31 May 2011

Global Grill

Global Grill is an upscale international tapas concept in Pensacola. The artfully prepared small plates include numerous choices for vegetarians.

The restaurant is located in the city of Pensacola rather than its more tourist-y neighbor Pensacola Beach. The restaurant has soft lighting that highlights the color of the dining room.

There is ample seating at the bar. Happy hour seemed to host a lively crowd.

As with a traditional Spanish restaurant, Global Grill offers hot and cold tapas as well as a limited selection of entrees. The menu comfortably travels from Italy to Spain to France to Japan to the Caribbean to the Gulf Shore with seamless ease.

The herbed focaccia had a Mediterranean twist. It was topped with feta cheese, toasted pine nuts and kalamata olives. The streaks of reduced tomato added a bright flavor to delicious toasted bread.

The mozzarella egg rolls were like giant cheese sticks with a flakey exterior rather than the traditional flour-and-breadcrumb coated bar fare. The tomato sauce had a fruity note from merlot.

The olive plate had a variety of green and black olives marinated in oil flavored with rosemary and basil. The portion appears large because the dish is which it is served is canoe-shaped.

Asparagus tempura was perfectly fried in a crispy batter that possessed a delightful crunch. The flavor of the fried veggies was amplified by the sweet balsamic reduction that is drizzled on the plate.

The fried artichokes were stuffed with boursin cheese. The artichokes were marred by a slightly underripe character that added an unpleasant vegetal note to the creamy cheese.

The chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream sounds a little plain Jane, but the addition of basil chiffonade added a fresh, herbal undertone to flavors that are usually safe and traditional. The portion was small, and that works well because it's easy to fill up on tapas.

The wine list at Global Grill has fairly priced wines from a variety of international appellations. It fits nicely with the global menu.

Service at Global Grill was outstanding. The server was easily able to point out vegetarian options on the menu, and did so in a personable manner.

It's evident why Global Grill is one of Pensacola's most popular fine dining destinations. Global Grill is a fantastic example of the merits of well executed fusion cuisine.

Global Grill

Global Grill on Urbanspoon

24 May 2011

Zorba the Greek

Zorba the Greek is a carry-out Greek and Mediterranean restaurant in a dingy strip mall in West Mobile. Its humble setting doesn't prevent Zorba from offering fresh Mediterranean fare accompanied by service with personality.

Vegetarian options at Zorba the Greek include staples like hummus, grape leaves, spinach pie and falafel. Portions are adequate and prices are low.

The hummus was flecked with parsley and drizzled with a spicy ribbon of harissa. It was accompanied by an enormous quantity of pita.

The falafel sandwich was stuffed with lettuce, tomato and onions in tahini. The discs of falafel were well seasoned and had a nice textural contrast between the crispy exterior and the soft insides. The pita was thick and provided a good vehicle to deliver the sandwich and all its dressing. It was served with a side of saffron rice.

The owner of Zorba is an affable gentleman who knows all his customers by name. If he doesn't know you by name, he learns what you like pretty quickly.

There is limited seating at Zorba. It is an easy spot for a quick lunch. Overall, its quality was superior to that of its neighbor Ollie's, although its menu was somewhat smaller.


Zorba The Greek on Urbanspoon

20 May 2011

SnickerDoodles Bakery/Cookies by Design

Even though the heyday of cupcakes has long since passed, it's always nice to find a talented producer like Snickerdoodles Bakery that can still elevate this childhood favorite with the skill of a craftsman. There is an adjacent cookie shop called Cookies by Design that operates out of the same kitchen. Between the two shops, something can be found to sate your sweet tooth.

The baker was passionate about her wares, and she explained that the cupcakes were vegetarian but not vegan appropriate. Many ingredients were locally sourced, including non-homogenized milk from a farm about 35 minutes from Mobile.

The Mississippi mud cupcakes were a brownie-like cake base flecked with Cookies by Design Oreos and crushed pecans. It was drizzled with caramel and chocolate syrup, and rich cocoa flavor exploded in each bite.

The turtle cupcake had salty pieces of crushed pretzel as a foundation. Caramel and nuts make the flavor sing.

