Reviews › Casually Upscale

oscar's at the museum lunchOscar’s At The Museum serves local, regional, and seasonal fare.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

The art of eating local is made easy at Oscar’s At The Museum. More than a place to lunch when visiting the Birmingham Museum of Art, the café has its own following of loyal foodie patrons who dine here regularly. Chef Christopher Cobb has built this following by building his menu around local, seasonal ingredients and his skillset for executing excellence.

cashios' spaghetti meatballsCashio’s Meatball Market serves their family recipes your way.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Cashio's Meatball Market recently opened in Lakeview at 728 29th Street South. Here owner, Mary Susan Cashio and team serve classic, Cashio family, Italian recipes garnished with a touch of whimsy.


little savannah fishChef Clif Holt cooks up the best version of Little Savannah.  

By Jan Walsh 

Photography by Beau Gustafson 


Owner and chef Clif Holt is back in the kitchen at Little Savannah. As sole owner and chef, Holt has a renewed passion for making and keeping it real at Little Savannah.
flip burger tuna tartareFlip Burger Boutique has something for everyone. 

By Jan Walsh 

Photography by Beau Gustafson
 

Ever been to Flip Burger Boutique at The Summit? If not, you are missing more than a great hamburger. Flip Burger Boutique not only has a cool concept, their food is as unique as their “twisted” ambience.
bellini's cheesecakeBellini’s divine dinner offerings include popular chef features.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Bellini’s Ristorante has satisfied foodie appetites in Hoover since 2008. Located at 6801 Cahaba Valley Road off Highway 280, Bellini’s is open for lunch and dinner on Monday through Saturday.

silvertron cafe ravioliSilvertron Café’s butternut squash ravioli makes a complete meal.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


If you grew up eating ravioli from a can, rethink ravioli. It is believed that ravioli came from Liguria where it was invented as a means of using leftover bits and pieces of food, rabiole.
Sky Castle Gastro Lounge opens in Lakeview and pleases all.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Sky Castle Gastro Lounge recently opened at 7th Avenue South on the ground floor of the Twenty-Nine 7 Building in Birmingham’s Lakeview District. Sky Castle’s concept has a backdrop of nostalgic rock and roll integrated with sports bar and a hint of edgy upscale woven into its ambiance.  And the fare is globally influenced, Southern progressive—comfort food with a cutting edge.
gallery bar drinksGallery Bar 1930 is upscale by design.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Gallery Bar 1930 recently opened in Gallery 1930 art studio in Mountain Brook’s English Village, along side its sister restaurant, Vino.

Restaurateur, Al Rabiee and son Matthew, Bar Manager of Vino and Gallery Bar 1930 greet us at the front door. Inside original art adorns the walls, not televisions. Nor will you find beers on tap, or folks hoping to hook up at this bar. Gallery Bar 1930 is an upscale cocktail and oyster bar, for sophisticated palates with proper manners. Entering the front doors the bar is to the right and a lounge area is to the left. Designed by Richard Tubb, the space opens to Vino's famous patio with sliding doors in the lounge area. Tubb also designed the wicker furnishings that are manufactured in Mobile, Alabama, which further the indoor-outdoor ambiance. And the back area of the venue can be roped off for private events. The space can seat 60 people for a seated dinner.
dyrons winter mix grillPair Dyron’s Winter Mix Grill with Satsuma Old Fashioned.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Ward Halliday is a new face at Dyron’s Lowcountry, as bartender and front of the house manager. But he is a familiar face to many from his nights behind the bar at all of Frank Stitt’s restaurants.

seasons 52 lobster ravioliPair New Old Fashioned with Lobster Ravioli at Seasons 52.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson 

I always look forward to getting a taste of Seasons 52 Fresh Grill’s new menus. They change with each season. And on the Winter 2015 menu I found a divine new pairing, which comforts and warms this rainy day—New Old Fashioned and Lobster Stuffed Black and White Ravioli. Both the cocktail and the ravioli are highly recommended separately. And together, their flavor profiles are quite the match, as Managing Partner Michael Gambino suggested they would be.

