Tag Archives: Mobile AL

Regina’s Kitchen Adds Some Class to Mobile’s Government Street

4 May

It was a dark and stormy Tuesday in Mobile, but things were bright and cheery inside Regina’s Kitchen. I had entered the eatery once before. That was a few weeks back. I had been there to meet the owner in hopes of discussing an advertising opportunity I was pitching. She seemed like a lot of fun and the place looked great. The building had previously housed the French Market Cafe. That restaurant offered authentic New Orleans soups and sandwiches, but ultimately succumbed to financial difficulties and the owner’s health challenges. I was sad to see them go. They made a fine Roast Beef Po-Boy.

The interior at Regina’s is not altogether different than the French Market Cafe. It’s a very comfortable, welcoming space. Plenty of dining room inside and it appears they need it all. The crowds over the restaurant’s first year in operation have been strong and consistent. The lunch rush is a equal mix of attorneys, housewives, accountants, and little old ladies dolled up for a day out. I even spotted a couple “men of the cloth” dining in black & white at a nearby table.  Regina’s actually does a steady drive-thru business too.

Regina’s Kitchen features red & white checkered table cloths and a healthy menu of soups, signature salads, and sandwiches. Finding something appealing on the oversized, double-sided cardboard menu was easily done. Final decisions were tougher. I eventually opted for the day’s lunch special: Sliced Turkey on Croissant with Brie Cheese, Granny Smith Apples and Chutney Mayo. The tipping point for my decision was the wedge of iceberg lettuce doused with a housemade blue cheese dressing. The salad came along with the sandwich at no additional charge. $7.95 for the entire package — what a deal!   

My sandwich was quite satisfying. My lettuce was really good too, although I wish I had asked for a little more blue cheese dressing. The dressing was excellent — not too goopy with large chunks of pungent cheese. Guess they were watching my waistline … Lord knows I don’t often do the same. Iceberg is often thought of as a “poor man’s lettuce,” yet it’s a nice treat once in a while. Especially if the wedge is big, cool and crunchy. A nice milky dressing is always an ideal foil.    

Not sure who John (above) is — but I gotta try his special sandwich. A “BPT” ??? A “PBT” ??? Not sure which name (if either) fits. I just love pimento cheese (I prefer homemade, not the mass produced stuff) and adding bacon to the party seems like a stroke of Dixie genius. ***Note: The only store bought pimento I can heartily recommend is Palmetto Pimento Cheese out of Pawleys Island, SC. It is nothing short of phenomenal (www.palmettocheese.com).  

My dessert (I don’t often treat myself at lunch) was Regina’s Mississippi Mud Cake. I saw it lurking in a metal serving pan behind the front register and I just could not resist it’s many delights. Glad I didn’t. It was a heavenly marriage of a dense chocolate brownie/cake topped with melted marshmallows and a rich fudge icing. It left me with a broad smile and a massive sugar buzz that lasted well into the afternoon.

Regina’s Kitchen is now on my regular weekday lunch rotation. That honor is not easily accomplished. But you just can’t beat a place that offers a clean and cheerful dining environment, a variety of fresh and healthy menu options, fair pricing, and “treat you like family” service. Well done, Regina. You are carrying on your family’s restaurant traditions with true grace and style!

Regina’s Kitchen – 2056 Government St., Mobile – (251) 476-2777

www.facebook.com/pages/Reginas-Kitchen/130215213681624

Fuego Coastal Mexican Eatery Heats Things Up Along Old Shell Road

19 Mar

Fuego Coastal Mexican Eatery has obviously found a casa on Old Shell Road in Mobile. The place has been open for over a year now, yet I am just getting around to checking them out. And now that I have, I’m kicking myself for not getting here sooner. It’s not very close to my West Mobile office and it’s not anywhere near my home on Mobile Bay’s Eastern Shore. But that is no excuse. No, sir. I’m in the car quite a bit and I buzz by Fuego at least a couple times a week. Maybe I was a tad irritated that they never responded to my phone calls and emails. But all that mess is forgiven after today.

The lunch specials at Fuego offer real value — quite comparable to a sub and a drink at Subway. $7.49 for lunch is a pretty good deal these days … especially when you consider the generous portions and food quality I enjoyed at Fuego today.

The homemade fire-roasted salsa (pictured above) is served up before each meal — tart, refreshing and not lip-scorching hot. To be honest, I was expecting a mega-spicy brew (they are named FUEGO!). But it really wasn’t hot at all and that was perfectly OK with me. The salsa was nicely crafted, so my expectation level for my pending lunch entree quickly shot up several degrees.

