Photography by Beau Gustafson
Five Point Public House Oyster Bar is a casual, beer-centric oyster house. It boasts a chef-driven menu of local pub fare; a raw bar of fresh, Gulf Coast and Chesapeake Bay-area oysters; and a wide selection of craft beers, including local brews and keg-style wines on tap.
Chef and owner George Reis opened Five Point Public House Oyster Bar next door to his restaurant, Ocean, at 1210 20th Street South. The new eatery is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and late night on Friday and Saturday. A towering, white Five Point signage above sidewalk seating and black French entry doors lead diners inside from the valet. Reclaimed wood, exposed brick, and Edison lighting envelop this comfortable, roughhewn space. The eatery features a full bar complete with copper tubing taps reminiscent of an old-fashioned still. Taps are marked with numbers in chalk, correlating to the numbered brews on the chalkboard. Large wooden booths line the outer walls with tables dotting the center space, behind metal, garage-style doors that open to the street when weather permits. Oysters served in tin pans, beer in pints and growlers, and wine (on tap) served in beakers lend to the eclectic ambience.
Executive chef and owner George Reis was born in the Midwest and raised in upstate New York. After living in New York, Dallas, the Gulf Coast, and Atlanta, Reis moved to Birmingham and opened Ocean in March of 2002. Since that time Reis and Ocean have reeled in numerous accolades, and Ocean has become known as one of Birmingham’s best restaurants, drawing foodies to catch his fresh seafood for dinner. Reis’s team at Five Point Public House Oyster Bar includes some familiar faces from Ocean and his former restaurant in this location, 26. Chef de cuisine is Jason Daniel, and Ian Barker serves as sous chef. And in the front of the house is floor manager James Mathews and bar manager Jim Stout.
We pair Stone Points Unknown Double IPA Tripel with Olde Salt oysters on the half shell from Chincoteague, Virginia. They arrive with house-made cocktail sauce, cumin remoulade, and house-made crackers. The oysters are just lovely, plump and glossy with buttery and bold flavors. From the oven bread options, we select the heirloom tomato bread, but sadly leave off the local shiitake due to a mushroom allergy. The colorful bread arrives cut into seven pizza-style slices loaded with luscious red heirloom tomatoes, yellow banana pepper, Kalamata olives, and bubbly feta. It is awesome, with an addictive bite to it.
The beer-battered cheese curds with a side of jalapeno aioli for dipping are the best fried cheese ever! These melt in my mouth; they’re creamy on the inside and crisp and golden on the outside, enhanced by the touch of heat from the aioli. Next, we pair a beaker of pinot gris with oyster rock and roll sushi. Fried oyster, bacon, spinach, cream cheese, asparagus, jalapeno, and cilantro sambal aioli round out this delicious crunchy roll. And from the small plates menu, we can’t resist today’s daily mac and cheese with shrimp precchiette and PEI mussels fries. The gorgeous pasta arrives piping hot, crusty, and golden on top in its own crock, alongside a salad of local micro greens. Smoked gouda and white cheddar coats each tiny piece of pasta, which intermingles with generous bites of Gulf shrimp. The lovely mussels arrive in a tasty white wine garlic broth with lemon aioli, great for dipping the fries. And we split a main plate of alligator tail tacos. Each of the three, tasty tacos includes lager beer and grilled gator tail, topped with caramelized onion, grilled pineapple, salsa verde, queso fresco, cabbage, and crema on a soft shell. If you have never tasted alligator, this is the dish.
Reis keeps his menu beer focused down to the dessert. His beerimisu is an interesting jar of layered chocolaty, crunchy goodness.