This weekend I had the distinct privilege of visiting one of the South's finest cities- Birmingham, Alabama. The purpose of the trip was to attend a wedding, but since the ceremony and reception only lasted a total of two and a half hours, we found ourselves exploring more of the city than we anticipated.
Our first stop on the road was in Decatur, Alabama. Thanks to Yelp, a website that allows you to recommend, review and search for restaurants, we stumbled on a jackpot of a bar-b-q spot called Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q. Big Bob's makes pretty much every "greatest" claim imaginable- greatest sauce, brisket, ribs, pie, etc.- but in their defense, they've got the award recognition to prove it. Their walls are covered with first place awards ranging from places like the National Bar-B-Q Association and Chili Pepper Magazine to the New York Times. They also display a 5 foot tall trophy by the cash register from the World Championship BBQ Cook-Off, entitled, "Best Pork 2004."*
I had chicken with a side of vinegar-based Cole Slaw, which was excellent. What I should have ordered, however, was the meat trio consisting of brisket, turkey and pulled pork. The plate was piled high with tender meats dripping with juice. I tried some of my boyfriend's brisket and it tasted like it had been slow roasted for hours. An additional "unnamed source" told me that the potato salad he had as a side dish wasn't great, but that the baked beans were AMAZING. We finished our lunch each with a piece of pie, and it was, indeed, one of the best pies I've had.
After arriving at our destination city, we visited English Village, a charming little neighborhood of shops and coffeehouses. What really surprised me about Birmingham was the English-inspired architecture, and English Village was obviously no exception. I was disappointed that HenHouse Antiques, one of the shops I saw online, was closed early. But The Continental Bakery across the street helped me forget about it with their delicious ginger snaps and chocolate- flavored macaroons. After a visit to the bakery, we drove through the nearby neighborhood of beautiful Tudor-style homes with perfectly-manicured lawns and BMWs in the driveways. I was hard-pressed to find a house (or car) that I didn't like.
The next day, before heading back to Nashville, we had a lovely Sunday brunch at Little Savannah. I had the Mexican Tostada with Chorizo, Black Bean Purée, Avocado, Queso Fresco, Poached Egg, and Lime Crème Fraîche and my two fellow travelers each had the Crab Cake with Hickory Bacon Creamed Spinach and a poached Farm Egg. Both dishes were incredibly delicious. Mine was a hearty, spicy dish with just enough crunch from the tostada a hint of coolness from the Creme Fraiche. I was told that the crab cake and creamy spinach had a perfect balance of flavor and textures.
Overall, Birmingham was a great city. A day and a half was a perfect amount of time to visit a few great restaurants and get a feel for the city and people. It was a wonderful way to spend the weekend!
*The trophy is topped with a copper pig being chopped by a cleaver- an obvious offense to some, but a clear display of pride for the restaurant.