Tag Archives: Restaurants

Restaurant Showcase: Food Studio B

Sandwiches like the Cubano Monday special at Food Studio B in Chelsea are served on house-made bread with a salad of seasonal vegetables and your choice of house-made dressings. Photos by Madoline Markham.

Food Studio B owner and chef Sean Butler carves a teres major cut of beef for a paleo meal from their new Chelsea location.

Sean Butler is carving meat amidst shelves of dried fruit, nuts and labels for his snack food lines when I walk into Food Studio B to interview him.

Butler speaks fast, rattling off the farmers he knows and how they fit into his vision for the new space. A man from Rora Farms in Coosa County walks in to deliver eggs. Butler points out his one and only shelf of dried goods. His focus is obvious: Make food from scratch and foster community.

“We want to sit down with our customers and get to know them,” said Butler, who has lived in Chelsea since 2006.

The café, located in the former Chelsea Café location behind the BP on Highway 280, had a soft opening in March and is now serving salads, sandwiches, soups and specials daily—as well as homemade desserts—on weekdays.

Lunch and breakfast are only the start of Butler’s vision for the storefront to be a market, bakery and café.

“We want to be a one stop shop for all things food,” he said.

Continue reading


Restaurant Showcase: Black Market Bar

The Greek Egg Rolls are a popular menu item at Black Market Bar at the Colonnade. Photos by Madoline Markham.


Black Market Bar is, in a word, eclectic.

The covered patio begs passersby to stop in for happy hour drink specials and an order of Baked Feta to share.

Inside the Colonnade storefront, things are darker. The walls—just like the bar name—are throwbacks to film noir. Painted skateboards, posters from 1950s B movies, pinup girls, and art by Birmingham’s Megan Kimber and tattoo artist Kele Sparrowhawk fill the vertical space. Often visitors want to buy art off the walls, but the owners say it’s not for sale.

“This is us,” said co-owner Elise Youngblood, who is also an artist, of the walls at Black Market. “Our houses look like this, too.”

All the employees except Youngblood have tattoos.

Black Market Bar owners George Cowgill and Elise Youngblood.

Unlike the owners’ first bar, Speakeasy, located downtown, Black Market has a full kitchen. It’s worth a visit for the bar or brunch menu alone. Continue reading

Black Pearl Asian Cuisine: Restaurant Showcase



Black Pearl’s Mongolian Beef with rice. Photo by Madoline Markham.

If you look past Taziki’s, Baja Burger, Pablo’s and Edgar’s in the quick-casual dining selection at the Colonnade, you’ll find Black Pearl. It’s Asian food, but it’s not a buffet. You order at the counter, and they make all their dishes to order with fresh meat and crisp veggies.

The soup and egg roll that arrive before your entree make a quick, casual meal feel more like relaxing sit-down dining. Plus, two courses for $8 or $9 total, depending on the kind of meat you choose, both more than fills you up and leave you feeling like you got a lot of quality food for your money.

We tried the Mongolian Beef and Sesame Honey Seared Chicken, two of their most popular dishes. We liked how the beef was tender, flavorful and mixed with fresh onions and green onions and how the sesame chicken was slightly sweeter than your average version of the dish. Continue reading

Iron City Chef Saturday at Jeff State

On Saturday, July 16, four area chefs will face off in an Iron City Chef competition at Jefferson State Community College’s Shelby Campus by Spain Park High School. The event is sponored by the Vestavia Hills Rotary Club and begins at 6 p.m. in the  Culinary & Hospitality Institute.

The chef lineup includes Haller Magee of Satterfield’s, Angela Schmidt of Chef U, Clifton Holt of Little Savannah and returning champion Tom Robey of Veranda.

There will be live music by the Sweet Licks and a wine tasting by Western Supermarkets. There will also be silent auction.

Tickets are $55 per person and can be ordered on the event’s website, www.rotarytoast.org. For corporate tables, call 913-1941.

Brava Rotisserie Grill: Restaurant Showcase


Brava Rotisserie Grill

A half rotisserie chicken with Brava’s fries and side green salad. Photo by Madoline Markham.

What exactly is a rotisserie grill? It’s flavorful. It’s fast. It’s family friendly. It’s affordable. Perhaps best of all, it’s real food that’s good for you.

It’s slow-cooked chicken so moist, tender and full of subtle Mediterranean flavor that people come in and order it by itself. It’s lean pork loin and grilled shrimp flavored with the same seasonings as the chicken. It’s the option to get any of these meats on a plate, in a salad or on a sandwich with unbelievably fresh and flavorful sides.

The smell of rotisserie chicken cooking fresh all day long has lured people into Brava Rotisserie Grill’s location in Valleydale Village shopping center a few doors to the right of Publix. Continue reading

Busy Bee Burgers: Restaurant Spotlight


Busy Bee Burgers

Busy Bee Burgers owner Johnny Colafrancesco

Busy Bee Burger’s location is inconspicuous. You can easily miss it hidden in BP station across Highway 280 from Winn-Dixie in Chelsea. Order off the menu and you’ll see why owner Johnny Colafrancesco is earning a reputation for his freshly ground organic beef burgers, served on a homemade bun with a special homemade spicy thousand island. You’ll also get a taste for his big plans for new pies, barbecue pit and salad bar.

Colafrancesco, who lived for years in San Francisco and New York, opened the restaurant in November with the inspiration to simply serve burgers, fries, shakes and pies. It was to be a sort of combination of California’s In-N-Out Burger and Marie Callender’s, a restaurant chain specializing in pies. Continue reading

Holly’s Pizzeria: Restaurant Showcase

By Madoline Markham

Holly's Pizzeria

Holly White adds toppings to one of her signature pizzas.

Holly White is a craftsperson. Each slice of thin crust pizza she creates is evidence of her careful handiwork. No topping is out of place. No slice is the slightest bit uneven in distribution of homemade sauce and cheese. “It has to be pretty for me; I don’t know why,” the California native said. White’s craft is the reason you come to her pizzeria.

Each hearty slice of the thin crust pizza is coated with the amount of cheese and toppings that you would have specially request at some restaurants. Three of the eight slices in a 12-inch pie will leave you more than satisfied for a meal.

The menu at Holly’s is simple: one pizza size, two sauces and eight topping options. That’s it. That’s just how White and business partner Andrew Almanza want it now. The pizza is what they want people to eat and talk about, not a salad, not any other menu item. They do offer a beer and wine list to complement the pizza though. Continue reading