25 March, 2011

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

It is our last week in Montgomery; in light of this I thought I'd let my Mister pick the last place we went for dinner.  He picked a place called Marchelle's Bistro.  He read a bunch of stuff off the Google search about the place and it sounded good to me.  It was rather warm out so a nice bistro sandwich sounded great to me.

Fast forward 15 minutes....

We park the Beast on Main Street near the sign and unloaded the Sprout and all the junk...the diaper bag, purse, camera, stroller.  I was READY!  We stroll up to the door and.....closed.  I mean...out of business closed.  Last time I let the Mister research eateries.  Moving on...

We looked across the street...Fountain City Grill....we walked further down the street...Uncle Mick's Cajun...  Hmmm....Cajun....we walked in.  There were a group of dudes up at the line eating samples.  Ooooh....samples!  Why not try before you buy, right?  That's pretty cool.

The first thing they gave me was something the guy behind the counter called Shrimp Curry.  It isn't on the menu, so I moved on in my head.  They handed me some Crawfish Etouffee and after that some Alligator & Sausage Piquante.  It all tasted fine.  But my mouth was stuck on the sample of Shrimp Curry.  It came with my choice of 2 side items...I checked out the menu to see what caught my eye.  I went with Dirty Rice and the Tomato Feta Salad.

While they were getting my order up I wandered around to check out the surroundings.  It was indeed reminiscent of what I remember from the last time I was down in Louisiana.  There was a variety of seating, air conditioning and great stuff to look at.

Couples Seating

Plenty of Seating

Chow Line

Wall Art

More art that caught my eye

My plate was up and ready in a very short time.  Everything looked great and I was starving.  I grabbed my ice water with lemon and headed to the table.  I was ready to dig in...

It was a surprise to see the garlic bread come with the meal, but I wasn't complaining.  I was hungry.  I went for the dirty rice first.  I had already tried the shrimp curry, so I KNEW I liked that.  My first bite of dirty rice surprised me a bit.  It was simply flavored, moist and meaty.  The rice was cooked just right and the meat was just lightly seasoned, so it didn't over power the light, nutty flavor of the rice.  The tomato and feta was good.  The tomatoes were ripe, but not overly ripe.  I am NOT a fan of mushy tomatoes.  The feta and the dressing that accompanied complimented it well.  I couldn't tell if this was bottled dressing or handmade.  The garlic bread was crispy and buttery with a light garlic flavor.  It was time to move onto my main event.  The shrimp curry...  It was fabulous.  It was just the right amount of spice, the vegetables were large and fresh and the shrimp wasn't rubbery.  The sauce was rich and creamy...finger licking quality!

What luck to find a cajun place...even BETTER is that Uncle Mick's really knows how to cook it!  If you're in the mood for some wonderful cajun head on up to Main Street in Prattville.  I guarantee they'll have somethin' great waiting for you.  I know I'll be heading back there for cajun the next time I am in Prattville.  Thanks for a great dinner Mick!

Uncle Mick's Cajun Market and Cafe on Urbanspoon

23 March, 2011

Montgomery's Finest

It feels like we've been in Montgomery FOREVER now, though in reality it has only been 5 weeks.  I have eaten at a number of different establishments and met really wonderful people everywhere I've been.  There were just a couple places left on my "must try" list and I was trying to save some of the best for last.  I found out last night, that I did!

Michael's Table is nestled in the back corner of the shopping area called "Zelda's Place".  Perfect seclusion for a nice intimate dining experience without having to watch the heavy traffic of Zelda Road should you happen to take advantage of the patio seating.  

Their name had been tossed around very little since I've been in town.  I spotted it on a "top 10" list when we first rolled into town, but when I ask people if they've heard of this gem...crickets.  This MUST be changed....  Hopefully by the end of this post, you'll agree and give them your attention.

We arrived shortly before 6 pm, when the seating begins for the dinner hour at Michael's.  They do offer a lunch menu and a Sunday brunch menu, but after reviewing their offerings on the dinner menu, dinner looked more tempting to me.  I loved how ALL of their menus were short; it gave me less time to fumble around deciding on what to indulge in.  

Because we arrived before the dinner crowd I was able to catch my shots of the inside and outside without disturbing other guests.  I try not to when they ARE there, but this assured me that I wouldn't be interfering; I was glad for that.

Rear Dining Area

Front of House
Bar Seating

Wine Hutch

Wine Selection....Bellissime!!

