Photo by Madoline Markham.
Black Sheep Kitchen Julie Grimes Cropped
Former food editor Julie Grimes will serve home cooked meals and other food items to-go from a storefront next to Church Street Coffee & Books.
Julie Grimes has always dreamed of having a sheep farm, but since she said she is “still two to three steps away from that,” sheep have inspired her new gourmet takeout food store.
Grimes has spent the past 17 years developing recipes for home cooks as a food editor for Cooking Light and Southern Living. Now she’s bringing her own recipes to the former Michelle’s storefront next to Church Street Coffee & Books in Crestline Village. Black Sheep Kitchen is scheduled to open this month.
Six days a week you’ll find scratch-made chicken potpie (stock from scratch, roasted bird and fresh veggies) and a set of other regular meal staples lining fridges in the front of the store. You can call ahead or place an order online to reserve a meal in advance, or see what is available at any given time. Customers can also join a Supper Club, paying a monthly fee to get a meal once a month, twice a month, once a week or as frequently as you want along with a ceramic casserole dish to cut down on disposable dishes.
Each day will also feature a different theme that Grimes found to be popular when she catered the past several years. They all show off how she “likes for food to be playful.”
Meatloaf Monday could feature her classic Italian-style loaf with ground beef, Parmesan and marinara or a variation of a turkey meatloaf. On Taco Tuesday, there might be braised pork authentic carnitas one week or plank salmon fish tacos the next. Hunk-a Hump Day (Wednesday) will feature a hunk of meat such as a roast or pork shoulder. Throwback Thursday will always be Grimes’ grandmother’s Texas brisket recipe served with bacon onion jam and brioche rolls. As for the specifics of the other days, Grimes said she will see what people respond well to and go from there. On Saturdays, she will feature a “Sunday dinner” that she hopes people will reheat for a big meal the next day. These might feature a champagne-braised chicken or pork pot roast with mushrooms and onions.
In everything she does, Grimes wants the food, like black sheep, to stand out from other options in Birmingham.
Her chicken salad will be made with roasted poulet rouge, a smaller chicken raised humanely, and tossed with a buttermilk dressing and multicolored heirloom tomatoes. A set of salads will feature “next generation grains” like farro now that, she said, “quinoa has gone mainstream.” In her Three Bean Salad, chickpeas, edamame and French green beans will be tossed with lemon, herbs and shallots. Her Wedge is a head of romaine with a marinated tomato dressing with bacon crumbles. Her ranch dressing is a heart-healthy Avocado Ranch made with buttermilk, herbs and citrus.
As she has worked on recipes, Grimes has received feedback and new ideas from her chief taste tester, her son Matthew Bottcher, a seventh-grader at Mountain Brook Junior High. When she describes her gourmet takeout concept to someone, he is quick to add that his mom will also have cookies and homemade ice cream.
In addition to her own desserts, Grimes plans to sell artisanal products that will transform her space into more of what she calls a “groceraunt.” She will bottle her salad dressings and sell Dayspring Dairy’s sheep milk cheeses and caramel spreads; cakes and tarts from Sugar Chef, a side business of pastry chef and Cooking Light test kitchen professional Deb Wise; and other unique goods she curates along the way.
Everything Grimes does in the store stems from her background, growing up in Texas the granddaughter of grocery store owners, in culinary school and most notably developing recipes for both Southern and “light” food magazine readers.
“I’m a Texas and Southern cook at heart because that’s what I learned from my grandmother and mother,” she said while also noting the influence of 17 years in magazine kitchens. “It’s an interesting time in the South. We are evolving with an homage to the past but tweaking it to make it more healthy and fresh.”
- 81 Church St., Suite 104
- Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.