Blogging from Bham. The food blog conference is in full swing, and after a day of intensive food photography and styling and a pretty sweet preparty, complete with pimiento and chicken ‘n’ waffles, I’m really looking forward to the main events tomorrow.
Today at the conference, I got to meet a ton of other food writers and photographers. One of them is a restaurant reviewer, and we were talking about how tricky writing reviews can be, especially if you know the owners or chefs of the place you’re writing about. I was telling her how, even though I feel like I have a lot of opinions (understatement of the year) about restaurants, I also think there is some kind of “restaurant karma” preventing me from giving any other restaurant bad press, or any press at all for that matter. If I say anything that could be interpreted as negative about another place, who’s to stop the food industry fates from cursing me? That’s not fun for anyone.
Also, a lot of times it feels like Reviewers vs. Reviewees: Smackdown. I think that most people who have ever owned or managed a restaurant will tell you that the thought of reading restaurant reviews makes them a little itchy. It’s not that they don’t want people talking about their restaurants–they most certainly do–but, we’re all familiar with those Yelp reviews that start with, “I arrived at 7 on Friday and they wouldn’t let me in even though I had a 7:30 reservation!” or those that say, “I ordered the chicken pasta and asked them to hold half the ingredients and it was so bland!” Still, reviews are important, and it feels great when you get a good one and know that you’ve really given someone a great experience.
Luckily, I don’t have any negatives to pass along about my experience at Veranda on Highland. It was just the type of place I was hoping to find. I swung by last night, and they tucked me into a warm corner of the bar, where I had a great perch for people-watching. The atmosphere was cozy and classy, with lots of wood and high ceilings, but not too hipster with exposed brick and unfinished wood tables and all that. Mismatched silverware, but not a Mason jar in sight. The service was so friendly too — they had more of a French style of service, where lots of different people come visit you instead of just one server. And even though the joint is so classy, and honestly a bit of a splurge, they were really nice about serving me a half-glass of wine since I was driving (the most tasty rosé) and replenishing my silverware when I kept mixing up the forks.
Here’s what I got:
The combination of eggs, beets, greens and cheese is all I needed, really. Great portion. Perfectly seasoned. There were more daring salads on the menu, but I needed room for what was coming next.
This tiny personal cornbread in my own special cast iron was not only cute and welcoming, but also filled with the cloudiest, lightest cornbread I’ve ever had.
Chicken and Dumplings
Inspired by classic chicken and dumpling soup, this version included potato gnocchi, leeks, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and even a bit of kale. The chicken was super juicy, and the skin was just as crispy as it looks. Also a very successful gnocchi, in my opinion. Starchy in that satisfying way, but not gummy or heavy.
Coffee Crème Brulée with Caramel Corn, Slivered Almonds, and Cocoa Sponge
I ate every bit of this. The turned out crème brulée made for way more surface area for browning than a traditional potted brulée, and the caramel corn was just kind of shamelessly indulgent. Somehow it came off as light and refreshing. Winning.
That’s all for now! Check out this recent behind-the-scenes video about Veranda on Highland.