When I went through the menu my eyes settled on two things I KNEW I couldn't go wrong with; the Mezze and the Crostini.  If you've read any of my other reviews you know I am a HUGE addict, uh...fan of hummus.  But, even more so of crusty, warm breads and cheese.  Of course, I'm salivating just thinking about this!  My Mister and I decided to go with the crostini.  I knew from looking before I came that quite possibly no matter WHAT they said their "best dish" was, I was most likely going to order the Grillades & Grits.  The grits and greens were calling my name....I couldn't help it.  Then there was the "Alabama Caviar" caveat to it...surely it wasn't actual caviar.  But I HAD to find out!

We were pretty settled in with the Sprout.  He was having a grand time.  The dinner crowd had started to file in and the other guests were flirting and playing at him from across the room.  It is always interesting to me how many people think he's such a handsome looking fellow.  I of course am bias...  It only took a short time of this distraction before our appetizer was on its way to the table.  What a sight!
L - R  Ricotta & Tenor Tomatoes, Parmesean Gelato & Prune Mustarda,  
Gorgonzola & Roasted Fruit, Marinated Cucumber,
Alabama Goat Cheese & Poached Fig

I don't think I can adequately describe ALL the things that happened in my mouth when I tried each of these pairings, but for me I was almost intoxicated by their flavors and textures.  I am sure my eyes rolled into the back of my head for at least a couple of them.  I'll admit my Mister had a hard time with the Gorgonzola & Roasted Fruit (It tasted like a spiced apple...) combination.  But I completely understood where the chef was coming from.  They complimented each other well.  You need to be able to stand the robust flavor of the Gorgonzola however; some people have no patience for its intense, sophisticated robustness.  I do.  I thoroughly enjoyed every morsel I tried.

At the beginning of this course they also brought us a lovely basket of crusty bread with a fresh spring pesto olive oil dipping sauce.  

It was truly divine.  The warm bread hit the oil pesto and the dance began!  The heat from the bread really brought out the initial flavor of the basil and minced garlic, then at the very end, right when you are about to swallow it hits you...the mint and the hint of parmesean.  Cross your EYES fabulous!  I am fairly certain we went through two baskets of that during our meal.  Just spectacular!!

Of course with a lead in like this, heaven help my entree.  My expectations were through the roof for this dish.  Then it came....just a gorgeous plating.

Pork braised in New Orleans gravy on Romano Gouda Grits,
Table's Garlic Greens & Alabama Caviar

I tried each component of the entree by itself.  The "Alabama Caviar" was first.  Such nice and clean flavors!  I was really surprised and very pleased.  I'm not usually a fan of "bean salads" of any kind.  I never have been...but I am NOW!  The vinegar really cut through the heavy flavor of the bean and completely TRANSFORMED it into a sweet treat.  The greens, hand to God, were the BEST greens I've had since I've been in Alabama.  Most of the time they are overcooked and just...tired.  These were just done; you could taste the garlic and such a pleasant compliment to the color of the dish itself.  A nice bright addition.

Then...there were grits.  Also, the best grits I've had since I have been in Alabama.  I couldn't help but smile as I was stuffing myself silly with this food!  The pork...let me tell you about this pork.  They brought this entree out with this ginormous meat knife.  I was a little shocked...then worried.  I thought, "If I actually NEED that, I won't like this dish."  I proceeded with caution.  But I discovered quickly it was unwarranted.  I stuck only my fork in and pulled.  When I did the pork just FELL off the bone and flaked apart.  This entree from beginning to end was a total work of art!  Trying all these elements alone...then on the fork with all of them together, it didn't matter; the flavors married perfectly all together as well.  There were NO mistakes in this dish.  As I was eating my leftovers today, I searched for faults still and couldn't find any.  

My compliments to the chef!  Magnific!!  When I asked him what their "best dish" was because I wanted to get the best impression of them that I possibly could, he copped a nice smile and said "They're all great!"  I've heard that enough times to choke a horse and in most cases the comment doesn't end up holding true.  But, at Michael's Table, it DOES!  

For a nice, quiet evening in the heart of Montgomery; with food that pleases the eye, feeds the soul and tickles the tongue, Michael's is your place without question!  Don't miss visiting this fine dining establishment.  Next time I am in town, I won't be saving this for last.  Not ever again!!

Michael's Table on Urbanspoon

19 March, 2011

I'll Take Some Of That To Go Too!

