Monday, August 3, 2015

Milo's Hamburgers: An Alabama Original


When Milo Carlton opened Milo's Hamburger Shop on 31st Street and 12th Avenue North in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, he probably had no idea how beloved his hamburgers would become. And not just the burgers! Milo's sweet tea and French fries are equally loved partners to the saucy burgers. The concept is simple, the menu is simple, the items on the menu are simple, but somehow it all works. Since opening in 1946, Milo's Hamburgers  has achieved iconic status that reaches far beyond the borders of its hometown. 

                              

                              

The only items on the menu are two entrees: burgers or chicken, two sides: fries or coleslaw, three shakes, three fried pies, five sauces, soft drinks and tea. There are four versions of burgers: hamburger, cheeseburger, double hamburger and double cheeseburger. The burgers can be ordered by themselves, in a combo meal with fries or slaw and a drink, or there is a Mega Meal, which is a double cheeseburger, super-sized fries and drink, plus a fried pie. 

The chicken menu includes 3 or 4 pieces of hand breaded fried or slow marinated grilled chicken tenders, alone or in a combo meal with fries and a drink. Chicken sandwiches are also offered fried or grilled, alone or in a combo meal. 

Shakes are chocolate, vanilla or strawberry and fried pies are peach, lemon or apple. The fried pies are reminiscent of McDonald's hot, crunchy, puffy rectangular pies served up in a cardboard sleeve. 

                               
Sauces include Milo's Original, Boom Boom, Ranch, Double O and Honey Mustard. Beverages are soft drinks or tea, sweet, unsweetened or with Splenda. 

That's the entire menu. Because Milo's does not focus on an extensive menu, they can devote time to making the items they have as consistent and well made as they can be. Milo's understands that the limited menu is not for everyone, but they are totally okay with that. A Milo's customer is completely devoted to the simple concept. They don't come to Milo's for variety. They come for consistency and the unique, saucy flavors of Milo's burgers. 

                             

The burgers are just as uncomplicated as the menu. Again, you probably won't come to Milo's if your idea of a burger is more salad and veggie toppings than meat. A Milo's burger consists of a grilled hamburger patty smothered in Milo's original sauce, which, as nearly as I can tell, is a barbecue type sauce. The sauce is not sweet, not spicy, not tangy, not bold, but it is uniquely Milo's. It has a deep, rich flavor, that I am unable to describe any other way.  It is served on a grilled bun with chopped onions and dill pickles. No, you are not getting lettuce or tomato, but you can get a slice of cheese, if you like.

Milo's fries are crinkle cut and dusted with an original Milo's seasoning. If you have ever looked through a bag of barbecue potato chips for that one chip with the most seasoning, you have an idea of what Milo's fries are like. Seriously, I dig through the fries to find that perfect fry completely dusted in that delicious orange seasoning. 


Milo's is also famous for their sweet tea. Honestly, in other restaurants I will order unsweetened tea or even half sweet/half unsweetened, but when I go to Milo's I order the sweet tea without blinking. It is so perfect. Milo's tea has such a following, they now sell all three varieties by the gallon in grocery stores, not only in Alabama, but also in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida and Illinois. 

                              

The only area of real variety at Milo's involves the sauces. Milo's is all about the sauce and they prove it with five different flavors. The original Milo's sauce is the same sauce that drenches every burger. Boom Boom sauce is a spicy orange concoction reminiscent of a spicy remoulade. The ranch sauce is creamy and cool. Double O is a mixture of ranch and original. Finally, Milo's offers their own version of honey mustard.  JD likes to add Double O to his burger. Rob and I like to dip our fries in Boom Boom and Double O. 



Milo's has fifteen restaurants, primarily in the Birmingham area. Locals are very familiar with the iconic restaurant. If you are traveling through Birmingham, you should definitely try out this unique burger. There truly is nothing else like it.  

                             

Three Friends and a Fork are proud to give Milo's Hamburgers 3 Saucy Yums UP!



