Category Archives: Every-Day

Sky Castle Gastro Lounge

Sky Castle is a gastropub located in Lakeview, right between Hattie B’s and Babalou. Named after the a glass-walled booth where deejays took live requests in the 1950’s, Sky Castle sits in the same location as Birmingham’s first Top 40 Radio Station. Sky Castle was created by three brothers: Jeff, Chris, and Jason Bajalieh, the same brothers who created Sol’s and Slice.

If you are eating in Lakeview on a Friday or Saturday evening, parking will be an issue. Usually a valet is available, although, unfortunately for us on this night, the attendant was unavailable. We only had to walk a few blocks, and luckily for us, we didn’t wear any heels.

When you walk into Sky Castle it looks like a modern, cool sports bar. There are televisions everywhere with plenty of seating available, including a few couches. The bar was quite large with dozens of beer on tap. Nate and I saw plenty of people enjoying drinks on the couch while waiting for their tables, or just watching some tv.

Nate and I started off with some cocktails, which were very good. We both ordered the “Call Me Old Fashioned.” The drink had Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Plum Preserves, and Bittermens Boston Bitters. This was a very good take on the Old Fashioned. Both Nate and I thought this was one of the better Old Fashioned variants we have had in Birmingham. It had the classic Old Fashioned taste that was complimented very well by the plum.

Next, for our appetizer, we ordered the “Buffalo Chicken Dip.” Neither one of us were crazy about this one. The only description the menu gives is, “Served w/ Potato Chips.” Maybe we are in the minority on this one, but we ended up getting a dip that was heavily cheese based (just not what we were expecting) with tortilla chips. This wasn’t a terrible appetizer but it wasn’t what we were expecting, and not the best cheese-based dip I’ve had.

For our entrees I had the “Sky Castle Burger,” and Nate had the “Chicken Lemon Alfredo.” The burger was very good, it came with caramelized onions, bacon jam, cheese, and dijonaise. The fries came in this cute little frier, and they were good as well. Nate’s pasta had chicken meatballs, house pasta asparagus, capers, and parmesan. I’ve never seen chicken meatballs before. Nate wasn’t the biggest fan.

In addition to my “Call Me Old Fashioned,” I also ordered the “Lakeview Lemonade.” This drink contains raspberry vodka, house made sour, and a spash of cranberry. This wasn’t quite the drink for me. Very fruity, and very lemony. I normally don’t try drinks like this, but I thought I would give it a shot. Not saying it was a bad cocktail, just make sure you enjoy lemon before you order this one.

For dessert we had the “Banana Pudding Crème Brulee.” I thought this was a good dessert. I also really enjoy banana pudding and crème brulee. It doesn’t have the prettiest presentation, but if you like banana, it’s a very good dessert.

Overall, I thought it was a fine restaurant. If you are wanting to watch some sports and enjoy a well-crafted cocktail, I would recommend Sky Castle. If you are just looking for high quality food, this wouldn’t be the first place I would suggest. I recommend sticking to simple food, such as the burger. Overall, we give this Taste of the ‘Ham 3 stars.

-Josh Zaslawsky,  Hungry, Hungry Hebrew


Fancy’s on 5th

It’s been quite a while since our last post but…life happens. Josh and I started back on our eating adventure this summer at a fairly new restaurant in Avondale: Fancy’s on 5th. Fancy’s was opened by the owners of the nearby Melt restaurant along with the executive chef, Joey Dickerson, in March of this year. Just like any new spot in the Avondale neighborhood, it was met with great excitement and judging by the wait time for a table, people are clearly still excited about trying “the new hot thing” in this ever-growing neighborhood.

At 6 o’clock on a Friday night we were told we would have to wait an hour and half for a table for two, but we ended up only waiting about 30 minutes (I think we got lucky more so than it being an over-estimate of the wait). We, of course, visited the bar during our wait and aside from the many beers that you can find at any local restaurant Fancy’s serves several “fancy drinks” that were pretty good. While I think there is some expectation to be “different” when making your cocktail menu these days, the selection wasn’t quite as hipster as some of the other bars and restaurants in Avondale. I had beer from Avondale brewery and Josh had a “Pig Fashioned” and a “5th Avenue Sour”.