A heaping basket of Fuego’s crunchy house tortilla chips was served up alongside my 2 favorite Mexican hot sauces. I was careful to not eat too many chips, yet I couldn’t resist polishing off about half the basket by myself. My server was quite efficient and helpful (I can ask a lot of questions). I ruled over a corner high-table in Fuego’s bar area, offering yours truly an ideal vantage point to watch the outside world go by on this glorious sunny March day.

The sunsplashed dining room at Fuego (the pic viewed above was snapped from my table) — a bright, comfortable place to chill and munch. Cheerful colors and tasteful Mexican-inspired decor abound. I was dining early (it was about 11:30 am), so the lunch rush didn’t hit until I was finishing up my meal. Please don’t let the picture fool you. This is a very popular destination for local residents and Midtown business professionals. It is almost always jumping at lunch, while post-work happy hours are never boring. All told, it appears to be a pretty happening place.   

Reclaimed wood (above) adorns the rustic ceiling at Fuego. I really love that look. We had a hardwood ceiling in the house I grew up in and that was considered pretty radical back in the day. Ceiling fans keep the air circulating — that certainly comes in handy during Mobile’s steamy summer “dog days.” I’m guessing one of Fuego’s signature margaritas or margatinis would help cool the brow as well.

The menu at Fuego is extremely impressive. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say it is one of the best conceived, most appealing menues I have encountered in my two years in the Mobile area. My “choose two” combo lunch platter of a pork tamale (topped with verde sauce) and a chicken enchilada (red sauce) turned out to be an excellent choice indeed. The tamale was the perfect ratio of seasoned pig and masa.

The enchilada’s secret weapon was the dark, mysterious sauce that blanketed it. I was pretty sure it was some variation of a rich mole. My waitress informed me otherwise. Three different pepper varieties are incorporated in the red sauce at Fuego. The final result is stellar and highly recommended. Other loving touches were noticed at each turn of the fork. These touches ranged from the crumbled queso fresco (mui authentico!) to the side of pinto beans jazzed up with red onion, fresh tomato and nuggets of smoked pork. The sweet and soft corn cake (laced with bright yellow corn kernals and apparently dished out with an ice cream scoop) was a delicate addition to my lunchtime fiesta, while the chile verde sauce proved to be a tangy triumph.

Even the Mexican rice was warm and cooked to just the texture I prefer. If these guys were trying to impress me, they were doing a mighty fine job. While devouring my final few bites, I again reached for the menu and plotted my return visit. With choices like those offered here, it could take me some time to eat my way along the coast of Mexico. Tacos Al Carbon, Baja Fish Tacos (fashioned here with Tilapia), a spicy grilled Chile Relleno. I even spied the Los Cabos seared Ahi Tuna and a Shrimp & Crab Ceviche. It all sounded amazing and, perhaps better yet, extremely healthy.

So why not escape your all-too-predictable lunch routine with a mid-day getaway to Fuego Coastal Mexican Eatery? It’s far cheaper than a Gulf cruise and you won’t have to worry the least bit about all those pesky drug lords and their blood thirsty minions. Fuego is pretty doggone HOT, so float on by one day soon and bask in their sizzle. Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner!

www.fuegocoastalmex.com  

Simply Sweet Cupcake Boutique – “How Sweet It Is!”

12 Mar

A “six pack” of cupcakes (above) — Simply Sweet style.

Simply Sweet Cupcake Boutique has only been open a few months, but they have already established themselves as a force in the rapidly growing cupcake industry. Cupcake industry, you ask? May sound funny to you, but there is more than a bit of truth to it. Cupcake shops – once primarily an urban phenomenon – are now popping up just about everywhere.

Simply Sweet owner Ashley Sassaman developed a passion for baking at home. Someone suggested she try selling her delicious cupcake creations, which eventually led her to open her own commercial bakery along busy Cottage Hill Road in West Mobile, Alabama. She now has 8 employees and a rapidly expanding business. It’s obvious she has struck a nerve with the surrounding community. Timing is always important, location is critical, yet nothing can compare to a well made product. That attention to detail comes across in each cupcake produced by Simply Sweet. This is not easily done when you’re turning out hundreds (if not thousands) of these beautiful little artistic creations five days a week.

Key Lime (top), Red Velvet and  Strawberry Lemonade (bottom).

The sheer number of daily choices at Simply Sweet is, well, stunning. They offer 4 everyday flavors including Chocolate, Vanilla, Red Velvet, and their signature (and most popular) Key Lime. Beyond that, you can choose from 9 daily specials highlighted by fun flavors such as Banana Pudding, Hummingbird, Mississippi Mud, Apricot Nectar, Cracker Jack, and Snickerdoodle. You hungry yet?

