Monday, December 8, 2014

Hot and Hot Fish Club

I heard about Hot and Hot Fish Club in 2012, which was the year when their head chef Chris Hastings won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the South, and also the year when my parents first moved to Birmingham. I expressed to my parents that I really wanted to dine here at one point, but didn't think that it would actually happen and forgot that I had brought it up.

My parents did remember and made a reservation for Thanksgiving break, since it was a special occasion: I was visiting home for the first time in a year, Khoi was visiting for the first time, and my publication from undergrad finally came out -- lots of reasons to celebrate. We came here on a Wednesday evening at 6PM, and while it was a beautiful restaurant, the dining experience itself was disappointing.

Amuse bouche, some type of custard thing. I was neutral about this.

Oysters, my favorite part of the meal. They were very fresh and tasted great. We ordered one round and then a second.

Bone marrow in pine needle ravioli -- juniper, mushroom broth, chanterelle mushrooms, pea tendrils, and local chestnuts. I tried a bite and the flavors were okay, but the texture was strangely gritty as if there was sand in the ravioli. Also, one order only had a single ravioli...

Sausage, no longer on the menu online so I don't have the full name nor list of ingredients. I was indifferent to this dish but it was a tad too salty.

Variations of fall salads -- ruby streak mustard greens and persimmon, heron hollow Asian greens and black garlic, fall vegetables with arugula and rainbow chard. I did not appreciate this dish, as the textures and flavors didn't work well together. It was as if they threw together a bunch of cool ingredients for the sake of being cool, not because it would taste great.

My dad's dish. Fudge family farms pork -- loin, belly, and crepinette with apples, sea island red peas, sunchoke puree, roasted brussels sprouts, cipollini onions and sage. He seemed impartial to his dish but he ate most of it, leaving the pork belly untouched.

Khoi's dish. Barjack -- “chowder” with hominy, bacon, Snow’s Bend Farm fall vegetables, and pesto. He seemed to enjoy it. I tried a bite and the fish was well cooked, but nothing about the dish stood out to me.

My dish: roasted rabbit rouland and braised legs -- Anson Mills wheat berry risotto, heron hollow mustard greens, radish, and bacon sorghum vinaigrette. My dish was beautiful but tasted mediocre. The meat wasn't properly seasoned, the risotto was too tough (I understand wheatberries have this texture, but I don't think it pairs well with the dish). The heated plate dried out the cream sauce that decorated the plate, giving it a goopy texture. But it was still better than my mom's dish...

My mom really disliked her dish. It's supposed to be simple grilled tuna fish, also no longer listed online so I don't have the full name/ ingredients. We didn't realize from the description that the dish would be a seared tuna steak that's raw in the middle, which she greatly dislikes. The grilled outer part of the fish was too tough. Additionally, the sauce had the same goopy problem as my dish. She gave away bites of her food to all of us since she didn't want to finish it.

Overall, I was not impressed with this restaurant. I didn't feel like the flavors of the dishes were complex, as a lot of them were overly salted and lacked nuances that would make the dishes more interesting. The textures were strange -- the congealed sauces, the gritty ravioli, etc. The service was great and the restaurant owner even stopped by to thank us for dining with them, but my parents were too polite to say that they really disliked the food. Environment wise, it was pretty but also pretty standard for a New American restaurant and hence it wasn't special enough to be worth the price considering the quality of the food. I usually liked to order dessert when we eat out somewhere nice, but I opted out since I felt like I would be disappointed again. I disliked my dining experience here, felt bad that I chose this place, and would not return to this restaurant in the future.

2180 11th Court South
Birmingham, Alabama 35205
(205) 933-5474

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