Mark Strickland was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. After graduating from McGill, he served in the United States Marine Corps and then ventured on to pursue his culinary aspirations in Colorado. He had the opportunity to work for Chef Rick Kangas at Grouse Mountain Grill and also with Chef David Walford at Splendido, both James Beard Award winning chefs.
In 2002, Mark was offered a head chef position at Cafe 615 in Downtown Mobile by good friend, former classmate and business owner Noell Broughton. Strickland accepted the position and made the journey back to his old stomping grounds. Being classically French trained, it was a smooth transition and definite enhancement to the fine dining scene in a historic downtown venue.
Mark decided to take a break from Back of the House operations and further develop his resume. He went to work for Cooper Restaurants to learn the details of Front of the House procedure and did so with Ruth’s Chris and Felix’s Fish Camp.
In 2013, Strickland went to the water and accepted a culinary position in the oil and gas industry. He was responsible for preparing and feeding engineers and crews on supply boats, rigs and other platforms from a remote operating vessel. Mark took to dry land in 2018 to welcome a son and enjoy some family time.
While freelancing as a Chef partner with Thermador and Bosch appliances, Mark re-entered the full time culinary world and went to work with two of his best and oldest friends, Noell Broughton and Bobby Kilpatrick, as head chef at The Bone & Barrel in Downtown Fairhope last September. With an existing menu in place and thriving business, Mark placed his emphasis on minor tweaks while focusing on consistency and attention to detail. Strickland will implement some menu changes in the Spring with the offering some lighter seasonal fare.
But for now…you might want to try their Mother Clucker! A buttermilk fried chicken breast that has been marinated in a pickle juice and sweet tea brine, topped with a bourbon bacon and caramelized onion jam, drizzled with white BBQ sauces and topped with Wickles pickles. This sandwich is accompanied by a serving of white cheddar jalapeno mac & cheese…mouthwatering!
Their other “Between the Bun” specialties include Po-Boys (debris, shrimp and/or oyster), a Wicked Cuban, a Spider (soft shell crab) Sandwich and incredible burgers. They have some hearty appetizers that could also serve as entrees; Fried Ribs, Sugar Cane Shrimp, Nachos a la Hawg and Wings (Rosemary Parmesan, Bourbon Molasses and Classic Buffalo) in addition to Crab Cakes and Blue Crab Dip. Their signature entrees include an 18 ounce Bone-In Ribeye and Fried Spinach & Goat Cheese Grits.
Bone and Barrel offers a daily lunch and dinner special as well as seasonal desserts and cobblers. Kids are welcome and they even have a special menu. The Bone and Barrel opens every day at 11am with full bar service and the kitchen serves until 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends.
There is live music almost every day and always on weekends, indoor and outdoor seating and upstairs accommodations for special events.
The Bone and Barrel • 311 Fairhope Ave, Downtown Fairhope (251) 990-0782
Persistence is just part of Nonie Taul’s personality. When this mom’s oldest child, Annie started complaining of frequent stomach aches, Nonie did what any mom would do. After several doctors visits and a noticeable weight loss, Taul’s daughter was referred to a gastroenterologist. Annie was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten can lead to the damage in the small intestine. The dietary changes that took place in the Taul household were also adopted by Nonie. After the omission of all things gluten, Nonie began to notice how much better she felt.
Nonie has always led an active lifestyle, from youth sports through her college years as a dance major. She is a certified yoga, pilates and group fitness instructor. As Nonie’s students became inquisitive about her personal diet and nutrition she started a Facebook Page as a support site. As her followers grew in number, so did her passion to help others with their quest for better health through diet and exercise. In 2015 she started her business, Naturally Strong Nonie. She teaches classes that are designed to help women look and feel great in addition to providing meal plans and even grocery lists to help with meal preparation. Taul has also taken it a step further by visiting and inquiring with local restaurant owners about menu items that fall in line with the nutrition plan she promotes. Healthy choices are most certainly available when dining out and can be found “Nonie Approved” at Moe’s Southwestern, The Ox Kitchen, Sage, Two Sisters Bakery & Deli and Locals.
