Iron City Grill Entertains and Sustains


by Jan Walsh, Photography by Beau Gustafson

Iron City Birmingham has dual purposes: It will both entertain you and sustain you. It boasts a large entertainment venue, bars, and a full service grill. Aptly, there are two entrances. The main entertainment entrance is 513 22nd Street South, landmarked by its massive marquee. And the entrance to the Grill is located at 2208 6th Avenue South. Iron City Grill serves lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, and dinner on Saturday, and opens only on concert Sundays at 4:00 p.m. Iron City Grill also has live music on Thursday through Saturday evenings and on Friday during lunch.

 

The Place

Iron City Birmingham’s L-shaped building totals 22,000 square feet, divided into two main spaces of main entertainment/event venue and the Grill. The entertainment/event venue has a 1,300-person (standing) capacity. It’s available for large or small events, including weddings, luncheons, and receptions. There are three stages—the main stage for big acts and two smaller stages for intimate gatherings and local music. There are two bars, one in the main event venue and one in the Grill. The Iron City Grill seats 90 guests in a rustic, sky-lit ambience.

 

The People 

Chef William Rogers grew up in Starkville, Miss. There, he gained restaurant experience that ranges from laidback barbecue to fine dining. In 2005, Rogers moved to Birmingham to attend Culinard; while he was in school, he took a job as a line cook at George Reis’s Ocean and 26. In 2009, he became sous chef of both restaurants. And in 2013, he landed the executive chef position at Iron City. His focus is fresh, seasonal, and sustainable food, with an emphasis on local products and Gulf seafood.

In the front of the house, restaurant manager Tyler Smith manages the service staff. Smith’s restaurant background originated in Charleston, S.C., where he worked in fine dining while in college at College of Charleston. More recently, he has bartended and created craft cocktails in other Birmingham area establishments, which made him a perfect candidate to help build Iron City Birmingham. Here, he has organized a welcoming family of quality servers and bartenders.

 

Favorite Fare

For tonight’s dinner at Iron City Grill, we start with tasty cocktails. We choose the Mississippi Mule and Blueberry Lemonade, sipping while we enjoyed the creative sounds of Lindsey Hinkle’s performance. For appetizers, we select Iron City pimento cheese balls and fried green tomato cubes. I love fried cheese and find the cheese balls delectable. Fried cheese may sound easy, but cooking it without burning the crust—while getting the cheese hot and gooey—is not a simple task. These pimento cheese fritters are cooked to perfection. The crust is golden with no air pockets between it and the piping hot, flavor-filled pimento cheese inside. They are drizzled with a spicy buttermilk dressing and local greens. The cool, acidic dressing pairs well with the creaminess of the cheese and add a bite of heat to the dish.

The fried green tomatoes are also unique. Rather than sliced tomatoes, the tomatoes are cut into cubes and fried—think fried baby tomatoes. These tomatoes are then dressed with a blue crab citrus salad, local micro greens, and creole mustard cream. The crisp-on-the-outside, moist-on-the-inside texture of the tomatoes is enhanced by the delicate greens, the acidity of the citrus, and the heat of the cream. And the crowning touch of crab adds another layer of beautiful flavors.

For our entrees, we select Iron City cheesesteak and herb butter poached Gulf Coast shrimp. The cheesesteak is piled high with thick cuts of melt-in-your-mouth, slow-roasted beef smothered in melted pepper jack cheese, caramelized onions, and mushrooms. A large order of golden fries accompanies the sandwich. The succulent Gulf Coast shrimp arrive atop a lovely bed of McEwen and Sons cheese bacon grits. Topping off this delicious dish are caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and smoked local tomato aioli.

We end the evening with a chocolate molten cake. The cake is topped with a generous helping of chocolate sauce that coats the top and drizzles down the sides onto the plate alongside the raspberries, freshly whipped cream, and chocolate candy accent.

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