Alright, every where I've looked on the internet one of the places mentioned as a "must eat" in Montgomery was Chris' Hot Dog.  The further I dug, the more interested in this place I become.  Rich with history in the area, Chris' has been a favorite for decades.  Even has its own day "Chris' Hot Dog Day" (May 1st) as designated by the Governor Riley of Alabama back in 2007.  Chris' has served the likes of FDR, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Hank Williams, and even a King....that's right Elvis Presley.  


Stories I have read about this place, dripping in nostalgia & love, repeat through my mind as my Mister and I made our way to this joint.

Very Old Menu

 Old Menu

Chris' Rules...Better Obey!

Since 1917, Chris' has evolved and grown into one of the most beloved places by native Montgomerians (yeah, that's a real word...trust me I used to be an English major) and weary travelers alike.  I had a feeling I was going to fall in love with this place.  But talk isn't everything....I had to try this food!

When we walked in and took a gander at the menu it was pretty clear they were going to stick to the basics and what they do best; dogs & burgers.  Over time they've started to offer combos and chicken, but since their birth its been ALL about the dogs.

The first thing I laid my eyes on when I came inside was the "belly up to the bar" area with stools and...THE grill.  The place where the magic is made.

At first glance I thought...where are we gonna put the Sprout?  Then I peered around the corner and found tons more seating...and high chairs.  SCORE!  

Couples Booths

Room for 4

Game Time! Extra seating in the game room as well.

A guy came to take our order, but I wanted to know which he really thought was my best bet...a dog or a burger.  He said "Either one really."  My Mister went first and went with a traditional Chris Dog...dog, 'stard, 'kraut, onions and Chris' "special sauce".  Because he went with the dog & fries, I figured I'd snag a bite of his later and I went with the burger and rings.

The burger was up in a SNAP!  E is pretty quick behind that grill!  I watched her when I was up and about taking pictures.  She cranks those orders out SO fast...I'll bet she'd win a dog slinging contest NO problem!

Chris Burger w/ 'stard, onion, cheese and Chris' special sauce

I took one bite and my mouth went bazerk!  As I told my friends...it was shameful how fast I laid into this thing.  All the while, using my finger to get the special sauce that was dripping on the plate.  It was THAT good.  I have grown up in a home with a momma that makes "sauces"; the recipes of which only SHE knows.  This sauce gave my momma's sauces a run for their money!  I am fairly certain I would have drank a glass of it if they served it with straws.  I couldn't get over this sauce!!  Furthermore, for only $2.15...yeah...read it again...$2.15 people....I was thinking on ordering ANOTHER burger.  

My rings passed the "chin test" NO problem...I let the waiter know.  I'm sure he didn't care, but this is a HUGE deal to me because I love eating rings...but I hate wearing them on my chin!

Everything was great...I'm telling everyone I know about this place.  And yeah...I bought some sauce to go too!  A pint for 5 bucks.  Gus tried telling me how long the sauce would last in the fridge and that it could be frozen, but I started to tune him out after a couple seconds.  Then I let the man know...the sauce wasn't going to make it that long in my house...I'd be devouring it forthwith, but thanks for the tip.

Yeah, the place isn't the Hilton when you walk in...I've read some comments on different websites about the place's appearance...but I am a food fanatic.  Ultimately, I'm about the taste of the stuff they serve up.  If I can't get past the way the place made me feel...I mention it.  But the look in Chris' lended itself to the reality that I was in a historic place, hallowed ground almost.  I mean a KING ate there!  I absolutely would go back again, and I'm pretty sure I will next week...grab a couple burgers and gorge myself silly.  Gus and the staff have a great thing going down there.  A place I think Chris would definitely eat at to this day if he were still with us. 

Chris' Hot Dog on Urbanspoon

18 March, 2011

Which is better?

The "Cloverdale" area in Montgomery has proven to be a hot bed of great places to eat for me.  First, finding Sinclair's where I had a great hero sandwich; though they are best known for their salads.  Then across the street...there is Tomatino's.  They are known in Montgomery County for the best pizza around.  This neighborhood is packed with places that have been voted the "best of" for somethin' 'r other in the past year, and today I discovered another.  Derk's Filet & Vine.

The place was PACKED.  It was Thursday night at Filet & Vine.  To someone not from the area it doesn't mean much, but to the locals...that means "Wine Tasting" night!!  It started at 4:30, so by the time we rolled in at 5 it was well under way and people sounded....happy.  My Mister and I don't imbibe and we had our son along, or we'd have checked it out.  It looked like quite a nice representation of flavors; dry's and sweet's.  When I asked some of the tasters they had nothing but shining comments, no matter what they were trying.