We visited on a Thursday and we were treated to six glorious cupcake creations. The flavors incorporated in our version of Simply Sweet’s “six-pack” were Peppermint Patty, Red Velvet, Key Lime, Carrot Cake, Strawberry Lemonade, and Pina Colada. They were all very good and disappeared fast. My personal favorites were the tart Key Lime, the decadent Peppermint Patty, and the tropical Pina Colada (seen below adorned with toasted coconut shavings and a bright red cherry on top).  

Cupcakes at Simply Sweet cost $2.50 each, $13.50 for 6, and $24 per dozen. I suggest you order on the heavy side because these babies are really crowd pleasers. Their physical beauty may command your attention, but it’s ultimately the satisfying flavors which will have you returning time and time again to that bright, cheery pink cardboard box. Great job, Ashley. Here’s to your success —- how sweet it is!

www.simplysweetcupcakeboutique.com or call 251 665 3003.

Friend or Pho? First Impressions of Mobile’s new “Taste of Vietnam”

12 Mar

The new Taste of Vietnam, located on Airport Blvd. in Mobile, AL, opened its doors just a short while ago. Many of us were immediately skeptical. Mobile desperately needs more good ethnic eateries, but this particular location has not exactly been a good luck charm as far as restaurants go. Many have tried, many have died. It’s not necessarily a bad part of town, yet certainly not the most pleasing to the eye. The building itself is pretty large and appears to be an old home at some point converted to a commercial property.

I had recently viewed an episode of TV’s “No Reservations” that Tony Bourdain and his crew had shot in Cambodia. This alone had provided me with ample motivation to give Taste of Vietnam a try. I stopped in on a late Friday morning — just a few minutes before the noon lunch rush. The place was pretty quiet except for some circa 1960s Stan Getz jazz playing softly in the background. This was strike one for me. I dig Getz, but I honestly prefer hearing the home country’s native sounds when dining at an ethnic restaurant.

The interior decor was clean and pleasant enough. Although I will add that it felt like a odd cross between a Chinese buffet and an American Legion Hall. I’m hoping the rather cavernous dining room will begin to feel more finished and lived in as the coming days and weeks pass.

I started my meal with freshly wrapped Spring Rolls ($3.50 for 3 large rolls) stuffed with tiny shrimp and crisp veggies. They were really delicious. Let me re-phrase that … SUPER delicious. You could tell they were just made and the accompanying dipping sauce (an blissful marriage of sweet and spicy) was superb. We were off to a flying start. I was pleased and had a silly grin on my face. My happy demeanor was further stoked by a tableside visit from one of the proprietors. She was a cute, little Vietnamese lady dolled up in a shiny, light blue Asian dress (I believe they are called “Ao Dai” in Vietnam?). She was very pleasant and quite interested in my honest opinions. I inquired if business was good and she responded “Yes, thank God” in somewhat broken English.

My lunch order of Pho (in this case, a beef noodle variety) steeped with basil & spring onion. The portion was massive and a good value at $7.95. This dish could easily be shared by two mid-day diners, but I was determined to polish it off myself. Eating Pho is sort of a “build your own soup” experience. The establishment provides the basic canvas of meat, noodles and broth. You are then encouraged to customize your soup with a variety of provided greenery (basil, cilantro, thinly sliced jalapeno), fiery hot sauce (most often Sriracha), lime wedges, bean sprouts, and sticky sweet hoisin sauce.

This assortment (seen above) of fresh veg, herbs & citrus was provided to build my Pho. I was not the least bit bashful in putting these goodies to immediate use. I went especially heavy with the basil and crunchy bean sprouts. I have learned to be careful about adding too much jalapeno. You can’t go wrong by adding a little (which I did), but bolder diners getting too agressive with jalapeno slices will be subjected to an absolute devil’s brew of fiery hot broth. This was once my fate and I have learned greatly from that experience. My broth this day, much like Goldilocks’ last sip of porridge, was just right. Yes, I had found a new friend in the Pho at Taste of Vietnam.

I’m hoping that Taste of Vietnam can prove the jinx wrong and make it work in this location with such a checkered past. They do deserve your support. But please don’t wait too long to give them a shot. They need you and your word of mouth advertising right now. Visit soon or don’t bemoan Mobile’s lack of a good Vietnamese eatery. We now have one, so what are you waiting Pho???

Taste of Vietnam – 2400 Airport Blvd, Mobile, AL, Phone: (251)287-0491

Help Us Crown the True King of King Cakes in Mobile, Alabama

30 Jan

The baby toy tucked inside each cake is all part of the Mardi Gras tradition

Mobile, AL is the home of the original Mardi Gras in the United States. It is also home to some mighty fine restaurants. That being stated, you’d think you could find a decent king cake on practically every corner. Not so.

