Taste of Alabama: Award-winning restaurants

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — While the Birmingham food scene continues to evolve, Frank and Pardis Stitt of Stitt Restaurant Group remain pillars of the local culinary community. Together, they run Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega, Bottega Cafe and Chez Fon Fon. 

Highlands Bar and Grill drew big-time national attention after it was awarded Most Outstanding Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation in 2018. But the Stitt Restaurant Group’s influence goes beyond the accolades — the dining spots create a happening sense of community centered around fine food. 

Richard Danner is just one of many patrons to frequent Bottega Cafe on a Friday afternoon.

“Birmingham’s a foodie city and we’re known for food,” said Danner. “Everybody knows you can either go to Highlands, Bottega, Fon Fon, those are all the hot spots to go be seen.”

For executive chef Frank Stitt, starting a restaurant in Birmingham was a natural fit. Born in Birmingham and raised near his mother’s family farm in Cullman, he developed an affinity for the farm-to-table process. 

“I would go out and help my grandmother harvest things, whether it would be sweet potatoes or asparagus,” said Frank. “I didn’t realize it at the time, was a great foundation for being a cook and a chef.”

Later in life, his desire to pursue a culinary education took him around the globe. 

“Being in the south of France was just an eye-opening thing because there, the food is driven from the market,” said Frank. “People don’t have much stuff in their refrigerator. They go to the markets each day, and buy what they need and cook in a way that really turned a light on in me.”

While Frank brings the culinary genius to the table, Pardis brings unwavering restaurant oversight. Deemed “executive of experience” in the restaurant group, she focuses on everything from hospitality to the details of waiters’ aprons. 

“Whether someone comes to the bar at highlands at the bar and orders three oysters and a beer or someone who spends hundreds of dollars on bottles of wine,” said Pardis. “Both groups are very very important and we want every group to walk away with the feeling like wow that was amazing, I can’t wait to go back.”

The husband-wife duo said they love being part of the Birmingham food scene and have no plans to end their effort for excellence. 


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