So, my friends and I could not wait to get to the Taylor Hicks new restaurant ORE for dinner Friday night and experience what has been named the Best New Restaurant In Birmingham, AL! And we were NOT disappointed!
Let me first say that I had wonderful expectations from all of the descriptions I had read and photos I had seen, but I was still pleasantly surprised to find it even more classy than I anticipated. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate, as it's not a large room. For those who have been to The Open Door, you will find much familiar in the physical set up, yet much different in the decor. We sat in the dining room area so we could experience the full treatment before retiring to the bar area.
The wait staff could not have been more friendly and nice, and with a great sense of humor as well! My friend ordered one of their salads and I had the grilled salmon with sweet potato fries and a small salad. The food was superb...cooked and presented in a fresh and artistic manner and done to perfection. The salad was crisp and with a light but tangy dressing which whetted the appetite for more good things to come. My salmon was grilled just right with not too much oil and the chef brought out the full flavor. The sweet potato fries were some of the best I've tasted, again not too greasy and exactly the right texture and taste to the palate.
For my wine, I chose a Sauvignon blanc that was light and very pleasing. Our dessert was also a special treat...a giant chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream. They were out of caramel sauce, but it was so moist we didn't even miss that part. Everything was wonderful and came out right on time...not too fast but not such a wait that we minded at all.
The best part of the experience was that Soul Man Taylor Hicks himself came in to greet his guests, stopping at each table to make sure everyone was enjoying their meal and service. He left and said he'd be back.
We took him at his word, which he definitely kept! After picking up our other friend from her late flight in, we returned to ORE for drinks and music. The featured band was Heath Green, who was truly a delight. After the first set, while we relaxed with our refreshments, Mr. Hicks again made an appearance at his fine establishment. Taylor Hicks entered and with him he brought the Magic that follows him everywhere. After socializing with friends and greeting his bar guests, he took his guitar to the stage area and began singing. It was a quiet approach, no announcements of TAYLOR HICKS, just a man in his own element enjoying some beer and singing his music for whoever wanted to listen. And boy, did everyone want to listen! Heath Green joined him for a few songs as well and he is a great musician.
Taylor sang "Where I'm From" or better known as "Alabama State of Mind" and it got me teary eyed to see and hear this great artist sitting in his own new restaurant and doing what he loves best...singing live to any and all. He also sang "Main Street," which I like to imagine was a nod to us Michigan visitors, although probably not really...LOL. Taylor was playful, soulful, and loose this night and we enjoyed this unexpected treat as much or more than any of his shows!
I chose not to use my camera there, because this was Taylor Hicks and his down time, in his comfortable environment, and I would not dream of intruding on that. I was just very grateful to have been able to be a part of this night and happy with the thumbs up he gave us as he came back to the bar after his set.
I cannot think of a more satisfying dinner I've had anywhere else. The food was amazing, the staff courteous and funny, and Taylor Hicks is the perfect host! He literally wined, dined, and entertained us and we love him for it!!
We returned to ORE on Sunday after the Fayette shows for their jazz brunch. The food was outstanding! I had the Eggs Benedict, one friend had the salmon salad, and another friend had the shrimp and grits Diablo. We all cleaned our plates, because it was delicious. Cleve Eaton and his Alabama All Stars serenaded us with their unique style of music and when we finally left, I know I left more than my tip there...I left a piece of my heart in that wonderful place...ORE DRINK AND DINE :)
Here are some photos I took of my experience at ORE
And THIS photo in the Ladies Room, which describes not only ORE and the city of Birmingham, but also my experience at this classy, upscale, and DELICIOUS epicurean eatery: