A Visit to ORE, a Restaurant by Taylor Hicks
by Jennifer Jacobs with Steve Jacobs
Aside from the charity concerts Taylor was performing, our main priority while visiting Birmingham last week was to visit ORE, the new restaurant by Taylor Hicks & partners. We arrived for an early dinner and to experience for ourselves all the good things we had heard about Taylor & company’s first restaurant venture.
Having been restaurateurs ourselves in the past, we were eager to see the presentation and ready to give our review as requested by TaylorHicksNews.
Despite arriving fairly early at 5:00, the main room was already well inhabited by diners. We were promptly seated and given a menu. A basket of hot jalapeno corn muffins was served while we waited on our order. Our server was attentive and friendly, the pacing of her visits to our table being just right. We felt neither rushed nor neglected during our meal.
The menu at Ore is relatively small, but still with a good selection: chicken, seafood, and beef main courses were well represented. I opted to sample two appetizers I had heard were a must-try: the fried green tomatoes and coconut shrimp. The coconut shrimp were plump & large, deep fried to perfection in a light tempura style batter. Drizzled over it was a tropical fruit compote that was light with just the right amount of sweetness, and sprinkled with toasted coconut. The fried green tomatoes were bursting with tart tomato flavor and had an excellent texture, again the batter was good, fried well without any greasiness at all. The crawfish etouffee sauce topping this appetizer was perfection; there was no trace of fishiness or saltiness, just good flavor. It was a great departure from the ranch type dip that usually accompanies the dish.
It is apparent that every ingredient is prepared fresh and the food quality is held to very high standard. Perhaps this is why the ribeye steak, which Steve ordered, was not available on this day. The substitute was filet medallions, which were tender and cooked to perfection. These were served over fresh mashed potatoes that were right up there with the best I’ve tasted in any restaurant. The only drawback to this entree: the filet medallion portion was smaller than the ribeye and not quite enough for a man-sized appetite.
We would have liked to see an additional yeast-based bread offering along with the jalapeno corn muffins, and a few more ingredients in the house salad, which consisted mainly of greens and tomatoes. Those minor criticisms aside, we agree overall, the cuisine is exceptional.
Even though tucked away in the suburbs, the decor and color scheme of Ore is definitely urban/industrial. The dark colors and reclaimed wood and other materials have a calming effect, and the dining room seemed quiet and relaxed. It was very easy to have a quiet conversation at our table, with none of the loud chatter that plagues some restaurants. I made it a point to visit the ladies room which has the famous “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL” painted across the stall doors. As it turns out, this is also a nod to Birmingham culture. Mysterious graffiti artists tagged Birmingham buildings and bridges with the slogan, to the curiosity and delight of commuters (and chagrin of local officials). I have to wonder if these same artists were commissioned to paint the stall doors. Perhaps that is something we will find out one day. In any case, the effect is charming.
The partners of ORE have developed a solid dining concept. If the decor was completed with an industrial style exterior to match the interior, it could easily become a hotspot in any urban or suburban setting, with the Birmingham theme carrying over well into any city to which it was taken.
In summary, we would highly recommend ORE as a part of your Birmingham experience. We will definitely be returning, hopefully for brunch the next time we visit the city.
ORE Bar and Grill is located at 1115 Dunston Avenue, Birmingham, AL, serving lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. Live music offerings may include an impromptu appearance by co-owner and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. A jazz brunch this Father’s Day featured the Cleve Eaton Alabama All Stars.
Photographs courtesy of ORE Bar and Grill: https://www.facebook.com/OREbham