But I am now on a mission and I will not rest until I find the very best purple, yellow, and green sprinkled coffee cake sold in the Greater Mobile area. I’m now seeking reader recommendations, so let’s hear from you and make it snappy. The results of my not so scientific, but oh so tasty study will appear in the next issue of ALABAMA COASTING magazine (www.alabamacoasting.com).

Bakeries like Publix grocery store don’t miss a chance to cash in on the season

For more on King Cake lore, follow this link …  http://www.gumbopages.com/food/dessert/king-cake.html

UPDATE (3/1/2011): Go to http://www.alabamacoasting.com/ for our final results.

Claire’s Place on the Creek – Mobile, AL

6 Apr

Claire’s is a fairly new country buffet place on Halls Mill Road in Mobile, AL. The Stagecoach Cafe used to be at this rustic pine-shaded location, but they have decided to focus all their attention on their primary location in Stockton, AL. But not to fear! Louisa “Claire” Terrell has re-opened the place and really all that has changed is the name.  

You can always tell a good Southern lunch joint by the vehicles in the parking lot. Lots of trucks and police cars = good chow. Really good chow!

The grilled pork chops were simply delicious with a authentic char-grilled flavor. I snagged a couple chops at the bottom of the chafing dish to make sure they were plenty juicy — and they were. The green beans were smoky and soft to the bite. Claire’s also makes a killer jambalaya loaded with tender pieces of white chicken and bright green bell pepper. The cornbread dressing was excellent and the tomato pie tart & tasty (especially if you can score an end piece). I even tried fried asparagus spears for the first time in my life and found the flavor combo to be, well, a downhome natural.

Believe it or not, I did save a little room for dessert. That’s a good thing because the choices here are plentiful. Claire’s buttermilk pie was moist with lots of chewy flaked coconut in each and every bite. The banana pudding was even better — incredibly smooth and heavenly. I was on Cloud Nine.

Pricing at Claire’s Place on the Creek ( yes, they are on a creek) is $9.50 and includes the all you can eat lunch buffet, drink ( I suggest the Leroy Hill fresh brewed Sweet Tea), and as many dessert treats as you dare tackle. You will not go away hungry or dissatisfied. This is the real deal y’all and I am so glad to have found them. They can already count me as a regular.

NOTE: Claire’s Place is also open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.

We’re Nuts for Mamie’s Cheese Wafers

20 Sep

mamies

Baked some of these babies up earlier today. Really, really good.

It’s the nutty little pecan chunks that make these wafers special.

The product comes in a frozen tube – much like cookie dough. Cut off just what you need (slice ‘em about 1/8″ thick) and save the rest for later. Can’t beat that right out of the oven freshness. And don’t worry about them sticking to the cookie sheet. The wafers are made with at least 35% cheese and slide right off like a much tastier version on an air hockey puck.

I hope to tour the facility in the not too distant future. Stay tuned!

Susan Thompson and Barkley Shreve began producing Mamie’s Famous Cheese Wafers in Mobile, Alabama in November, 2003. These two good friends are thrilled to share this old family recipe for cheese wafers with you! Busy cooks will appreciate the convenience of these frozen slice-and-bake hors d’oeuvres, which are baked at home to guarantee a delicious homemade taste and aroma. Keep several rolls in the freezer for surprise guests, holiday gatherings, hostess gifts, football parties or any occasion when you want to serve a home-baked treat. We hope you enjoy eating your cheese wafers as much as we enjoyed making them!

BuyALBestlogo

Mamie’s Famous Cheese Wafers are frozen ready-to-bake cheese flavored snacks with not less than 35 percent real cheddar cheese by weight. The cheese wafers are packaged as a 14 ounce roll of frozen dough wrapped in FDA-approved polyethylene. There are no preservatives. The dough must be kept frozen until used. This delicious hors d’oeuvre is perfect for entertaining or snacking. The tantalizing aroma of cheese wafers instantly creates a festive atmosphere. Keep several rolls in the freezer for surprise guests, holiday gatherings, hostess gifts, football parties or any occasion when you want to serve a home-baked treat. We hope you enjoy eating your cheese wafers as much as we enjoyed making them.

www.mamieswafers.com

The Jamaican Cafe in Mobile, AL

18 Jul

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First of all, let me apologize for the poor picture quality. These shots were snapped with my smart phone — not the normal camera I tote around on my culinary adventures.  

This was my first trip to the Jamaican Cafe on Azalea Road in Mobile. Now Mobile is not exactly Kingston, yet this port city once was the major point of entry for many tropical fruits being shipped to the US.

The help was friendly, the place pretty clean, and the food tasty (if not over the top spicy). The Curried Chicken plate came with rice and peas, a warm cabbage slaw,  and a slab of sweet, kernal laden cornbread. The chicken was super tender and fell right away from the bone.

Next time I am going to be looking for heat — that means JERK!!!

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