 Info Board

 Hot Bar

Fabulous Condiments n Such

Wine Rack & Salad Bar

I checked out their menu online before I went in so I didn't hold up the ordering process for my Mister like I usually do.  Turns out, this is buffet style eating, so as soon as I knew what I wanted I was ready to roll.  I had it on good authority that the best thing to try out of all FOUR menus they offer was the Fried Pork Chop from the hot bar menu.  This came with two sides and my choice of cornbread or a dinner roll.  As I strolled down the line getting my food I asked to make sure I was eating somethin' great each time.  "Which is better?  The new potatoes or the mashed with gravy?"  The guy servin' it up didn't hesitate to reply "The new potatoes."  Great....and the next choice wasn't hard at all.  Corn.  I LOVE corn and theirs looked great to me!

I took a bite of their best offering first, the fried pork chop.  Now realize, I was not expecting this to be as great as it was built up to be.  Most fried meats end up over cooked and dismally dry.  Imagine my surprise when I started cutting into this with just a fork and SCORE....so juicy, tender and the flavor of the breading....FABULOUSSSS!  I LOVE it when people put black pepper in their breading and batters.  I despise food that has NO flavor after all the work is put into something to coat it.  The corn...was buttered to the hilt!  Love that too...  The new potatoes were so creamy and soft....this meal really hit all of my "comfort food" places.  This is a meal Paula Deen would adore!  Fried meat...tons of butter on the veggies and out of this WORLD creamy potatoes.

I of course made my way through the store area of this place to check out the shelves of goodies they had to offer.  I saw quite a few brands I didn't recognize.  That's a good thing...I really enjoy trying new things.  My Mister and I picked up a jar of their Bleu Cheese Herb Mustard.  Even that was phenomenal!  Great for pretzels or water crackers with some nice sweet meat.

At first glance when you walk in Filet & Vine looks like an average deli type eatery...order, made...eat-in if you wanna, etc.  But don't be fooled by appearances.  Filet & Vine is great food...like your mom would make for you when you come to visit.  I am going back again to try the fried....anything really.  With plenty of sides to choose from I left FULL, satisfied and enchanted.  All for just $7.95.  Can't beat the price, can't beat the food...can't beat the feeling.  Check them out when you can.

Filet and Vine on Urbanspoon

15 March, 2011


Most people that know me are aware of the fact that I ABHOR "chain" restaurants.  NOW...I TOTALLY get that they got there by being wonderful at what they do OR by having a totally kick butt menu.  I get it, really...I get it.  But, I have seen time and time again establishments that have all the luxury of being able to use the name and then something important is lacking.  Be it service, food quality or overall customer satisfaction.  I could name a couple chains, but you get my point.  I avoid them like the plague.

I had never heard of Zoe's Kitchen.  I'm from Duluth, MN....stationed in Oklahoma City, OK and before that, stationed in O'Fallon, IL....no Zoe's Kitchen for MILES around.  So, I thought I was on the verge of discovering something.  Not so...Zoe's was discovered LONG ago in Birmingham, AL.  From their birth 16 years ago up to now, they have over 45 locations in operation and are about to open another in Tuscaloosa, AL

The vibe you get from the outside looking in is that you're about to walk into an average cafe/bistro type place.  Even in a "cafe" type atmosphere, if they are open evenings, I look for certain things to be JUST right.  I am a lighting freak...it stems from my 15 years experience as a photographer and hating the way studio shots look compared to things taken outside with natural light from the sun.  It makes me itch...don't know why.  I was pleasantly surprised at the contemporary look and feel inside.  You know me...the booth junkie....yeah, they had booths...they had everything.  Tables for 6 or more intimate tables for 2...even BOOTHS for 2...and patio seating for small or large groups as well.  Fabulous!!