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yep, We're Hooked on Bonefish Grill's Hooked on Tuesday Menu!


Disclosure: I received a gift card to try the Hooked on Tuesday menu at Bonefish Grill in exchange for this review. No demands were made on what the review would contain and all opinions are 100% my own.


When Bonefish Grill contacted me about trying out their new Hooked on Tuesday menu, I was only too happy to cooperate. Even though I usually try to keep my reviews to smaller, one of a kind restaurants, Bonefish is a chain with which I am happy to associate. Since 2009, when the restaurant first opened in Huntsville, it has been one of our favorite places to dine. Honestly, we really were hooked the first time we bit into Bang Bang Shrimp all those years ago. Now it seems like every restaurant has a version of Bang Bang Shrimp on the menu, but I always think of the appetizer at Bonefish as the original. 

                            

There were four of us ready to check out the new menu, Scott, JD, Rob and me. We pulled into the parking lot and headed through Bonefish's revolving door thinking we would have the place pretty much to ourselves, since it was a rainy Tuesday night, after all. We could not have been more wrong! The place was packed! I was really happy we had reservations. The new Hooked on Tuesday menu must be having the desired effect! Since we were a few minutes early, our hostess gave us a buzzer and we headed out to the sidewalk to wait. We didn't have to wait long, though, before our buzzer beckoned us to head on in, where we were quickly seated. Our waiter promptly showed up to take our drink orders and the boys wasted no time in ordering an appetizer of...you guessed it...Bang Bang Shrimp. 


I had seen a large banner outside for a watermelon martini. It looked so pretty and delicious, I could not resist checking it out for real. Good call, because it was just as pretty, and tasty, in person. The fresh Watermelon Icicle Aphrodisiac Martini was a cool concoction of  hand muddled watermelon, fresh homemade sour, a house-made cucumber vodka infusion and watermelon ice cubes. It was refreshing.

The Pin-up

                         
The Real Deal

The Hooked on Tuesday menu consists of three courses: salad, entree and dessert. There are two choices for salad, either the Bonefish house salad or a Caesar salad. Scott and I got house salads and the boys both got Caesar salads. The Bonefish house salad is one of my favorite salads, so much so that I used it as my inspiration for my Palm Beach Salad recipe. I love the pine nuts, crunchy romaine and hearts of palm, drizzled with the sweet, citrusy dressing. The boys loved their Caesar salads, too.

House Salad

Caesar Salad

Along with our salads, our server (who was wonderful, by the way) brought out a crusty loaf of bread with herby olive oil for dipping. We enjoyed it so much, he had to bring out a second loaf! 


The entrees on the Hooked on Tuesday menu are divided into three price points. Coming in at $14.90 are a 6 oz. Atlantic Salmon, Spicy Tuna Bowl and the 6 oz. Angler's Steak. JD chose the Spicy Tuna Bowl from this group. He asked for the rice in the bowl to be omitted, which our server was more than happy to accommodate. I am always amazed when JD orders a bowl of anything, because he is one of those people who eats one item on his plate at a time. I wasn't sure how much he was going to like a bowl of mixed up ingredients, but I worried for no reason. The bowl came out with all the components separate and ready for the diner to mix, so it was perfect for JD. He ate each component separately and loved it. He enjoyed dipping the spicy tuna into the sweet passion fruit salsa, too.


Ahi Tuna Steak, Cold Water Lobster Tail and Fontina Pork Chop were the offerings at the next price point of $17.90. Rob chose the lobster tail. His colorful plate came with au gratin potatoes, mixed grilled vegetables dusted with parmesan cheese, a grilled lemon and butter in a tiny little flamed sauce warmer. Rob's said he really liked his beautiful dinner. 


The final price category included Sea Scallops + Shrimp, Pecan Parmesan Crusted Rainbow Trout and a 6 oz. Filet Mignon. Scott and I both made our selections from this group. Scott chose the filet and I had the scallops and shrimp. 

