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Reviews - Fine Dining

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Galley and Garden snapper Get a taste of Galley and Garden.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Galley and Garden opens in the redesigned Veranda on Highland building, at 2220 Highland Avenue South. Boyce Restaurant Concepts’ chef James Boyce along with his wife and partner, Suzan are co-owners with Ed Hardin. Boyce’s Southern influenced, modern Cali-French inspired cuisine is served Monday through Saturday for dinner, and for Sunday brunch.  
 

clyde may whiskeyClyde May’s Whiskey is the official State Spirit of Alabama.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

People have been making illegal moonshine in Conecuh Ridge of Bullock County, Alabama for generations. Farmers used excess crops to make illegal whiskey. And apparently they still are. Four illegal stills were shut down in 2014 as this went to press. It was here that Mr. May spent his life in pursuit of perfecting small batch whiskey.
shula's coco rita cocktail You can’t lose with dinner at Shula’s Steakhouse.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Dining at Shula’s Steakhouse is consistently a winner.  I have dined here for restaurant reviews and at other times just for pleasure for many years. And from the ambiance, service, to the cuisine, they have a perfect record with me.

The concept of Shula’s Steakhouse is a tribute to the 1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins led by coach Don Shula. Their 17-0 record is the only perfect season in NFL history. Head Coach, Starla Andrews leads the Birmingham team at Shula’s to continued success.
Bistro 218 snapper sancerreSancerre is lovely match for Bistro 218’s red snapper.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


The Alabama red snapper season is one to catch. We did just that and paired this beautiful fish with a bottle of Domaine Vincent Delaporte Sancerre 2012.

Chris Hastings celebrates undiscovered delicacies of the Gulf Coast. 


By Jan Walsh 


Photography by Beau Gustafson 

 

Hot and Hot Fish Club’s Chris Hastings never settles for the status quo. And he has a new source for seafood—the “bycatch” of line caught, wild, Alabama seafood. 

Hot and Hot Fish Club reinvents the Noodle Bowl.  

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Chef Chris Hastings is constantly innovating the cuisine at Hot and Hot Fish Club. And one of his most famous, cutting edge, culinary inventions is his version of the noodle bowl—Hot and Hot Noodle Bowl.
Dinner at Avo reaches new heights.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Jan Walsh


“Where do you want to go for dinner tonight?” Often this is a rhetorical question intended to start a discussion, rather than the expectation of a decisive answer.  And it can even lead to a debate—if one does answer the question with the name of one restaurant. Competing palates collide when choosing between upscale verses casual fare and ambience. It doesn’t have to be this way. Head to Avo and Dram.
Avo stirs things up with chic new appetizer and cocktail.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


The menu at Avo and Dram offers a lot of comfort. Patrons including myself get in the habit of ordering our favorites—for good reason. But executive chef, Ben Kirk and bartender Kyle Campbell are stirring things up a bit with some exciting new dishes and cocktails. But don’t worry. Your old favorites are still on the menu along with these fabulous new finds.
I fall in love with Bistro 218 at first bite!

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Downtown Birmingham now boasts another fab, fine dining restaurant. Bistro Two Eighteen incorporates local and regional food products with the culinary styles of traditional French Bistro and modern American. The restaurant opened in November 2012, at 218 20th Street North. And tonight is my first experience.
Cafe Dupont’s roots grow deep in downtown Birmingham.

 By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


The brown storefront branded with “Cafe Dupont”—in gold letters—stands proudly in downtown Birmingham. And it should. When owner and executive chef, Chris Dupont opened on 20th Street in 2003, he brought new hope to the downtown culinary scene and as a positive step towards the revitalization of downtown Birmingham. I first reviewed the restaurant just after it opened and recall conversations with this chef and entrepreneur. Mixed with Dupont’s staunch vanguard was a healthy dose of fear. Yet this fear soon turned to hope, confidence with the success of the restaurant’s lunch, dinner, private events and bar in the years that followed.
GianMarco’s celebrates a decade of fine dining excellence.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


It is difficult to believe that I have been dining at and reviewing GianMarco’s Restaurant for 10 years. Seems like yesterday that I had my first dinner here. Kevin and I shared Marco’s Four Cheese Torta appetizer, and entrees of Tuscan Style Grouper and Spaghetti with meatballs and sausage. Tonight all three of these dishes are still on the menu. Indeed, not a lot has changed at GianMarco’s during the past decade—because the Respintos had it right from the beginning. Still family owned and family operated GianMarco’s remains one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. They serve the highest quality Gulf seafood, delicious meats, and authentic Italian fare with portions that are substantial but prices that are not.
Hot and Hot Fish Club’s Chris Hastings outdoes himself in 2012.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Chris Hastings achieves most successful year to date in 2012. This year Hastings presence on the national culinary stage hit a new high with his 2012 Best Chef of the South James Beard Award and his triumph on Iron Chef America. In 2012 Hastings also appeared on The Today Show, CBS Morning, and Martha Stewart and was featured in national food magazines.
Highlands Bar and Grill celebrates 30th Anniversary!

