Last week, I received an urgent text from one of my foodie friends. She was perusing our newly redesigned site, and the drop-down menu I created to organize all of our posts, when she made a disturbing discovery. Apparently, Mr Foodie and I had only blogged about one — one — soul food restaurant. Admittedly, this was a very serious omission, worthy of an SOS text.
So, with this soul food foodie friend, we are putting on our stretchy pants, doubling our statin dose, and setting out to rectify the situation. Our first stop: Robert’s Cuisine.
Robert’s is a catering business all week, but for brunch on Sunday, it is a full service soul food restaurant. This is a particularly important foodie find in a town that for some reason has a relative paucity of great brunch places (although we’ve found quite a few-check out that drop down menu!).
Robert’s is located at 10 6th Avenue South-basically between UAB and North Birmingham, and slightly west. As you drive through a residential neighborhood dotted with small businesses, a nondescript building appears at the stated address. Inside, it smells like grandma’s house. Well, not my grandma, because she was from Pittsburgh and didn’t cook, but someone’s else’s awesome grandma’s house. You know what I mean.
We took a seat and were immediately presented with the menu:
Clearly, you can’t go wrong. Well, ok, that’s not true. My soul food foodie friend threw a fit when I attempted to order a wedge salad as a side. When I switched to collards, all was forgiven.
So, here we are:
Fried catfish and grits. The grits were rich and creamy, and the catfish was just a little crunchy, flaky, and flavorful. Both were fantastic. After eating a few bites separately, I was instructed to take a forkful of both. Yep, the whole was even greater than the sum of the parts, if that’s possible. A winning combination.
Then the sweet potato soufflé. I’m not usually a fan of this dish, but when it arrived I was relieved to see that this was really more like mashed sweet potatoes. I took a bite and BAM-an unexpected flavor surprise. Incredible. No spoilers here-go check it out and write it in the comments to show off your foodie adventure. It was so good, and so unusual that we all argued about what it was for awhile and eventually confirmed with the chef herself. She told us that she developed the recipe, which has won awards at cook-offs.
The mac and cheese was also spot on-real cheese, very creamy. And the yeast roll was soft and perfect to sop up the sauce from our next dish: oxtail.
Ok, folks. Unless you are a vegetarian, and even if you are, order this, or make sure someone at the table does so you can have a forkful. This is quite possibly the best beef I’ve EVER HAD. Tender, fall off the bone beef, cooked in an incredible red wine sauce that is reminiscent of chicken Marsala. We were sucking the bones dry and drinking the sauce. That good.
A big thank you to my soul food foodie friend for insisting that I order the collards. A little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, they were perfect as is without additional pepper sauce. The corn was excellent too-buttery and a little spicy.
After all that, well, what the heck, what’s a few more calories? We had to have dessert, no question.
So we had the apple walnut cake. A mixture of yummy spices, moist, and delish. Not terribly heavy, but just filling enough to hit the spot.
One of our servers turned out to be the owner. When we found that out we started raving about all the food and how happy we were to have found them. Apparently, she makes all the sides, so she appreciated all of the excitement over the collards and sweet potatoes.
When I told her about our love affair with the oxtail, she immediately produced her husband-Robert, of course-who was responsible for this amazing dish. We all had a great time talking about the food, and about food in Birmingham in general. And we learned that Robert is – gasp -a northerner – from Long Island, New York! We talked a little bit about how someone from north of the Mason-Dixon line came to be such a fantastic soul food chef, but I’ll have to save that story for another time-and maybe a full interview? Hint, hint Robert.
So, bottom line is, I have solved the answer to your question (which I’m sure you had-everyone always does), which is, where should I eat brunch this Sunday? And where should I tell my out of town guests to eat an authentic soul food brunch? Robert’s.