I have never been much of a brunch person. I really don’t even like breakfast foods overall so I don’t typically eat until lunch. If I do breakfast, it’s a small something that isn’t a typical breakfast food.
My fiancé is way more into brunch than I am and she has taken me to multiple places for brunch while traveling the country this past summer. We ate at some amazing restaurants in cities such as Las Vegas, Orlando, Austin, Waco, Chattanooga, Seaside, Atlanta and more while traveling around including some of the best brunch food I have ever eaten.
One place in particular was insanely good – Tupelo Honey in Chattanooga. We ate brunch on all of our trips but this place took the top prize. I had very good fried chicken and biscuits there, along with the same dish at The Hill in Serenbe in Georgia (although I proposed to my fiancé right after that so I guess it has a special place in my heart outside of the amazing chicken).
This fall, I started doing a new radio show on Sunday mornings from 9-11 am called The Morning Scramble where we recap all of the college football action from the day before and look ahead to the NFL slate that day. Since we get done at 11 am, it’s a perfect time to go grab Sunday brunch at some local hot spots around town. After so many magical brunches on the road this summer, I wanted to find the best brunch spots in Birmingham and maybe find something that can match the amazing food, drink, service and atmosphere we had in all these other locations.
Each week we my fiancé and I will try a new place and I will review them below. I’ll admit, I am not a brunch aficionado but I love some good food so these places better bring it.
Know of a place we need to try that hasn’t made the cut yet? Let me know on Twitter @jlunce!
Click the name of the restaurant to jump to that review!
$ – Around $15 or less per person
$$ – Around $15-$25 per person
$$$ – Around $25-$35 per person
$$$$ – Around $35+ per person
Roots & Revelry (Week 1)
1623 2nd Avenue North
Brimingham, Alabama 35203
Overall Rating – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Food & Drink – 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Menu Variety – 8 starters, 13 entrees
Price – $$$
Parking – Valet. There was no one at the valet stand when we pulled up, so after waiting a few minutes we pulled off to find our own parking. Then as we pulled away someone finally came out and yelled for us to back up, so we tried to back up on a one way street in traffic. We didn’t have to pay anything for the valet parking.
Food Eaten – Cheeseburger, Chicken & Waffles, Grits, Frozen Mimosas
We had frozen mimosas to start which was a great twist on the standard mimosa with an orange slice attached.
Although it’s not a typical brunch food, I had the cheeseburger. I was about to get the chicken and waffles but they brought the burger out for someone else and it looked good, so I changed my mind. I should have stayed with the chicken and waffles. The burger was alright but the bun was big and hard which made it hard to eat. However, the fries were good.
My fiancé did get the chicken and waffles and I tried some to find that it was a very good dish with excellent chicken and very good waffles. It came with syrup on it, but she left it off.
Overall, it was a pleasant experience. My biggest complaint is that our reservations were at noon and we got there about 11:40 am due to not knowing exactly when I would get free from work, and they wouldn’t seat us despite most tables being empty. They made us stand up against the wall awkwardly and wouldn’t let us sit at a table near the bar. We could only go to the bar to order a drink so we just waited on the side, but it’s not a very big location so we were constantly in the way. It took them about 20 minutes to seat us despite there being so many empty tables.
I would recommend this place if you haven’t been before, I’ve heard really good things about their dinner menu as well.
Galley and Garden (Week 2)
2220 Highland Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35205
Overall Rating – 4.6/10
Service – 3/10
Food & Drink – 4/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Menu Variety – 6 starters, 5 entrees
Price – $$$
Parking – Valet. The attendant was nice enough but it was kind of awkward to figure out where to go. There is a driveway to pull in because it looks like a house, and we didn’t have to pay for the valet. When we left, they pulled our car out to the street instead of the driveway and it was a little weird.
Food Eaten – Rhubarb Stuffed French Toast, Shrimp and Grits, Eggs Benedict, Mimosas
We started with stuffed French toast for an appetizer that had some berries and powdered sugar on it. It was ok but kind of mushy which was a turn off for me.
Shrimp and grits is usually a go-to for me so I went for that, however, it was like eating soup, I am not sure if there was any grits in there or not. It didn’t taste great and was mostly liquid, what I assume was supposed to be some sort of sauce or something. I have never had shrimp and grits like this before. I didn’t get a spoon to eat it with either so I ate the little bit I could with a fork then was left with a bunch of liquid I couldn’t eat.