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


On November 21, 1982 Frank Stitt opened his first restaurant, Highlands Bar and Grill. And Birmingham’s transformation as a culinary gem began. The restaurant set the benchmark for Birmingham restaurants and began an evolution of the city’s education, appreciation and sophistication of both food and wine—one winemaker dinner at a time. And while Birmingham had some great restaurants before Stitt’s, today we have many more because of him—including his four restaurants and all the chefs who worked with Stitt before opening their own eateries.
GianMarco’s wine bar and retail shop draw wine savvy patrons.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


GianMarco’s Restaurant has long had one of the finest and most flexible wine programs in Alabama. Brothers Giani and Marco Respinto own and operate the restaurant, and offer more than 300 select restaurant quality wines on the wine list. Wines are offered in servings of three ounces, six ounces, quantino, and by the bottle. And the price point for each and every wine is very competitive.
New Bone In Filet Mignon at Shula’s Steak House beats all.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Shula’s Steakhouse has all new menus with new offerings for both lunch and dinner. And their new 15 Ounce, Bone In Filet Mignon is destined to become a classic.
Satterfield's Restaurant scallopsSatterfield’s Restaurant is a favorite dinner destination.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Satterfield’s Restaurant is nestled in the heart of Cahaba Heights, just behind The Summit. Convenient to most of the Birmingham metro area, loyal patrons enjoy this daily changing menu. Whether it is steak, seafood, quail, duck, rabbit, chicken or pork that you crave, you will find them matched with local vegetables and fruits, and prepared with European influences.
Café Dupont’s farmer’s harvest vegetable plate is upscale and downhome.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


It is always a difficult decision to choose a dish for lunch at Café Dupont. Each appetizer and every entrée sound tempting. Yet today I am curious to see what Chef Chris Dupont does with the farmer’s harvest vegetable plate. And I pair this Southern veggie feast with a glass of food friendly Sancerre—Claude Riffault Sanceere Les Boucauds 2010.

I’m hooked on Ocean’s catch and George Reis’ cooking.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


I love seafood—crab, oysters, scallops, shrimp, grouper, snapper, lobster and more. I like them wood fire grilled, steamed, baked, pan seared, or Southern fried. And Ocean’s offerings and preparations are as vast as the sea—serving only the best quality seafood from every continent—prepared as desired. So what is not to love?

Highlands Bar and Grill celebrates 29 years of excellence.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

On November 21, 1982 Frank Stitt opened his first restaurant, Highlands Bar and Grill. With monies raised from his cooking classes and from his mother mortgaging her home, Highlands opened to rave reviews. And 29 year later, patrons and media are still raving about this French inspired Southern restaurant.

Veranda on Highland’s wine cellar is filled with legendary wines.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

My favorite table at the Veranda on Highland is the chef’s table in the wine cellar. Here vintage, first class—and first growth—wines are displayed under lock and key, in wine cabinets with antique bronze screens in this 1,500 bottle capacity cellar. And above these racks are personal wine lockers of VIP patrons. 


bellini's handmade pastaBellini’s Cheese Ravioli is a plateful of comfort. 

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

It is believed that ravioli was invented as a means to use left over food and originated in Liguria, Italy. Thus the original name—Rabiole—means bits and pieces, odds and ends in Genoese dialect.  Agnolotti is a variation from Piedmont, which are cut into rounds.  

Day and night, locals love to dine at GianMarco’s Restaurant. 

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

GianMarco’s Restaurant is undisputedly one of the most popular restaurants in the Birmingham metro area. Yet hunger alone is not what draws locals here. Instead it is an appreciation—and a craving—for an Old World Italian cuisine and dining experience that GianMarco’s consistently achieves. Due to its popularity, dinner reservations are needed. But if you crave their authentic Italian—and have no diner reservations—show up for lunch, as we did today. 

