ollie irene : birmingham, alabama

Well...after a two-year absence, I can officialy verify that Birmingham has grown up, a lot.

Last time I was in town, a friend treated me to dinner and drinks at a new restaurant, Ollie Irene. A restaurant that's so new, it doesn't even have a proper website, but does have a proper James Beard nomination (!).

So this time, I went back, to see if I could dig a little deeper than cocktails, pickled vegetables and crostini.

What Ollie Irene really has going for it are the cocktails. Can't tell if it's the general sweet disposition of the bartender, Zach, or his carefully thought out, home-brewed liqueurs that I like more. Either way...his Moscow Mule was really, really good.

The shrimp salad came highly recommended by another barman, and it was crisp, refreshing, and delicious.  Another thing Ollie Irene has going for it are the prices. These plates are steals, people! And especially if you are converting them to euros!!! I mean, that plate of chicken liver pate was as much as two measly ensaladilla rusas!!

But since most of you don't measure your bill in pintxos, suffice it to say that the pate was outstanding. Perfect perfect and served with house-pickled veggies. The gnocchi was ricotta and spring-y.  My dinner date devoured his pub breakfast ($13) before we could snap a photo, partially because I was off chatting with the multitude of cooks that were spending their night off tasting what Ollie Irene had to offer.  The sticky toffee pudding, topped with a cookie and marscapone cream, didn't last long enough for a photo either.

This spot is the real deal, people.