed I would be splitting with Omar and French Onion Soup. Omar ordered the calamari and our entree to split was the bone-in, 36 day, dry aged 26 oz behemoth bone in ribeye with boardwalk fries.

The Caesar Salad was ok. The lettuce was fresh, with nice shaved Parmesan but I felt the dressing lacked that certain tang that Caesar dressing needs. You can order anchovy on the side and as much as I hate anchovy, I need a tiny bit in my dressing that was missing if you didn’t request it.

The French Onion Soup was good, not great and definitely not the best I ever had. It wasn’t packed with flavor or onions, but was far from inedible, but far from delicious.

The calamari was excellent, light, not greasy, and surprising crispy even though it was in a Thai sweet hot chili sauce, along with cherry peppers, carrots, green onions and nuts.

The steak and fries arrived, a plate of which looked like a Fred Flintstone Brontosaurus Steak, and tiny fries, nestled carefully in a paper cone, salted to perfection. The aged steak, cooked a perfect medium rare, was tasty, but honestly I don’t see the difference with an aged steak or a brand spanking new steak. The flavors are supposed to deepen, the enzymes in the meat are supposed to break down fibers, making the steak more tender, but to me, it just tasted like an everyday steak. Good, but not blow me away amazing. Frankly, Omar and I get these massive Cowboy Ribeyes from Sams Club, grill them at home and they are just as good. The fries though, were amazing. They do fries right. Small Pomme Frites, cooked to perfection, salty with interesting aoilis to dip. We opted against desert, although they brought to a nearby table a stacked carrot cake that appeared to be at least 7 layers and looked so decadent and delicious.

The waitstaff was incredibly attentive, from the manager, to the waiter, to the person filling our water to the bus staff. A fine dining experience, with exceptional service. The ambiance is cozy, with white table clothes, wood and stone walls, deep rich paint colors and walls of aged bottles of wine.

We enjoyed our evening, felt very well taken care of by staff, but were simply not blown away with the food. Sometimes I feel we are getting too snobbish with our reviews, but we feel it is our duty to give people good, honest reviews. We would recommend Hyde Park, and would return, but probably wouldn’t splurge for the aged steak.


I Won’t Tease – Our Review of Eddie V’s

I must apologize, this is a very late review dating from the summer. Eddie V’s opened on Metro Parkway in June 2017 and right away became a hot spot. There is complimentary valet parking, but if you don’t feel like surrendering your car or tipping you better arrive early. Jen and I have gone there a few times, usually at happy hour and like to sit at the bar. The bar area opens up to the outside and there is ample seating around the large oval shaped bar. The happy hour menu is extensive but will add up quickly. Jen and I saw our favorite bartender, Colin who we met when he worked at Bonefish in Troy. Colin is a master mixologist whom we feel makes better drinks than the other bartenders at Eddie V’s. Its not that the others aren’t good, it is just that Colin’s concoctions are always very consistent.

I have ordered their oysters on the half shell a few times and they did not disappoint always tasting fresh and juicy with the right amount of briny goodness.  The lobster wonton which I understand is no longer on the menu was incredible. Now what’s not incredible is the Carpetbagger. This appetizer, is two fried oysters with seared tenderloin and blue cheese with bread crumbs. Dry, flavorless way too much breadcrumbs no wonder the South going thru the Reconstruction hated them, they were right. Sorry couldn’t resist it, you history geeks out there will get it. Now back to the good. The crab fried rice is an incredible side dish that is big enough to split and despite being a bit too salty (at least according to my beautiful Jen) bursts with buttery crab flavor that will tantalize seafood lovers and dare I say people who say they are not fans of shellfish.

I must say of the 5 or so times we have gone there, we have only eaten dinner entrees once. I had an Alaskan halibut dish which was very enjoyable but quite pricey at $36. Jen had the 8oz filet, tender and tasty but not worth the $40. Look, I understand eating out is expensive, but when I shell out a lot of cash, I want to be blown away by the food and frankly I wasn’t.  I was however, blown away by the dark chocolate s’mores dessert. Yes that is as good as it sounds.

I do recommend you try Eddie V’s but sit at the bar on a nice sunny day with the sun and light breeze at your back. Its expensive, but overall an enjoyable experience and tell Colin we said hello.

Had Some Cake by the Ocean 3030

During my business trip to Fort Lauderdale, staying at the Marriott’s Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, we went to dinner at one of the hotel restaurants – Ocean 3030.