Overall, what started out as a good experience turned into an awful experience. After being seated immediately in a somewhat empty restaurant, our server was very polite and brought us mimosas. Then the service turned terrible after a group of older women walked in and sat next to us. We had already ordered before they came in, yet they were able to be seated, order their food AND get their food in the time it took us to get ours after ordering. The waiter started completely ignoring us for whatever reason. I don’t know if he saw us as two kids and these older women were good for a bigger tip or what, but it was a terrible way to treat a customer. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough after that.
I would not recommend Galley and Garden due to the poor service and mediocre food for the price.
The Yard (Week 3)
1928 1st Ave North
Birmingham, AL 35203
Overall Rating – 5.3/10
Service – 2/10
Food & Drink – 7/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Menu Variety – 5 starters, 4 salads, 18 entrees
Price – $$$$
Parking – Valet. It was an easy enough process but the place to pull over is actually the Marriott next door so they had to go get someone to come out from the Elyton hotel. Then we had to go in and stand in line at the front desk and pay $7 before going to eat. Getting our car out was easy enough.
Food Eaten – Mozzarella in a Carriage (Fried Mozzarella), Mobile Bay Omelet (shrimp/lobster), Eggs Benedict, Hashbrowns, Grits, Mimosas
The fried mozzarella was really good, although it was just three small pieces. My omelet was good, and came with a biscuit and cheese grits. The grits were good but not really cheesy. The biscuit was decent. However, part of the reason the food gets a slightly lower score despite the high comments so far was because of two things:
First, I got hash browns on the side with it and it was a potato cake that was hard as a rock. I could hardly cut into it with my fork. It’s the only thing I didn’t finish on my plate because I couldn’t eat it.
The other is – I got an omelette that had nothing in it. It was formed like an omelette but it was just egg. It was supposed to have shrimp and lobster in it but there were a couple of small pieces of lobster and three shrimp on top of the egg. The shrimp still had the tails on them too and it was just three plain shrimp.
The service was really bad overall. Our hostess was nice, but she tried to seat us at the bar when the place was virtually empty and we could have sat at any table. We asked for a table and were seated by the window, then we ordered mimosas and were given water all by the hostess who seated us. Our waitress finally came and took our order after a few minutes, brought the food about ten minutes later then never came back. I am a heavy water drinker at any meal and I never got a refill. My fiancé had to actually yell across the restaurant to finally get our check after about 45 minutes of never being waited on. Then she brought the check like we were staying in the hotel and didn’t come back until I flagged her down so that I could pay with a card. She didn’t have a great attitude in our limited interaction with her either.
The food was decent, although a little weirdly prepared and slightly too expensive. I would probably recommend it, but with caution.
Habitat Feed & Social (Week 4)
2655 Lane Park Rd
Birmingham, AL 35223
Overall Rating – 8.3/10
Service – 8/10
Food & Drink – 8/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Menu Variety – Buffet with many different options for breakfast/lunch
Price – $$$ ($35 per person buffet)
Parking – There is plenty of self parking around the Grand Bohemian Hotel or I guess you can valet at the hotel if you want to.
Food Eaten – Scrambled eggs, Grits, Pork & Chicken Sausage, Bacon, Waffles, Biscuits & Gravy, Three-Cheese Ravioli, Sliced Turkey & Gravy, Rolls, Fried Chicken, Fresh Fruit, Pecan Pie, Chocolate Eclair
First off, yes – I ate all of this. However, it was more of a sampling of everything, one or two bites of it all. Habitat Feed & Social is the restaurant at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook. The hotel is very nice, we stayed there once during an in-town getaway and I’ve heard many great things about other stuff you can do at the hotel including wine tastings, a great spa and more.
Habitat does a buffet style brunch in the morning that is really more like a standard breakfast buffet with some added in lunch foods if that’s what you want. I started with a plate of breakfast food, all standard fare that you see listed above. They have a chef there to make you an omelette and the ingredients looked really good and fresh, I just didn’t get one. All of the breakfast food was fairly standard, nothing ground breaking but still very good.
