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s
south foodie Oct 6, 2007 08:53 AM

Driving to Nashville. Spending night in Birmingham. Need hotel and dinner suggestions. Anything good. Prefer casual to upscale casual. Thanks!

  1. sheilal Oct 8, 2007 05:22 AM

    When are you coming? Alot of restaurants are closed on Mondays so I don't want to recommend a place and you waste your time and find it closed.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sheilal
      s
      south foodie Oct 8, 2007 06:51 AM

      We are coming on Thursday. Searching the web I found a couple of hotels that sound nice: Tutwiler Hotel and The Hotel Highlands. Some of the restaurants that I found are: Chez Fonfon, Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega Restaurant and Cafe, and a few BBQ spots. I would love some suggestions on both hotel & restaurant. Just one meal, dinner. We love good food. Thanks!

      1. re: south foodie
        p
        pinotboy Oct 8, 2007 07:12 AM

        If you are looking for upscale casual, then Chez Fonfon or the Cafe side of Bottega are very good choices. Highlands and Bottega are more upscale. 26, which is close by to these places, would also be a good choice.

        The Tutwiler was recently renovated, and I have heard that it is much improved.

    2. sheilal Oct 8, 2007 07:14 AM

      I'm not familiar with Hotel Highlands. The Tutwiler is downtown and just went thru an extensive renovation. Their new signature restaurant, Icon, has certainly generated alot of buzz. It's VERY pricey, but the diver scallop lollipop and green tomato soup are not to miss items. If you decide to stay at the Tutwiler (which is downtown), you'll be limited on dining options in your immediate area. Other than Icon (located in the hotel) there's Cafe Dupont, but it's considered fine dining as well. Cafe Dupont is an excellent restaurant. It has a N.O. vibe. A casual choice would be John's City Diner. It's really good (or was the last time I ate there - several years ago).

      All of the places you named above are top-notch eats in the city. They're all located in the Southside area, which by car from downtown is a couple of miles tops and a straight shot. Highlands Bar & Grill & Bottega (not the adjacent Bottega Cafe) are fine dining establishments and are not considered upscale casual. Chez Fonfon is a classic french bistro and has been voted the best burger in town. Bottega Cafe is good, but not destination dining in my book. Ocean is a stellar seafood place, but some might consider it fine dining. It's sister place "26" is wonderful and has a contemporary urban vibe. The chicken satay salad is spectacular. If you like Thai, Surin West in the southside area of town is just what you want. Great sushi & great service.

      I could go on & on about LOTS of places. To make matters short, here's a link that talks about all the good places in Bham by cuisine. Also, a good local website for reviews is www.bhamdining.com

      Here's the link to the previous discussion thread on Bham eats: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/397560

      Good luck & Enjoy!

      1. a
        amadorzin Oct 8, 2007 08:36 AM

        You can't go wrong with the Tutwiler and Icon. I recently met a friend from out of town there for dinner. Her room was beyond perfect (I didn't realize the Tutwiler was so NICE). Dinner was outstanding - incredible food and wine list, friendly service, fun people-watching, and as a bonus, my friend didn't have to get in her car and go anywhere except up the elevator after dessert and drinks. I would classify Icon as upscale casual, I saw shorts and polos, along with the business suit types.

        1 Reply
        1. re: amadorzin
          sheilal Oct 8, 2007 08:45 AM

          I agree that the attire at Icon suggests upscale casual mostly because it's probably out-of-town hotel guests that make up the majority of the patrons. But the prices certainly reflect a five-star establishment -- but well worth it IMO. Personally, for me, if I'm going to drop that kind of moolah for dinner, I want to dress up for the occasion.

        2. m
          mdt1 Oct 8, 2007 10:45 AM

          I have a friend that stayed at the Hotel Highlands a few weeks ago, and he said it was really nice. (This is the old Pickwick Hotel). If you stayed there, you could walk to Chez Fonfon for dinner.

          1. bhamdining Oct 8, 2007 12:08 PM

            We have a lot of great restaurants, but if I have to recommend one single place for a great dinner, I'd say Highlands Bar & Grill. It is probably the most renowned restaurant in Birmingham, recognized nationally for its combination of fresh Southern ingredients with French cooking techniques. The service is always excellent, and they have a great wine list, with very knowledgeable servers. If you eat on the bar side, it is more casual.

            4 Replies
            1. re: bhamdining
              s
              south foodie Oct 8, 2007 07:28 PM

              I am leaning toward staying at The Hotel Highland. The website is: www.thehotelhighland.com It looks good and at a good price.
              Dinner, I am not sure. Still choosing between Highland Bar & Grill, Chez Fonfon, and Hot and Hot Fish Club. We do not want to dress up too much. Prefer no coat & tie-so nice casual or upscale casual. We just want good food in a nice setting. Thanks!

              1. re: south foodie
                sheilal Oct 9, 2007 05:45 AM

                In that case, I strongly recommend Chez Fonfon, Ocean, or 26. I feel that a place like Highland's deserves a coat & tie. While Hot & Hot is great, you can't go wrong at Ocean for fish.

                1. re: south foodie
                  b
                  Big Daddy Oct 9, 2007 12:53 PM

                  If you're staying at Highland, you can't go wrong with Highland Bar and Grill and Chez Fon Fon. But I want to put in a plug for Hot and Hot Fish Club, which serves food that is every bit as stellar as Frank Stitt's at the above-named restaurants, but in a more casual and convivial atmosphere. It's fun sitting at the chef's counter, too, which is by the open kitchen. They used to do a tasting menu (roughly half of the menu that day, in smaller portions, with optional wine pairings) that really added to the experience because you get alot of detail from servers and kitchen staff about what you're eating. Hot and Hot's Chris Hastings takes a similar approach as Stitt, finding local sources for as many foods as possible, and top-tier suppliers for the rest.

                  1. re: south foodie
                    m
                    mdt1 Oct 10, 2007 09:27 AM

                    If you eat on the bar side of Highlands, you will be fine without a coat or tie.

                2. The Chowhound Team Oct 10, 2007 11:25 AM

                  Just a reminder folks, that Chowhound has a very narrow focus on finding deliciousness. Hotel discussion is off topic, and posts which are focused on the hotel aspect rather than the food aspect will be removed.

                  1. sheilal Oct 16, 2007 10:07 AM

                    Okay South foodie. We need a report on your trip. Where'd you eat? What did you eat? How was your experience?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sheilal
                      s
                      south foodie Oct 18, 2007 01:41 PM

                      Thanks for asking. We ate at Chez Fonfon. It was good. We split the steak tartare. Husband had the croque monsuier and I had the gravlax salmon. both came with frites, very good. sorry about my spelling. after dinner went next door to the Highlands Bar & Grill for dessert and an after dinner drink. We enjoyed our night in Birmingham. We stayed at The Tutwiler. Birmingham has a lot of dining choices. We will be back!

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