Farm-to-Table Cuisine at FoodBar


Written by Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

 

Research shows that the first year in business is the most difficult. FoodBar has met the challenge, having celebrated its first anniversary in September. Located at 3156 Heights Village in Vestavia Hills, the restaurant is open for dinner on Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

 

The Place 

FoodBar shares the ample parking lot with other businesses in Heights Village. We enter through the patio, where metal tables provide seating for al fresco dining. Inside, the ambiance is warm, drawn from a mix of black, brown, and cream hues. Roughhewn wooden tables dot the space. A long banquette lines the right wall. And the left wall and corner feature a curved bar where couples sit sipping cocktails from the restaurant’s specialty cocktail list while watching the televisions above.

 

V51A2154-Edit-EditThe People 

Birmingham native George McMillian III is the owner and chef of FoodBar. Previously, McMillian was a chef and partner of Daniel George and worked under Chris Hastings at the Hot and Hot Fish Club. Other key staff members of the restaurant include headwaiter John Rusiecki, bartender Kristin Fillingham, and office manager Sara Modrall.

 

Favorite Fare 

The menu at FoodBar is focused on farm-to-table cuisine with seasonal options. This is my second visit to FoodBar, and I plan to sample several dishes because last time I only reviewed one dish, the mussels. But before we order, we must toast the restaurant’s first anniversary. Delighted to see my favorite champagne (from the House of Champagne Delamotte) offered by both the glass and the bottle, we order two glasses. Lovely notes of pear and ginger intermingle in the perfectly chilled wine with delightful effervescence and minerality.

Favorite dishes of the evening include one that we did not order, nor is it on the menu. McMillian sent two small plates to the table of a fried shrimp atop a bed of grits. The shrimp is V51A2201nice in size, lightly battered, golden, and crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside. And the grits are simply divine, more creamy than gritty. The crispy kale is an interesting starter. Kale is one of my favorite foods, so I typically order it when I find it on a menu. It has become a popular restaurant dish due to its health benefits, but I also love its flavor. Here, a large plate is filled with delicate, crisp kale topped with a soft-boiled farm egg and pickled onion in a sherry buttermilk dressing. Cutting the egg, the yolk runs onto the kale, adding sunny flavor to the dish.

The favorite entrée of the evening is the grilled Louisiana redfish. A very large piece of redfish arrives atop a bed of succotash. Fresh veggies from Finley Avenue Market make up the succotash: pink eye peas, fresh okra, and tomato. This gorgeous and colorful succotash also includes bites of house-smoked bacon and is mixed in a tasty basil aioli.

All the desserts tempt, but the rum raisin bread pudding is selected. The tall square of cake-like pudding is moist inside and firm on the outside, drizzled with a brown sugar rum sauce and topped with crunchy cinnamon crumble.

 

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