The red velevet cupcakes with a liquid chocolate center add another layer of texture to a Southern bakery standard. The cake was moist, and the icing adds fat vanilla notes to what is a deceptive chocolate bomb.

The Elvis cupcake is banana cake topped in peanut butter icing. The King's favorite sandwich stands well as a baked good.

Overall, the appearance of the cupcakes is artful but lacking the sophistication of some of more talented icing pipers at other bakeries. This slight defect notwithstanding, everything I sampled tasted great.


Cookies by Design/SnickerDoodles Bakery on Urbanspoon

18 May 2011


Stix is a small Pan-Asian chain in Alabama. There are five or six locations in the state. I visited the Stix in Spanish Fort.

The menu at Stix focuses on sushi and a combination of Japanese and Chinese appetizers, stir fries and noodle dishes.

The veggie sushi platter was overflowing with maki rolls. The roll in the center of the platter was prepared with asparagus, pickled squash, carrot and green bean. The avocado rolls were flecked with black and white sesame seeds. The sushi was visually appealing, even though some of the longer vegetable cuts were less than elegant.

The Szechuan tofu had an aggressive spice that the bean curd drank up. The peapods, carrots and onions were cooked crispy enough to retain the freshness of these vegetables. Stir fries are served with choice of white or brown rice.

Although the server was being trained during my visit, she delivered capable and friendly service. The bar has a full selection of beer, wine and faux-tini cocktails.


Stix Restaurant on Urbanspoon

14 May 2011

Ollie's Mediterranean Grill

Ollie's Mediterranean Grill is a veggie-friendly restaurant in Mobile with a sports bar motif. In addition to the restaurant, Ollie's also has a full bar with commercial European and domestic beers as well as an array of hookahs.

The menu features Greek and Middle Eastern classics like saganaki, grape leaves, falafel, hummus and baba ghanoush. There are also vegetarian rolled pitas including one stuffed with falafel and tahini, as well as Mediterranean lentil dishes.

The house salad was slightly better than bagged salad mix. The Greek dressing was bland and nearly without character.

The hummus had nice ribbons of parsley that added a fresh, citrus-laden touch to the dip. The pita bread was cooked to a crispy texture, allowing it to pick up massive quantities of hummus like a Mediterranean tortilla chip.

The falafel in the wrap had a mild taste that was overpowered by the otherwise dry sandwich. While the wrap was drizzled with tahini, a side of extra dressing might be necessary to enjoy the flavor nuance of the chickpea balls.

The meal I sampled at Ollie's was fairly pedestrian. The locals tell me that Ollie's suffers from a bit of inconsistency, which hopefully means that other visitors might enjoy a better experience.

Ollie's Mediterranean

Ollie's Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

13 May 2011

Lillo's Tuscan Grill

Lillo's Tuscan Grill is an Italian eatery nestled in Pensacola Beach. The family-owned waterfront institution offers a decent amount of vegetarian options.

The location of Lillo's is literally steps from the Gulf coast. Pensacola Beach, while less pristine than some of the other vacation destinations along the Redneck Riviera, still becomes idyllic at sunset.

As with most Italian restaurants, the menu has plenty of meatless options from which to choose. The menu consists of Italian American classics more so than true Tuscan fare as the name implies.

The eggplant parmesan was thickly breaded and served with a bright, sweet marinara sauce and coated with an extra layer of mozzarella for good measure. The eggplant was a little chewy, but overall, the dish was well made.

The manicotti was made in true insider fashion (I don't know this because I'm a true insider; I actually caught it on an episode of Lidia's Italy). Instead of stuffing brittle manicotti noodles with ricotta cheese, the kitchen instead uses lasagna noodles, which are rolled around the ricotta filling. This allows the pasta to hold a generous amount of creamy goodness.

The pizza was uninspiring. The crust was thin and a little bland. Although pizza's listed as a house special, the pasta dishes are far stronger.

Service at Lillo's was solid if a little rough around the edges. Diners who like tattoos will have many to choose from on the staff.

Lillo's Tuscan Grill

Lillo's Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon