My First Pop-Up: Valentine’s at Bay City Grill

Valentine's DayNot familiar with a “pop-up restaurant?”  They started out as underground (see undocumented) eateries run out of people’s houses, vacant store fronts or even after-hours restaurants.  In the beginning they were care-free and even a little bit dangerous serving illegal ingredients like wild abalone, blow fish or unpasteurized milk.

Today they have evolved into fun and sophisticated one night events thanks to the efforts of chefs like Pierre Koffmann and Ludo Lefebvre.  Ludo, especially has made a career redefining the concept of the pop-up restaurant.  He’s even turned it into a hit series on the Sundance Network.  On Ludo Bites America, the famed chef travels the country taking over restaurants for one night, putting out an inspired menu that is reflective of the local cuisine with Lefebvre’s unique interpretations.

In episode three of Ludo Bites America he did a pop-up in my hometown of Mobile, AL at the popular luncheonette Queen G’s Cafe.  Ludo took our good old Southern seafood and gave it a gourmet spin with a three course tasting menu.

Bay City Grill Satsuma AlabamaWell now I’m going one better.  On Valentine’s night I’ll be taking over the menu of Bay City Grill in the North Mobile suburb of Satsuma.  We’ll be presenting a four course prix fixe for just $75 a couple.  Imagine that.  A four course gourmet meal for two with no grueling wait in the lobby of some cheesy chain restaurant.

The event is by reservation only.  For more information you can visit the web site of Bay City Grill.  Meanwhile, here’s the menu:

1st Course choice of:

Caesar Salad – Romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, cherry tomatoes, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and croutons.

House Salad – mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, cheddar cheese, choice of dressing and croutons.

Chicken & Saffron Rice Soup – tender chicken simmered with fresh vegetables and saffron rice.

2nd Course share a choice of:

Gulf Crab Cakes – two crab cakes, pan fried and served with a zesty rémoulade.

Asian Shrimp – four juicy shrimp wrapped in light and flakey phyllo dough, served with a soy-ginger dipping sauce.

Mozzarella Sticks – five crunchy and gooey mozzarella sticks with a tangy marinara for dipping.

Fritti Misti – one crab cake, two Asian shrimp and two mozzarella sticks with corresponding dipping sauces.

Valentine's Pop-up at Bay City GrillEntrée choice of:

Prime Rib – 12 ounces of slow roasted prime rib, cooked to order, creamy horseradish sauce and au jus.  Served with baby baked potatoes and grilled asparagus.

Chicken Giardiniera – crispy fried chicken breast tossed with penne pasta, Giardiniera (Italian marinated carrots, celery, cauliflower and colorful peppers), blistered cherry tomatoes and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Coffee Rubbed Pork Tenderloin –rich Memphis aioli and a blend of coffee, chili powder and cumin give this elegant tenderloin the smoky flavor of a backyard barbecue.  Served with baked sweet potato and maple-butter.

Dessert – choose from an assortment presented tableside.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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