My brother-in-law and niece are in town this week. He came for the SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. She has no interest in baseball, so she and I set about exploring Birmingham.
This was a full day of breakfast and bookstores, gardens and a graduation. We had a friend with us on our adventures today, a girl the niece met when she was here in November. These two happily identify themselves as book nerds (they met at 2nd and Charles). We started the day at Tip Top Grill on Shades Mountain. The brother-in-law joined us for breakfast. My BLT on a biscuit was marvelous and the blue-sky view was beautiful. After a friendly conversation with Mr. S and his little granddaughter, we were on our way to the first bookstore.
Alabama Booksmith is unique in that every book in the store has been signed by the author. The niece was thrilled to pose next to picture of one of her favorite authors, Birmingham’s own (for a while, anyway) John Green.
Next Stop: Little Professor Book Center. Here I stayed upstairs in the used book section. I couldn’t find anything on my list, but did find a book by an author on my list, so I bought it. I need another book like I need a hole in my head, but, well, ……
We then headed for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. I enjoyed the flowers and serenity; the girls were talking books the whole time. We walked through the Japanese Garden and then I surveyed the roses. I discovered that there is a library at the gardens – mostly botanical related items. I was able to use my library card to check out a few magazines and I can then return them at the Hoover Library – sweet! I also purchased a delicious smelling soap at the gift shop before we left.
Last stop: Barnes and Noble at Patton Creek Shopping Center. I got a Smor’es frappuccino (don’t judge) and read while the girls bought even more books.
After a few hours at home, we headed out for a graduation at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Vestavia Hills. Two sweet young ladies passed a major milestone; one is headed for Birmingham Southern in the fall.
Mountain Laurel Inn
Mentone was on my list of Day Trips so I was glad to have the opportunity to visit there this past weekend. This little town is about a two hour drive from Birmingham (I didn’t drive so I got to read most of the way – Yea!).
We went by way of Little River Canyon, which I will write about in a separate post. I had secured a night at the Mountain Laurel Inn, though I was hoping for two nights. I had waited too long, however, to call and make a reservation. This is not a place you will happen upon by chance. I also neglected to read my confirmation email that included directions and said not to use GPS. So, we ended up lost at first, but a quick call to Sarah, the innkeeper, and she gave us clear instructions. We weren’t too far away. After several turns we were headed down a dirt/gravel road into a rustic setting on a rainy afternoon.
The weather was cool enough to leave our windows open. After unloading, we went into town for supper. I would NOT recommend the Moonlight Bistro, but afterwards we ventured on to the Wildflower Café for dessert and music. The Derby Pie was fantastic and the music brought back memories, ala Cat Stevens and Jim Croce.
Before breakfast we took a small hike – just 10 minutes from our door was Desoto Falls. Being on private property, there were no handrails, just au naturel – and it was gorgeous. Breakfast was a treat! Sarah’s Decadent French Toast is on the “100 Foods to Eat In Alabama Before You Die” 2012 list. It was fantastic!
That day was JulyFest in Mentone, and despite the rain, it was a pleasant morning up on The Brow. We made several gift purchases, saw the end of the Pet Parade, and enjoyed the view. In town we checked out some antique stores and other shops, and then headed down the road to Fort Payne. All in all it was a short but lovely trip.
I think it won’t matter what you order at the Tip Top Grill because you’ll be so enthralled with the view. However, for a breakfast that is good and economical, it can’t be beat.
On my first visit I ordered a ham and egg sandwich. And I said “yes” to the question, “Do you want mayonnaise?” I DO like mayo, but I’ll never go as far as the man who plans to be buried in a Duke’s Mayonnaise jar. Anyway, it was tasty and a perfect start to a great Saturday morning.
The restaurant overlooks the Oxmoor Valley Golf Course and a Lover’s leap. Quite a combination. The Lover’s Leap is a dramatic set of limestone boulders that protrude out over the valley. One Indian legend says an Indian brave, weary of the attentions of an Indian princess, took her to the high crest where he stabbed her with a bone knife. Then, in remorse, he gathered her in his arms and leaped off the bluff.
Next time I want to try out the lunch menu. Or, better yet, dinner and a sunset.
588 Shades Crest Road
Hours: Mon – Fri: 6:30 am – 7:00 pm; Sat: 6:30 am – 3:00 pm
89% like it at urbanspoon
4445 Creekside Avenue – just off John Hawkins Pkwy.
Hoover, AL 35244
Last Friday night we went out to an early supper at Baumhower’s. After perusing the online menu, I’d already decided to try the sand-wedge they are famous for – the “Hot Bama”. It’s featured in the “100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die!” It’s a good thing I tried it last week, because I could have died waiting at the courthouse while getting my driver’s license. But, that’s a blog for another day.
So, the “Hot Bama” Brown was excellent. It features their Almost-Fried Turkey piled up on a slice of sourdough bread, smothered with cheeses and mushroom-beef gravy, then topped with bacon and tomato slices. It comes with a side of mashed potatoes with MORE gravy.
Next time I go I want to try either the Gulf Wild Shrimp & Grits or the Catfish Po’ Boy.
2698 Pelham Parkway – Pelham, AL 35124
Phone: (205) 620-1116
Hours: Sunday noon-8pm; M-T-W 11am-9pm; TH-F-S 11am-10pm
Nino’s Italian Restaurant in Pelham was a treat! A big thank-you to Mel for gathering us together there. The hospitality was great, thanks to co-owner Walter Caron. They accommodated us all at one long table. Walt read off the specials to us and was patient as we asked him to repeat some of them. I enjoyed the Shrimp and Crab Ravioli in Pomodori sauce.
This is a kid-friendly place, as you could tell when Walt held Mel’s little boy, Jacob.
I will definitely go again and would like to try Mel’s fav Hawaiian Pizza.
You can read more here: Ninos Italian Restaurant
4741 Chace Circle
Across from Plaza at Riverchase in Hoover
We ate here on our trip to Birmingham in early March and it was fantastic! I got the Strawberry Banana & Walnut Waffle – it was delicious! It is made with fresh strawberries, bananas and walnuts topped with powdered sugar and whipped cream. There is so much on the menu that I wanted to try, so I definitely plan to return as soon as possible. The service was good and the staff was friendly.
- 10% Senior discount on food
- 15% Military discount on food
- Kids’ Menu
- Free meeting room available
Next time I want to try: The Cambridge Skillet (Diced ham, bacon and hollandaise sauce on a bed of ranch potatoes with melted cheese and two eggs any style. Served with an English muffin.)
You can read more here:
This time, in March, we visited a different location. We got the same great service as before. I had the smoked turkey which was served with a white sauce. I had it on the side; which was good as it was a tad hot for me. I also used some of their other BBQ sauce. I had the collards, which were also too spicy for me – I think I liked the creamed collards better. I had the mashed potatoes with gravy; I’ve had better. Over all the best thing was the turkey. And, of course, the company – Chuck, Erica, Tammy, and Temperance.
Address: 1810 Montgomery Hwy S, Hoover, AL 35244
1115 Dunston Ave, Birmingham, AL
We sought out this restaurant on the email advice from a guy who works at a local brewery. The first sign it was going to be good was the music playing over the speakers.
My Fried Green Tomato BLT was so tall there was no way I could bite into it, so I attacked it with a fork and knife. My side was grits which arrived nice and cheesy.
Pluses: craft beers
Interesting: Deviled eggs as a side
Next time I want to try one of the stuffed taters (there are 8 on the menu)