When 2018 rolled around, Taul’s persistence again came into play with the gals at Rae’s Kitchen. She had approached Jessica Guthrie and Nancy Dupree about preparing some of her healthy recipes that would be easy to grab and go. After the Christmas Holiday season Guthrie agreed to give it a try. The response has been amazing and the kitchen’s
business has increased such that they had to hire friends to help out a couple of days a week just to keep up with the demand for the “Naturally Strong/Nonie Approved” items that occupy the cooler shelves. “We have moms that come and stock up for themselves and also grab a different dinner casserole for the husband and kids” says Guthrie, “It’s a win – win!” Some of the current healthy choices endorsed by Nonie and prepared by Rae’s Kitchen include an extremely popular Egg Roll Bowl, an Edamame Quinoa Salad, Chicken Lettuce Wrap Stuffing, a GLOW (gluten free, low carb, organic) Bowl, a Green Quinoa Bowl, Cauliflower Detox Salad, Vegetable Detox Soup and a Turkey Sausage & Cabbage Soup. The offerings vary and are seasonal but there are typically approximately ten different choices available at all times.
For more information on Nonie Taul and the services she offers visit her website at www.naturallystrongnonie.com or visit her Facebook Page “Naturally Strong Nonie”. To get a taste of what Taul is advocating (and more) visit Rae’s Kitchen at 460 N. Section Street, Fairhope (251) 210-6135 www.raeskitchenandcatering.com • Facebook “Rae’s Kitchen”
It’s been over twenty years since this duo worked together near the beginning of both of their culinary journeys. Ryan Glass met Chris Litts during his final stage of training after culinary school. Glass did his externship under Litts at the Martini House in St. Helena, Napa County, California.
Before the upstate New York native arrived at the Martini House, he served as the Executive Sous Chef for the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley.
Litts left the Martini House to partner with three others to open Kitchen Door where he is still a partner. After numerous invitations from Glass to come to South Alabama and the need for a change of pace, Litts finally landed on the Eastern Shore last July.
The long time friends picked up where they left off and are back together again in the kitchen at Camellia Cafe. Chris and Ryan have revamped the menu at Camellia Cafe and now offer three to four nightly specials.
They have an incredible line up of appetizers that include truffle fries, smoked salmon bruschetta, a wagyu beef carpaccio, grilled artichoke and a crispy Georgia quail. Some of the regular entrees feature hickory grilled fish, filet of beef, pan roasted duck a Kobe
beef burger. There are also an assortment of other dishes that together showcase a variety of proteins accompanied by complementary sides in an elegant presentation.
Handcrafted cocktails and martinis in addition to the exclusive wine list, pair perfectly with the menu that the cafe presents. All of their desserts are house made and go hand in hand with a French pressed coffee to finish off an incredible experience.
Camellia Cafe is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner service. Reservations are recommended.
Camellia Cafe • 61 Section Street, Fairhope (251) 928-4321
When the staff at Buck’s Diner learned of the impending sale of the building that housed Fairhope’s beloved breakfast/meat and three spot, they spent the final few weeks celebrating the longevity and success of the restaurant with friends, loyal patrons that had become like family, vendors, and all of the regular supporters that made this Fairhope icon a popular dining spot for more than eleven years.
This notification necessitated the rethinking of future employment options for everyone affected. Formerly the manager of Buck’s Diner, Daneen Buck, knew she wanted to remain in the restaurant business, but in what capacity? After taking a few months off, Daneen began pondering her options.
What frequently came to mind was an old “hole in the wall” eatery from days long ago known as Boo-Boo’s. Wildly popular with the locals, this bar and grill was family owned and operated and featured very simplistic dining options. “If I remember correctly, the menu consisted of a ribeye steak, a hamburger, West Indies salad, and gumbo” says Buck, “Oh, and Marie Higginbotham’s peanut butter pie!”
After meeting with the owners of the Point Clear Tennis Club, Daneen knew that this would be the perfect venue for her next adventure in the restaurant business. The building is considerably larger than Boo-Boo’s was, and she knew a heartier menu offering would be necessary. She decided on a classic steakhouse style menu.
