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.

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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.

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3. Assorted Greens w/ 3 Vinegear Dressing

Again, lightly dressed, refreshing, fresh – Very Good.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Highlands http://www.highlandsbarandgrille.com/

- chuck