So we were somewhat confused by what we had heard from others about the type of food that Fancy’s serves, but they aptly describe themselves as an “Oyster Dive and Burger Bar.” We started with the “Oysters Avondale” and these were easily the best part of our meal. I’m not normally a fan of oysters, but we were told they were very good, and I’ll try pretty much anything if you cover it in cheese. At only $10 for a half dozen oysters, they are definitely worth a try. We didn’t try any of the other oyster options, but since it’s pretty close quarter seating, we could tell the other table’s oysters looked really good.

Josh and I agree that, yes, there are really good burgers out there, but there’s only so much you can do with a burger, and you have to try pretty hard to make one truly bad. Josh had the “B&B” burger which comes with “homemade Worcestershire, grilled onion, bacon, and blue cheese crumbles.” I had the “Blue Collar Burger” which was just about as basic of a burger as you can get with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Both burgers were good, and we agreed that we would go back because the prices were decent. That being said, if asked who had the best burger in Birmingham, Fancy’s wouldn’t be our first thought.

Now I’m not one to skip dessert, but there weren’t that many options and none of them really stood out to us so we didn’t try any of the three choices on the menu. Overall the food was good, but nothing spectacular; the ambiance, décor, and location is great, but too small; but the prices are very reasonable and no one should be confused by the name and think it’s too Fancy for a casual night out. We give this Taste of the ‘Ham 3 stars.

-Nate Ennis, Foodie in Training

Original Pancake House – 5 Points South

OPHThe Original House of Pancakes is a major chain, but has only one restaurant in Alabama. It is located right in the heart of Five Points South. The interior of the restaurant was unimpressive; it looked just like your average IHOP or Denny’s. There was a pretty big crowd (we went on a Saturday morning), but we only waited about 20 minutes.

We sat down, and ordered our drinks. The restaurant was very full, mostly with families. I ordered the peanut butter pancakes with bacon and orange juice. Our food came our promptly, and the portions were very generous. The peanut butter pancakes were smothered peanut butter chips, and the bacon was thick and crispy. It was tasty, but eating that much peanut butter and syrup is pretty difficult. It would probably be better as a few bites rather than a whole meal. Nate had the “Three Little Pigs in a Blanket”. They were sausage links wrapped in pancakes and topped with powdered sugar and syrup. He said they were tasty, but he didn’t rave about them.

I wasn’t disappointed, but overall it seemed pretty mediocre to me. It is very affordable, the service was good, and the portions were large, but the food quality wasn’t anything spectacular. I would go back, but I’m not planning on going back anytime soon. Good place for a big, inexpensive breakfast or brunch, but don’t expect anything special. I give this taste of the ‘Ham three stars.

-Josh Zaslawsky,  Hungry, Hungry Hebrew

SAW’s BBQ Homewood

saws-bbqSAW’s BBQ is a fantastic “hole-in-the-wall” barbeque restaurant. Founded in 2009 by North Carolina native, Mike Wilson, SAW’s BBQ has received rave reviews from Birmingham natives and tourists alike.

Walking in, it is clear that SAW’s BBQ is not concerned with a fancy interior. The seating is extremely limited, but luckily, we were able to find a table outside. Nate and I placed our orders at the counter, and our food was ready before we even sat down. I was a little apprehensive about my food being ready so quickly, but it was absolutely delicious.

I had the pulled pork plate with macaroni & cheese and potato salad. The pork was tender and moist, but it was the barbeque sauce that really made it awesome. It was a little thinner and spicier than the usual barbeque sauce, but it was perfect for dunking bread. Nate had the loaded baker, which he said was very tasty, but nothing to write home about.

Overall, SAW’s BBQ is a great barbeque joint. If you are craving barbeque, or want to show a non-Southerner what Southern barbeque is all about, SAW’s BBQ is the place to go. I give it 4 stars, and I’m looking forward to going back.

-Josh Zaslawsky,   Hungry, Hungry Hebrew