The name of the new game in town is CHAR 32 – “The Place to Meat”. The menu is still evolving but currently consists of smaller plates, or appetizers, such as a classic shrimp cocktail, sautéed crab claws, shrimp remoulade, stuffed mushrooms, South Indies salad (Daneen’s special version of the local classic), roasted pork belly over braised collard greens, and a petite Chateau with horseradish cream sauce. Entree choices include filet mignon, bone-in ribeye, boneless ribeye, and a strip steak. The menu also includes fresh, wild caught salmon, and the Char burger is to die for! All entrees are served with a baked potato or fries, and a house salad. Desserts are homemade and include her mother’s famous banana pudding.
CHAR 32 also has a full bar offering beer, libations and fine wines, and “local celebrity” bartenders to enhance your dining experience. In addition to the spectacular dining room, there is a comfortable lounging area with a fireplace adjacent to the main dining room, and also a beautiful patio area for outdoor dining as the weather permits.
Although the restaurant is located inside the Point Clear Tennis Club, CHAR 32 is open to the public, so make plans to experience CHAR 32 – “The Place to Meat”. The hours of operation are Monday through Saturday 5:30pm until 9pm.
Char 32 at Point Clear Tennis Club • 17107 Tennis Club Dr. Fairhope • 251-517-7700
This is a tale of two Guisseppes who initially met years ago in Rome, Italy. Guisseppe Formica and Guisseppe Spadaccini were more recently reunited, strictly by coincidence, while they were both in New York.
In 2015, Spadaccini opened an Italian Restaurant in Downtown Miami that has since become incredibly popular. With an interest in expanding his footprint because of his success in Miami, Guisseppe Spadaccini suggested to his long time pal, Guisseppe Formica, that he spearhead the new location that was chosen and slated to open in Spanish Fort, Alabama. He agreed and around this same time last year, a former restaurant space in Spanish Fort’s Eastern Shore Centre was transformed into La Dolce Vita Italian Bistro.
Barrett Thompson, a Mobile native, joined the family not long after the restaurant opened as a server and has since moved into management.
This authentic offering of classic Italian dishes is a celebration of many regions in Italy. Homemade pasta is featured in classic dishes such as spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, gnocchi, ravioli, lasagna and risotto. There is a variety of antipasto/appetizer and salads that are offered. You may also order a piccata, marsala, cacciatore or parmigiana with your choice of chicken or veal. Their gourmet pizzas are a popular choice and several combinations are highlighted on the menu. You can also choose the “build your own” option and design one to your liking. Daily specials are offered and there is also a
childrens menu. Top off your meal with dessert and coffee. They offer a homemade tiramisu and are equipped with an espresso machine and a staff that knows how to use it! A full bar is available with an expansive wine list that was compiled to compliment each and every menu item. La Dolce Vita is open daily for lunch and dinner. Take a break from Holiday shopping and treat yourself to some authentic Italian while you are out and about. Gift certificates are also a idea for the foodies on your list.
La Dolce Vita Italian Bistro • Eastern Shore Shopping Centre
30500 US Highway 181, Suite 710, Spanish Fort • (251) 929-9333
Facebook “La Dolce Vita – Spanish Fort” • www.ladolcevitabistro.com
Alissa Johnson has been in and exposed to the restaurant industry for the majority of her adult life. She and her husband Harry, opened Rosie’s Grill in 2010 as a joint venture. They enjoyed being part of the Daphne community for a number of years. The menu highlighted a few favorites from previous restaurants that are no longer in existence in
addition to paying homage to two, very special, long time employees.
Mama Rosie and her daughter Little Rosie infused their Mexican influence and created some of the dishes that carried over and were a favorite among patrons who dined at previous restaurants under Johnson ownership.
When a relocation opportunity presented itself, Alissa chose to take part of the Rosie’s menu (including the fish and shrimp tacos) and transition into what is now El Camino Taco Shack in Fairhope.
