It’s never a good idea to base a blog post on an opening night experience. But for Fancy’s on Fifth, we’ll make an exception.
Earlier today, Mr Foodie forwarded me an al.com article about Fancy’s at exactly the same time as our trusted foodie friend Michelle (of Urban Pops post fame) texted me asking about when we should go try it. The only correct answer: tonight.
We were lucky enough to be able to get there around 5:30p. It was already packed; we grabbed the very last table. We noticed these cool round booths made of wood that seat larger groups above which hangs this friendly guy:
Another octopus above the bar:
And although we didn’t photograph it, please trust us when we say that there’s also a magic eight ball on the table to assist with ordering decisions. It immediately feels like the place has a likable personality.
Actually, we’ve been trying to come up with a way to describe the ambiance all night. It’s highly likable on several levels. You’re in Avondale, looking at the park, and watching folks with awesome facial hair and Warby Parker glasses (full disclosure, we each own two pairs) walk by. So it does feel little hipster. But, there’s absolutely zero pretentiousness. I give it a lot of credit for striking that balance. It has the vibe of our favorite corner gastropub in Philly, which was basically the pub from the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Meaning, totally smiley and welcoming. The diners seemed to be a mix of hipster, post-work, over-the-mountain, and family (which are not mutually exclusive categories, of course). Kid friendly alert, we even saw a high chair in use by an adorable toddler. And did I mention that there’s ’50s rock and roll and doo-wop playing in the background?
An interior shot:
Here’s the menu:
I had heard they’re going for the theme of land and sea, so we took their lead.
First, for the sea:
The raw oysters. Here’s the oyster menu:
And the oysters:
Next, crab fritters. Mostly crab with only a little filler, which included some fresh corn – yum. Lightly breaded and fried, great roumelade. Fantastic.
Crab claws. One of my favorite foods. Buttery and addictive.
Smoked tuna dip. Actually the best we’ve had, better than all those places in Destin that we love… Very similar to those but had another flavor that we couldn’t quite put our finger on, but that set it apart.
Ok, on to land. We ordered two burgers between the three of us. First, El Guapo. Two patties, chipoltle mayo, manchego cheese, fried jalapeños. Oh my. Very juicy, spicy, generally outstanding. Notably, there was a gluten free bun option, which we ordered. Not sure I’ve ever divulged this to my readers, but before it became more common to be on a gluten-free diet, about 15 years ago, I was misdiagnosed as having Celiac and was gluten-free. So, I’ve eaten pretty much all of the really disgusting pretend bread hockey-puck like thing out there, and was not expecting much out of this bun. It was OUTSTANDING. We were wondering if they made it in house. It was like a good roll is supposed to be, soft and buttery. They clearly took as much care with it as they did with all of their other food.
On to the flying pig. This one was on a regular bun, which also seemed homemade and was delicious. Thick pimento cheese, savory and slightly sweet BBQ sauce, and fried pork belly for the win. So decadent and fabulous. We also ordered a slide of elote or Mexican corn: super spicy, covered in delicious cheese. My new favorite elote in town.
After this amazing meal, we had to double check with our server-was this really opening night? Yes, she told us, it was. Hard to believe given the quality of the food. Not only did everything taste great, service was spot-on, and everything came out within a few minutes of ordering. Pretty impressive for opening night.
When we left, we took these exterior shots:
Including their cool outdoor patio:
Mr Foodie and I go to Avondale quite a bit. I was just there eating at Saw’s last weekend, in fact. It’s become almost cliche to talk about Avondale’s boom-it’s pretty obvious. But we have never seen as many people out and about as we did tonite. Even sitting at the restaurant, it seemed like there was a fair amount of foot traffic going past us. And walking outside, I noticed that not only were there tons of people around, it was well lit, and we were within view of so many places to go and things to do. It felt like – gasp – we were in a big city neighborhood. I’ve never felt this about Birmingham quite as strongly as I did tonite in Avondale. It just seems like with Fancy’s opening, a switch was flipped: Avondale has reached its tipping point.