ovenbird chicken Chris Hastings is the keeper of a new flame at OvenBird.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Chris and Idie Hastings open their second restaurant, OvenBird at 2810 3rd Avenue South, at Pepper Place. Ovenbird is a refined yet rustic restaurant that offers a well conceived and beautifully executed indoor–outdoor dining experience of small plate fare cooked over a live coal fire. It is named for rfuous hornero, “red ovenbird,” a South American bird that builds its oven-shaped nest with a side entrance shaped like an “O.” Coincidentally, OvenBird has another namesake in a poem by Robert Frost, “Oven Bird.” And the poem’s passing of time theme also befits the restaurant. Ovenbird has been in development for two years. Twenty years have passed since the Hastings opened their first restaurant, Hot and Hot Fish Club. And a live fire restaurant has been Hastings’ dream since he was a boy, cooking over campfires.
bamboo on 2nd sashimiDecades of experience poised Bamboo on 2nd for overnight success.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Bamboo on 2nd is a new, wildly popular Asian fusion and sushi restaurant located at 2212 2nd Avenue North. Given bamboos are among the world’s fastest growing plants, the restaurant is aptly named. Bamboo on 2nd opened in July, and immediately grew to maximum capacity nightly. Seating 70, with no reservations taken, the restaurant is almost full when we arrive at 5:30 p.m. on a weeknight. So it is advised to arrive early or expect to wait, and they cannot accommodate large groups.

5 point public house oyster bar oysters George Reis opens 5 Point Public House and Oyster Bar.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

5 Point Public House Oyster Bar is a casual, beer centric, chef driven menu, oyster house. It boasts a raw bar of fresh, Gulf Coast and Chesapeake Bay area oysters alongside local pub fare and a wide selection of craft beers, including local brews and keg-style wines on tap.


vino crab claws Linger over a Mediterranean dinner on Vino’s pristine patio.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography Beau Gustafson


Birmingham boasts some lovely restaurant patios. But none are quite like Vino’s.  This open air space has no hedges, fences, or walls. It is a white scape of space with white pebbles underfoot and small white lights in the tree branches above its candlelit tables. Tonight Kevin and I are meeting friends for dinner with no plans to do a review. But after dinner I knew that this special dining experience had to be shared.
another broken egg shrimp and gritsPair Another Broken Egg’s shrimp and grits with infused bloody mary.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Another Broken Egg is located in the heart of Mountain Brook Village. It is open daily and makes a great place for breakfast, brunch, or lunch.


flip burger smoking cocktails Flip Burger’s drinks are white hot delicious.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


I can’t eat at Flip Burger without ordering a cocktail—or two. And today we are here to do a cocktail review. So who’s counting?
seasons 52 ahi tuna tartarePair Ahi Tuna Tartare with Gewurztraminer at Seasons 52.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson 

We frequent Seasons 52 Fresh Grill for lunch and often make a meal of shared flatbreads and appetizers with cocktails and wine. Located at The Summit Lifestyle Center, Seasons 52 changes their menu weekly to keep up with the seasons. Options include organic foods and cocktails as well as gluten free, vegan and vegetarian menus. And nothing on their menu is more than 475 calories.
JT's lounge cocktails Handcrafted cocktails at JT’s Lounge include local ingredients.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


I love classic hotel bars. They provide travelers a convenient spot to recover from the trip and catch up over drinks and nibbles and a convenient place to “get away” for locals.
vino wild salmon daily specialVino’s Wild Salmon Farfella is healthy and flavorful.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Vino is one of my favorite restaurants. It is also a neighborhood favorite in Mountain Brook’s English Village. But this well kept, tasty secret is getting out and bringing more and more patrons from outside the neighborhood.
wine loft birmingham lebanese wineUncork an organic wine with a heroic history. 

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson 


Tonight at the Wine Loft, Certified Sommelier, Stella Nystrom shares a beautiful Chateaux Musar Jeune Rough 2011—and its amazing history.
Bottega Cafe late night pizza Two of Frank Stitt’s restaurants now offer late night specials.

By Jan Walsh


Both Bottega Café and Chez Fonfon now have late night specials from 9:00 until 10:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays. And we recently caught both of them on two separate weekends.
Seasons 52 Birmingham organic cocktails Chill with Seasons 52 organic, summer spirits.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Seasons 52’s summer cocktails boast organic vodka and summer fruit and vegetables.  

Seasons 52 Fresh Grill—located at The Summit—is known for its wine bar and an award winning wine list. But don’t overlook their seasonal cocktails. Today we take a mid afternoon break away from the summer sun in their cool, dimly lit bar and look over the cocktails and seasonal cocktails menus. And we select the Cucumber Basil Smash and Strawberry Basil Infusion. Both include Prairie Organic Vodkas.
The Melting Pot Restaurant Birmingham cocktails Linger over a fondue dinner at The Melting Pot.


By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Dinner at The Melting Pot is a social experience. Whether you need time to connect with your mate, spend time with family, catch up with friends, or have a business dinner, this is the place for a leisurely night out together.  Unlike some restaurants that book reservations back to back, and expect you to leave at a certain time, The Melting Pot invites you to linger over your meal—for a couple of hours or more.

