I’ve long dreamed of a walkable neighborhood, where I would have easy access to food, drinks and shopping. But Birmingham is a heavily car-dependent city, and let’s be real: Most areas that are easily walkable are a bit out of my price range. My old house was great in a lot of ways, but to call the area around it walkable would have been a stretch. I did test this out once as I walked from my place to the Mexican restaurant 0.3 miles away (directly across from Walmart). Passing cars honked, and their drivers looked at me as though I was crazy.
It’s not surprising, then, that my roommate and I had our eyes set on Crestline Park for a while. On our first full day in the neighborhood, I realized her car was blocking me and she was napping when I wanted to grab lunch. I started to go on a hunt for her keys, but then I realized: I could walk to lunch!
I’ve known that Ore Drink and Dine needed to become my neighborhood spot, but in the few months we’ve lived in the area, I had only made it to Ore once. I didn’t have a good reason for that, beyond sheer busy-ness. And I took the first step toward rectifying that on the first day of Birmingham Restaurant Week.
What a way to end a long week of work! I drove home, exchanged my heavy work bag for a small purse, my copious notes for some lighter reading material, and then walked to the restaurant. I was dining alone but armed with entertainment options; besides my book and magazine, I chose a seat at the bar where I could watch ESPN and chat with the bartender on duty.
All of that made for great company, but once my food arrived I didn’t need any extra entertainment. Ore’s BRW options include two salad options, three entree choices and peanut-butter cheesecake for dessert. I started my meal with Kiss the Baby salad. Here’s the thing: I’m not much of a salad girl, but this one included many of my favorite ingredients (arugula, blue cheese, pecans, red onions, a light honey dressing), which made for a flavorful but clean dish.
I was off to a good start. I had never had anything but a pleasant experience at Ore, but Executive Chef Jonathan Brennan (who is new to the restaurant) was already exceeding my expectations. And he took it to another level with the grilled Gulf grouper, which pas paired with a tomato-cucumber relish. The first few bites revealed that the fish was perfectly grilled, enhancing its flavor. But as I uncovered the bed of Idaho potatoes and Conecuh sausage hash on which the fish was perched, I picked up my phone and began texting friends to tell them how mind-blowing my meal was. (That’s the downside of dining alone!)
That continued with the peanut-butter cheesecake, a rich, creamy dish topped with chocolate and served with fresh whipped cream. Though the restaurant proved itself as my neighborhood favorite, this meal convinced me that the restaurant is also destination worthy for people from around town.
I left Ore sated but not yet fully satisfied. After all, I have to come back for fried chicken and waffles at brunch!