Marre and Allen Bar and Kitchen opens at Birmingham Marriott.
By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Marre and Allen Bar and Kitchen features chef driven, locally sourced fare. Here Chef Chad Schofield incorporates local and regional, in season, fruits and vegetables into his made from scratch dishes. Also influencing both the product selection and menu choices is Birmingham Marriott’s General Manager, Chris Townsley—bringing his culinary and wine background and expertise to the table. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and for brunch on weekends. The Location Marre and Allen Bar and Kitchen is located inside the Birmingham Marriott, off Highway 280 across the Highway from Grandview Medical Center. The hotel property underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2017. If you have been to the hotel you will not recognize it. If you have not it was worth the wait. The Name
Marre and Allen Bar and Kitchen is named for Marre & Allen grocery and general store, which was built in the 1800s. At that time, Andrew Marre was a merchant and cotton buyer, and was the first to purchase a Birmingham city lot at the June 1, 1871 auction held by the Elyton Land Company. The Marre building was a two-story stone building constructed on the northeast corner of 1st Avenue North and 19th Street by Andrew Marre for his Marre & Allen grocery and general store.
True to its Birmingham heritage, Marre and Allen Bar and Kitchen’s ambience was designed with steely tones of grey and silver. This casually upscale dining space wraps around the U-shaped bar and overflows into the Birmingham Marriott’s Great Room, where you can experience live music or full service dining. Large televisions are strategically placed for diners who want to catch the game or keep up with the stock market.
Marre & Allen Bar + Kitchen’s menu proudly highlights regional fare and offerings produced in Alabama. And today we are tasting some dishes destined to remain as mainstays on Marre and Allen’s menu.
We enjoy two sharable starters—a cheesy flatbread and the cheese board. The flatbread’s crisp crust stands up to the balance of the creaminess of the melted Mozzarella Affumicata cheese and juicy acidity of its tomatoes. And a touch of heat from its Calabrian Peppers rounds out this scrumptious dish. I often shy away from ordering a cheese board—due to the skimpy ones I have found along the way. But Marre and Allen’s Southern Cheeseboard does not disappoint and is among the best I have ever had. A variety of Sweet Grass Dairy, Beehive Cheese, Belle Chevre, and Buckhead Farms cheeses are accompanied by Red Mountain Honey, (my fave almonds) Marcona Almonds, and grilled flatbread. We slather the luscious cheeses on the hot bread and drizzle with honey while nibbling on the crunchy almonds. Highly recommended for lingering over cocktails or wine as we did with their luscious New Fashioned.
From the salads, don’t let the title of “Wedge” fool you. This is not your typical wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with dressing and little else. This lovely salad is layered with textures and flavors: Benton’s Bacon, fresh avocado, tomato, Priester’s Pecans, and Sweet Grass Dairy Asher Blue Cheese—atop beautiful Bibb lettuce, tossed in a tasty green goddess dressing. It became one of my fave salads in town on first bite of this synthesis of textures and flavors.
Where else can you get fried chicken livers just like Granny used to make? Oh, my goodness, the vivid food memory on first bite. I am five again and at my grandmother’s kitchen table, eating these earthy nuggets like popcorn. But better yet, Marre and Allen’s Joyce Farms Chicken Livers are not naked. They are served on a puddle of spicy aioli and are crowned with fried crisp, Vidalia onions and micro greens.
Spread the news and come taste for yourself… There is a new challenger for best burger in town. The Allen Burger is a thick and juicy, hand formed patty, topped with crisp Benton’s Bacon, Heron Hollow arugula, grilled green tomato relish and served on a locally made bun. The burger is paired with golden, and piping hot, House Cut Fries that we dip in house made lemon aioli.
We enjoy the Rice Bowls—our ways—with black beans, Pico de Gallo, avocado, and Buckhead Valley Pepper Jack, and our choice of brown rice. Added options include Joyce farms Chicken, Cox Farms Ribeye Steak, or Citrus Braised Pork. We order two—one with the chicken and one with the pork. And after tasting we can’t decide which is better. Both the flavorful braise on the pork and the divine marinade on the chicken add a whole new dimension to each bowl.
From the entrees, we enjoy the Seared King Salmon. The hearty cut, pink filet arrives perched above its seasonal set of Heirloom tomato, avocado, grilled onions, charred corn, and Herron Hollow arugula. It is bright, beautiful, and flakes into big bites of pure and mild flavors that slowly melt in the mouth. And its scrumptious set of veggies adds a fresh taste of the season to the plate.
From the Sweet section, we select Flourless Chocolate Cake and Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie. Chocoholics will fall for this deep chocolate cake topped with a dollop of whipped cream, served on a bed of raspberry sauce with fresh raspberries. And the lemon pie is not of this world. The sweetness of the Meyer lemons shines through in this crusted tart topped with a golden meringue, resting on a bed of blackberry sauce and served with large, blackberries.