I made a lap around the buffet room (it was a separate room that was off the hallway to the restaurant which made it a little awkward to walk around but not too bad) and noticed that there were other non-breakfast foods. I went back a second time and sampled some of that. They had a really good three-cheese ravioli that I ate, some fried chicken that was good, plus a chef there to carve some turkey for you with gravy and rolls. They had a few different types of salad that I didn’t eat plus some other vegetables.
There was also a dessert table with all kinds of great choices. I tried the pecan pie and chocolate eclair. The eclair was good but the pecan pie was out of this world! It wasn’t a slice, it was one of those mini pies, but I highly recommend you save room for that!
The service was fine for a buffet. You get non-alcoholic beverages included in the buffet but I just had water. My fiance had a mimosa which was extra but all of our drinks were brought in a timely fashion and he water was kept refilled. There isn’t much service when you serve yourself, however they did remove the plates in a timely fashion and brought the bill at a perfect time when they noticed we were done.
I’ll also say that the atmosphere of it was really cool. The inside was nice but the outside has some very colorful tables and chairs that look like they are right out of a fairy tale. It was very cool.
I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a good buffet on a Sunday morning. If $35 per person seems a little expensive, you can definitely eat your way through it and get your money’s worth!
Harvest Restaurant & Bar (Week 5)
2101 5th Ave N
Birmingham, AL 35203
Overall Rating – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Food & Drink – 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Menu Variety – Buffet with many different options
Price – $$$ ($29 per person buffet)
Parking – Valet. We just valet parked at the Redmont Hotel, which is where this place is. There is a large lot across the street where our car was parked, not sure if we could have just self parked there. Our valet was validated at the restaurant so we didn’t have to pay.
Food Eaten – Shrimp & Grits, Sausage, Egg, Waffles, Bacon, Au Gratin Potatoes, Chicken Fingers, Steak, Bagel, Assorted Fruit, Mimosas
Before I go any further, full disclosure – we were invited and received brunch for free. That said, this is an honest review.
This was the second buffet in a row on our brunch tour and it was very good. The perks of a buffet is that you get to eat what you want, avoid what you don’t like, and be adventurous with food that looks good but you aren’t 100% sure on. Like the buffet at Habitat, Harvest had options for both breakfast lovers and people looking to dive into lunch.
We had a party of four for brunch this time, and the tables were a little close together where I could tell one person in our party was uncomfortable the whole time because they were backed up against another guest. There was a DJ playing music. I was worried about it because it’s a fairly small restaurant but it actually was pleasant and not too loud.
They had an assortment of mimosas if that’s your thing. My fiance had a standard one with orange juice and champagne but she got a strawberry garnish. They had different juice options like grapefruit and cranberry juice plus a few different garnishes, so you could get something a little different from the norm if you wanted. I’m boring and just went with water. One thing I always look for is if they keep my water refilled (see past reviews where they didn’t) and they did a good job here.
The food was very good and there was a lot of it. The buffet line got crowded at times because it was a little bit of a cramped area where they had a lot of food, but I was able to get a couple of plates full to “sample” everything I wanted. I was able to toast a bagel and they had cream cheese and salmon to go with it (I just did butter). The sausage was out of this world and they had good steak slices too. Plenty of options to make little sandwiches if you wanted to. They had assorted breads like muffins, bagels, sliced bread and more.
One of the main attractions was the shrimp and grits. It was very good, but in the first round we ate – the shrimp still had the tails on them. It’s not a problem if the shrimp are just laid on top, I’ve had plenty of places leave the tails on if it’s not mixed in, but these shrimp were all mixed in to the grits. So you would pick up a bite with your fork and then have to grab the shrimp out, peel the tail off, then eat it while getting your hands covered in grits. However, they had put a second batch out when I went back for more and it had the tails off. Not sure what was up with the first batch but that was kind of a pain and messy.
After eating a bunch of normal food, I wanted something sweet. They had french toast with powdered sugar and you could add syrup and other stuff to it to make a nice, sweet french toast dish for yourself. I opted to go for a waffle just to try it and their waffles had a sweet taste to them as well, almost like an icing of some sort. I’m not sure what it was but I liked it.
All in all, I recommend it. It is very similar to Habitat Feed & Social in terms of what you are going to get food wise, although it’s a much smaller place. If you are downtown and looking for a good brunch buffet, go check out Harvest. It’s right inside the door of the Redmont Hotel so it’s easy to access. It was a good meal and I definitely recommend checking it out.