Just The Essentials


The new Morris Avenue hot spot keeps it real.

Written by Joe ODonnell; Photography by Beau Gustafson

 

This stylish and happening cafe seems a natural extension, a grown-up version of Kristen Hall and Victor Kings previous downtown spot, Feast & Forest.

Though new to Birminghams most famous cobblestone street, The Essential seems like it has always been there, a welcoming place whatever time of day or night you make your appearance.

Serving classic American fare, sourced with the seasons and with a distinct connection to Southern farmland, The Essential is an all-day cafe that seems to gently whisper comfortable” as you sit at the wooden tables inside or the cafe tables beneath the canopy on the side of the building. It seems this is a restaurant built with the notion that a person could get used to being there, part of life if you will. Owners Hall and King have built a place where there is a true sense of belonging from the interior design to the food itself.

The menu combines savory pastas, filling sandwiches, baked goods and even homemade Pop-Tarts to create an experience that is at once refined and comforting.

The lunch menu features a Rigatoni served with chorizo, cultured cream and manchego. There is also a gulf fish sandwich seared with paprika mayo, fennel carrot slaw on a brioche bun.

Some of the dinner highlights include roast chicken with bok choy, zucchini, avocado, caesar dressing, bread crumbs, or a pork shoulder with baked sea island peas, and root vegetable slaw. On the pasta side, there is a spaghetti with gulf crab, garlic, lemon and cream.

Brunch is a very popular choice among the Essential patrons. The sausage biscuit is a meal in itself with a buttermilk biscuit, housemade breakfast sausage, and peach jam served with salad or grits. The sourdough pancakes are also a popular choice, served with fresh fruit, honey butter and maple syrup. For something more unusual, try the avocado toast with cream cheese, piquillo peppers and poached egg.

Desserts range from a caramel nut tart with rosemary, cashews, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios; to a chocolate mousse with vanilla bean pastry cream and a shortbread cookie. The carrot cake  features cream cheese and brown butter swiss meringue buttercream. The salted caramel apple galette uses local apples, pate brisee and salted caramel ice cream.

Though new to Birmingham’s most famous cobblestone street, The Essential seems like it has always been there, a welcoming place whatever time of day or night you make your appearance. 

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