Bayou La Batre Flavor at Bistro V

Jeremy Downey

By Jan Walsh, Photography by Beau Gustafson

Former University of Alabama safety Jeremy Downey now plays quarterback at Bistro V. As chef and owner, Downey starts with top quality products, prepares them to perfection and serves them at affordable prices—a winning combo.
The Place
The “V” stands for “Vestavia,” as Bistro V is located in the former City Hall Diner building at Vestavia Place—next door to Vestavia’s City Hall and Police Station. This small, corner space has a spacious and airy feel with its high ceiling interior and large windows. Comfy black leather chairs and oversized tables invite us to linger over Saturday brunch. And when weather permits there are sidewalk tables for al fresco dining.
The Chef
A native of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, Downey played on the University of Alabama’s 1992 National Championship Football Team—and wears his national championship ring with pride. He graduated with a B.S. in English with plans to teach literature. Yet his family’s love of cooking enticed him to pursue a cooking career instead. After stints in San Francisco and Washington D. C.—at Vidalia—Downey came back to Alabama, where he worked for Frank Stitt at Bottega. Bistro V became Downey’s “gridiron” in 2010 when he bought the restaurant.

Eggs Benedict

Favorite Fare

Lunch, dinner and weekend brunch menus have a Bayou La Batre flavor. Menus are seasonal and incorporate top quality ingredients including local products such as McEwen Grits and Farm Eggs. Located down the block from Snapper Grabbers, Downey is one of their special customers with daily selections chosen for Bistro V.
While looking over the brunch menu we order Bloody Marys, which are offered with a choice of vodkas and spicy or not—we opt for Grey Goose and spicy. The rusty red cocktails arrive in a tall, slender glass with olives, celery, lime, a pickled green bean and the most small and delicate crushed ice I have ever encountered, which chills the drink throughout without watering it down. The Bloody Mary is rich in texture, has the perfect balance of spice and is among the best I have ever tasted.
Brunch dishes of Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Bayou La Batre Po Boys, Crab Benedict, Fish and Grits tempt. Yet seeing that McEwen Farm Eggs are served here, we opt for the Eggs Benedict and the Bistro Steak and Eggs. If you have not tasted a farm fresh McEwen egg, you have not tasted an egg. The Benedict arrives with a generous helping of Hollandaise sauce over these lovely and delicious, poached farm eggs and a Southern surprise—country ham. This salty, smoky and tender ham paired with these divine eggs made this a memorable Benedict that will bring me back for more. The Steak and Eggs arrive cooked to order. The steak is served sliced alongside two flavorful farm eggs—cooked over easy—three slices of fresh tomato, and a side of toast to coat with the yolk of the egg. Hints of spice enhance the succulent steak’s flavor, and the tasty, toasty potatoes that accompany both dishes are served generous in cut and in portion.

Steak and Eggs

Dessert options include Chocolate Silk Pie, Apple Pie and Vanilla Bean Custard paired with Mimosas. We split the custard, which arrives in its own ramekin topped with fresh, sliced strawberries. Small bites of the custard’s cool, creamy sweetness along with small sips of the citrusy bubbly provide a heavenly end to our Saturday brunch.

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