Iron City Grill fried green tomatoesIron City Grill mixes music with local food products.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Iron City Birmingham will entertain you and sustain you. It boasts a large entertainment venue, bars, and a full service grill. There are two entrances. The main entertainment entrance is 513 22nd Street South—landmarked by its massive marquee. And the entrance to the Grill is located at 2208 6th Avenue South. Iron City Grill serves lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays, dinner on Saturdays, and is open only on concert Sundays at 4:00 p.m. Iron City Grill also has live music on Thursday through Saturday evenings and on Friday during lunch.  
Chez Fonfon lamb daubeChez Fonfon calls me for lunch, dinner and late night. 

By Jan Walsh 

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Chez Fonfon is more than a bustling, French bistro to me. Having a love affair with all things French, it is my familiar way of escaping to the country that I most love to visit without ever leaving town. Chez Fonfon’s French Provencal food, French wines, and French ambience embrace me, and I them. 
Bistro V has a swank new bar and specialty cocktails.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Where better to celebrate Valentine's Day than in a brand new bar?

Jeremy Downey recently expanded Bistro V with a new bar. The bar space doubled the size of this chef driven restaurant with both bar seating and table seating. This stylish bar space has bamboo flooring and ceiling, comfy love seats, leather chairs, soft Edison lighting and tables of rough hewn wood.
Dyron’s fried oysters and crab claws make perfect appetizers.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


The fried crab claws at Dyron’s are an addiction of mine. I attempt to order them even when they are not listed on the menu. And so far I have always succeeded in having them fry up an order as requested. Accommodating such requests is fitting of the low-key attitude that Dyron and Sonya Powell have achieved at Dyron’s Lowcountry.
Pair Zin with Steak Au Poivre at Village Tavern.

 
By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Tender steak, creamy potatoes and a big, red wine make a classic meal. At Village Tavern, this classic is fulfilled in a pairing of Steak Au Poivre and St. Francis Zinfandel, 2009.
Savor fresh fare in a swank ambiance at Seasons 52 Fresh Grill.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Seasons 52 Fresh Grill recently opened to a packed house at 245 Summit Boulevard at The Summit. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, boasting live music nightly and a wine bar. The menu is seasonal and weekly, with 52 menus of chef’s dinner specials, thus the name “Seasons 52.” All dishes are planned for calorie count—with nothing on our menu more than 475 calories.
Discover awesome new pours at The Wine Loft.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Mike Dunnavant keeps the wine and his passion for it flowing at The Wine Loft. Every time I stop in, he has new and interesting wines on his glass list. And tonight is no exception. Seated on the leather sofa in the private tasting room, we have a nice view of the red wine cellar. This room can be reserved and is no extra charge.
I ate every dessert on Bellini’s menu.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Bellini’s has a talented, new pastry chef, Amber Croom. She has a new dessert menu. And today I met her and tasted them ALL during lunch: Affogato, Bananas Foster, Bread Pudding, Gelato Flight, Key Lime Panna Cotta, Malt Chocolate Cake with Adult Milkshake, Red Velvet Cheesecake, and Tiramisu.
Pair flambéed chocolate with chilled bubbly at The Melting Pot.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


The Melting Pot is a restaurant like no other in the Birmingham area. It brought fondue back into my life—and expanded my palate for fondue fare. After dining here the first time, I even asked for a fondue pot for Christmas. And I got two. But my own pots do not compare to my experiences at The Melting Pot. Here I can relax and “cook” my fondue without shopping for fondue fuel and food. 
Vino is an intimate and artistic spot for a Mediterranean dinner and wine.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Vino is an intimate dining spot, which celebrates its first anniversary this month. This dinner restaurant boasts a global wine list and handcrafted cocktails paired with fresh and healthy Mediterranean fare.

Local and regional foods shine in Dyron’s cuisine.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Dyron’s Lowcountry you can’t miss the chalkboard that is front and center. It boasts the local food purveyors with their products served on the menu. This tribute provides both well-deserved recognition and speaks to the authenticity of Dyron’s lowcountry cuisine.

Nabeel’s sautéed shrimp, peasant salad, and wine bring back Greek memories.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

As a daily special Nabeel’s offers several Greek delights. One of my favorites is the “Sautéed Shrimp from the Greek Islands.” It brings a bit of déjà vu of my trips to the Greek Islands. Actually the shrimp is from the Gulf Coast, but the recipe is from the Greek Islands. And this delicious dish, its accompanying tangy salad and a cold glass of crisp, white Greek wine tease my palate as to my real location—Nabeel’s in Homewood.