The restaurant is nestled within the hotel, and does not really offer many views of the water, which is a bit disappointing. Dining out on the terrace, overlooking the ocean would have been nice, but not so.

This restaurant calls itself “casual chic” bistro style , serving american cuisine specializing in seafood. I think less casual, I would refer to this more as “pretentious chic”.

The menu is very limited, offering a selection of well though out, well prepared dishes, but limited nonetheless.  A small sampling from the raw bar, minimal starters and a very few specialized dishes.

We ordered a variety of dishes from the specials and the standard menu. The meals were all beautifully plated, interestingly paired and tasty.  With entrees averaging $36 though, the meals lived up their pretentiousness.

All in all, a relaxing meal, in a nice restaurant, with friendly, knowledgeable staff. I am not sure I would visit again intentionally, but if staying at the Marriott again, I would certainly consider it!

Chillin’ at the Aruba Beach Cafe’

A beautiful day enjoying the sunshine in Sunny Florida. I was there for a business trip, but extended a few days earlier, brought my honey with me and we stayed a few days with my sister. Saturday we took a trip during the day to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Beach and the Aruba Beach Cafe. This restaurant, nestled in a small quaint shopping area, boasts beautiful views of the bay, right next to the Anglin’s Fishing Pier, which one must take a walk out on.

The restaurant is a stand-by we always seem to go to when I am in town. The food is good, views are amazing and atmosphere is awesome, especially when you can catch a steel drum musician playing out on the patio.

We decided to split a bunch of food since everything sounded so good. Oysters on the half shell, fish tacos, seafood quesadillas and of course, a loaf of their famous Bimini Bread with Aruba glaze. Warm chewy delicious bread with whipped honey butter. Pair that with some fruity boozy deliciousness and you are hooked up. Light breezes weaved its way through an opened patio, overlooking palm trees and the white sands of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

We ended our meal and headed out to the pier, stopping at Anglin’s Beach Cafe to grab yet another fruit and booze filled drink before heading out for the great views off the pier.  Here I met a lovely pelican, who was quite friendly.

A great day and a great restaurant! Don’t miss this great spot if in the Lauderdale area!!

Cake, Cookies? Oops, I mean Brownies on the Lake

Omar and I spent a much deserved day together on Saturday.  We decided to return to Brownies on the Lake.  Our last visit there, we just enjoyed a few cocktails and listened to the band on the Tiki Bar.  This time, we decided to try the food too, since everything coming out of the kitchen looked so good!

We arrived about 3:30, and were surprised to get a prime table again, just along the waters edge.  It was HOT though, although I hate to complain since the weather has been so questionable lately.  I started things off with a frozen rum runner.  Tasty, but sweet.  Too sweet to drink all day, but the cold frozen drink was so refreshing on this 90+ day.  Omar just stuck with a classic micro-brewed draft beer (Porters/Stouts limited here, but with seafood and hot day didn’t really matter).

We decided to split a couple appetizers, and split the fish taco entree, as everything sounded so good. I ordered peel and eat shrimp.  You can see from the picture they were large shrimp and plenty of them!  Seasoned perfectly, cooked in what they described as cooked in an “aromatic court-bullion” which is typically a rich and complex poaching liquid, with cilantro and lemon.  Very tasty!!

Omar got Ceviche.  I am not a fan, so I did not even try it. I did eat the tortilla chips, which were obviously hand made, came out warm, crispy with just the right amount of salt.  Omar said the Ceviche was refreshing, fresh with just the right balance of fruit and heat.

As for the fish taco entree, I am afraid I can’t discuss the rice, since I was simply too full to try it. The tacos however, although they were skimping a bit on the mahi mahi, had great flavor with a chipotle cole slaw, guacamole and a flavorful mango chili sauce. A nice combination of sweet and savory.

The band was pretty good.  A bit loud for the Tiki Bar area, as we had to yell to talk when the band was playing.  We met a lot of interesting characters along the way.  Our waitress Ashley (or was it Amanda, geeze I am horrible with names!!) was efficient, fun and very cheery. Even when it was sweltering!!  We must have stayed for about 4 or 5 hours.  We just couldn’t get enough of the view and atmosphere.  It is so nice watching the boats come in! I must say we ran up quite a tab, but we did have a great time.  Good food, good music and fun crowd.  Yes, we will most definitely be back!!


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