Fresh, simple and fun is the focus with an emphasis on authentic. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, bowls and salads serve as a vehicle to feature proteins that include beef, chicken, barbacoa and chorizo.
They are enhanced by various combinations of street corn, pico, black beans, poblano rice, cilantro, chipotle and other related ingredients that Alissa refers to as “fresh Mex”
El Camino hosts a full bar that includes a variety of tequilas, Mexican beers and specialty margaritas in addition to the domestic beers and other libations.
The restaurant now occupies the dwelling that was formerly The Gumbo Shack, which was part of Fairhope’s restaurant scene for many years. This was a popular spot for a crawfish throw down during the ever popular season and still will be according to Johnson.
El Camino Taco Shack is a little off the beaten path but yet still right in the middle of it all providing a great family atmosphere with inside and outside seating.
Alissa and her staff are looking forward to being a part of all the upcoming events for which Downtown Fairhope is known.
Join them for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Happy Hour is Monday through Friday from 4pm until 6pm with daily specials in addition to live music every Friday evening.
El Camino Taco Shack • 212 Fairhope Ave, Downtown Fairhope • (251) 928-8108
Facebook “El Camino Taco Shack” • www.elcaminotacoshack.com
When Chef Brian Karadimos began his career path and he enrolled in culinary school and started out in the kitchen at Olive Garden. He decided to be in the top one percent in his profession, so he approached his culinary teachers and inquired about finding a Chef mentor. This is how Karadimos encountered Chef Christopher Hastings.
Chef Hastings owned and operated Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama. Chef Hastings took Brian under his wing and trained him as a father would a son. Karadimos would come to retain the position of Sous Chef at the age of 20. Karadimos left the Hot and Hot to join the team at Chez Fonfon owned by Chef Frank Stitt. He learned many things from Chef Stitt pertaining to technique of preparing food.
Chef Karadimos made the decision to get back to his roots and move back to Baltimore Maryland, where he was born and lived until he was fourteen. While there, Brian worked as the Executive Chef at The Black Olive, which was a Greek restaurant that focused on the tradition of cooking in the most simplistic way while using the finest ingredients.
After this, Chef Karadimos was looking more to find the philosophy of food as an art rather than a technique. This led him to Chef Chris Dupont and Café Dupont. Chef Dupont led by example and showed him how it was just as important to be a good man as it was to be a chef.
There he also learned the “art” of cooking. Since moving to Fairhope in 2006, Brian spent time as chef of Camp Beckwith and working with great teams in local fine dining restaurants as well as guest cheffing.
Most recently, Brian was approached by local investors who have remodeled a quaint cottage on Mobile Street with an incredible view of the bay. This new culinary endeavor is the blending of two families that love to eat and the desire to give that experience to the community. Fairhope’s newest addition to the dining scene is Bay House Bistro.
Chef Karadimos labels himself as “a little Greek, a little Chesapeake”. He enjoys blending cuisines from different countries with a Mediterranean flair. Brian works with his wife, Lenore, who contributes her talents as a pastry chef to the operation. They share seven children who have all helped in making the family dream possible.
Bay House Bistro’s lunch menu currently features gumbo, a dip platter, a variety of salads and solid sandwiches (crab cake, burger, gyro, shrimp po-boy). Lunch entrees include shrimp & grits and a duck & andouille etouffee in addition to a vegetable plate.
Dinners entrees offered are fresh gulf fish, a pan seared filet, braised lamb shank, shrimp creole and a vegetable plate. Chef Brian supports local vendors and the menus will always be reflective of seasonal ingredients.
Sundays are for Brunching! The brunch menu ranges from brioche french toast to an omelette to their own version of a crab cake benedict. There is a grilled filet and grit cake as well as shrimp & grits, a bay house burger and a gyro.
Lunch is served Wednesday through Saturday from 11am until 2pm, Dinner is Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30pm until 9pm and you can enjoy brunch on Sunday from 10:30am until 2pm. There is a fabulous wine list to choose from and you can be seated
indoor or out.
Bay House Bistro • 151 South Mobile Street, Fairhope • (251) 978-2125
Facebook “Bay House Bistro”