Restaurant Listings: Fine Dining
Hint: To see restaurants in this section in a particular area of town, click on the category name indicating "Hoover," "Downtown," "South," etc., below each listing.
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2721 Cahaba Road (Mountain Brook Village)
Avo is a California-inspired restaurant owned by Green Apple Restaurant Group, which has two restaurants in Nashville and also owns Jackson's Bar & Bistro in Homewood's SoHo. using local ingredients in the food and clean, crisp lines in the decor. Owner Tom Sheffer calls Avo's cuisine "Cal-abama" and the name of the restaurant comes from California shorthand for avocado. Balcony seating available. The Birmingham News' Susan Swagler complained about the portion sizes, the lighting, and about the smoke wafting up from the bar downstairs (of course) in a review in City Scene in late May 2009, but said the food was great, called the flavors of the "inventive menu" "fresh and intense" and said they were "immediately struck by the crisp, clean lines of this restaurant."
Downstairs is Dram, a whiskey bar that also serves food.
Some online blogs:
A visit to Dram: http://zellaonline.com/2009/04/17/new-mtn-brook-village-haunt-avodram/
Photos and descriptions from Avo and Dram: http://www.bhamsandwich.com/2009/03/30/more-photos-from-dram-whiskey-bar-and-avo/
2801 Seventh Ave. South (Lakeview area, Southside)
Lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch. Bistro feel, with white tablecloths but casual feel. Owned by French cousins Serge Pambo and Jean Evens Estinfort, who frequently come out to chat with diners. Susan Swagler with City Scene gave high marks to beef carpaccio, baked goat cheese salad, grilled pork chops with zesty cornichon sauce, French onion soup, grilled beef tenderloin, fresh fish, apple tart, dessert crepes, savory stuffed crepes. However, she said there are things that could take the restaurant from good to great, including softer lighting, better bread, and pairing sides with entrees instead of leaving it up to the diner to choose. Read a lengthy thread of pros and cons at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/586355.
113 20th Street North (Downtown)
Serving lunch and dinner; reservations required. Chef/owner Chris Dupont focuses on classic French techniques with a bit of New Orleans and the South thrown in at his downtown restaurant. The menu changes daily, but examples include fried oysters and okra with cayenne butter sauce and horseradish creme fraiche, herb crusted Carolina rainbow trout with sauce remoulade, seared sea scallops with goat cheese soufflé, grilled prime New York strip with grilled shrimp and cabernet butter, and braised beef bourguignon and grilled Georgia quail with homemade truffle gnocchi. They are unique in town in offering a three- or five-course menu tasting. One of only two AAA four-diamond restaurants in the state. In a February 2009 City Scene review, Fletcher Harvey gives lunch four out of five stars, with high marks for seared sea scallops with wild mushroom risotto, Gulf black grouper with braised fennel and red bliss potatoes, and buttermilk fried chicken. Read our blog post about the tasting menu here.
2021 Park Place North, downtown (across from the old Birmingham library and Linn Park)
In the former Icon location. In a November 2009 City Scene review, Fletcher Harvey gave high marks to Gulf shrimp and butternut squash bisque, Caesar salad, bone-in Hereford filet, espresso creme brulee. Not so good were pan-roasted Gulf Coast scallops with black tiger shrimp risotto, two large-but-tough shrimp served with the bisque, and "ominous" mussels that were served with otherwise well-received Destin flounder. "Truly a work-in-progress," Harvey noted that Century is operated by executive chefs from Virginia College's Culinard Institute -- but this is not a teaching restaurant.
2007 11th Ave. South (Southside/Five Points South)
Lunch and dinner; reservations not accepted; full bar. The more casual cousin to Highlands Bar & Grill next door, this French bistro offers French country cuisine, with selections such as steak and French fries, Nicoise tart, herbed omelette, country pate, fresh fish and French cheese. Some of our favorites are the trout, the steak tartare, salad with lardon and poached egg, and the cheese. In a January 2008 review, City Scene's Fletcher Harvey called it "tres fun-fun" for lunch, praising Quiche Lorraine, Croque Madame, the hamburger FonFon and seasonal desserts, but said everything seemed a little salty. Food & Wine magazine in 2006 included Chez FonFon in its list of "America's 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences."
2837 Culver Road (Mountain Brook Village)
Dinner Monday through Saturday, weekday lunch. Chef/owner team Daniel Briggs and George McMillan III feature "creative American cuisine" in an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere, with an ever-changing menu of seafood, meat and game with regional and international influences, and friendly, enthusiastic service. Classics such as vial piccata but also more innovative fare on a menu that changes daily according to what's fresh and available. Great place for a drink, as well, with ever-changing and affordable wines by the glass. While it's known as a neighborhood restaurant, this is worth a trip from other parts of town. Read a mini-review here.
2011 11th Ave. South (Southside/Five Points South)
One of the region's finest restaurants -- if an out-of-town guest wants to sample Birmingham's finest, this is the place to go. Chef and owner Frank Stitt combines French cuisine with the freshest Southern ingredients. Fresh gulf seafood, locally grown organic produce, and sustainably raised poultry, beef, veal, lamb and game are the foundations of the daily changing menu. A signature dish is stone ground baked grits with country ham, gourmet mushrooms, fresh thyme and parmesan. The service is superb, with an ever-changing selection of wines by the glass as well as an extensive wine list by the bottle. The bar offers classic cocktails as well as their own creations, plus some of the best raw oysters in town. Stitt has received numerous awards, including being named Best Chef: Southeast by the James Beard Foundation in 2001.
2818 11th Court South (Southside, just off Highland behind Taj India)
Global cuisine with emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Upscale, comfortable surroundings, with an open kitchen. Creative preparations of seafood, meats, salads and vegetarian dishes. On the same menu you might see influences from Asia, the Caribbean, Italy, the Middle East, and the American South. The heirloom tomato salad is so popular that the Birmingham News publishes an article when it becomes available in the summer. Chef Chris Hastings, who owns Hot & Hot with his wife Idie, has been recognized both locally and nationally by the media and fine food organizations, including a 2007 finalist for the "Best Chef in the South" James Beard Award. He is active in promoting local independent restaurants.
3811 Clairmont Ave., Southside/Forest Park
Progressive Southern cuisine in cozy dining room with artsy decor in historic Forest Park. Typical dinner selections include appetizers of Gulf shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, fried oysters and black bean soup, and entrees such as grilled pork tenderloin with Hoppin' John, Grilled Atlantic salmon with gingered corn relish, and Bananas Foster for dessert. Cooking classes offered.
Click here for Bhamdining.com review
2132 Lorna Ridge Lane, Hoover
"Unpretentious elegance, high-casual fine dining," reports City Scene, with a retro ambience featuring vintage photos of stars from the '40s through the '60s and appropriate music from the period. Extensive martini list. City Scene gave high marks to jumbo lump crab cakes, house-made boursin cheese (fried golden brown with grilled shrimp), carpetbagger ribeye with au gratin potatoes and bearnaise sauce, day boat Gulf black grouper with wild mushroom risotto and artichoke butter sauce, white chocolate bread pudding with whiskey sauce. Dinner only; late-night menu; live piano Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Reservations suggested. The restaurant adjoins the Ultra Lounge nightclub, which has a large dance floor.