Couples Booths

Enough room for a crowd

As soon as I came face to face with the menu it was Indecision 2011 in there.  My Mister never takes too long to figure his gig out, but I always, ALWAYS struggle.  I asked the all important question..."What's your most popular item on the menu?"  The reply was, "Chicken Salad...."  OH, COME ON!!  "A salad?  Really?", I said sheepishly.  "No…it is a sandwich", she replied.  My mind went into overdrive, "Hmmm....I DO love a good chicken salad sandwich.  But, you wanted something warm.  Oh, all this stuff comes with sides too!  Let's see here....beans??  What???  Whatever...  AH HA!  Potato Salad w/ baby reds...NO MAYO....hmmm....that sounds like it'll be a total hit or a total DUD.  I'm gettin' that."  I worked my way to the entree that way.  I settled on the Spinach Roll-Ups and went with the "add Grilled Chicken" option.  It came with fresh salsa on the side

Spinach Roll-Ups w/ Grilled Chicken

First bite...the tortilla wrap was crisp, the chicken was nice and tender; not over cooked, and the sun dried tomato was meaty; providing a sweet undertone to the spinach and mushroom.  I was diggin' it.  I would glance every once in a while at the potato salad, but hadn't payed much attention to it.  I forgot there was no mayo in it.  Silly me...

While we were enjoying our entrees...and I mean we had them for about 4 minutes...the manager on duty came by with 2 platters of food.  Earlier, after I ordered, the manager had given me permission to take some shots inside; sight unseen.  So when he came out and greeted us WITH extra food, I was taken aback.  He brought us 2 items off the side list and 2 of the sandwich fillings....

L-R - Chicken Salad, Braised White Beans and Hummus w/ Pita

We were overwhelmed with the generosity.  When he mentioned the Braised White Beans I had NO problem admitting that when I looked at the menu; everything was Mediterranean and seemed to have a nice fresh, light feel to it; beans just didn't seem to fit.  My mind pictured them....all I could think was "heavy" and didn't look at the beans again.  But I tried those first.  What a pleasant surprise!  The fresh rosemary in them REALLY gave it a deeper dimension of flavor and the sauce wasn't too thick and cumbersome for the beans.  I would order those beans next time...no question.  It had a very smooth taste combination.  Hummus came next...I'm a hummus fanatic.  I love it...but...just like a sister friend of mine, if given access to a container of hummus...you're getting it back empty.  That's why I didn't mess with that...no amount of hummus would have been enough, so I didn't any.  Their hummus was plain, but not grainy and there weren't oodles of chunks all over in it.  Sometimes in restaurant hummus....it can turn into a HOT mess.  The pita chips they served with it had a bit of garlic roasted in which brought the flavor to the bite that the hummus needed.  Zoe's did well with their hummus.   The chicken salad flavors were good, but I had texture issues with it.  The chicken was pulverized.  This makes for a sandwich that won't get all over your shirt during lunch, but it feels weird on my tongue.  My Mister agreed.

In the mean time I started tryin out my "no mayo" potato salad.  It was some of the best potato salad I've ever had.  It was simple, fresh, cool, and light on the tummy.  The real test is the son factor.  My son looked at it from his high chair and pointed...in "toddler speak" this means "I wanna try that Momma."  I indulged the sprout.  He opened wide...chewed, swallowed and wanted MORE.  Our son is as picky of an eater as they come.  The way he reacted to it was "nuff said" for us.  This salad is a winner!  Congrats, you have NO idea how hard it is to please our child....AND his Momma.

L-R - Pimento Cheese, Roasted Fresh Vegetables & Hummus w/ Pita
I didn't try the Pimento Cheese sandwich filling at all.  It just isn't something that appeals to me at all.  My Mister tried it and said that it tasted "kinda like pepper jack" and felt like they added some spice to it for an extra kick making it stand out from your "run-of-the-mill" pimento cheese.  The star of this plate hands down was the Roasted Fresh Vegetables.  All of the vegetables were tender crisp, they tasted like themselves (sometimes when you cook a bunch of veggies together, they can take on the flavor of the stronger items.  ie, carrot might taste a little like broccoli...) and roasting really brought out the natural sweetness and rustic flavors that usually go undiscovered.  Roasting is one of THE best ways to bring out flavor in most veggies, so Zoe's hit that one out of the park!

We were filled to the BRIM when we left last night.  There wasn't room for another single bite.  But they had a dessert menu, you KNOW I looked.  Of course I did.

Ya Ya's Handmade Chocolate Cake & Pita Chips
HUGE Chocolate Chip Cookies & Oatmeal Cookies

Zoe's Kitchen is a place I would frequent if I lived in the Montgomery area year 'round.  Their menu is full of healthy choices, most items are made fresh to order and what is already made is ready up front for you to grab n go if that's what you need.  Zoe's caters, they have tubs of sandwich spreads to go...there's no end to how easy they can make it on you to eat their food at home or on the go.  Don't be a chain hater like I was...try Zoe's out, I bet they'll keep you coming back for more.

