It shouldn’t be difficult for Mobilians to make the connection between such disparate dishes as a burger with brie and shallots, paella balls with romesco and deep-fried Scottish eggs. The entire menu at Panini Pete’s newest restaurant, Squid Ink, takes its inspiration from the cuisines of our founding nations: France, Spain and England. It’s a veritable menu “under five flags,” with a strong dose of salty seafarer thrown in for good measure.
Pete Blohme, best known as the mugging chef who visits overseas troops with the Mess Lords, rubs elbows with Food Network’s Guy Fieri and makes a mean batch of beignets, recently opened a new lunch and dinner spot with a top-notch bar on Dauphin Street in downtown Mobile. Together with partner Nick Dimario, Blohme created a menu that is varied and inspired, if not a little all over the place, that guarantees to have something for everyone in your party. They’ve got comfort food, a good dose of hearty and healthy options and even things to tempt the most adventurous foodie.
“We put real food in our food,” says Blohme, “and real drink in our drink. That’s it.”
The cocktails are bang-up, so expect a strong after-work crowd looking for snacks and small plates that satisfy. The vibe is a little more rock ‘n’ roll than Blohme’s other addresses, with plenty of nods to the tattoo cultures of yesterday’s sailors and today’s cool kids.
Blohme had fun with the decor, plastering quotes from famous Mobilians over the unisex bathrooms and enlisting local artist Hannah Legg to craft a mural of a giant squid practically engulfing patrons as they enter the front door.
The hubcaps adorning the main wall come from several decades’ worth of Cadillacs — an homage to explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac — and the image of a tall ship being consumed by a creature of the deep was charred into wood by Patrick Tucker of Alabama Burning. Interesting fact: Blohme had Tucker use a drawing of the Clotilde as inspiration for the work. Around the top of the brick walls are the logos of every restaurant that has come before them, painted by local sign painter Andy Scott. “102 Dauphin Street has been a restaurant for more than 100 years,” Blohme says. Looks like Squid Ink is in good company.
On the Menu
Calamari a la Plancha
Known in the kitchen as SOS (squid on a shingle), this delicious dish is not for the unadventurous. Grilled calamari, garlic, chili flake, lemon, parsley, butter and toasted breadcrumbs are piled over charred toast.
Spanish influences shine in this dish, where Gulf shrimp, calamari, mussels, white wine, fresh tomato, garlic, basil and more are swirled with delicate fettuccine and served with grilled bread.
A rustic, grilled multigrain bread is topped with crushed avocado, a squeeze of lime, cilantro, crumbled Cotija cheese, sliced radish and a punch of chili lime seasoning. It’s healthy and fresh with an edge.
Vive la France oozes with torched brie, Squid Ink’s signature burger sauce, addictive shallot bacon jam and all the traditional fixings on a toasted potato bun. This burger is true royalty and is served with shoestring fries on the side.
Squid Ink Eclectic Eats and Drinks • 102 Dauphin St. • 405-0031 • 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. Friday – Saturday (kitchen closes at midnight)