BELOVED BIRMINGHAM CHEF-OWNERS CHRIS AND IDIE HASTINGS’ HOT AND HOT FISH CLUB TO DEBUT JAN. 23 AT PEPPER PLACE
New, Larger Space Features an Expanded Menu Including Idie’s Handcrafted Pastas, Experimental R&D Small Plates Plus Hot and Hot Favorites
For Birmingham food aficionados, the wait is finally over. The city’s beloved Hot and Hot Fish Club will usher in its 25th anniversary by debuting its brand-new expanded space on Jan. 23 at Pepper Place, Birmingham’s hot new creative district. The Hastings’ first restaurant now joins OvenBird, their popular small plates, live-fire cooking concept in the same complex.
“With a new, larger space, the move to Pepper Place represents a clean slate for us in terms of creativity,” says Chris Hastings. “Without abandoning the seasonal favorites guests have grown to love, the move gives us a chance to try out new approaches and dishes we’re excited to introduce to returning guests and first-time diners, along with adding fresh pastas inspired by Idie’s Italian family recipes. We’re also hoping to capitalize on the combined energy of having both of our restaurants in close proximity.”
As Hot and Hot Fish Club’s new space expands seating from 80 to 120 (plus a roomy new patio), the Hastings also are debuting an expanded Hot and Hot menu. Among the new offerings are Opening Act starters including tortolini en brodo, ricotta- and pork-stuffed pasta with rich broth; pate en crout with homemade pickles and coarse mustard; and Fish in a Fish in a Fish with lemon and herb aioli and toast points.
The Big Show main courses are highlighted by Southern bouillabaisse with spicy tomato rouille and a rich saffron broth; chicken fried steak prepared with wagyu beef, collard greens, fingerling potatoes, fried chicken skins and buttermilk gravy; braised rabbit and duck dumplings with saffron pappardelle pasta and Parmesan cheese; and B. Rosen Farms lamb foreshank with sweet potato puree, farro, black garlic, toasted pecans and jus.
Guests can sample the latest tastes being created in the Hot and Hot kitchen via the new R&D Kitchen Small Plates offerings. Among the small plate categories on the opening 2.0 menu are Crudo, Noodle Bowl, Vegetable, Cheeks and Old School.
Returning favorites include Hot and Hot pork and beans with cracklin’ cornbread, white beans, collard greens and chow chow, along with dessert favorites like Elton’s chocolate souffle, Meyer lemon meringue tart and of course, the Hot and Hot doughnuts with blood orange glaze and coconut crème filling.
At the new Hot and Hot at Pepper Place, Chris and Idie welcome a couple of notable staffers who will take on more prominent roles — their oldest son, Hot and Hot sous chef Zeb Hastings and his wife Molly Hastings, who will serve as manager of operations.
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate 25 years in the restaurant business than being joined by Zeb and Molly as they learn the business, help redefine the restaurant and position themselves to serve the next generation of Hot and Hot and OvenBird guests,” says Idie Hastings. “We’re delighted to be working together as a family and appreciate that they love this business as much as Chris and I do.”
For months, multiple Alabama architects and interior design teams have collaborated on the new Hot and Hot Fish Club space, including Liz Hand Woods Associates interior design, Rob Walker Architects, Alabama Sawyer furniture, The Willingham Company kitchen designers and Rives Construction Company.
“While honoring the open kitchen design our guests know and love, it was important for us to create a new and vibrant environment reflective of what diners expect as we position ourselves to move things forward,” says Chris.
The light-filled space is highlighted by a chef’s counter and open kitchen, large windows, exposed brick, a spacious dining area with a 17-foot upholstered banquette ideal for casual, comfortable seating, accented by Greystone Italian marble tabletops and locally sourced hackberry wood.
While guests can still book the private dining area for intimate special occasion dinners, in warmer months, diners also will have the option of eating on the new patio, accented with lush greenery in steel garden containers and tables adorned with large canvas umbrellas.
A floating skeletal boat frame suspended from the ceiling is the focal point of Hot and Hot’s new bar area, which was created for casual diners to meet up with friends for cocktails and quick bites while enjoying an evening of nomadic drinking and grazing around Pepper Place.
“You don’t get to celebrate 25 years in the restaurant business by being complacent,” says Chris. “The move to Pepper Place offers Hot and Hot a unique opportunity to push our culinary conversation forward with guests, while offering them both a relaxed, intimate dinner space and a more casual space to order small plates and cocktails with friends as part of an evening out in one of the most vibrant parts of the city.”
The new Hot and Hot Fish Club is located at 2901 Second Ave., South, at Pepper Place. For more information, call 205-933-5474 or visit their website.