Zoe's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

12 March, 2011

Swing and a MISS!

I have privately been getting inundated with requests for reviews on vegan and gluten free foods.  Whether it be offered on menus or bought from a store; the requests ask me to touch on both if at all possible.  I want my readers to know that I honestly DO look on EVERY menu I eat from for vegan and gluten free choices.  But establishments that aren't exclusively set apart as "gluten free" or "vegan" eateries rarely have TRUE gluten free or vegan items, and when they do it is a scant few. 

I searched high and low for my readers and I believe I have found some items that would be fun to try.  In my mind one of the most CHALLENGING parts of a vegan and gluten free menu is the dessert portion.  It is not often I walk away from having FINISHED a piece of gluten free cake and thought to myself "Boy, that was a WINNER!  I'll have to make that for EVERYone I know." or "Geez, that was AWESOME!  I have to tell Marisa about that place, she'd LOVE it."  Yeah, didn't happen in this case either.

I'll begin with what has been deemed the "vegan Twinkie".  Otherwise known to the people at X's & O's Vegan Bakery as "Canoe Boats".  Whether it be "boats" or "twinkies", I was intrigued.  Although trying to remain healthy, they have come up with a dessert type snack that is a TOTAL waste of nutritional space.  But, sometimes...isn't that the point?  Yeah, of COURSE it is!

Meet the star of the show...

Strawberries & Cream Canoe Boats

Ingredients List (also listed on their website)

I tried the Strawberries and Cream Canoe Boats first.  The thought of strawberry flavored twinkie-type guts sounded GREAT.....at the time.  Ooey, gooey, creamy strawberry goodness; lovingly encased in airy golden cake.  Mmmm....sounds good huh?  I wish that's what I would have gotten when I bit into my canoe.

*I should preface my tasting with the fact that these were ordered off the internet.  I of course did NOT drive all the way to X's and O's up in New York.  But, I'm starting to think, this may be the only way for them to taste "good".....moving on.

First bite....HOLY dense cake Batman!  It was SO thick....and sad enough, dry.  *Half glass of water* (When I bite into something for the first time I take micro bites, especially with anything filled.  To get a proper impression of the item as a whole I first pick the layers of flavor apart, then reconstruct for my brain by taking normal bites of whatever.  Then I am mish-mashing the flavors together as the creator meant the whole package to be experienced.)  

I stuck my finger into the "filling".  It was no longer filling...it was sludge.  I IMAGINE this was supposed to be a light, fluffy whitish-pinkish confection, kind of...floating...in the middle of this cake.  But it had turned into a puddle of goo.  I'm not certain if this was in transit, as a part of consequence for my 2-day shipping or if we were dealing with amateur baking here.  My mind was leaning towards "amateur" because of the consistency of the cakes.

Frankly, even when I tried the filling and cake separate from one another...there was no strawberry flavor anywhere in the mix.  There was no flavor at all.  None...not even "cake".  Yellow cake has a distinct buttery flavor.  (Now before all the vegans get on their bandwagons with their celery spears or whatever...realize, I KNOW vegans don't consume eggs, dairy, meat or honey...which means any "butter flavor" would have been an extract.  I get it....really I DO.  I eat vegan foods quite often.)  There was no hint of ANY flavor.  Not even FLOUR.  It was pretty odd....

I of course would only recommend you try this product in an effort to blow my review out of the water.  Which...I TOTALLY welcome.  Go for it.  I've entertained the thought I got a "bad batch" or that shipping it just isn't an option for that particular item.  But, shouldn't they know that?  Not offer it, even on a 2 day ship then?

Sad enough, this is just the tip of my disappointment iceberg I fear.  For, I went NUTS and ordered 1 of every kind of "canoe" they offered.  >.< Oops...  My Mister always warns me about that.  But HEY...maybe the Vanilla, Cookies n Cream and Carrot Cake Canoe Boats don't taste like.....dense, flavorless cardboard.  Maybe...

Here's hoping....

AND...here is YOUR chance readers!  In the comments section or through email, let me know what products you have been wanting to try, but just haven't yet.  I'm willing to try just about anything that isn't sweetened with refined sugars.  Don't ask me to try that, I can't have refined sugars.  But, gluten free, vegan, organic, vegetarian....lemme know!  The world is our oyster...and yeah, I'll eat those too!

