Monday, May 30, 2011

Back to Birmingham

Last weekend I visited a group of friends remaining in Birmingham after our fellowship with Time Inc. ended. I hadn't returned since moving out in December and it was a wonderful feeling to return to my 2010 home.

The first place I stopped was at Olexa's to have lunch with two of my friends. Diane Olexa, the owner, started her business as a wedding cake caterer. Olexa's is still famous for its buttercreme cake but their cafe offers really great lunch food.

My favorite is the Smoked Almond Chicken Salad Croissant. I always order the spring mix salad with balsamic vinaigrette because the greens are always fresh and dressed just enough.

Remember that cake? I never visit Olexa's without having a slice. They serve it warmed so the frosting is just a little bit soft. This cake is unbelievably good; the cake is moist and light, and the buttercream frosting...let's just say you can taste the butter.

Afterward I spent a short time at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The roses and hydrangeas were in bloom so I had to take some photos of the latter for my desktop.

One of my favorite parts of the Gardens is the koi pond. I don't remember the sign from my last visit but it's highly appropriate for this area.

It seems that the koi get larger each time I visit and the turtles seem to multiply as well. We even saw a very large snapping turtle.

For dinner Saturday night (they're not open Sunday) I just had to go to Saw's BBQ and satisfy my craving for the pork plate with Saw's red and white sauce. The red sauce is tangy, slightly sweet, and has a light spicy kick. I highly recommend trying both sauces; when you order both sauces, say you want Roll Tide, in honor of the nearby University of Alabama.

They offer a variety of classic BBQ sides; during this visit I ordered potato salad and mac n' cheese. After trying the potato salad I realized this is my least favorite of their sides. It's more like mashed potatoes with chunks of potato, and it wasn't seasoned very well. I recommend all their other sides.

I met a former colleague from Southern Living for brunch on Sunday. She suggested a newer breakfast spot called Over Easy. The restaurant opened soon before I left to move back to Atlanta so I was glad I had a chance to try it.

I ordered Le French Adjacent which includes a Belgian waffle, two eggs any way you like, and your choice of one breakfast meat (there are seven options).

I thought the food was okay. Obviously, this was only my first visit but I would definitely skip the waffle next time and choose a different meat. The eggs were cooked well but I thought the waffle was a little too dense; the turkey sausage was too dry and I didn't care for the texture.

I'm so glad that I finally made it back to Birmingham after so many months. It was a treat to visit good friends and have another taste of some of my favorite restaurants.

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