Chez Fonfon’s simple grilled fish is simply delicious.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

When lunching at Chez Fonfon, I arrive early. Today I open the place at 11:00 a.m. because I know that by 11:30 there is typically not a table left. And by noon the bar will likely also be full.

Another Broken Egg serves soup, salad and sandwiches.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Another Broken Egg is a popular breakfast and brunch spot in Mountain Brook Village. Breaking eggs may be their specialty, but they also serve a tasty lunch fare——entrée portion salads, hearty sandwiches and the soup of the day.

Chef Marco Morosini spices things up at The Silvertron Cafe.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


The Silvertron Cafe has been a popular neighborhood restaurant for more than 25 years. In November 2007, Marco Morosini and his wife Elan reopened the restaurant, preserving the past’s popular dishes while bringing new life to The Slivertron Café with Marco’s Italian influence.

My favorite beef tenderloin tacos just got bigger! 

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

A longtime favorite dish is the Soft Tenderloin Tacos at Village Tavern. Tender bite sized tips of beef tenderloin overfill three warm flour tortillas—in this dish found on the appetizer menu. The tacos also include shredded lettuce, a luscious lime crema, hot salsa and fresh guacamole. Bowls of the creama and salsa are served on the side for those who want to add more. In addition to the beef tenderloin taco, options of fresh fish and chicken soft tacos are also available.

Bottega Cafe is an institution among locals.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Frank and Pardis Stitt’s Bottega Cafe is one of my favorites for lunch, cocktails and dinner. And I am in good company. Local “movers and shakers” are among the cafe’s steady clientele.

Nabeel’s Café and Market is one of a kind.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Nabeel’s Cafe and Market is an authentic, Homewood landmark, situated at the edge of Homewood Park. 

Nabeel’s is named for its original owner Nabeel Shunnarah, who opened it in 1972. In 1993 John Krontiras and his wife, Ottavia bought the café from Shunnarah. During the 17 years since, they have expanded into three dining rooms and a market. The café and market reflect the owners’ heritages. John Krontiras is Greek and Ottavia is Italian. Nabeel’s is both, with additional touches of other Mediterranean flavors. 

Another Broken Egg cracks open in Mountain Brook Village.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Craving Eggs Benedict at 1:30 p.m. or a cheeseburger at 6:30 a.m.? No problem. Another Broken Egg is a family oriented and family operated restaurant that serves a vast breakfast, brunch and lunch menu—300 items—daily from 6:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Nabeel’s is a synthesis of a family’s heritage—Greek and Italian.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Miller Mobley

Nabeel’s Cafe is an original. John Krontiras was born in Greece, and his wife, Ottavia was born in Italy. In Homewood, Alabama, they conceived a café that is both—along with additional Mediterranean influences. Since 1993 the Krontiras family has grown the original Nabeel’s Cafe more than three times the original size, overtaking the entire building, with three dining rooms and a Greek market.  

Chez Fonfon's Chocolate Pot De Creme is a pure pleasure.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

I have never had much of a sweet tooth. I can easily say, "No" to most desserts. But at Chez Fonfon the first thing I see each time I enter the door is dessert. Fresh baked tarts, a towering cake and other specialties of the day line the antique, wooden server and the small, white marble-topped table beside it.

Dip into a decadent dark chocolate fondue at The Melting Pot.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Who can resist a late night bite of fondue and chocolate?

Chez Fonfon is classically French and absolutely excellent.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Excellence is easy to observe and difficult to replicate. Frank and Pardis Stitt replicate excellence without replicating restaurants. Each of their eateries (Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega, Bottega Cafe, and Chez Fonfon) has its own identity, style, cuisine, and standard of excellence. With each dining experience comes a renewed respect for the Stitts. Being a bit of a Francophile, Chez Fonfon satisfies my appetite for French bistro fare and French wine.

Village Tavern's Birmingham location is home to the company's corporate executive chef.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Mary Grace Viado is the corporate executive chef for the eight Village Taverns across the United States. As corporate executive chef for the company, it is Viado's job to create and execute recipes.

The Melting Pot offers fondue for intimate, business and social dining.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

As the X Generation discovers fondue, we Baby Boomers are bubbling over with memories of swirling chunks of French bread in melted cheese, beef tips sizzling in hot oil and dipping fruit into pots of deep, dark chocolate for dessert. But Bob Dylan was right. Times are a-changing. And much is new in fondue.