X's to O's Vegan Bakery on Urbanspoon

09 March, 2011

Chugga, Chugga; TOOT, TOOT! ALL Aboard!!

If you've ever been to Montgomery, AL there is a VERY good chance you've heard of a place called Lek's Railroad Thai.  I wasn't even HERE in Montgomery yet and friends were telling me "You HAVE to go to Lek's!  It is REALLY the BEST Thai I've ever had."  Being a military wife, my friends are largely active duty military people and their spouses that travel the world as part of their job and military lifestyle.  So of course, hearing a comment like that really gets me interested.  I think to myself..."Wow, they've traveled ALL over the stinkin' place and they are tellin' me the BEST Thai is in Alabama??  Jump back!"

After just a small amount of local research I discovered Lek's name is on PLENTY of people's lips as a "MUST eat" when you're here; even for an overnight trip.  Located in the heart of downtown Montgomery, on Water Street; Lek's shares space in the historic Union Station building with the Visitor's Center for the City of Montgomery.  Personally, I find that rather telling.  When you share a space with a bureau that is meant to enlighten and direct visitors towards the BEST their city has to offer, you're a big deal.

When we walked in I went to work talking to the owner.  I wanted to make sure I was going to be eating the very best of what Lek's had to offer.  Their menu was detailed and had a wonderful variety of representative Thai dishes.  He directed me towards their spring rolls and Pad Thai.  He explained to me I may find it was a tad on the wet side, but that was in response to customer feedback over a long period of time.  He was VERY gracious and humble as he talked with me and my Mister about his food; then, gave me carte blanche to walk where I may and take pictures of his beautiful establishment.

Fountain at the Entrance


Specials Board

Beautiful Tables

Contemporary Bar Area

Wall Art

Room Decor

I ordered spring rolls, Tom Kha and Pad Thai.  I was really in the mood for something fried so before he even recommended the rolls, they were on the list.  Before we came in I could smell rain in the air, when I smell rain my tummy says "Soup, please?", so a cup of Tom Kha was added.

Spring Rolls w/ Peanut Sauce

Tom Kha

The spring rolls were crispy, refreshing and the black pepper really gave them a bold feel to balance against the sweet peanut dipping sauce.  They were a very nice compliment to the meal as a whole, so the recommendation was appreciated.

My Tom Kha was....magical.  There were so MANY flavor layers going on, but I could easily deconstruct it with my palate.  There was a constant sweet from the coconut milk that was tamed by the scallions, lemon grass and tangy slices of tomato and hint of lime.  After eating it I wished I would have left if for my dessert.  It was SO creamy and fabulous.  A DEFINITE must for anyone that likes a fine, sophisticated soup to compliment their meal.  Ordering only a cup rather than a whole bowl was a great idea; a tease, but satisfying.  My mouth was on edge waiting to try my Pad Thai!

Pad Thai w/ Chicken

Side of Rice

I weighed my spice options very carefully when ordering this dish.  I had a bad experience before with spice scale at another Thai place in Ohio, so when discussing their spice scale with the owner I decided on "medium".  I LOVE spice, but I didn't want it to turn into all out WAR between some of the other typical, strong flavors in Pad Thai.  I chose wisely.  The spice was perfect and stayed in the background where it belonged.  It complimented the sprouts so well and really brought out the natural flavor of the egg (which was a pleasant surprise).  I would have liked it more traditional with less sauce, but...with the rice to round it out, the extra sauce didn't stop me from absolutely adoring this dish.  I would order it again without a second thought.  Everything worked in conjunction with each other to create a really strong, pleasing and filling entree.  This is available with vegetables, chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, seafood combination and also a combination of ALL 4 of the meats.  I believe this dish will perform just as solidly with vegetables alone; Pad Thai w/ Vegetables is how I'll order next time.  Yummy!

FINALLY!!  A Thai place that lived up to ALL the hype, all the GUSHING and all the praise I'd been hearing.  Lek's is a guaranteed Thai treat for the most discerning Asian palates.  A gem way down in the deep south of sweet Montgomery, Alabama.  If you happen to be staying for a day or two, stopping over for the night or even JUST driving through at the lunch or dinner hour, stop in and see what Lek's has to offer.  Thanks for the tip Jose & Amanda, we appreciate it.  Lek's was a real bright spot during our stay and a place we will be going every time we're here in Montgomery!

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