After sitting vacant for three years, new life is coming to the former McCormick & Schmick’s building at Brookwood Village.
Grille 29, a Huntsville restaurant, is completing a $2 million interior renovation of the domed building and plans to start serving steak and seafood Oct. 6.
A 600-gallon freshwater fish tank anchors the center of the dining room and divides the bar from other areas. Booths surround an expanded bar, which also features a 12-seat community table. In all, the dining area seats around 230 guests.
The interior also boasts accents of copper, which is atomic number 29 on the periodic table of elements. The restaurant name also takes inspiration from Route 29, which leads to Napa Valley wineries.
Before guests are seated, they will pass a special pastry deck area where they can see chefs prepare desserts, salads and some appetizers. As they walk past, they will be able to smell one of the restaurant’s signature desserts, chocolate soufflé, baking.
“People love to see how their food is made,” General Manager Barry Abes said.
Behind the prep area, the kitchen has all-new equipment, including a wood-burning pizza oven.
“We are ready for the volume I know this area will bring,” said Abes.
The restaurant also features a banquet room that seats up to 80 and boasts projector and AV equipment. It will be used for regular dining when special functions aren’t occurring.
The new Birmingham menu is still being finalized by chef Daniel Mitchell, who is coming from Greystone Country Club, but it will feature some of Huntsville’s signature items. On the Huntsville menu you will find Atlantic salmon, stuffed sea scallops, roast half duck and jumbo lump crab cakes. Closer to the top of the menu you’ll find Gorgonzola fondue, lobster mac’n pimento cheese, gruyere and mushroom sliders, calamari and a kale Waldorf salad.
Abes’ favorite dish favorite is an 8-ounce Filet Mignon of certified Hereford tenderloin seasoned with Grille 29’s blend of herbs and spices and served with a choice of two sides.
The restaurant’s Grouper Oscar made the “100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die” list. The fish is pan-seared and topped with jumbo lump crabmeat, asparagus and hollandaise with a side of jasmine rice. Abes also raves about the sesame-crusted tuna, seared in sesame oil and and served with sticky rice, wakame seaweed salad, pickled ginger and ponzu.
“I’d put it up against any good sushi restaurants,” he said.
The chicken and waffles are only served for one meal a week, Sunday brunch, but they are still the sixth-best seller on the menu and sell out every week. A pecan butter sauce is served on top of the fried chicken over a waffle. Also on the Huntsville menu are smoked salmon platter, crab cake Eggs Benedict and Grand Marnier french toast.
Over at the bar, 36 wines are available by the glass, and around 90 by the bottle. Specialty cocktails will be served at all times and will be half price at happy hour, Monday to Friday from 3-6 p.m. A special bar bites menu will also be available at that time.
As the restaurant prepares to open, Grille 29’s Huntsville staff is training the new staff in Birmingham. Abes raves about his restaurant’s food, but he is perhaps most proud of the overall experience diners will have.
“The ambiance and level of service is amazing,” he said. “I think Homewood and Mountain Brook are geared for it.”
- Brookwood Village
- Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.