Huntsville Restaurant Week is one of my favorite events every year at Rocket City Mom.
Going out to eat enhances the events of our lives—or it can be a celebratory quorum on its own. Whether with young children, our extended adult families, friends, or some combination, eating in a restaurant is a pleasure a great many of us share.
Huntsville Restaurant Week Food Tour
This year’s Huntsville Restaurant Week runs August 11-20, and there are more than 60 restaurants participating, with special menu offerings specific to the week. Huntsville’s burgeoning food and beverage scene continues to make this a fantastic town in which to get hungry. This year’s precursor Food Blogger Tour visited five Huntsville Restaurant Week participants over the course of a weekend. As RCM’s Restaurant Analyst, I was fortunate enough to be among them and get a sneak peek at what HRW has to offer in 2017.
Start with Some Cajun Spice
I started with lunch at New Orleans Lunchbox. For a good while New Orleans Lunchbox was kind of a secret, as it’s located in a gas station on the northwest corner of Jordan and Holmes, with little indication as to what’s inside. Word is definitely out now, however, and you should arrive early to avoid lines. With a New Orleans native owner and more-often-than-weekly shipments of fresh food, by many accounts this is the finest Cajun fare in Huntsville. The Huntsville Restaurant Week offering is a good representation, offering your choice of sausage; red beans & rice; and your choice of two from gumbo, jambalaya, and shrimp étouffée.
A Terrific Tavern
Rocket City Tavern is located at Redstone Gateway, just outside Redstone Arsenal’s Gate 9. This is a pleasing space that is a capable after-work beer space, as well as a place to enjoy a dinner well elevated from the connotations “tavern” in the name might introduce. The first course of the Huntsville Restaurant Week menu is your choice of a pasta in brodo soup, with orecchiette pasta and Italian parmesan cheese; or a fresh summer salad with mizuna greens and sherry vinaigrette. The three entrée choices are Tuscan roasted chicken, pan-seared salmon, and ancho/espresso-crusted New York strip. And the sweet conclusion is “Rocket Warm” butter cake, with white chocolate, raspberry, and whipped cream. (Psstt: This cake will haunt your dreams.) We were able to sample everything on the tour, and we all reported it as a fine dining experience, rather than a “bar food” one.
Date Night Bliss
The next afternoon brought us to YoshiSushiFusion, in Owens Cross Roads. The Huntsville Restaurant Week offering here is your choice of a five-piece omakase nigari sushi platter, or a hibachi bento platter. Omakase means chef’s choice, and is literally translated as “leave it up to me.” The five pieces presented included bream, flounder, sea bass, salmon, and tuna, each seasoned and accented uniquely to suit the individual nuances of each variety. It was divine. The hibachi platter includes your choice of chicken, steak, shrimp, or salmon. Dessert is a salted caramel gelato that is one of the most pleasingly buttery things I’ve ever tasted, with little bits of salt providing delightful gustatory staccato.
A Local Italian Steakhouse? Yes, Please!
Nick’s Ristorante is a northern Italian restaurant and steakhouse with an attached cigar bar. It offers a fine dining experience behind an unassuming shopping center façade, with top-notch food and service. The specific Huntsville Restaurant Week offerings were still being decided when we visited on the Food Blogger Tour, so we were encouraged to order from the regular menu. My salad included impossibly fresh bleu cheese, and my medium-rare New York strip was a fine steak indeed.
(Plus, if you’re hankerin’ to have your dessert set on fire during Huntsville Restaurant Week, Nick’s is probably one of your best opportunities.)
Something Old is New Again
The Social is a surprisingly luxurious space over the Alabama Athletic Club (the old Huntsville Athletic Club). The Social is an upmarket bar, restaurant, and meeting space with a seasonal menu. For lunch you can choose from three different salads and six different entrees. I went with the southwest chopped salad, with romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted corn, tortilla chips, and feta. I also had the BLT twist (which defies the “seasonal” label and stays on the menu year-round). It’s a BLT with pecan-smoked bacon, fried mozzarella, and chipotle mayonnaise, served on wheat berry bread. Other offerings include baja tempura mahi tacos, white marble farm pork chops, and vegetable lasagna.
There were a lot of pleasant surprises for me on this year’s Food Blogger Tour. We have some innovative and enthusiastic restaurateurs who have decided Huntsville is where their dreams can flourish, and given the consistent quality of everything I experienced, I’d count on them!
Be sure to get out and enjoy Huntsville Restaurant Week, August 11-20. Rocket City Mom has even put together a list of participating restaurants that also have Kid’s Menus! We want to make it easy for you to explore new and LOCAL restaurants, spend time with your family, and expand your palates. I’ll see you out there!
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