Fresh and Fun

Chef Adam Evans

Automatic Seafood and Oysters brings a healthy respect for the fish to the city’s newest seafood restaurant.

Written by Joe O’Donnell • Photography by Beau Gustafson

Adam Evans is back home, in his own kitchen, in one of the city’s newest restaurants  and it’s an amazing feeling, a homecoming yes but also the realization of a dream. 

Automatic, named for the Automatic Sprinkler Company that once occupied this 1940s-era warehouse, will showcase fish sourced primarily from the Gulf of Mexico, as well as oysters from the waters along the Southern and Eastern coastlines. The variety and bounty of the Gulf is what intrigues Evans and informs his menu selection.

Evans and his wife, interior designer Suzanne Humphries Evans, found the building (which once housed the dance club, Aqua) shortly after moving back to their home state of Alabama with a plan to open their own place. Evans had worked in top-tier kitchens such as Craft in New York City, La Petite Grocery in New Orleans, and Brezza Cucina and The Optimist in Atlanta.

Adam was born in Muscle Shoals, Suzanne (who has also opened her own design business in Birmingham) is from Arab. Together they have brought to Birmingham their own vision of what a great restaurant should be. 

“I always thought, ‘I’m going to come back to Birmingham one day and open our restaurant,’” says Evans.

What Adam and Suzanne have opened is a stellar new addition to the Birmingham dining scene. Located on the border of two of the hottest locations in town, Pepper Place and Lakeview, the restaurant has brought new life to a neglected corner. Starkly white, with large windows, Automatic Seafood makes a statement and patrons have responded with a lineup of cars outside and a very active bar inside. 

The restaurant features an open kitchen opposite the building-length bar. In between are tables and banquettes that have an air of casual elegance. The lighting plays nicely off the broad windows, creating just the right atmosphere for a night out.

The menu is heavily seafood-oriented, yet full of variety as well and it changes frequently. Oysters from the Gulf to Nova Scotia lead off the menu, along with chilled items such as peel and eat shrimp and marinated crab claws. Three salads are offered, simple green, spinach Caesar and arugula. 

For starters you can order a plate of yeast rolls with cultured honey butter, or perhaps an octopus a la plancha with yogurt, pickled peppers and herb salad.

The fin fish this evening ranged from Alaskan Halibut to wok-roasted crispy New England cod to blackened Gulf cobia. Non-seafood entrees included a large pork chop, hangar steak or roasted chicken with braised greens and salsa verde.

Among the dessert offerings were a plate of cookies that featured everything from a salted chocolate chip to Automatic’s take on a fortune cookie. 

There were no words of good fortune hidden inside the cookie, but from the Sunday night crowd and the buzz about the place Automatic looks to have a bright future in Birmingham.

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