Highlands (Birmingham, AL) – Southern Roots
(some day i’ll get this camera figured out)
Frank Stitt is a nationally recognized chef who is trying to bring back southern aspects to continental cuisine. A Chez Panisee alum, he has an influential cookbook, Southern Table, and stresses fresh ingredients and “deliciousness” in his cuisine.
Thanks to a friend who made the reservation for me, I was treated like a king here – the true definition of southern hospitality top to bottom – and definitely one of the better single diner experiences I’ve had.
The food was pretty tasty. This isn’t cerebral food; it may not wow you; but it is a very good meal when your travels take you through Birmingham. They offered me a tasting menu, but everything was at least appetizer-portioned – bring your appetite.
1. Lump Crabmeat in Avocado w/ Sherry Dressing
Simple, refreshing, lightly dressed (a rarity anywhere), and the crab had a very sweet ocean taste – some of the best I’ve had in recent memory. Very Good.
2. Roast Pigeon w/ Herbs & Sweetbreads on Grits w/ Molasses-Chicken-Stock Glace
Satisfying, it is what it is. The grits were very good – not Momofuku quality – but absolutely delicious. Good.
3. Assorted Greens w/ 3 Vinegear Dressing
Again, lightly dressed, refreshing, fresh – Very Good.
4. Seared Bay Grouper w/ Cauliflower Potatoes & Brown Butter Vinegratte
Great sear on the fish, juicy inside. The mashed potatoes were quite satisfying – a little creamier than most. Very Good.
(not sure where the picture went)
5. Venison Medallions w/ Radish Gratin
Medallions cooked right, peppery, great texture, gamey taste. The gratin was *awesome* – nice crust w/ slices of radish underneath. Very Good.
Just a thoroughly enjoyable meal to start the southern leg of my road trip. The “Very Goods” must be taken in the context of the meal – they are not Manresa Very Good’s – again, simpler dishes done in a very satisfying manner. I wouldn’t travel to eat here; but if you find yourself passing through, it’s a great stop.
I stayed @ the Cobb Lane Bed & Breakfast 3 blocks away – an historic building with a turn-of-the-century-southern-charm – extremely laid back – pretty good deal for $100/night.