1892 East – Perfect Place to Gather and Eat
Rarely have I seen a restaurant that is such a perfect fit for its neighborhood. 1892 East Restaurant and Tavern, located at 720 Pratt Avenue in Huntsville, AL, derives its name from the “1892 East Huntsville Addition,” which was the original name for the Five Points area. When it was created in 1892, Five Points was the first true suburb of Huntsville and was made possible by the construction of a street car line which connected it to the rest of the city. 1892 East/Five Points was annexed into the city in 1925.
“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.” This quote by Walt Whitman is prominently displayed in the wall space over the bar and is a fitting summary of what goes on inside 1892 East. My fellow diners were a mixture of young urban professionals and folks who’ve likely experienced plenty of the actual history of Historic Five Points. The patrons seemed to know each other with many coming in and greeting acquaintances, stopping by their tables and chatting. Our server confirmed that many live in the Five Points area or a little further up Monte Sano Mountain.
Servers wear red shirts and black pants. The walls are painted in rich Tuscan colors of brown, gold, red and green, and the mirrored bar gleams. The art on the walls are photos on canvas of scenes from the neighborhood, or at least that was the way it appeared to me. Not only does 1892 East provide a congenial meeting place, it also serves outstanding food, and that’s the reason it does a brisk business even on a weeknight.
We began our meal with “bread and a spread.” Specifically, the bread, served hot, was crispy on the outside with a burst of flavor on the inside. It was a spent grain bread that is made on site at 3:00 p.m. daily, with the spent grains coming from Straight to Ale Brewery which is local. The spread, which looked like hummus but was escalated to a higher level, consisted of pureed white beans, orange zest and juice, carrots, celery, onions, olive oil and fresh ground pepper.
Our appetizer was Scallop Rangoon, crispy Asian dumplings filled with diver scallops and cream cheese and served with sweet chili sauce and ginger pickled carrots. I am a huge fan of scallops, so this was an extra-special use of one of my favorite deep sea delights.
The menu includes a number of vegetarian options that caught my husband’s eye. He chose the Vegetable Cassoulet containing white beans, mushrooms, green beans, squash, parmesan and a crusty panko topping. He pronounced it filling and delicious.
I chose trout stuffed with pecans, Surryano ham, sage, garlic and canola oil, served with fingerling potatoes and garlic-braised greens mixed with paprika and hot sauce. Wow, the flavors in those greens really popped, and the trout was moist and cooked perfectly.
1892 East offers an extensive wine list and many local draught beers – most notably from Yellowhammer Brewing, Blue Pants Brewery, and Straight to Ale Brewing. The bar also has 28 varieties of Scotch and 10 different martini mixtures. In addition, they serve Higher Ground coffees – organic, Fair Trade and shade grown – served in a French press. And the teas are organic and KSA kosher.
The crème brulee we indulged in for dessert was decadent, and we hope to return soon to try the chocolate pots de crème, cheesecake and bread pudding.
Executive Chef Steven Bunner is strongly committed to creating his cuisine around locally-sourced ingredients and his partners in this endeavor include Jimmy Sparks Farm, Humble Hearts Farms, Wright Dairy Alabama, Springer Mountain Farm and Fudge Farms. Chef Bunner is a native of Huntsville and graduated from the New England Culinary Institute. He has had extensive experience as a chef in Alaska, in Atlanta, GA and in Palm Beach, FL. He is often quoted as saying that “casual dining should be no less exceptional than formal.” And I can attest to the fact that he is fulfilling his goal at 1892 East.
The General Manager is Mike Burleson. He and Chef Bunner have been friends since childhood. Burleson brings a degree in electrical engineering as well as an MBA to the table at the restaurant as well as his own passion for cooking. On a busy night, he can even be spotted helping to serve the happy diners.
Expect a uniquely delicious meal and atmosphere when you go to 1892 East, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Many thanks to 1892 East for hosting my meal. Regardless of the restaurant’s generosity, readers receive my honest feedback as the opinions expressed are 100% my own.
You can find other Huntsville restaurant reviews in Connie’s column, Taste of the South.