A holiday dinner at Shula’s Steakhouse can’t be beat.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

I have always enjoyed drinks and dinner at Shula’s. Yet tonight’s experience beats all. From cocktails to crème brulee, it is a real winner.

Cafe Dupont is a favorite among local foodies.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

A foodie is a person with an ardent appreciation for food, the preparation of food and the latest food trends. A foodie might—or might not—do much cooking because a foodie’s “highest and best use” is eating, not cooking. Local foodies are food warriors, who dine around in search of “the best” of everything. From fried chicken to rare tuna, they revisit only restaurants with a cuisine that lives up to their standards. And among the restaurants local foodies frequent is Cafe Dupont.

Ocean consistently serves the best of fish, prepared to perfection.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

For seafood lovers, such as myself, Ocean is the place for dinner. Ocean starts with the best quality fish from every continent and prepares it to your preferences.

Highland’s Bar and Grill hosts Thomas Keller dinner and book signing.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Celebrity chef Thomas Keller visits Birmingham. He is hosted by Frank and Pardis Stitt for a dinner and book signing—for his latest cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home—at Highlands Bar and Grill.

Pair Shula’s Steak House with a night at the Hyatt Hotel.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Jason Wallis

Located inside the Hyatt Hotel—in the Riverchase Galleria—Shula’s Steak House maintains a freestanding atmosphere, with its own entrance adjacent to the hotel’s revolving doors, and complimentary valet parking.
And a second entry is located in the hotel lobby.

 

Satterfield’s chef driven fare is made of local and regional products.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


In 2005 Becky Satterfield evolved her successful catering business into a restaurant of her own—Satterfield’s. Located at 3161 Cahaba Heights Road, the restaurant is conveniently located to the greater metro area. And it is one of the closest chef driven restaurants to my Liberty Park neighborhood, the surrounding Vestavia and Mountain Brook neighborhoods, and The Summit.
Chris Dupont lives the American dream daily in downtown Birmingham.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Jason Wallis

In times like these it is important to realize that the American dream is alive and well—in downtown Birmingham. Dreaming is easy. Bringing dreams to fruition is difficult. And once all the work to make a dream comes true is done, it is easy to take what has been built for granted and move onto another dream. But when perfection is one’s dream, the work is never done. And Chris Dupont accepts nothing less than perfection.

For most of us, dining out at an upscale restaurant is more than a meal. It is an experience to look forward to from the time we make a reservation until we walk through the door. Hopes for a nice table, excellent service and a memorable meal are high. Chris Dupont understands these expectations and consistently exceeds them.

Food is both simple and magical at Hot and Hot Fish Club.

By Jan Walsh

Photograhy by Beau Gustafson

Catch a behind the scenes glimpse of the people who make Hot and Hot Fish Club a success. Find the best seat in the house, and most importantly get a bite of the best dishes—course by course. And find recipes from Chris and Idie Hasting’s cookbook—hot off the press.

The Place

Highlands Bar and Grill is rich in history and deserving of accolades.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Jason Wallis

In 2009 Highlands Bar and Grill was a nominee for James Beard’s top honor, our nation’s most outstanding restaurant. How can I follow such a rave review? I can’t. Yet I can share my own dining experience tonight—and my knowledge and experience of this restaurant and its cuisine developed over many years as well as tonight’s dining experience.

GianMarco’s family, food and experience bring diners back for more.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

GianMarco’s is a cult restaurant. Regulars would like to keep this small Italian, family owned and family run restaurant all to themselves. But—good or bad—foodies tend to dine and tell their dining experiences. Thus they soon find themselves boasting about their lunch or dinner at GianMarco’s to family, friends and co-workers, only to find them at the next table the following week.

Chef driven Avo opens in heart of Mountain Brook.

By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson

Upscale Avo is a new chef driven restaurant in Mountain Brook Village. It is located in a new, brick building upstairs from its partner, more casual eatery, Dram Whiskey Bar. Tonight we dine at Avo but take a peek inside Dram.

Sip cool, cocktails in the new, old world bar at Cafe Dupont.

By Jan Walsh

Chris Dupont's new bar opened in March 2009. Expanding the restaurant into the adjacent storefront created space for the bar and a new façade and entry for the restaurant. Entering through the double doors into the bar, it is evident that Dupont restored, rather than remade, this 131-year-old building. From the original tiles on the floor to the beamed ceiling above, the bar exudes authenticity and transcends time. For the bar, Dupont used the same interior designer he previously used for the restaurant—his wife, Leslie.

