Photography by Beau Gustafson
With the opening of Grille 29 on an outparcel at Brookwood Village Mall, a new sophistication and style comes to the dining options at Lakeshore and 280.
This casual steak and seafood restaurant now has two locations, one in Huntsville and this recently opened outlet here in Birmingham. The restaurant is owned by Restaurant Partners, Inc., based in Orlando, Florida. The Huntsville location has been opened since 2007, so here is a restaurant that takes it time to perfect a recipe for a fun, casual yet sophisticated dining experience.
You might recognize the restaurant as taking over the old location of the chain McCormick & Schmick, which closed its Birmingham location back in 2012.
Always a well-designed and attractive dining spot, Grille 29 has upgraded the interior of the restaurant, buffing the wood paneling to a high gloss and opening up the dining room so that you never feel cramped.
Above is the large glass-covered dome so visible from the outside of the building. From the inside, the dome gives the feeling of eating beneath a beautiful, light-filled Tiffany lamp.
Perhaps the signature design innovation Grille 29 brings to the space is the 600-gallon fresh water aquarium that lends a certain festive feeling to the decor with a glowing, effusive light and brilliantly colored fish swimming around and around.
The 280-seat Brookwood Village location showcases a menu of appetizers, soups, salads, and signature entrees including stuffed sea scallops, roast half duck, jumbo lump crab cakes, plus the Filet 29, a house specialty steak wrapped with Applewood smoked bacon and topped with gorgonzola.
Grille 29 was named “Best in Alabama” by TripAdvisor in 2013 and “Best Restaurant” eight straight times in the annual Taste of Huntsville and its Grouper Oscar was named one of the Alabama Tourism Department’s “100 Dishes To Eat in Alabama Before You Die.”
We did not eat the Grouper Oscar, nor did I die, but the meal at Grille 29 was still exceedingly memorable. And to start things off properly, we looked over the appetizers. Finding it hard to decide, we went with the sampler platter.
What shortly arrived at the table was a large platter filled with marinated artichokes, grilled and served with shallot herb aioli; a helping of lobster quesadilla, warm flour tortillas stuffed with tender chunks of lobster and swiss cheese, with lobster dipping sauce; and the aptly named firecracker shrimp, petite shrimp dusted with seasoned flour and tossed in our spicy firecracker sauce.
We chose two salads to begin the meal. The Mozzarella Caprese Salad featured four large tomatoes (mixed red and yellow) with milky white discs of mozzarella and spears of basil drizzled with a balsamic reduction and olive oil. The Wedge was a huge half-head of Iceberg lettuce with applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, egg, crumbled blue cheese and Parmesan ranch dressing.
For entrees, we chose the jumbo lump crab cakes, served with mashed potatoes enhanced with bits of lobster and asparagus. And one of the restaurants signature steaks, the 12-ounce New York strip, perfectly prepared grilled over hickory chips and glazed with a flavorful steak butter. The dish was served with wild rice, but other steak sides include the lobster mashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, sautéed onions, succotash, sweet potato hash, french fries, garlic mashed potatoes, shallot green beans, creamed spinach, or white corn cheese grits.
This is a restaurant that clearly puts a lot of effort into its dessert course, so we tried two. The signature chocolate souffle is topped with Grand Marnier anglaise cream. The lemon lava cake is an interesting twist on the more typical chocolate lava. This is a lemon cake with a lemon curd center served warm with raspberry sauce and seasonal berries.
The full bar and 100-plus wines are a complement to a great meal. The Painkiller is a delightful concoction of Pusser’s rum, an artisanal British Navy style rum from the Virgin Islands, enhanced by pineapple, coconut, orange, and grated nutmeg.
The wine menu features 100 wines by the bottle and about 35 by the glass. The Vineyard 29 Estate, a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, is the Grille 29 signature wine.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, plus boasts a popular Sunday Daniel Mitchell brunch.