Mobile is a smaller town than I give her credit. I like the small town vibe for the most part.
Don’t get me wrong, she’s got her “big girl” attributes in museums, decent sized hotels, the RSA Tower, a battleship, and her very own Chuck E. Cheese. For a creature of habit like me, that big city living shrinks to a size that could make Bo and Luke Duke claustrophobic.
I have my familiar haunts and I venture out a little bit, but even when I do there are people I know around every corner, and I don’t know that many people. I am thankful for friends and acquaintances around my MiMo and LoDa scene. But recently I felt like getting away from it all but didn’t feel like leaving town. There’s a place where I am highly unlikely to run into anyone I know. A place where subterfuge is effortless, a place free of familiar faces where even someone as famous as our own Rob Holbert can remain anonymous, that place is West Mobile.
Everyone knows Rob. When we hang out we can’t get away with anything. I had a little Christmas money to burn so Rob and I called up Agent 549 and headed west (at 549’s recommendation) to a spot we could all relax and enjoy a fancy meal free of distractions. Enter Pour Baby.
Pour Baby is an entity across the street from Providence Hospital with one of those wine systems that allows even the finest bottle to be served by the glass. This is perfect for those nights when a bottle is just too much, or maybe you want a different wine for each course. It’s an interesting system. Wines are called up per location, and the whole thing is very efficient, especially for a menu that boasts 23 whites and 38 reds. I consider Agent 549 knowledgeable of French Rosé, and we both started with Commanderie de la Bargemone Rose ($8 per glass) while Rob went for the red side of the menu with Monterey County’s Miura Vineyards Pinot Noir ($12 per glass).
We couldn’t sit around swilling wine without cheese so I called for a three cheese Artisanal Cheese Flight ($18). The menu has a list of eight cheeses to choose from complete with wine pairings per cheese. Too late to reorder wine, rather than selecting cheese for what we were drinking I threw caution to the wind and ordered the three that sounded the best to me.
The first was Mobay mixed milk which had a layer of sheep milk cheese and a layer of goat milk cheese pressed together with a thin layer of fine grape ash serving as a line of demarcation.
Curado Manchego was a sheep cheese from Spain that was a little softer than the Mobay. But the best one was Delice de France Camembert. It was so creamy and delicious I enjoyed it with the rose, though it wasn’t one of the recommended pairings.
The cheeses were great by themselves but then I went back and tried them with the amazing marmalade and contrasting olives and candied nuts. This is living.
Cheese is great but I am a Charcuterie ($15) man. This board did not disappoint. Prosciutto, chorizo, salami were expectedly fantastic with crostini. Sweet pickles and pickled onions had me going, but the best part was the pâté. Rob asked our waitress if it were duck or goose. “Chicken,” she replied, once again proving that the chicken liver is a versatile component.
Entrees were interesting, especially for being west of I-65. Pan roasted quail ($16) was right up 549’s alley. Spicy greens cooked in bacon and braised went perfect with the fried corn cake. Quail is growing in popularity around this town, despite its small size and difficult joints. This version was tender and succulent.
Rob was pleased with his Seafood Stew ($16). A very neat white bean broth was the base for roasted carrots amongst mussels and sautéed shrimp. I don’t think he caught the fact that his nemesis tarragon aioli made the sauce a little more delicious. I was afforded a mussel. Rob was stingy with his shrimp.
The Fresh Gulf Fish ($18) of the day was amberjack. This was a sizeable chunk pan seared with a red radish tartar sauce. I was not disappointed. I hate it when people say, “the fish was cooked perfectly,” but the fish was cooked perfectly. It was just the right amount of doneness and seasoning. The thing I couldn’t figure out was the herb roasted squash as the side. It was thinly sliced and fork tender but not falling apart. I certainly had the best meal of the three.
A couple more glasses of wine later we received a tab of $157.30. Sounds pretty steep, and maybe it is. This may be a special place for you to get away from it all and enjoy a nice meal with a great wine selection. I may return for an afternoon glass or two with the charcuterie board as my snack. Truth be known, though, I will pay handsomely for a hideaway.
It’s ridiculous that the kid begging for attention in class is now appreciating solitude, but it didn’t last long. We weren’t even halfway across the parking lot before we were saying, “Let’s head downtown for wine. Wanna bet who is working the bar?” Typical.
6808 Airport Blvd, Suite H
Mobile, AL 36608