I was trying to decide which of Bonefish's delicious sauces to pair with my shellfish and was thinking of either mango salsa or lime tomato garlic. I asked our server and he recommended the Pan Asian sauce, so I went with his suggestion. It was a very good call! I love the slightly sweet sauce with the salty seafood. Our server was also super accommodating when I requested grilled asparagus rather than the mixed vegetables. Additionally, my dinner came with a side of creamy mashed potatoes. I loved everything on my plate, but by this point I was already so stuffed there was no way I could eat all this food. Not to worry! JD polished off his tuna bowl and my plate as well!


Scott said his filet was delicious. He chose the au gratin potatoes and steamed broccoli to go along with his dinner. When his plate was accidentally delivered with the mixed vegetables rather than broccoli, the staff was super nice and more than happy to make the correction. I had plenty of asparagus on my plate to share, so Scott had some asparagus, too. Doesn't the plate look so healthy with all that green? 


I know you are thinking by this point that we have had plenty of food, but with the Hooked on Tuesday menu, we still had dessert to tackle. There were three choices on the menu: Macadamia Nut Brownie, Classic Cheesecake and Jen's Jamaican Coconut Pie. Scott and Rob chose the brownie, which was served with creamy vanilla ice cream and fluffy sweet whipping cream, sitting in a puddle of raspberry sauce and brilliantly topped with toasted macadamias. Yummy!


JD and I had decided to get Jen's Jamaican Coconut Pie, but apparently this was a super popular choice, because it was all gone by the time we got to dessert. The manager came out to apologize and offer to replace our dessert with any of the dessert items on the regular menu. JD ended up with a key lime pie, tart and creamy with a roasted pecan crust, and I chose a Summer Berry Shortcake. My shortcake was a sweet biscuit, piled high with whipping cream, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries and drizzled with crème anglaise. It was gorgeous and I loved all the berries. I still want to go back and try that coconut pie! 

JD's Key Lime Pie
My Summer Berry Shortcake
Bonefish Grill's Hooked on Tuesday menu is flexible, delicious and, if the crowd we saw is any indication, working. It is a great value for the amount of food you get. We enjoyed all three of our generous courses and everyone of us left full and happy. Our server and the rest of the staff at the Huntsville location, with their helpful suggestions and willingness to make accommodations and substitutions, made the tasty food even more enjoyable. You should definitely swim on over to Bonefish Grill and check out the Hooked on Tuesday menu. I bet you will be hooked, too!

                            

Three Friends and a Fork are Hooked On this new Tuesday Menu and happily give Bonefish Grill 3 Stuffed Yums UP!

                             





Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Say, "Konnichiwa", to Edo Japanese Restaurant




On a recent trip to Huntsville to run a few errands, JD, Rob and I had a spirited debate about where we should eat lunch, and by spirited, I mean it involved a championship round of paper, rock, scissors. We were each playing for our choice. Rob is lately on an oysters kick, so he was wanting to go back to Wintzell's or Cajun Steamer. I wanted to check out a burger joint called, Smash Burger. JD had his heart set on Japanese cuisine. I am still not exactly sure how we ended up at Edo Japanese Restaurant in Madison, because I won the aforementioned paper, rock, scissors war. I think Rob is still a little perplexed as well. 

 

Edo Japanese Restaurant opened its doors in 1988, so it has longevity going for it. We figured that was a good sign. Ir is a bit hard to find, because it sits off by itself behind a strip mall. But aided by Google Maps, we managed to wend our way into the Edo parking lot. We were seated in a booth as soon as we entered Edo's doors and our servers quickly took drink orders. 




We also chose an order of Nightbane sushi as an appetizer. Nightbane is rolled with shrimp tempura, crab stick, avocado and cucumber on the inside and topped with fresh salmon, tempura crumbs, sesame seeds and spicy mayo. The entire roll is then plopped down in a puddle of Edo's hot and sweet sauce laced with a spicy roe. If you don't remember another thing from this post, remember this one word...Nightbane. This is far and away the best sushi I have ever put in my mouth and I will go back to Edo for this and this alone. Sadly, of the 8 slices on the plate, I only got one of them. The two little pigs I was with devoured them before I could go back for a second slice. Yes, it was THAT good! Nightbane hit all the flavor notes, sweet, salty, spicy, umami. Delicious! JD, who has had much more sushi than I, said Nightbane was the best sushi he has ever had on the mainland. 

                            

This was what our plate looked like when we finished the sushi roll, but it is not what it looked like by the time the server took it away. See that puddle of sauce and roe? It was all gone by the time the plate was removed. In fact, it looked pretty clean by the time we finished with it.
With our appetizer out of the way, we were ready to dig into our Japanese favorite...salad with ginger dressing! Edo did not disappoint. In fact, we really liked Edo's version of the classic ginger dressing. It was much less creamy, lighter, and even more flavorful than others we have tried. 



For our entrees, JD and I decided to build our own plates with some al a carte choices. Rob chose to go sushi all the way. JD's plate consisted of sliced ribeye, shrimp and vegetable tempura and gyoza. My plate combined shrimp tempura, gyoza and spring rolls. JD said his ribeye was tender and delicious. It was all good, but none of it rose to the tastiness of that Nightbane roll. Did I mention it was THAT good?


                           

Rob ordered more sushi and even though JD had built a plate, he also got some more sushi. Their choices included spicy tuna roll, spider roll, crunchy shrimp roll, scallop tempura roll and a Mars roll. The Mars roll had crab stick, avocado and green onion rolled up and topped with tuna, yellowtail and fiery red habanero flavored smelt roe. JD liked the Mars roll best, but Rob favored the crunchy shrimp and scallop rolls. All of us agreed none of them were as stellar as the Nightbane roll. Have I told you just how good that was?
                           

On an extra happy note, Asian cuisine, as much as I like it, often it does not like me and I find myself in great pain after a meal of Chinese, Japanese or Thai food. The food at Edo left me with no such discomfort. I was really excited about that! 

                           
Three Friends and a Fork give Edo Japanese Restaurant 3 Delicious Yums UP....especially that fabulous Nightbane roll. If you visit Edo, do not forget to order a Nightbane roll all for yourself. You will thank me!

Food from Fiction: A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet Green Beans




Three Friends and a Fork recently received an irresistible invitation and a challenge from the bloggers of Marie, Let's Eat and the Association of Food Bloggers. The invitation was to participate in blog hop called, Food from Fiction, and the challenge was to read a book, cook something to go along with the book and blog about the book and recipe.

This is an idea that has intrigued me for some time. I, personally, own a book called, Read It and Eat, by Sarah Gardner. The premise of Read It and Eat is a twist on the traditional book club. Instead of just meeting with book club members to discuss each book (discussion questions are included), the author suggests serving dishes inspired by the reading selection.  Gardner offers four books for each month, plus four additional books, fifty-two books for an entire year of weekly book club meetings. One of the books for August is To Kill a Mockingbird, which was almost my choice for this challenge. With her recently published new book, Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee would have been a timely selection for this exercise. The recipes Gardner proposed for To Kill a Mockingbird are Miss Maudie's Famous Lane Cake and Boo Radley's Butterscotch Bars. It was tempting, I tell you! One of my favorite lines in To Kill a Mockinbird is when Scout says, “Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight.” 

Unfortunately, while butterscotch bars sounded delicious, I am not a big Lane cake fan (with or without shinny) and I was really wanting to read something by a new (to me) author. After canvassing my friends, I settled on the book A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet, by Sophie Hudson. My friend, Kim, highly recommended this book and she was a little aghast that it had not already crossed my reading radar. Shame is a big motivator for me, apparently, because A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet was the book I chose.

The author, Sophie Hudson, is a fellow southerner, raised in Mississippi and currently living in Alabama. Her book is a series of stories any southerner would find familiar. She talks about growing up around the dinner table, listening to the adults in her family talk. The stories they told are the stories that found their way into A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. The tales are, funny, sweet, full of faith and quirky, in the way all southern families are quirky. Seriously, if we were able to take out the names of Sophie's family members and replace them with the names of our own family members, we could comfortably pull up a chair to Sophie's family table and feel right at home. Sophie's Aunt Choxie and Uncle Joe could easily become our own Aunt Minnies and Uncle Hermans, because we would be listening to tales eerily similar to the stories we grew up with. For instance, at one point, Sophie utters something so ridiculous and offending that her mother and aunt look at her as if she "had horns covered in white satin and seed pearls growing out of my head". What southern daughter has not received that look from her mother at some point?

And the food? Every dish placed on the table in this book is a dish we have found on our own southern groaning boards. Fried chicken, black-eyed peas, deviled eggs, homemade rolls, pound cake, Italian cream cake, boiled shrimp, and mashed potatoes are all foods we understand just as well as we understand the terms, "Hey, y'all!" and "Bless her heart!" No tandoori or falafel here! These recipes, just like the tone of the book, are straight up southern classics.

One of the recipes in the book is called, Green Beans Y'all Won't Believe. Uh, yes, Sophie, I would believe, because my family has a recipe that is very similar. I could not resist making both so that I could compare the two. Ok, I could not resist making sure that my beans were better than Sophie's, but I do not want to imply that I am competitive at all. Well, maybe just a tad. While both recipes are delicious and nearly the same, I think my family's bean recipe is the best. Of course, that is just the way we are in the South. Our mama's recipes are always the best. Truthfully, I just happen to like onions in my beans rather than almonds, but I will let you all be the judge. Here are both recipes, Sophie's Green Beans Y'all Won't Believe and My Family's Sweet and Sour Green Beans. What are you waiting for? Get busy and let me know what YOU think!

For either recipe, start by preparing the bacon. Bacon is a big contributor to the flavor in both recipes and a big reason Sophie calls her recipe, Green Beans Y'all Won't Believe. Take it from me and make the cooking of the bacon easy by baking it in the oven. Just line a large baking sheet with heavy duty foil, place a rack in the pan and lay the bacon out flat on top of the rack. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes until bacon is crispy.

Now you are ready to gather the other ingredients. Both recipes call for canned whole green beans, white vinegar, sugar and bacon grease. The main difference in the two recipes is that Sophie's beans call for sliced or slivered almonds and 6 cans of beans and my family's version calls for chopped onion and 3 cans of green beans.

Both recipes start with canned whole green beans, bacon, sugar, vinegar and bacon grease.


1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 T. reserved bacon grease
6 cans whole green beans, drained
6 T. sugar
6 T. white vinegar
2 pkg. slivered almonds

Sophie's recipe has almonds and calls for 6 cans of beans.
Place beans in casserole dish. Mix bacon grease, sugar and vinegar over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle bacon on top of beans and pour liquid mixture over all. Garnish with slivered almonds. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. 

My Family's Sweet and Sour Green Beans



3 (16 oz.) cans whole green beans
1 medium onion, chopped
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. bacon grease (a smaller amount works very well and olive oil can be substituted to make the dish a tad healthier)

My recipe calls for 3 cans of green beans and 1 chopped onion.
Place a layer of beans in a flat casserole dish, then a layer of onion and a layer of bacon. Repeat layers. Combine vinegar, sugar and bacon grease (or olive oil) and pour mixture over beans and bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then cover with foil and cook an additional 30 minutes. Yields 8 servings.

You really cannot go wrong with either one of these indulgent recipes. While I would not encourage you to make either recipe on a daily or weekly basis, they are delicious for special family get togethers. And for more book inspired recipes, be sure to check out the other Food From Fiction choices in this blog hop. Thanks for stopping by!

