Huntsville’s Grille 29
Grille 29 is blessed with a great location, plenty of parking, tasteful décor, savvy servers, astute management, and a talented, creative chef. It’s no surprise that such a combination has led to a multitude of loyal diners and the impetus for expanding their formula to a new location in Birmingham.
The Huntsville restaurant, located on Main Street, right at the entrance to the Village of Providence, Grille 29 has street parking but also a large lot in the front and on the side. Diners are often treated to live musicians regaling passersby with tunes as they stroll through the plaza on the way to the front door.
If you choose to take advantage of outdoor seating, you have a front row seat for the entertainment. Even if no musicians are present, a splashing fountain provides a melodic background.
Inside, the dining areas are attractive and comfortable with a variety of booths and tables. The bar area provides flat screen TVs for sports fans, but the main seating features low lights and is quiet enough for good conversation thanks to great acoustics. Perfect for an anniversary celebration.
Even the restrooms reflect attention to details with a couch, chairs, and beautiful sinks – based on my personal perusal of the ladies’ room. I love it when a restroom is impeccably clean. In addition, there were no messy sights on the way to the restroom, and the windows were gleaming in the entrance and leading to the patio. When a server noticed a small smudge on the glass, I happened to look up in time to see it being cleaned quickly and unobtrusively.
The silverware, white dinnerware and white tablecloths are pristine. Grille 29 uses black napkins – a fact that is highly appreciated by lipstick wearers such as myself.
All of the above contributes to Grille 29’s popularity, but the FOOD is what keeps folks returning again and again.
Chef Cara Thompson’s Food
Executive Chef Cara Thompson is a native of Huntsville, AL. After honing her skills in Miami, New York and St. Maarten and winning the Grand Prize on the Food Network’s hit show Chopped in 2013, Chef Cara has returned home and is wowing the guests at Grille 29 with her expertise and daring creativity.
A recent dinner began with a pureed asparagus soup surrounding a succulent sea scallop. It was a delightful concoction by Chef Thompson as a special offering that evening. Lobster bisque and French onion are soups you can find regularly on the menu, as well as appetizers such as lobster quesadillas, escargot and truffled deviled eggs.
For entrees, my husband chose the Scottish Salmon Brulee with a sweet potato hash and a large slice of caramelized onion. I couldn’t resist Grouper Oscar which is featured proudly in the listing of “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.” Rather than the rice pilaf described on the menu, I chose to have the stone ground white corn grits and was pleasantly surprised by the tender whole corn kernels scattered throughout. I also actually ate an orchid for the first time! I knew the blossom made my plate look special, but I was happy to find that it tasted good, too.
Our server suggested that if we thought we’d want the chocolate soufflé, we might want to go ahead and let him know since it requires 25 minutes to prepare. It was presented with a crusty top and a soft decadent center into which we poured a Grand Marnier custard sauce.
Flavors of cheesecake and bread pudding change regularly according to seasonal ingredients and the whims of Chef Cara. On this particular night, we got to sample lemon blueberry muffin bread pudding and found it to be both delightfully different and loaded with fresh fruit.
Grille 29 has a beautiful wine list and offers crafted cocktails and local beers on tap. In addition to the seafood, Grille 29 also serves hand cut steaks with a reputation for succulence. Each item on the menu has an air of specialness, and you will love seeing what unique spin Chef Cara will add to surprise you.
If you’re the curious type as I tend to be, you might wonder about the name of this restaurant. According to the managers, there are three reasons that “29” is in the name:
1) They think that 29 is the perfect age to be – “old enough to know better and young enough to do it anyway!”
2) In the Periodic Table, element #29 is copper, so there are touches of copper throughout the décor – a copper water wall as you enter, copper hinges on the doors, hand-cut glass pedestal sinks with copper in the restrooms, and a copper color scheme incorporated throughout the dining areas.
3) The name of the main road in and out of Napa Valley and Yountville in California is Route 29, and many of their featured wines come from vineyards in that part of the country.
I’m quite sure I could make a list of 29 reasons to visit this outstanding restaurant and enjoy a meal very soon.
Many thanks to Grille 29 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.