Divine is in the details at Satterfield’s.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Great restaurants don’t just happen. They are born of both imagination and execution. Pastry chef and owner, Becky Satterfield created a fine dining ambience that is relaxing rather than pretentious. She believes that every possible detail should be attended to, for each and every guest. And this belief is executed into a reality found in every detail of the restaurant—from the valet in waiting to the last bite of delectable dessert.

Ocean’s wide net of offerings touches all continents and satisfies many appetites.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

To say that Ocean is a “seafood restaurant” is an understatement. This upscale, restaurant’s cuisine draws flavors from every continent. On the menu are fish from the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, Pacific and the Mediterranean. And in the kitchen, executive chef /co owner (with his wife Harriet), George Reis uses spices and techniques from the countries that surround these waters.

Cafe Dupont resumes lunch service, offering familiar favorites and new temptations.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Today is a day I have been looking forward to for quite sometime. It is the opening day for lunch at Cafe Dupont. And I celebrate the occasion with a dining room filled with many other Dupont followers.

Bottega celebrates 20th anniversary and debut of the restaurant's cookbook.

By Jan Walsh


Bottega Restaurant has much to celebrate. In 2008 the restaurant's interior underwent a remodeling that retained the integrity of its architecture but updated its ambience. This same year, executive chef Frank Stitt was awarded the national distinction of being one of five chefs to receive a James Beard Nominee for Outstanding Chef. And Stitt's new cookbook, Bottega Favorita, which debuted in Birmingham in November, will become available in bookstores nationally on January 1, 2009.

Cafe Dupont's cuisine wows and whets the appetite for more.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Cafe Dupont draws diners from both near and far. When a writer for Food & Wine magazine called me from New York to discuss Birmingham as a culinary city, she asked for recommendations of restaurants to review. Cafe Dupont was one of my suggestions. Upon her arrival to town she popped in for lunch, and called me afterwards with her critique. "I was wowed by Cafe Dupont!" she exclaimed, before going on to describe in detail each delicious dish. I was not surprised, as I have been "wowed" again and again since the restaurant opened in 2003. And Cafe Dupont led her "Food and Wine Across America" article on Birmingham, which was published in the October 2007.

GianMarco's cheese ravioli is both large and light.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Ordering lunch or dinner at GianMarco is always a dilemma. But no matter what I order, it is consistently delicious and always arrives hot with steam rising from the plate. And this always reminds me of co-owner, Giani Respinto's line, "People wait for pasta. Pasta does not wait for people."

Hot and Hot Fish Club's tasting menu has it all.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Co-Owner and executive chef of Hot and Hot Fish Club, Chris Hastings created a menu just for my table and paired each course with wines. And they will happily to do the same for you.

Shula's 48-ounce Porterhouse satisfies the heartiest of appetites.


By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

If you can't get enough of a good steak, join the club. Shula's Steak House offers a steak that will satisfy any appetite. This 48-ounce Porterhouse is made of Shula's own certified Angus beef, breed on The Graham Angus Farm in Albany, Georgia. And if you make the cut, by can finishing this 48-ounce Porterhouse, you become a member of The 48 Ounce Club.
Explore the depths of Ocean's diverse offerings.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Ocean celebrates its fifth anniversary. And patrons continue to discover fresh, new pleasures from its extensive menu. Ocean and 26 (located next door) are locally owned and operated by executive chef, George Reis and his wife Harriet.

Cafe Dupont celebrates three years of culinary excellence.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

In December 2003, Chris Dupont opened Cafe Dupont on 20th Street North-to rave reviews. The consistently divine cuisine soon brought a host of regulars. And three years later this perfectionist continues to outdo himself. "Looking back, I was very fearful of where I was, what I was doing, and how long it took to get the restaurant open..."

Highlands Bar & Grill transcends time and exceeds expectations.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Convinced that Alabama would support a restaurant with "southern soul and Provencal flavors," Frank Stitt raised money teaching cooking classes, his mother mortgaged her home, and Highlands Bar & Grill opened November 21, 1982. Stitt quickly became Birmingham's celebrity chef and put the city on the culinary map.

Family owned and operated, GianMarco's serves the finest authentic Italian fare.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Less than three years ago, GianMarco's opened in Homewood and quickly became a neighborhood favorite. Soon afterwards, recommendations of their authentic, Italian cuisine and treat you like family service brought diners from far beyond the neighborhood. And today brothers, Giani and Marco Respinto and their father Giovanni's restaurant is a small, "Italian" landmark for Birmingham area diners.

 
 
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