A Moveable Feast


friendsA New Way to Explore Birmingham’s Best

by Christopher Confero   

 

Before fall arrives with football and pumpkin spiced lattes, I’ve decided the best way to celebrate the change of season is with a progressive party around the city. What is a progressive party exactly? It typically consists of having each course of a meal at a different guest’s home.

Whenever I think that I’ll have more time to spend in Birmingham than just a weekend is precisely the moment duty calls me away. The times to gather a menu and décor for entertaining guests at home come few and far between. But, thankfully, we live in a city that’s done the work for me! This moveable feast offers hours of easy entertainment with limited amount of preparation. It’s a cleanup-free culinary escapade. Sprinkled throughout Birmingham are James Beard award-winning restaurants, internationally curated galleries, and critically acclaimed theaters. It would be a shame not to show them off a bit.

So that leads me to tweak the rules a little. After all, it keeps things exciting and new! The Confero version of a progressive party entails stops at not only different restaurants, but also cultural venues to truly make it a night to remember.

Begin by making a guest list and try your best to keep it between five to 10 of your closest friends. Since you will be frequenting various restaurants, it’s best to keep the party small. This ensures that everyone gets served in a timely and efficient manner. It should be noted that if you are hosting the “safari party,” it’s only proper to take the role as designated driver.

Once you’ve narrowed it down, choose the four to five stops you are eager to showcase. Go ahead and call the restaurants and place a reservation even if you just plan on five guests.

 

Here’s what I’m planning:

The Event: Some people choose to go straight into dinner, but I like to create a buzz for conversation. That’s why I am starting off at the Birmingham Museum of Art. Although the permanent exhibitions are stunning, I’m curious to witness Lethal Beauty: Samurai Weapons and Armor before it ends on Sept. 21. The breadth of work that is gathered in our very own backyard never ceases to amaze me.

 

The Starter: After we’ve worked up an appetite at the museum, our first dinner stop would be Five Bar located in Lakeview area. There’s nothing more frustrating than flipping through pages upon pages of a menu just to find the same old, same old. Five cuts through all the nonsense to deliver only five mouthwatering items in each category of dining. You’ll have a tough enough time deciding between the baked avocado with bacon, shrimp and spicy sauce, or soy-ginger seasoned Yoshie’s chicken with Sriracha aioli as it is.

 

The Main Dish: Once you have one meal at The Hot and Hot Fish Club, it’s no wonder to you that head chef Chris Hastings was named “Best Chef in the South” by the James Beard Foundation or that he won “Iron Chef” against celebrity chef Bobby Flay. With a menu that changes daily to highlight the season’s freshest flavors, Hot and Hot is the perfect place for the main dish. It’s no promise that it’ll be served the day you choose to dine, but the lamb never fails to please.

 

The Dessert: From its exceptional service to its warm atmosphere, Bottega transports me to the streets of Italy without the hassle of check-in luggage. My clients will be the first to note that I’m known to lunch here often. However, nothing quite compares to the dessert menu that appears once the café is closed and the doors to the main dining room are opened. I might call right now just to make sure they have enough of the fig gelato or blueberry tiramisu that just makes my taste buds sing.

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