You can get a PRINTABLE copy of both recipes HERE.
This post is one in a series of FOOD FROM FICTION recipes organized by the Association of Food Bloggers. If you enjoyed this recipe, please hop to the next in the series!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Cajun Steamer is Spicing Up Downtown Huntsville






One of the best food destinations in the world is New Orleans. Our family loves the fresh seafood and spicy Cajun and Creole flavors of the Crescent City. Since we can't always hop in the car and head to New Orleans every time we need a Cajun kick, we are happy when a new Big Easy style eatery opens up nearby. The Cajun Steamer is Huntsville's latest restaurant to offer the cuisine we love and we've been eager to check it out.


Rob and I got the opportunity on a recent trip to the Rocket City. The Cajun Steamer is located on Pelham Avenue in the new Twickenham Square development in downtown Huntsville. First of all, let me say, parking is tricky. We first tried to pull into a nearby parking deck. We had a handicapped sticker due to my recent foot surgery and since I was still in a boot, we hoped to be able to find a space close to the restaurant. Unfortunately, the entire bottom floor of the parking deck was dedicated to the Publix grocery store. Since this was our first time and we weren't sure how easy it would be to get from the higher levels of the deck to the restaurant, we chose to leave the parking deck and try to find a parking space on the street. After circling the block a few times, we finally found a handicapped parking space right in front of the restaurant. I was very grateful for that nearby parking spot.


We hobbled (well, I hobbled, Rob fairly ran) into the restaurant and were quickly seated in the bright, open dining area. The place was doing a pretty brisk lunchtime business, but that didn't keep our server from quickly bringing menus and taking our drink orders.


After studying the menus, we decided to get started with a smoked yellowfin tuna dip appetizer and we were so happy we did. It was smoky and delicious. We smeared it over crackers, drizzled it with Tiger Sauce, and ate every bite. We were off to a great start.



Rob and I both chose oysters for our entrees. He went with a dozen char-broiled oysters topped with garlic herb seasoning, melted butter and parmesan cheese. His bivalves were accompanied by steamed corn on the cob and new potatoes. He said the oysters were really good and that must have been true, because they were all devoured.


Rob's oysters also came with a side of hushpuppies with ranch dressing for dipping. They were so good! I am surprised the Cajun Steamer doesn't add them to their appetizer choices. They were spicy and light, not heavy at all and wonderful dipped into the creamy ranch sauce. Seriously, if you order a sandwich that doesn't come with hushpuppies, as I did, you should definitely ask your server to bring you a few of these little nuggets.


I settled on a broke (half-size) oyster po'boy with seasoned curly fries. The oysters were piled high onto a chunk of French bread with lettuce, sliced tomato and creole mustard. Coated in a cornmeal crust, my oysters were well prepared, fried, but not greasy at all. The only thing I would have preferred would have been a little more lettuce and tomato and perhaps some pickles and onion. The oysters were delicious, I just like a bit more of a salad-y crunch on my po'boy. I also enjoyed the spicy curly fries. I mean, who doesn't like a curly fry?


We couldn't resist ending our meal by checking out the Cajun Steamer's version of bread pudding. Take note, this is a large dessert. Unless you can eat a lot of  bread pudding, I suggest you do as Rob and I did and share it with someone. Even with the two of us sharing, Rob and I still had to ask for a to-go box, because were unable to finish the whole thing. The dense pecan studded bread pudding arrived at our table sitting in a puddle of rich caramel bourbon sauce, nestled next to a fluffy pile of sweet whipped cream. We loved it. Sometimes the sauce for bread pudding can be spiked to the point of overwhelming the entire dish, but not this one. The caramel bourbon sauce was deee-licious. I had to resist the urge to lick the sauce off the plate.


Altogether, Rob and I enjoyed our maiden voyage on the Cajun Steamer and we will definitely be coming back to try more selections in the future. In the meantime, you should make plans to check it out for yourself. Let us know what you think!

Three Friends and a Fork give Cajun Steamer 3 spicy Yums UP!