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Is Birmingham, MI now to be taken seriously?


Restaurants & Bars 17

Is Birmingham, MI now to be taken seriously?

vtombrown | Oct 27, 2010 06:44 PM

During the latter half of the 90’s, I often visited but finally gave-up on Birmingham. Chockablock with well traveled lawyers and local TV personalities, yet no respectable place to eat for less than $40/head. Inexplicable. The only place I even liked was Streetside Seafood. Have times long since changed? Sure, I don’t jump up and down for upscale chains (e.g., Mitchell’s), but at least they are a start.

Now, I read donbui82 and xman887 talkin’ about Tallulah and Café Via, respectively, not to mention a certain Buckeye MD celebrity blogger going berserk over The Forest Grill. Well, I’m a forgiving person, so I went back to Birmingham to check them all out. My impression? Birmingham has transformed into a key foodie hub in SE Mich.

I’ve said my piece on The Forest Grill, and it was quite complimentary; although, I can’t afford to again experience the place for little while, so I’ll leave it at that.

Tallulah was very charming. It’s (probably often) cramped, but “all the better” for people-watching. I had fowl du jour, with mashed sweet potatoes, roasted asparagus and sautéed microgreens. The bird was a nice free range turkey pulled from the oven precisely four degrees less than recommended by the FDA, which is how I like it. This can safely be done, when the poultry isn’t raised under sadistic conditions. Overall, I really appreciate Tallulah’s effort to offer the freshest, high quality foods from specialty local wholesalers.

Their kitchen’s reliance on the daily market may come at a cost, though. It seems as if they start “winging it,” immediately upon the arrival of their food buyer’s van each morning. Just my impression. Whatever the reason, the microgreens were extremely over salted, and the mashed sweet potatoes seemed diluted rather than concentrated by the cooking process. Granted, I ate and loved every bit.

My squirmy kid had sweet potato gnocchi sautéed in a browned butter sage sauce with other root vegetables / squash. The sauce and veggies were great. I’m not a gnocchi expert so I won’t comment on the actual dumplings. Others have posted that the gnocchi was very good.

Yes, I will again soon visit Tallulah (probably AFTER I can find a babysitter). FYI---Tallulah will start offering brunch beginning 14-Nov. I walked in on their “practice run” this past Sunday and spotted a plate of eggs with fingerling hash, thick cut bacon + duck sausage(!), real-bread toast and fruit garnish (other combos were noticed, but I focused on this one). As I was getting kicked out, for the reason that the practice run was by invitation only, I was pleasantly informed that my fancied combo will be offered for $9 once I return in a three weeks. Seems to me like you’d have to be crazy to stand in a long line to eat industrial food at nearby Original Pancake House, if for $2 more you could indulge in a quality experience at Tallulah. More to follow!!

Café Via….What an attractive little cove this place is located in. In addition to their mahogany/brass/leather interior, they have a semi-enclosed patio with a neat fireplace on the perimeter. I might be delusional to imagine eating on this patio during a winter evening, but I’m at least going to check into it. Food-wise, firstly, a rye bread comes gratis, straight from the oven, and it is not from a frozen / pre-mixed dough. Schwing! Secondly, I had a fresh house made ravioli stuffed with quality lobster claw meat and creamed corn. The ravioli dough was paper thin, and because it was seemingly set a bit to dry, it gave some resistance to the teeth. I figure this must be a mark of ravioli excellence, or something? Memorable flavor. One of these days, if I’m feeling rich (right, like I’m getting a Christmas bonus, in this economy), I’m heading back for their Sunday prime rib, as I’m positive it will be fantastic.

What do you guys have to say about Birmingham? Am I just late to the party, or am I bamboozled into thinking this place isn’t the joke that it is?

PS---The Birmingham Farmers Market suits me just right, but I’m sad to say that last weekend was the end to its season. Not an Eastern Market, though has much of the nice stuff found in the Royal Oak F.M. but without the crowds or redundancies, and is much more substantial than, say, the Warren, Mt. Clemens, Clarkston and even Rochester F.M.s, while already possessing the community charm to which the infant Auburn Hills F.M. (admirably but perhaps unrealistically) aspires. Comparable to the Ann Arbor F.M., maybe.

PPS---In Birmingham’s Shain Park, on Dec 3,4,5, German airlines and automakers, as well as their suppliers, will put on a “first annual German Winter Markt.” (JP or Boagman may be able to explain this holiday tradition). There supposedly will be all manner of decorations and festive live entertainment, ice carving, carriage rides, live reindeer, various other kids activities, as well as “traditional German food and drink.” I’m hoping for liquor in the streets, as well as something (any darn thing) better than Red Wings style street brats. Wishful thinking?

Streetside Seafood
273 Pierce St, Birmingham, MI 48009

Forest Grill Restaurant
735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009

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